St. Joseph – Tucson (Email only) – 2020 (Protector, Hope of the Sick, Patron of the Dying)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
At the end of the Litany of St. Joseph we pray: “O God, who in Thine unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thine own most holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom we reverence as our protector on earth: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.” Today we venerate St. Joseph as our Protector: the simple, humble, unsuspecting, quiet carpenter of Nazareth became the Protector of the Son of God and the Mother of God. If God had such a trust in this humble carpenter, why would we turn anywhere else? If God the Father entrusted the most important role of raising and protecting His Only Begotten Son to Joseph, why would we go anywhere else? If God the Father entrusted the Immaculate Virgin Mary to St. Joseph; if God entrusted the most beautiful of His Creatures, the most perfect of humans, the purest creation of His handiworks to St. Joseph, why would we not have confidence in him as our protector?
Many are worried about the uncertainties of the coronavirus that is currently making its ravages around the world. For them we recall that St. Joseph is the “Hope of the sick.” When we pray for deliverance from sickness, if our intentions are pure and good, we pray for deliverance from sickness 1) for the glory of God, and we pray for deliverance from sickness 2) so that we can continue praising God with our lives and continuting our duties in justice for the glory of God. St. Joseph, the “just” man was most diligent in fidelity to his role as foster-father of Christ and head of the Holy Family. Thus, he is concerned with our present illness, either material or spiritual, so that we too will be faithful to doing our duties in justice for God. And if it’s God’s will that we be not immediately delivered, then St. Joseph gives us the example in offering up the present difficulty to God.
And whether or not the “coronavirus” will be our entrance into eternal life, St. Joseph is called the “patron saint of the dying.” My dear faithful, death is nothing to fear as St. Joseph attests. When we embrace God’s will in death, He most assuredly will give us His grace and the consolation of dying like St. Joseph in the holy hands of the Immaculate Virgin and Our Divine Lord. And how will we die in their arms? A) As Mary is the Mother of the Church, we die in her arms by receiving the Sacraments of the Church, particularly the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Just as Mary wiped St. Joseph’s wounds with oil giving him strength, the priest anoints our body with the oils of the sick healing our spiritual and material wounds and forgiving our sins. B) And how do we die in the arms of Jesus Christ? By dying with the Holy Eucharist, the holy viaticum (the food of “the way”) for Eternal Life and by receiving the “Apostolic Blessing” pardoning all punishment due to sin. Oh, if we pray now for that grace, if we beseech St. Joseph fervently and frequently for that grace – of dying in the arms of his Immaculate Spouse and his foster-son, with the Sacraments of Holy Anointing, with Holy Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing, we too would experience the deep joy of St. Joseph in passing through this life into Eternity.
But for most of us, we’re not there yet…. and today we look to St. Joseph to be the patron of how we live in the present. St. Joseph is the “Hope of the Sick” for both our material and spiritual ailments. Our spiritual ailments can be just as trying as the most excruciating physical suffering. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of crisis, in the moment of great trial, in a trial of Faith or the darkness of the soul, or in a moment of panic, you lose track in how to go forward and how to make sense of everything. When you find yourself in this situation, look to St. Joseph as the model of hope. Remember, the theological virtue of hope is a gift of God AND a virtue, and like all virtues, YOU MUST EXERCISE AND USE IT TO HAVE IT. One cannot just spontaneously acquire the virtue of “hope.” One may make 1 act of courage but that doesn’t mean you have the “virtue” of hope. Thus, today I’d like to beseech you in the practice of praying to St. Joseph for the virtue of hope so that when you really need it, you’ll have already developed the virtue of Supernatural Hope. And the moment that hope “shines” is precisely in those moments when we have to trust God and make a “leap of Faith.” In the Act of Hope, we pray: “O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain 1) pardon of my sins, 2) the help of Thy grace, and 3) life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.” Hope is the humble abandon of trusting in ourselves and trusting in God to save us and bring us what He has promised us. St. Joseph had to trust God in his fiat to take the Immaculate Virgin Mary to be his spouse knowing his unworthiness. St. Joseph had to trust that God would provide when he saw the helpless Divine Infant lying in a manger in the stable. St. Joseph had to trust God after hearing the command to flee to Egypt. St. Joseph had to trust God in coming back to Israel and fleeing from the tyrant Archelaus. St. Joseph had to trust God when the young Jesus was lost for three days. And because of this tremendous trust of St. Joseph in God, he was rewarded with their holy company through life and in dying in their consoling care.
St. Joseph knew the feeling of helplessness as he knew himself unfit for the vocation to be the foster-father of the Son of God, but he knew that if God was calling him to the task, His grace would be there and accompany him in faithfully doing God’s will. Hope doesn’t dispense of doing our duty the best we can; it’s doing our duty when there is doubt to its good outcome; it’s doing our duty when we’re repeatedly seem to fail; it’s doing our duty when we doubt our fittingness to the vocation, its doing our duty and trusting in God’s grace to perfect our shortcomings. In imitating St. Joseph’s trust, we seek to faithfully do our duties as priests and faithful, as parents and children, as fathers and mothers, as brothers and sisters, as teachers and students, as employers and employees. In doubt, in fear, in crisis, in panic, in uncertainty, we pray to St. Joseph for the strength to faithfully do our duty trusting in God to perfect our work.
We often need to remember that St. Joseph NEVER HAD THE CONSOLATION OF HAVING A VISION OF AN ANGEL TELLING HIM GOD’s WILL. It was always in a simple, humble dream. He didn’t have the consolation of being able to gaze his eyes on the angel, of hearing the choirs of angels, or of being raptured in extasy in contemplation…. In imitating this humble and blind trust in God, we don’t necessarily pray for the consolation of knowing what we’re doing is “God’s will”, in understanding why, in understanding how, or in knowing how long before we see results…. We simply pray to have the faithful trust of St. Joseph and to have his sense of duty and justice in accomplishing God’s will despite the fears, doubts, and worries. God will provide if we do our part.
My dear faithful, on this feast of St. Joseph, when we are currently in the exile of our homes, our Egypt from the Promised Land of the Sanctuary in church, may you have confidence in St. Joseph’s protection and intercession to help you accept, embrace, and do God’s will. Pray to St. Joseph that the theological virtue of Hope may be strengthened in you so that your trust in God may enable you to look past the present trials, difficulties, and fears placing your trust in the power of God’s Grace and in His Mercy. May St. Joseph, “Hope of the Sick” help you to be healed from both material and spiritual illness so that you can glorify God in soul and body and in doing His holy will. And may St. Joseph, “Patron of the Dying”, grant you the grace of dying in the arms of Mary and Jesus, with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church so that you will experience the joys promised to Our Lord’s “good and faithful servants.” Amen.
St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Hope of the sick, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Patron of the dying, pray for us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.