Lost Treasure Rediscovered: ‘Month of St. Joseph: For the Children of Mary’
A 19th-century reprint is good reading for 2021. (photo: Cropped book cover)
BOOK PICK: A reprint from 1888 will aid your celebration of the Year of St. Joseph.
Month of St. Joseph: For the Children of Mary
By Father R. P. Huguet
Penitence Press, 2021
Two decades ago, Marie McGrath came across a treasure in a junk store: It was a book about St. Joseph. She purchased this treasure, “loved and cherished it, until recently, when it became abundantly clear that the book was at the end of its rope, falling apart,” she said. Since the book was first published in 1888, she knew she had to either reprint this book — and thereby share it with others — or lose it. “I just didn’t want the book to be lost forever,” she said. She saw that her “mission is to make St. Joseph’s name known.”
The Year of St. Joseph became the perfect time to bring this treasure — Month of St. Joseph: For the Children of Mary by Father R.M. Huguet of the Society of Mary — to light again. This year in March, 141 years after it was first published in France in 1880, and then in 1888 appeared in the United States in an English translation with the approval of Bishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia, this wonderful work on St. Joseph was republished.
The book proves to be ageless, with its short meditations for each day of the month. While the reflections are for each day of St. Joseph’s month of March, they are timeless and perfectly fit any month and any days throughout the year.
In his preface, Father Huguet explained that he received frequent requests for a book on St. Joseph of manageable size. He took the suggestions to heart and came up with this small volume filled with notable nuggets, explanations and insights on St. Joseph for even the busiest persons. Its pattern of a daily reflection, a real-life “example” from a saint or person on the street, a one-sentence “practice” to do, and a one-sentence “aspiration” all fit into an average two to three pages for each day.
Each daily reflection brings out aspects of St. Joseph readers might never have thought about.
The “examples” include answers to prayers for St. Joseph’s help and intercessions that are inspiring. For instance, Father Huguet described, “Who could tell how respectfully and how tenderly the Queen of Virgins pronounced the name of Joseph, who held in her regard the place of God himself! Ah! It seems to me I hear every morning, when those two seraphic souls met for their common prayer, in union with their divine Son, who placed himself between them — it seems to me I hear her repeating, in angelic tone, these touching words, ‘Ave Joseph.’”
And, as one mediation proposes, “On the day of our Lord’s glorious Ascension St. Joseph appeared radiant among the just, who formed the cortége of the divine Saviour; and, when the Man-God took his seat at the right hand of his heavenly Father, he crowned his adopted father, and placed him on the first throne, after that which he reserved for his august Mother.”
A number of the daily “examples” highlight saints’ experiences with Joseph’s help, from St. Teresa of Avila to Sts. Gertrude, Francis de Sales and Ignatius.
Yet St. Joseph helps all, including, as we read, everyone from a schoolboy to a religious in purgatory getting aid from this glorious saint.
Then the daily “practice” counsels how we can put the “example’s” lesson into practice ourselves, all in one sentence: “Have recourse to St. Joseph when in doubt,” and “Recur with confidence to St. Joseph, in trials and temptations.”
Since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed shortly before this book, Father Huguet devotes one of the days to explaining how he sees this dogma also “augments the glory of St. Joseph.” He reasons, “Now, as she (the Blessed Virgin Mary) is singular among mothers, singular among virgins, singular among queens, must she not be singular among Spouses? It therefore became necessary that St. Joseph should be singular in his merits in order that she might have a motive for loving him singularly among saints.”
Then explaining that while Mary is much holier than Joseph, “that holy patriarch must … have a degree of virtue in some measure proportioned to that of Mary. … It is therefore just to say that the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception which has so greatly enhanced the glory of Mary has also contributed to augment that of St. Joseph …”
The “aspiration” closing the day is, again, a simple invocation that should readily be repeated, such as “Jesus, Mary and Joseph I give you my heart,” and “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I trust in you during my whole life.”
Father Huguet also includes how to honor St. Joseph by consecrating Wednesdays to him. The only few bits that stop the flow momentarily along the way are the handful of short phrases in Latin. But they don’t really don’t hinder the idea.
Often the language flows poetically. For instance, it is explained that, after St. Joseph dies and joins all the prophets awaiting the Lord’s resurrection, “he announced to them the divine Sun of Justice, which was soon to visit them, and introduce them into the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Father Huguet also reminds readers that while the archangels are God’s messengers for communicating the most important matters and commands, Joseph far surpassed that in dignity and duty. He was “employed to declare to Jesus and Mary the will of the Eternal Father, and contribute with them to the accomplishment of his orders. It belongs to the Principalities to govern their inferiors, but Joseph governs the Savior and his Mother, to whom the Principalities are subject.”
This insight is one of several reasons we learn that “Jesus, Mary and Joseph should never be separated in our love and worship,” and “Blessed are the households which resemble that of Nazareth; God dwells in their midst, Mary and Joseph shield them with their love and their all-powerful protection.”
In all respects, this “treasure” shines once again.