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The perfect time for St. Joseph

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Like many people, I was surprised at Pope Francis’ announcement on the feast of the Immaculate Conception that we were starting a year dedicated to St. Joseph. What a perfect moment to go deeper into the life of the patron of the universal church.

I have always found these dedicated years to be fruitful in my own spiritual life. Past examples of such initiatives increased my awareness of and gratitude for the Eucharist, the priesthood and mercy. They enabled me to better articulate church teaching on each theme and offered opportunities to speak of them to others. Most importantly, I was enriched by the awareness that I was delving deeper into these realities united with so many others in the church.

The theme for this year speaks to me particularly because Joseph is my baptismal name, and I am grateful for the relationship I have developed with him over time. But there are additional reasons why I feel St. Joseph hearkening to me now.

St. Joseph is a perfect example of spiritual fatherhood. As my formation continues to become a priest, God willing, my seminary professors continue to emphatically reinforce that the vocation of the priest is a vocation to fatherhood. People will look to me for guidance, especially as it concerns matters of faith, but also as an example of how to live a Christian life. This year will help me to reflect on how I can better show the fatherhood of God by reflecting on St. Joseph who was God's choice to be the human image of fatherhood for the Christ.

St. Joseph is notable for having no recorded words in Scripture or anywhere else; he teaches us only through his example. If recent events have taught us anything, it is that we are living in a culture that has a very limited or even antagonistic response to words. St. Joseph's silence can help me reflect on the importance of striving to be a saintly example rather than coming up with the perfect apologetics or argument.

In short, Joseph is the perfect saint for 2021, and I am looking forward to how this year and theme unfold in my own faith life.

Flaherty, who is from St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington, is in his second year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021