Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, Terror of Demons, and Guardian of the Universal Church.
At Saint Joseph Table we honor him in the image of the sleeping Joseph. Through his dreams, God reveals his will to Joseph in order to protect the Holy Family. Joseph has several dreams that bring clarity to God’s will. There are no recorded sayings of Joseph throughout the New Testament. His silence shows that he is more concerned about protecting Mary and Jesus, rather than stating something which may point to himself. His silence is his strength. His dreams are where God speaks to his heart.
There is another place where the image of the sleeping Joseph comes to play in our most recent history. During his pastoral visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis spoke about his devotion to Saint Joseph in his meeting with families. He said that he had an image of the sleeping Joseph on his desk. Whenever a great problem arises, the Holy Father writes a little note to Joseph and places it under this image, so that Joseph can pray about this petition in his dreams. Since then the image has become a beautiful devotion among the faithful.
Every Mass in the Catholic Church is a feast, a little Easter. Today, the Church calls Saint Joseph’s Feast Day a solemnity! In the liturgy of the Church there are various degrees of celebration: feasts, obligatory memorials, optional memorials, and ferial days … then there are Solemnities. The mother of all feasts and solemnities is Easter which is right around the corner!
A solemnity is a celebration containing all the liturgical elements possible. In other words, all the smells and bells are used in praying the sacred liturgy. Bells are rung, incense rises to God, and candles are lit. Solemnities have their own designated readings and prayers. Solemnities call the Church to sing the Gloria and profess the Creed. Lastly, these feasts are designated as solemnities because they deal directly and closely to salvation history. To that end, who protected Mary from the dangers of the world as she carried the Savior of the world with her? Who protected Herod’s rage and from being stoned to death? Who taught the young Jesus to work and obey his parents? Who taught Jesus to pray at temple and be obedient to the Heavenly Father? It is Joseph, foster father of our Beloved Lord! Happy Solemnity!