It is a grace and a blessing that Pope Francis has declared this year the Year of St. Joseph.
This year marks the 150th anniversary since Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church.
In his recent apostolic letter, Corde Patris, Pope Francis writes:
“The Son of the Almighty came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph.
“God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child. In this sense, Saint Joseph could not be other than the Guardian of the Church, for the Church is the continuation of the Body of Christ in history.”
Today we face multiple existential threats, and it is time once again to call upon our great protector.
In this past year, we have been threatened by the coronavirus, and the restrictions imposed upon us have caused many Catholics to be distanced from the Sacraments, the very life blood of the Church. Many have distanced themselves out of a legitimate fear of a dangerous virus, and indeed some have become infected and have even died.
I believe it to be no coincidence that last year, the parish lockdown began on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and ended on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
During that month and a half, our protector was looking out for us. We still need the intercession of Joseph, hope of the sick, and patron of the dying.
During this year, some of our brethren, already on the fringes of the practice of the Faith, have strayed from our Lord and his Sacraments.
They have used the dispensation of our Sunday obligation or the inconvenient mandate to wear a mask as an excuse to abandon the Church. Some of these may return in time, but others will not.
Like the seed scattered on the rocky soil, they wither for lack of roots. We need the intercession of Joseph, most faithful.
Furthermore, our world and our Church now suffer from the increasing attacks of the devil. He strikes very building block of our society, namely, the family.
The definition of marriage has been obfuscated to the point that even the Supreme Court of the United States has been duped by Satan’s attacks.
He relentlessly attacks the very nature of the human person by confusing God’s children about their gender and sexuality.
It is now fashionable to claim that a multiplicity of genders exists, that gender is a matter of personal choice, and that anyone who genuinely cares for these confused and hurting persons by speaking the truth in love, is instead condemned as a bigot and subjected to shame and cancellation.
Like the seed scattered on the path, the enticements of the Devil snatch away those who lack understanding of the Faith.
In the face of such confusion, we must note the somber warning of Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the three visionary children who saw the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.
She wrote: “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”
My brothers and sisters, we desperately need the intercession of Joseph, pillar of families and terror of demons.
Our American cities have seen violence, arson, vandalism and theft, and the world proposes that our response should be to defund law enforcement, and that this will somehow bring about greater justice.
We need the rule of law to prevail and to produce virtuous citizens. We need the intercession of Joseph, most just.
The recent surge of unaccompanied minors at our southern border has increased the risk of them being snatched up by evil men and used for horrific purposes. Some in our government fight to protect these poor children, and others are determined not to waste an opportunity to score political points against their rivals.
It is shameful what some people will do for power, money, and pleasure. Today, these children need the intercession of Joseph, guardian of virgins.
It has been said, and as any student of history will observe, that good times produce weak men, weak men produce bad times, bad times produce strong men, and strong men produce good times again.
If history is cyclical in this way, then I submit that we live in an age of weak men. The weakness of men has produced the bad times we experience.
What must come next is the raising up of strong, courageous men. A truly excellent man lives out his masculine nature by protecting the weak, providing for the poor, and establishing order.
To repeat, it is a man’s nature to protect, provide, and establish.
St. Joseph displayed these virtues. He protected the Holy Family, worked with his hands to provide food and shelter, and established his home as a literal house of God.
This is how men flourish and produce the good times we wish to see. We need the intercession of Joseph, most courageous and glory of domestic life.
What are we to think in the midst of such calamities?
Shall we surrender to the overwhelming foes who press in on every side? Shall we submit to despair? By no means!
When we realize that we have no control over some overwhelming situation in our lives, let us strive to imitate the virtues of St. Joseph, mirror of patience.
The foster father of Jesus and spiritual father to us all is the image of fatherhood that our world needs. By looking to such a Model of fatherly tenderness and strength, we cannot fail to grow in all of the virtues.
A parish full of virtuous Catholics is the sort of rich soil needed to grow strong men and good fathers. And of course, we must continue to pray for protection and the conversion of sinners—most especially thru the intercession of St. Joseph.
Listen to the words of St. Padre Pio:
“Saint Joseph, with the love and generosity with which he guarded Jesus, so too will he guard your soul, and as he defended him from Herod, so will he defend your soul from the fiercest Herod, the devil!
“All the care that the Patriarch St. Joseph has for Jesus, he has for you and will always help you with his patronage. He will free you from the persecution of the wicked and proud Herod, and will not allow your heart to be estranged from Jesus.
Ite ad Joseph! Go to Joseph with extreme confidence, because I do not remember having asked anything from St. Joseph, without having obtained it readily.”
Now, more than ever in this year of St. Joseph, we need an explosion of virtue in our communities, and the intercession of our Heavenly Protector, the Patron of the Universal Church.
Ask boldly for the protection of not only our church buildings, but for the protection of our Holy Mother, the Church. “It is a great blessing for souls to be under the protection of the Saint whose name makes demons tremble and flee.” (Bl. Bartolo Longo)
Sancte Joseph, protector noster, ora pro nobis!
Fr. Joseph Keating originally wrote this article as a homily for his parish in Texas. ChurchPOP slightly modified it for publication.
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