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

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. 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.”

Carmelite Saints and St Joseph

Ever since praying a novena to St. Joseph 3 years ago asking for his intercession to help sell our home in a tough market I have come to know first-hand how much St. Joseph cares for us, his spiritual children, and the efficacy of his intercession on our behalf.  But I still didn’t know that much about him or how important he is to us until I started reading Fr. Donald Calloway’s “Consecration to St. Joseph”.  Not only does it provide rich insights into who St. Joseph was and is, but how much our Carmelite saints loved him!   Fr. Calloway’s book is sprinkled with lovely thoughts on St. Joseph from St. Teresa of Avila, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi and others. 

Here are a few quotes from the book:

Knowing by experience St. Joseph’s astonishing influence with God, I would wish to persuade everyone to honor him with particular devotion.  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.”  St. Teresa of Avila

I prayed to St. Joseph to watch over me. From my childhood, my devotion to him was mingled with my love for the Blessed Virgin.  Each day I recited the prayer, ‘O Saint Joseph, father and protector of virgins.’  It seemed to me that I was well protected and completely sheltered from every danger.” St. Therese of Lisieux

He [St. Joseph] always favors with especial protection those souls who are enrolled beneath the standard of Mary.”  “How great a share had not the glorious St. Joseph in the chalice of Jesus’ passion, by the services which he rendered to his sacred humanity!” St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Those who are devoted to prayer should, in a special manner, cherish devotion to St. Joseph.  I know not how anyone can ponder on the sufferings, trials and tribulations the Queen of Angels endured whilst caring for Jesus in his childhood, without at the same time thanking St. Joseph for the services he rendered the Divine Child and his Blessed Mother.”  St. Teresa of Avila

I beg the great St. Joseph, in whom I have a very great confidence, to come to my aid.” St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

St. Joseph is powerful. One of his names is Terror of Demons.

Another story Fr. Calloway relays in his book is that St. Zelie Martin knelt before a statue of St. Joseph in St. Therese of Lisieux’s bedroom, fearing she was going to die in infancy, asking him to heal St. Therese and she was healed!

St. Joseph is powerful.  One of his names is Terror of Demons.  Fr. Calloway refers to him as a dragon slayer!  It wasn’t a dragon he slayed in my situation but it was certainly sticky and causing our family a lot of anxiety.  We had just bought a smaller home in an older section of town.  Even though it was smaller, because of the area, it was more expensive than our current home.  As soon as the paperwork was signed and we started the process of listing our own home, the housing market took a huge nose- dive.  Houses were losing value in front of our eyes and buyers were drying up.  We listed our house with next to no takers, except a few low-ball offers.  We had visions of holding down two mortgages and the longer it taking our home to sell, the value steadily declining, making it impossible for us to own the home we had just bought!  On my mother’s advice, I started a novena to St. Joseph.  I had never asked for his intercession before.  We had a deadline for offers on a certain date.   Two came in at that time, both of them way below the asking price.  We turned them both down.  That night was very difficult.  However, that day was only Day 8 of the St. Joseph novena.  I told my husband that the novena wasn’t finished yet and that tomorrow was the last day.  He told me it didn’t matter, because the deadline was over and we’d have to start all over again and re-list.  We were woken up by a phone call from our realtor at about 6:30 a.m. the following morning.  One of the buyers came back and upped their offer despite the deadline passing!  It was in an acceptable range for us such that we could finance the other home we had just bought.  St. Joseph worked a miracle for us and I have been forever grateful to him!  A couple of years ago, when my dad, who is now a 16-year survivor of Stage 4 throat cancer, found out from his doctor that they suspected a spot on his lungs and wanted to investigate further with an MRI, we were all worried.  When he survived the first cancer, he was told it would most likely come back in the lungs.  My mom called and I immediately started the novena to St. Joseph.  Dad’s MRI results came back clear, no spot at all!

Another thing I’ve recently found out is that my parish has a relic of St. Andre Bessette in our altar.  St. Andre is the saint that started the St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal back in 1904, the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph!

As Carmelites, we love our Blessed Mother and have an immense devotion to her.  She is the patron of our Order.  As I’ve discovered through reading “Consecration to St. Joseph”, we should also have a strong devotion to her Most Chaste Spouse.  After all, Mary loved him wholeheartedly as did Jesus, the God-child, even being obedient to him.  St. Teresa of Avila called him “tender father of my soul”.  I know I’ll be calling on St. Joseph’s spiritual fatherly protection more often in these difficult times; how about you?

Corina (Formation I Candidate)