The "Terrestrial Trinity"
in Place for the
by Jackie Alnor
"Will the coming millennium - 2000 A.D. - be focused on St. Joseph, just as the first millennium centered on Christ, and as the second millennium brought out the role of Mary in God's plan for mankind?." the Reverend Stanley Smolenski pondered. "There seems to be much pointing in that direction."
The Catholic vicar at St. Martha's Parish in Endfield, Connetecuit published his theological arguments on behalf of Joseph, the fatherly guardian of the youthful Jesus, in a recent issue of the "Homiletic and Pastoral Review." It was reprinted in the "Catholic Familyland" newspaper whose advisory board includes dozens of Catholic bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.
"We already have a profound appreciation of Jesus and Mary," Rev. Smolenski contends. "What is necessary is a similar appreciation of the third member of the terrestrial trinity: St. Joseph." Smolenski's argument for a revival of Josephology in the Roman Catholic Church can be summarized like this:
- The Holy Spirit is directing the church's attention to Joseph.
- Devotion to Joseph brings us to Mary who unites us to Jesus.
- By acknowledging Joseph the Holy Family is complete - Mary is mother; Joseph is father, and Jesus is brother and we enter the family of God through them.
However, such a claim receives strong reaction by church leaders in the evangelical side of the church [Editor's note: there is only one church and the Catholic religion has no part of it]. "The shifting of the focus to Joseph is another attempt by the agents of Satan to divert people away from their sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3), wrote Mike Gendron, a former Roman Catholic who now evangelizes Catholics through his "Proclaiming the Gospel" ministry.
"Considering Joseph, the husband of Mary is mentioned only a handful of times in the Bible, it appears to be another attempt to add to God's word with the teachings and traditions of men," Gendron argues. "In doing so they will be adding yet another mediator between God and men and making the simple way of salvation even more complex."
But Rev. Smolenski reasons that the ecumenical councils during the first millennium clarified theological arguments for the humanity and divinity of Christ. And that the second millennium brought Mary into focus with such dogmas as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, as well as the beginning of the age of Marian apparitions. So he concludes that the next millennium needs to focus on Joseph to complete the newly discovered trinity, which makes perfect sense to him in light of our "fatherless society."
The argument from scripture centers around the life of the son of Jacob, the Joseph of the Old Testament whom God used to save the Israelites from famine in Egypt. "As the patriarch Joseph achieved the title "savior of the world" in Hebrew history" (Gen. 41:45), Smolenski notes, "should there be any doubt that Joseph of Nazareth has a similar saving mission in our times as he did in the life of the Holy Family?"
Does this mean that Joseph is now the proposed savior of the 21st Century? So it would seem. For the New Testament proof text he cites the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 4:15: "You might have thousands of guardians in Christ, but not more than one father; and it was I who begot you in Christ Jesus by preaching the gospel," wrote Smolenski, quoting his Catholic Bible. "If that Apostle can make such a claim," he reasoned, "how much more should we see the paternity, by grace, of St. Joseph over the entire mystical body of Christ. So Joseph is, in a relative way, the spiritual Father of the mystical body, the Church."
But former Dominican priest, Richard Bennett, publisher of the "Berean Beacon" newsletter objects to the new Josephology. "If this was just grown men playacting with God's Word as theological toys it would be serious enough," he responds. "It is however a breaking of God's commandment not to call up the dead (Deut. 18:10-11). The Roman Catholic Church [officially] teaches their people to communicate with their 'Terrestrial Trinity' just as Stanley Smolenski and the Roman Catholic bishops, archbishops and cardinals of 'Catholic Familyland' do." To demonstrate this Bennett points to a traditional Catholic prayer to 'Jesus, Mary and Joseph' that is widely used by the Catholic faithful."Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give You my heart and my soul!
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, assist me in my last agony!
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with You!"
"The Bible however teaches," warns Bennett, "'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim. 2:5). And one name given to us for salvation. 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (Jesus Christ) under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved' (Acts. 4:12)."
Rev. Smolenski's proposed doctrine (going to Jesus through Mary and going to Mary through Joseph) is not as new as it would seem. He is only trying to attract more attention to a Catholic tradition that has been accepted in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. One thing for sure, if his proposed chain of command gains momentum in the next millennium, access to the Lord Jesus Christ for the Roman Catholic faithful promises to get more convoluted.
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