With the Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021, granting many indulgences.
Year of Saint Joseph
Pope Francis said the coronavirus pandemic has heightened his desire to reflect on St. Joseph, as so many people during the pandemic have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as Saint Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.
Each of us can discover in Joseph -- the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence -- an intercessor, a support, and a guide in times of trouble.
He also said he wanted to highlight Saint Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility, adding,
Our world today needs fathers!
The goal of this Year of Saint Joseph is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession, and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.
When does the Year of Saint Joseph begin and end?
The year begins December 8, 2020, and concludes on December 8, 2021.
Indulgences during the Year of St. Joseph
An indulgence is the remission of the punishments due to sin that one must expiate in order to be able to see God. This remission is partial or total (plenary indulgence). In order to obtain a plenary indulgence, one must perform the acts mandated by the Church -called indulgenced acts- and meet five conditions (see below).
According to the decree issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary, here are the indulgenced acts during the Year of Saint Joseph:
1. Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Our Father, because Saint Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will."
2. Pray the rosary in family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love, and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”
3. Engaged couples can also receive the indulgence from praying the rosary together.
4. Recite the Litany of Saint Joseph for persecuted Christians.
5. Pray Saint Joseph for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.
6. Pray an approved prayer to Saint Joseph or perform an act of piety in his honor:
a. on the Sunday after Christmas;
b. on the Feast of the Holy Family on December 27;
c. on March 19 (feast of Saint Joseph);
d. on May 1(feast of Saint Joseph the Worker);
e. on the 19th of any month;
f. on every Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to Saint Joseph.
7. Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on Saint Joseph.
8. Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy (comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead).
9. Follow St. Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead).
10. Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of Saint Joseph the Worker.
Special Provision for the Sick
The elderly, the sick, and the dying who are unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic can gain a plenary indulgence by making a prayer to Saint Joseph, hope of the sick and patron of a happy death, offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts of their lives.
The decree noted that in this instance the sick must have the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the usual conditions for an indulgence.
General Conditions for Gaining a Plenary Indulgence
To obtain a plenary indulgence, one must be Catholic and meet the following conditions:
1. Be in the state of grace at least when performing the indulgenced act;
2. Be detached from sin, even venial sin;
3. Make a Confession (20 days before or after the indulgenced act);
4. Make a Communion (20 days before or after the indulgenced act);
5. Pray for the Supreme Pontiff (20 days before or after the indulgenced act)
6. Perform the indulgenced act (special good work with special conditions of place and time).
Prayers to Saint Joseph
The Apostolic Penitentiary permits any prayer to St. Joseph approved by the Church, mentioning in particular the “To Thee, O blessed Joseph” prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII.