The Example of the Blessed Mother & St. Joseph – Lent 2024


The lives of the saints can enrich our spiritual life by offering examples of heroic virtue and love of God, perhaps none more than the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. In this talk, you will get to know these two important figures in the life of Christ and the life of the Church, and grow closer to Jesus this Lent through their stories and through their intercession.

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Reflective Study Guide Questions

“If it is true that the Blessed Virgin is the keeper of all heavenly graces, that her love for the elect is the source of their glory and happiness, what must be the glory of St. Joseph whom she was obliged to love above all the saints, just as a good wife must love her husband above all men.”

– Blessed Boleslava Lament

1. What does your relationship with the saints look like? What about Mary and Joseph in particular?

2. What can you learn from Mary and Joseph particularly during this Lent? How can their example help you grow closer to Jesus?

3. In his talk Jon asks the question: What does my world revolve around? What is your answer? Where is your focus? Is Jesus the center of your life or He just another part of it?

4.  How might you be more intentional in developing your relationship to the Holy Family this Lent?

Text: The Example of the Blessed Mother & St. Joseph

I don’t know if there are two people that I would rather talk more about besides our Lord than Mary and Joseph. Let’s pray.

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Oh, good. St. Joseph, Mother Mary, queen of Heaven as you are, mother St. Joseph, patron of the Family and Universal Church. We ask you both to pray for us now, and in coming to know both of you better, we may come to know the Lord Jesus, Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Saints’ Lives, Change Lives

It’s an exciting time, of course, for Lent is to talk about two great Saints. Saints that mean a lot to me. Now, I am very open and if you’ve ever followed anything that I’ve written, or maybe some of my talks, you know, that I love talking about the saints, the saint’s lives changed lives, and they changed my life from an early age. I, picked up the book of St. Padre Pio and, you know, at an early age with, with all the special effects in his life, I was really just enamored.

I read, I remember reading his book in like two days. Okay. And as a kid, I didn’t really like to read that much. So that just kind of shows you, just how excited I was to, to learn about this great Saint Pio. I then started reading about St. Rita of Cascia. St. Rita of Cascia, is one of my three patron saints, along with Padre Pio and St. Michael. And reading about the life of St. Rita of Cascia, it was another game changing moment for me. You know, she’s actually still the saint, that I believe in the Catholic church with the most miracles attributed to her in intercession besides Our Lady. She is, just an incredible, example of fidelity, of faith to the Lord Jesus in the Church. She had a really difficult life, a really, really difficult life. But, by the grace of God overcoming a lot of that, she was sanctified and lived a life of, of heroic virtue.

I read, of course about Saint Michael, the Archangel, and, kind of studied his life a little bit more from what the church gives us. Also for a little bit from sacred scripture. and again, taking him as my confirmation saint. I wanted a, I wanted a protector, but I wanted a powerful angel as a protector. And so that’s why I chose St. Michael. Those are my three patron saints. But of course, of course, it doesn’t end there, and it shouldn’t end there for us in the life of the church.

Who is Saint Joseph

I am a firm believer that if you don’t have a strong devotion to the life of the saints, you should at least, at least carve out a part of your spiritual life, for Mary and Joseph. Mary, the most powerful saint in heaven and Saint Joseph, that for which I believe to be the second most powerful saint that we have, St. Joseph was the foster father of Jesus. he comes from the line of David, so he comes from royalty, but he was very poor. He didn’t have a lot, he didn’t, he didn’t make a lot of money. He was a carpenter, as we know, he was a, a quiet man. Scripture refers to him as righteous, right? And what does that mean when you, you talk about St. Joseph as righteous? Is he obeyed God’s law. And more importantly, he loved, right? Because the law is useless without love, and love is useless without the law. He was an incredible combination of both of those. St. Joseph was a protector.

