St. Joseph does not speak a single word in the Gospels as he conveys a powerful message of faith, hope and love. His silent, quiet witness speaks volumes in a noisy world that needs more of us to listen to one another and to respond through acts of love and service. We honor his role in the history of salvation on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, by setting aside time in prayer to reflect on this humble, servant leader and his quiet approach to spreading our faith.
On Dec. 8, 2020, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter on the “150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as patron of the universal church.” Concurrently, the pope launched the Year of St. Joseph, to be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2020, to Dec. 8, 2021.
“I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience,” the Holy Father said in his apostolic letter (https://tinyurl.com/tmh4fkr9). “For, as Jesus says, ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Mt 12:34). My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. 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, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer.’”
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’’ — a phrase to commit to memory, to write down on a post-it note to attach to our laptops or to affix to the bathroom mirror. It can serve as a vaccine to stop the spread of our own knee-jerk reactions and responses to social media posts, pundits, and others with whom we disagree.
St. Joseph is “quiet, he’s silent but we really need his mentorship, his example, his strength, his faith, his obedience,” observes Father Nicholas Akindele, a priest who serves in our diocese. He will conclude a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph with Mass at 6 p.m. March 19 at St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport (in person and virtual). The priest appreciates St. Joseph’s “silent way of working. That’s the beauty of his spirituality.”
“Everyone’s Way of the Cross” by the late Clarence Enzler, includes this prayer by the assembly reflecting on the eighth station of the cross: “Lord teach me, help me learn. When I would snap at those who hurt me with their ridicule, those who misunderstand, or hinder me with some misguided helpfulness, those who intrude upon my privacy — then help me curb my tongue. May gentleness become my cloak. Lord, make me kind like you.”
“Help me curb my tongue” … what if we prayed this simple petition every time we felt the urge to use hot-button words in a discussion or debate with someone whose viewpoint differs from our viewpoint? Our passion for our faith and our desire to pass it on to the next generation will convince no one when we use accusatory language to make our point.
St. Joseph’s “actions were powerful and he did not use words to convey his faith and willingness to serve God,” Bill Doucette, a member of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, said in a reflection he wrote. “This silence of St. Joseph points to his strong interior life of prayer. We can learn from him that we should have both a life of prayer and a life of service. The Year of Saint Joseph brings us a time to attend to improving our prayer life and our service to others.”
“The silence of St. Joseph points to his strong interior life of prayer. We should have both a life of prayer and a life of service.” More excellent advice for our approach to honoring, emulating and living out the faith demonstrated — not spoken — by St. Joseph.
Our diocesan website offers a page dedicated to the Year of St. Joseph, which includes prayers and other resources on which to reflect:(www.davenportdiocese.org/year-of-saint-joseph).
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor