Because of my Protestant background, I love the clarity the Catholic Church offers (or is supposed to offer). I don’t have to rely on my own understanding to draw close to God. I can turn to the writings of Catholics over the centuries, an equivalent of which no Protestant can claim, and look for the answers I need. It makes it easier to lean on grace when you can see the paths forged by others.
So, when I fell head over heels in love with the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, I found myself in a strange quandary. While I’ve found images of the Chaste Heart dating from the 19th century, I couldn’t find any corresponding devotions or promises. Unlike the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart, there isn’t an official feast day. Even in the Litany of St. Joseph, there is no mention of his Heart, chaste or otherwise.
Well, dear Reader, I did not forget them! What I discovered later on was that in 2017, the Church declared the apparitions as fake. The Aleteia article I linked to claims this includes the apparitions of St. Joseph that were originally approved. But when you go to the official Church document (and click translate if you can’t read Portugese), you’ll find that they mention the apparitions of the Virgin Mary. No mention is made of her Husband, St. Joseph. Therefore, the case can be made that his apparitions are still approved.
“Well, there you have it! There’s your guiding star!”
Pump your brakes, Reader. Remember how I opened this article with my love for the clarity of the Church? There is no clarity here. How can a seer get part of it right? This is like the Medjugorje mess: some people claim it started out as real but then turned false. This is like reaching for a cup of water only to find mud in the bottom.
Sure, you can drink the water on top. You can take the St. Joseph apparitions and leave the rest behind. But part of a message being declared as false puts the rest of it in doubt. The water is too muddy. So, no, thank you.
For the Love of the Chaste Heart
This discovery has led me to wonder how to honor the Chaste Heart. Images of It pre-date the Brazilian apparitions. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary represent their love for humanity and for each other. It only makes sense, then, to portray St. Joseph’s Heart, since he was a member of that earthly trinity we call the Holy Family. The Church has not banned private devotion to the Chaste Heart.
So, where does that leave me? For some reason, it has caused me to be fixated on how to make reparation to the Chaste Heart. Again, we look to the examples of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart.
When Jesus went to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, He requested reparation for offenses that included sins against and irreverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. When Our Lady came to Fatima, she expressed a desire for people to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart for sins. If the pattern holds true, then reparation must need to be made to the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. In apparitions like those at Fatima and Knock, St. Joseph makes an appearance, albeit a silent one. He’s not left out of the Divine Plan. We shouldn’t leave him out due to our own negligence.
Reparation for what?
This bothered me so much that I eventually took it to my spiritual director. After discussing it with her, here are what could be offending the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph:
- Sins against the Blessed Sacrament
- Lack of faith among clergy
- Abuse of children and women
- Attacks against the Catholic Church, whether physical or through heresies
- Members of the clergy who harm their flock
- Pornography and disordered sexuality
- Socialism and Communism
- Lack of love and regard for his Blessed Wife, Mary
I’m sure there’s more that could be added to the list but this is what comes to mind.
How to Make Reparation to the Chaste Heart
Again, we need only look to the model of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Days of the week that had already been devoted to Them are used as days of reparation, i.e. Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday has long been devoted to St. Joseph. In fact, during this Year of St. Joseph, you can gain a plenary indulgence on Wednesdays. Therefore, First Wednesdays (like First Fridays and First Saturdays) would be a perfect time to offer up a Holy Communion in reparation. There is also a very old tradition of the Seven Sundays Devotion, usually made in preparation for St. Joseph’s feast in March. These Sundays focus on St. Joseph’s seven sorrows and joys.
Other ways of making reparation could include kneeling on the floor during Mass, fasting, giving alms, and taking cold showers. Really, any form of penance can be offered in reparation.
Not Calling for a Huge Movement
In presenting my thoughts on the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, I’m not calling for a huge, grassroots movement. I’m simply proposing, as the world grows ever more insane, that we plant ourselves in some sanity. By practicing devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Immaculate Heart, and the Chaste Heart, it will be like taking up residence in that humble house in Nazareth. And I can’t think of anywhere saner than wherever you can find the Holy Family, where those Three Hearts beat as one.