Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum ejus! Joseph had the happiness to die in the arms of Jesus and Mary. How could death be painful to him who died in the arms of Life? The devout clients of St. Joseph should hope with confidence that, at their death, the Saint will visit them accompanied by Jesus and Mary, to help them to die happily.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Ps. cxv. 15). Consider that St. Joseph, after having faithfully served Jesus and Mary, arrived at the end of life in the house of Nazareth. There, surrounded by Angels, assisted by Jesus Christ, the King of Angels, and by Mary, his spouse, who placed themselves one at each side of his poor bed, in this sweet and noble company, filled with the peace of Paradise, he departed this miserable life.
The presence of such a spouse, and of such a Son, a name by which the Redeemer condescended to call himself, rendered the death of Joseph exceedingly sweet and precious. How could death be painful to him who died in the arms of Life? Who shall ever be able to explain or understand the pure sweetness, the consolations, the blessed hopes, the acts of resignation, the flames of charity, which the words of Eternal Life, coming alternately from the lips of Jesus and Mary, breathed into the soul of Joseph at the end of his life? There is, then, great probability in the opinion of St. Francis de Sales, that St. Joseph died of the pure love for God.
My holy Patriarch, now that thou dost rejoice in Heaven on a glorious throne, near thy beloved Jesus Who was subject to thee on earth, have pity on me who am still living in the midst of so many enemies, devils and bad passions, that continually strive to rob me of the peace of God. Ah, through the grace given thee on earth of enjoying the continual society of Jesus and Mary, obtain for me the grace to live always united with God, by resisting the assaults of hell, and to die loving Jesus and Mary, that I may be able one day to enjoy their company with thee in the kingdom of bliss.
Such, then, was the death of St. Joseph, all placid and sweet, free from anguish and fear; because his life was always holy. They who have offended God, and merited hell, cannot expect to die such a death. But great, indeed, will be the comfort of those who, at the hour of death, shall be protected by St. Joseph, who, since a God was once obedient to him, has power to command the devils, will drive them away, and hinder them from tempting his clients in their last moments. Happy the soul that shall then be assisted by this great advocate, who, on account of having died with the assistance of Jesus and Mary, and of having preserved the infant Jesus from the dangers of death by his flight into Egypt, has received the privilege of being the protector of a good death, and of delivering his dying clients from the danger of eternal death.
My holy protector, thou hadst a just claim to so holy a death, because thy entire life was holy. I justly merit an unhappy death, because I have deserved it by my wicked life. But if thou dost defend me I shall not be lost. Thou hast been not only a great friend of my Judge, but thou hast also been His guardian and protector. If thou wilt recommend me to Jesus, He will not know how to condemn me. I choose thee, after Mary, for my principal advocate and protector. I promise to honour thee every day by some special devotion, and by placing myself under thy protection. I am unworthy of being thy servant; but through the love which thou dost bear to Jesus and Mary, accept me for thy perpetual servant. Through the sweet company of Jesus and Mary, which thou didst enjoy during life, protect me during my whole life, that I may never be separated from God by losing His grace. And through the assistance which Jesus and Mary gave thee at death, protect me at the hour of my death, that, dying in the company of thee, of Jesus, and of Mary, I may one day go to thank thee in Paradise, and in thy company to praise and love thy God for ever.
(The Feast Of St Joseph – by St Alphonsus Liguori)