This is one of the reasons why the church gives him, the patronage of not just families, protector of families. And by the way, we named our oldest after St. Joseph, so, we’re big fans and, often pray to him to protect our family. But he’s also the patron saint of the universal church, as I mentioned in the prayer. And the church just isn’t going to give that one out to anyone. You know, you’re probably going to be, a pretty respected saint in the life of the church if, the church is going to kind of put that stamp on you.

Who is Mary?

Who was Mary? Mary was a poor girl, as we know. Mary was also, one that didn’t come from, oh, she didn’t come from a lot of wealth in her family. Mary was a Jewish girl who also abided by the law, and also was of course, filled with love. Mary, as often, is, is given and, has many names in the life of the Church. My favorite for her is just simply Mother Mary, right? Mother Mary. God reestablishes what was lost in Eve through Mary, which is another honorary title that we give her as the “New Eve.” It is Mary who fulfills what was broken, or the knot that was tied into God’s plan for salvation for his people. Okay?

Why Are They So Important in the Church?

Just a quick background of both of them and why they’re so big in our faith. It goes without saying, right? You’re the mother of God, the Theotokos, and I mean the mother of God, right? She isn’t just the mother of the, the human side of Jesus. She is the mother of God, the Son of God, fully human and fully divine by the power of the Holy Spirit. So all of Jesus is her son. St. Joseph of course, is a foster father of Jesus. And, though he wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, he was a father to Jesus in every way possible. Again, he was one who would teach him. He was one who would guide him. And though tradition teaches that St. Joseph, he, would’ve most likely died before Jesus’s public ministry. It would’ve been St. Joseph there in Jesus’ younger years, to be able to teach him and guide him, and send him through great spiritual formation. I am, just really fond about reading, many of the different saints quotes when it comes to, St. Joseph and the revere, how much they revered him, and of course, Our Lady. I’ll get to a couple of those in a little bit.

God is Always the Main Focus

A couple things that stick out to me though about Joseph and Mary as we reflect on them here during, this holy season of Lent. Joseph was a quiet man, of course, he’s not recorded as saying any words in sacred scripture, but as I said before, he was righteous. And what that means is more than anything is God was always his main focus. Okay? You see this in Our Lady as well, and I think during Lent, there’s an ability for us as Catholics to be able to focus a little bit more. You know, it’s kind of like, “oh, what am I going to do for Lent this year?” “What am I going to give up? What am I going to fast?” You know, we’re thinking about it a little bit more rather than we are maybe even advent or ordinary time. or, you know, triduum is probably up there too. but Advent, or excuse me, Lent just has a way of really kind of laser focusing us on Jesus Christ. So when I think of St. Joseph, when I think of Mother Mary, they were laser focused, right? They were laser focused on God, they were laser focused on His ways. They were laser focused on holiness, and they were laser focused on love.

You know, this is really something I think all of us can learn from Joseph and Mary, that laser like focus on God in our lives, whether it’s our marriage, right? And you better believe that they had a laser like focus on Jesus in their marriage, right? I mean, this was their son, and, and they were the chief protectors, and guides, the mother, the, the foster father of Jesus. So everything, their world revolved around him, and so should ours, right? Especially during lent, it’s a good reminder for us.

What does your world revolve around? What does my world revolve around? I’ve got three young kids and a beautiful wife, right? My world is revolving oftentimes on, my family, and they teach me that, right? But if I don’t bring my family to Jesus, if I just make it all about them, I’m not doing what I can as a father. I’m not doing my job. And that’s the beauty of St. Joseph. Everything in his life, his marriage, everything was laser focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. Mother Mary, as well in our lives, and we can learn something from them.

Where’s your focus? Is it on Jesus? During this lent, a really powerful prayer is to “keep my focus on you, Jesus” I say that oftentimes, “keep my focus on you today.” “Help me to know you better than I did yesterday.” Another big prayer of mine is, “Help me to know you better than I’m going to even know you tomorrow.” And then I pray tomorrow, “help me to know you better than I did yesterday.” Right? But they were always growing, and they were looking for those ways to constantly grow.

