CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 May 2017

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Patron of the Church in China

The Church dedicates the month of March to St. Joseph, one of the few feast days celebrated during Lent. With the exception of St. Joseph on March 19 and the Annunciation on March 25, both of which are part of the proclamation of the Saviour’s birth, Lent is a period of reflection on the Passion of Jesus, an opportunity to follow the way of the cross and live simply.

Lent has an affinity with the humility characterised in life by St. Joseph. Silently putting the welfare of others first, together with Jesus, St. Joseph shouldered the mission of salvation to walk towards resurrection.

In fact, St. Joseph played an important role in the history of salvation. For the sake of Jesus’ birth, he accepted the marriage covenant with Mary. By law he and Mary were a normal couple, except that both kept their virginity and purity.

We believe that St. Joseph’s purity and fidelity were no less than Mary’s and although the Church has dogmas about the perpetual virginity and the Immaculate Conception of Mary, God chose St. Joseph as her spouse and he lived up to this challenge too.

By developing a devotion to St. Joseph, we can further see the close relationship between his noble status and his lofty, virtuous character. In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared him patron of the Church, entrusting the universal Church to his protection. Later, he was honoured as the patron of workers, which is celebrated on May Day, May 1.

He was also declared patron of the Church in China at the first national conference of bishops in China in 1924.

The fact that St. Joseph was a man of lofty virtue has been widely recognised. In response, we should show him our deep devotion, as it is in his humility and his selfless dedication that we give witness to his virtue.

He responded humbly to the words of the archangel, Gabriel. As the head of the Holy Family, he raised Jesus with Mary. He silently accompanied Mary to Bethlehem and led the family into exile in Egypt. He worked hard throughout his simple, assiduous and industrious life to bring up Jesus and accompany Mary.

He was a really great man in an ordinary world and a humble parent characterised by generosity and kindness. He was the head of the Holy Family, as well as the foster father of Jesus.

His greatness lies in the fact that he did God’s will in silence, humility and with perseverance, and in a real sense was part of laying the foundation of the important work of salvation.

The Church in China has been suffering great harm for several decades. In recent years, the news of Sino-Vatican negotiations on establishing some type of relationship has gained great attention from people of good will both inside and outside the Church.

It is relevant to the key issues of the legitimacy of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the ordination of bishops, as well as communion with the universal Church.

We need the intercession of St. Joseph. May we pray fervently in the hope that the Church in our country may truly be one. SE