The benefits of consecration to St. Joseph and his ‘necessary’ patronage

Universal Church celebrates 150th anniversary of his patronage this year

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Saint Joseph was given the mission to protect, guide and provide for two people conceived without sin, Mary and Jesus, which means that he himself had to be a very virtuous man. And indeed he was. The Fathers of the Church and various saints throughout history have esteemed St. Joseph as “the greatest saint” – that is, of course, with the exception of Mary, who has always been placed in a different category from the rest. He occupies a unique category among the saints for his important role in salvation history, for being predestined to become the father of Jesus on earth.

For this reason, and after an expressed desire by bishops from all over the world, Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church in 1870.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of this decree, Archbishop Samuel Aquila supports pastors, parishes and the faithful to consider consecrating themselves or their community to St. Joseph sometime in between March 19, 2020 and March 19, 2021.

This consecration would not be in vain, as Saint John Paul II writes: “This patronage [of St. Joseph] must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and now are put to hard test.”

If you are wondering what a consecration specifically entails, consecration is an act by which something or someone is separated for a divine purpose. In our Catholic faith, certain items are consecrated for liturgical purpose, such as church buildings, altars, chalices, etc. People also consecrate their lives to God by making vows in the religious life.

A consecration “to a saint,” like Mary or St. Joseph, is actually a consecration to Jesus himself through that saint, through Mary or Joseph. It is a serious commitment to respond to God’s grace, under their guidance.

“The person who consecrates himself to St. Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness,” writes Father Donald Calloway in his book Consecration to St. Joseph. In turn, St. Joseph gives that person “his loving attention, protection, and guidance.”

The Venerable Mary of Agreda laid out seven privileges of devotion to St. Joseph: attaining the virtue of purity, procuring powerful intercession to escape sin, increasing love and devotion to Mary, securing the grace of a happy death, fighting off demons with the mention of his name, gaining health of body and assistance in difficulties, securing children in families.

St. Joseph holds a privileged place

Pope Leo XIII explained that no one has come so closely to the Virgin Mary’s holiness as St. Joseph. “By its very nature, [the conjugal union] is accompanied by a reciprocal communication of the goods of the spouses. If then God gave St. Joseph to Mary to be her spouse, he certainly did not give him merely as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, a guardian of her honor, but he made him also participate by the conjugal bond in the eminent dignity which was hers.” (92)

For this reason, it is also said that his closeness to God surpasses that of all of the holy angels.

But the final answer is, of course, God. As Father Calloway writes, “Saint Joseph is the greatest saint in the Kingdom of Heaven because God predestined him for that position.” Ultimately, no angel, regardless of his ranking, had the privilege and responsibility to be called “father” by the Son of God on earth. That authority was reserved to Joseph – to love, command and educate the God-Man.

It is for this reason that he can be the patron of the Church and our spiritual father.

The word “patron” comes from the Latin “pater,” which means “father.” And, although St. Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, he was certainly “a real father to Jesus because he exercised a fatherhood toward Jesus that was authoritative, affectionate, and faithful.” And if the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, St. Joseph is also the father of the Church.

This has personal implications for all of us. We are members of the Mystical Body of Christ by our baptism, which means that, if St. Joseph is the father of the Church, then he is also our spiritual father. He, of course, is not meant to replace our biological father, but is there to “spiritually feed, shelter, clothe, educate, protect, and correct us.”

Let us then ask for the aid of such great intercessor, as St. Teresa of Avila suggested: “I would wish to persuade everyone to honor him with particular devotion. I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner make progress in virtue, for this heavenly protector favors in striking manner the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.”

Credits: Consecration to St. Joseph, Father Donald Calloway, MIC

COMING UP: Church and state partner to carry out corporal works of mercy during pandemic and beyond

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In times of great need and crisis, we find strength in unity and collaboration, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, this truth remains within the Archdiocese of Denver.

For many years, the Archdiocese of Denver and local Colorado government officials have found ways to work together toward common goals and better serve the people of Colorado, which often includes carrying out corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. And through the COVID-19 pandemic, these partnerships continue to be a crucial part of Colorado’s and the Church’s response to those in need.

The City of Denver and the Archdiocese of Denver have a history of partnering to support people in need. During the pandemic, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and his administration have worked with the archdiocese to safeguard the homeless population and extend testing for COVID-19 to communities at higher risk of struggling with the virus.

