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With the crises of manhood and fatherhood playing out in real life, many priests and laymen this Father's Day are turning to St. Joseph for guidance.
This twofold crisis has been coming to a head for decades. Fatherlessness has been emerging as a top domestic problem since at least the 1960s with President Lyndon Johnson's welfare program giving financial incentives to unwed mothers. Another hit to fatherhood came with the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s, which resulted in an era of abortion. In this context, St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, has become the "go-to" saint to remedy fatherless confusion, with the entire year dedicated to his honor and power.
Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life and someone who has been persecuted by his superiors for emulating the protecting example of St Joseph, realizes how abortion and fatherlessness are related.
"This is the moment for fathers," Pavone told Church Militant, noting:
The Church realizes it, in the renewed devotion we see to St. Joseph. The pro-life movement realizes it, as we in Rachel's Vineyard and Silent No More minister to more and more men who come to us grieving the loss of children to abortion, and as more men come forward to march for life.
"Let's pray specifically for fathers, including those who have lost children to abortion," Pavone urged.
Father Donald Calloway, author of Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, who almost singlehandedly brought St. Joseph out of the shadows of the post-Vatican II world, confirmed the crisis — and its solution in the person of St. Joseph.
"There can be no doubt that the world and the Church are undergoing a crisis of manhood and fatherhood. I often describe it as a kind of 'patricide' [a killing of the fathers]," Calloway told Church Militant. "But for this reason, a year of St. Joseph could not have come at a better time." Calloway added:
The Church and the world need men like St. Joseph. He is the model husband and father. Women and children deserve men and fathers who are strong and protective, yet gentle, loving, and trustworthy, like St. Joseph. Every Catholic heart wants shepherds like St. Joseph as well, priests and bishops — spiritual fathers — who are gentlemen, chivalrous warriors, protectors and defenders.
Father Calloway reminds the bishops, the shepherds of the Church, to don the virtues of St. Joseph and to beware of the treachery of the Devil.
"The bride of Christ deserves to have leaders who are willing to fight off the wolves for love of the flock, slay spiritual dragons, and preach the truth with passion and zeal," the priest said. "The Devil knows this and it's why he is attacking and corrupting the hearts of men and fathers."
But Calloway asserted that "the vocation of all men is to be at the service of those entrusted to their love and care," adding this promise: "Many men have forgotten this today, but St. Joseph will help them remember. He will help men be holy and chivalrous again. All men discover in St. Joseph a model of strength, fidelity, heroism and virtue."
"This Father's Day, pray for a renewal of manhood, a renewal of fatherhood, in the Church and in the world," pleaded Calloway.
Catholic laymen are also turning to St. Joseph for strength and example. Jesse Romero, an author and a co-host of Virgin Most Powerful Radio, confirmed to Church Militant his devotion to St. Joseph.
"Saint Joseph is my role model as a father and husband," Romero declared. "Our Lord has set up order and protection through patriarchy. Our Culture of Death has embraced 'patricide' — the death of fathers."
But Romero noted in order "to stay the course of his Catholic faith," he looks to Scripture that refers to St. Joseph or that St. Joseph himself would have recited. In Matthew's Gospel, Romero notes, "We see St. Joseph protecting the Holy Family from King Herod and his troops who wanted to kill the baby Jesus" (Matthew 2:13–16).
The radio co-host envisions St. Joseph praying over his household "comprised of Our Lady and Jesus" and reciting from the book of Numbers: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24–26).
Even though he is now "an empty nester," Romero says he prays "a blessing over my children, their spouses and their families before I go to bed at night, following the example of St. Joseph."
Another layman, Hungarian pro-lifer Dr. Imre Téglásy, himself a survivor of abortion, as well as a husband, and father of 12 children, asked Church Militant to share a Father's Day greeting to his "American brothers." Téglásy, a major player in helping to pass Hungary's recent anti-LGBT law, invited his American brothers to realize the "blessedness" of living a pro-family lifestyle like St. Joseph.
"We have a saying in Hungary about expectant mothers — we say they are in a 'blessed state' (áldott állapotban)," he related. "As a father, I feel I am blessed too — not just because of all the children I have fathered and care for, but for any of the children I can save from abortion by fighting for their lives — however I can — in the tyrannical world of modern Herods."
One priest forced to speak anonymously for fear of persecution by his bishop conveyed to Church Militant the significance of St. Joseph's title of "protector," as Romero and Téglásy have noted. The priest made clear that saccharine images of the saint depicting him as timid and a pushover do not do him justice. He observed:
Saint Joseph is often depicted in the Church's iconography holding a staff. This depiction is far from accidental; before guns, all men carried at least a staff to protect themselves, as well as those individuals they were responsible for!
And although the Scriptures do not tell us much about who the man Saint Joseph was, it can be presumed that St. Joseph, over the course of his long life, used his staff repeatedly to defend and protect himself as well as the Holy Family.
"Many of our bishops these days are all to eager to jump on the bandwagon for gun control and so forth, and they forget the fundamental responsibility of fathers to defend themselves and their families from predators," continued the priest. "So, this weekend as we celebrate Father's Day, it is so important to underscore the importance of the fathers among us to defend their families against every [sic] and all predators that come their way."
In the spirit of St. Joseph, Church Militant is supporting persecuted priests, our spiritual fathers, having hosted this week nine priests who have been punished by their bishops for their orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church.
To help these faithful pastors, who in many cases have been targeted with false accusations, trumped-up charges, whisper campaigns and even legal action, Church Militant has set up an online donation forum to help them with legal fees.
And if we cannot donate money, let us, as the anonymous priest recommended, rise up in unison this Father's Day wherever we are to pray an "Our Father" for our spiritual fathers with us in the priesthood and another "Our Father" for our biological fathers, living and deceased.
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