As I mentioned at the end of Mass last weekend, on December 8, Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year dedicated to St. Joseph. The Holy Father did this to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared the patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870.
Explaining further in his proclamation, Pope Francis writes that, “I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure[…] My desire to do so increased 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. 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. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone… How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all. 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. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”
In addition, Pope Francis declared that, throughout the Jubilee Year, a plenary indulgence can be obtained by those who, under the usual conditions, perform any of the following actions: meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or take part in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph; perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy; recitation of the rosary in families and among engaged couples; recite the Litany to St. Joseph. The “usual conditions” mentioned above that are needed to receive a plenary indulgence are making a sacramental confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying for the Pope’s intentions, and performing the prescribed action with a spirit detached from any sin.
We have a great and powerful intercessor in St. Joseph! After all, St. Joseph had the privilege of protecting and raising Jesus; because he knew him so closely on earth, he knows what is most pleasing to him and how to perfectly present our needs to him. If you do not already have a devotion to St. Joseph, I encourage you to make him part of your regular prayers. The Litany of St. Joseph and the Litany of Humility can easily be found online and would be easy to add to your daily prayers. As St. Theresa of Avila once wrote, “Knowing by experience St. Joseph’s astonishing influence with God, I would wish to persuade everyone to honor him with particular devotion. I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner make progress in virtue, for this heavenly protector favors in a striking manner the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.”