Ite Ad Ioseph!

A blessed and joyous solemnity of Saint Joseph to all our readers!

The strong and silent saint from the Gospel is a fitting one for our troubled times: Husband of the Virgin Mary, and foster father (protector) of the Christ, was proclaimed the patron of this country of Canada at its very origins, by Father Joseph Le Caron and Samuel de Champlain, on this day, March 19, in 1624, a choice later ratified in a more Magisterial manner by Pope Urban VIII, the same one who would authorize the Jesuits in their mission to Canada (Jean de Brebeuf arrived here the following year, in 1625), and the same Pope who would be embroiled less than a decade later, sadly, in an historically significant dispute with his former friend and confidant, Galileo. (For a fine history of devotion to Saint Joseph, which did not really begin until the later Middle Ages, and took off with Saints Bernardine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Francis de Sales, please see here).

Canada has gone through many trials of late, and seems to heading for many more, under the ideological and increasingly-dictatorial regime of Justin Trudeau, who marches on with the culture of death. He and his père Pierre are both graduates of a Jesuit high school named after Brebeuf, which has not exactly followed in the great martyr’s noble footsteps. Rather, he – and many others – seem bent on undoing the Faith the blood of the martyrs sowed, or what little of it there is left. May he be converted to the way of Life!

Yet it is ultimately God Who is in charge, and He needs but just a ‘little’ from us to do miracles. As Scripture signifies, He is wont to exercise that power in a way hidden from the world, through those to whom He gives some share in His authority, not least Saint Joseph, to whom, like the eponymous patriarch in Egypt, God has made ‘master of His possessions’. Like any good servant, Joseph did what he was asked to do, with courage and determination, even if it made little sense to him at the time. When told in a dream by an angel to take Mary as his wife, his betrothed who was with Child by mysterious means – he did as the angel asked. And the same for the sudden flight into Egypt. As today’s readings signify, Joseph was a just man who lived by faith.

And just as God willed that the strong and capable Joseph guide the Holy Family through travails large and small, Saint Joseph will see us through, one way or the other, even, and especially, when things make little sense to us.  Viruses, scandals, erroneous teaching, even heresy and incipient schisms, and scandals galore are rocking the Church, threatening to tear her asunder, but God sees all, from the least to the greatest, and in the end, He will laugh all these kings and potentates to derision, and all manner of things shall be well. This is a purpose for everything, and we must cultivate the trusting Faith of, and in, Saint Joseph.

As Pope Saint John Paul II wrote in the introduction to his 1989 letter Redemptoris Custos, the ‘guardian of the Redeemer’:

Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing,(1) he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model…

In this way the whole Christian people not only will turn to St. Joseph with greater fervor and invoke his patronage with trust, but also will always keep before their eyes his humble, mature way of serving and of “taking part” in the plan of salvation.

This is a day of obligation in the universal Church. Or perhaps was, as we live through the after-shocks of the proscription of public Masses across our land. But even before the tyranny of Covid, the bishops of Canada abrogated this requirement, perhaps realizing that few Canadians would attend Mass, even if ‘obliged’. Perhaps they – the bishops and those of us in the pews – will re-think things, if things ever return to normal.

For now, we should be amongst those who ite ad Joseph, who ‘go to Joseph’, as we are able, in prayer, in supplication, and may the mighty saint intercede for us, our families, our schools, our Church, our Dominion of Canada, and for the world.

Sancte Joseph, ora pro nobis!