Saint Joseph, Watchful Defender of Christ
by Kennedy Hall
Every father has at one time or another laid awake in the early hours of the morning, worrying about his family. These worries may be financial, health related, moral, spiritual, or even related to the safety of your family. In reality, most often fathers worry about a combination of these things. Being a father is a lot like being a Military General. We are tasked with a great responsibility that includes everything from assessing potential threats, to maintaining the morale of those we have sworn to protect. In our society today, reasons to worry are everywhere. It is difficult to even take your children into a grocery store, as immoral magazine covers are displayed right beside the register, at the eye-level of a child. In any case, fathers must keep watch if they are to defend their children, whatever the threat may be. Fortunately, we have a model to look to!
The Flight into Egypt
“And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him. Who arose, and took the Child and His Mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod.” (Matthew 2:13-14)
This account of the Holy Family’s escape from Herod and the slaughter of the Holy Innocents is commonly meditated upon as one of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Very soon after the Nativity, Our Lady distinctly felt the sorrow She would experience by bringing Christ into the world. Alongside Our Blessed Mother was Saint Joseph. We see the urgency in the departure as Joseph took Jesus and Mary away “by night.” Travelling by night is not ideal, and a father would only lead his family away under the cover of darkness if the threat required such a bold and expedient response.
Not only did Joseph take his newly established Holy Family away from their home, but he took them all the way to Egypt. The situation was so severe in Israel that the Watchful Defender of Christ had to take the King of the Jews to the Principality of Pharaoh. How great the threat against Christ must have been for Joseph to take his family away from the world’s only haven for the Jews to a pagan and hostile land.
But, is this not the world we all live in now? As fathers, are we not required to remain watchful, as we navigate our families through the wasteland of a morally bankrupt civilization? Our current society is as much an anti-christian wasteland as there has ever been. In fact, it is as if our culture seeks to worship all the same demons which held sway in Ancient Egypt.
Our society worships sex, the natural sciences, athletes, celebrities and politicians. Furthermore, we seek to medicate ourselves out of any redemptive suffering. We sacrifice our children at abortuaries to the gods of prosperity and we euthanize the sick and elderly as libations to appease the gods of suffering and disease. We advocate for the naturalistic creation-myth of the Prophet Darwin. Schools look to the Pantheon of Physicists to tell us the meaning found in a meaningless cosmos. We have replaced the Judges of Israel with the black-robed Judges of the Court. Legal matters are no longer beholden to the Law of the Lord, but instead to the Logic of Lucifer. We look not to God as Master of Morality, but to ourselves. Idolatry and the violation of the first Three Commandments, which govern man’s relationship with God, have become socially institutionalized.
Occultists are consulted to predict the future, horoscopes are commonplace, and things like ouija boards, tarot cards, and séances have gained immense popularity. We have recaptured the worship of the sun and moon as lords that rule the day and night. Animals are given human rights as we exalt ourselves to the base nature of the common beast. The Cult of the Environment has confused people into a misplaced fear of Hell. Many obsess over a slight rise in temperature, yet advocate for inhuman solutions which easily lead to an Eternal Place of unquenchable and unbearable heat. Our society is Godless, Christless, and devoid of the Virgin Mary. Our culture is no longer Christian, our culture is Pagan.
Fathers Protect and Guide in Imitation of Our Heavenly Father
The relationship which children form with their father serves as a natural foundation upon which they build their relationship with God the Father. When children do not see their father as good, loving, forgiving, protecting, selfless, or watching out for their best interests, it is that much more difficult for them to believe God the Father has these qualities. Yet when children have strong and healthy relationships with their human fathers, it is far easier for them to believe that God the Father is all-good, all-merciful, and directs all things towards our salvation and growth in grace. There is a direct correlation between our society’s descent into paganism and the great loss of Christian fatherhood.
As a sinless and perfect foster father, St. Joseph served the Christ Child as the model par-excellence of the Perfect Heavenly Father. Let us beg St. Joseph’s intercession for the grace to imitate him as exemplary fathers who strive to help our children form relationships of faith, hope and charity with our Heavenly Father.
Like St. Joseph, fathers are called to protect their families. Many men take seriously the need to physically protect their families, but spiritual protection is likewise the role of the father. In fact, it is even more important. When fathers are absent from their families, be it physically or excessively withdrawn or spiritually truant, there is a terrible void which leads to a host of temptations and opens a door to many evils. We men must take time to examine our conscience on these matters, consider well how we can improve, and then develop a plan of action in which we persevere.
For example, with regard to protecting our children, a few questions we men might ask ourselves are:
- What do I do, on a daily and weekly basis, to make sure I am physically and emotionally present to my children? Does this need improvement?
- How vigilant am I in keeping morally and spiritually harmful things out of my home?
- What concrete steps am I taking to protect the purity of my children?
- Am I aware of what my children are reading? watching? music they listen to? games they play?
- Do I know what my children are doing on the Internet, social media, and smart phones? Am I limiting their use of technology to reasonable and healthy levels?
- How well do I know my children’s friends?
- How am I leading my family in developing a life of prayer?
The time for men to truly be men is long overdue. No longer can we sit back and watch the culture assault our families. It is not enough for us to take a passive approach to the threats that seek the ruin of our souls. Instead, we must form plans and set goals to help us be good fathers – and pray for the grace to persevere in these resolutions. We must stand watch at all hours of the night, and prepare to defend our kin the way St. Joseph defended Our Lord and Our Lady.
Saint Joseph, Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us!
 Tradition holds that the soldiers sought Jesus among His relatives, including Zachary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth fled into the desert with the young John the Baptist, but Zachary gave his life in order for them to escape. Herod’s soldiers murdered Zachary for refusing to reveal where Jesus and his own son were