Thought for the Day – 18 September – The Memorial of St Joseph of Cupertino
St Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1668) was an Italian mystic whose life is a wonderful combination of a complete lack of natural capacity and an extraordinary supernatural efficiency.
He lacked every natural gift.
He was incapable of passing a test, maintaining a conversation, taking care of a house, or even touching a dish without breaking it.
He was called Brother Ass by his companions in the monastery.
Joseph could not comment on any passage of Scriptures except one: “Beatus venter qui Te portavit” [Blessed be the womb that bore Thee].
When the time came for his examination for the diaconate, the Bishop opened the Gospels at random and his eyes fell on that one text Joseph knew well. Joseph was able to expound on it with success. A year later came the tests for the priesthood. All the postulants except Joseph were very well prepared. The Bishop called on a number of the candidates, who responded superbly. Supposing that all were at the same intellectual level, the Bishop approved all of them without questioning the rest. Joseph was among the candidates who were asked nothing. Therefore, on March 4, 1628, Joseph became a priest at 25 years of age despite his limitations and the opinion of men.
There is a misconception about efficiency that defines it purely in terms of production. This is wrong because to do something is not an end in itself. What explains the action is the end one has in mind.
The right notion of efficiency is to do what one is supposed to do according to his vocation. Therefore, in order to be efficient, each one should ask if he is accomplishing the plans of God for him. If he works in collaboration with the plans of God, the grace will multiply his efforts and he will do much more than he is capable of otherwise. This rule, which applies to St Joseph of Cupertino, also applies to St.Thomas Aquinas, who is situated at the other pole of human capacity.
Even though he was poorly gifted humanly speaking, St Joseph of Cupertino did the will of God, sanctified his soul and allowed God to shine through his incapacity in a way that attracted the admiration of multitudes. Even today, when one of us hears about his extreme incapacity and the marvelous things God did through him, we do not forget his name. It is the application of that passage of the Magnificat: “For He has found humility in His handmaid, and all generations shall call me blessed.” Once we hear about the incapacity of St.Joseph of Cupertino and his humility in accepting the will of God, his name remains in our memories forever.
St Joseph of Cupertino represents one side of the scale that gives a perfect equilibrium to the Catholic Church. Both he and St Thomas Aquinas are necessary for that perfect balance. I think that in Heaven the two could be closely joined glorifying Our Lady and Our Lord.
What is the application for us? If we received gifts from nature or from God, let us admire St Joseph of Cupertino in order to be detached from them and use them well. If we lack qualities or have to endure sufferings, let us admire him and follow his example of confidence in order to accomplish what God has planned for us.
St Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us!