Q: Archbishop J, what are we doing for the Year of St Joseph?
For this special year of St Joseph, we are inviting all men to partake in a 33-day challenge—to pray, read and reflect every day on the attributes of St Joseph. It begins on February 15 and culminates on March 19, with a major event at which Matthew Kelly, author of The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic and Rediscovering the Saints, will be the feature speaker.
At Mass on that occasion, we will make the Consecration to St Joseph, asking him to be our spiritual father, leading us to God, the Father of us all.
Over the last 150 years, St Joseph’s popularity has grown dramatically. It is as if the Church has woken up to this just and honourable man who was selected to be the father of the Son of God.
In our time, several popes have recommended him to us under various titles: Patron of the Catholic Church, Patron of Workers, Guardian of the Redeemer. He is universally invoked as the “patron of a happy death” (Introduction, With a Father’s Heart, Pope Francis).
St John Paul II saw the essential role St Joseph plays in the new evangelisation. He says: “This patronage [of St Joseph] must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defence against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelisation in the world and to re-evangelisation in those lands and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and are now put to a hard test (Apostolic Exhortation on the Mission and Life of St Joseph).
Heeding the call of our popes and recognising the great opportunity we have in this year dedicated to St Joseph, we have prepared ways to assist you into entering into this year. While they target men, invitations to these events and the opportunities they offer for prayer commitment are extended to all Catholics—men and women.
The challenge of fatherhood
The Caribbean family has been accustomed to having a mother present. It has not been as easy nor common to have a father present who is active in the life of the children.
In the Caribbean, the plantation system steadily broke up the family and ensured the separation of the parents in non-legal unions.
In the 1900s, the number of fathers in households were increasing. Slowly, the healing of the nation was taking place. By the 1960s, a generation of men with no experience of being fathered, struggled to father their children.
These fathers were physically present, but many were emotionally detached. By the next generation, in the 1980s, the fathers were more involved—physically and emotionally. They were present for the birth of their children; they participated in house chores and changed diapers, etc.
As the wound in the Caribbean was moving towards healing, America was moving in the opposite direction. With the popularity of The Cosby Show and The Simpsons in the 1980s, fatherhood took on a very bleak outlook. The father was a bumbling buffoon that no-one took seriously.
A generation of children grew up taking their cue from TV and, with the rise of woman power, the father was reduced to a joke, someone who was not capable of being serious, one who had little leadership to offer the family or society. We live in a time where fatherhood is under attack.
A child needs both a mother and a father: one cannot substitute for the other. If Mum provides the fluid of the soul, Dad provides the container to contain the liquid.
Without the container, the vital stuff of the soul will slip through our hands and society will be addictive—constantly seeking the stuff of the soul but unable to contain it.
Look around and see this wound in our young and old—a hunger for the divine but, as the song goes, “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
In the midst of this crisis of fatherhood, the Church offers St Joseph as a spiritual father. If he was good enough to care for God’s Son, he is good enough to care for you and me, teaching each of us to be a child of God, teaching us to be fathers.
Consecration to St Joseph
In the Church, we are accustomed to hearing of a consecration to the Blessed Mother. St Louis de Montfort introduced the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. This 33-day process gives the individual a focus of prayer and reflection every day that allows for significant spiritual graces and inner conversion.
Fr Donald Calloway MIC, in his book Consecration to St Joseph – The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, calls on all of us to turn to St Joseph, to entrust ourselves, our family, our Church, and our world to our spiritual father’s loving care. Speaking about this consecration, Fr Calloway says:
“Total consecration to St Joseph means you make a formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God. The person who consecrates himself to St Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. St Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his loving attention, protection, and guidance.”
This is why we are inviting all men to begin the 33-day preparation to consecrate themselves to St Joseph. By meditating on the attributes of St Joseph, we will see areas of masculinity that are deficient. We will have the opportunity to pray through these areas and seek conversion of heart.
We want every man in our diocese, young and old, to participate in the March 19 event. I am asking that we all make a special effort to invite all the men we know to participate in this extraordinary time of grace.
All men are invited to make an act of consecration to St Joseph in this year of grace. On March 19, Solemnity of St Joseph, Matthew Kelly will deliver the feature address at special events that will culminate in Mass and a formal Act of Consecration.
Invite all the men whom you know, young and old, to participate in the 33-day challenge, beginning February 15 and the events of March 19.
1 Peter 2:9