DURING THIS MONTH when we celebrate Father’s Day, and during this Year of St. Joseph, I thought it appropriate to look again at the heroic witness of this great saint as an inspiration and guide. The Scriptures left us not a single recorded word of St. Joseph. And yet, the Church has a great deal to say about the patron saint of fathers and guardian of the universal Church.
In our age of endless commentary, why did Pope Francis call for this year to be devoted to a man of silent witness? I believe it is, in part, because he recognizes that so many of the ills that confound our society and the Church arise from a crisis of fatherhood.
God entrusted to St. Joseph the duty to protect and defend the Holy Family, which was, in many ways, the very first Church. He was humble and obedient to God’s plan. He listened to the Lord, and then made his life one of service and sacrifice to Jesus and Mary.
As Catholic men, and husbands and fathers, we are entrusted by God with a mission that is not unlike Joseph’s. We are called to be humble and obedient. We are called to use all our gifts to protect our families and, as Knights, to defend the Church.
St. Joseph’s example inspires us to practice heroic generosity and sacrificial love in caring for our wives and children. Our mission must be their well-being, and our heroism is to be found often in the silent witness of our presence. Pope Francis highlighted this in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love): “God sets the father in the family so that by the gifts of his masculinity he can be close to his wife and share everything. … And to be close to his children as they grow. … To be a father who is always present” (177).
We protect our families through countless selfless acts that will often go unnoticed and unrecognized. These small sacrificial acts allow the Holy Spirit to work and can influence our families in ways we aren’t even aware of.
‘As Catholic men, and husbands and fathers, we are entrusted by God with a mission that is not unlike Joseph’s. ... St. Joseph’s example inspires us to practice heroic generosity and sacrificial love in caring for our wives and children.’
While our words matter, the reality is that our presence itself bestows identity upon our children. Even without words, we can communicate to them about who they are and who they are not — the very first piece of that identity being “worthy of love.”
By modeling humility and quiet strength, we can instill a confidence in our wives and children that will help them flourish amid the challenges they face. So, never underestimate the power of presence in the lives of your families.
By extension, we should be present to our parish family. As Knights, we have a responsibility to care for the well-being of the Church as Christ’s mystical body. This means caring for our brothers and sisters, and serving the needs identified by our pastor as head of the parish. It also means giving the Church our loyalty and affection, avoiding the easy temptation to cynicism, while never being satisfied with mediocrity (and certainly not with sin).
St. Joseph’s example further teaches us how to be Knights of the Eucharist. He was the guardian of the first tabernacle — first Mary herself, and then the home where he and Mary lived with Jesus. As Knights, we care for Jesus by cultivating a special reverence for his real presence in the Eucharist.
Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio summed up the virtues of St. Joseph: “Accept the mission from God; let yourself be led by God; embrace hardship and danger in order to save the Savior.”
Brothers, let us go to Joseph to summon the courage that these challenging times demand — for the sake of our families and for the Church. St. Joseph, pray for us!
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