Yesterday we celebrated one of the great feast days of the Church -- that of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Joseph has been one of my favorite saints at least since I became a father -- I often ask for his prayers that I may be a loving and humble husband and father, as he was.
As commonplace as it seems now, devotion to St. Joseph is a relatively recent phenomenon, given the two-millennia-long history of the Church. He was declared Patron of the Universal Church in 1870; only at this time was his feast day raised to the status of a first-class feast. His name was inserted into the Roman Canon by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 during the early stages of the Second Vatican Council.
I was particularly struck yesterday by the introit for the Mass for St. Joseph's feast (from the Missale Romanum): "Behold, a faithful and prudent steward, whom the Lord set over his household." The stewardship aspect reminded me of part of a post written by my esteemed sister-in-law for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter last month in which she compared St. Peter to the Steward of Gondor. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this stewardship aspect creates a strong connection between St. Joseph and the Petrine Office. While the pope is steward of Christ's body, the Church, St. Joseph was steward of Christ's actual body during his infancy and childhood. Thus, it is fitting that many of our recent pontiffs have had a special devotion to St. Joseph, as his guardianship of Jesus prefigures their guardianship of the Church.
We ask St. Joseph's prayers for us and for the Church on this day and always, that by his intercession, the Church may grow in humility and docility to the will of God.
O Glorious Saint Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, and the head of the Holy Family. You have been chosen by Christ's Vicar as the heavenly Patron and Protector of the Church founded by Christ.
Protect the Sovereign Pontiff and all bishops and priests united with him. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life; and grant that all peoples of the world may be docile to the Church without which there is no salvation.
Dear Saint Joseph, accept the offering I make to you. Be my father, protector, and guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me purity of heart and a love for the spiritual life. After you example, let all my actions be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death.
Amen.Sancte Ioseph, ora pro nobis!