I did not understand him [St. Joseph] well enough, but that will change. - St. John of the Cross
In the 16th century, St. John of the Cross, one of the greatest mystics of the Church, humbly acknowledged that he lacked a proper understanding of the greatness of St. Joseph. Inspired by the tremendous love that his friend, St. Teresa of Avila, had for St. Joseph, St. John of the Cross made a firm resolution to get to know and love St. Joseph better.
What about you? Do you know St. Joseph? Do you feel you understand his greatness and love for you? Well, my friends, get ready! Consecration to St. Joseph is going to unveil the wonders of St. Joseph like never before!
Now is the time of St. Joseph!
It's a bold claim, I admit. Yet I truly believe that in our day the Lord wants to direct our hearts, families, parishes, dioceses, and Church to St. Joseph in a major way. This action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church has been gaining momentum for a very long time.
Don't get me wrong: Saint Joseph has always held a special place in Christians' hearts. Across the centuries, saints, popes, mystics, scholars, and laity alike have praised and extolled the greatness of St. Joseph. In the 16th century, the Holy Spirit used St. Teresa of Avila to bring about a greater awareness of St. Joseph in the Church. Even before St. Teresa, saints such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bernardine of Siena, and St. Lawrence of Brindisi strongly emphasized the greatness of St. Joseph.
In more recent times, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, St. Peter Julian Eymard, Blessed Petra of St. Joseph, and St. André Bessette have kept devotion to St. Joseph prominent in the lives of God's people. Indeed, St. André Bessette initiated construction on what has become the world's largest church dedicated to St. Joseph — St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada. Saint José Manyanet, a priest in 19th-century Spain, fervently promoted devotion to St. Joseph and the Holy Family. He prophesied that a "time of St. Joseph" would soon arrive in the life of the Church. He wrote:
I believe that the true time of Saint Joseph has not arrived yet: after two thousand years we started only now to glimpse something of the mystery in which he is immersed.
Well, my friends, guess what? Now is the time of St. Joseph! How can I state this with such conviction? Simple: God has given us clear indications that he wants his people to pay more attention to St. Joseph — clearer indications than in any previous era in Church history. In 1961, St. Pope John XXIII put it very bluntly. He wrote:
In the Holy Church's worship, right from the beginning, Jesus, the Word of God made man, has enjoyed the adoration that belongs to him, incommunicable as the splendor of the substance of his Father, a splendor reflected in the glory of his saints. From the earliest times, Mary, his mother, was close behind him, in the pictures in the catacombs and the basilicas, where she was devoutly venerated as "Holy Mother of God." But Joseph, except for some slight sprinkling of references to him here and there in the writings of the Fathers [of the Church], for long centuries remained in the background, in his characteristic concealment, almost as a decorative figure in the overall picture of the Savior's life. It took time for devotion to him to go beyond those passing glances and take root in the hearts of the faithful, and then surge forth in the form of special prayers and of a profound sense of trusting abandonment. The fervent joy of pouring forth these deepest feelings of the heart in so many impressive ways has been saved for modern times!
What the Vicar of Christ clearly stated is that now is the time of St. Joseph. We are living in modern times, the time in which the Church is witnessing an unprecedented era of devotion to St. Joseph. According to St. Pope John XXIII, God desires devotion to St. Joseph to surge forth in our day in the form of special prayers of "trusting abandonment." This means one thing in particular: It's time for total consecration to St. Joseph!
Let me explain further about how God has been leading the Church to this moment.
In 2018, I published a daily devotional to St. Joseph entitled St. Joseph Gems: Daily Wisdom on Our Spiritual Father. In the introduction, I present a list of remarkable events — divine indicators, if you will — that have taken place over the past 150 years that show St. Joseph's increasing importance in the life of the Church. They clearly indicate that we are living in an unprecedented time of St. Joseph. Here's the list:
1868 — Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP, writes a letter to Blessed Pope Pius IX asking him to declare St. Joseph the "Patron of the Universal Church."
1870 — Blessed Pope Pius IX declares St. Joseph the "Patron of the Universal Church."
1871 — Founding of the Josephites by Cardinal Herbert A. Vaughan
1873 — Founding of the Congregation of St. Joseph by St. Leonardo Murialdo
1878 — Founding of the Oblates of St. Joseph by St. Joseph Marello
1879 — Apparitions at Knock, Ireland. Saint Joseph appears with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle, and Jesus (appearing as the Lamb of God).
1889 — Pope Leo XIII writes Quamquam Pluries, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph.
1895 — Blessed Petra of St. Joseph begins construction on a shrine to St. Joseph in Barcelona, Spain. It is consecrated in 1901. At her beatification in 1994, St. John Paul II calls Blessed Petra the "apostle of St. Joseph of the 19th century."
1904 — Saint André Bessette constructs an oratory dedicated to St. Joseph in Montreal, Canada. It expands, is declared a minor basilica, and finally is completed in 1967. Today, it is known as St. Joseph's Oratory and is considered by many to be the preeminent international center of devotion to St. Joseph.
1908 — Saint Luigi Guanella begins constructing a church dedicated to St. Joseph in Rome. It is completed and consecrated as a basilica in 1912.
1909 — Saint Pope Pius X officially approves the Litany of St. Joseph.
Without exaggeration, the Church has done more to promote St. Joseph in the last 150 years than in the previous 1,800 years of Christianity.
1914 — Saint Luigi Guanella founds the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Salvation of the Dying.
1917 — Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. During the last apparition on October 13, St. Joseph appears holding the Child Jesus and blessing the world.
