An Teaghlach Naofa
       
 

Ireland’s Urgent Need of Saint Joseph
Fr John Mockler

Recently, the Holy Father, Pope Francis told us, “Resist the threat to marriage and family from false ideology”. We are gathered here tonight in our beautiful national Marian shrine of Knock, to unite in prayer for Ireland. We are here to mount a prayerful resistance to a flood of evil that is trying to destroy what God has given to us as sacred - the family – man and woman united in sacramental marriage to become one in God’s love, open to the gift of new life through pro-creation which the good Lord may will to grant them. The push to destroy the sanctity of marriage and family in Ireland is an attack, with a ferociousness, such as we have never witnessed, in the history of our country, typical of the culture of death that St John Paul saw coming over twenty years ago.        

A resistance is required that will bring about another victory of Jesus Christ in Ireland, Christian since St. Patrick established God’s reign here, overturning the prince of evil and maintained Christian thanks to our own ancestors. We, the people of Ireland must pledge ourselves to Jesus Christ who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, therefore the true human being who, because He was God as well as man, defeated death and everything associated with the culture of death and did it with life;  His own life, crucified and now risen triumphant from the grave. This is why, in hope, we know we can resist and win.

We, the people of Ireland, must do as St Paul tells us: “Be victorious in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the armour of God…for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities, against the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spirit-hosts of wickedness in the regions of the sky” (Eph. 6: 12). The spiritual resistance needed is enormous because of the forces of evil involved, for we are dealing with satan and his rebel angels who are, unfortunately, using human beings as puppets on strings, to destroy the institution of marriage and the family. We have to recognise that these are the destructive forces operating behind every effort to destroy what is sacred, regardless of whatever state, country or governing body the evil comes from. The attack on marriage and family throughout Europe and indeed throughout the wider world, with the non-religious view that marriage and family are not God-made but man made, and therefore it is whatever we want it to be and that we can change it if we want to, is far too well orchestrated to be defeated by mere human abilities alone. St. Paul tells us the truth of who is really behind it and that God has given us all the armour to resist and to fight the good fight and have the victory. St John Paul warned us of the battle ahead when he told us “We are facing and enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the culture of death and the culture of life. We find ourselves not only faced with it, but necessarily in the midst of it”.

The powerful instrument of battle that I want to put before you this evening is the third greatest saint in heaven. I am convinced, unfortunately, that he is also the saint least prayed to. I am speaking of the saint that Pope Francis, together with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, consecrated Vatican city to - St. Joseph. Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican to St Michael the Archangel’s protection, saying, “in consecrating Vatican City to St. Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the evil one and cast him out. The Holy Father continued: "We also consecrate Vatican City to St. Joseph, the guardian of Jesus, the guardian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us even stronger and more courageous in giving space to God in our lives in order to always overcome evil with good."  Pope Francis then asked St. Joseph to "watch over and give peace to this land bathed by the blood of St. Peter," and to increase the faith of Vatican employees and visitors and strengthen the vocations of all the bishops, priests, consecrated women and lay faithful who work and live in the Vatican. Well now, I want us all here this evening to make these words of Pope Francis our own and pray: St. Joseph, watch over and give peace to our land. Let us ask St Joseph to watch over all who live in Ireland and especially when they come to vote in the referendum. May He ask Christ to strengthen them in their baptismal vocation to act so as to work out their salvation and save the marriages and families of our land, bathed by the sweat and tears of St. Patrick and the blood of our Irish martyrs, our own ancestors who died to keep the faith and to pass it onto us so that we may live in a land of peace.  Pope Francis put on a red stole and recited two prayers of consecration: the first to St Joseph and the second to St Michael the Archangel. St. Joseph first, did you notice? This is the saint I want to concentrate on tonight. By carrying out that consecration, Pope Francis gave us and important lesson. We need St. Joseph like never before.

Let us consider some the many titles of this great saint. St. Joseph - Immaculate spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, patriarch of the home, St. Joseph, strength of the family, St. Joseph, terror of demons.   St Joseph, who appeared beside his beloved wife Mary, just a few yards from where we are gathered here, tonight, in Knock. We need to pray and invoke the intercession of St Joseph as much as we pray to Our Lady.

Let us take a closer look at the power of this great saint, who ranks next to Jesus and Mary in heaven. He is our intercessor in heaven way beyond all other saints. Let us reflect on how all the saints supplicate Jesus and Mary. St Joseph however humbly commands his beloved family.  Doctors of the Church note that St Joseph speaks as a father, with the authority given to him by God, who wanted His child to have a right to an earthly father while he lived his earthly life and clearly saw to it that he would not be deprived of him. And Jesus who is most condescending accepts the prayers of St. Joseph as fatherly commands and grants his requests.

