Greetings my brother and sisters,
…and Happy New Year! May the good Lord grant us his choicest blessings in this year and give us a heart full of love and peace, to discern well is holy will for each one of us.
I hope the Christmas celebrations are going well for all of you. I say are going well because Christmas continues even after December 25th…in fact, we celebrate the Octave of Christmas right after, treating each day as if it were Christmas Day! And then, we have the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God and the Epiphany before wrapping it up with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year on January 9. So, Merry Christmas!!!
As I mentioned in last month’s article, I am going to take some time to go through the new invocations added to the Litany of St. Joseph by Pope Francis in honor of the recently concluded Year of St. Joseph. The first title under consideration is Guardian of the Redeemer.
This is actually the title of the Apostolic Exhortation promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II in 1989 on the 100th anniversary of the promulgation of the Encyclical Letter Quam Quam Pluries on St. Joseph issued by Pope St. Leo XIII. Both of these holy pontiffs wished to demonstrate the importance of St. Joseph in the mystery of salvation and in the life of the Church up to the present day. By being called by God to watch over and guard the newborn child Jesus and his mother Mary, St Joseph was also entrusted with this task as regards the Body of Christ, the Church. He is our heavenly Protector and Guardian. St. John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation:
Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model.
Pope Francis, at he beginning of his pontificate (which began solemnly on March 19, 2013, Feast of St. Joseph), quoted this from the document of St. John Paul II, stating:
In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out
He then went on to describe how he is the Custos (Guardian) of the Church:
How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand….How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own….In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
The virtues and actions highlighted above can be a road map for each of us to discern well how God is calling me to be a “Guardian” of Christ and to respond generously to that call once discovered. May St. Joseph inspire all of us to do so.
Fr. Brian, OSJ