Wednesday, June 19, 2013

While We're Talking About St. Joseph...

I am still trying to work my way through Redemptoris Custos. And more questions about the role of St. Joseph and fathers in the modern world came up when I heard the news, via Fr. Z, that the name of St. Joseph, most chaste Spouse, has been added to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV to make them more comparable to the Roman Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer I in the Novus Ordo. Fr. Z also has made available the text of the decree signed by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Of course, everything redirects back to our sacred liturgy as Catholics, for the Church's public expression of prayer contains the source and summit of the faith in the Blessed Sacrament.

Some think that the reformers tinkered with the Roman Canon in 1962, at a point when the books of the new edition of the Missale Romanum were already being bound, because if one can tinker with the Canon, then one can tinker with anything. I don't think that poorly of Blessed John XXIII! After all, he tried to stop the trainwreck, and he certainly had a genuine love for Holy Mother the Church.

These are the titles of St. Joseph as found in the Litany of St. Joseph. I'd do bullet points, but it is a litany after all...

Renowned offspring of David, Light of Patriarchs, Spouse of the Mother of God, Chaste guardian of the Virgin, Foster father of the Son of God, Diligent protector of Christ, Head of the Holy Family, Joseph most just, Joseph most chaste, Joseph most prudent, Joseph most strong, Joseph most obedient, Joseph most faithful, Mirror of patience, Lover of poverty, Model of artisans, Glory of home life, Guardian of virgins, Pillar of families, Solace of the wretched, Hope of the sick, Patron of the dying, Terror of demons, Protector of Holy Church

Notice how many of these related to family life. Family life is the root of life in the Church, since every priest has to come from a family. More specifically, we cannot have holy priests without holy families.

The years immediately following Vatican II openly exposed and deepened the problems of family life within the Church during the twentieth century. Firstly, bad philosophies of atheism and doubt (nihilism, Nietzsche's beliefs, existentialism) had crept in, and men got caught up in them. Secondly, two world wars and a depression decimated two generations. Most of the men died in Europe, the heart of the faith, and most were actually from Europe. Thirdly, Communist and Marxist-inspired revolutions swept Europe and later Asia, and specifically targeted the Church. This happened even in Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal, and (thank God only for about a year) even Italy.

The first means that one is raising the family outside of the Church. The key to a holy family is staying close to the Church in all moments. The second means that generations of women could not marry. Generations could not reproduce and have families. I think many men might have had vocations; Don Bosco said that, at least in his time, 1/4 of boys had priestly vocations. Of the men left, I am sure they were scarred forever. That doesn't make they wouldn't make good fathers. Many did. It's just a whole lot harder when one has seen evil like never before.  The third reflects the Marxist principle to attack the family as a means to reach the Communist end. Youth were forbidden to attend religious services in the Soviet Union (Orthodox Christians mainly, but also Catholics in fair numbers especially in the Ukraine). The child seers at Fatima were harassed by the Socialist government. Young people were killed in the Cristeros violence in Mexico, and seminarians, priests, and religious were killed by Communists during the Spanish Civil War and after World War II in Italy. This is to say nothing of Mao's violence, which was fresh and about to re-explode by the time St. Joseph's name was added to the Canon.

Add to all of this legalized contraception and abortion on-demand, and one has the recipe for a disaster of demonic proportions. See above, St. Joseph is the terror of demons. I think that by inconsistently rejecting accretions to the Mass, and therefore keeping his name out of the other Eucharistic Prayers, some people did actually reject everything that St. Joseph models for us and does for us as an intercessor. They couldn't cut his name out of the Roman Canon, but they certainly could make it so that his name was rarely invoked.

The blessed Mary ever-virgin is listed first in the Canon, as she is the Mother of God (Theotokos, "God-bearer") and was conceived immaculately. That is, without sin. St. Ambrose first referred to her as Mater Ecclesiae, or Mother of the Church, which was later added to her official titles by Ven. Pope Paul VI.
Mary is present in the Church as the Mother of Christ, and at the same time as that Mother whom Christ, in the mystery of the Redemption, gave to humanity in the person of the Apostle John. Thus, in her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and embraces each and every one through the Church. In this sense Mary, Mother of the Church, is also the Church's model.-Blessed John Paul II, encyclical letter Redemptoris Mater
In a similar way, St. Joseph is the Protector of the Church. He cannot be the father of the Church for she was instituted by Christ. However, he took in Jesus, the child made incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. St. Joseph took Mary as his spouse, although he legitimately had recourse to ending their betrothal. And so too he takes in all of us baptized Christians. I personally think that we do not give St. Joseph enough devotion, and outside of Italy, never really did.

Blessed Pope Piux IX unofficially declared him to be the patron of doubt and hesitation, meaning we (especially fathers!) can turn to him in those moments of great uncertainty. The Church, in a moment of confusion, should turn to right now, for instance, as we wrestle with the effects of the Second Vatican Council and the absolute dismantling of family life.

I think Blessed John XXIII might have understood this, and this is why he asked us in a special and subtle way to turn to St. Joseph.

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