Today we have for you a new post about St. Joseph, by Edward Healy Thompson, from his book, “The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph” and in this one, he tells us of the surprising connection between the Holy Family and Dismas.
“SCRIPTURE does not tell us by what road the Holy Family fled into Egypt, but there can be little doubt that it was by the way that goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which, as we read in Acts 8:26, was desert. It was by that road that the minister of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, was returning to his country when Philip overtook him. But he was a great man, seated at ease in his chariot, where he could beguile the way by reading, and surrounded by his servants, ready to minister to his wants. How different was the case of the Holy Family, alone, without attendance, and with the most scanty provision for their needs! But they had to face a worse desert after leaving Gaza. Passing through the land of the Philistines, they directed their steps, as is commonly believed, to Heliopolis. This was the easiest, shortest, and least perilous road; nevertheless, the holy travellers would have to traverse full seventy leagues, of which about fifty were solitary and desert.”
Thompson goes on to explain that while there are many stories of the Holy Family’s perilous journey through the desert, most are unsubstantiated or even of dubious provenance. However, he asserts, the following incident is well-substantiated, having been accepted and repeated by such saints as Saint Augustine and Saint Anselm.
” It runs thus: The Holy Family having crossed the torrent Besor, which is the torrent of the desert, and entered a thick forest of ancient trees, found themselves suddenly in presence of a band of robbers.
Men of this class were ready to seize on unprotected travellers, and pitilessly spoil, if not murder them. If this could happen on the frequented road between Jerusalem and Jericho, where, according to our Lord’s parable, which possibly embodied a true incident, a certain man fell among thieves, who stripped and wounded him, leaving him half dead.
Thompson then relates that, according to the story,, in the wilderness the Holy Family found themselves face to face with the roughest band of brigands,
“In this lonely and trackless wilderness; nevertheless, these ferocious ruffians, strangers to compassion, were arrested by the sight which met their eyes. They stayed their hands; and their leader, stepping forward, was so much struck by the majestic sweetness of the Infant, the beauty and modesty of the Mother, and the simple dignity of Joseph, that he not only forbade his followers to injure a hair of their heads, but treated them with courtesy, and conducted them to his own tent, where he harboured them for the night.
On the following morning, having furnished Joseph with provision for the way, he accompanied them a certain distance, and, in taking leave of them, having discerned, bad man as he was, the holiness of his guests, he asked for their prayers, and the Virgin benignantly promised him that for the charity which he had shown them God would not leave him unrewarded. And this man, the same story asserts, was Dismas the Good Thief, who, having years afterwards fallen into the hands of justice, was condemned to be crucified in punishment of his many crimes.
His cross was on the right of that of Jesus, the side on which Mary stood; and, then and there repenting of his sins, he confessed Jesus as the true Messias, and besought Him to remember him when He came into His kingdom; to which Jesus replied: “To-day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise”.
And so we see the backstory, as they say, of St. Dismas.; and note how all things work to the good. . .And I’m sort of tickled to be able to unite in one brief post a story about St. Joseph, whose month this is, and St. Dismas who belongs in our lenten thoughts as well.
Saint Dismas is a favorite saint of mine and so this little story just intrigued me. I hope you like it too. Throughout March, St. Joseph’s month, I’ll try to post on St. Joseph as much as possible, while still meeting my objective of restoring every post that is suitable for our Lenten Reflections. I am doing this because, as I remind you often (and myself as well, I haven’t much time left and whatever I have posted by the time I must quit, will be all there is.
Thank you so much for reading! You’re in my heart and prayers always, evensong.
Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
Open your hearts to the Lord and serve Him only: and He will free you from the hands of your enemies. With all your heart return to Him, and take away from your midst any strange gods” (I Kings 7:3)
✝︎ Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
✝︎ Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
✝︎ St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
✝︎ St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!