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Posted February 17, 2010

Book: The Mystery of Joseph
Author: Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, OP
Zaccheus Press. Bethesda, Maryland. 2010. Pp. 191

An Excerpt from the Foreword

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.

. . .In recent years there has been a gradual but very welcome return to biblical theology and a simultaneous turning away from the over 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.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Joseph’s Greatness and Poverty

Here we touch upon the magnanimity of Joseph in his poverty and humility. We can see now how he is a “son of David” and how he even surpasses his forefather in the royal authority conferred upon him by the Lord, Joseph accepted, in love, the real poverty which was demanded of him with regard to Mary’s fruitfulness. He did not murmur within his heart; he did not lay claim to the legitimate right of husband over wife, for he had agreed right from the moment of their first meeting to have no human rights over Mary because she was God’s alone, body and soul. He had agreed to have only such authority over her as the Father would give him. He truly marries her in the mose complete poverty. This poverty, lived first of all in the intentions of his heart, is now lived effectively in the full realism of his human sensitivity. He accepts that God has brought about His masterpiece within Mary, without including him, her spouse. He accepts that Mary alone will be the source of life for the formation of the body of the Son of the Most High become man, and he is even glad, because Mary is thus fully glorified and takes precedence over him: she is first.

Table of Contents:

Part One: The mystery of Joseph

1. Joseph, Son of David, spouse of Mary

2. Joseph and the Divine motherhood of Mary

3. Joseph and the nativity in Bethlehem

4. “And at the end of eight days . . .He was called Jesus:

5. The presentation of Jesus in the Temple

6. The first fulfillment of the prophecy

7. The return to Nazareth

8. Jesus teaches the doctors in the temple

9. The second period of the hidden life

10. Joseph’s departure

11. Joseph, spouse of Mary

12. The royal priesthood of Joseph

13. Joseph, model for deacons

Part Two

Living with St. Joseph

1. The worker

2. Spouse of Mary

3. The service of authority

4. Man of prudence

5. The “just, God-fearing” man

6. Man of silence, patriarch of the monastic life

7. Saint Joseph and Saint John