On December 8 we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In telling Mary that she is favoured by God, the angel Gabriel is telling her that she is an essential part of God’s unfolding plan in salvation history. God’s plan also includes you and me, and our cooperation helps to assure that the child born of Mary continues to be known in the world. We may not carry Jesus as Mary did in her womb, but we do bear his presence—in our relationships with one another and in our ministry.
Vatican News announced that this year, with the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021.
The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
At the conclusion of his Letter, Pope Francis adds another prayer to St Joseph,
which he encourages all of us to pray together.
Let us now make our prayer to him:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil.