Tuesday 6 June 2023

Redemptoris Custos - Guardian of Redeemer Anniversary Edition - Pope John Paul II

Redemptoris Custos 
Guardian of Redeemer Anniversary Edition
Pope John Paul II
Joseph Atkinson (Commentary)
ISBN 9780819831309

This book was another volume I read as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading, during the month Father Mark assigned sections to be read and Redemptoris Custos and provided three videos providing the commentary on this volume. It is always interesting to go back and read church documents from former popes. Especially when like this one it has such a clear concise message, and yet a message that would be brought into question by many outside and even in the church today. 

The description of this volume states:

“Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer. This anniversary edition provides the complete text of the apostolic exhortation, accompanied by a commentary by Joseph Atkinson, which makes Pope John Paul II's language more accessible. Reading the exhortation becomes a way to fully recognize and appreciate Saint Joseph's role in salvation history. In this special Anniversary Edition, we can delve more deeply into our understanding of the foster-father of Jesus.”

The official title of this document is: 

“Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos Of The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II On The Person And Mission Of Saint Joseph In The Life Of Christ And Of The Church”

Over the last few years I have read several volumes in Saint Joseph, including Fr Goring’s St. Joseph the Protector: A nine-day preparation for entrustment to St. Joseph. In part I am drawn to Saint Joseph as a father myself, and he is also the Patron Saint of Canada. I am always willing to give a book on Saint Joseph a try. So let us now return to the volume at hand. I highlighted numerous passages while reading this book. And Went back and marked a few more after Fr Mark’s videos. Some of those passages are:

“On the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries, and in line with the veneration given to Saint Joseph over the centuries, I wish to offer for your consideration, dear brothers and sisters, some reflections concerning him "to whose custody God entrusted his most precious treasures". I gladly fulfil this pastoral duty so that all may grow in devotion to the Patron of the Universal Church and in love for the Saviour whom he served in such an exemplary manner.”

“While remaining a virgin, she who by law is his "spouse" has become a mother through the power of the Holy Spirit. And when the Son in Mary's womb comes into the world, he must receive the name Jesus. This was a name known among
the Israelites and sometimes given to their sons. In this case, however, it is the Son who, in accordance with the divine promise, will bring to perfect fulfilment the meaning of the name Jesus - Yehosua' - which means "God saves".”

“While it is true that Joseph did not respond to the Angel's "announcement" in the same way as Mary, he "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took
his wife". What he did is the clearest "obedience of
faith" (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26; 2 Cor 10:5-6).”

“Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery.
Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God's self-revelation in Christ, and he does so from the very beginning.”

“Looking at the Gospel texts of both Matthew and Luke, one can also say that Joseph is the first to share in the of faith the Mother God, and that in doing so he supports his spouse in the faith of the divine annunciation. He is also the first to be placed by God on the path of Mary's "pilgrimage of faith". It is a path along which--especially at the time of Calvary and Pentecost-Mary will precede in a perfect way.”

“Precisely because of this unity, Pope John XXIII, who had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, directed that Joseph's name be inserted in the Roman Canon of the Mass-which is the perpetual memorial of redemption-after the name of Mary and before the Apostles, Popes and Martyrs.”

“And while it is important for the Church to profess the virginal conception of Jesus, it is no less important to uphold Mary's marriage to Joseph, because juridically Joseph's fatherhood depends on it. Thus one understands why the
generations are listed according to the genealogy of Joseph: "Why", Saint Augustine asks, "should they not be according to Joseph? Was he not Mary's husband?...”

“Saint Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood. It is precisely in this way that, as the Church's Liturgy teaches, he "cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation" and is truly a "minister of salvation".”

“Joseph is the one whom God chose to be the "overseer of the Lord's birth", the one who has the responsibility to look after the Son of God's "ordained" entry into the world, in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws.”

“Joseph, of whom Mary had just used the words "your father", heard this answer. That, after all, is what all the people said and thought: Jesus was "the son (as was supposed) of Joseph" (Lk 3:23).”

“In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Church venerates the memory of Mary the ever Virgin Mother of God and the memory of Saint Joseph, because "he fed him whom the faithful must eat as the bread of eternal life"”

“But the silence of Joseph has its own special eloquence, for thanks to that silence we can understand the truth of the Gospel's judgement that he was "a just man" (Mt 1: 19).”

“This bond of charity was the core the Holy Family's life, first in the poverty of Bethlehem, then in their exile in Egypt, and later in the house of Nazareth. The Church deeply venerates this Family, and proposes it as the model of all families. Inserted directly in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Family of Nazareth has its own special mystery.”

“At a difficult time in the Church's history, Pope Pius IX, wishing to place her under the powerful patronage of the holy patriarch Joseph, declared him "Patron of the Catholic Church". For Pius IX this was no idle gesture, since by virtue of the sublime dignity which God has granted to his most faithful servant Joseph, "the Church, after the Blessed Virgin, his spouse, has always held him in great honour and showered him with praise, having recourse to him amid tribulations".”

“Already at the beginning of human redemption, after Mary, we find the model of obedience made incarnate in Saint Joseph, the man known for having faithfully carried out God's commands.”

“May Saint Joseph obtain for the Church and for the world, as well as for each of us, the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this document. This is available online on the Vatican website. There are a number of different print and eBook editions of the volume. This was an excellent read, and I was blessed to have read the book and listened to Father Mark’s teachings on it. A great volume I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Other reviews and articles about Saint Joseph:
Consecration to St. Joseph - Fr. Donald Calloway
Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph Compiled from Traditional Sources- TAN Books
Prayer to Saint Joseph Prayer of the Day
Joseph of Nazareth - Federico Suarez
Devotion to St. Joseph - F. Declaux
Go to St. Joseph: Do Whatever He Tells You - Brian Kiczek
Saint Joseph: Help for Life's Emergencies - Kathryn J. Hermes
Feast of Saint Joseph 2018 Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal Patron of Canada
Companion to Saint Joseph - J.B. Midgley - CTS Companions Series
Saints of the Roman Canon - Julien Chilcott-Monk - CTS Living the Liturgy Series
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues - Jean M. Heimann

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