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

Universal Church celebrates 150th anniversary of his patronage this year

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: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash