One of the most prominent people in the life of Jesus Christ, St. Joseph, his foster father, is also one of the quietest. And as such, he can be one of the most overlooked people in the Bible and in the Holy Family.
But Fr. Donald Calloway is hoping to change that, because he thinks the world needs St. Joseph now more than ever. Calloway told CNA that he thinks people today are confused about meaning.
People often approach the priest “so confused about the times we’re living in when it comes to marriage and family, and you’ve got all this gender ideology stuff today. People are just really confused about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman.”
Because he has personally had a devotion to St. Joseph for a long time, Calloway said he started wondering several years ago whether there was a consecration to the foster-father of Jesus, similar to the popular consecration to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort.
If such a consecration already existed, Calloway wanted to promote it – he thought St. Joseph’s intercession and example were the antidotes to the confusion people were experiencing. But when he asked at the Vatican and various religious orders, he found that a consecration to St. Joseph did not yet exist in the Church.
“They said, no Father, that’s a great idea. But they said, no, we’ve never heard of anything like that. And so I said, well, I’m going to do it then,” Calloway said.
For the next three years, Calloway started researching, praying, and compiling a consecration to St. Joseph, the earthly husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus.
Because of the popularity of the Marian consecration, Calloway said he’s had Catholics ask him whether the consecration to St. Joseph would somehow take away from their consecration to Mary.
“The word (consecration) technically means setting something aside for a holy purpose. We consecrate altars, for example, because we’re going to use it for Mass. Or we consecrate people we have in religious communities and such,” he said.
“So when we consecrate ourselves to Mary or Joseph, we’re basically entrusting ourselves to their spiritual care because they’re our spiritual parents. …and the answer is no, because we’re not members of a one-parent spiritual family,” he said.
In his book, Calloway writes that consecration to St. Joseph means “that you acknowledge that he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. To show it, you entrust yourself entirely to his paternal care so that he can lovingly help you acquire his virtues and become holy…St. Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his loving attention, protection and guidance.”
The first person to entrust themself to the spiritual care of Joseph and Mary was actually Jesus, he added.
“And so we give ourselves to their care, just like Jesus did when he was growing up. He lived under their roof, he was under their care, and he didn’t just go to his mom, you know, he went to his dad as well to St Joseph. So that’s what it is, entrusting ourselves to St. Joseph’s spiritual fatherhood to help us grow in virtue and closer to Christ.”
The consecration to St. Joseph also shares some similarities to the consecration to Mary by Louis DeMonfort, Calloway added like the length (33 days) and the general format, which consists of daily reflections on the life and virtues of St. Joseph, as well as special prayers.
“In the 18th century, when (DeMonfort) came up with his method, he made it 33 days, which is really good (because) if it was only like five or nine days, it’s not enough, you’re not going to really be able to cover a lot of material,” Calloway said.
On the other hand, “if it’s like three months long, people are going to be like, yeah, this is too much. So one month is a good amount of time. On a daily basis you go through some readings, you unpack some of the titles, the honors, the privileges associated with St. Joseph… and then you end every day with some prayers. And by the end of that, you’re like, wow, I really know this guy now. I really feel that I want him as part of my spiritual life.”
Like the Marian consecration, the St. Joseph consecration can be done individually or within a small group.
John De Guzman, a seminarian for the diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, told CNA that he found out about the consecration to St. Joseph through Fr. Calloway’s social media pages. He started doing the consecration by himself, and then was joined by one of his fellow seminarians.
De Guzman said he was inspired to do the consecration because he felt that St. Joseph was the member of the Holy Family with whom he was the least familiar.
“They are the perfect model of a family, and why would I not want to get closer to the father? I’m getting closer to the mother. I’m getting closer to the son. Well, then why not get closer to the father, make this a perfect trinity?” he said.
De Guzman said he thinks the consecration has been so popular because the world is desperately looking for examples of manhood, fatherhood, and loving families.
Many of the issues that adults deal with today stem from some kind of instability in their own family of origin, he added.
“It can stem from tensions with the father, or a lack of a father, or the lack of some spiritual and emotional intimacy…the lack of human interaction and relationship with a father,” he said.
The consecration, on the other hand, is bringing to light “that Saint Joseph is your human father that you can really develop a relationship with,” he said.
“Saint Joseph was not immaculately conceived. Saint Joseph was not a perfect human being,” he said.
“If anything, Saint Joseph probably was in one of the more difficult situations of his time, being married to the most beautiful woman out there, (his foster) son is the Lord. For me, that would probably be a playground for temptations where the devil can attack. But Saint Joseph triumphs. And the beautiful thing is he’s not God, so there’s that human relationship, the human aspect that you can connect to.”
Engaged couple Robert Morgan and Sarah Kalonick told CNA that the consecration helped them prepare for their upcoming marriage and family life.
In their regular marriage prep, they are given a mentor couple with whom they can meet and ask questions about married life. Kalonick said they’ve started to look to Joseph and Mary as their “other mentor couple.”
“(The consecration) really, in a very accessible and simple way, lets you focus on this hidden Saint,” she said. “What are his qualities? What are his virtues? Who is he?” Like De Guzman, Morgan said he found it easier to relate to St. Joseph than to Mary when it came to the Holy Family.
“I think some of it is trying to reclaim a masculinity that’s been lost over the years in our faith,” he said. “And also as a man, it’s a little easier for me to get the perspective of St. Joseph in Jesus’s story, than it is for me to look from Mary’s side of things.”
On the other hand, Kalonick said that as a woman, growing closer to St. Joseph has been a “healing experience” for her in light of some of the hurt she experienced in past relationships with men.
By Mary Farrow
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