Thoughts for Feast of St Joseph from Fr Willie Doyle

With great earnestness recommend to His mercy the poor souls who are in their agony. What a dreadful hour, an hour tremendously decisive, is the hour of our death! Surround with your love these souls going to appear before God, and defend them by your prayers.

COMMENT: Today is the feast of St Joseph. We traditionally pray to St Joseph for many things – work, fidelity to one’s vocation, purity, the protection of the Church, even selling a house. But St Joseph is also regarded as the patron saint of a happy death, because tradition tells us that he died with Jesus and Mary at his side – a happy death indeed!

Today is also the anniversary of Fr Doyle’s mother – Christina Doyle died at 7am on this day in 1915. Fr Doyle had just returned from a mission in Glasgow and was with her when she died, and was able to say Mass immediately for her soul. Fr Doyle’s parents are buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, very near Dalkey where they lived. I visited yesterday, and despite having the grave number, I spent an hour searching for the grave in vain! Whoever designed the graveyard more than 100 years ago did not fully understand the notion of sequential numbering – there is no order to the layout of the graves in the old section of the cemetery. Fr Doyle’s father’s anniversary is next week; I will have another go at looking for the grave before then, and post a photo if I find it. We should remember Fr Doyle’s mother in our prayers today.

I would also like to ask prayers for a family friend, Melinda, who is very close to death. She is a young mother and has extensive metastatic cancer. She has been sick for some time and has been close to death for more than a week now, although she regularly manages to find new strength and resolve to continue living. Please ask St Joseph to intercede for her today.

St Joseph is a powerful patron; many saints were greatly devoted to him. St Teresa of Avila tells us that he always answered her prayers. Blessed Pius IX proclaimed St Joseph as the patron of the Universal Church. We should have recourse to him for the needs of the Church, and of course in particular for the Pope, who was of course named after St Joseph by his parents.

Today is also the first anniversary of the Pope’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland. The text can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20100319_church-ireland_en.html

Perhaps we should read this letter again today, and examine our consciences. As individuals, have we followed its suggestions? Have we offered up prayers and penances in reparation? How have we responded as parishes? As a country?

St Joseph, pray for us!