The poor carpenter Joseph

Excerpted from Scene 2 of The Flight Into Egypt, Pious Recreation 6 by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (21 January 1896)

Saint Joseph enters, carrying his tools.
THE BLESSED VIRGIN, with a tone of gentle reproach.

Joseph, you’ve been away a long time, why do you work such long days?

O, Mary! Let me spend my energy in the service of Jesus. It is for Him and for you that I work; this thought gives me cour­age and helps me to bear fatigue. And then, when I return in the evening, one caress from Jesus, a single glance from you, make me forget the day’s labors.
He wipes the sweat from his brow, then sits down by Alary and looks at the Child Jesus. The Blessed Virgin puts Him on Saint Joseph’s knees; then his face takes on an expression of Celestial joy; he presses the Divine Child to his heart, kisses Him lovingly and. says to Him:
Little Child! How sweet Your smile is!… Is it really true that I, the poor carpenter Joseph, have the happiness of hold­ing in my arms the King of Heaven, the Savior of humanity?… Is it true that I have the sublime mission of being the foster father to Him whose presence satisfies the ardent seraphim and who nourishes even- creature? Is it true that I am the spouse of the Mother of God, the guardian of her virginity?…

O Mary! Tell me, what is this profound mystery?… The Desired of the eternal hills, the Emmanuel for whom all the patriarchs have sighed, sits on my knees and He looks at me, His poor, unworthy servant.


Like you, Joseph, I am astonished to be able to press to my heart the Divine Child whose mother I am; I am astonished that a little milk is needful to Him who gives life to the world. (After a long, contemplative silence, Mary continues:) Soon Jesus will grow up and you will have to teach the Creator of the uni­verse how to work…. With you, He will earn His bread by the sweat of His adorable brow….


What are you saving, Mary? Must Jesus become a poor workman like me? I’ll never have the courage to see Him hear the reproaches I receive!…

Even today, the rich lord for whom I was working was not happy with my work and sent me away, telling me to seek my fortune elsewhere. After much searching and main rebuffs, I finally found enough work to last a whole month: I’ll be able to do it here at home, a happiness for which I didn’t dare to hope. Not to go away from Jesus and from you, what a consolation!… (Realizing that little Jesus is asleep, he lowers his voice) The Di­me Child is sleeping; take up your Treasure, His bedtime has come. (He kisses Jesus on the forehead, then gives Him to Mary who takes Him respectfully.)


Joseph, may God bless your sleep, rest in peace beneath the gaze of Him whose heart is always watching.

Read more here

Holy Family_REMBRANDT_with a curtain

The Holy Family With a Curtain, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1646


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