St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
To the novices, in preparation for the Novena of St Joseph
9 March 1833
Your good Mother Desmarquest could not do it herself, so I come, my good Daughters, to announce to you the novena of Saint Joseph, which we begin tomorrow, and to present you with some of the reasons to urge you to make it with all the fervor possible.
What Saint was ever more worthy of our respect and confidence than Saint Joseph, who by his extraordinary fidelity merited to be the guardian of the purest of Virgins, and the foster Father of the Son of God? Who better than he could teach us to know the Heart of our divine Master, who often enjoyed a rest in his arms? For after Mary, Joseph alone had that honor, and besides, he lived about thirty years with this God Incarnate. Now who could say the treasures of knowledge and virtue that he drew from this intimate familiarity with Jesus and Mary? In short, what could I say, my good Daughters, of the power that Saint Joseph has in Heaven over the Heart of this same God who willed to be subject to him on earth? Human words are too weak to give the idea justice; it will only be in eternity that we can comprehend both the power and the holiness of this great Saint.
But what will you do, my good Daughters, to make this novena always so efficacious for us, but more still here where this foundation is going to begin, which, if we are faithful, must obtain so much glory for the Heart of Jesus? From the beginning, it is by prayer that you will prepare yourselves for the Feast of Saint Joseph, that is to say that you will strive to make your ordinary prayers with even more fervor, and especially those it is custom to make during this novena. But you know, my good Daughters, that prayer without works does not please God or the Saints, and so you will unite it with the practice of virtues, above all those of which Saint Joseph has given us such admirable examples. You will be more contemplative, more modest, more silent, more united in your work to Jesus and Mary; you will be more humble, receiving with pleasure the small humiliations which you encounter, not excusing yourself in the opportunity, not seeking either the esteem of your Sisters, nor to be distinguished by your Mothers, like Saint Joseph wanting God alone to witness the good you do. Finally, to humility you unite sweetness, for these two virtues of the Heart of Jesus must always form the character of his spouses. Thus you will be sweet and charitable toward all around you, anticipating what will please your Sisters, serving them with kindness, even when it bothers you; being able to withhold a movement, a gesture, a word a little too lively, to bear a disturbance, a disappointment without anyone noticing the act of virtue which you practice. Ah! my good Daughters, if you do that, I can assure you of the success of your prayers in the service of this great Saint, who, St. Therese assures, is never invoked in vain.
And what do you ask him, my good Daughters, during this novena? Ah! first, each one will ask him for what she believes most necessary for her own perfection, and then for interior spirit and humility, love of the hidden life; Saint Joseph practiced these two virtues to a sublime degree, and he cannot refuse to obtain them for us from the Lord. Pray then that he teaches you to profit from the time of your novitiate to acquire them, until you find in them the ease to shape yourself to these virtues, so indispensable for all your life. The small house of Nazareth inhabited by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was without doubt an anticipated Paradise, but religious life and above all the time of the novitiate is also a Paradise for contemplative, humble, and hidden souls, for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph reside there with them. Pray also for this foundation, ask Saint Joseph to be a protector for it, and to obtain for you all that you need to fulfill the designs of God and to glorify the Heart of Jesus. My good Daughters, we must not conceal from where come such delays and obstacles to the desire which you feel at the beginning of this foundation, unless from the lack of virtues and of all that this important work demands, what Our Lord saw in you, and who himself remained in the fulfillment of this desire.
Finally, pray to Saint Joseph for those of your Sisters who are preparing to make their final or first vows shortly, for those who pronounce them a little later, not yet having made the efforts which so great an action requires, and finally for those less advanced in the novitiate, that they profit from all in order to prepare for the alliance which they will one day contract with Jesus Christ. Finally, pray also for your Superiors and for the whole Society.