Friday, January 24, 2020

Consecration to St. Joseph?

It has been only a few weeks since Marian Press published Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, and since the book seems to be gaining some traction I thought I should give it a read. I know almost nothing about Fr. Calloway save what he includes on the back cover—he is a vocation director for the Marian Fathers and lives in Steubenville—and a little bit from his social media footprint. I am not usually interested in reviewing new Josephite devotional material, but Calloway’s twist of a Montfort-esque consecration to the foster father of Christ piqued my interest.

Oddly, the focus on consecration is so strong that Calloway seems annoyed that any reader would want to take time and learn about St. Joseph before embarking on the 33-day preparation process:
Most likely, the majority of people who acquire Consecration to St. Joseph are going to go straight into the 33-day preparation. However, there might be some people who get the book but are not quite ready for consecration to St. Joseph. Some people might feel that they want to get to know St. Joseph better before committing to a month-long preparation for consecration to a saint they don’t know much about. (p. 7)
They might, indeed! St. Louis de Montfort made sure to lay the theological groundwork for his “total consecration” to the Virgin Mary before encouraging his readers to embark on the lengthy preparation process. Fr. Calloway has a difficult time understanding why St. Joseph would require any introduction, much less why any Catholic would need convincing before preparing himself for a sacred vow to the carpenter of Nazareth.

Fr. Calloway’s version of St. Joseph is, of course, the “New St. Joseph” that I have written so much about in my Josephology series on this blog. Those posts expound (perhaps at excruciating length) upon the Josephite doctrines I consider untraditional and therefore in error, and Calloway adds very little to the doctrinal list.

I would rather consider a bizarre aspect of Josephite devotion which crystalized for me while reading this book: Why is it that devotees of St. Joseph strive to make him so much like the Virgin Mary, both in doctrine and spirituality? Let us consider this list that traditionally applied in whole only to Mary, but which the New Josephites claim as the common property of them both:

  • Sanctification in the Womb
  • Sinlessness
  • Perpetual Virginity
  • Annunciation
  • Spiritual Parentage of All Christians (New Adam/Eve)
  • Bodily Assumption
  • Celestial Coronation
  • A special kind of dulia (hyper for Mary, proto for Joseph)

  • Litany (of Majestic Titles)
  • Memorare
  • Seven Sorrows
  • Seven Joys
  • Flowery Iconography
  • Consecration with a 33-Day Preparation

Why does New St. Joseph appear to be, for all intents and purposes, a male clone of Mary? Does he have no spirituality of his own? No doctrine or personality that could be considered particularly his? (I’m actually surprised no Rosary of St. Joseph exists. It would be the next logical step.) Calloway makes an attempt to push the idea of Joseph as “The Savior of the Savior” in reference to the Flight to Egypt, but other than this and a brief observation about manual labor, he comes up empty in demonstrating anything manly or even unique about St. Joseph. The historical trajectory of Josephite devotion is to mimic everything wonderful and special about the Mother of God, while gradually discarding those few facts concerning him we actually received from Tradition.

On the other hand, the Real St. Joseph is full of personality and is at no risk of losing himself as a dim reflection of the Virgin Mary. He is indeed virile, proven by the generous procreation of many sons who would become disciples of Christ. He is indeed manly, proven by the feeling of dishonor upon learning about Mary’s unexplained pregnancy. He is indeed both just and merciful, proven by the subtle decision to divorce her, but quietly. He is indeed wise, for he obeyed the angel always without complaint. He is indeed longsuffering, for he endured many trials, humiliations, anxieties, and undesired journeys for justice’s sake.
O how comely is judgment for a grey head, and for ancients to know counsel! O how comely is wisdom for the aged, and understanding and counsel to men of honour! Much experience is the crown of old men, and the fear of God is their glory. (Sirach 25)
Let the real glory of St. Joseph shine in all its radiance. We don’t need to carbon copy the Second Eve to make him seem worthwhile. Jesus is the sun, Mary is the moon; what glorious humility that they would bow down before Joseph of Nazareth! Perhaps he understands humility more than any other saint ever could. Let him remain humble.


  1. One almost wonders if "Marian Father" is a description of the latter-day St Joseph! The character of much of modern Marian devotion has always churned my stomach ("No man comes to the Father except through Me [whom no man comes to except through My Mother]?" "Mediatrix of *All* Graces?"), and the attempts to mold St Joseph to this already distorted image of Mother of God are all the more scandalous. I once heard an ignorant laymen refer to the Holy Family as an "Earthly Trinity" (what blasphemy!), and I can't entirely blame them for getting that impression.

    1. The idea of an "earthly trinity" comes up in Fr. Calloway's book, as well. I have nothing against finding reflections of the divine nature within creation, but this particular proposition is taken far too literally by many Holy Family devotees. Sometimes the parallels between earthly and heavenly do not even allow Jesus in Nazareth to align with the Son in Heaven, but rather with the Holy Spirit! (cf.

      The fact that the Holy Family composed a triad assuredly has some mystical importance, just as there is a true resonance in the fact that there are three theological virtues, three heavens, three powers of the soul, etc. I think we ought to leave the literal meaning at that, and keep it as yet another reminder of the threeness of God.

  2. Some of the writings of St Josemaria Escriva about St Joseph do propose a more sensible and less "devotional" spirituality of St Joseph. I still can't get around the Gospel quotation (and I am paraphrasing it) of man born of woman there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.

  3. "Sanctification in the Womb"

    And then we ignore the Forerunner, who we know was actually sanctified in the womb.

    Give me old Joseph any day.

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  5. He is the Protector of the Universal Church making him very much a saint of universal devotion.

    And he was 30 yrs old when he took BVM for spouse, that means 'young' St J is correct. Source visionary Maria Agreda de Jesus (17th cn)by memory. Makes sense, his virginity also.

    The 'old' St Joseph was crafted purely for pastoral reasons not on venerable revelation.

    Your St Joseph rants are mostly wrong I would say, dare I say verging on impiety towards the Protector of the Church.

    1. Sorry, but you're wrong about that. Old St. Joseph was a long tradition. Young St. Joseph was made up in the period before the Renaissance; the Middle Ages had old St. Joseph as well. The Eastern Church and Western Church agreed on this for a long time until devotionalism made St. Joseph young!


      Do you really accuse the Fathers of the Church like St. Hilary of lying (i.e., fabricating out of nothing an old St. Joseph) for pastoral reasons?!!! Looks like your accusation has backfired as your rant here is worse!

    3. And even more relevantly. One wonders how we went from anathematizing Montanus to credulously deferring to any and every monastic proclaiming a new revelation to add to or even emend Tradition.

  6. "Surprised no rosary of St. Joseph exists" Not anymore!

  7. The FSSP Father's Day card this year had a very old St. Joseph holding his foster son. Lovely painting by Guido Reni

  8. Please do a critique of this book. It's spreading like wildfire among different Catholic communities right now.