From the Pastor's Desk
Pope Francis launches "Year of St. Joseph", in yet another response to pandemic from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021. (1870- to 2020)
Jubilee year celebrates the 150th anniversary of Jesus' foster father being named patron of the Universal Church. Pope Francis has officially launched the "Year St. Joseph" to mark the 150th anniversary of Jesus' foster father being named patron of the Universal Church.
"After Mary, the Mother of God, no saint is mentioned more frequently in the papal magisterium than Joseph, her spouse," the pope writes in a new apostolic letter published on December 8 to inaugurate the jubilee. The text is titled Patris corde, "with a father's heart".
While December 8 is most often associated with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, it is also the date in 1870 that Pius IX named St. Joseph patron of the Universal Church. Pope Francis says his own plans to write the apostolic letter on St. Joseph "increased during these months of a pandemic". He notes that Joseph "has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people" for his life-long "sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation". While the world is marked by COVID-19, "each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, support and a guide in times of trouble".
The creative courage of St. Joseph
Throughout Patris corde, Francis invites his readers to learn from St. Joseph, especially in these difficult times. While "disappointment" and "rebellion" can exist, the holy carpenter invites us to "set aside ...[our] own ideas in order to accept the course of events". Even though situations may seem "irreversible", life reveals a "deeper meaning", the pope writes.
"Our lives can be miraculously reborn if we find the courage to live them in accordance with the Gospel," he says. Francis presents Joseph as a model of "creative courage", an expression that the pope has frequently used in recent months in the face of the impossibility of celebrating public Masses. He says despite "the arrogance and violence of worldly powers, God always finds a way to carry out his saving plan". The pope proposes St. Joseph as an example of welcoming the trials of life "without exception". He also calls the saint "the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution, and poverty". "Every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is 'the child' whom Joseph continues to protect," Francis insists. The "Year of St. Joseph" will culminate on December 8, 2021. A decree from Apostolic Penitentiary says the yearlong event wants to encourage "prayer and good works". And with the help of St. Joseph's example and intercession it seeks to bring "comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that besiege the contemporary world today".
The Apostolic Penitentiary has reiterated the usual conditions for believers to obtain a plenary indulgence during this jubilee year. They included going to confession, receiving communion, and praying for the pope's intentions. Catholics can also get an indulgence by reciting the rosary with their families for, for those who are engaged, with their fiancées. The goal is that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love, and prayer that was in the Holy Family". Those who frequently recite a prayer to St. Joseph or those who perform a work of mercy can also obtain an indulgence. The Apostolic Penitentiary says those who cannot go to confession because of the pandemic or travel restrictions are asked to pray to St. Joseph, "comfort of the sick and patron saint of a happy death, [by] confidently offering to God the pains and hardships of their lives". Priests are encouraged to be "willing and generous" in administering the sacrament of penance and to bring communion "often" to the sick.