More than a year ago (pre-COVID, for sure), I started inviting a few men from the parish to the rectory once a month for what I called “Whisky Wednesday.” The simple thought was to gather some men together, share a few drinks with one another, enjoy each other’s fellowship and then end by sharing some graces of their lives and things that they needed prayers for.
From that, some of the men decided to start going to 6:30 a.m. Mass on Wednesday. Afterward they would chat for a few moments before going to their respective jobs and homes, knowing that they aren’t in the grind alone. A few months later, one of the men stumbled upon the 33-day Consecration to St. Joseph by Father Donald Calloway and invited me and a few others to join him in this prayer journey of consecrating ourselves to St. Joseph’s patronage. It was during this time that I discovered that historically Wednesdays were the day of the week offered to St. Joseph. If there is no other feast day or memorial, now we offer a Mass to St. Joseph here at the parish, which has taken on a deeper meaning for the men who attend.
A few months after we started that, Pope Francis announced a “Year of St. Joseph” for the universal Church. Clearly the Holy Spirit had been preparing me and the men in my parish for this year!
The title of Pope Francis’ letter is “Patris Corde,” meaning, “With a Father’s Heart,” or another way of looking at it, “With the Heart of the Father.” As the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph shows us that the life of faith is filled both with abundant grace and challenges. God invites us with our own frailties and shortcomings to enter into the great drama of salvation history. Pope Francis writes that: “Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that He can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course…Joseph set aside his own ideas in order to accept the course of events and, mysterious as they seemed, to embrace them, take responsibility for them and make them part of his own history.”
In allowing his personal story to be steered by the story, St. Joseph becomes a model of humility, faith and perseverance for us. More than that, by accepting God’s will in his life, St. Joseph became a “sacrament” of God the Father to Jesus. Jesus would have called St. Joseph “Abba” at the home in Nazareth. All of us are called to receive, and then give, the love of God the Father to others; to love one another with the Heart of the Father.
Having a year of St. Joseph gives us as a people of faith a time to reflect on the great role that St. Joseph plays in salvation history, the powerful intercession he provides as the patron saint of the universal Church, and the model of discipleship and holiness he challenges all of us to imitate. Like St. Joseph, by accepting God’s will and grace into our lives, let us become vessels of the Father’s love to one another.
Pope proclaims year dedicated to St. Joseph
VATICAN CITY — Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared patron of the universal church, Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.
In a Dec. 8 apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a father’s heart”), the pope said Christians can discover in St. Joseph, who often goes unnoticed, “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all,” he said.
The Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience, also issued a decree Dec. 8 stating that plenary indulgences will be granted to Catholics not only through prayer and penance, but also through acts of justice, charity and piety dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.
However, the decree also highlighted several ways to obtain the indulgence throughout the year, including to those who “meditate on the prayer of the ‘Our Father’ for at least 30 minutes or take part in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph.”
— Catholic News Service
For more information about the observance of the Year of St. Joseph around St. Louis, watch www.archstl.org.