On December 8, Pope Francis published the Apostolic Letter Patris Cord - with a father’s heart – “on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as patron of the universal Church.” He also decided on a “Saint Joseph Year.”
The letter Patris Cord describes the holy patriarch, his life, his virtues, in a style quite unusual for Francis. The introduction summarizes what the holy gospel tells us about the great St. Joseph. The Letter then goes on to list various aspects of the saint’s fatherhood.
And first, the letter reiterates the love that the Christian people have always had for him, summed up by ite ad Joseph. Then the letter describes his tenderness towards Jesus and Mary, mirroring God’s tenderness. Then follows remarks on his obedience to God; welcoming his mission without fear; his love of work; and finally, his humility, given under the image of “a father in the shadows.”
The same day the letter was promulgated a decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary appeared, signed by the Penitentiary Major, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza. This decree promulgates a special Year of Saint Joseph, which will run from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021. It also announces the indulgences granted throughout this year.
A plenary indulgence is granted on the usual conditions - sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father – “to the faithful who, with a spirit detached from all sin, will participate in the Year of Saint Joseph” in the manner indicated, namely those:
- those who meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or take part in a Spiritual Retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph;
- who, like Saint Joseph, following St. Joseph’s example, perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy;
- who recite the Holy Rosary in family or between engaged couples;
- who entrust their daily activity to the protection of St. Joseph, and every faithful who invokes the intercession of St. Joseph so that those seeking work can find dignifying work;
- who recite the Litany of St. Joseph in favor of the persecuted Church ad intra and ad extra, and for the relief of all Christians who suffer all forms of persecution;
- who recite any prayer or act of piety legitimately approved in honor of St. Joseph, in particular on March 19, May 1, on the 19 of each month and every Wednesday, dedicated to the memory of the saint according to the Latin tradition;
- in the context of a health emergency, the gift of plenary indulgence extends particularly to the elderly, the sick, the dying, and all those who, for legitimate reasons, are unable to leave their homes, if, detached from all sin and with the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions, they recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, comfort of the sick and patron of the good death, offering with confidence to God the pains and trials of their life.
The decree ends with an exhortation to the priests to generously accept the ministry of the sacrament of penance and to administer Holy Communion often to the sick.