Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis and St. Joseph

Leo XIII still says it better than anyone else, but I think there are a few things of importance to Catholics today that involve St. Joseph.

The Holy Father chose to have his inaurgural Mass today on the Feast of St. Joseph, and in a move perhaps seen as innovative, decided to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, rather than the standard Mass that is celebrated upon the installation fo the Roman Pontiff.  No doubt some of my brethren will get irked at this.  I for one am okay with this, and I think it says a lot.

First, much has been made of the Pope's desire that the Church be "poor (in the sense of spiritual meekness and humility) and for the poor."  In choosing to highlight St. Joseph in this liturgy (and in placing a symbol of St. Joseph on his coat of arms), lovers of St. Joseph are reminded of, who else, Leo XIII:

It is, then, true that the condition of the lowly has nothing shameful in it, and the work of the laborer is not only not dishonoring, but can, if virtue be joined to it, be singularly ennobled. Joseph, content with his slight possessions, bore the trials consequent on a fortune so slender, with greatness of soul, in imitation of his Son, who having put on the form of a slave, being the Lord of life, subjected himself of his own free-will to the spoliation and loss of everything.   Through these considerations, the poor and those who live by the labor of their hands should be of good heart and learn to be just.
The second thing we can learn is who Pope Francis strives to be like.  Leo XIII again describes beautiful the role of Joseph:

You well understand, Venerable Brethren that these considerations are confirmed by the opinion held by a large number of the Fathers, to which the sacred liturgy gives its sanction, that the Joseph of ancient times, son of the patriarch Jacob, was the type of St. Joseph, and the former by his glory prefigured the greatness of the future guardian of the Holy Family. And in truth, beyond the fact that the same name -- a point the significance of which has never been denied -- was given to each, you well know the points of likeness that exist between them; namely, that the first Joseph won the favor and especial goodwill of his master, and that through Joseph's administration his household came to prosperity and wealth; that (still more important) he presided over the kingdom with great power, and, in a time when the harvests failed, he provided for all the needs of the Egyptians with so much wisdom that the King decreed to him the title "Savior of the world." Thus it is that We may prefigure the new in the old patriarch. And as the first caused the prosperity of his master's domestic interests and at the same time rendered great services to the whole kingdom, so the second, destined to be the guardian of the Christian religion, should be regarded as the protector and defender of the Church, which is truly the house of the Lord and the kingdom of God on earth.
  Just go ahead and read the whole thing already darn it!

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