The Year of St. Joseph – December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021

“Go to Joseph”.  In Canada, today (Jan 7th) is the feast day of St. Andre Bessette, the uneducated, humble, devout porter, Brother Andre, who had a reputation for the gift of healing.  His advice to everyone who came to him was to “go to Joseph”.  Pope Francis is also asking all of us to go to Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph.  As the spouse of Our Blessed Mother, foster father to Jesus, Pillar of Families, Terror of Demons and Protector of the Holy Church, St. Joseph Most Courageous is a sure model for us to navigate this troubled world in which we live.  His life was not immune to trouble and the Holy Family lived during a time of great persecution during the Roman occupation.

St. Joseph cares for all his children and will guide and protect you and enable you to progress spiritually.

St. Joseph holds a special place in Carmel as well.  In their letter to the Carmelite family on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Fr. Míceál O’Neill, O.Carm. and Fr. Saverio Cannistra, O.C.D., explain the Carmelite history of devotion to St. Joseph and how the 15th century “proper of the liturgy in honour of St. Joseph in the Carmelite tradition is thought by historians and liturgists to be the first monument of the Latin Church to the dignity of St. Joseph.” (p. 4-5)  They go on to explain:

Carmelite Preachers insisted that just as Mary the Virgin conceived the Incarnate Word in her womb through the work of the Holy Spirit, so Joseph, through the work of the same Holy Spirit, conceived the Word through contemplation, and became the father of Jesus on this earth.

And that St. Joseph is celebrated as “the image and reflection of the Carmelite mystical life in God.”

Plenary Indulgence during Year of St. Joseph

Did you know that you have an opportunity every Wednesday until December 8, 2021 to gain a plenary indulgence?  The Church is granting plenary indulgences to the faithful under the usual conditions during this special year.  A plenary indulgence remits all temporal punishment due to sin.  The usual conditions are accompanying any one of the 15 actions below with sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the intentions of the Holy Father, with a spirit detached from all sin (including venial).  Of course, many of us do not have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist these days, but you can make an Act of Spiritual Communion instead.  God knows both your intentions and your restrictions.  (List below taken from https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/fifteen-ways-to-gain-an-indulgence-in-the-year-of-st-joseph-81304):

1) Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph. 

2) Pray for St. Joseph’s intercession for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.

3) Recite the Litany of St. Joseph for persecuted Christians. Byzantine Catholics have the option of an Akathist to St. Joseph.

4) Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of St. Joseph the Worker.

5) Follow St. Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.

6) Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy, such as comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead.

7) Pray the rosary together with one’s family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”

8) Engaged couples can also receive an indulgence from praying the rosary together.

9) Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, because St. Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”

10) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on St. Joseph Sunday, the Sunday after Christmas in the Byzantine Catholic tradition.

11) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph on March 19 with an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph.

12) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on the 19th of any month. 

13) Honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.

14) Pray to St. Joseph on the Feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 27.

15) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 with an act of piety or prayer.

The Diocese of Charlotte has put together a wonderful website specifically dedicated to this Year of St. Joseph. https://yearofstjoseph.org/ It is packed with ideas on how to celebrate this special year, including recorded talks on St. Joseph, virtual retreats, colouring pages, pilgrimage ideas (you can look up all the St. Joseph churches that are nearby to do your own local pilgrimage), devotions, prayers, etc.

And why not make this year the year you consecrate yourself to this wonderful saint?  I can’t recommend Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph highly enough. 

I’ve written previously about Carmelite Saints and St. Joseph, especially St. Teresa of Avila’s devotion to him.  Carmelites “veneration of Saint Joseph is not only a devotion or pious practice but rather a life plan, that is an integral part of the charismatic heritage of Carmel.  Together with Mary, Joseph is the gospel icon in which we Carmelites may see and understand what it means to live ‘in allegiance to Jesus Christ.’ ” (p. 11)

May this year of St. Joseph bring you closer to the person who walked this earth with Our Lord, who knew him best along with Mary and who by naming Jesus, “became the first one to announce that in the child of Nazareth we are saved by God.” (p. 5)  St. Joseph cares for all his children and will guide and protect you and enable you to progress spiritually.   As St. Teresa witnessed “I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner make progress in virtue, for this heavenly protector favors in a striking manner the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.”

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