The Year of Saint Joseph
By Karen Riobo
On December 8, 2020, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the 150th anniversary of the declaration as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis proclaimed 2021: a "Year of Saint Joseph."
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde ("With a Father's Heart"), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a tender, loving, obedient, and accepting father, creatively courageous, a working father, and a father in the shadows.
The loss of hope of many worldwide inspired this year's dedication as we face the COVID -19 pandemic. This situation "has helped us all see the importance of "ordinary" people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day—those who serve in silence.
In these attitudes, they resemble Saint Joseph, "the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence," who nonetheless played "an incomparable role in the history of salvation."
Saint Joseph's fiat helped carry the plan of salvation just as it was "scripted" by God. Coming to a solid yes was not easy; he doubted, almost broke his engagement to Blessed Virgin Mary, once he learned she was pregnant with the Savior. His love for God was bigger than his comfort and his plan. He took heed, and in obedience to the message of the Angel, he accepted God's holy will for him and Blessed Virgin Mary.
Joseph had many attributes that made him "the chosen" man to be the Messiah's father and Father of the Church.
A True Father.
As Pope Francis stated, "True fathers refuse to live the lives of their children for them" and respect their freedom. A true father realizes that he is an educator at the point when he becomes 'useless,' once his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied. Being a father "has nothing to do with possession but is rather a 'sign' pointing to a greater fatherhood": that of the "heavenly Father."
It was in that trust in God's providence and perfect fatherhood that Saint Joseph raised his son, Jesus.
Obedient and Unnoticed.
"Obedient" and "unnoticed" are unpopular virtues; perhaps for pious Christians, these two are virtues they aspire to embrace fully. But for the most part, we do not see these on lists of goals for the new year, especially that of being "unnoticed." In a world where exposing our lives on Social Media is the trend, being unnoticed might be what we need at the moment to look within and experience the fullness of God's graces. Being overlooked helps us focus as we remove distractions that block us from listening to our hearts and where the Holy Spirit wants to guide us.
St. Joseph led his household courageously, guided by the Holy Spirit in silent surrender. He was the protector of his family, the Savior's guardian. His holy obedience stems from his radical humility, the most extraordinary virtue, which helped him see and walk by faith.
As we start this new year, let us pray through the intercession of Saint Joseph for chaste men, men who can uphold the dignity of women, men who respect their children's freedom, and protect the sanctity of life. Men who can lead their families on their knees by praying and praising the Good Father.
Below is the prayer Pope Francis encourages us all to pray together.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you, God entrusted his only son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you, Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil.
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