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Why is St. Joseph the Terror of Demons? The Cloak of Joseph, The Concealer of the Holy Family

Have you ever wondered why St. Joseph is the Terror of Demons? Interestingly, this question is related to this next question, too: 

Have you ever wondered about the timing of Lent?

Lent, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is a time during which “the Church unites herself … to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.”[1] Jesus was “driven by the spirit into the desert.”[2] This happened immediately after His Baptism in the Jordan by St. John the Baptist. 

Why? Why then?

This is a very rich series of events. There is a lot going on beneath the surface. Why would Jesus need to confront Satan right now, right after His Baptism? Why not sooner or later

Why is St. Joseph called the Terror of Demons?

    In this post you will learn

Why did this epic confrontation between Jesus and the devil happen at the start of Jesus’ public ministry? 

And why did Jesus’ public ministry begin in His 30th year?

Want to watch this article instead of reading it? Here's a talk I recently gave about what was special about Jesus' 30th year:

So why did Jesus’ public ministry begin in His 30th year? Why then? 

Perhaps the reason seems self-evident. Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Strong Man that “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.”[3] At the start of his public ministry, Jesus goes into the desert and binds the strong man. That’s definitely a good tactic. But why not sooner? Why now, in Jesus’ 30th year?

Because something else happened in Jesus’ 30th year. Something very important.

Here's a hint: What high feast or solemnity is always celebrated (as far as I can tell) during Lent? Whose feast day is like a little oasis in the desert of Lent? 

What is Special About Jesus' 30th Year?

Jesus' began His public ministry in His 30th year. But why start then? Why not 18? or 21? Or, if He knew His public ministry would ultimately end in crucifixion, why not wait until His 40th year?

Because something else happened in Jesus’ 30th year. A triggering event. 

What was Jesus' trigger to begin His public ministry? The Blessed Mother urges Jesus to turn water into wine at the Wedding at Cana. This ultimately becomes the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. 

But why was the Blessed Virgin Mary urging Jesus in the first place? Why now? And why did Jesus allow Himself to be urged on?

Because somebody very important to Jesus died when He was 30. 

His Dad. St. Joseph.

I remember when my dad died. Suddenly, my vocation and my life was in my hands. Everything was now my decision. You may have experienced something similar in your life. Jesus did, too. 

St. Joseph was also of the House of David, the rightful king of Israel. When St. Joseph died, the earthly crown of St. Joseph passed to Jesus, as well. 

Who is the Terror of Demons? and Why?

This is what shifted. This is why Jesus began his public ministry when He did. 

When Did St. Joseph Die?   

Many saints and mystics believe that St. Joseph died in Jesus’ 30th year. 

Here is the following account from the revelations of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:

As the time drew near for Jesus to begin His mission of teaching, I saw Him ever more solitary and meditative; and toward the same time, the thirtieth year of Jesus, Joseph began to decline. I saw Jesus and Mary often with him … When Joseph was dying, Mary sat at the head of his bed, holding him in her arms. Jesus stood just below her near Joseph's breast. The whole room was brilliant with light and full of angels. After his death, his hands were crossed on his breast, he was wrapped from head to foot in a white winding sheet, laid in a narrow casket, and placed in a very beautiful tomb, the gift of a good man. Only a few men followed the coffin with Jesus and Mary; but I saw it accompanied by angels and environed with light. Joseph’s remains were afterward removed by the Christians to Bethlehem, and interred. I think I can still see him lying there incorrupt.[4]

You can see why St. Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death. Who could ask for a more beautiful death?

Who is known as the Terror of Demons? and Why?
Stefano Erardi, The Death of Saint Joseph, oil on panel, date unknown. The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery, LINK

Until his death, St. Joseph hid his Son from Satan. When Joseph died, the hidden years ended. It was time for Jesus to confront Satan.

What does "The Hidden Years" of Jesus Mean? The Real Meaning of "The Hidden Years" 

That term, the “hidden years” of Christ—we think of it as those years of Christ’s life being “hidden” from us. 

No, in those years, Jesus was “hidden” from Satan. This is one of the reasons the Church calls St. Joseph by the title, “Terror of Demons.” Joseph hid Jesus in those years, giving Jesus time to “increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”[5] St. Joseph’s name means “increase,” by the way—that’s no coincidence.

But how? 

How did St. Joseph hide Jesus from Satan?

Terror of Demons, Concealer of Christ: How did St. Joseph hide Jesus from Satan?

St. Joseph is Terror of Demons because he is the Concealer of Christ. But how did St. Joseph conceal Jesus from Satan?

In his Homilies on Luke, Origen provides an answer to this question citing St. Ignatius of Antioch: 

I found an elegant statement in the letter of a martyr—I mean Ignatius … He stated, "Mary's virginity escaped the notice of the ruler of this age." 

Who is "The Ruler of This Age"? That, of course, is Satan.

But why did Mary’s virginity escape Satan’s notice? Origen answers this, as well: 

It escaped [Satan’s] notice because of Joseph, and because of their wedding, and because Mary was thought to have a husband. If she had not been betrothed or not had (as people thought) a husband, her virginity could never have been concealed from the ‘ruler of this age.’ Immediately, a silent thought would have occurred to the devil: ‘How can this woman, who has not slept with a man, be pregnant? This conception must be divine. It must be something more sublime than human nature.’ But the Savior had so arranged his plan that the devil did not know that he had taken on a body. When he was conceived, he escaped the devil's notice. Later he commanded his disciples ‘not to make him known.’

This is also confirmed by the Catechism. See CCC paragraph 498.[7]

But wait! The devil knew Jesus was Jesus when tempting him in the desert. Right?

Yes, BUT Satan didn’t know Jesus was the Son of God, just the son of Mary and Joseph

Origen also addresses this: 

When the Savior was tempted by the devil himself, he never admitted that he was the Son of God. He merely said, "It is not right for me to adore you or to turn these stones into loaves of bread or to throw myself down from a high place."

And “Son of God” is the title of King David and the Messiah; it doesn’t necessarily mean the Son is divine. 

Even St. Paul says, if the rulers of this world had known who Jesus really was they would not have crucified him. See 1 Corinthians 2:6-8:

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a SECRET and HIDDEN wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

You see, Satan is his arrogance would have never believed that God so humbled himself as to be born as a human.  

But Satan would have realized all of this, if he knew about the Virginal conception. There is something uniquely divine about the Virgin Birth. Ever heard of another Virgin Birth? They are pretty rare!

If Satan had known about the Virgin Birth, if St. Joseph had not concealed the virginal conception, Satan would have been on high alert.  

But Mary and Jesus were kept SECRET and HIDDEN. They were concealed by Joseph.

“Keep it secret, keep it safe.”

That’s why Joseph is the Terror of Demons, because he duped the Devil himself. Through Joseph’s YES, mother and child were kept safe

St. Joseph is and always has been Jesus’ secret weapon. 

How to Hide Your Families From Satan with St. Joseph's Help

St. Joseph kept the Holy Family hidden from the devil during all those "Hidden Years."

As Pope Leo XIII states in Quamquam Pluries:[8]

As the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.

Inside his cloak, St. Joseph made the Holy Family invisible to Satan

Let him now do this to OUR FAMILES, OUR ENTIRE CHURCH!

Wouldn’t it be nice if St. Joseph could do the same thing for our families? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hide our children from Satan until such time that they are able to withstand Satan’s temptations?

We can!

We can entrust our families to St. Joseph, just like God entrusted the Holy Family to Joseph. Now is the time to consecrate your families to St. Joseph.

How? Consecrate your families to St. Joseph. Fr. Donald Calloway and I have written a book and created a calendar specifically for this purpose. 

That's why Fr. Donald Calloway and I wrote the Consecration to St. Joseph for Children and Families:

The Consecration to St. Joseph for Children and Families is 33 days of family prayer which begins 33 days before every feast of St. Joseph.

So St. Joseph can protect all families -- as he protected the Holy Family -- in this last great battle between Heaven and Hell over the family. 

Footnotes on St. Joseph, Terror of Demons

[1] CCC 540

[2] Mark 1:12 NAB

[3] Mark 3:27; cf. Matthew 12:29, Luke 11:21–22

[4] The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations: From the Visions of the Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich as recorded in the journals of Clemens Brentano, “31. Death of St. Joseph. Jesus and Mary in Capharnaum,” p. 330-331, available online here.

[5] Luke 2:52 RSVCE

[6] If my calculations are correct, the earliest possible date for Easter Sunday is March 22, so it is possible for the Solemnity of the Annunciation to occur after Easter Sunday, but it is not possible for the Solemnity of St. Joseph to occur after Easter. It is possible, however, for the Solemnity of St. Joseph to fall during the Triduum and such on Holy Thursday, at the latest.

[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 498: 

People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark's Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus' virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the "connection of these mysteries with one another" in the totality of Christ's mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: "Mary's virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord's death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God's silence."

[8] Pope Leo XIII, Quamquam Pluries, encyclical letter on St. Joseph, August 15, 1889

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  1. Thank you so much for publishing your opening of the Consecration to St. Joseph. I made the Consecration privately two years ago using Fr. Calloway's book. Since then, I have felt the powerful intercession of St. Joseph in my life. It was very interesting. I think it's wonderful that you are making a version of the Consecration available to families! It's so very much needed with the attacks on marriage and the family in our day. I wish I had been able to make the Consecration with a church group. Perhaps I can encourage that in my parish at some time in the future. May Jesus Bless You in Your Ministry to Spread the Devotion to His Foster-Father, May Joseph Enable You in Your Work as well, and May Mother Mary Smile Upon you. May the Father and Holy Spirit, as well, Guide You.