When St. John the Apostle was exiled onto the island of Patmos, he tells us in Rev. 4:2 “Behold, a throne stood in heaven with one seated on it. And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.” One of the explanations, given for this by the spiritual authors, is that the Blessed and Most Pure Virgin Mary is the throne, the one who sits on it is Jesus and the rainbow surrounding it are all the saints, chiefly headed by St. Joseph and that it is all three of these, together, that are the heavenly colours of the rainbow round the throne. The red is the blood of Jesus, blue is the purity of Mary and green the sanctity of St. Joseph. And what did God say about this bow? “When I see the bow – the rainbow – I will remember my covenant with you and will not destroy all flesh anymore with floods”. This is God himself saying that these three heavenly colours bring God’s favour instead of His wrath. Knowing this, how could we doubt that if solid devotion to St. Joseph, in addition to true devotion to Jesus and Mary, were to spread among all the people of faith in Ireland, and even among the Irish abroad, who are also praying at this time against the danger threatening their native land, St. Joseph, together with Mary, would obtain for us salvation from this flood of evil that is coming, trying to sweep away the sacredness of marriage and the rights of children to be able to call their parents Mam and Dad or even to have a Mam and a Dad.

What spouse could be worthy of the Immaculate Virgin who, not only lived free of any stain of sin, but was even conceived free from sin? Well, there is only one that the Almighty God made and considered worthy – Joseph; this alone shows the exalted stature of this saint way beyond any other. Chosen by God for this incomparable vocation of being husband, since he was a man, of Mary, who was to be the wife, since she was female, also meant being foster father of not just a child, but the Son of God, the Lord himself.

The magnificence of this meant St Joseph received the most awesome divine graces and favours, not even granted to the Old Testament Patriarchs. Not even Abraham, who became the father of nations, or Moses, who lead his people to freedom, received graces such as those God bestowed on St Joseph. Or not even the great saints like St Peter, first Pope, or St. Paul, who worked harder than anyone else to convert the gentile nations, or, not even to John the Baptist who was Jesus’ own cousin and of whom He said a greater had never been born, or Michael the great Archangel of Heaven who defeated the dragon once and for all time.

No, only to St Joseph! And being made spouse and foster father of Jesus meant Joseph received from Almighty God the authority to command even the Son of God. Have we ever thought about the greatness of this? How highly the Father thought of him? Of course Joseph, with a meekness and humility that was considered by God as being the closest to matching that of his Spouse, the Virgin Mary, would never dream of shouting commands, as happens sometimes when one tries to establish dominion or lordship over another or to treat the other as slave or servant. No! Nevertheless, this was a power given to St Joseph by God. To see it, just think back to when,  after the birth of the Infant King, the Holy Family were in danger from the same destructive forces that were operating then as they are today, only back then the puppets on the string were Herod and his henchmen - who were all operating under the hideousness consistent with the darkness of evil - it was to Joseph that God sent the angel, not to Mary. It was Joseph who  anxiously woke up and told his wife Mary, ‘wake up, come on quick, pack up, bring the child, we’re out of here fast, while it’s still dark, Herod wants to kill our child, this is what God’s angel told me’. So you see, it was Joseph who as father and protector of the family had the responsibility of calling the shots, in love for their salvation of their family and because he always had the light of God in such immeasurable abundance, he was always one step ahead of the posse. God cannot be outsmarted.

Now, if this is the power and authority St Joseph had on earth, how great must  his intercession be in heaven for the brothers and sisters of Jesus – us. Believe me, his power of protection and intercession cannot be matched by any other saint. Personally, I think the intercession of all the saints put together can’t even match it because never was there a saint with a responsibility like Joseph had, never was there one who lived as free from sin or as faithful under such trial.

Even if it has never been and maybe will never be declared by the church, don’t be surprised if you arrive in heaven, and please God you all will, to find out that Joseph was even born free from sin. I didn’t say conceived. That’s a privilege granted by God uniquely to Mary. I said born. So what would this mean? Well it would mean that even though Joseph was conceived with original sin, he was freed from it afterwards while still in the womb. Padre Pio was firmly convinced of this, that St Joseph was consecrated in the womb. What we have in Joseph then, with the Virgin Mary entrusted to his care and direction, is a man in whom the Holy Spirit along with God the Father confided and what they confided to him was what was most dear and precious to them, the second of the Blessed Trinity, who became a baby, a human person. To what most sublime level of virtue had Joseph reached, or always lived, to be entrusted with such a mission? Imagine, to be considered by all Trinity of persons to be entrusted with directing, guiding, providing for and rearing the Son of God, sent from heaven to be born and grow up like any other human being.      
                      
