Benoit DOSQUET, OMI Secretary of the General Committee of Oblate Brothers
The announcement of a year dedicated to Saint Joseph on December 8 came as a surprise. Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph, patron of the Universal Church and 150 years later, Pope Francis proposes a jubilee year in his honor.
For us Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Saint Joseph is the protector of the Congregation and the patron saint of Oblate Brothers. Thus, the General Committee of Oblate Brothers would like to offer the Congregation and the entire Mazenodian family an opportunity, between March 19 and May 1, 2021, to highlight this event.
Saint Joseph is the man of silence. Not a word from him in the Gospels. But when he woke up from his dream, Joseph did as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took his wife to his house, but he did not unite with her, until she gave birth to a son, to whom he gave the name Jesus. (Mt 1, 24-25). This trust in God was strengthened by Joseph’s fidelity to prayer. Moreover, the Evangelist Matthew specifies that the encounter with the Angel took place in a dream. Now the dream in the biblical experience is not synonymous with dreaming as we understand it, but it evokes the state of the believer entirely turned towards God and listening to his Word. The Evangelist Luke emphasizes the obedience of Joseph and Mary to the prescriptions of the Law.
In his Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde”, Pope Francis does not hesitate to write:
“During the hidden years in Nazareth, Jesus learned at the school of Joseph to do the will of the Father.“
Through his Letter, Pope Francis wants to help us discover in the figure of Saint Joseph
“so close to our own human experience“; his humility, his discretion, his confidence, which make him a fraternal support, a paternal recourse, a spiritual support. “Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.“
While cholera was ravaging Europe, on March 23, 1832, the Founder wrote to Fr. Guigues:
“My dear Father Guigues, it is very kind of you to have remembered that I live under the patronage of great St. Joseph and not to have forgotten me in your prayers to this Saint on the day of his feast…
I believe his soul more excellent than all the celestial intelligences, above which it is indubitably placed in heaven. In that blessed abode Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph are just as inseparable as they were on earth. I believe in these things with the most certain faith…I am quite persuaded as well that the body of St. Joseph is already in glory… And so you would search in vain for his relics over the face of the earth. You will no more find his relics than any of his holy spouse…
No one has ever presumed to produce even false ones of these two eminent personages, and I consider this as due to a special divine disposition. I simply record the fact, you will give it what value you please. For myself, it is but a confirmation of my strongly held view and I make bold to profess it. If it attracts your piety, meditate on it and I have no doubt that you will accept it, I mean the whole body of my teaching on the Arch-saint whom we venerate with all our hearts.”
The 1896 Directory for novitiates and Scholasticates prescribed: “Among all the Saints which the novices are especially to honor, Saint Joseph will hold the first place, as much because of his singular privilege in being associated with the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ as because he is the patron of recollected souls who live a hidden life… They will often pray to him… and join his name almost always with those of Jesus and Mary.”
For several years, the Conference of Major Superiors of the United States has been celebrating May 1, as the feast of Religious Brothers. The risk of taking Saint Joseph the worker as a reference could lead to seeing in the religious brother the image of his work and to obscuring the rest of his vocation, because his vocation, like any vocation, is first and foremost part of following his baptism. Fortunately, in our Congregation, we have a tradition to pay particular attention to the vocation of the Oblate Brother on March 19.
The Committee would like to take advantage of this event, from March 19 to May 1, 2021, to promote the vocation of the Oblate Brother in the Congregation, to recall the importance of this vocation within the Church, to pray for the Oblate Brothers and to deepen their lifestyle.
Do not hesitate to consult the document of the Church on the vocation of the Religious Brother “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church.”
To live this year consecrated to Saint Joseph, some Units did not wait for this initiative and are implementing proposals.
Please do not hesitate to publicize your initiatives and achievements by email: email@example.com, we will try to share it with others.
Here are some ideas to animate and highlight this event:
# The solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, is very near. Some will have preceded it by a novena (you can find it on the Internet).
# For March 19, we invite the communities to take time to meditate on the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis, “PATRIS CORDE” (cf. www.vatican.va)
Please feel free to share your thoughts with us, and we will put them on our website. Over the next few weeks, we will be uploading one or the other meditation.
You will find, in the appendix, a meditation on the Rosary with Saint Joseph.
To promote the vocation of the Oblate Brother, please do not hesitate to contact the member of the General Committee of Oblate Brothers in your region.
Happy feast day, wishing you a Blessed Year of Saint Joseph.