A Practice of Ordinary Virtues

I’m going to read this, from St. Joseph Morello. He said “St. Joseph did not do extraordinary things, but rather by the constant practice of ordinary and common virtues, he attained that sanctity, which elevates him above all the other saints.” That’s a powerful quote right there, right? But rather by the constant practice of ordinary and common virtues, okay? Right there in St. Joseph, we have a man that, did the ordinary exceptionally well, right? He practiced the ordinary virtues that, for which you and I may often take for granted, but he practiced them heroically. And, and look, I mean, who am I? Right? When it comes down to it, who are you when it comes down to it? But, but men and women who, who need to practice the ordinary, well, men and women who need to be after the virtue of life, isn’t that what the Lord Jesus is, is constantly seeking for his disciples to be able to live in that kind of heroic holiness, that heroic virtue and way.

St. Teresa Avila said, “knowing by experience, St. Joseph’s astonishing influence with God, I would wish to persuade everyone to honor him with particular devotion. I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner, make progress in virtue for this heavenly protector favors in a striking manner, the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.” You want to advance in the way of our Lord? Turn to St. Joseph. You want to grow in holiness in the way of our Lord? Turn to St. Joseph. You know, St. Joseph is also the patron saint of fathers, and you can probably see why. I’m speaking of fathers right now, all of you fathers, you want to be a better father? And who doesn’t? I want to be a better father. I want to be a better father every day, go to St. Joseph. You know, he is also the, the patron saint of expectant mothers. So if you’re pregnant right now, moms go to St. Joseph. Ask him for his protection, ask him for, for, for him to protect you and your child the way that he protected Mary and Jesus. Ooh, that gives me the goosebumps, just even saying that, right? Woo, I’m going to walk outta here, pumped up. I’m just telling you right now, but do it! St. Joseph is a powerful, powerful intercessor.

St. Joseph Terror of Demons

And really, when it comes down to it, like this is a relatively new devotion in the life of the church to St. Joseph I don’t have time to talk about all of that here, but really look it up. It’s a relatively new devotion to the life of St. Joseph, in the life of the church. So take him on, all the saints, right? I’ve got so many different quotes here, I want to say Pope Pius the said, “Jesus and Mary themselves obey and offer their homage to Joseph for the reverence, what the hand of God has established in him, namely the authority of spouse and the authority of father.” You know, this is one of the, reasons why Jesus, or excuse me, Joseph has given the title, “St. Joseph Terror of Demons.” What terrorizes the demons so much the fact that God, God would place himself, the son of God, who always was and always will be, Jesus Christ, would place himself under the obedience of one of his creatures. St. Joseph. Think about that. The humility, the humility of our God to place himself under the obedience of one of his creatures. Who does he place himself under the obedience of Joseph and Mary. Which is why, which is why, the devil is so terrified of both of them.

Understanding Who Was Eve

Alright, Our Lady, Our Lady, she’s the new Eve, okay? I think to understand, Mary, we got to understand Eve, right? Who is Eve? let’s just get a, a quick tutorial. Eve was, the first woman, right? She was, the mother of all the living. She was, perfect, right? That was Eve. Eve was given all the fruits and vegetables along with Adam in the garden. And, they were given strict instructions. Don’t eat from that tree, right? That’s a tree of knowledge, okay? All of a sudden, God kind of moves away. The devil kind of comes in and he does what he always tries to do. He just runs the same play, always tries to pits us against God, right? Always tries to, make us see God as a threat to our lives, a threat to our freedom, a threat to whatever I want to do. You hear it all the time, right? The Catholic Church has too many rules, or I just want to be free, or you do you, all that sort of stuff, from the devil and from the beginning. This isn’t anything new, okay? And so he says, “who told you you can’t eat from the tree? Well, God did. Well, okay? It makes sense, right? The devil says he doesn’t want you to eat from that tree because it’s the tree of knowledge. And he knows that if you eat from the tree of knowledge, you’re going to be smart. You’re going to be smart like him. And God doesn’t want that kind of competition. So go ahead, eat from the tree.”

