By George P. Matysek Jr.
When I informed Monsignor Martin Feild that Pope Francis had inserted a reference to St. Joseph in all the main eucharistic prayers used at Mass in the Latin rite, the longtime pastor of St. Joseph in Taneytown lit up.
“It’s about time,” Monsignor Feild said.
Like Mary, the priest said, St. Joseph was obedient to God’s will.
“We honor Mary for that role,” he observed. “It’s only proper and fitting to honor him, too.”
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father to Jesus, St. Joseph is known as the “silent saint.”
None of the four Gospels record any of his spoken words. Yet, St. Joseph spoke volumes by caring for his wife, raising his son, protecting his family and living his faith by his actions. St. Matthew refers to him simply as a “just man.”
While Mary has long been included in the eucharistic prayers, St. Joseph was not mentioned until Blessed Pope John XXIII added the saint’s name to the first eucharistic prayer in 1962. Pope Francis, confirming a decision by retired Pope Benedict XVI, inserted St. Joseph’s name into the three other eucharistic prayers used at Mass.
It’s not surprising that a pope who selected the Feast of St. Joseph as the day of his installation would give his approval to the liturgical change.
According to Catholic News Service, a decree signed May 1 by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said Pope Benedict (born Joseph Ratzinger) had received petitions from Catholics around the world related to recognizing St. Joseph. The former pope approved, adding after the name of the Virgin Mary, the words “with blessed Joseph, her spouse.”
A congregation official told Catholic News Service June 18 that national bishops’ conferences could set a date for the changes to begin if they believe that is necessary, “but because it is a matter of only adding five words, priests can begin immediately.”
Long a popular saint of the church, St. Joseph is the patron saint of carpenters, fathers, a happy death, house hunters and much more. In 1870, Pope Pius IX proclaimed him patron of the Universal Church, and in 1955, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1.
Countless churches are named after the saint, including 10 in the Baltimore archdiocese – parishes in Cockeysville, Emmitsburg, Fullerton, Hagerstown, Irvington, Midland, Odenton, Sykesville, Taneytown and Buckeystown.
“St. Joseph is not seen as a worker of wonders, but as a good husband and a good foster father,” Monsignor Feild explained. “He’s a good role model for all fathers.”
As the Vatican decree notes, St. Joseph “demonstrates the ordinary and simple virtues necessary for men to be good and genuine followers of Christ.”
It’s good to see St. Joe get his due.
George P. Matysek Jr. is assistant managing editor of the Catholic Review.