If you’ve spent any time online recently, you may have noticed that Pope Francis has proclaimed the “Year of Saint Joseph”, December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021. The dedication was made in honor of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as the “Patron of the Universal Church” by Blessed Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870.
Aside from the anniversary of Saint Joseph’s patronage, this year is a particularly fitting time to follow more closely in the footsteps of Jesus’s earthly father. Saint Joseph was a humble man who lived a very hidden life—despite being one of the most important men in salvation history.
According to Pope Francis, in Saint Joseph, we see echoes of the many frontline workers of the COVID-19 pandemic—the nurses, doctors, grocery store clerks, and others—who work together to provide hope and service from the shadows. In Saint Joseph, we see ourselves as well. Joseph reminds us that not all deeds need to be recognized to be great.
“Our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. They understood that no one is saved alone. 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.”Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde”
There are no recorded words from Saint Joseph. Other than a few scenes from the infancy narratives, his life was largely invisible. But though Joseph was a man of few words, other holy men and women have had plenty to say about him. Here are five quotes about St. Joseph to get you excited about Pope Francis’s “Year of Saint Joseph,” and encourage you to develop a deeper devotion to the holy saint.
Saint Thomas Aquinas: “It is true that the other saints enjoy great power in heaven, but they ask as servants, and do not command as masters. Saint Joseph, to whose authority Jesus was subject on earth, obtains what he desires from his kingly foster Son in heaven.”
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade: “To give life to someone is the greatest of all gifts. To save a life is the next. Who gave life to Jesus? It was Mary. Who saved his life? It was Joseph. Ask St. Paul who persecuted him. Saint Peter who denied him. Ask all the saints who put him to death. But if we ask, “Who saved his life?” Be silent, patriarchs, be silent, prophets, be silent, apostles, confessors and martyrs. Let St. Joseph speak, for this honor is his alone; he alone is the savior of his Savior.”
Saint Francis de Sales: “Truly, I doubt not that the angels, wondering and adoring, came thronging in countless multitudes to that poor workshop to admire the humility of him who guarded that dear and divine child, and labored at his carpenter’s trade to support the son and the mother who were committed to his care.”
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade: “We wonder why the Gospel makes so little mention of St. Joseph. But did it not say everything when it taught us that he was the husband of Mary?”
Blessed Boleslava Lament: “If it is true that the Blessed Virgin is the keeper of all heavenly graces, that her love for the elect is the source of their glory and happiness, what must be the glory of St. Joseph whom she was obliged to love above all the saints, just as a good wife must love her husband above all men. Meditate on this.”
Saint Theresa of Avila: “Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then.”
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux: “St. Joseph was chosen among all men, to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster-father of the InfantGod, and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas: “Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron Saint Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.”
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: “The Lord has arrayed Joseph, like with a sun, in all which the saints possess together in regard to light and splendor.”
Blessed Josemaria Escriva: “St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.”
This year, why not take some time to learn a little more about the foster-father of Jesus? By meditating on Joseph’s quiet service and deep humility, we can grow in holiness and love of neighbor. And by drawing close to Jesus’s earliest and closest teacher, protector and confidant — aside from Mary — we will draw closer to Christ himself.
If you want to read the Pope’s Apostolic Letter on Saint Joseph in its entirety, you can find it here.
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