Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Solemnity of St Joseph 2020

From the Encyclical Quamquam pluries of Pope Leo XIII on St Joseph, issued on the feast of the Assumption in 1889.

The special reasons for which St Joseph is held to be Patron of the Church, and for the sake of which the Church has such great confidence in his protection and patronage, are that he was the spouse of Mary, and was reputed the father of Jesus Christ. From this come forth all his dignity, grace, holiness and glory. Certainly, the dignity of the Mother of God is so exalted that nothing can be greater. But nevertheless, since the bond of marriage united Joseph to the most blessed Virgin, there is no doubt but that he attained as no other ever has to that most eminent dignity by which the Mother of God far surpasses all other creatures.

The Holy Family, by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), 1659, now in the Szépművészeti Múzeum in Budapest.
For marriage is the most intimate of all unions, which by its nature brings with it the sharing of goods between the spouses. Therefore, if God gave Joseph to the Virgin as Her spouse, He certainly gave Her not only Her life’s companion, the witness of Her virginity, the protector of Her honour, but also one who shared in Her sublime dignity by virtue of the conjugal bond. Likewise, he alone stands out among all men with the most august dignity, since he was by the divine counsel the guardian of the Son of God, and among men reputed to be His father. From this, it came about that the Word of God was duly subject to Joseph, obeyed him, and rendered to him all the honor which children must render to their parents. Moreover, from this two-fold dignity followed the duties which nature has laid upon the head of families, so that Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and defender of the divine house whose head he was. …

St Joseph as Patron of the Catholic Church; this image was used as the header of his feast under that title in liturgical books printed by the German company Frideric Pustet, from the later 19th to mid 20th century. The Papal crests of Popes Bl. Pius IX and Leo XIII are seen to either side of St Peter’s Basilica.
Now the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father, contained within itself the beginnings of the new-born Church. The most holy Virgin, as the Mother of Jesus Christ, is the mother of all Christians, since She bore them on Mount Calvary amid the dying torments of the Redeemer; and Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the first-born among Christians, who by adoption and the Redemption are His brothers. For these reasons, the most blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as entrusted specially to himself; this innumerable family, spread over all the earth, and over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ, he holds, as it were, the authority of a father. It is therefore suitable and especially worthy that, just once as the Blessed Joseph was wont in most holy fashion to protect the family at Nazareth and provide for all its needs, so now he should protect and defend the Church of Christ with his heavenly patronage.

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