Husband of Mary. Foster father of Jesus. Patron of workers and the dying. Patron of the universal Church. As reflected in these and many other titles of esteem, St. Joseph is a beloved saint the world over. In fact, in the course of the last 150 years, devotion to St. Joseph has grown rapidly.
Now, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father is an invitation to the first worldwide movement spreading consecration to St. Joseph. Written by Father Donald Calloway, vicar provincial and vocation director for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, it is endorsed by many notable Catholics, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Jim Caviezel. Before mid-February, the book had sold 40,000 copies and went into its second printing.
Father Calloway spoke with the Register about the great importance of this devotion to St. Joseph ahead of the saint’s feast day, March 19.
What inspired you to write this book?
The times are tough. We’re going through real confusion about things like marriage and family. People are confused today about what it means to be a man, a woman. Gender ideology has gotten a lot of people confused; people don’t even know what bathroom to use.
About three years ago, I said: We’ve got a real anthropological crisis. It seems what we need right now is the real, strong, loving presence of a father to restore some order. When a house is in disarray, it takes a father to get things restored in an orderly way.
I wondered if something like St. Louis de Montfort’s total consecration to Mary existed for St. Joseph. I contacted people all around the world. I asked people in France, Croatia and Poland, “Do you have something like this, something in your language that people did a long time ago, or even recently?” Everybody said, no, nothing like this has ever existed.
I said: Now is the time! I spent three years doing the research, the writing, and I commissioned artwork for the book. It worked out perfectly because this year, 2020, is the 150th anniversary of when Blessed Pius IX declared St. Joseph the patron of the universal Church in 1870.
Why is it important for us to consecrate ourselves to St. Joseph, too, if we’ve done the consecration to Mary?
When you think about it, Jesus himself entrusted himself into the care of Mary and Joseph. In the New Testament, it says he grew under them in wisdom and stature under the watchful care of Mary and Joseph.
So that’s important —because every child in an ideal situation should have a mother and a father. It doesn’t happen sometimes because of various reasons, but it’s the ideal.
We who are brothers and sisters of Jesus are not members of a one-parent spiritual family. Mary is our spiritual mother, and St. Joseph is our spiritual father. So let’s do what Jesus did. Let’s entrust ourselves to Mary and Joseph. That fills the void or closes the gap, so to speak, of participation in the life of the Holy Family in our lives. This consecration brings us a deeper way into the Holy Family. Again, that’s the crisis of our time, the confusion about marriage and the family. Sister Lucia dos Santos, the longest-living visionary of Fatima, once said the final battle between good and evil would be over marriage and family. So what a perfect time to bring in the head of the Holy Family and our spiritual father, St. Joseph.
The Church herself has really been emphasizing St. Joseph for the last 150 years. We’ve got him now in all the Eucharistic Prayers. We have the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. The Litany of St. Joseph has been approved — it’s part of the template for my book. We have apparitions where St. Joseph has appeared: Our Lady of Knock in Ireland in 1879; Fatima in 1917. A lot of people forget that St. Joseph was at Fatima. That’s pretty significant. With all that coming — now is the time of St. Joseph!
You highlight the “10 wonders of St. Joseph.” Please share one with us.
A lot of people just kind of assume that St. Joseph was old. We often do see him depicted as that in artwork or statues. But we’ve never had a teaching on that. The Catholic Church has never stated how old he was. But if you look at it from the point of what was required of him, with all the work, the walking, the labor, the carpentry — and also work with stone — he had to be a younger man. He was required to walk to Jerusalem three times a year, according to the Jewish rituals.
Many saints talk about him being a younger man: not as young as Our Lady, but not an older man. Great saints like St. Josemaría Escrivá talked about that, Venerable Fulton Sheen talked about that; and then [others too, such as] Mother Angelica, also talked about that.
In the book I commissioned a whole bunch of art from artists around the world to paint St. Joseph pictured as young, strong and masculine. That’s one of the wonders that I love because it’s good to see him depicted so young and strong. When you think about it, the other titles are indicative of a strong, younger man. For example, we call him the “Pillar of Families,” the “Guardian of Virgins,” the “Terror of Demons.” These are titles that you wouldn’t think of for an older man. The artwork and those wonders are going to be an eye-opener for a lot of people.
