Year of St Joseph


23 Feb 2021

Pope Francis, to mark the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, has dedicated most of this year to St Joseph, whose feast day is 19 March.

In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (with a Father’s Heart) described St Joseph as a beloved and loving father, an obedient and accepting father, a creatively courageous and a working father, and also a father in the shadows.

‘Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.

‘Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction. Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself, which is the fruit of mature sacrifice.’

To mark the 150th anniversary of St Joseph’s proclamation as Patron of the Catholic Church by Pius IX, Pope Francis declared the ‘Year of St Joseph’ from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (8 December) 2020 to the same feast this year.

Pope Francis said his desire to share some personal reflections about St Joseph increased during the months of pandemic when it became apparent ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked’.

In paying tribute to the doctors, nurses, essential workers, caregivers and others who did not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines but continued to care and work for others, Pope Francis invoked the care by St Joseph of the Holy Family.

‘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. St Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.’

Pope Francis also emphasised St Joseph’s relation to work.

‘Saint Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family. From him, Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.

‘In our own day, when employment has once more become a burning social issue, and unemployment at times reaches record levels even in nations that for decades have enjoyed a certain degree of prosperity, there is renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which St Joseph is an exemplary patron.’

Pope Francis called on us all to implore St Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, not family should be without work.

The aim of Patris corde was to increase our love for St Joseph and to encourage all to implore St Joseph’s intercession and to imitate his virtues and zeal, Pope Francis said.

Special prayers are offered to St Joseph each Wednesday, especially during this month of March, which is traditionally dedicated to him.

Let us now make our prayer to him:

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.

This article first appeared in Madonna magazine Autumn 2021 edition. See here for more information on how to subscribe to Madonna magazine.

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