The Best Talk I’ve Ever Heard on St. Joseph: John Cavadini

The Best Talk I’ve Ever Heard on St. Joseph: John Cavadini January 11, 2021

As Pope Francis indicated the year of St. Joseph, I’ve been thinking a bit about how I can better live devotion to him. Every week, my community has an hour for spiritual formation together. This week, someone found a talk on St. Joseph by John C. Cavadini. Cavadini is the director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame. He gave a 1-hour talk titled “St. Joseph, A Father Rich in Mercy.” Although Mercy was in the title he goes in-depth about several topics on St. Joseph. Here’s the video and I’ll post my summary notes below it.


My Notes Summarizing the Talk

These notes are paraphrased from the talk and really just what stood out to me. There were other good points too.


The saints are for everyone.

The Sabbath is a foretaste of eternal life.

Spending time with the saints prepares us for heaven as heaven will be spending eternity with them.

The Church remembering is always a “we” as we all share in her memory.

Jesus is both the mediator and the sum of revelation.

The incarnation is not a mere myth as it happens in time; nor is it strictly historical as its origin is outside of time. In this space between myth and history exists the mystery (myth-history) of the incarnation.

St. Joseph in Tradition

We don’t know if Joseph thought Mary was unfaithful or was in awe at God’s work. Either matches the text.

The Gospel writers show discretion in presenting dialogue between Mary and Jospeh to remind us of the intimacy of their marriage.

Eastern icons tend to follow the Protoevangelium of James in considering Joseph an old man who had adult children.

The West tends to take Joseph as a young man starting with Jerome,who thought him a virgin. Taking “bothers” in the Gospel not for Jospeh’s kids but in the semetic sense which would include cousins or other relatives.

Some think devotion to St. Joseph came from the Middle Ages, but Origen expresses it and said he got it from Ignatius of Antioch (died 108), putting it back to Apostolic times.


The logic of the incarnation is not the logic of this world.

The Roman Census is a symbol of how from Jesus’ birth God can enroll the whole world in the book of life.

Love is always invisible to the devil, as he is incapable of love.

St. Teresa of Avila recommends entrusting yourself to St. Jospeh and making him your spiritual director.

The Communion of Saints is communion with Jesus.

Hopefully, this video helps many grown in their devotion to Jesus’ foster father. I was surprised such a great video had only ~1350 views.

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Painting by Anton Raphael Mengs called The Dream of St. Joseph
Anton Raphael Mengs: The Dream of St. Joseph (CC0 Wikimedia commons)

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