Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church 2017

There is no doubt but that this Joseph, to whom the Mother of the Savior was betrothed, was a good and faithful man; a faithful servant, I say, and prudent, whom the Lord made the solace of His Mother, his foster-father according to the flesh, and indeed, the single most trusted helper of His great counsel upon the earth.

The Holy Family, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82), ca. 1650
To this we add that he was said to be of the house of David. For truly did this man Joseph descend from the house of David and the royal lineage, noble in his origin, but nobler of mind. Clearly a son of David, in no way lesser than his father; wholly, I say, a son of David, not only in the flesh, but in faith, in holiness, in devotion, whom the Lord found like a second David according to His heart, to whom He might safely entrust the most sacred and secret mystery of His heart, and, as to a second David, make known the uncertain and hidden matters of His wisdom, and gave him to know of that mystery which none of the princes of this world recognized. What many kings and prophets wished to see, and did not see, to hear, and they did not hear it, to him at last was it given not only to see and hear, but to carry, to lead, to embrace, to kiss, to raise and to guard. (From a sermon of St Bernard read at Matins during the Octave of St Joseph.)

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; 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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