Often religious Christmas cards will depict Mary with her new born son but Jospeh is nowhere to be seen. Poor Joseph! Yet you can find some painting and prints that depict Jospeh cradling the infant Christ while Mary sleeps. In the gospels, Joseph was the one who, at least four times was guided in dreams to protect and provide for Mary and Jesus.
Yesterday Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (With a Fathers Heart) on the 150th Anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as Parton of the Universal Church. It is well worth reading. It is a mediation and reflection of the role of Joseph. The Pope says that the aim of the letter is “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.” Pope Francis announced a special year dedicated to St Jospeh starting yesterday 8th December and ending on 8th December 2021.
Alongside the Apostolic letter the Apostolic penitentiary issued a decree granting a special indulgence for the duration of the special year to celebrate the anniversary and “to perpetuate the entrustment of the whole Church to the powerful patronage of your Custodian of Jesus.” As the Pope writes in his new letter. “The Son of the Almighty came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph. God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child. In this sense, Saint Joseph could not be other than the Guardian of the Church, for the Church is the continuation of the Body of Christ in history, even as Mary’s motherhood is reflected in the motherhood of the Church.”
In his continued protection of the Church, Joseph continues to protect the child and his mother, and we too, by our love for the Church, continue to love the child and his mother.
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 man.
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.