Thursday, 7 June 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (9)

St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church


Dear pilgrim friends,

There may be some hunters among you ... and surely they know St. Hubert well! An unrepentant hunter, converted on Good Friday by the cross appearing between the antlers of a stag, he became patron saint of hunters ...

Maybe your car or scooter keys are fixed on a key ring with the effigy of St. Christopher! One day he was carrying a child on his shoulder to help him to cross a river and stay dry; he was surprised to fall under the weight of the toddler ... who was none other than the Child Jesus, and who ended up carrying him!

How many of us have invoked Saint Anthony of Padua to find a laptop, a key, a wallet, etc ... This saint was envied by one of his brothers; his annotated Bible was stolen, but later then returned, including a precious collection of his sermons!

Finally - perhaps you know what a cruciverbist is? He is a crossword player ... who has Saint Laurence as patron saint, as he was martyred on a grid!

Saint Joseph, is the patron of the universal Church ... Why is that? Let's rediscover it together.

Major ideas
• A little history...
• Why Saint Joseph is patron of the Church.
• Saint Joseph propelled into postmodernity!
• Saint Joseph embodies and rehabilitates fatherhood and authority.


A little history...
Saint Joseph is ... prodigious! At the same time he is a worker and a boss ... What a beautiful reply to Karl Marx. Carpenter workman, and boss of the largest and most lasting enterprise: the Church!

It was under Blessed Pope Pius IX that the persecuted Church was placed in the hands of St. Joseph in 1870. Then Leo XIII, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II recalled the role of St. Joseph. In 1962, his name entered the "very exclusive" Roman Canon of the Mass; a text so sacred that we rarely alter it like that...

Why Patron of the Church?
To sum up, he exercises over the Church the very same role he had with regard to Jesus:

  • He protected Jesus from the slaughter of the innocents. He now protects the Mystical Body of Jesus, the Church ... "Jesus spread and communicated" !!
  • He is above all loved by and close to God. He reflected in time the eternal Father... He closely followed the beginnings of the Incarnate Word in this world... He is a friend of God, an intimate friend of God. He teaches God's approach: supernatural intimacy with Jesus and Mary.
  • Joseph watches over the growth of the Church, as He watched over the growth of Jesus. The Church must grow in the world, as Jesus grew in this world... by the zeal of missionaries, preachers, Christians who bring Christ to the world. By the grace that flows in the sacraments.
  • The life of Saint Joseph is a perfect "tutorial" for the zealous missionary; faithful - hardworking - discreet - modest ... A good antidote to the easy and servile postures of the modern world!
  • Joseph is silent ... And his silence tells us again: "In you, through you, in your thoughts, your words, your actions, we must hear the word of Jesus, we must see the light of Jesus shine. "
  • He is an "upstanding watchman"! He knows everything about family, work, country, etc.

Saint Joseph propelled into postmodernity!
This "big word" of the philosopher Rémi Brague designates our era and its tendencies; it means "After modernity" (so far, so easy) ... Modernity refers to the cultural atmosphere that appeared in the Renaissance and culminated in the Enlightenment.
To put it briefly:

  • Reason separated from God, "autonomy", is the only source of "values".
  • History is driven by increasing and unlimited progress.
  • Faith and reason no longer recognise each other; they are separated, opposed, and eliminate each other.
  • Religion only pertains to the private sphere.

Obviously, the crazy dreams of modernity were shattered... in their encounter with facts (the history of the twentieth century).
And that brings us to postmodernity

  • Reason is weakened, disqualified. No more intelligence, only feeling. No more objectivity, only subjective impressions; to each his own truth!
  • Progress leads both to improvement and to deterioration. Technical progress is cumulative (we add discoveries, advances), but wisdom is not (madness of ideologies). Atomic fission gave electricity to our national grid ... and resulted in the atomic bomb! Hence the pessimism of Michel Houellebecq: "The worst is yet to come ..."
  • Once reason and religion are separated, both disappear behind sentimentalism and syncretism. A large domain of vague, exotic religiosities, where everyone chooses ... Hence the proliferation of sects, "wisdoms", superstitions, gurus, manipulators ...
  • And finally, the search for one’s own comfort, one’s own individual interest with complete disregard for everyone else.

After this depressing little description, it is clear that Saint Joseph does not seem very "postmodern"! 

Saint Joseph embodies and rehabilitates fatherhood and authority. 
There was a true marriage between the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. From this true marriage arises a true legal paternity for Saint Joseph. He receives a natural authority and exercises it perfectly. What excellent teaching on the family, paternity, authority, which is so attacked, exploded, recomposed, "reinvented" in our time...

In the last apparition at Fatima on October 13, 1917, Saint Joseph appeared with the child Jesus. Both seemed to bless the world with gestures they made with their cross-shaped hands. He is the great protector of the Church, of marriage and of the family, especially in our time, marked as it is by the rejection of God, of paternity and authority.

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