A year of graces
After the experience of 2020, many people are wondering what to expect in this year beginning. Of course we cannot tell what the future holds, but we can be sure that this year will be a time of many and great graces since the Holy Father has declared a Year of St Joseph from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021. As Francis explains, this Holy Year is to mark the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as “Patron of the Universal Church” by Blessed Pius IX in 1870. Just as St Joseph watched over the household of God-made-man in Nazareth, so too he continues to care for the Lord’s household on earth now, the continuation of the Incarnation which is the Church.
A “Josephine” Pope
Pope Francis’ devotion to St Joseph has been a hallmark of his pontificate from the very beginning. The Holy Father inaugurated his Petrine ministry on 19 March 2013, Feast of St Joseph. A few weeks later on 1 May, Memorial of St Joseph the Worker, he delivered a catechesis on work in light of the holy patriarch. On that same date the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued the decree whereby in continuity with the wishes of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis disposed that the name of St Joseph be mentioned after the name of Our Lady in Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV. On 5 July 2013 the Holy Father consecrated the Vatican City State to St Joseph, since, as he put it, “his presence helps us to be ever stronger and to have the courage to make space for God in our life, so that good may conquer evil”.
For years the Pope has had on his desk a statue of St Joseph lying asleep. He brought this statue with him from Buenos Aires to Rome. During a meeting with families in the Philippines he confided:
“I would like to tell you something very personal. I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!” (Manila, 16 January 2015).
There is a clear continuity here with previous Popes. St John Paul II provided an unprecedented meditation on the “Guardian of the Redeemer” in his apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos of 15 August 1989. Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, preached repeatedly on the person and mission of St Joseph and affirmed his special devotion to his personal patron.
It continutes here.