1921 — Pope Benedict XV inserts the phrase "Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse" into the Divine Praises.
1947 — Spanish Discalced Carmelites found Estudios Josefinos, the first theological journal devoted to St. Joseph.
1950s — The alleged apparitions of Our Lady of America given to Sr. Mary Ephrem emphasize a renewed devotion to St. Joseph, and St. Joseph himself speaks to the visionary about this devotion.
1955 — Venerable Pope Pius XII establishes the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to be celebrated on May 1.
1962 — Saint Pope John XXIII inserts St. Joseph's name into the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
1989 — Saint Pope John Paul II writes Redemptoris Custos, an apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph.
2013 — Pope Francis, echoing and fulfilling the intentions of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, inserts the name of St. Joseph into all Eucharistic Prayers. He also consecrates Vatican City State to St. Joseph.
2020 — Pope Francis decrees a Year of St. Joseph for the Catholic Church (December 8, 2020 – December 8, 2021). He also writes Patris Corde, an apostolic letter on St. Joseph.
Whoa! Did you know all that? Most people are unaware of these remarkable events. Without exaggeration, the Church has done more to promote St. Joseph in the last 150 years than in the previous 1,800 years of Christianity! But why now? Why St. Joseph?
There are many reasons, but I believe there are two that are especially important.
First, we need the spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph to help us protect marriage and the family. Marriage and the family have always been under attack, but in modern times, the threats have reached extraordinary heights. Many people no longer know what it means to be a man or a woman, let alone what constitutes a marriage and a family. Many countries even claim to have redefined marriage and the family. There is great confusion on these matters, greater confusion than in any previous era of human history. The Servant of God Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the longest-lived visionary of the Fatima apparitions, knew the seriousness of the times and made a powerful statement about this issue. She wrote:
The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.
First, we need the spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph to help us protect marriage and the family.
To combat and overcome Satan's deceptions, the Church needs St. Joseph. His example and protection are the only way out of the confusing mess we are in. Who else can we turn to who can help us understand what marriage and the family are all about if not to the Head of the Holy Family and the Terror of Demons?
Second, the entire world needs to be re-evangelized, including the vast majority of baptized Christians. Saint Joseph was the first missionary. Today, he desires again to bring Jesus to the nations. Many nations and cultures that were previously Christian have fallen away from their Christian roots and are on a path of self-destruction. Countries once established on Judeo-Christian principles have become overrun by ideologies and organizations that seek to strip society of all that is sacred. Without a major turnaround, civilization itself is going to self-destruct.
In an apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph in 1989, St. John Paul II reminded us of the necessity of invoking St. Joseph in the work of re-evangelizing the world. He wrote:
This patronage [of St. Joseph] must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and are now put to a hard test.
Now is the time to consecrate yourself to St. Joseph! God is telling his Church that, in order to defend marriage and the family, elevate morals, recover lost ground, and win souls for Jesus Christ, we need to bring St. Joseph onto the battlefield. He is the Terror of Demons! With his powerful spiritual fatherhood, incredible love for his spiritual children, and constant intercession, the Church can be renewed as a light to the nations, a beautiful city on a hill (see Mt 5:14-16)!
What exactly is consecration to St. Joseph? In other words, what does it mean for a person to be consecrated to St. Joseph? Well, it basically means that you acknowledge that he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. To show it, you entrust yourself entirely to his paternal care so that he can lovingly help you acquire his virtues and become holy. Total consecration to St. Joseph means you make a formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God. The person who consecrates himself to St. Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. Saint Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his loving attention, protection, and guidance.
Now is the time to consecrate yourself to St. Joseph!
Perhaps someone reading this has already consecrated themselves entirely to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is wondering if they can consecrate themselves to St. Joseph and entrust everything to him, as well. The answer is a resounding "Yes!" God desires that all children be committed to the love and care of a mother and a father. You are not a member of a single-parent spiritual family. Mary is your spiritual mother, and St. Joseph is your spiritual father. The spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph is extremely important for your spiritual growth. Total consecration to Mary is not diminished by total consecration to St. Joseph. Mary wants you to consecrate yourself to St. Joseph! Everything you have given to Jesus and Mary can also be given to St. Joseph. Be at peace. The Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph are one.
"How is consecration to St. Joseph done?" you ask. To be honest, there are an endless number of ways. A simple prayer of entrustment is sufficient. However, if you truly want to understand the greatness of your spiritual father, it is best to follow a thorough program of preparation and consecration. Such a program should cover St. Joseph's person, privileges, titles, and virtues, especially his paternal love for God the Son and the rest of humanity. Consecration to St. Joseph offers a comprehensive program of preparation and consecration to St. Joseph for individuals, families, parishes, and dioceses. Through this program, I hope to spark the first worldwide movement of consecration to St. Joseph!
So what's the program? What's the method? Well, as I prayed about how to organize this preparation for consecration to St. Joseph, I thought it best to emulate the tried-and-true 33-day preparation method employed by St. Louis de Montfort in his Marian consecration. Why re-invent the wheel, right? The method of 33-day preparation is simple, straightforward, and allows a person to cover the subject matter quite well. Saint Louis de Montfort's method of preparation also requires a very important element: prayer.
Fr. Donald Calloway, "Introduction to Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father." Marian Press (Dec 31, 2019).
Reprinted with permission from Marian Press.
Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, is a member of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He is an Emmy award winner and the author of Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest, and Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon. Fr. Calloway currently serves as the Vicar Provincial and Vocation Director for the Marian Fathers. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio.Copyright © 2019 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
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