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Saint Joseph – Patron of the Universal Church. Feast Day 19th March

On 19th March we celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph whose 150th Anniversary as Patron of the Universal Church is celebrated this year. Additionally, Pope Francis has declared the year, 8th December 2020 to 8th December 2021, the Year of St. Joseph during which plenary indulgences can be granted.

Joseph loved Jesus with a Father’s Heart, the phrase used as the title of Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter Patris Corde. All four Gospels refer to Jesus as “the son of Joseph” (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22; John 6:42). Matthew and Luke speak most of St Joseph and tell us about the sort of father he was and the mission entrusted to him by God. Joseph was a just man (Matthew 1:19), a lowly carpenter (Matthew 13:55) betrothed to and protector of Mary, the consecrated virgin (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27). Although he was deeply troubled by Mary’s mysterious pregnancy, he was wholeheartedly obedient to God and took Mary as his wife after the angel appeared to him in a dream (Matthew 1:20). He was ever ready to carry out God’s will as revealed to him in the Law (Luke 2:22-25, 27, 39) and through four dreams (Matthew 1:19 -25; 2:13- 15; 19-23). After a long and tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph beheld the birth of Jesus in a stable (Luke 2:7). He witnessed the adoration of the shepherds (Luke 2: 8-20) and the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12).

Joseph had the courage to become the legal father of Jesus, to whom he gave the name revealed by the angel (Matthew 1:21) and tenderly and lovingly raised him as his own son (Luke 4:22). He was the earthly shadow of the Heavenly Father, watching over and protecting Jesus. To keep Jesus safe, Joseph took his family to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-23) and on returning to his own country, led a hidden life in the tiny and obscure village of Nazareth in Galilee, far from Bethlehem, his ancestral town, and from Jerusalem and the Temple.

In Joseph we never see frustration, only trust in God’s providence. He traces for us a spiritual path of acceptance. It is generally believed that Joseph died before Jesus started His public ministry, and, therefore, it is assumed that he died with Jesus and Mary close by.

Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of (among others): Carpenters, Fathers, Workers and Happy death.

With excerpts from Pope Francis’ Patris Corde

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