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Side by Side with St. Joseph

This Christmas, May Christ be Born Anew

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In the chill of the high desert, standing vigilant by a manger, likely still bewildered but certainly at peace, this is the man we can turn to now for help. Because, yes, let's agree on this point: We need his help.

God the Father turned to him for help.

Mary, the Mother of God, did, too.

As we look toward Christmas in a most tumultuous year, we, too, can turn for help to St. Joseph — as our role model and as our powerful intercessor in Heaven.

The saint who rises to the occasion, a counterweight of composure in a world beset with worry, reminds us that God designed the universe to operate under the logic of love.

Like the Magi who, after an arduous journey, came upon the manger, we can stand side by side with St. Joseph. We can adore the Christ Child born into the world vulnerable, our Savior who relies upon our attentiveness and tender care.

Side by side with St. Joseph, we can prepare to transform and be transformed, to change the world by first reordering our own priorities.

We have so much to learn from the quiet hero of Christmas, St. Joseph, a model instrument of God's mercy in a troubled world.

A plan overturned

Before he became renowned as the Patron of the Universal Church, the Terror of Demons, the Pillar of Family Life, the Protector of the Church, and all the other well-earned titles, Joseph was simply an unknown carpenter, well-grounded in faith, his head filled with earthly dreams that would soon be supplanted.

You know the story: a marriage that began in bewilderment and progressed through days of fear and flight.

With his courtship of Mary, the future must have looked certain and steady. But then after the Annunciation — that Mary would conceive the Son of God — St. Joseph's role grew astonishingly complicated.

An angel came to him in a dream bearing heavenly tidings: that Mary had conceived the Child through the Holy Spirit and that this Child would save God's people from their sins and lead them to eternal life.

In other words, Joseph was given the knowledge that God had chosen him to be the faithful provider for — and watchful defender of — Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, thus fulfilling an essential mission in the plan of salvation.

With a servant's heart, Joseph would rise to the challenge. Soon, he and his pregnant wife were on the move, to Bethlehem first, where God Almighty would enter the world Incarnate, precious in the arms of Mary and Joseph.

Then, based on yet another dream — that the Christ Child's life was in danger — Joseph packed up his young family and fled with them to Egypt, a foreign land where they likely knew no one. But they remained faithful to God and faithful to each other as they awaited word they could finally return to Nazareth, where Joseph would spend his days devoted to caring for his spouse and raising his Son.

You see where I'm going with all this. If nothing else, 2020 has taught us that we never know what the future holds.

No matter what madness and gladness the world threw at Joseph, he acted in faith.
Amazingly, Scripture doesn't record any words of Joseph. Rather, we read of a man who — first — listened attentively. As Pope St. John Paul II said, "He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listened to the words of the Living God."

We, too, can listen to the words of the Living God — through daily reading of Scripture and Catholic mystical writings such as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. God will speak to us when we make a concerted effort to strengthen our daily prayer life.

What would St. Joseph do?
Here's something else we can do: We can tread upon this earth asking ourselves, "What would St. Joseph do?"

Indeed, what would St. Joseph do in a time of pandemic, in a time of political unrest, in a time of uncertainty, mistrust, and moral disarray?

He would tender his fears, frustrations, and struggles to God. With courage and self-discipline, he would see beyond his own disappointments and serve as a joyful beacon of God's truth and love.

He would well know that in this life there is a great deal we will never understand. Yet, we can have faith that, as St. Paul said, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Rom 8:28).

What would St. Joseph do?

He would make the hard and good choice to bring Christ into the world.

This is precisely what we are called to do as well. But how?

Three ways: By keeping God's Commandments; by humble service in our communities, particularly for those in greatest need; and through intercessory prayer for the wellbeing of others.

Indeed, in prayer, we can confidently turn to St. Joseph himself, who proved a powerful intercessor for our common spiritual soulmate, St. Faustina. In her Diary, entry 1203, we learn four important things:

- that St. Joseph urged her "to have a constant devotion to him";

- that he wanted her to recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Memorare to St. Joseph once every day;

- that he was supporting her work to make Christ's mercy known to the world; and

- that he promised her special help and protection.

From Heaven, St. Joseph plays a pivotal role.

Recall that amidst the horrors of World War I, on Oct. 13, 1917, St. Joseph famously appeared in the final and most dramatic of Our Lady's six apparitions in Fatima, Portugal.

One of the visionaries, Lucia, would later describe what she saw that day: "St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands."

What are we to make of this?

First, that the Christ Child Himself chose sanctuary in the arms of St. Joseph. And second, that in times of chaos and instability, Joseph remains a cool-headed spiritual father intimately engaged in the work of salvation.

A Christmas invitation

As 2020 comes to a close, God is calling us to bring hope into the world.

We are invited to stand side by side with St. Joseph by the manger — to gaze upon the Christ Child and ask for the grace to be steadfast in our duties on behalf of the Kingdom of God.

Like the Guardian of the Holy Family himself, we can gain the wisdom to recognize God's call and the fortitude to bear unexpected troubles.

Like St. Joseph, we can serve the Lord with hearts full of selfless love.

Like St. Joseph, we can act in this world with humility, obedience to the Holy Spirit, and awareness of our poverty and utter dependence on God as we dedicate our lives to bringing ourselves and others to Heaven.
This Christmas, we can bind our hearts to the glorious consequence of St. Joseph's self-sacrifice: the Christ Child born into the world, a fragile thing enfolded in the strength of our faith.

— Felix Carroll

Against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, crisis in the Church, political and economic uncertainty, and cultural upheaval, something extraordinary is underway, and it has to do with St. Joseph.

Marriages renewed. Men answering the call to lead more virtuous lives. Young people discerning religious vocations. Families consecrating themselves to St. Joseph. Nine bishops in the United States declaring a "Year of St. Joseph" in their dioceses, and one bishop in England.

All of these things have been inspired by one book: Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, published by Marian Press last December.

"It's incredible. It's just been off the charts," said the book's author, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. "My phone has been pinging every day, all day, for months."

Released on the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared Patron of the Universal Church, Consecration to St. Joseph has sold nearly 150,000 copies in the United States, making it one of the fastest selling Marian Press books of the last decade. It has routinely been in Amazon's top 10 list of Catholic books. A streaming audiobook launch this summer has been a major success.

Sales have been strong in the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, as well. The book is available in Spanish. It will soon be available in German, French, Slovakian, Polish, and Croatian.

Father Donald sees the Holy Spirit at work in all of this.

"Something is up," he said. "Since 1870, when Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church — telling the world to turn to Joseph as our loving father, our spiritual
father — there has been so much momentum, and now it's reaching a crescendo."

Indeed, something is up. In 1879, St. Joseph appeared in Knock, Ireland. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII issued the Church's first encyclical on St. Joseph. In 1909, Pope St. Pius X approved the Litany of St. Joseph. In 1917,
St. Joseph appeared in Fatima holding the Christ Child. In 1962, Pope St. John XXIII added St. Joseph's name to the first Eucharistic prayer, known as the Roman Canon. In 2013, Pope Francis added St. Joseph into Eucharistic prayers II, III, and IV.

Publication of Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father easily belongs on this list of monumental events in the history of devotion to St. Joseph.

"The whole Church is now coming around to St. Joseph," said Fr. Donald. "I never anticipated the book being this big, but at a time when families are under attack, marriages are falling apart, when people have turned away from God, when there's so much anxiety and fear, we really do need St. Joseph. We need his protection. Now is the time of St. Joseph."

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- Dec 29, 2020