Joseph the silent, Fatima and fatherhood

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By Marilu Martinez
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

That the apparition of our Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal was indeed prophetic would be difficult to disaffirm. A myriad of books have been written and published attesting to and propounding its prophecies.

Although our Blessed Mother delivered her messages to the children in the form of a loving mother’s concern and warnings to the world (her children), the reader could easily deduce from the contents of the Fatima messages that they bore prophesies on the gravity of the sins of mankind and the eternity of the horrors of hell; on a period of peace and of war; on the importance of consecrating Russia to curtail the spread of her errors and consequently, the potential mankind’s embrace of a permissive and a godless society.

Books described the initial apparition of angels paving the way for Our Lady’s subsequent monthly appearances; even more books recounted the sun’s prodigious actions and behavior which astounded and elicited inexplicable shock and fear in the witnesses. Authors provided enlightened analysis of the prophecies; one, sought to compile the personal reactions and experiences from witnesses, themselves.

I note the vastness of existing articles, pamphlets, booklets and books that abound on the Fatima apparitions because they dealt mostly with matters which were all primarily on the same subject; yet, many were authored by the best writers of our time.

So, when I came across the surprising and delightful fact that our beloved Blessed St. Joseph with the Child Jesus in his arms was part of the Fatima apparitions on Oct. 13, I eagerly searched for more information but was disheartened at the lack of resources.

However, only for a short time, because the search eventually led me to the existence of a little booklet on “St. Joseph, Fatima and Fatherhood.”

Among the intriguing facts that we know about St. Joseph are his simplicity and the in-the-background role he humbly accepted in spite of his major role in the history of God’s plan for our salvation. Thus, as in the “subduedness” of the manner with which the Gospels treated St. Joseph, his silent appearance at Fatima on Oct. 13 carrying the Child Jesus in his arms as his loving foster father; his involvement and role in the Fatima prophecies; his appearance and his unassuming presence at that apparition as the God-chosen and chaste husband of the Mother of God was in keeping with his meekness and humility. Nevertheless, St. Joseph was an instrument of Divine Providence.

The vision and presence of the Holy Family carried a relevant message of the importance of families today. The family unit is a reflection of what the church should be – the church family of God.

By Joseph’s presence as husband and father, he was instructing us about God’s providential plan of what families should be, and was giving us an example of the importance of fatherhood and of his being the head of the Holy Family.

As one Fatima author noted, was the vision of the peaceful Holy Family scene, when it was disrupted by the sun’s gyrations during the Miracle of the Sun, an “ominous foreboding of the consequences for the world which are sure to be felt if the true fatherhood of God and the traditional strong role of the father of the family (and the family unit) are rejected by mankind?”

There are no records of any words spoken by St. Joseph in his three roles as an instrument of Divine Providence, as the spouse of the Virgin Mary nor as the chaste foster father of Jesus. Initially, devotion to St. Joseph was nonexistent in the early church until the 14th century when scholarly treatises put forth reasons to honor him; in fact, it was recorded that it was St. Therese of Avila who provided the impetus for a gradual devotion. Pope Leo XIII in 1889 and Pope John Paul II in 1989 acknowledged and recognized the importance of linking and remembering St. Joseph to the rosary. Pope Leo XIII prescribed this prayer to be recited after the rosary in the month of October:

In our tribulation we fly to Thee, O blessed Joseph; and, after imploring the help of thy most holy Spouse, we ask also with confidence for thy patronage. By the affection which united thee to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and the paternal love with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee to look kindly upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ acquired by His precious Blood, and by thy powerful aid to help us in our needs.

Protect, most careful Guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen people of Jesus Christ. Keep us, most loving father, from all pestilence of error and corruption. Be mindful of us, most powerful protector, from thy place in heaven, in this warfare with the powers of darkness: and, as thou didst snatch the Child Jesus from danger of death, so now defend the holy church of God from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Guard each one of us by thy perpetual patronage, so that, sustained by thine example and help, we may live in holiness, die a holy death, and obtain the everlasting happiness of heaven. Amen.