THE YEAR OF SAINT JOSEPH
‘Pope Francis has declared a year dedicated to St Joseph, from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021. He says: “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" (Patris Corde - With a Father's Love - Pope Francis). Let's do that. Let's ask St Joseph to keep a watchful eye on this family of the Church, to intercede on our behalf.  
– Cardinal Vincent Nichols

                                                   

 

Feature:
Saint Joseph the Worker

Willesden Green Parish Willesden Green parishioners consecrate themselves to St Joseph

On Saturday 1st May, memoria of St Joseph the Worker, over 80 of St Mary Magdalen, Willesden Green parishioners consecrated themselves to St Joseph. All this began when Pope Francis announced the Year of St Joseph in his letter Patris Corde on 8th December 2020. Inspired by this letter it was decided that we would encourage the men of the parish, to spend 33 days getting to know St Joseph. We produced a booklet with daily meditations, prayers, scripture, a piece of art, and a daily challenge. Each day focused on a title from the Litany of St Joseph, e.g. Foster-Father of the Son of God.

Our target participant was single or married men, fathers, grandfathers, religious and priests, with anyone else from the parish welcome to join too. We received some responses as the weeks progressed, with one person ‘learning about being calmer’, another said how it ‘makes me realize how important fathers are. For another, it ‘has really helped me get to know him as a person and understand ‘why Joseph is the patron of the universal church. Day 33 confidently reminded us that ‘with him at your side, virtue and holiness will increase in your life, and with his paternal cloak over you, you will be protected from spiritual harm’. It was a joy for many to know that they were on this journey with others, even though we could only be together at the end.

In consecrating ourselves to St Joseph, we hoped that it would inspire individuals and families to make permanent some of the daily challenges, for example, regular confession, attending a weekday Mass, praying with their families, and maybe even some extra commitment to participation in parish life. But overall we desired an increase in prayer and devotion to St Joseph as a spiritual father for us, as ‘an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble’ (Patris Corde). Perhaps in time, this group may wish to join together again, sharing in how St Joseph has supported them as Catholic men and women in 21st Century London?

Francis Thomas, Westminster Seminarian at Allen Hall

 

Saint Joseph- Portrait

A reflection was given by Fr Chris Vipers to the 
Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum 
“THE CATHOLIC VISION OF WORK” 
Saturday 22nd May 2021 
 
Saint Joseph the Worker 
 
Those who know me know that I love to travel, and I can’t wait to do it again. One place I need to re-visit is the Holy Land, so much on our TV screens and on our hearts at the moment. If you’ve been there you’ll know that every stop – and sometimes every whistle-stop – can become like a prayer station. From renewing marriage vows at Cana, and praying for the sick at the church of St Ann in the Old City of Jerusalem, just by the Pool of Siloam, to praying for mothers-to-be at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. And in Nazareth, a short walk from the Basilica, is another church, the church of St Joseph, built over Joseph’s house and workshop, the home of the Holy Family. It’s a beautiful church but I think the house that Joseph built would be more beautiful still. Whenever I’ve taken pilgrim groups we’ve always paused to pray there and to reflect on the work we’re each of us called to do, and I’ve spoken of the creativity and craftsmanship that’s written into us, into our God-given nature. Be that a child’s picture of Mummy pinned to the fridge, a student’s nard-worked on assignment, a musician’s magnum opus, a beautiful window box to brighten up your flats, or an ambulance crew at the end of a busy shift, saying “great work team!”. For a Scripture reading there I’ve always used that powerful passage from the Book of Genesis, that poetic telling of God’s masterplan, of his purpose and his design at the beginning and birth of everything, where God sees all that he has made and declares it “very good”. Joseph’s workshop, and the home he and Mary made for the Lord,  is a good place to hear that. 
 
Naming and confessing our God as Creator, and then discovering the awesome truth that we, women and men, are created in his image and likeness, means that creativity is at the heart of who we are – creativity and craftsmanship, work and workmanship. As St Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2, “we are God’s work of art”, his mirror-image. So don’t let your gifts and talents surprise you. God made you for a reason. As our newest City-Saint, John Henry Newman would say: “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has entrusted some work to me which he has given to no-one else”. I used that quote once in a meeting with the board of a hospital trust when I was part of the chaplaincy team there, and then I asked them who was the most important person in that hospital – chief exec, ward manager, surgeon, anaesthetist, doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, porter, cook, cleaner, receptionist, even patient! The answer being, of course, that they are all as important as each other. Each, in their own unique, God-shaped way, a work of art. I suppose that’s what we mean by the “common good”. 
 
