Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is a Solemnity. Hence, it is a bigger day than St Patrick's Day. Today we mark the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Along with many people throughout the world, I am completing a Novena to St Joseph today. While today is not a holy day of obligation in the United States, it is in many parts of the world. I would encourage you to attend Mass if you can, as befits all solemnities. Next Tuesday, 25 March, nine months prior to our celebration of the Lord's Nativity, we will observe the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Today also marks the first anniversary of our Holy Father, Pope Francis', inauguration as Pope. He delayed this event by a few days so that the Church could celebrate this event on the Solemnity of St Joseph, who is the Patron of the Universal Church.

We know from sacred Scripture that St Joseph, a descendant of King David, was a just and even a kind man. He was unwilling to expose the pregnant young woman, to whom he was betrothed, to shame for turning up pregnant without having had relations with him. Of course, an angel of the Lord clarified the matter before he "put her away." St Joseph appears most prominently in the Gospel narratives in St Matthew's and St Luke's infancy narratives.

St Joseph, pray for us

He is also mentioned briefly in one other place- St John's Gospel:
The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”- John 6:41-42
After that, he disappears. One of the persistent traditions regarding St Joseph, being significantly older than our Blessed Mother, which was not unusual at the time, is that he passed away prior to Jesus' public ministry.

As is fitting, St Joseph has patronage of many things. In addition to the Universal Church, St Joseph is patron of the dying, of workers, of social justice, of family life. This is not exhaustive. He is also "terror of demons." I am convinced that every devout Catholic man should have some level of devotion to St Joseph. There is a prayer to St Joseph in the Handbook of Indulgences that one can receive a partial indulgence for praying. If you did not make the Novena to St Joseph in the days leading up to his solemnity, start the novena today beginning on his glorious feast.

In his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis said, "We think of how Joseph, as the carpenter of Nazareth, taught the young Jesus his trade and the value of work. Joseph also quietly imparted to Jesus that wisdom which consists above all in reverence for the Lord, prayer and fidelity to his word, and obedience to his will. Joseph’s paternal example helped Jesus to grow, on a human level, in his understanding and appreciation of his unique relationship to his heavenly Father."

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