Pope Francis recently proclaimed 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph as it is the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as the Patron of our Universal Church. How apropos that the Holy Father wrote a letter entitled Patris Corde (With A Father’s Heart) in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic where everyone’s lives have been affected and each person is called to practice great patience and offer hope in challenging times–so similar to the way Joseph lived.
This image of Joseph as a loving, obedient, and courageous father of Jesus was painted by Italian artist, Guido Reni, in 1635, just two years after the Daughters of Charity were founded in Paris, France. It’s possible that our founders, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, and even some of our early Sisters might have viewed this image! St. Joseph was such an example of a father tenderly loving his son and a father obediently following God’s will when he didn’t fully understand its purpose. The carpenter from Nazareth had to trust deeply in God while dealing with the concrete challenges his family faced in a world particularly marked by poverty, oppression, and injustice.
From the early beginnings of the Daughters of Charity, St. Vincent guided us to pray to St. Joseph to help us remain fervent in our vocation and to “send good workers to the Company (i.e., Community) to work in His vineyard” (St. Vincent de Paul, CCD,V, #1720; Matthew 9:37-38). We have continued this practice every day when we offer this prayer for vocations created by St. Vincent de Paul and conclude with asking St. Joseph to pray for us:
O Hope of Israel, its Savior in time of trouble, look down with kindness from heaven. Take a close look at your vineyard and provide whatever is necessary for it. Swell its streams, increase its fruit, and bring to maturity the vineyard which your right hand has planted.
Indeed, the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. We ask therefore, Lord of the harvest, send laborers into your harvest. Multiply your people and increase their joy so that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
This is your house, O Lord God, this is your house. Let there not be in it, I beg you, even one stone which your holy hand has not placed there. Preserve in your name those whom you have called and make them truly holy. Amen.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Written by Sister Jean Rhoads, D.C.
Vocation Director Province of St. Louise