Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church 2016

Regarding the various graces conferred upon a rational creature, it is the general rule that whenever the divine grace chooses someone for a particular grace, or for a particular exalted state, it also endows that person with all the gifts of grace which are necessary for the person so chosen, and for the duty (to which he is called), and does so in abundance. This is most especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the putative father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and true spouse of the Queen of the world, and Lady of Angels. He was chosen by the Eternal Father as the faithful protector and guardian of His chief treasures, namely, His Son, and Joseph’s own Wife. This duty Joseph discharged most faithfully, wherefore the Lord hath said to him: Good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

St Joseph and the Infant Christ, by Juan Antonio Frias y Escalante, 1660-65
Remember us, therefore, o blessed Joseph, and by the support of thy prayers, intercede for us with thy supposed Son! And also make gracious to us thy Virgin Spouse, the Mother of Him Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth though all ages. Amen. (From the sermon at Matins, by St Bernardin of Siena.)

The feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, was originally called “the Patronage of St Joseph,” and fixed to the Third Sunday after Easter. It was kept by a great many dioceses and religious orders, particularly promoted by the Carmelites, before it was extended to the universal Church by Bl. Pope Pius IX in 1847, and later granted an octave. When the custom of fixing feasts to particular Sundays was abolished as part of the Breviary reform of Pope St Pius X, it was anticipated to the previous Wednesday, the day of the week traditionally dedicated to Patron Saints. It was removed from the general Calendar in 1955 and replaced by the feast of St Joseph the Worker, one of the least fortunate aspects of the pre-Conciliar liturgical changes; the new feast itself was then downgraded from the highest of three grades (first class) in the 1962 Missal to the lowest of four (optional memorial) in 1970.

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