Although detailed accounts of St. Joseph's life remains scarce, we learn from Scriptures and Sacred Tradition about his unshakeable faith, his assiduous perseverance, his admirable purity and his exceptional humility. The Church, in her wisdom, left the faithful with a legacy of a series of beautiful invocations in his honor called the Litany of St. Joseph. The vivid appellations found therein draw us closer to the saint and remind us of his many virtues. We find a particularly intriguing invocation full of meaning and truth, "Terror of Demons". Now, one wonders why?
A noble vocation
Given the grandeur of his vocation – the protection, sustenance and care of the Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ as head of the Holy Family - we can expect that God also endowed him with an equally proportional grace to carry out such a lofty mission in life. And certainly we can picture him as a sublime icon of manliness and a pillar of strength that would sow terrible fear among the powers of darkness given the noble task under his watch.
Commitment to purity
In the writings of the venerable Mary of Agreda detailed in the City of God, we read that St. Joseph was a native of Nazareth, was of comely figure and agreeable countenance, very modest and incomparably genteel in appearance. He was related to the Blessed Virgin in the third degree, made a vow of perpetual chastity at age twelve, renewed and kept it in marriage much to the delight and joy of the Most Holy Virgin who vowed the same. He was thirty-three years old at that time.
It is beautiful to note here that when the holy priest Simeon gathered all the young men of Jerusalem from the house of David at the temple to choose who would be the rightful spouse of Our Lady, he was inspired by God to give each man a dry rod. After a period of prayer asking for the manifestation of the Divine Will, pure white lilies - the symbol of purity - blossomed from St. Joseph's staff and a white dove, most pure and brilliant, hovered over his head giving Simeon the sign that he was the chosen one.
Hence, St. Joseph is the epitome of a pure man: pure in thought, pure in heart; pure in body and soul – destined to be the most chaste spouse of Mary Most Holy conceived without sin. In face of such sublime purity and holiness, it would not be farfetched to believe that the ugly, filthy infernal spirits would cower in petrified fear in his presence.
The success of Christ's mission depended on St. Joseph
And in his hands lay the unenviable yet most exalted duty of protecting the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the pinnacle of all creation. God became Man to redeem mankind and to endow it with the most perfect and ultimate gift of Eternal Life through His Sacred Body and Blood. To fulfill His Divine mission, God the Father deigned to entrust His Son to the paternal care of St. Joseph. What a formidable and powerful man St. Joseph must have been!
We can certainly attribute this plan to God's Eternal Wisdom which has predestined us for Eternal Life through His Son. For this holy cause, He granted His Son to be born of a most pure Mother unblemished by the stain of Original Sin. And to ensure and preserve the integrity of that Immaculate Mother, He betrothed her to a beloved and most chaste spouse: Joseph.
Protector of the Church
And as the protector and guardian of Our Lord and Our Lady, St. Joseph is also invoked as the Patron of the Universal Church in apt recognition of his prowess and fortitude. The Catholic Church, born from the water that gushed forth from Jesus' side, and nurtured by the maternal love of Our Lady, sought comfort and protection from the snares and malice of Satan and his followers in the hands of St. Joseph, indeed, the terror of demons!. In recognition of this special place, Holy Mother Church honors him with the highest veneration called protodulia, higher than any given to angels and saints except for Mary who receives a special veneration called hyperdulia.
Patron of a Good Death
While Our Lady enjoyed the most singular privilege of perfect beauty of complexion and form even when she reached the age of seventy by virtue of her sinless body, God denied this favor to St. Joseph. Thus, he suffered bodily deterioration, pain and suffering with advancing age. Ultimately, he ceased from working and accepted his fate with resignation. Henceforth, he gave himself up entirely to the contemplation of the mysteries of which he was the depositary, and to the heroic practice of virtues.
Sacred Tradition tells us that Our Lord and Our Lady assisted him in his dying moments and his death was surpassed in holiness by no other saint – save by Jesus and Mary. By virtue of this, St. Joseph came to be known as the Patron of the Dying. Through the ages, the Catholic faithful lovingly prayed to him for the grace of a good and holy death. St. Joseph died at the age of sixty years.
Signal graces obtained through St. Joseph's intercession
Finally, again citing Mary of Agreda's City of God, we learn the following consoling revelations:
• "First, those who invoke him shall obtain from God, by his intercession, the gift of chastity, and shall not be conquered by the temptation of the senses;
• Secondly, they shall receive particular graces to deliver them from sin;
• Thirdly, they shall obtain a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin;
• Fourthly, they shall have a good and happy death, and in that all-decisive moment be defended against the assaults of Satan;
• Fifthly, they shall be delivered when expedient for them, from bodily sufferings, and shall find help in their afflictions;
• Sixthly, if married, they shall be blessed with offspring;
• Seventhly, the demons shall have extreme dread of the glorious name of St. Joseph.
With so many graces to be obtained through his powerful intercession, let us not tarry nor hesitate in asking humbly for the protection and aid of dear St. Joseph, Terror of demons!