PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Joe and Millie Hoffman traveled a half hour from Beaverton, Oregon, to attend the Mass for the feast of St. Joseph March 19 at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.
St. Joseph is their man.
Not only is Joe named for the earthly father of Jesus, but the whole family has consecrated themselves to the saint.
For the past 15 years, the Hoffmans have prayed a novena leading up to March 19. They give St. Joseph credit for smoothing their recent home sale and purchase. Now Joe looks to St. Joseph for help in being a good example of manhood and faith for his grandsons.
“He is the personal protector of our family,” said Millie just as the pair left to have dinner with their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. “He is just such a regular guy. He is just so relatable.”
At the same time, Millie explained, St. Joseph “was content to say, ‘God this is what you need me to do and I’m just going to do it. I don’t understand how, why, when or where. I’m just going to go with your plan for me.”
Jayson Strayer, a member of St. Matthew Parish in Hillsboro west of Portland, also made the trip. He figured the feast of St. Joseph during a Year of St. Joseph will not happen often and he wanted to be there.
Aware that the saint is patron of chastity, Strayer asks for help having a chaste body and heart.
“St. Joseph is guardian of the chaste, guardian of virgins and guardian of our Lord,” Strayer told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. “You can’t get any better than that.”
During the Mass, which had a good-sized in-person congregation and was livestreamed, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample reminded listeners that after Mary, St. Joseph is considered the greatest saint and is universal patron of the church.
“Just as he cared for the body of his foster son, the son of God,” the archbishop said, motioning as if rocking a child to sleep, “he looks over the mystical body, the church.”
The archbishop lauded St. Joseph for being all in with God’s plans, even when they sounded wild.
“Look who it was to whom God entrusted his only begotten son,” the archbishop said. “Look who it was to whom God entrusted the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The archbishop urged listeners to recall that the Holy Family were real flesh and blood people and that Joseph fathered it with strength but docility to God’s will.
“He is a strong, silent, gracious, chaste husband and father,” the archbishop said. “Boy, do we need his example today.”
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, struck a similar theme writing about the saint in the March 19 issue of his newsletter, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
“St. Joseph is a man for all seasons, but his intercession and example are especially needed in troubled times,” the cardinal wrote, adding this year “we have a special reason to honor the ‘righteous man’ who 150 years ago was named patron of the church by Pope Pius IX.
To mark the anniversary Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus in a Dec. 8, 2020, apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a father’s heart”). The year ends this Dec. 8.
“The Year of St. Joseph is a time to heal the deep wounds in our society by calling attention to the dignity and human rights of every man, woman and child,” Cardinal Tobin said. “It’s a time to rebuild our economy according to principles and policies that truly serve our people.
“Finally, this year is a time for building bridges and reconciling our differences as individuals, families and communities who have too long been divided — politically, economically and socially.”
The cardinal said he hoped “this great saint” will be “close to us this year and always as we work to imitate his virtues and incorporate into our lives his tender, obedient and creatively courageous spirituality. St. Joseph, pray for us.”
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that I have a strong personal devotion to St. Joseph, my namesake,” he added. “His silent strength, his fidelity to God’s will, his loving care for Mary and his paternal presence in Jesus’ formative years have always inspired me.
“I pray to St. Joseph for guidance and encouragement as I struggle to be a good man, an attentive listener to the word of God and a faithful servant of the people I’m called to serve as a spiritual father.”
He also prayed “this gentle and holy man help us all to grow closer to Jesus, and to each other, as we seek to discover and do God’s will in our daily lives.”
Also on the saint’s feast day, the Capuchin Franciscans’ Province of St. Conrad based in Denver unveiled a new webpage, “Joseph and the Franciscans.”
The web page is “devoted to eight centuries of labor by the sons of Francis of Assisi in promoting devotion to Mary’s husband and Jesus’ father,” said a news release from the province.
It has links to a video series as well as links to “four beautiful and vastly unknown sermons on Joseph written by Capuchin St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), named a doctor of the church by St. John XXIII in 1959,” the release said. “Until now, these sermons were scarcely available, and not at all online.”
The Capuchin’s release noted that it has only been in recent centuries that St. Joseph — “next to Mary the church’s greatest saint” — have been “venerated in a manner even somewhat indicative of his exulted dignity.”
But about four centuries ago, St. Lawrence spoke of Joseph “as the third being, just after Mary, in God’s original plan of creation, and thus higher in dignity and holiness than all the angels and other saints,” it added.
His 800 sermons have been available in Latin in his 12-volume “Opera Omnia,” published between 1928 and 1956, but the sermons were not published in English until 2007.
The province also planned to post on the webpage a link to an extensive study by Capuchin Franciscan Father Blaine Burkey, “The Theology of St. Joseph in the Writings of St. Lawrence of Brindisi,” written a half century ago.
Other material about St. Joseph and the Franciscans’ long-standing devotion to him will be posted on the webpage and social media platforms throughout the Year of St. Joseph.