Feast of St. Joseph – a Saint for Our Times

by Donal Anthony Foley

St. JosephToday is the feast of St, Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the husband of the Blessed Virgin. As Sr. Lucia tells us in her Memoirs, St. Joseph appeared at Fatima on October 13, 1917. She recounts how as the people present at the Cova da Iria that day saw the tremendous miracle of the sun, she and her cousins saw visions of the Holy Family:

“After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Josephan d the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.”

These particular visions indicate that St. Joseph is at the heart of both the Holy Family and the Fatima message, but in an essentially hidden way, and that his blessing of the world is of great benefit to us. This apparition of Our Lord and St. Joseph, his foster father, also emphasizes for us the importance of the family and fatherhood, and it is becoming increasingly clear that both of these are under serious attack from the forces of secularism in our own times.

This is all part of the process of the playing out of the spread of Russia’s errors, which Our Lady prophesied in July 1917. Both the family and fatherhood are amongst the chief targets of the secularists who are actively working to undermine the moral basis for our civilization. St. Joseph is the ideal saint to pray to that these pillars of society will be upheld in the years to come.

The Growth of Devotion to St. Joseph

In the centuries leading up to the Fatima apparitions, devotion to St. Joseph had been steadily growing in the Church, to the extent that in 1870 Pope Pius IX declared him the Patron and Guardian of the Universal Church. This was justified because in relation to Christ, Joseph acted as his foster father and guardian, and also because in the economy of salvation he holds the same position in a spiritual sense with regard to the Body of Christ, that is the Church.

Pope Leo XIII also strongly supported devotion to the Saint and ended his encyclical on devotion to St. Joseph, Quamquam pluries, issued in 1889, with these thoughts about his wonderful holiness: “No other saint . . . so nearly approaches that place of dignity which in the Mother of God is far above all created natures.” The Pope also praised the practice of dedicating the month of March to St. Joseph.

Blessed John XXIII had a great devotion to St. Joseph and named him the Protector of the Second Vatican Council. He also issued an apostolic letter on the saint on March 19, 1961, and added the name of St. Joseph to the Roman Canon of the Mass, in what we now call Eucharistic Prayer I.

St. John Paul II was also keen to promote devotion to St. Joseph, and issued an apostolic exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, “The Guardian of the Redeemer”, on the person and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and his Church, on August 15, 1989.

In this, St. John Paul II echoed the praise given to St. Joseph by Pope Leo in saying that it was inconceivable that the sublime task given to St. Joseph by God, “would not be matched by the necessary qualities to adequately fulfill it,” and that therefore, we must recognize, “that Joseph showed Jesus by a special gift from heaven, all the natural love, all the affectionate solicitude that a father’s heart can know.”

Still more recently, in June 2013, Pope Francis further enhanced the status of St. Joseph in the Church by promulgating a decree to the effect that his name should be inserted into Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV of every Mass.

We are still in March, the month devoted to St. Joseph, and so we can pray to this great Saint knowing that at this particular time he will be especially attentive to our needs. And we can especially pray that he will strengthen families, and give fathers a greater sense of the importance of their own fatherhood of their children.

 Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also a written a time-travel/adventure book for young people – which can be purchased at http://giftshop.wafusa.org/

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1 Comment
  1. I love my beloved Saint Joseph, the forgotten saint. I enjoyed your article.It would be great if you could write more about St. Joseph.

    Thank you,
    Maria-Paz

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