Manuscript on Purgatory
ST. JOSEPH RISES FROM OBSCURITY IN MESSAGES FROM AMERICAN APPARITION
St. Joseph, long a hidden and under-appreciated saint, has risen to sudden prominence by way of apparitions to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil -- the Ohio mystic who died last year and whose apparitions, already partially approved, are now being set before Church officials for further action. [see previous story]
The move to grant them wider recognition is in its very early stage but as details emerge they have had an "explosive" effect, according to those involved in the cause -- and among the details is the role of Joseph, faithful husband of Mary and father on earth of the Savior Himself.
On March 11, 1958, the Virgin reportedly told Sister Mildred that Joseph was coming to speak to her because he has "an important part to play in bringing peace to the world."
When Joseph appeared, said Sister Neuzil, he described himself as the "virgin-father" whose stain from original sin was cleansed immediately after his conception "through the future merits of Jesus."
"My heart suffered with the hearts of Jesus and Mary," said the saint. "Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield, as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men. The most painful part of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them."
In one vision Sister Mildred saw Joseph "suspended, as it were, a short distance above what had the appearance of a large globe with clouds moving about it. His head was slightly raised, the eyes gazing upward as if in ecstasy. The hands were in a position similar to that of the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass, only they extended upward somewhat more." His hair seemed dark brown, said Sister Mildred, and he had a small beard. He was clothed in a white robe that reached to his ankles. Over this he wore a cloak, according to a pamphlet issued by the Our Lady of America Center in Fostoria, Ohio.
If sanctioned the apparitions of Joseph would rank among the most powerful in Church history. In recent times he has been associated with just one major apparition, that of Knock, Ireland, and with lesser apparitions such as one on the side of a church in Pidkamin, Ukraine.
But in those appearances he was silent; to Sister Mildred (whose messages were granted an imprimatur) he spoke.
He came as a teacher of purity, said Sister Mildred, and through him God had "blessed all fatherhood."
"Fatherhood is from God," Joseph said to the nun, "and it must take once again its rightful place among men. The Holy Trinity desires thus to honor me that in my unique fatherhood all fatherhood might be blessed."
In another vision Sister Mildred, whose spiritual director was Archbishop Paul F. Leibold of Cincinnati, said she saw Joseph's "pure heart" on a cross of brown color. "It appeared to me that at the top of the heart, in the midst of the flames pouring out, was a pure white lily," wrote the nun, who said the saint desired a day set aside to honor his fatherhood. "In honoring in a special way my fatherhood, you also honor Jesus and Mary," he told Sister Neuzil, adding that he too was a "co-operator" or "co-redemptor." "The Divine Trinity has placed into our keeping the peace of the world."
Sister Mildred said St. Joseph's cloak at times seemed brown, at other times purple, with a belt and sandals that looked the color of gold. Though his appearance seemed quite youthful, the nun said he gave the impression of "great strength" and "rare maturity."
"The lines of his face appeared strong and purposeful, softened somewhat by a gentle serenity," said Sister Mildred in a booklet available through the Fostoria center. "I also saw his most pure heart at this time. Moreover, I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering above his head."
The nun added that two angels were at his side, each with a small, satin-covered pillow, one bearing a gold scepter, the other a gold crown.
"Then I heard these words: `Thus should be honored whom the King desires to honor,'" said Sister Mildred.
According to the revelations Joseph had been given special powers of protection over the Pope and Church, as well as individual households, and requested that his heart be honored in a special way each first Wednesday of the month through recitation of the Rosary's joyful mysteries and Communion. "Let them receive Holy Communion in union with the love with which I received the Savior for the first time and each time I held Him in my arms," said Joseph on March 30, 1958 -- thus setting the stage for possible creation of a new devotion in the same manner that Fatima began the devotion of First Saturdays. He promised that those dedicated to this new devotion "will be consoled by my presence at their death, and I myself will conduct them safely into the presence of Jesus and Mary."
"Jesus and Mary desire that my pure heart, so long hidden and unknown, be now honored in a special way," said the apparition. "Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross," Joseph said in October 1956. "My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God's children, and together with my Virgin Spouse I watch over them with great love and solicitude. Through me the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues and will continue to do so till the end of time."
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