Fr. Javier Arteaga, Argentina •
We are walking through the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as “Patron of the Catholic Church”, made by Pius IX on December 8, 1870. St. Joseph has been very present in the life of the Schoenstatt Family. His image accompanies us in the Shrines, sometimes with the stick of lilies, sometimes as the saint of work, and sometimes together with the infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother as the Holy Family. —
Our Father and Founder preached about St. Joseph with great affection, especially on March 19, the feast of his patron saint. He emphasized the importance of St. Joseph’s mission, both for the whole Church and for our times and in particular for our Family. For this reason, he named him the second patron of the Schoenstatt Family, he promoted the Covenant of Love with St. Joseph as a deepening of the Covenant of Love with Mary and, in situations of extreme need, he consecrated the Family to St. Joseph placing it under his protection and powerful intercession.
St. Joseph is a “beacon” of virtues. On this day I would like to share only four traits of St. Joseph that can enlighten us.
1The man of unshakable faith and hope
Just as God manifested his plans to Mary through the Angel, he also revealed them to Joseph through the Angel, often in dreams.
Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter “Patris Corde,” tells us that Joseph is not a man who passively resigns himself to the difficulties and challenges of life. On the contrary, he is a courageous protagonist, who has the strength to accept life as it comes because he believes in the God who guides and accompanies his life: “Your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
In every circumstance of his life, Joseph believes, he says Yes, with unshakeable trust and hope in God, just as Mary did.
2The one who loves and cares for his family
St. Joseph’s mission was to love and care for Jesus and Mary, and to help Jesus grow so that he could carry out his redemptive mission for the good of all humankind. That is why the Founder Father says: “What was Joseph’s task? To take care of the Child and his Mother. That is the task he had and still has, to make sure that the Child is never separated from his Mother”.
No one loved Christ and Mary more on earth than St. Joseph. This is how we can say that Joseph was the first to seal the Covenant of Love with Mary. The Founder Father recommended asking St. Joseph to teach us to love and follow Christ and Mary with total and generous devotion, as he loved them.
3Honest and hardworking father
St. Joseph was a carpenter and bricklayer who worked honestly to ensure the sustenance of his family. From him Jesus learned the value and dignity of work, and the joy of eating bread as the result of one’s own effort. He learned that work is an opportunity to develop one’s own potential, personal growth and service to others.
In our times, when unemployment and marginal (and sometimes enslaving) work reach impressive levels, it is necessary to understand the meaning of dignified and dignifying work, of which St. Joseph is an exemplary patron. Our Founder Father tells us: “Out of love for his wife and for love of the Child (St. Joseph) he fulfilled his daily duties with simplicity. He is the great model of the holy day of work”. (Fr. Joseph Kentenich , sermon 1934).
4Father through which we can see the paternal / maternal love of God
The words of St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Get up, take the Child and his mother” (Mt 2:13), show a central aspect of Joseph’s mission, which Fr. Kentenich repeated countless times, as our task: “Joseph get up, take the Child and his Mother. Joseph’s task becomes our task: we want to make it possible for the Blessed Mother to take the Lord everywhere. Also for this moment we are living we can still use these words: Get up! Yes, we want to lift ourselves up spiritually, to awaken anew, and to become aware of the great mission of the Family. (…) Joseph, get up! This is a call to wake up again, to overcome the daily routine to strengthen the awareness that all of us, as children of Mary, have to become determined followers of Christ. (…) What I was thinking, in wanting to celebrate my name day together, and I do this with all my heart, was that we should make Joseph’s task our own.
Therefore, XX (put your own name) get up and take the Child and his Mother”. (Fr. Joseph Kentenich, Buenos Aires, 19.3.1951).
For Jesus Joseph was the father who loved, cared for and taught him, and was therefore an example of the fatherhood of God. Pope Francis tells us in Patris Corde:
“In Joseph Jesus saw the tenderness of God” (PC. n°2). That is why the great importance of human love as an expression, a way, and a sure sign of God’s love. In this regard, the Father and Founder said: “For years we have been saying that one of the nuclear messages of Schoenstatt is that of the paternity of God, and that of his earthly images, his transparent ones, as ways of vital importance to awaken in a living and effective way a profound and intimate childlikeness before God the Father”. (Fr. Joseph Kentenich, Nuevo Schoenstatt, March 19, 1952).
Dear brothers and sisters, may St. Joseph, as a clear, firm and simple “beacon” of holiness in the midst of today’s challenging times, help us to renew ourselves in our enthusiasm and dedication for the shared mission.
May St. Joseph bless our families and us; make us bearers of Christ and Mary, and transmitters of God’s merciful love.
From the Shrine of our Mother and Queen I greet you cordially,
Fr. José Javier Arteaga
* Quotes by Fr. Joseph Kentenich: own translation
Original: Spanish 2021-03-19. Translated by María Aragón, Monterrey, México