Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,
The Christophers’ Board of Directors
On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis declared the entire upcoming year to be the Year of St. Joseph. He did this to honor the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, which occurred on December 8, 1870. Pope Francis said that he was also drawn to honor St. Joseph because the coronavirus pandemic has prompted him to consider the virtues of this quiet hero from the Gospels.
In his Apostolic Letter With a Father’s Heart, Francis related the character of St. Joseph to the heroic nature of those on the front lines of the pandemic. Specifically, he referenced a line from his own 2020 Meditation in the Time of Pandemic, in explaining his desire to honor St. Joseph, saying:
“My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others.’”
What a beautiful analogy Pope Francis draws between St. Joseph and those who toil in our own time to serve those who God has entrusted to their care. Consider the courage of caregivers who have continued to show up for work over the past year, in situations that were invariably much riskier than most other jobs; or the cleaning personnel in hospitals and other public buildings, who have made the world a safer place for the rest of us. These are unsung heroes who have answered the call to protect, defend, and watch over others in the same way Joseph was called to protect, defend, and watch over Mary and Jesus.
Doing our duty is usually not a glamorous endeavor, yet it is often the endeavor that draws us closest to God, and this is because doing our duty requires love and fidelity to the mission God has given us. God wants us to be capable of standing up for what’s right, and we exercise that ability every time we humbly take up our cross and perform the tasks that have been put before us.
We currently find ourselves in between the two feast days of St. Joseph. The first was on March 19, when we celebrated Joseph as father figure and patron of the Universal Church and the dying. The second is on May 1st, celebrating St. Joseph the Worker. So, as we find ourselves in this Year of St. Joseph, this is a good time to reflect upon the way in which this great saint is a model for us all.
St. Josemaria Escriva once said, “Joseph’s faith does not falter, he obeys quickly and to the letter.” What a profound statement about the loyalty Joseph showed to God throughout his life. Joseph’s faith in God strengthened him to protect the Holy Family and to help Mary raise Jesus in the right way so that he could fulfill his mission. We are all called to this kind of service, to trust in God and remain loyal to all that is good and true, so that we can do our part to foster a world where Christ can flourish.
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