Just a year ago, the faithful received the welcome news that Pope Francis had proclaimed the time beginning last December 8th through the same date in 2021 as the Year of Saint Joseph, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his designation as Patron of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart) was issued at that time “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.”
Over the past twelve months, the faithful have been encouraged to celebrate this welcome recognition of the humble carpenter of Nazareth in various ways, with special devotions, parish events, novenas, prayers, and good works performed for his honor and in his name. A plenary indulgence also was available under the usual conditions.
Hopefully, many of us availed ourselves of such opportunities to nurture and strengthen an existing devotion to this powerful saint. If so, as the Year of Saint Joseph concludes, we may find ourselves looking back, recalling the ways in which we have celebrated this special time.
For those who may not have developed such a devotion, it is good to remember that our time is not the same as God’s time. It’s never too late to begin a new, loving relationship with one of His blessed ones. In that case, we can look forward in hope.
Whichever category we fit into, the suggestions that follow may help us to build, maintain, or improve upon our love for and devotion to Saint Joseph in the months and years to come.
~ for Advent reflections on Saint Joseph’s unique role in the Holy Family, read and ponder the Infancy Narratives found in the Gospels of Luke (Chapter 2) and Matthew (Chapters 1 and 2)
~ make or renew your Consecration to Saint Joseph, perhaps as outlined by Father Donald Calloway, MIC, in his comprehensive work, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father.
~ add to your daily prayer routine one or more of these: the Memorare to Saint Joseph, the 30 Days’ Prayer to Saint Joseph, the Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of Saint Joseph devotion (all available online)
~ pray to Saint Joseph, patron of the dying, for those who will die that day, especially those who have no one to pray for them
~ commit to performing regularly one or more of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy in the name of Saint Joseph
~ meditate on the Litany of Saint Joseph, including the invocations recently added by Pope Francis: Protector of the Redeemer; Servant of Christ; Minister of salvation; Support in difficulty; Patron of refugees; Patron of the afflicted; and Patron of the poor
~ mark your calendar to attend Mass each Wednesday, the day of the week traditionally devoted to Saint Joseph; or choose another means of special devotion to him on that day each week
Given the many daunting challenges facing our country and our world right now, it is clear that we need the help of so powerful an intercessor as Saint Joseph, the man chosen by God to take into his care the Blessed Mother and her divine Son.
So we conclude with a cry for help -- a prayer which Pope Francis cites in a footnote to his Apostolic Letter. For over forty years, the Holy Father has recited this prayer daily, a prayer which “expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph.” The Holy Father sets the example; the faithful, who believe firmly that our trust in Saint Joseph is rightly placed, do well to follow it.
Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.