Theologically speaking, we are made for work because we are living, breathing, making, mending working models of our creator, our creating, and ever-creative God. 
 
As a model for this, and as an inspiration to discover the creativity we are made for, the Church paints us the picture of a human life, of Joseph, who she honours under the title of “the Worker” – or at least we have since Pope Pius XII gave us this Feast in 1956. Now it’s true that in imagery and iconography you are more likely to see St Joseph holding a lily (for purity, as a sign of the “spouse most chaste”), a lily rather than a lathe, a hammer or a saw. But Joseph would have known those tools – they were his tools in his creative hands. I love that throw-away line in the Gospel, that attempted put-down of Jesus, “this is the carpenter’s son, surely”. Well, all I can say is don’t knock carpenters – they’ve got nails! 
 
We pray don’t we, in Psalm 89, “give success to the work of our hands, give success to the work of our hands”. We need to say, and we need to sing it loudly –particularly in this time of change in working patterns, in employment prospects, in the despair of redundancy or in the surprise of early retirement, in neighbourhood volunteering and in charitable service, in quiet and loving local heroism, in simple caritas, in education and in the nurturing of our young, in families and in the communities in which we are planted and in which we grow, we need to say that our working lives don’t stop until the day we die. As Cardinal Newman would pray, “and our work is done”. And that everything we do can be a work of art, even if we’re tempted not to see it that way. That meaningful work is work that means something to someone, even if it’s just me. That we could never ever be redundant. That, as Cardinal Newman puts it, “I can never be thrown away”. 
 
In giving us this Year of St Joseph, Pope Francis accompanied his gift with a letter, Patris Corde, With a Father’s Heart. And in that letter he gives societies and governments a challenge. In the Pope’s words: 
 
In our own day, when employment has once more become a burning social issue, and unemployment at times reaches record levels even in nations that for decades have enjoyed  
a certain degree of prosperity, there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron.  
Work is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion. It becomes an opportunity for the fulfilment not only of oneself, but also of that primary cell of society which is the family. A family without work is particularly vulnerable to difficulties, tensions, estrangement and even break-up. How can we speak of human dignity without working to ensure that everyone is able to earn a decent living?  
Working persons, whatever their job may be, are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us. The crisis of our time, which is economic, social, cultural and spiritual, can serve as a summons for all of us to rediscover the value, the importance and necessity of work for bringing about a new “normal” from which no one is excluded. Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work. The loss of employment that affects so many of our brothers and sisters, and has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, should serve as a summons to review our priorities. Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!  
 
And then, in the fruit of his reflections compiled by Austin Ivereigh, ‘Let Us Dream’, Pope Francis invites the world to reflect on this – how can we, how will we, build back better, to bring about that “new normal from which no one is excluded”? If you and I knew all the answers to this, how it would look not just here in our London and across our UK,  but in every village and town and city in every continent across the face of the earth, we would be the miracle makers! 
 
As the Church gathered here, we are called simply to look and see, and to see deeply, to judge, and to judge wisely and well, and to act with what Francis calls “creative courage”. In Patris Corde, he writes, “God always finds a way to save us, provided we show the same creative courage as the carpenter of Nazareth, who was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence”. We need to pray this into action! 
 
We’re called to be dreamers, young and old to see visions and to dream dreams, to dream prophetically, to be dreamers of divine-human possibilities, to dream big and to dream daringly.  Joseph dreamt dreams before us, which is why we’re here today, listening to and learning from the carpenter’s son, the Saviour of the World.  
 
I love this little reflection, and I’m going to end with it. It’s simply called ‘God’s Dream’: 
 
I myself will dream a dream within you – 
Good dreams come from me you know… 
My dreams seem impossible, 
not too practical, not for the cautious – 
a little risky sometimes, a trifle brash perhaps… 
Some of my friends prefer to rest more comfortably, 
in sounder sleep, with visionless eyes. 
But for those who share my dreams 
I ask a little patience, 
a little humour, 
some small courage, 
and a listening heart. 
I will do the rest. 
Then they will risk and wonder at their daring… 
Run – and marvel at their speed… 
Build – and stand in awe at the beauty of their building… 
You will meet me often as you work – 
in your companions, who share the risk… 
in your friends who believe in you enough 
to lend their own dreams, their own hands 
their own hearts, to your building… 
in the people who will stand in your doorway, stay awhile, 
and walk away knowing that they, too, can find a dream. 
There will be sun-filled days and sometimes it will rain –  
a little variety – both come from me. 
So come now, be content. It is my dream you dream… my house you build… 
my caring you witness… my love you share… 
(Unattributed)