Book review by Father Bill Kneemiller
“Consecration to St. Joseph — The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,” by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC.
The title “Consecration to St. Joseph — The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father” captures the heart of this wonderful book on St. Joseph. A few months ago, a friend called and asked if I would like to get this book for my birthday. I said, “Sure, thanks!” I was thinking, “OK, but it’s probably a pious, semi-historical reflection on St. Joseph.”
After all, we know little about St. Joseph’s life. The New Testament relates a few of his righteous actions but, literally, he does not say one word. Some of us may have an attitude similar to St. John of the Cross, the 16th century saint who humbly acknowledged a lack of understanding of St. Joseph. He asked St. Teresa of Avila to help him know and love beloved St. Joseph more.
This book helped me to get to know St. Joseph, and I recommend it to all of you, even if you may not have a desire to do a consecration to St. Joseph. I am amazed at the scope and scholarship of this book, which references nearly 100 other sources from the thoughts of the early fathers of the church to recent saints and popes who had a profound relationship with St. Joseph.
St. Thomas Aquinas called the powerful intercession of St. Joseph “unlimited.” Statements of recent popes are amazing. Pope Leo XIII in 1889 taught that St. Joseph’s dignity was “higher than the angels.” In a 1960 homily, Pope John XXIII said it could be “piously believed” that St. Joseph was assumed bodily into heaven.
These thoughts naturally lead to a consideration of the roles of St. Joseph and intercessions regarding our Blessed Mother. Father Calloway’s discussion on this emphasizes how Joseph and Mary embody the new Adam and the new Eve; their roles are complementary, loving. Both of them shine bright in the light of Christ’s Holy Family.
St. Joseph’s role has grown in significance through the years. In 1870, Pope Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph as the patron of the universal church; in 1962, Pope John XXIII decreed that St. Joseph would be included in the Roman Canon (list of saints) of the Mass. Pope Francis extended this inclusion to all eucharistic prayers, and consecrated Vatican City to St. Joseph.
Beyond the knowledge gained and the new appreciation I have for St. Joseph’s role as intercessor, the 33 daily exercises in the book provided me with a great spiritual discipline. Part of each exercise involves the Litany of St. Joseph. A few weeks into the exercises, it occurred to me that with a little bit of focus and determination, I could memorize the litany with its 34 short invocations of St. Joseph’s qualities and virtues.
A month following my consecration to St. Joseph, which means I consider him my spiritual father and want to be like him, I continue to recite the litany during little power walks or while watering my garden. The St. Joseph consecration prayers continue to have an effect on me and the daily litany reminds me of one of our greatest human role models.
One last thought; the name Joseph means “increase.” St. Joseph is the “increaser.” This book encourages readers to make a total consecration to St. Joseph. This involves a “formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God.” St. Joseph gives us his “loving attention, protection and guidance.”
“I believe this is one of Jesus’ great gifts to us, along with sharing his caring mother, to live in the care and warmth of the Holy Family.
(Father William Kneemiller is chaplain at the Kahl Home in Davenport.)
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