You so convincingly explain why God wants us to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph. Please share a highlight.
One of the things I love — when I found it, I thought, “This is perfect” — is the name Joseph means “Increase.” That means that St. Joseph is the “Increaser.” That’s important. Go back to that statement where it says, “Jesus increased in stature before God and man under the care of Mary and Joseph.” It’s so perfect because we, too, need to increase in virtue and holiness. One of the vital things about this consecration is to help us to become holy, to become virtuous, to bring us closer to Jesus and help us get to heaven. That’s the fruit of it. And this is another fruit: I think more than half of the households today do not have a father. Se we’ve got a whole generation, or two or three, that really have been fatherless, and we need St. Joseph to remind us of the goodness of a father.
Why is devotion to St. Joseph fitting next to Marian devotion? How does that increase St. Joseph’s help for us?
I think of St. Joseph’s role as patron of the universal Church, for example. The word “patron” comes from pater, which means “father.” The father’s role is to take care of his children: Feed them, clothe them, house them, and educate them.
That’s what St. Joseph wants to do for us. That’s why the Church now has come to the great recognition of the dignity of St. Joseph.
Not wanting to put him before Our Lady, of course — he’s not holier than Our Lady — but to emphasize that this man’s role in Christianity was vital and life-giving. And that’s what we need today.
Mary is, in many ways, pointing to him. We call the apparitions “Our Lady of Knock,” “Our Lady of Fatima.” But Our Lady didn’t come alone. She brought with her her husband, our spiritual father. That’s something significant, but at first overlooked.
So Mary is, in a sense, pointing to St. Joseph: Pay attention to him, as a good mother and wife would. A mother and a wife is always going to say, “Pay attention to your father.”
You bring out so many things about St. Joseph that are so true yet have never been treated with such clarity and depth in this way. Please share one.
His great dignity. Sometime people have said, “Is he that great?” Aren’t there other saints greater than him? Aren’t the angels greater than St. Joseph? All that has been fleshed out now by profound statements by popes, saints and mystics.
God never called any other saint or angel “Father.” God never obeyed any saint or angel, but Jesus bent his will to the will of Joseph as his father. That’s profound. He called him, “Father.” Nobody else has God called “Father,” and nobody else has ever loved God, with the exception of Mary, in such a profound way as Joseph did. The only two people that can call, and pray to Jesus as, “my Son” are Joseph and Mary. It shows their great dignity.
You have a great sentence in your book: “The imitation of St. Joseph will spread a revolution of holiness over the earth.” Please explain.
In the past, whenever we had crises in the Church, we’ve always turned to Our Lady to help get us out of it — whether to the Rosary or Marian consecration. That still applies. Today the key issues are anthropological issues: the confusion about sexuality, the family and all of that. Right now we really need St. Joseph as the model of what it means to be a man, the head of the family, a father. We need to call upon his aid as well as Our Lady’s to correct this. That will usher in holiness. It takes a father to restore order.
Many people don’t realize one of St. Joseph’s titles is “Terror of Demons.” Why is that an essential description?
A lot of people today don’t think demons exist. In the culture now, we entertain ourselves with evil things. St. Joseph shows us evil is real; the devil is real. And by his fatherhood, his purity, his humility, he is a terror to demons. All St. Joseph has to do is ask Jesus for something, and it’s going to be given. St. Joseph asks in a paternal way. The devil doesn’t want anyone to go to St. Joseph.
The devil even feared when St. Joseph slept because he talked to God even in his sleep. That’s amazing. Go to Joseph, and there’s going to be a revolution of holiness.
Do you have any final thoughts?
I would like to let them know there’s not only one time in the year to do the consecration. There’s a chart in the book suggesting beginning and ending dates. Some couples are going to do it to end on their marriage anniversary date. The next one, of course, will begin March 30. That one ends on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
I want to encourage everyone to do the consecration. It can be done by individuals, groups, men’s groups, parishes. Go to ConsecrationtoStJoseph.org for information. It’s spreading like wildfire.
Joseph Pronechen is a
Register staff writer.
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Order the book at EWTNRC.com or by calling (800) 854-6316; Item: 4316, $14.95. At least three dioceses have designated 2020 as the “Year of St. Joseph”: Green Bay, Wisconsin; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Lafayette, Louisiana.