Thursday, March 19, 2020

Saint Joseph: Guardian of All Our Families

"With the Blessed Mother, I beg the Lord to free the world from every form of pandemic" (Pope Francis).

On this Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Pope Francis and the entire Church in Italy prayed the Rosary for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and for all those who are suffering because of it. People throughout the world were invited to join with this prayer at 9:00 PM European Time (4 PM EDT in United States of America). Italy remains the hardest hit nation after China, with many other countries (including the USA) experiencing the same patterns of spread of the virus as the Italians passed through ten days ago.

Various precautions have been established or recommended by many nations, in what has already become a unique phenomenon of global solidarity to slow the spread of COVID-19 and seek better treatments for those who develop serious illness.

The prayer from Rome was livestreamed throughout Italy and the world: a small and selected gathering of priests, religious sisters, and faithful (observing the recommended space distance between each other) said a group rosary with hymns and meditations at the basilica of San Giuseppe al Trionfale. The Pope joined in from his residence at Santa Marta, while Italians prayed from their homes (with the entire nation observing quarantine).

The meditation covered the five "Luminous Mysteries" of Jesus's public ministry. The Pope had announced his participation yesterday, at which time he said, "Mary, Mother of God, health of the sick, leads us to the luminous and transfigured face of Jesus Christ and to his Heart, to whom we turn with the prayer of the rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Custodian of the Holy Family and of our families."

Earlier today, Pope Francis offered these reflections:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I unite myself to the moment of prayer that the [Italian] Episcopal Conference is promoting, as a sign of unity for the whole country.
In this unprecedented situation, in which everything seems to be crumbling, let us help each other hold fast to what really matters. This is the advice I have received in so many letters from your Pastors who, in sharing such a dramatic moment, seek to sustain your hope and your faith with their word.
The Rosary is the prayer of the humble and of the saints. In its mysteries, they contemplate, along with Mary, the life of Jesus, the merciful face of the Father. O, how much we all need to be truly comforted, to be wrapped in [this] loving presence!
We measure the truth of this experience through our relationship with others. At this moment, they are our closest relatives [with whom we live during the quarantine]. Let us be close to one another, being the first to be charitable, understanding, patient and forgiving.
Though you may be confined to your own homes, allow your hearts to expand so they may be available and welcoming to all.
Tonight, we are praying together, entrusting ourselves to the intercession of Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family, Guardian of all our families. Even the carpenter of Nazareth knew precariousness and bitterness. Though he worried about the future, he knew how to walk the darkness of certain moments, always letting himself be guided by God's will without reservation.
The Pope also offered this prayer to Saint Joseph (text from Vatican News English):
Prayer to Saint Joseph
Protect, O Holy Guardian, this our nation.
Enlighten those responsible for the common good, so that they might know — like you do — how to care for those entrusted to their responsibility.
Grant intelligence and knowledge to those seeking adequate means for the health and physical well-being of their brothers and sisters.
Sustain those who are spending themselves for those in need, even at the cost of their own safety: volunteers, nurses, doctors who are on the front lines in curing the sick.
Bless, O St Joseph, the Church: beginning with her ministers, make her the sign and instrument of your light and your goodness.
Accompany, O St Joseph, our families: with your prayerful silence, create harmony between parents and their children, in a special way with the youngest.
Preserve the elderly from loneliness: grant that no one might be left in desperation from abandonment and discouragement.
Comfort those who are the most frail, encourage those who falter, intercede for the poor.
With the Virgin Mother, beg the Lord to liberate the world from every form of pandemic.