São José © Miguel Augusto

Bishop D. Stephen Lee to preside at closing Mass of the Year of St Joseph

Miguel Augusto

We are approaching the end of the “Year of Saint Joseph” proclaimed by Pope Francis, which began on December 8, 2020, and ends this year on the same date (next Wednesday). 

In Macau, Bishop D. Stephen Lee, will preside at the closing Mass of the “Year of Saint Joseph” on December 4th in the Se Cathedral Church at 4:00 pm. 

For the occasion, and as we are already living in the Advent period, we could not fail to revisit St Joseph and deepen his presence, not only in the mystery of the Holy Family, but in the Church and in the life of the Catholic faithful. For this purpose, we make use of some recent lectures on the foster-father and protector of little Jesus, given by the Brazilian priest Bráulio D’Alessandro, in his homilies with formative content, which is available on his YouTube channel.

Fr Bráulio D’Alessandro always shows a concern to raise the knowledge of the faithful about the wealth and values ​​of the Church and the Catholic faith. He has been giving lectures on St Joseph lately and noted that he is relying on a book he recommends by Fr Donald Calloway, Consecration to St Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father

The priest emphasizes that “St Joseph is the greatest Saint in Heaven after the Virgin Mary – and he highlighted – St Joseph has something that Our Lady does not have – he is a man, a man of God, with a man’s heart. St Joseph wants to help us with a father’s heart.”

He tells us that his name, Joseph – derived from the Hebrew Yosef and is first mentioned in the Old Testament –, means “to add” an “increase”, and that although St Joseph was not a biological father, in the scriptures it is noted that fatherhood is something more spiritual than physical. 

St Josemaria Escrivá, recalled D’Alessandro, wrote about the paternity of St Joseph: “There is something I don’t like about the title of foster-father by which St Joseph is sometimes called. Because it is in danger of making us think that the relationship between Joseph and Jesus was cold and external. Certainly, our faith tells us that he was not a father according to the flesh, but that is not the only fatherhood.”

Fr Bráulio stressed that St Joseph was always beside the Virgin “So that she could fulfil her mission. Having helped Our Lady, helping, watching over, protecting, providing for the Virgin Mary, he was helping, protecting, watching over and providing for the baby Jesus. The logic is very simple: if Jesus who is God, Our Lady who is Immaculate, they needed St Joseph so much, who are you, who am I not to need it?”

This need of St Joseph, Bráulio tells us, is not something affective, or romantic, it is real! It’s something concrete. Fr D’Alessandro says we need to discover who St Joseph is in the Plan of Salvation and added: “And we have entered a time where Divine Providence begins to unveil for us who St Joseph is. History itself shows us this.”

The priest recalls that until the beginning of the 19th century, there were no churches dedicated to St Joseph, and that there were no statements from the Popes dedicated to him. Not all the Saints recognized the greatness of St Joseph. 

Fr Bráulio gives his opinion: “Because he is a hidden treasure that God has revealed for these times. God wanted to give us St Joseph from the 19th century onwards, when Pope Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him, influenced by a Dominican Saint, who wrote letters to the Pope telling him that the Holy Spirit asked for a greater emphasis on life and on the mission of St Joseph in the Church. The Pope thus proclaimed him Patronus, which means defender, the one who rules, the one who protects, and who leads. St Joseph he is the Patron of the Holy Catholic Church. And saying that he is the Patron of the Church, he tells us that he is our patron, that he takes care of us, that he watches over and leads us. Well, he did all this with Our Lady and the baby Jesus.”

Jesus rejoiced with St Joseph, Fr Braulio tells us, adding that he worked and learned with him; he rested in his heart, having sanctified it, leaving him purer than the Seraphims and Cherubims. The Priest quotes St Francis de Sales: “The purity of St Joseph surpasses that of the angels of the highest hierarchy.” 

Here is something so beautiful, continues the priest, coming from the heart of a French saint who is dear to me, St Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, who said: “Devotion to St Joseph is one of the choicest graces that God can give to a soul, for it is tantamount to revealing the entire treasury of our Lord’s graces. When God wishes to raise a soul to greater heights, he unites it to St Joseph by giving it a strong love for the good saint.” St Eymard called him “the true Eucharistic guardian.”

Fr Bráulio noted that the Holy Fathers of the Church call Saint Joseph “the shadow of God the Father.” “Whoever has not seen the Trinity in the Holy Family has seen nothing. St Joseph is a symbol of God the Father; Our Lady is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the beauty of God and Jesus the Word Incarnate,” exulted the priest adding that “God is a Family, and He wants us to be a family too.” The Church is a family, and as Our Lady said to Sister Lucia,  “The last battle would be against the family, the last battle of the devil,” that is, against the Church, your house, my house. Who defends a family, isn’t it the father? Today St Joseph has a very special role.”

Fr D’ Alessandro reminded St Teresa of Avila, of her mysterious illness, and that once she had prayed to St Joseph, she was healed. The priest tells us that the saint contracted a debt of love for St Joseph and wrote thus in her autobiography: “I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God hath given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and of soul.…

“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was really devout to him, and who honoured him by particular services, who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue; for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him.”

One day, Fr Bráulio added, Our Lord appeared to St Margaret of Cortona, telling her how pleased He was with her devotion to St Joseph, His foster-father who was most dear to Him. Our Lord expressed a wish that she show some daily special act of homage to St Joseph.

Fr Bráulio left us an interesting theological fact pointed out by St Pope John XXIII: “As almighty God appointed Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob, over all the land of Egypt to save grain for the people, so when the fullness of time had come and he was about to send to earth his only-begotten Son, the Saviour of the world, he chose another Joseph, of whom the first had been the type, and He made him the lord and chief of his household and possessions, the guardian of his choicest treasures.”  

“Joseph of Egypt guarded the wheat, St Joseph guarded the Living Bread that came down from Heaven,” stressed the priest.

For the faithful to have a greater intimacy with St Joseph, Fr Bráulio advices to make his litany every day and to make the consecration to him: “Let’s prepare our consecration to St Joseph. We need to give ourselves to St Joseph as we have already given ourselves to Our Lady. To consecrate means ‘to take something or someone out of the realm of evil and put it in the realm of good,’ this is what consecration is. All family homes should have an image of St Joseph.”

In addition to the fact that St Joseph is now more present in the midst of families, in the “domestic churches,” the priest recalled that Pope Francis had added the name of St Joseph in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Eucharistic prayers.

As for the Sanctuaries dedicated to the Patron of the Church, the largest can be found in Montréal (Quebec), Canada. It was the result of the devotion of St André Bessette, and the countless miracles achieved by his intercession.

May the “Year of Saint Joseph,” which ends on coming December 8, not “end,” but serve as an impetus for greater devotion and experience of the Catholic faith on the part of the faithful together with such a high saint, the earthly father of Jesus. If the child God and his Mother, by Divine Will, lived under the care and protection of St Joseph, so let us also seek greater intimacy with him in our lives. May St Joseph grant us this grace, for our journey in faith under his care, for his Glory and Glory of the Holy Church and God the Father.

St Joseph, pray for us!

Prayer to St Joseph

By Pope Francis

Saint Joseph,

you who always trusted God,

and made your choices

guided by His providence

teach us not to count so much on our own plans

but on His plan of love.

You who come from the peripheries

help us to convert our gaze

and to prefer what the world discards and marginalises.

Comfort those who feel alone

and support those who work silently

to defend life and human dignity. Amen.

(Image: Image of St Joseph in St Dominic Church, Macau. Photo: Miguel Augusto)