Patris Corde: With a Father's Heart by Pope Francis

on St. Joseph

(Huntington: OSV, 2020), 15

  • "Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all."
  1. A beloved father
    • Joseph concretely expressed his fatherhood “by making his life a sacrificial service
    • St. Teresa of Ávila: "Go to Joseph"
    • Joseph stands at the crossroads between the Old and New Testaments
  2. A tender and loving father
    • "Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture."
  3. An obedient father
    • In every situation, Joseph declared his own “fiat”
    • In his role as the head of a family, Joseph taught Jesus to be obedient to his parents
  4. An accepting father
    • Joseph set aside his own ideas in order to accept the course of events and, mysterious as they seemed, to embrace them, take responsibility for them and make them part of his own history.
    • The spiritual path that Joseph traces for us is not one that explains, but accepts...“Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (Jb-02).
  5. A creatively courageous father
    • God acts through events and people...for all the arrogance and violence of worldly powers, God always finds a way to carry out his saving plan.
    • I consider Saint Joseph the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.
  6. A working father
    • Work is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion. It becomes an opportunity for the fulfillment not only of oneself, but also of that primary cell of society which is the family.
  7. A father in the shadows
    • The Polish writer Jan Dobraczyński, in his book The Shadow of the Father, tells the story of Saint Joseph’s life in the form of a novel.
    • Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person.
    • Chastity and Parenting: Being a father entails introducing children to life and reality. Not holding them back, being overprotective or possessive, but rather making them capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities. Perhaps for this reason, Joseph is traditionally called a “most chaste” father. That title is not simply a sign of affection, but the summation of an attitude that is the opposite of possessiveness. Chastity is freedom from possessiveness in every sphere of one’s life. Only when love is chaste, is it truly love. A possessive love ultimately becomes dangerous: it imprisons, constricts and makes for misery. God himself loved humanity with a chaste love; he left us free even to go astray and set ourselves against him. The logic of love is always the logic of freedom, and Joseph knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the center of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.
    • Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust. Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction. Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself, which is the fruit of mature sacrifice.

Created: 2021-11-16
Updated: 2023-01-23-Mon