Patron of Exiles



The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!!  He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!! This Easter proclamation continues to resound and fill our hearts with hope and joy, knowing that our Lord Jesus had conquered sin and death and is leading us to everlasting life in heaven. We have only to continue our journey of life in his presence and supported by his strength and grace. Amen.

The month of May is just full of special religious meaning, particularly for we who are devotees of St. Joseph and St. Joseph Marello. We begin the month with the celebration of St. Joseph the Worker on the 1st (even if this year not a liturgical celebration since on Sunday) and we end it on May 30 with the celebration of the feast day of St. Joseph Marello, the founder of the Oblates of St. Joseph. And, of course, traditionally the month of May has been dedicated to our Mother Mary, both because of the mother day observance and because the month ends on the 31st with the celebration of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. See, lots of occasions for celebration this month!

I mentioned that St. Joseph Marello is the founder of the OSJ. It was he who chose St. Joseph to be the patron saint of the Congregation. This expression, patron saint, no doubt is familiar but do we really consider its meaning? Here is the dictionary definition of a patron: a person chosen, named, or honored as a special guardian, protector, or supporter; and one that uses wealth or influence to help an individual, an institution, or a cause. Marello chose St. Joseph as patron of his Oblates, because he wanted him to use his “wealth” and “influence” to help our cause. St. Joseph’s wealth, of course, is his presence in heaven and his influence is his intercession before God. Let us make full use of this by invoking our patron as often as possible, and especially to help us discover and follow faithfully our vocation.

The use of the title patron also figures in our continued look at the new invocations for St. Joseph placed in his litany by Pope Francis. In fact, the three final invocations all utilize the title “patron” and the first is “Patron of exiles”. Why is St. Joseph somebody chose as a “special guardian, protector, and supporter” of those who are far from their home, in exile? Firstly, because he along with Mary and Jesus, experienced that first hand by having to flee to Egypt to escape the butchery of King Herod. He knows what it means to be exiled socially, politically, geographically and emotionally. So many in our day experience this same type of exile and they can turn to Joseph who can use his wealth and influence send them comfort and strength to endure this trying and unfortunate experience without losing their faith and hope.

It is good to keep in mind, however, that we are also, all of us, in exile. We pray to our Blessed Mother in the “Salve Regina” to look upon us with mercy and “after this our exile” to show us her son Jesus. This exile is referring to our journey here on earth as we make our way to our true homeland, heaven. This is good to remember, particularly when we are tempted to seek our true homeland here on this earth, whether in a particular nation, race, occupation, way of life…in other words, in anything which is bound to this passing world. Instead, by recognizing our status as children in exile and journeying to our true home, we will not allow ourselves to be caught up in the things of this world but will understand that our restless hearts can only rest in God and that in heaven. May St. Joseph, patron of exiles, helps us to continue our heavenly journey with losing our faith, our hope and our joy…Alleluia!! Alleluia!!

Fr. Brian, OSJ