Rome (Italy). On 8 December 2020, 150 years after the Quemadmodum Deus Decree, with which Blessed Pius IX declared Saint Joseph Patron of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis established that for 2021, a special Year with Saint Joseph will be celebrated, “in which all the faithful following his example may daily strengthen their own life of faith in the full fulfillment of God’s will.” (Apostolic Penitentiary Decree)
In the Apostolic Letter Patris corde, published on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Pope shares “this extraordinary figure, so close to the human condition of each of us.”
To those who, with small and daily gestures, teach children to face difficulties without failing to look up and stimulate prayer, Pope Francis presents the example of a tender and obedient father, courageous and concrete in facing life: “Everyone can find in Saint Joseph, the person who goes unnoticed, the person of daily presence, discreet and hidden, an intercessor, a support, and a guide in times of difficulty.”
From Patris corde it also emerges that Joseph lives a paternity made up of silences and concrete acts of trust, opening up spaces to the unprecedented that a child carries within. “A father is aware of completing the educational action and living fatherhood fully only when he has made himself ‘useless’, when he sees that his child becomes autonomous and walks alone on the paths of life.”
Saint Joseph is patron of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, wanted by Don Bosco (FMA Constitution 1885) to invoke his intercession and embark on a path of holiness made of silence, humble availability, and acceptance of God’s signs.
In the FMA communities, St. Joseph is invoked as ‘treasurer’ and protector of the works: “In Nizza too, St. Joseph was elected “treasurer” of the house; he was entrusted with the health of the sisters and girls and the task of distancing sin. … Then this year, with the new building wing started in Spring, how can we not rekindle confidence in the Saint of Providence? … therefore the invitation continues: “Let’s pray to St. Joseph! Let’s tell Saint Joseph! The filial appeal to the head of the Holy Family is general.” (Cronistoria III 170)
Saint Joseph is invoked in the various circumstances of the life of the Institute: moments of joy and pain, in the face of dangers and evils of various kinds, with novenas, sacrifices, and acts of devotion that express full trust in the Patron Saint.
St. Joseph is also a nurse and doctor: “With this beautiful function, the month of St. Joseph remains open, already invoked as the ‘treasurer’ of the Institute, and this year also as nurse and doctor; because in Nizza, as in all of Piedmont, smallpox continues to spread. (…) The people cannot explain how our house remained unharmed. (…) They do not know what a protector we have in St. Joseph, to whom we have entrusted ourselves!” (Cronistoria III 145)
The Mother General of the FMA, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, on 19 March 2020, Solemnity of Saint Joseph, in a Message invited all the Educating Communities of the FMA Institute to entrust themselves to his intercession during the time of particular trial for the Covid-19 pandemic:
“We ask him to continue to keep alive in every Educating Community and in each of us, the commitment to preparation for GC XXIV; to listen with a willing heart to the word of Mary, his Bride, who tells us: ‘Do whatever He tells you’ … May he teach us to live in prayerful silence as he did in the face of delicate, precarious, and humanly difficult situations, especially due to the coronavirus.”
In the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the methods for granting the ‘gift of special indulgences’ are found on the celebrations of March 19 and May 1, on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, on the Sunday of St. Joseph (according to the Byzantine tradition), the 19th of each month, and every Wednesday, a day dedicated to the memory of the Saint according to the Latin tradition.