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The Importance of Knowing St. Joseph | Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. | The Introduction to The Mystery of Joseph by
Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P. | Ignatius Insight
The publication of this serious, even profound study of a
person intimately joined to the life of the Messiah and written by one of the
most respected figures in our contemporary Catholic scene should cause serious
attention to be paid to the often neglected figure of Saint Joseph.
Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P., an important French theologian who died only in
2006, was a man whose thought was of great influence and depth. He was also a
man greatly devoted to the Church who founded the Community of Saint John.
This new community is now recognized in several countries as a very successful
attempt to restore a vibrant spirituality to the religious life, which in many
places has seemed moribund for years.
The Brothers and Sisters of Saint John
are a cause of hope to those who look ahead to the restoration of the authentic
and powerful traditions of the religious life that have gotten lost in recent
times. The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal have welcomed them
Father Philippe's book on Saint Joseph is very consistent
with the new biblical theology called for by Pope Benedict XVI. The author very
impressively examines the sparse facts that we have concerning the life of
Saint Joseph, teasing from them material that connects easily and well with a
very impressive structure of theological teaching. This then becomes a means
of providing a firm foundation for devotion to the Foster Father and Guardian
of the Son of God.
Except for Christ and Saint Paul, New Testament figures
attract little attention from the secular world and especially the secular
media – even when they are in a kindly mood. Occasionally a small amount
of attention is shown to the figure of the Blessed Mother but rarely is Saint
Joseph or any of the Apostles mentioned. Even in cities named Saint Joseph or
San Josť are the inhabitants really conscious of the fact that their hometown
is actually named for a person – a person who played a role of immense
importance in God's plan of redemption for humankind. This apparent obscurity
finds at its root a kind of Protestantism that is focused intensely on the
figure Christ and on the writings of Saint Paul, but which seems barely
acquainted with Saint Joseph and even the Mother of God, herself.
theology, which takes a less constricted view of such things, opened up a world
of devotion to Saint Joseph the humble carpenter of Nazareth as well as to the
Mother of God. How could it be otherwise? These are the figures who stood at
the manger on the first Christmas; they are the ones to whom the care of the
Word Incarnate was entrusted by God.
In recent years there has been a gradual but very welcome
return to biblical theology and a simultaneous turning away from the overly
exclusive use of the historical-critical method. In the wake of such changes
there has also come a resurgence of interest in the figure of Saint Joseph. When
we place the few facts that we have of him in the context of his personal
responsibilities for the Messiah, we begin to move away from the shadowy figure
presented in Scripture and discover a multi-dimensional person – one
still wrapped in mystery, but one of great importance.
Young Catholics seeking
more solid theological food than what is generally being fed to them through
the historical-critical school alone will find in Father Philippe's book much
to feed their spiritual lives and inspire their devotion.
Father Philippe has profoundly moved many of these
intelligent and well educated young men and women, and quite a few of them have
joined the community he founded.
The Community of Saint John
now includes not only members from France but also from many parts of the
world. The same spirit and insight that led Father Philippe to such success in
the founding of this congregation can be found in his writings, which I
recommend to all. The Mystery of Joseph is a wonderful place to begin your appreciation of Father Philippe. His way of
looking into Scripture and finding in it an inexhaustible theological reservoir
is an inspiration to all. Read and enjoy and pray. Father Philippe will teach
you much about Saint Joseph and much about your faith. When you're all
finished you will be quite surprised to see how your vision of this great saint
may have changed. Even if you've been devoted to St. Joseph for many years, I
feel safe in saying that in The Mystery of Saint Joseph you will learn a great deal about Jesus' Foster
Father's true and undying importance.
The Mystery of Joseph
By Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P.
Foreword By Fr. Benedict Groeschel
Although the greatest of saints, after Mary, St. Joseph is perhaps the least well understood. What Scripture teaches is compelling, but mysterious: he moves quietly and thoughtfully through its
pages, almost unobserved in his humility and silence.
And yet Pope Paul VI has said: "If we look carefully into this life that was apparently so unremarkable, we shall find that it was greater and more adventurous, more full of exciting events, than we
are accustomed to assume in our hasty perusal of the Gospel."
In this illuminating book, Fr. Philippe leads you deep into the beautiful mystery of St. Joseph - revealing the greatness of the apparently unremarkable man who was the guardian of Jesus and Mary,
and who is now the Guardian of the Church, "overflowing with immeasurable wisdom and power."
Weaving together the many different strands of the Church's ever-deepening understanding of St. Joseph, along with his own profound insights, here is a warm and moving portrait of the humble, heroic
carpenter of Bethlehem - a great man who became, by God's grace, a great saint. After reading this book, you will never see St. Joseph (and perhaps yourself) in quite the same way again.
"This is an amazing book on a crucial (but neglected) topic,
written by one of the greatest Catholic theologians of recent times. Profound
and deep, clear and practical, grounded in Scripture and illumined by the
brilliance of St. Thomas Aquinas — I know of no other book like it."
— Dr. Scott Hahn
"In this beautiful book one of the great men of the Church
of recent times helps us to contemplate the face of St. Joseph in all its
chivalrous nobility, and to understand how the mystery of Our Lady's 'spouse
most chaste' supplies the Church with a light in which she can move forward on
her pilgrimage 'with a new surge of life and love.' " — Fr. John Saward,
author Cradle of Redeeming Love
"In recent times, St. Joseph seems to have fallen out of
favor in the conscious minds of believers. These deep meditations are a
wonderful antidote for that. I highly recommend The Mystery of Joseph." — Archbishop John J. Myers
"If St Joseph has a role in the Incarnation and its
consequences – and he does – then he is an essential figure within
our religion. The silence of St. Joseph in the New Testament can lead us to
neglect him or see his role as minor. Fr. Philippe's book brings out the
significance of the events of Joseph's life, and shows us his hidden
greatness." — Cardinal George Pell
"In these gentle meditations, Fr. Philippe draws out of the
Gospels a mystical theology of who St. Joseph is, and what he represents."
— Aidan Nichols, O.P., author of Rome and the Eastern Churches
Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P. (1912-2006) was the founder of the Community of St. John. A prolific author, he is increasingly recognized as an
important theologian of the later 20th century.
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