Pope Francis publishes the Apostolic Letter "Patris corde" 150 years after the declaration of Saint Joseph as "Patron of the universal Church" by Pius IX, "moved by the grave and mournful circumstances in which a Church was beset by the hostility of men”. His figure is important in this time of pandemic, where "ordinary people" live with "patience" and offer "hope". A decree for plenary indulgence during the Year of St. Joseph.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "To implore Saint Joseph" to obtain from him the grace of conversion, and to celebrate him as "patron of the universal Church" 150 years after the declaration of this title by Pius IX. It is the main reason that prompted Pope Francis to publish today, the precise date of the 150th anniversary, an Apostolic Letter entitled "Patris corde" (with a father’s heart), entirely dedicated to Jesus’ "putative father". At the same time, a decree establishing a special plenary indulgence for all those who will celebrate the anniversary "on the occasions and in the manner" indicated by the Apostolic Penitentiary was published.
The decree on indulgence explains that Pius IX conferred the title of "patron of the universal Church" on St. Joseph, "moved by the grave and mournful circumstances in which a Church threatened by the hostility of men found itself". Francis’ Letter recalls the "central role" of Joseph "in the history of salvation", so much so that "after Mary, Mother of God, no saint occupies as much space in the papal Magisterium as Joseph, her husband". And he lists: "Blessed Pius IX declared him" Patron of the Catholic Church ", Venerable Pius XII presented him as" Patron of workers" and St. John Paul II as "Custos of the Redeemer ". The people invoke him as "patron of a happy death’”.
One of the most pressing reasons that prompted Pope Francis to publish the Letter is that his figure is "so close to our own human experience". He points out that in this pandemic time “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. ...”
“They understood that no one is saved alone… How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines and, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.” St. Joseph is the model par excellence of this discreet service. "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. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”
The Letter then follows several chapters dedicated to various aspects of the figure of the saint: " A beloved father ", "A tender and loving father ", " An obedient father ", " An accepting father ", "A creatively courageous father", " A working father ","A father in the shadows ". This last name is perhaps among the most urgent.
"The world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction”.
"Being a father entails introducing children to life and reality. Not holding them back, being overprotective or possessive, but rather making them capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities. Perhaps for this reason, Joseph is traditionally called a “most chaste” father. That title is not simply a sign of affection, but the summation of an attitude that is the opposite of possessiveness.".
The Letter merits deep meditation. Finally, Francis suggests a prayer to be addressed to Saint Joseph:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.