Eve becomes the first person to take the fruit from the tree and bite into it. And Adam, follow suit. And of course, ironically, they did become smart, very smart, smart enough to know they made a horrible decision. And so what happens is they hide themselves in shame. God could have given Himself up on all this. He could have given all of this up, right? I tried that whole human experiment thing. It didn’t work out. They rejected me. I’m moving on. But he doesn’t. God relentlessly tirelessly runs after us, runs that He chases us. And what happens? We continue to say no. All until Mother Mary loosens the knot, the angel, Gabriel appears to Mary, and she conceives of the Holy Spirit. Mary says, “yes!” Mary, as the other church father says, loosens that knot, loosens that knot that was tied so tight for Eve, and thus Mary becomes the fulfillment of the arc of the covenant, right? What was the arc of the covenant in the, in, in the Old Testament? It’s that for which housed God. It was the place of perfection. Mary here becomes the first tabernacle, the place of perfection where God will reside.

The Tree of Life

And of course, what happens with Mary, she’s there at, at the first public miracle of our Lord. It’s her at the wedding feast, and here’s this, you know, the, the symbolism of a wedding, right? Of course, heaven is the wedding feast between the church and, and the bridegroom. Our God. It’s Mary who fulfills the arc of the covenant. And thus Mary, Mary is there at all the most important moments of our lord’s life, especially during his public ministry. Where is the first public miracle done at a wedding feast, Wedding feast. Listen to the symbolism there. Wedding feast heaven, right? Bride, groom, bride, the church, Jesus Christ, the bride, groom the wedding feast here on earth. Jesus was there. They could have gone straight to him. But instead, what do they do? They go to his mother, they go to Mary, and they ask her the people of God. The church asks her at this great wedding feast to go and intercede for them on behalf of the people of God to her son.

And Jesus calls her “woman” when he sees her, who is woman? They would’ve known right away. Eve, Jesus is making a very clear point here, stands before me, the new Eve, the new mother of all the living. And where does he reestablish that? But he reestablishes that underneath the new tree, the tree of life. See, where does eve stand? She stands underneath the tree of death. Where does Mary stand? Mary always stands underneath the tree of life. And thus Jesus says to her “Woman,” (Eve) here is your son, son, here is your mother John standing in. For all of us is given Mary, just like us, right there, not as a theological figure, but as our mother, the way in which Jesus related to her and still relates to her as his mother to be our spiritual mother. Now, to all the living what Eve was supposed to fulfill, Mary now fulfills this new arc of the covenant.

See, St. Joseph and Mary, there’s rich tradition behind them all, but more than anything, there’s love, and there’s love that they want to shower upon you. You know, what did Joseph and Mary do is they’re just eternal arrows, right? All they do is they just constantly point to Jesus. But in looking and combing over their lives, Jesus has something to teach us, a way in which to follow him in a holier way, in a more virtuous way, in a more righteous way, in a more obedient way, in a more loving way. Jesus gives us these two great saints to help us along our way to sanctity.

I’m John Leonetti, here at the Pray More Lenten Retreat. God bless you all.

About Jon Leonetti

Jon Leonetti is a nationally known Catholic speaker, best-selling author, and radio host who conveys a message of lasting fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Through Jon’s keynote presentations and parish missions, thousands of Catholics each year discover the freedom Christ offers by way of his life and love.

Jon believes that our deepest longing for happiness and wholeness is fulfilled in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Through prayer, the Sacraments, family life, and the help of Mary and the saints, Jon wants to cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus and help others do the same.

With this message Jon has been featured and interviewed by the nation’s top Catholic websites, blogs, and radio shows, helping Catholics in all walks of life to fall in love and stay in love with the living God.

At home, Jon enjoys reading, sports, exercising, coffee, and, most of all, spending time with his wife Teresa, and their three children.  Jon has a master’s degree in moral theology.