With ardent devotion, we honor and adore the Sacred Heart of Jesus and it is right that we give the Risen One thanks and praise, as the introduction to the Preface of the Mass perennially reminds. We rightly love and honor too the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the one who said yes to God and his plan to re-establish all creation in Christ. These two hearts we traditionally honor, but in these times when the family is assailed on every side we err, I think, when we forget the obedient and tender heart of the third member of the Holy Family, the heart of the silent one, St. Joseph. To love, honor and implore the assistance of St. Joseph makes us like Jesus and Mary, who entrusted their hearts to his care and bid us to confidently do the same. St. Joseph’s tender heart, along with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, form the prototype of the nascent Church, Christ and his body. These three hearts beat as one and become the pattern of love established for our families, both ecclesial and domestic. St. Joseph, as defender of the Holy Family, has become the defender of the Church, and I firmly believe, the defender of the Christian family par excellence. Pope Francis offers his intercession to us this year in a particular way and his predecessor, St. John Paul II reminds us that devotion to St. Joseph is an unparalleled aid in the new evangelization so necessary in our time.
As we begin the discipline of Lent, it seems fitting that we make for the first time or even renew again our confidence in the intercession of St. Joseph to help our families become a family set apart for Christ and his mission. In times of confusion, we must return to the basics, the beginning, the Incarnation of the God-man, allowing this incomparable work of God to inform us as to the grandeur of our call, our identity and our mission as the holy family we’re destined to be. We especially need at this time the steadying influence of the one whom God chose to guide and protect his family, a man without drama but with determined intention to safeguard the mission of the Church, of which the family is an essential building block. Joseph was Jesus’ guardian, and as members of his body, he is our spiritual guardian too. No other saint occupies the same orbit as St. Joseph, second only to the Blessed Virgin, no other saint is for all time the most fitting icon of the Heavenly Father. St. Joseph is not simply a sentimental figure playing a secondary and supporting role in the Father’s plan, a stand-in to be trotted out for Christmas pageants. He is a man of courage who spends himself for the sake of Jesus and Mary, a man who became, and is, an expert in the contemplation of the face of Christ, a teacher of the faith and an example of a righteous one who answered his family’s need with the sweat of his brow, one whose juvenile pupil was none other than the living incarnate God. St. Joseph is a man, not of words but of action who with your permission will help you also take Jesus and Mary into your home that these three hearts might bring your hearts into a sacred cadence with this sacred triumvirate.
I would like to take this opportunity, in response to Pope Francis’s urging, and on behalf of the Unleash the Gospel Pastoral Council, to invite all of the Archdiocese of Detroit to consider making a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph, this Lent. This is appropriate both in the home and in our local parishes; an aid, in our missionary pivot as an Archdiocese and parish family. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the loving heart of good St. Joseph draw your parish and your family to the celebration of Easter with a new and profound sense of love, acknowledging the grandeur of your vocation, your identity in Christ and your share in his mission to re-establish all creation in himself.
St. Joseph, true Guardian of the Mystery of Christ, Pray for us.
Most Reverend Gerard W. Battersby
Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, Chair of the Unleash the Gospel Pastoral Council