By John C. Preiss
Christians have always had the Scriptures to remind them that family life
must be patterned after the Holy Family and the Word of God in all that it says
about the way to live and the discipline that all members of the family must
have. Mary was most obedient to God. “Be it done to me according to your
word” (Luke 1:38). Joseph was most obedient too when an angel of the Lord
told him: “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt... So he
arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and withdrew into Egypt...”
The child Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary, and we note that it was as
he was entering adolescence that the pages of sacred scripture gives us a brief view
of Jesus between the time of His infancy and His adulthood. St. Luke concludes
his account of Jesus found in the temple after his parents having missed him for
three days with the words: “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them...” (Luke 2:51-52). Some translators say “and lived
under their authority”.
Jesus was “obedient to them...” It is all we are told about Jesus Christ from
the time He is beginning to enter adolescence until His adulthood and public
ministry. It does tell us that Jesus was obedient, just as Philippians 2:8 tells us
“appearing in the form of man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to
death, even to death on a cross.” It also tells us that Joseph and Mary exercised
their authority according to their roles in the family.
On August 15, 1989 Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Exhortation,
Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer.” It was a source of gradual
resurgence in devotion to St. Joseph at the time. It presents St. Joseph as virginal spouse and father, as head of the Holy Family, as protector and guardian of Jesus and Mary, as model of the consecrated life, as patron of the Church, and as worker. We continue to see in this year of St. Joseph a continual growth in devotion because of his needed place in the family.
In every age St. Joseph has been honored by Christians, highest on the list
after our Blessed Mother.
Devotion and understanding of St. Joseph is greatly needed today with the
disintegration of marriage and family, the attacks on motherhood and
fatherhood, abortion, the increase of child abuse, etc. The virtues personified in
St. Joseph are what are needed today by all Christians and fathers of families in
St. John Paul II reminded us in “Guardian of the Redeemer” that “the
Church has commended to Joseph all her cares, including those dangers which
threaten the human family.” Groups of men devoted to St. Joseph have been
springing up as a result of the crisis in the family. There is a need of a role model
of sanctity for husbands and fathers. We know that St. Joseph was not an old
man, as artists used to portray him. Realistically he was a younger man, one who
obeyed God immediately and could take his family in the middle of the night
and flee into a foreign country.
During difficult times in the history of the Church the Church has turned to
St. Joseph’s powerful patronage. In 1870 Pope Pius XI declared him “Patron of
the Catholic Church.” Another time was during the confusion of the Protestant
defections in northern Europe at the time of the Protestant Revolt. The
Carmelites led the major thrust of turning to St. Joseph as a model of the interior
life, and as the unfailing protector of the Church threatened with divisions.
In the 19th century when rationalism, scientism, secularism, Marxism, and
nationalism attacked the Church from every angle, attacks from which we still
suffer, Pope Pius XI and Leo XIII turned directly to St. Joseph for help. Pope
Leo’s prayer called on him against “the powers of darkness... just as you once
saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God’s Holy Church
from the snares of her enemies.”
St. Pope John Paul II had written years ago“we still have good reason to commend
everyone to Saint Joseph.” In recent years the church has been faced with liturgical reformers bent on suppressing popular Catholic devotions.The family suffered from devotions being attacked. The Rosary and with its devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was down-played. Even a campaign was waged against Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament waned. The Communion of Saints was never mentioned.
What the above misrepresentations to the faith did to the family is
recognized today. Some in the Church who should have led us in proper
Catholic devotions while bringing understanding and active participation in the
divine liturgy at the same time, it appears, too often lacked discipline, obedience
to proper Church teachings.
We must continue to understand that the Mass contains infinite value as it perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross butbalanced devotions in the home extend the spirit of religion into the home and prepare the family for the great faith celebration of the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated at every Mass. The Holy Family is needed in these times.
In your time of need also ask St. Joseph to intercede for you!
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