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Theme of Pope’s general audience: ‘St. Joseph, man of silence’

December 15, 2021

In his December 15 general audience—the fourth in a series of Wednesday audiences on St. Joseph—Pope Francis reflected on St. Joseph as a man of silence.

Previous audiences were devoted to St. Joseph and the environment in which he lived (November 17), St. Joseph and salvation history (November 24), and St. Joseph, just man and husband of Mary (December 1).

“In our continuing catechesis on Saint Joseph, we now consider Joseph as a ‘man of silence’,” Pope Francis said to pilgrims assembled in Paul VI Audience Hall, according to the official Vatican summary of his remarks. “The Gospels report none of his spoken words, yet they present Joseph as a model of attentive hearing of God’s word and acting upon it. Indeed, Joseph’s silence was the sign of a contemplative heart, confirming Saint Augustine’s observation that, ‘when the word of God increases, human words fail’ (Sermon 288: 5).”

The summary continued:

Joseph’s quiet humility teaches us to make room in our hearts for Christ, and thus to discern the Father’s will for our lives. Jesus learned the importance of silence from the example of Joseph and Mary, and in turn taught his disciples to cultivate it.

We too are called to exercise interior silence and attentive listening to God’s word, lest our daily worries, temptations and fears lead our spoken words astray and cause hurt to others. Though not easy, fostering contemplative silence is a sure path to authentic self-knowledge and spiritual growth.

May we learn from Saint Joseph’s example of silence to let the Lord fill our hearts and guide our words in the service of his truth and in charity towards all our brothers and sisters.


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