There is a popular term making the rounds amongst Catholics who have a particular devotion to St Joseph: “Go to Joseph.” The term originates from the Old Testament and references Joseph who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. When the people came to Pharaoh for food due to severe famine in the land, Pharaoh advised them to “Go to Joseph”. Joseph had been entrusted with custodianship of Egypt’s harvest during the years of plenty. Whilst those of us in the developed world may not be suffering a physical famine, one could argue that we are experiencing a more severe spiritual famine. Pope Francis’ answer is the same as Pharaoh’s: “Go to Joseph.”
Pope Francis has officially declared a year dedicated to St Joseph from 8 December 2020 until 8 December 2021. The start date was not only the Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception, but it also marked the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as Patron (and Protector) of the Universal Church. While it may seem a little surprising that we have a full year dedicated to this quiet saint, part of the reason behind this is found in this particular title given to him.
As Joseph of the Old Testament was entrusted with custodianship of food for Egypt and beyond, St Joseph was chosen by God to protect Our Lady and God’s own Son, the Bread of Life, Jesus. This wasn’t merely a symbolic “protector” role, St Joseph had to save the lives of his family on a number of occasions. He protected Mary from the community when she was found to be pregnant, he protected Jesus from Herod’s soldiers who were out to kill him, and he protected his family whilst living as foreigners in Egypt – a dangerous land for Jews at the time.
The Church today is under heavy worldly and spiritual attack. The sexual abuse crisis, the increasing attempts to silence the voice of the Church in the secular world and even within our own faith communities, the increasing numbers of faithful becoming discouraged, disenchanted, and falling away. The rest of the world is in crisis too. An obvious example is the current pandemic, but it gets far worse. We are witnessing a greater division in ideology leading to increased violence; the basic unit of society – the family – is threatened more than ever; and the most vulnerable in the world are being completely ignored and discarded. Pope Francis, in his wisdom, has decided to go to the same man that was chosen by God to come to our aid.
St Joseph endured his fair share of crises. From facing the gravity of his role in the great mystery of Mary’s pregnancy through the Holy Spirit, to looking for a suitable place for the birth of God’s Son; fleeing with his family to protect Jesus’ life, and living as a refugee in a dangerous and foreign land, St Joseph knew what it meant to endure faithfully in the face of adversity. Yet his answer each time was the same. He listened to and trusted God. Much of the time he did so without a clue of what the outcome might be. He simply trusted God, and that was enough.
The reality is, it’s hard to trust in God when we are going through tough times. That’s why we need help from the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church. And let me tell you, St Joseph is someone we can certainly count on. Over the centuries, God has been raising up St Joseph from a man who was relatively unknown, to a saint that sits just below Our Lady when it comes to intercessory muscle. We are living in the time of St Joseph, and praise God for giving us such a gift.
I first experienced the power of St Joseph’s intercession a few years ago. My wife Sarah and I had been married for almost three years and found ourselves unable to conceive. It was a very difficult time in our marriage. Eventually we began to discuss the possibility of adoption or fostering, the latter of which I particularly struggled with.
Fast forward to 19 March 2016, the Solemnity of St Joseph. Sarah and I went to a talk on this great saint and I learned many things about St Joseph that I had never heard before. I was incredibly inspired. One of the things that really hit me was that St Joseph was himself a foster father.
Jesus wasn’t his biological son (he was God’s) and he knew that eventually he’d have to give him back to his Father. It was a moment of grace for me which completely opened my heart to the idea of fostering.
After the talk, I went to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament with great conviction in my heart. I spoke with God and St Joseph saying that I wanted to be a husband and father exactly like he was. Whether that was a biological, adoptive, or foster father, it didn’t matter. Whatever God wanted I would trust and be open to. I promised, however, that if God ever blessed me with a biological son, I would call him Joseph.
A couple of months later, on our third wedding anniversary, my wife revealed to me that she thought she may be pregnant. This was directly after I had told her I thought we should look into fostering. On a subsequent GP visit we not only confirmed the pregnancy, but the problems we had regarding conceiving had also disappeared and we were told it would be an entirely normal pregnancy. When the GP checked the charts, she concluded that the date of conception was 19 March, the Solemnity of St Joseph. This was a clear sign for me of his intercession. Many months later, our first son, Joseph, was born.
This is the first of many examples of how this saint has interceded in my life. Since then we have completed a consecration to St Joseph, and he has continued to intercede for us countless times. St Joseph wants to intercede for you, and there is no better time to run to him than now, in this year of St Joseph.
I would encourage you to consider consecrating yourself to him. There is a great book by Fr Don Calloway that prepares you perfectly to do so. Here at Evangelisation Broken Bay, our team has been preparing for the consecration on 19 March using this book. We also intend to walk with you all throughout this year and give you several opportunities to receive graces through St Joseph’s intercession. Whatever your need may be, there is one thing I would encourage you to do.
Go to Joseph.
Tomasz Juszczak is the Director of Evangelisation Broken Bay.
Reproduced with permission from the March 2021 edition of Broken Bay News, the news publication of the Diocese of Broken Bay.