“Pillar of Families” is one of the wonderful titles we attribute to the Light of Patriarchs – St. Joseph – spouse of Mary. These thoughts come to you on the eve of his solemnity the 19th March. Last year I had a few ideas about how this great Saint can and must play a significant part in our family and faith life.
The urgency of our need for his heavenly intercession hasn’t waned. Indeed, in these deeply uncertain times, I believe it’s in his divinely appointed role as Protector of Holy Church (just like he guarded and protected the Mother of Christ and Jesus Himself) that St. Joseph really comes in to his own. My wife and I are just at the conclusion of a novena to him for some special intentions and I for one have felt the power and effect of his intercession in a very real and concrete way only this last week. So take it from me, if you call fervently on him, he won’t fail you.
Novenas I think can be done both before and after a Saint’s feast and I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind if we turn to his earthly guardian and foster father for help even during the Great Week itself alongside all our other devotions. But one of the perhaps lesser known devotions to this marvellous models of Christ-like love and service is the edifying Devotion in Honour of the Seven Sorrows and Joys of Saint Joseph. I think this is a most fitting devotion to help us prepare for Holy Week because it reminds us that our own Christian lives are replete with joys and sorrows, pain and consolation all the time – sometimes not just crammed into the same day but even in the same hour and moment. Such can be the intensity of our living in conformity with Christ on his journey to Jerusalem, where with Him and in our day to day family living we can at once be basking in the elation of “triumph” and “hosannas” of His entry in to Jerusalem only to be going through a Gethsemane of agony and heartache and worry that can descend upon us without warning or preparation. Goodness knows children can bring that spectrum of experience in your life from one moment to the next; one minute, being your heart’s delight; the next almost driving you to distraction and even tears.
I guess that’s why we need the one constant of prayer, faith and love of loved ones to keep us anchored through it all. So I encourage use and frequent recourse to the devotion, knowing that through it St. Joseph will be a kindly, gentle, but manly, fatherly presence in your life through good times as well as bad but most especially, the bad. You can find a copy of the Devotion here.
And by way of an introduction I will be exploring the theme of paternal/fatherly spirituality as we journey through Easter week by week. So I guess this pre-Paschal reflection to St. Joseph is an appropriate precursor to what will follow which I hope readers will find just as edifying. Needless to say there won’t be a Friday Fast next week on Good Friday itself as, I am sure you will agree, it’s the one Friday of the calendar that moves us to silent contemplation and nothing else.