By Ken Rolheiser
We do not yet have a Season of St. Joseph. It strikes me that the patron saint of the universal church is one of the least known saints in Christendom. Many startling facts about St. Joseph remain hidden behind the face of this gentle, humble guardian of the Holy Family.
In Canada we have a very humble Saint Andre of Quebec who dedicated his life of service in imitation of St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s Oratory displays the heart of this saint, literally, along with a pile of crutches and canes left by those miraculously cured on this site. I have seen the humble bed where this saint rested and died.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death as well as unborn children, families, fathers, expectant mothers, workers, travelers, immigrants, home sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general. (www.catholic.org)
There are 16 St. Joseph Catholic churches in the Regina Archdiocese alone. St Joseph and the Spanish San Jose, which is the most commonly named place in the world, explain why St Joseph ispatron saint of the New World; of the countries of China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; and of several regions and cities.
Least known but most exciting is the growing understanding that St. Joseph is in heaven, body and soul, with Jesus and Mary and many Saints. In Matthew 27:51 -53 we read, “The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the city and appeared to many.”
It is hard to imagine St. Joseph was not among these. Saint Bernadine of Siena, Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Leonard of Port Maurice declared beyond a doubt that St Joseph was assumed into heaven, body and soul.
St Leonard offered as proof Proverbs 31:21: all her (Mary’s) household are “clothed with double garments.” Interpreters say this signifies the body and the soul.Saint Bernadine proclaimed: Jesus, Mary and Joseph labored on earth together, they now reign Body and Soul in heaven. (Catholic365.com)
St. Joseph was a “just man” who guarded the Saviour of the world. He was visited four times by angels: to accept Mary and Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20); to flee from Herod to Egypt (Matthew 2:13); after Herod’s death (Matthew 2:19); and not to return to Judea (Matthew 2:22).
In Nazareth, Joseph modelled faithfulness and virtue. Just as Mary said “Yes”, was full of grace and became the Mother of Jesus, so also Joseph said “Yes”, followed God’s promptings and became the Father in the Holy Family at Nazareth and for all time!
The Season of St. Joseph, I am suggesting, comprising more than forty days, could fall naturally between March 21 and May 1, both designated as St Joseph’s day. Easter is never celebrated before March 21, so this Holy Season of St Joseph would always begin before Easter and end during the fifty days of celebration after Easter.
There is much to celebrate in the life of St. Joseph. St. Teresa of Avila recounts a convent house Jesus asked her to build. Mary is at the door that leads to heaven and Jesus lives with us in the home. St. Joseph is at the door between the world and our home, much like St. Andre of Quebec, welcoming everyone.