Returning to God through St. Joseph

"The Holy Family with a Bird" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682). Photo: Public Domain

He’s the silent saint we associate with Christmas. The Gospels contain no words from him but instead offer us examples of his unfailing devotion as a man of God, a faithful husband, and a loving father. 

In the wake of the recent Church scandals, there has been renewed interest in praying the St. Michael prayer at the end of Masses — to guard the Church from evil. “St. Michael the Archangel … be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” 

On March 19 the Church gives us the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I propose that this Lent, we, the Church — especially her men and her priests — renew our devotion to St. Joseph and invoke his patronage of the universal Church. 

In a wonderful little book titled Go to Joseph (Star of the Bay Press, 2009), the late Fr. Richard W. Gilsdorf suggests that Joseph be the patron of priests. 

“As patriarch of the New Covenant, Joseph defended and preserved the Bread of Life from the moment of his first repose in the food trough of the stable. … Moreover, he lived a life of chastity and virginity as was required of his vocation from youth,” Fr. Gilsdorf writes. “It is obvious, therefore, why priests, who are custodians of the Eucharist, should foster a personal devotion in their vocation to Joseph.” 

For husbands and fathers there is no greater role model than St. Joseph. In our March 2019 print issue, Paul Senz writes about what fathers and stepfathers can learn from St. Joseph and the 20th-century English writer C.S. Lewis.

As Senz writes, “Joseph is the ultimate personification of the love, vigilance, and unfailing steadfastness of a father and the fidelity, peace, and love of a spouse. Joseph’s fatherhood is a reflection of God the Father.” 

Also in this issue, we survey where the Church is now in light of recent scandals. In a special interview, Francesco Cesareo, president of Assumption College and the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, addresses the reforms that still need to be done and the important role of the laity in that work.

During this Lenten season, let’s call on St. Joseph in our prayers and say this simple prayer from Fr. Gilsdorf:

Guardian of Jesus, Guardian of Mary, Guardian of the Church: Be my guardian! 

You are in my prayers, 


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