To no other saint was this responsibility given. The sanctity of Joseph had to have been at another level entirely, living and dwelling with God’s only Son, who condescended to be totally dependent on him as Dad.  Then we have Mary who, in giving herself to her husband in marriage, gave him her whole heart. Never did a wife love her husband so ardently, so much so, that St. Bernardine of Siena said that Mary and Joseph, through living the sacredness of their marriage bond in the love of God, became one heart and one soul. Sr Bernadine goes on to explain that the virginal marriage of Mary and Joseph consisted in the union of their wills, the friendship of their hearts, and the love of their souls, increased to such a degree that there never were two hearts more completely identified with each other, and with God, and listen to what he says then – the Holy Spirit would never have formed this union without rendering the husband perfectly similar to the wife. Can you see here the beauty of the sacrament of marriage? Can you see this is a treasure worth fighting for? This is what we are going to fight to preserve. We have the holiness of Mary that outshines that of every creature on earth and the holiness of Joseph, the greatest mirror image of it. Every man and woman united in the sacrament of marriage, and who strive to imitate the beauty of this sacredness in their marriage, which they are supposed to do, and are given the marriage graces to equip them to do so, participate in this holiness of the Holy Family and reflect this beauty of God which shines forth through both spouses. This means that as a married couple, male and female, they share in the joy, peace, love and all the enriching and fulfilling experiences of life which God designed couples to have through marriage and which the Holy Family had in fullness.

This is why we need St. Joseph’s most powerful intercession. St. Bernardine of Sienna said Joseph was the mirror image of Mary’s holiness because of all the graces which converged in him and which he preserved through his purity. Mary and Joseph were like two precious pearls. I believe that if we asked Our lady of Knock right here, Mother Mary, we want a comment from you on your husband, She would describe him, by quoting from the love poem, the Canticle of Canticles (Song of Songs), “My beloved spouse is white as snow by his virginal purity, red as scarlet by his modesty, chosen out of thousands. His head is as the purest gold, his eyes are like doves on the flowing waters, his hands shine like gold, full of the precious stones of all his great works, his face is full of sweetness, all the graces of nature are united in his face; he is beloved of heaven and earth.

According to the Holy Fathers, whoever preserves intact the treasure of virginity ranks higher than the angels. St. Joseph was the first to preserve it in the state of marriage – this was God’s call for him – and he did it in total fidelity. This encourages us all the more to call on his powerful protection to preserve marriage as God instituted it.  St Matthew’s Gospel tells us; when two or more just men on earth come together concerning something important that they need God to grant, asking it in the name of Jesus it shall be granted by the Father in heaven (Mt.18:19). Nothing is more important right now for the good of our country, our society, our family life, than to come together begging God to protect what he has instituted as something sacred - marriage. And in God’s divine and infinite wisdom, this is man and woman united in sacramental marriage, the  environment that St John Paul described as the safest place for children to grow up in the nourishment of the faith.

Let us ask St. Joseph together with Our Lady of Knock to take their Child by the hand, as they did many times in Nazareth, and to go before the throne to ask almighty God, in the beauty of the rainbow which they form and which He loves to look at, for this most special favour for Ireland - to save us from the evil attack on marriage and on Irish family life, which is also an attack on society and the Church, given that marriage and family is the major corner stone of both. When St. Paul was on the way to destroy Christians, God stopped him dead in his tracks with a thunderbolt of dazzlingly bright light. What God did once, He can do again.

So, I would like everybody, as well as keeping up your devotion to Jesus with Holy Mass, and praying rosaries to Mary, that each of you also pray the 30 day St. Joseph’s Holy Cloak Novena to protect the sanctity of marriage in Ireland. May everyone who will vote in the referendum be influenced by this great Saint to defend marriage and family. In the same way that God stopped St. Paul’s mission of evil by converting him on the road to Damascus, that He will, through the intercession of St. Joseph, send down the same thunderbolts of light to stop those who are on a mission to redefine the institute of marriage, going against God’s Holy Will. May they change direction, from darkness to light as suddenly, and adamantly as St Paul did. May every baptised man and woman in Ireland vote with light of Christ.

I have booklets of The Holy Cloak of St. Joseph for each of you. My hope is that each of you will pray it, not just for 30 days, but every day going forward and encourage others to do the same. I know many people who pray this devotion to St Joseph, together with their frequent participation in Mass and fidelity to the rosary, have received the most amazing graces. St. Therese of Avila, Doctor of the Church, said, whatever you ask St. Joseph for, according to God’s will, will be granted to you. Spread the devotion in your families, prayer groups and parishes, and among as many prayerful people as possible and as urgently as possible to defeat the referendum on the 22nd May. Let us ask St Joseph to wrap Ireland in the mantle of His Holy Cloak. Let us trust in the power of St. Joseph, along with his Virgin wife, Mary, to win this huge spiritual war for the benefit of this green island. And may St John Paul’s prayer for Ireland be answered. “May the light of Christ, the light of faith continue always to shine out of Ireland, may no darkness ever be able to extinguish it”.

Ends.
Homily by Fr John Mockler at the Vigil for Ireland in Knock Shrine on Saturday 28th March ’15.

NB
The Holy Cloak Novena should include the prayers of supplication and the Litany to St Joseph. There is an online copy of the novena available free at www.therosary.net

 
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