When Pope Francis proclaimed a “Year of St. Joseph”, it marked the 150th anniversary of Saint Joseph being declared a Patron of the Church. More than that, it serves as an invitation to all of us to honor our commitment to God in the same way that Joseph did for the Holy Family.
What is the year of Saint Joseph? Just as the name implies, it is a dedication to Saint Joseph and everything he represents this year. He is a flesh and blood mortal man, like the rest of us. But he is also a very positive symbol of “masculinity, fatherhood, the dignity of labor, and the importance of faithfulness to the will of God. As we continue in our life of faith, we invite St. Joseph to be a father to each one of us, guiding us ever closer to his adopted son, Jesus” (Fowler, 2).
A Symbol of Good
Joseph is in essense, the perfect man, father and husband all at the same time. “Masculinity” has become a very loaded word over time. In simple terms, it means “this is what makes a man.” The image of a big handsome guy with broad shoulders might come to mind for you- but that’s a product of time. In the discussion of Saint Joseph, we see a simple man, often in very peasant-like clothes and a working man’s set of facial hair. His form of masculinity is not centered on looks. It’s centered on the actions he takes to support his family, and the people that he cares about. He is hardworking and motivationally driven. He accepts his adopted son as his very own, and does everything he can to help his child succeed. He knows that Jesus has enourmous shoes to fill, so to speak, and thusly his emotional and physical assistance is an incredible aid. That is what it means to be a father.
Some of you with children of your own probably understand this more than anyone. Fatherhood is not simply handing your child a wad of cash and saying “go crazy.” No, the depth of fatherhood is that you are raising another human being. That human being will grow up and have their very own struggles, hardships, successes, and so on. As a father, you do everything you can to guide their hand along the way. It will never get them through life without a little effort of their own- but a father is the strong and resilient “push” that gets them there halfway.
What Does the Year of St. Joseph Mean to You?
How much do you know about Saint Joseph? Most Christains, and people in general, know that Joseph is a key figure in the universal Christmas story. Perhaps like any man would be, he is concerned at first about his wife being pregnant before they were even married. But with an Angel’s reassurance in his dreams, he soon accepts that this is a message from God– and therefore, it must not be ignored. Joseph then takes up the burden. He supports his wife, Mary, across the tiring journey to Bethlehem. Once there, the son of God is born. From then onward, Joseph acts as Jesus’s adopted father. You might notice that Joseph takes a back seat role in the rest of the story. Virgin Mary is exaulted, and Jesus himself is the chosen savior– but Joseph is merely a patron of the shadows. That doesn’t mean he is unimportant though. If anything, this teaches us that every place is necessary to the grand design.
Think about actors on the stage. You see thespians in vibrant costumes, dancers and singers dazzling the crowd, and all the actors and actresses playing out the show together. But how does it all come together? The show would never be what it is without the stars behind the stage as well. There we have talented musicians, set dressors, costume designers, writers, props and decor arrangers, directors, light technicians, sound artists! The list goes on. There are a multitude of positions that we never think about from day to day, purely because we can’t see them up there in the limelight. Konstantin Stanislavski, a brilliant Russian playwright, once said, “There are no small parts. Only small actors.” What this means is that every single part is important in it’s own way. And that is why…
This year- It’s time to celebrate the little people who make everything possible. This year, it is time to celebrate Joseph, the human father of christ.
Helpful Year of St. Joseph Resources
As you explore your connection to St. Joseph over the next few months, there are many readings and prayers to guide you. St. Francis Chapel, another OMV ministry, offers information on the Year of St. Joseph, and Fr. Paul recommends a few additional resources:
- Pope Francis’ letter, Patris corde, is a good, short read, providing a true image of St. Joseph and his importance in the everyday lives of Catholics.
- The 33 Day Consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Donald Calloway is a simple yet powerful devotion to St. Joseph.
- In 2015, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ wrote a wonderful letter, “Into the Breach,” challenging fathers to reclaim their fatherhood by relying on the fatherly intercession of St. Joseph.
Fowler, Kate. “Ite Ad Joseph: 10 Quotes to Celebrate the Year of St. Joseph.” Ad Infinitum Blog, Catholic Apostolate Center, 2 Feb. 2021, www.catholicapostolatecenter.org/blog/ite-ad-joseph-10-quotes-to-celebrate-the-year-of-st-joseph?gclid=Cj0KCQjw8vqGBhC_ARIsADMSd1BHAnkZKGs5vHU-WmfaEIrlYmWVE-nyvJnaKojlbHgk2xcJaC4IJlUaAlVPEALw_wcB.
Oblates of the Virgin Mary. “What Does the Year of St. Joseph Mean?” Oblates of the Virgin Mary, St. Ignatius Province of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, Inc., 5 May 2021, www.omvusa.org/blog/what-does-the-year-of-st-joseph-mean/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw8vqGBhC_ARIsADMSd1BwoTnD5brUatDDcz-txbo_sXZmc5LYCmAB751fUPVU1swe8HzFj1MaAgeMEALw_wcB.
~On behalf of St. Josephs Church- we invite you to celebrate Joseph with us all year long~