Tomorrow is the feast of the St Joseph. Devotion to St. Joseph is certainly not the most ancient in the Church (at least in the West), but I think it is especially fitting that popular devotion to him has grown significantly over the last couple of centuries. His feast day was put on the Roman Calendar by Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) and was gradually increased in rank throughout the centuries. He was added to the litany of Saints by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared him a patron of the whole Church, and elevated his feast to first class (source). Finally, in 1960 John XXIII added him to the Roman Canon.
As a side note, you can tell his cultus is not ancient by the fact that he was not in the Litany of Saints, the cannon of the Mass, nor is he mentioned in the Confiteor. In ancient times (and maybe still today) John the Baptist was always considered the greatest saint after the Blessed Mother, and the archangels, which is why he is mentioned right after them in the litany and Confiteor.
At any rate, the many problems facing modern fathers is no secret. Catholic men today need a strong devotion to Saint Joseph. To that end, in our family, we have replaced the “Hallmark holiday” of Father’s Day, with St. Joseph’s day. Since we already observe Mother’s Day on Mothering Sunday (only 2 weeks away!) it seemed like a good transition. Besides, it just makes more sense to associate a celebration of fatherhood, with a saintly exemplar of what true fatherhood is.
We used to go to an italian restaurant for dinner, but since my wife developed a gluten allergy, we change it up now. But at least we will have some excellent Italian pastries, made special for St. Joseph’s day, thanks to the efforts of my friend who made a long trip to pick them up from a real bakery.
For some interesting reading, you can try the Protevangelium of James, which tells the story of how Joseph to be Mary’s husband (paragraph 9).
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