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Center for Catholic Education at UD

Ite Ad Joseph: Turning to Our Spiritual Father in the Year of St. Joseph

By Elena Niese

Now is the time of St. Joseph! These words punctuate the introduction to Father Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father with utmost vigor. Yet, what exactly do these words mean? With Pope Francis’s declaration of this next year, December 8th 2020 to December 8th 2021, as the “Year of Saint Joseph,” this often overlooked saint has surely stepped into the limelight in a new way. Yet, what does Pope Francis’s declaration mean for us? Who is St. Joseph? And, why is now the time to dedicate ourselves to this most holy saint?

The Year of Saint Joseph

On the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church and on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis released his Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart), declaring a Year of St. Joseph. Francis, strong in devotion to St. Joseph himself, outlines the importance of this saint in his Apostolic Letter, especially in light of the pandemic. Francis states:

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

Fr. Calloway builds upon this idea of “a support and guide in times of trouble” by emphasizing St. Joseph’s role in both protecting marriage and the family along with fulfilling the call of the New Evangelization. St. Joseph as the foster father of Christ and first missionary disciple is the perfect model for us to turn to in our ever-changing, challenging world. Now is the time of St. Joseph! 

Responding to a Call—Consecration to St. Joseph

In response to Pope Francis’s invitation to go to St. Joseph, Austin Safford, a sophomore at UD, felt the call to create a small group through the student-run faith organization on-campus known as Catholic LIFE. Along with D.J. Needham, the two young men lead a group of 10 other students in completing Father Calloway’s Consecration to Saint Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. I had the privilege of being one of them.

This consecration, consisting of 33 days of preparation, is a total entrustment of oneself to St. Joseph so as to become more like him. Fr. Calloway describes consecration to St. Joseph as, “entrust[ing] yourself entirely to his [St. Joseph’s] paternal care so that he can lovingly help you acquire his virtues and become holy” (5). Who better to turn to as a model of holiness than one who lived with a wife free of sin and the Son of God? What heroic virtue St. Joseph models for us! Now is the time of St. Joseph!

St. Joseph—Embodiment of the Fruits of the Spirit

After having completed our consecration on March 19th, the feast day of St. Joseph, I asked a few members of the group to share a short reflection on how the consecration impacted them and their faith life, focusing specifically on how St. Joseph’s witness helped them to grow in the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Jack Gorman, a first-year student, shared how his consecration to St. Joseph helped him to grow in the fruit of peace. He states, “In my 33 day consecration to St. Joseph, I was impacted and moved in many ways by the exposure to St. Joseph's incredible life. Specifically, I found myself growing in peace towards my faith, people in my life, and experiences I have every day. St. Joseph had such an incredible but undoubtedly stressful life, yet he maintained peace through his constant relationship with God; being a witness to that has helped me find peace in the hardships and suffering I endure in my daily life.”

Mary Connor mentioned a similar sense of comfort in turning towards St. Joseph specifically through the Memorare to St. Joseph prayer. She states, "St. Joseph has brought me so much peace and patience and joy. I have especially loved praying the Memorare to St. Joseph with all my intentions; he immediately responds by obtaining the graces I need to surrender to the will of God. Humbly waiting on the God’s Word like St. Joseph, I am able to accept myself and the situations I find myself in with patience and joy.”

St. Joseph is not only a source of consolation, however; his witness also inspires us to emulate his virtue the same. Jordan McCormick captured this perfectly in her reflection on charity. Jordan explains, “St. Joseph has taught me the beauty of charity and the importance of loving others for God's sake, offering them up in our words and deeds, entrusting them to God. St. Joseph has been a comforting friend and father to me, a great help in times of difficulty and uncertainty. He is an unfailing confidant and companion as I trust that he will bring others speedily to Christ even through the smallest of my actions.”

St. Joseph is also the embodiment of perfect fatherhood, a witness that D.J. Needham draws beautifully upon in his reflection. He states, “My Consecration to St. Joseph was spiritually enriching, as I was able to become more familiar with the man who so flawlessly cultivated the human mind of Jesus. Through this consecration, I feel I have grown, specifically, in patience and self-control because of the example St. Joseph laid out for us. His entire adult life was selflessly devoted to the protection, care, and wellbeing of the Holy Family; his own desires and needs were always secondary to those of Jesus and Mary, and consecrating myself to St. Joseph has helped further develop those fruits in me so that one day I will, as a father, treat my own family with that same love and reverence.”

Zach Moore continues to draw from this witness of authentic masculinity stating, “As I grew in my relationship with St. Joseph through this consecration, I can feel St. Joseph’s protection over me, just as he protected Jesus. St. Joseph not only teaches me how to live virtuously through the example of his own life, but also how to love the virtuous life, especially in the areas of patience, gentleness, and chastity. Prior to making the consecration, St. Joseph’s powerful intercession was missing from my prayer life, but now I am extremely grateful to have the completed Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph helping me, guiding me, and bringing me closer to God each day.”

To say I was touched, inspired, and quite simply amazed in reading these testimonies is an understatement. Journeying with this group, I can echo many of their sentiments of how St. Joseph has helped me, too, increase in peace, patience, joy, charity, self-control, gentleness, and chastity. St. Joseph is truly a vessel overflowing in the fruits of the Holy Spirit and will no doubt help us obtain the same! Now is the time of St. Joseph!  

Go to Joseph!

Now is without a doubt the time to turn to St. Joseph! From Pope Francis’s declaration of a “Year of St. Joseph” to the personal testimonies of the students above, there is no denying the graces that St. Joseph will bestow in your spiritual life if you draw near to him. Here are some ways that you, too, can learn more about our Spiritual Father in this special year devoted to him.

Edited by Emma Grace Geckle

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