“These types of true collaborative relationships really make the difference because you can call on your partners [and] you have established relationships that are built on trust and built on true engagement and true focus on a mutually agreed upon mission,” Mayor Hancock told the Denver Catholic. “Catholic Charities and the archdiocese have been just tremendous partners over the years with us.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver told the Denver Catholic that “the Catholic Church is motivated to care for the poor and needy by Christ’s commandment to love one another as he loved us.

“The coronavirus pandemic,” he added, “has highlighted this important work and underscored the essential role the Catholic Church plays in fostering a society that upholds the God-given dignity of every person.

“It has been a blessing to be able to work with the City of Denver over many years to serve these vulnerable populations.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and the Archdiocese of Denver have partnered with Mayor Michael Hancock and the City of Denver in the past to better serve people in need, and they’ve continued those collaborative efforts through the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Catholic Charities)

Recently, on July 10 and July 23, Mayor Hancock and the City of Denver hosted events in partnership with Ascension Catholic Parish in Montbello to provide testing for COVID-19 and a mobile food pantry to the local community.

“We have been looking for opportunities to be in the communities, to do the testing, to meet people where they are. And we recognize that Latinos and African-Americans in particular have been most vulnerable to this virus,” Mayor Hancock said. “We needed to really just make sure we took the opportunities for testing to those communities.”

Then, on Aug. 6, Ascension hosted another event in collaboration with the City of Denver where the mayor’s office gave away free backpacks with school supplies, healthy food baskets, baby products, feminine hygiene products and more.

“I am very thankful for Mayor Hancock’s collaboration to help the people of Montbello,” said Father Dan Norick, pastor of Ascension Parish. “I also thank God for the people in Montbello who are caring for each other in these difficult times. May Jesus be praised!”

Mayor Hancock said that hosting these events at Ascension Parish made sense because of the established relationship the City of Denver and the Archdiocese of Denver have developed over the years.

“When you’re looking for who you partner with during these opportunities, you turn to who’s most familiar with you and who you’ve had a trusting collaboration with,” he said. “And it just so happens the archdiocese and the parish there have been the ones that we’ve worked with over the years. So it was very natural. It’s a place where people are familiar and a place they trust.”

It’s not only during the pandemic that this partnership has been fruitful, though. A strong partnership between Samaritan House and the city has existed for quite some time, and this relationship has borne much fruit over the years. Samaritan House strives to be more than a just a homeless shelter, providing education, life skills classes and one-on-one support for its residents to empower them to break free from the cycle of poverty and support themselves independently.

In August 2017, the City of Denver and Catholic Charities of Denver cut the ribbon on the first all-women’s shelter in the city. Called Samaritan House Women’s Shelter, it follows Samaritan House’s established model of helping those experiencing hard times find a way out of poverty and ultimately, bring hope to their lives. Each night, it offers 225 beds for women who are in need of immediate shelter.

Back in April, Catholic Charities teamed up with the City of Denver and took the lead on an auxiliary women’s shelter set up at the Denver Coliseum. (Photo by Catholic Charities)

Back in April, in response to the pandemic and out of a need to maintain social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City of Denver and Catholic Charities of Denver partnered to set up the Denver Coliseum as a 24/7 auxiliary emergency women’s shelter that’s that was able to accommodate up to 300 women. Catholic Charities staff took the lead at the shelter with full support from the City of Denver. The auxiliary shelter has since returned to the regular women’s shelter facility, but this collaboration between the city and Catholic Charities was crucial as cases of COVID-19 climbed in April.

“When the pandemic hit, Catholic Charities had to find a way to social distance the ladies in its Women’s Emergency Shelter,” said Mike Sinnett, Vice President of Shelters and Community Outreach. “We also had to provide them 24/7 care to honor the governor’s Stay-at-Home order and triage for the virus. Working with the City of Denver staff, we came together as a shelter community and obtained the use of the Denver Coliseum downtown. We were able to better provide social distancing, 24/7 shelter with three meals a day and other amenities, including showers and case management.

“We believe this effort with the city protected our most vulnerable community and helped prevent the spread of the virus. But more importantly, we made it safer for women experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.”

Featured image: Father Dan Norick hands out supplies during a community giveaway event hosted at Ascension Catholic Parish in Montbello in conjunction with the City of Denver. (Photo provided)