Pope Francis declared last 8th December 2020 that the Church would have a special Year of St Joseph and he is of course our parish patron saint. St Joseph was a “background” man, but whose vital presence made a difference, not just upon the Holy Family, but throughout the history of the Church. Joseph’s obedient, faithful, humble and creative and supportive way of living is a model for us all says Pope Francis.
There are many other local churches dedicated to St Joseph, including, Worksop, Wath-Upon-Dearne, Rawmarsh, Retford, Handsworth, Woodlands and Staveley. Despite St Joseph not having a feast day until the 12th century the quiet influence of St Joseph has spread throughout the world. Pope John XX111 added Joseph’s name to the first Eucharistic Prayer for the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis extended that directive to Eucharistic Prayers 11, 111 and 1V in 2013.
Joseph is only mentioned five times in the Gospels: The Annunciation; the Nativity; the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple; as a refugee to Egypt; and the loss and finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem sitting and talking among the doctors. Amazingly there is no record in the scriptures of Joseph saying anything – no one word! But, Joseph is a special saint because it is not what he says that matters, but what he does, in a quiet, unassuming gentle manner – his actions certainly speak louder than his words!
They say that the Infancy narratives in Luke’s Gospel are seen though the eyes of Mary’s experiences of her encounters with Angels, Shepherds, her cousin Elizabeth and with her inner most thoughts and reflections. And that the infancy narratives of Matthew’s Gospel are seeing through the sleepy eyes of the dreams of Joseph. This is because four out of the five times we encounter Joseph he is asleep! One - when he is told not to fear taking Mary, who is with child, as his wife; two - when he is warned to flee Egypt to escape Herod’s plan to kill Jesus; three - when he is given the all clear to return to Israel; and four – when he is told not to settle in Judea but go to Galilee.
However, we should not dismiss these dream moments as fantasy or whatever, because God does speak to us in any way he chooses. The unconscious and sub-conscious life is a rich store for deep encounters of the spiritual life. I believe St Joseph, with such a deep faith and openness in the Almighty, he is a skilled practitioner in the art of intuitive listening.
Pope Francis when he announced the Year of St Joseph, he also gave us a new prayer. Perhaps this is the prayer we should have as Joseph is our parish patron and we could pray this every week, especially on his feast day the 19th March. But also remember to pray it on the feast of St Joseph the Worker on May 1st. Here is the prayer:
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 a human being.
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.