The newly declared Year of St. Joseph is a great blessing for the Church, writes…
The spiritual benefits of making a consecration to St. Joseph
On Dec. 8, the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being named the patron of the universal Church, Pope Francis declared that the Church would celebrate a year in his honor. There has always been a robust and healthy devotion to St. Joseph in the Church, but this jubilee year comes at a time when the Church and the world specifically need the patronage of this husband, father, carpenter and saint. Whether we are earthly fathers, spiritual fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters or children, all of us should be mindful to grow in our understanding and appreciation of God’s divine fatherhood. That’s why Pope Francis has given us this year of devotion.
We know from Scripture that St. Joseph was “a righteous man” (Mt 1:19). How many of us want to become more righteous, to live more fully in right relationship with God and each other? Imitating a righteous man is a sure way to become more righteous ourselves. In fact, in Patris Corde, his apostolic letter announcing the jubilee year, Pope Francis calls us to remember that St. Joseph taught Jesus how to walk, how to worship and how to live in righteousness before God. If he can help Jesus do that, he certainly can walk alongside us and teach us, too.
St. Joseph is a protector, as every man is called to be. He will help to protect individual families and the great Family of God, the Church, while both are under attack in our modern world. No matter how physically strong any of us might be, we each have fears and foibles; we all have weaknesses. That’s one reason why, in the Litany of St. Joseph, we call him our “Diligent protector” and “Terror of demons.” Even if we already are trying to do those things for our families and our Church, we need assistance. St. Joseph wants to be that for us!
In the first half of the 19th century, St. Peter Julian Eymard reminded us that being devoted and united to St. Joseph is one of the best ways by which God intends to “raise a soul to greater heights.” In our world and in our lives, there are so many ways that we feel little, small and low. Joseph was a real, holy father — a man who knows, as Pope Francis writes, how to raise us to his cheeks, how to bend down and feed us when we cannot feed ourselves.
We can better unite ourselves to St. Joseph — to understand him, to imitate him — through making a personal or familial consecration to him, and through this consecration, we allow St. Joseph to lift us up where we cannot get on our own.
For the last 150 years, the Church has been preparing for a time in history when St. Joseph would be most needed and most effective. Now is that time! Each of us needs to learn how to imitate Jesus more fully and love him more deeply. The great saint who reared Our Blessed Lord and helped him to grow in virtue and piety will be a steadfast help for us, too!
To make this consecration, there are several great books, including a couple that have just been published within the last two years: “Consecration to Jesus through Saint Joseph” by Dr. Gregory Bottaro and Jen Settle and “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father” by Father Donald Calloway. I used the former book last year to make a consecration, and I am using the latter this year. Each of these guides provides daily readings and reflections that can be completed individually, with a spouse or friend, or in a larger group. While an individual, a couple, a family or a group (such as a parish) can make a consecration to St. Joseph at any time, many choose to end their consecrations (which generally take place over a 33-day period) on the solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19. If that is your goal, the consecration should begin on Feb. 15.
Asked about the fruits of being consecrated to St. Joseph, Father Calloway told Our Sunday Visitor last year that “the greatest thing is for us to be drawn closer to Jesus through this. Ultimately, it’s all about Jesus. … The second thing would be, if we are spiritual sons and daughters of St. Joseph, all children are called to resemble their parents. … He’s patient, he’s courageous, obedient, faithful. So if we want to be like him, we have to imitate him. That’s a key fruit of seeking to imitate him in our lives.”
At the end of the 33 days, a devotee makes a prayer of consecration to St. Joseph as a spiritual father and then sets out on a new stage of his or her spiritual journey. Those of us who consecrate ourselves to Jesus through St. Joseph will have a new guide and coach on this arduous, hope-filled journey of faith.
Derek Rotty is the director of evangelization and discipleship at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Jackson, Tennessee. His first book, “A Life of Conversion: Meeting Christ in the Gospels,” is available from OSV.