March 19 is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. His day is one of the two Solemnities in Lent (the other being the Annunciation, which this year will actually fall after Easter). The only thought I use to give this fact was that it means that when March 19 falls on a Friday in Lent we are not bound to abstain from meat. In other words, all I really cared about was if I could eat a steak, on a Friday, in Lent.
The more I think about it though, the more I think it is so wonderful that we honor Saint Joseph in Lent, and normally toward the end of it. The Collect for the day asks that by Saint Joseph's intercession the Church "may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation…". Now, of course, on a very practical level this makes sense. Joseph was called to watch over Jesus and Mary in the earthly life. However, even now, he has a special place watching over the Church. How amazing is it that in the season that the Church has dedicated to helping form new members of the faith, we commemorate Saint Joseph. In a season where the mysteries of Salvation are opened to new members of the community, we entrust them, and the whole Church, to the very person who, from the beginning, was tasked with protecting and providing for the very Son of God who inaugurated in a special way our salvation.
Saint Joseph is also associated in a special way with care for the poor. The Saint Joseph's table, which started as an Italian tradition and has spread to many other places, is a way to provide for the less fortunate in a given area. Even if you do not create your own table, the devotion, especially because of its occurrence during Lent, reminds us of the special care and concern that needs to be taken for the poor.
Saint Joseph is also the principal patron of Canada and so in a special way we can and should stop to remember the Church in Canada, the government, and all those who live and work in this country.
Even though Saint Joseph is not going to help get any of us out of our Lenten abstinence this year, his day is one that should not just pass us by.
Saint Joseph, Patron of Canada and the Universal Church, pray for us.
Rebecca Spellacy is the Associate Director for Liturgy in the Office of Formation for Discipleship at the Archdiocese of Toronto. Her series of Lenten Reflections continues next week on Our Faith Alive.