Pope Benedict XV writes this Motu Proprio promoting the devotion
to St. Joseph to confront social ills and to protect families
against moral degradation
July 25, 1920
At the school of Joseph, let everyone learn to consider the present and passing things in the light of the future that last eternal; and consoling the inevitable hardships of the human condition with the hope of heavenly goods, they should aspire to them by obeying the divine will, living soberly, according to the dictates of justice and piety.
It was good and healthy for the Christian people that Our Predecessor of immortal memory Pius IX decreed the most chaste Spouse of the Virgin Mother of God and Guardian of the Incarnate Word, Joseph, Patron of the Catholic Church, and since next December will be the fiftieth anniversary of the auspicious event, we consider it very useful that it be solemnly celebrated by the whole world.
If We take a look at this period, a long series of pious institutions appear before our eyes which attest that the cult of the Most Holy Patriarch has gradually grown up to now among the faithful of Christ. If we then consider the calamities from which mankind is afflicted today, it appears even more necessary that this cult be greatly increased among peoples and more widespread everywhere.
In fact, after the very serious tension of the war, we indicated in Our recent EncyclicalWhat was lacking in "around the reconciliation of Christian peace" to restore the tranquility of order everywhere, particularly considering the relations that exist between people and people, and between individual and individual in the civil field. Now it is necessary to consider another cause of disturbance, much deeper, which lurks in the very depths of human society. That is, then the scourge of war fell upon human peoples, when they were already deeply infected with naturalism, that great plague of the century which, where it takes root, attenuates the desire for heavenly goods, extinguishes the flame of divine charity and steals man. to the grace of Christ who heals and elevates and - finally taking away the light of Faith and leaving him only the corrupt forces of nature - he leaves him at the mercy of the most unbridled passions. Thus it happened that very many gave themselves up only to the conquest of earthly goods; and while the quarrel between proletarians and bosses had already intensified, this class hatred increased even more with the duration and atrocity of the war; which, if on the one hand it caused the masses an intolerable economic hardship, on the other hand it brought fabulous fortunes into the hands of very few.
It should be added that the sanctity of conjugal faith and respect for paternal authority have been greatly vulnerable by many because of the war; both because the distance of one of the spouses has slowed down the bond of duty in the other, and because the absence of a watchful eye has provided the occasion for the inconsiderate, especially female, to live at their own talent and too freely. Therefore we must find with real pain that now public mores are much more depraved and corrupt than before, and that therefore the so-called " social questionHas worsened to the point of creating the threat of irreparable ruins. In fact, the advent of a certain universal republic has matured in the votes and in the expectation of the most seditious, which is founded on the absolute equality of men and on the communion of goods, and in which there is no longer any distinction of nationality, the authority of the father over his children is not recognized, nor of public power over citizens, nor of God over men gathered in a civil consortium. All things that, if implemented, would give rise to terrible social convulsions, such as the one that is now desolating a not small part of Europe. And precisely in order to create a similar condition of things among other peoples as well, we see that the plebs are excited by the fury and impudence of a few, and here and there riots occur repeatedly.
We, therefore, worried most of all by the course of these events, did not neglect, when the opportunity arose, to remind the children of the Church of their duty, as we did recently with the letter addressed to the Bishop of Bergamo and to the Bishops of the Veneto region. And now for the same reason, that is, to remind the men of our side, how many they are and everywhere, who earn their bread with work, to keep them immune from the contagion of socialism, the bitter enemy of Christian principles, We with great We offer them solicitude in a special way St. Joseph, so that they follow him as their special guide and honor him as the heavenly patron.
In fact, he lived a life similar to theirs, so much so that Jesus God, despite being the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father, wanted to be called " the Son of the blacksmith". But that humble and poor condition of his with which and what excellent virtues he knew how to adorn! Above all of those virtues that were to shine in the spouse of Mary Immaculate, and in the putative father of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, at the school of Joseph, let everyone learn to consider the present and passing things in the light of the future that last eternal; and consoling the inevitable hardships of the human condition with the hope of heavenly goods, they should aspire to them by obeying the divine will, living soberly, according to the dictates of justice and piety. With regard especially to the workers, We are pleased to quote here the words which Our Predecessor of happy memory Leo XIII proclaimed in a similar circumstance, since they are such that in our opinion nothing could be said better in this regard: "Faced with these considerations, the poor and those who earn their living with the work of their hands must lift their spirits and think rightly. To those to whom, if it is true that justice allows them to be able to free themselves from indigence and rise to a better condition, nevertheless neither reason nor justice allow to upset the order established by God's providence. aggression in general and riots is a crazy system that often aggravates the same evils that they would like to alleviate. Therefore the proletarians, if they have common sense, should not trust in the promises of seditious people, but in the examples and patronage of Blessed Joseph, and in the maternal charity of the Church, which takes great care of their state every day "(1).
Thus, with the flourishing of the devotion of the faithful to St. Joseph, their devotion to the Holy Family of Nazareth, of which he was the August Head, will increase at the same time, spontaneously flowing the two devotions from each other. In fact, through Joseph we go directly to Mary, and, through Mary, to the origin of all holiness, Jesus, who consecrated the domestic virtues with his obedience to Joseph and Mary. We therefore want Christian families to be totally inspired by these wonderful examples of virtue, and to adapt. In this way, since the family is the fulcrum and the basis of the human consortium, strengthening the domestic society with the protection of holy purity, harmony and fidelity, thereby a new vigor and, we would almost say, a new blood will circulate through the veins of human society, thanks to the virtue of Christ; and there will follow not only an improvement in private customs, but also in the discipline of community and civil life.
Therefore, We, full of confidence in the patronage of him, to whose provident vigilance God was pleased to entrust the custody of his Only Begotten Incarnate and of the Virgin Mother of God, warmly exhort all the Bishops of the Catholic world so that, in such stormy times to Christianity, lead the faithful to implore the valid help of St. Joseph with greater commitment. And since there are several ways approved by this Apostolic See by which the Holy Patriarch can be venerated, especially on all Wednesdays of the year and in the entire month consecrated to him, We want all these devotions at the request of each Bishop, as far as possible, are to be practiced in every diocese. But in a particular way, since he is deservedly regarded as the most effective protector of the dying, having expired with the assistance of Jesus and Mary, "of the Good Death", of the "Transit of St. Joseph" and "for the Agonizzanti".
To commemorate the aforementioned Pontifical Decree, we order and enjoin that within one year, starting from December 8th, throughout the Catholic world, a solemn function, as and when each Bishop deems it opportune: and to all those who will assist you, We grant from now on, under the usual conditions, the Plenary Indulgence.
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on July 25, the feast of St. James the Apostle, 1920, in the sixth year of Our Pontificate.