The month of October brings with it our annual observance of Respect Life Month. As part of the Year of St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis, this year’s celebration highlights the example of that great saint.

As the faithful protector of both Jesus and Mary, we find in St. Joseph a profound reminder of our own call to welcome, safeguard, and defend God’s precious gift of human life.

Like St. Joseph, we are also called to care for those God has entrusted to us–especially vulnerable mothers and children.

May we imitate St. Joseph’s faithful trust and courage as we work to uphold the dignity of every human life. St. Joseph, defender of life, pray for us!

Excerpt from Statement of Respect for Life Month from Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Chairman U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities

A Prayer to St. Joseph, Defender of Life

Dearest St. Joseph,
at the word of an angel,
you lovingly took Mary into your home.
As God’s humble servant, you guided
the Holy Family on the road to Bethlehem,
welcomed Jesus as your own son
in the shelter of a manger,
and fled far from your homeland
for the safety of both Mother and Child.
We praise God that as their faithful protector,
you never hesitated to sacrifice
for those entrusted to you.
May your example inspire us also
to welcome, cherish, and safeguard
God’s most precious gift of life.
Help us to faithfully commit ourselves
to the service and defense of human life
—especially where it is
vulnerable or threatened.
Obtain for us the grace
to do the will of God in all things.
Amen

Respect Life Month 2021 | Reflection

St. Joseph: Faithful Protector of Mother and Child

The infant Christ “came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph” (PC 5). The humble and often hidden carpenter of Nazareth accompanied Mary in her pregnancy, assisted at the birth of the Messiah in a stable, presented Jesus in the Temple, fled with his family far from their homeland to protect them, and lovingly raised Jesus as his own son in the years to come.

While the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary to announce that she would bring forth the Savior of the world, it was revealed to Joseph in a series of dreams how God’s plans would be brought to fulfillment. As Pope Francis highlights, “God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child” (PC 5).

Dear St. Joseph, help us to imitate your faithful trust and courage.

Like every other human family, the Holy Family had to confront real and concrete challenges. Yet, “in every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat’” (PC 3). His “yes” to the Lord meant that regardless of the hardship and personal sacrifice to himself, he consistently chose to put the needs of Mary and Jesus before his own. Joseph’s devotion helps reveal to us our own call to show special care for the lives of those whom God has entrusted to us.

During this Year of St. Joseph, each of us can find in him “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble” (PC, Intro). Joseph shows us how to say “yes” to life, despite our own fears, frailties, and weaknesses. For it is Joseph who was “chosen by God to guide the beginnings of the history of redemption. He was the true ‘miracle’ by which God saves the child and his mother” (PC 5).

May we, too, be miracles in the lives of those who are most in need, especially at the beginning and end of life. Dear St. Joseph, you who were “able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence” (PC 5), help us to imitate your faithful trust and courage.

Excerpts from Patris corde, © 2020, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2021, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

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