When Pope Francis declared the Year of Saint Joseph, the world was coming up on one year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, nearly a year later, the death toll continues to rise, hospitals and health care workers are strained beyond capacity, and we seem little closer to the end than we were a year ago.
With that in mind, Pope Francis’s words in his opening statement are as relevant, perhaps even more so, than they were a year ago:
“[A]mid the crisis, . . . ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone. . . . How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.’ Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all” (On the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church [Patris Corde], citing Meditation in the Time of Pandemic (27 March 2020): L’Osservatore Romano, 29 March 2020, p. 10).
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
–Pope Francis (On the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church [Patris Corde])
Saint Joseph, be with us as we continue to face the COVID pandemic. Help us to be charitable and understanding with those who disagree with us and, most of all, intercede on behalf of the seriously ill. Amen.
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