The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph, whose feast day is celebrated on March 13th. During this month, St. Joseph should be our companion in prayer. Foster father of the Savior, and husband of the Virgin Mary, he is a model of purity and patron of husbands, fathers, and workers. He is often invoked as the Patron of a holy death. Let us go to him as Patron of the Universal Church as we pray for the Conclave that will elect the new pope. Let us also pray for the happiness and wellbeing of Pope Emeritus Benedict, whose baptismal name is Joseph.
O most powerful patriach, Saint Joseph, patron of that universal Church which has always invoked thee in time of need; we turn to you as the College of Cardinals gathers to elect a pope. Intercede for the Church that it be granted a shepherd who will walk in the ways of the Lord and whose watchful care will build it into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for the world.
Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19
We can imagine that Joseph did not fully understand the circumstances surrounding Christ's conception and birth, but he was able to love what he did not fully understand. It is in this love that his faith and sanctity are revealed. However, the Scriptures are mostly silent in regard to details about St. Joseph. After the story of Christ's birth, St. Joseph seems to disappear from the Gospels. Generations of writers have nonetheless treasured many pious legends about St. Joseph, and the Church assures us that he remains active in the life of the Church to this very day, but in terms of personal details, anecdotes, true life stories, there is silence. Perhaps the silence of St. Joseph is his most profound witness.
Saints are not celebrities, who leverage every detail about their lives so that they might be known and recognized. A saint is someone who, in the desire to be like Christ, is able and willing to disappear into the mission God gives them. For some saints, this mission brings them a great deal of attention. But for most saints, the life of grace involves a very low profile and a death to self that requires an immersion into ordinary circumstances. Saints accept these circumstances becasue they know that it is through the ordinary that God accomplishes the extraordinary!
On May 1, 2013, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments promulgated the decree
by the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. The decree instructs that the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, should be inserted into Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV. Already on November 13, 1962, Pope John XXIII had inserted the name of St. Joseph into the first Eucharistic Prayer (the Roman Canon), and now that work has been carried foreward to the other three Eucharistic Prayers, initially by Pope Benedict XVI and now confirmed by Pope Francis.
Pious and liturgical devotion to St. Joseph is first recorded with certainty in the seventh century, though reference to him is made in Sacred Scripture and multiple patristic texts earlier than that. A full liturgical Office was established for him on March 19 in the 13th century, and in 1870 he was proclaimed Patron of the Universal Church. Many church writers and several Popes have written of St. Joseph, including the apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II entitled R
(August 15, 1989).
draws some of its language from this exhortation, expressing in concise words the role of St. Joseph in the economy of salvation, stating, for example, that St. Joseph "stands as an exemplary model of the kindness and humility that the Christian faith raises to a great destiny, and demonstrates the ordinary and simple virtues necessary for men to be good and genuine followers of Christ. Through these virtues, this Just man, caring most lovingly for the Mother of God and happily dedicating himself to the upbringing of Jesus Christ, was placed as guardian over God the Father's most precious treasures."