In a decree dated May 1, 2013 but announced only yesterday, our Holy Father Pope Francis declared that Saint Joseph’s name be placed right beside the Virgin Mary’s name in the second, third, and fourth Eucharistic prayers of the holy Mass. This will pretty much serve to have Joseph’s name spoken at that most precious point of every Mass that is celebrated each day throughout the entire world. This may seem like only a small liturgical change but I see it as something much greater!
For too long, Saint Joseph has been overlooked, one of the best kept secrets in the Catholic Church. Saints like Theresa of Avila discovered that calling upon him was a sure way to have your prayers answered because he is right there! He is right beside Mary in eternity and Mary is right by the throne of God. And he is still a dad who knows how to bring about the best for his children, solve problems, and get things done!
It was Pope John XXIII who first declared Joseph the universal Patron of the Church back in 1961, inserting his name into what we know today as the first Eucharistic Prayer. In so doing, the Pope was inviting the whole world to take this great, humble, self-sacrificing carpenter as our patron…and our dad!
That puts us in great hands! Joseph must have been quite the man of integrity and prayer. He was entrusted with the greatest and most important vocation a man could ever have: to raise young Jesus, to love, provide for, and sacrifice for his son as a dad must and thus be the shadow of God the Father on the earth in the life of Jesus.
Joseph is known for his chastity. He was the chaste lover of the beautiful Virgin Mary and we can just imagine the respect and awe that he must have had for Her as he pondered the miracle that was growing inside Her womb. He overcame all fear in taking the Blessed Virgin as his bride and in a short time was ready to lay down his life and die if need be to protect and provide for the Holy Family.
Saint Augustine also had a great devotion to Joseph. Augustine boldly calls Joseph the “virgin father” of Jesus, asserting that he was not some late addition to God’s plan but a man chosen before time even began to join with the Virgin Mother in matrimony and in the task of raising God’s Son.
Let’s pray that this be the beginning of a new era in our Church, of men especially seeking Saint Joseph’s prayer and guidance to be all they are called to be: to love, to sacrifice, and to “father” whoever they are called to, without counting the cost.