St. Joseph hailed as model for upcoming 'Year of Faith'
PHILADELPHIA — The author of a landmark work on St. Joseph says Christ's foster father offers believers a model for building trust in God during the newly-announced "Year of Faith."
"This was a man of faith, like Abraham. He was being asked to believe the impossible," said Father Joseph Chorpenning, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales who compiled two decades of research and lectures in his book "Joseph of Nazareth Through the Centuries" (St. Joseph's University Press).
"We need to bring these figures down to earth for people," Father Chorpenning said Oct. 18, two days after Pope Benedict announced the 2012-2013 "Year of Faith" that will begin Oct. 11, 2012. "It's challenging, but that's what needs to happen. When you look at Joseph, you have to look at him as a man of faith."
Father Chorpenning holds up the chaste husband of the Virgin Mary as a figure of inspiration "in a world that's losing faith, at every level of society."
Blessed John Paul II also regarded Jesus' earthly father as a prototype for believers in their journey of faith. Vatican II's document on the Church, "Lumen Gentium," spoke of Mary's "pilgrimage of faith" as an example for all followers of Christ. It was only later that Blessed John Paul II spoke of St. Joseph in the same terms, in the apostolic exhortation "Redemptoris Custos" ("Guardian of the Redeemer").
"At the beginning of Mary's pilgrimage of faith, she meets Joseph – and his faith. So these two people are united in a pilgrimage of faith. Her journey, of course, extends beyond Joseph's, since it's assumed he died before Christ's public life. But they were united, in the mystery of the Incarnation, in this common pilgrimage."
Both Mary and Joseph, in different circumstances, encountered angels who described the mystery of God's arrival among mankind. But both saints, Father Chorpenning observed, needed years of life experience to deepen their understanding of what they believed by faith.
"What he's being told, in that annunciation, goes against everything that he's being told by the culture," Father Chorpenning said. "First of all, they were both probably relatively young. Joseph – as a devout Jew – would have expected to marry and to have many children. A man's identity was defined by his family."
Yet, "he's being told: 'You're going to give that up. You are to take Mary into your home; you are to surrender yourself, with all that involves, to taking Mary into your home and acting as a father to the child she is going to bear, even though you did not biologically generate him.'"
After 20 years of research, Father Chorpenning still speaks with amazement about the humble man who served as the foster father to Jesus.
"I mean, this was a carpenter from Palestine! And you see the pictures and the paintings, where he's sitting on a throne with a crown holding the Christ Child – I say to people, 'Well, we certainly have come a long way from Nazareth.'"
"Obviously, there is a theological meaning to those images. But I think what we need to emphasize to people is that Joseph and Mary were people who responded to what God was asking of them, as it was being revealed to them, in the circumstances of their daily lives."
— Catholic News Agency
- Read the Catechism in a year: A little to read every day, emailed each morning during the Year of Faith
- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy