On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary of the Angels received a special gift from Pope Francis: he wrote us a wonderful apostolic letter, Patris Corde—With a Father’s Heart. We consider this a special gift to our parish, because we at St. Mary of the Angels have been praying to St. Joseph to help us prepare for Renew My Church and to launch our parish to evangelize the Bucktown-Wicker Park-East Logan Square area of Chicago.
Pope Francis has taken our Year of the Family at St. Mary of the Angels and entrusted it to St. Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church, making it into the Year of St. Joseph:
WITH A FATHER’S HEART: that is how Joseph loved Jesus… [The Gospels] tell us very little, yet enough for us to appreciate what sort of father he was, and the mission entrusted to him by God’s providence…
Pope Francis summarizes what the Gospels say about St. Joseph, Our Father and Lord, and then says:
After Mary, the Mother of God, no saint is mentioned more frequently in the papal magisterium than Joseph, her spouse. My Predecessors reflected on the message contained in the limited information handed down by the Gospels in order to appreciate more fully his central role in the history of salvation. Bl. Pius IX declared him “Patron of the Catholic Church,” Venerable Pius XII proposed him as “Patron of Workers” and St. John Paul II as “Guardian of the Redeemer.” St. Joseph is universally invoked as the “patron of a happy death.”
Now, one hundred and fifty years after his proclamation as Patron of the Catholic Church by Bl. Pius IX (December 8, 1870), I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience… 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. 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, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all” (Meditation in the Time of Pandemic, 27 March 2020). 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. St. 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.
As we celebrate the Christmas season—a pandemic Christmas—let us entrust our families and loved ones to this Holy Patriarch. If God the Father entrusted the Virgin Mary and his eternal Son to his care, we would do well to do the same. Certainly this is what we plan to do at St. Mary of the Angels parish as we begin Renew My Church.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Waiss