On a journey with Joseph of Nazareth

22 October 2021

When we presented the feature Patris Corde earlier this year, we had suggested Joseph of Nazareth entering into dialogue with the fathers of our time, as our objective (or at least our attempt). In these last months, through the accounts that we brought to you, it was not just the fathers who entered into dialogue with him, but also today’s sons and daughters and mothers, as the latest edition confirms. Each of the chapters of the Letter written by the Pope for the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, has had as a “parallel text” one or more life experiences: testimonials that demonstrate that the spouse of Mary is not a figure relegated to the past but our contemporary with whom we can weave a relationship that — as occurs every time we meet great saints — can open us to new horizons and change our lives.

The suffering, joy and dreams of the protagonists of the feature took the shape of pieces of a mosaic that, episode after episode, became richer and clearer, showing with lively colours the traits of that “middle class of holiness” that the French author Joseph Malègue, whom Francis has often referred to, spoke about. “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families”, the Pope wrote at the beginning of Gaudete et Exsultate. These words seem to describe precisely what the feature wished to signify. Here is a great merit of this special year of Saint Joseph desired by the Pope, and of the Letter Patris Corde: to underscore that holiness calls holiness and demands witness because saints should not be applauded but rather imitated. “All the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect”, Lumen Gentium reminds us.

Each in his own way. Joseph’s way was a humble and patient presence, almost “behind the lines” but at the same time strong and protective. At times, in suffered silence but always filled with love. With a creative courage to change plans and convictions in order to save the most precious thing he had: his family. This is why, as many of the people who wove their experiences with Patris Corde grasped, Saint Joseph is more than an example: he is a companion on our journey, with whom to dialogue and in whom to entrust our hopes and restlessness. The same experience that any father, any parent, has sooner or later in raising their children, in “making room” for them so that they can follow their own path in the knowledge that “every child is the bearer of a unique mystery”. Saint Joseph, however, is not only the travelling companion of fathers and families. As Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said in our newspaper, every baptized person is called to be inspired by him, especially now that the whole Church is experiencing the synodal process. Thus, Saint Joseph, as a travelling companion who, with a father’s heart and listening to the Father, knows how to support and encourage each of us on our way towards the encounter with the Lord.

Alessandro Gisotti and
Andrea Monda