Question: The Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul to heaven uncorrupted. Was the body of St. Joseph corrupted? If so, why, since he was the foster father of Jesus?
— Miguel Rodriguez, Madison, Alabama
Answer: While we don’t know for sure, the usual answer is that St. Joseph was not assumed into heaven, body and soul. This is because there is no testimony to this either in Scripture or apostolic tradition. However, as we shall see, many do piously believe he was assumed.
But as to “why” he may not have been assumed, we ought to consider that there is a special fittingness to the assumption of Mary’s body. The preface for the feast of the Assumption says of Mary: “Rightly you would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb since from her own body she marvelously brought forth your incarnate Son, the Author of all life.” Hence, her bodily connection and intimacy to the body of the Lord Jesus makes the corruption of her body through decay seem unfitting, even unthinkable. But St. Joseph does not have this bodily connection to the Incarnation. As you note, he is a foster father to Jesus. Hence, there is no physical connection, no origin from him concerning Jesus’ human nature, and the argument from fittingness does not seem to apply.
Surely St. Joseph received many blessings from his role and had the supreme dignity to care for and be in the role of a father to Jesus and spouse to the Blessed Virgin. He is the great patron of the universal Church and patron also of families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, working people and the dying. Indeed, it is a customary belief that he had the supreme dignity of dying in the arms of Mary and Jesus. But, as noted, his bodily assumption is not formally taught or attested to by the Church or in antiquity.
That said, one may piously believe that he was assumed. Some saints and mystics have done so. Among the saints who piously believed this were St. Francis DeSales and St. Bernardine of Siena. Hence, the mere silence on this from antiquity ought not hinder you from a personal and pious embracing of the fond thought that the holy family all share in the full joy of heaven that includes bodily resurrection.
Five First Saturdays devotion
Question: When we are asked to do five first Saturdays of the month by the Blessed Virgin, does this mean once in a lifetime, once a year or every first Saturday of the month, 12 months a year every year?
— Lawrence Oravec, via email
Answer: Simply put, the devotion involves five consecutive first Saturdays which can be done each year. More specifically, one should make a good confession during the eight days prior to the first Saturday with the intention of offering reparation for the offenses against Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. One should attend holy Mass and receive holy Communion on the first Saturday of the month with the intention of offering reparation for the offences against Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Attendance and Mass and the prior confession are to be repeated for five consecutive months, without interruption, otherwise you must recommence from the beginning. On the first Saturday of each month, usually after Mass, one should recite five decades of the Holy Rosary with the intention of making reparation to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart and spend 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the holy Rosary. Finally, one should say the prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to conclude the devotion.
The devotion of the Five First Saturdays is a specification of our Blessed Lady’s teaching at Fátima: “You have seen hell, where souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” Many Catholics choose to respond to Our Lady’s request in this and other ways. To this devotion Our Lady gave a promise through Sister Lucia: “I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.” It is good to please our Blessed Mother!