Without a doubt, Lent is a time of the year with which most Catholics, and even many non-Catholics, are familiar. These are the 40 days before the celebration of Easter, and it is a time during which people give things up or try to do more or something. Fridays have a particular emphasis during this season, for on those days, we abstain from eating meat. Just these points give us some appreciation for how the Church invites us to be conscious of the importance of all time, and how each period of time, no matter how long or short, is an opportunity for us to grow in our Catholic faith.
Over the centuries, the Church has encouraged the faithful to be mindful of different aspects of our faith during different liturgical season of the year. But that is just the beginning, as the Church also invites us to reflect on various themes for each month and each day. At times, the Church also sets aside certain years to focus on something particular. It can be an interesting exercise to take some time to learn about the various ways that the Church invites us to celebrate various days, months, seasons, and years.
For our purposes now, I want to call to our attention two of these periods of time that coincide during this month of March in the year 2021. The month of March has been identified as a month during which the faithful are asked to deepen their devotion to St. Jospeh. The Solemnity of St. Jospeh is celebrated on March 19 each year, which makes it appropriate for us to set aside March for our special attention to this great figure. As you also may be aware, this year has been designated by Pope Francis as a Year of St. Joseph, marking the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of St. Jospeh as the Universal Patron of the Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870.
During this season of Lent, we have been exploring the difference between being a true follower of Christ and mere admirer of Him. Apart from our Blessed Mother, St. Jospeh give us the best example of how to be a true follower, so we look to him in a special way during this month and year dedicated to him.
St. Joseph also ties in well with our Family of Faith topic for this month, which is the second of the two Sacraments of Healing, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. St. Joseph is invoked as the Patron of a Happy Death, and we know that among other things, Anointing of the Sick is a powerful gift to bring peace to those who are approaching the end of their earthly journey. St. Jospeh is also referred to in the Litany of St. Joseph as “Comfort of the troubled” and “Hope of the sick”, so he intercedes in a special way for those who encounter suffering in any form.
Let us “go to Joseph” regularly during this month and renew our friendship with him, confident that through his example of his intercession, we will grow in our love for Christ, for whom St. Jospeh dedicated his entire life, and as a result of his fidelity, now shares the gift we all hope to attain, eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.