I trust that you are all having a good and blessed Christmas celebration. After the month of Advent preparation, we are invited to celebrate the birth of our Savior, the son of Mary, Jesus not just for one day, the 25th, nor even for just eight days, the Octave, but for the entire Christmas Season, which this year will end of Sunday, January 10th with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. May our celebration be full of great joy and peace and fill our hearts with hope for the new year, 2021!
We received some wonderful news at the beginning of last month: on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis declared a year of St. Joseph for the entire Church. Along with other devotees of St. Joseph, the Oblates of St. Joseph had petitioned the Holy Father to take this step, convinced that St. Joseph can serve as a great model, intercessor and protector for all people of faith in these trying times. We are grateful to God and to the Pope for granting this wonderful opportunity to entrust ourselves even more to our great Protector and to seek to follow even closer his example of humble and faithful service.
For the occasion, the Holy Father issued an Apostolic Letter with the very suggestive title: Patris Corde (Heart of the Father). Suggestive because the father referred to is St. Joseph himself and in reference to his relationship with Jesus. So often in the past, there has been reluctance to give this title to St. Joseph, fearful of giving the wrong impression as to the relationship shared between Joseph and Jesus. Joseph is father to Jesus not in the way that Mary is mother to Jesus, and yet she herself is not reluctant to refer to Joseph as Jesus’ father. And neither is Pope Francis. In fact, the Apostolic Letter is dedicated to explaining in what way Joseph was father to Jesus and how that can be of assistance to all of us to live more deeply our Christian faith and entrust ourselves ever more to his fatherly protection.
Pope Francis also states that he was particularly moved to write about St. Joseph “during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked… Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
This hidden aspect of the life of St. Joseph was also dear to our founder, St. Joseph Marello, who encouraged his Oblates to follow this example, by working in a hidden and silent way, serving the interests of Jesus. This is very important to keep in mind in our vocation discernment. We must seek to hear God even in those ordinary, quiet and hidden moments of life, our day to day activities. If we are seeking to serve Jesus in those moments, that is, to love God and neighbor, then they will be moments in which we will be able to discover a little more who each one of us is in God’s plan, just as did St. Joseph.
Fr. Brian Crawford, OSJ