The Year of St Joseph

Pope Francis has proclaimed a ‘Year of St Joseph’ from 8th December 2020 to 8th December 2021.
This coincides with the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as a Patron of the Universal Church.

In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

There are many things we can learn from St Joseph; these include:

  1. He was a beloved, tender, obedient father: St Joseph made an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis.
  2. Joseph is also a father in obedience to God: he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.”
  3. St Joseph welcomes the will of God: Joseph is “an accepting Father,” because he “accepted Mary unconditionally” — an important gesture even today, says Pope Francis, “in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident.” But the Bridegroom of Mary is also the one who, trusting in the Lord, accepts in his life even the events that he does not understand, “setting aside his own ideas” and reconciling himself with his own history.
  4. He is a creatively courageous father, an example of love: Pope Francis explains how Joseph was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his family faced, problems faced by other families in the world, and especially those of migrants.
  5. St Joseph was a father who teaches the value, dignity and joy of work: Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family.
  6. St Joseph was a father in the shadows: he was centred on Mary and Jesus. Pope Francis describes Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.” “Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.

This is the prayer to St Joseph, which Pope Francis encourages all of us to pray together:

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil.
Amen.