Last December, Pope Francis invited us to enter the Year dedicated to Saint Joseph. A little later he invited Christians to a Year of the Family (“Amoris Laetitia Family”) that would begin on the feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2021. I propose a reflection based on these two great moments in the life of the Church.
Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of families, given his role in the family of Jesus of Nazareth. He is also the Patron of the great spiritual family united in Jesus that is the Church, according to the declaration of Pius IX of December 8, 1870. For the 150th anniversary of this declaration, Pope Francis has designated the current year, which runs from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021, as the Year of Saint Joseph.
On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis invited us to a year dedicated to Saint Joseph.
We were astonished to discover, while browsing through the Annales de l’Oratoire Saint-Joseph that the year 1921 had also been consecrated to Saint Joseph by Pope Benedict XV. One hundred years to the day from the call of Pope Francis.
A newborn baby is always a source of wonder to family and friends. A new life is full of mystery, full of future, full of hope too. Everyone has their say in what that child will be like. And as the child grows, as his or her personality takes shape, the child will be referred to as “like father, like son” if it is a boy. In Jesus’ day, when talking about him, people used to say, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph the carpenter? »
Several years ago a diocesan priest from the South Shore gave this touching testimony on his website: “If I am free on a Sunday, I like to participate in one of the Sunday Masses at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. The liturgy is simple. The singing is beautiful. And above all, the gathering of the faithful speaks volumes. The testimony of people’s faith, modest but real, stimulates my faith and my hope… People of all nations, of all colors, of all ages, of all states of health and probably of diverse religions, come to pray to God during the Eucharist, and to Saint Joseph in the huge hall with votive lamps and to Brother André at his tomb. It is truly the universal Church that is present here and it is, visibly, the salvation wrought by Jesus for all that is manifested here.”
When Brother André entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1870, the community had already been established in Montréal for 23 years. Its founder, Father Basil Moreau, CSC, had a great devotion to Saint Joseph. Frequently, he urged his spiritual sons and daughters to turn to Saint Joseph to honor him and to love him. He also suggested to them to spread the devotion to the people with whom they were working.
One day in 1998, I received a letter from Alicia, a Friend of Brother Andre. Alicia lived in Aguascalientes, a village in Mexico. “From this village so far from Montréal, I give thanks from the bottom of my heart to our Lord for having heard my prayer through the intercession of Brother André and Saint Joseph.” “I bless the day that I was given to read the biography of Brother André. I found so much faith and trust in this ‘SAINT’ (Tuve mucha fe y confianza en este ‘SANTO’) and also in Saint Joseph. With them, a favor is quickly obtained.”
One day early in the year, after Mass, an older woman in a wheelchair made a gesture to call me over. She handed me an envelope and wished me a Happy New Year. She had a look on her face of pure serenity and peace. It made an impression on me.
One day I was visiting an old friend of mine. Long before I met her – when she was a mother of eight children and pregnant with a ninth – she lost her husband in a car accident. She was distraught and threw herself at the foot of her crucifix, begging, “Lord, don’t let me down! “At over 85 years of age, Alice was testifying to me that the Lord had never abandoned her. She told me, “You know, even though I live alone in my house, I am not afraid. In fact, I am never alone. The Lord is there, I feel Him very present at my side and with Him I am never worried about what may happen.” Her heart was full of hope and serenity about the future.
Joseph understands the importance of work. As the carpenter in Nazareth, his job was his pride and his identity. He understood what it meant to work with dignity and to ensure the life and peace of his family.
On this first of May, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, patron saint of workers, the Church invites us, in a very special way, to pray to the Virgin Mary. We are told that on this day, “the Catholic Bishops of Canada will consecrate their dioceses or eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church, asking for her protection during the coronavirus pandemic.
The month of April is a opportune time to have an encounter with Saint Joseph and to share with him in the silence and peace of his presence a face-to-face at the depths. A time for seeing and being seen by one who knows all too well God’s love. A gaze of goodness and confidence, the gaze of Joseph can sooth, promote trust and encourage. In this exchange of glances, Joseph can disclose to each their inner life, and it gives us an opportunity to confide in him.