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...” (Matthew 2:13-14). 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 give 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 the late Saint Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer.” It has through these many years has been a source of gradual resurgence in devotion to St. Joseph. 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. 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. Pope 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.” Saint Pope John Paul II once wrote “we still have good reason to commend everyone to Saint Joseph.”
I’m currently doing the consecration to St. Joseph by Father Donald Calloway. This is a book for all, yet especially for fathers in the home. At the Fatima Family Apostolate we continue to press that the family today should follow in the footsteps of our Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I want to encourage you to make your commitment to the sanctification of your family. St. Joseph, Pray for us!