Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Saint Joseph Shadow of the Father by Andrew Doze

Saint Joseph Shadow of the Father by Andrew Doze

Andrew Doze looks at both the history and the theology of Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ. The book is both fascinating and frustrating.

The historical account is eye-opening. The Church, in its earliest years, was focused on Jesus as true God and true man, so reflections on Joseph's fatherhood are scant if not completely non-existent. How Jesus has God as His Father was much more important to work out at the time. Pious imagining saw Joseph as an old widower with children from a previous marriage. Little progress was made through the Middle Ages. Joseph's first big break came with Teresa of Avila, who adopted him as a spiritual father and had a devotion to him. Saint Francis de Sales and Monsieur Olier became champions of Joseph in the 1600s. Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal church in 1870 (during the First Vatican Council). The Lourdes visionary, St. Bernadette Soubirous, also had a deep connection to the Holy Family and thus to Saint Joseph. Knowledge, interest, and devotion to Saint Joseph developed through the centuries and is on going.

After his historical survey, Doze presents a more theological understanding. He structures his work around the seven levels in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle. I found this part of the book hard to follow since I haven't read or studied Teresa of Avila and Doze seems to assume a deep understanding of that work as a mirror to his own presentation. He discusses Joseph's trust in the angelic messages he receives and his guidance of Jesus through the hidden years of His life. He writes quite beautifully of the reunion of the Holy Family in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve and was found in the temple discussing theology with the rabbis and scholars. Jesus humbly went down afterwards to Nazareth to grow in "wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." [Luke 2:52] Doze's book didn't leave me with a full or coherent bigger picture, only lots of little insights.

He did leave me with a desire to learn more about Sts. Bernadette and Teresa of Avila. Perhaps I will revisit this book after more time and more reading.

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