Saint John XXIII had a great devotion to St. Joseph and was sometimes called the Pope of St. Joseph.
On this day in 1961, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, he named St. Joseph as the patron and protector of the Second Vatican Council.
The Council, an opportunity to “throw open the windows of the Church,” addressed the renewal of church life in the modern world. The role of the laity received attention, and it is fitting that St. Joseph was declared to be the Council’s patron.
Consider this passage from Lumen Gentium, one of the principal Council documents. It pertains to the universal call to holiness:
“The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one — that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.”
As the Head of the Holy Family and the carpenter of Nazareth, St. Joseph is the prime example of the holiness found in everyday living.
The above picture shows a mosaic from the sanctuary dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC (nationalshrine.com). It depicts St. Joseph as the protector of the church and the patron of families and working people. On the right is John XXIII presiding at the Second Vatican Council.
Our eyes are always drawn to the strong hands of Joseph as he holds the Child Jesus in his arms. We too can rest in the heavenly protection of St. Joseph. Perhaps if you have never been to the Shrine you will one day make a visit and see this magnificent mosaic in person.