~Reflecting on St. Joseph~
Dec. 8, 2020 - Dec. 8, 2021
Christ is born! Let us adore Him!
A blessed Christmas to you! As we continue in the Octave of Christmas, how apropos that our Holy Father, Pope Francis has proclaimed this year as the Year of St. Joseph. Part of why he did so is because 2021 is the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church.
Another reason why Pope Francis made this decision is because he wanted “every member of the faithful, following St. Joseph’s example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”
So on this Feast of the Holy Family, how appropriate we look at one of its members, St. Joseph. First, I want to look at why the Church proclaims these special “holy years.”
Why does the Church have years dedicated to specific topics? The Church observes the passage of time through the liturgical calendar, which includes feasts such as Easter and Christmas, and seasons such as Lent and Advent. In addition, however, popes can set aside time for the Church to reflect more deeply on a specific aspect of Catholic teaching or belief. Past years designated by recent popes include a Year of Faith, Year of the Eucharist, and Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Why did the Pope declare a year of St. Joseph? In making his declaration, Pope Francis said the coronavirus pandemic has heightened his desire to reflect on St. Joseph, as so many people during the pandemic have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as St. Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.
“Each of us can discover in Joseph, the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence, an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble…..” The pope wrote. He also said he wanted to highlight St. Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility, adding, “Our world today needs fathers.”
Why does the Church honor St. Joseph? Catholics do not worship saints, but ask for their heavenly intercession before God and seek to imitate their virtues here on earth. The Catholic Church honors St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus. He is invoked as the patron saint of the Universal Church. He is also a powerful intercessor and guide.
His Intercession is Powerful. A seminarian once told me of the powerful intercession of St. Joseph. He explained that whenever he needed something, he asked for St. Joseph’s help, and his needs were met. Over the past few years, I have witnessed this in my own life. St. Joseph has answered many of my prayers. I will admit that I always go to St. Anthony when I’ve lost something, still I often ask St. Joseph to intercede, often for small, everyday things. It seems to me, that this is fitting of the man who is never quoted in Scripture, who did not play an ongoing role in the work of salvation, but through his simplicity, obedience and faith, St. Joseph accomplished much.
St. Teresa of Avila gives us some insight into why St. Joseph’s intercession is so powerful:
To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor (help) us in some of our necessities, but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succors us in them all, and that the Lord wishes to teach us that, as He was Himself subject to him on earth, for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him, just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks.
St. Joseph Models Fatherhood for Us. God the Father chose St. Joseph from all men to be the foster-father of Jesus. That truly says something about his character, for he was entrusted with leading, providing for and protecting the Son of God and God’s greatest creature, Our Lady. Joseph faithfully served the Holy Family and protected them from danger so that they could fulfill God’s mission. St. Joseph taught Jesus in his humanity how to be a man. No doubt he taught him how to be a faithful Jew, as well as the trade of carpentry. He models well for us fathers how to be the spiritual leaders of our families. Like St. Joseph, those who are married are called to show the love of God the Father to our spouses and children.
He was an obedient man. Every time God asked him to do something, Joseph was eager to say yes. Whether that was taking Mary as his wife, going to Bethlehem for the census, or fleeing with his family to Egypt, Joseph always followed God’s will immediately. In an age where we are told to do things our own way, Joseph is a great reminder that true greatness is found in following God’s will, not our own.
He was a man of silence. We never hear a word from St. Joseph in Sacred Scripture, for he was a man of great silence. Because of this silence, he was able to hear God’s voice and discern his will for the Holy Family. In an age of noise and many words, Joseph reminds us that if we wish to hear God’s voice, we must quiet our hearts and enter into the silence.
These are just a few of the many reasons why every Catholic should develop devotion to St. Joseph. During this Holy Year, it is the perfect time to learn about this great saint and ask for his intercession to live a holy life.
What special graces are available during this year? As Catholics pray and reflect on the life of St. Joseph throughout the coming year, they also have opportunities to gain a plenary indulgence, or remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. An indulgence can be applied to oneself or to a soul in Purgatory. An indulgence requires a specific act, defined by the Church, as well as sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the pope’s intentions, and full detachment from sin. Special indulgences during the Year of St. Joseph can be received through more than a dozen different prayers and actions, including praying for the unemployed, entrusting one’s daily work to St. Joseph, performing a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, or meditating for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer.
God bless and Merry Christmas,
Prayer to St. Joseph
To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our afflictions, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.
Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.
O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.
As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.