These past two years, St. Joseph has gone from being someone most of us didn’t know much about to someone we have developed a personal relationship with. It was through Father Donald Calloway’s “Consecration to St. Joseph” classes that I deepened my understanding of St. Joseph. In getting to know and understand St. Joseph better and listening to accounts from the Old Testament, I made a connection with him and Aaron and began to have a deeper understanding of the rosary.
In the readings of the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant contained three things: the tablets with the Ten Commandments (the Law/Word of God), a jar of manna (the bread from heaven) and the rod of Aaron (that budded). The story of the budding rod of Aaron is found in Numbers 17:16-26. We learn from the Book of Revelations that Mary is the new ark of the covenant. “Then God’s temple in heaven opened and in the temple could be seen the ark of His covenant. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rv 11:19 and 12:1) Mary is the new ark of the covenant. Who was in her womb? Jesus. Who is Jesus? He is the Word of God and the fulfillment of the Law, He is the bread of life and He is the High Priest. So Mary, containing Jesus in her womb, is the new ark of the covenant.
When the Israelites went into battle they would carry the ark of the covenant before them and they would win. Today, when I pray the rosary, I am carrying Mary, the new ark of the covenant, into my spiritual battles.
One week in class, the topic of discussion was the Litany of St. Joseph. We were asked to review the litany and discuss which title of St. Joseph stood out for us. I was struck by what someone pointed out to me. The order in the litany is Comfort of the Afflicted, Hope of the Sick, Patron of the Dying, Terror of Demons. Before we die, most will first be afflicted, then become sick and finally die. It is at our final hour when Satan has his last chance at our soul. It is an hour of a great spiritual battle. Many who have been with a dying person have seen a struggle in the final hour. We understand Jesus and Mary were with St. Joseph when he died. We pray the Hail Mary, asking Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
When we see statues of St. Joseph, he is often portrayed holding a lily. As the legend goes, there were a few men chosen to be married to Mary and each was given a bare staff. The one held by St. Joseph put forth fragrant lilies. When I understood Numbers 17 and Revelation 11 and 12, it made so much sense that Joseph’s staff budded in front of the new ark of the covenant. Learning all of this has greatly increased my understanding of why Mary always asks us to pray the rosary. We need to be bringing her into all of our spiritual battles. And St. Joseph, chosen by God to be her husband and the Terror of Demons, is always there helping us carry the new ark of the covenant into our daily battles.
By Amy Capelli
Published in the December 2021 Issue of Catholic Life Magazine