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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

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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.

Father 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 with joy.

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.

Catholic 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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