"Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a 'just man' (Mt 1:19) because his existence is 'ad-justed' to the word of God."
Preparing for the Feast of the Nativity, the Pope advised us on 18 December 2005 to "establish a sort of spiritual conversation with St Joseph, so that he may help us live to the full this great mystery of faith.”
The most wonderful book I have ever read about St Joseph, as I mention in my article about the saint, is Saint Joseph: Shadow of the Father by Andrew Doze, a chaplain at Lourdes. As he says there, "The coming of Jesus and the slow process of shaping his personality are linked with Mary and Joseph, this couple that we must learn no longer to separate, since God has united it" (p. 2). Joseph
is associated with the revelation of the love of the Father to the human nature of Jesus. He clears the way for the revelation of the Father precisely by making himself invisible, by standing aside, by accepting with good grace not to be a biological father – an example of humility comparable to that of Mary herself, though in his case we have no "Magnificat". In other words the very humility of Joseph is what reveals the Father as the (invisible) source of the Son.
Someone once explained to me that the word for "overshadowed" here (as at the Annunciation, when Mary is told that the "power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow") originally means covering with a tent – which in turn implies the creation of a home in the desert. It is Joseph's role to create such a home for the Holy Family, for example as they flee into Egypt, tracing in reverse the course of Moses, who had himself built the "Tent of Meeting" to shelter the Holy of Holies. Doze describes Joseph as the sheltering cloud or tent who protects against the demons, for they dwell neither in heaven (from which they were exiled) nor earth (since they are immaterial) but "in the air", the "in-between" (p. 104), the world of dreams and visions.
Joseph is the Man of Wednesday, says Doze, associated with the fourth or central day of the seven-day week, on which were created the sun and moon. He is the keeper alike of the music of the spheres and of the divine silence, the dazzling darkness. He represents all that is most mysterious, most esoteric, most hidden in Christianity – the mysteries that are revealed to the saints. Doze says that the "secret of Joseph and of his impossible mission" is the "newness of time" that comes from God alone, he who "makes all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Time, and living in time as in an eternal present, is the Father's secret, and the source of Joseph's mysterious strength.
The Icon of St Joseph is from the Prayer section of the Team Orthodoxy blog.