Popes are no strangers to special devotions to St. Joseph, but perhaps there is no more explicit example than our current Holy Father, Pope Francis.
In this month’s installment of 19 on the 19th, a series that brings you 19-minute reflections on St. Joseph each month, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ explores the presence of St. Joseph in the life of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Fr. Matthew points out that from the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis dedicated himself to St. Joseph. He celebrated his inaugural mass on March 19th (Solemnity of St. Joseph) and made it clear that Christ’s earthly father was a model of virtue that we should seek to imitate.
During the papacy of Pope John XXIII, St. Joseph’s name was added to the first Eucharistic Prayer, but was seemingly left out of subsequent iterations. However, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis made continual efforts and succeeded in getting St. Joseph added. “Pick your favorite saint. You know, Saint Don Bosco…Saint Therese of the Lisieux. I’m thinking of lots on my mind and we don’t need to go through all of them, but many of them aren’t included in the Eucharistic prayer because they’re more recent saints. Well, Saint Joseph of course goes right back to the Holy Family and Pope Francis wanted to emphasize his central role in the mystery of salvation,” said Fr. Matthew.
He went on, saying how Pope Francis had expressed his special devotion to a statue of a sleeping St. Joseph that sat on his desk and how he used to place his prayer intentions by it, asking for his intercession. As a result, devotion to this sleeping St. Joseph skyrocketed and it became a very common and popular statue in Catholic homes.
Pope Francis not only prayed especially to St. Joseph, but preached about his example telling us that our salvation is conditional upon a level of trust that we must place in God and His will, making references to St. Joseph’s docility. Fr. Matthew said, “And almost always, those references include a mention of trusting and cooperating and obeying God’s command. That’s because that’s what Saint Joseph did in his life. He trusted, he obeyed.”
As part of his tireless efforts to express his admiration and adherence to St. Joseph’s example, Pope Francis declared that December 8th, 2020 would mark the beginning of the year of St. Joseph for the entirety of the Catholic Church. And just this past May, he added seven new titles to the Litany of St. Joseph. He is trying to present, in his entirety, the person of St. Joseph, the silent yet crucial role he played in the life of Christ, and the strength that he showed and continues to show in protecting the weak. And how weak we have grown! In this past year and all the difficulties it has presented, whether it’s struggling with financial decisions, illness or failing health, familial issues, or other, there is no better time to go to St. Joseph and grow in devotion to the foster father of Jesus.
Learn more about St. Joseph by listening to or reading the full 19 on the 19th talks below:
You can sign-up to Experience the Year of St. Joseph with Relevant Radio® and receive every episode of 19 on the 19th in your inbox each month. You’ll also receive a FREE ‘Living the Year of St. Joseph’ booklet which includes the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph, the Litany of St. Joseph, and much more! Sign-up and then let your friends and family know about this opportunity to grow closer to Jesus through St. Joseph.