19 Mar 2014

St Joseph - March 19th

 
March 19th marks the feast day of St Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and foster father to Jesus. He was proclaimed the patron of the Universal Church in 1870 by Pope Pius IX and is also patron of workers and fathers.

In the Gospels it is written that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” . He is also depicted as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart is full of tenderness. 
In his Homily at his installation Mass on this date last year, Pope Francis described St Joseph as a protector, the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church. He is, said the Pope, “constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own”. 
Lydia O’Kane spoke to the Head of Vatican Radio’s English India Programme, Jesuit Father Melvin Joseph Pinto about this great Saint.
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From Catholicculture.org:

He was probably born in Bethlehem and probably died in Nazareth. His important mission in God's plan of salvation was "to legally insert Jesus Christ into the line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be born, and to act as his father and guardian (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy)." Most of our information about St. Joseph comes from the opening two chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel. No words of his are recorded in the Gospels; he was the "silent" man. We find no devotion to St. Joseph in the early Church. It was the will of God that the Virgin Birth of Our Lord be first firmly impressed upon the minds of the faithful. He was later venerated by the great saints of the Middle Ages. Pius IX (1870) declared him patron and protector of the universal family of the Church.

The darkest hours of his life may well have been those when he first learned of Mary's pregnancy; but precisely in this time of trial Joseph showed himself great. His suffering, which likewise formed a part of the work of the redemption, was not without great providential import: Joseph was to be, for all times, the trustworthy witness of the Messiah's virgin birth. After this, he modestly retires into the background of holy Scripture.
 
Of St. Joseph's death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ's public life. His was the most beautiful death that one could have, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Humbly and unknown, he passed his years at Nazareth, silent and almost forgotten he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater honor.

Liturgical veneration of St. Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by Sts. Brigid of Sweden and Bernadine of Siena. St. Teresa, too, did much to further his cult.
At present there are two major feasts in his honor. On March 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption, while on May 1 we honor him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order.

Further reflections on the feast here, here, here and here.


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