On March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph, Pope Francis released his message for World Day of Vocations.” This year, Francis focused on St. Joseph in his announcement:

Saint Joseph is an extraordinary figure, yet at the same time one “so close to our own human experience”. He did not do astonishing things, he had no unique charisms, nor did he appear special in the eyes of those who met him. He was not famous or even noteworthy: the Gospels do not report even a single word of his. Still, through his ordinary life, he accomplished something extraordinary in the eyes of God.

Vocations, Francis writes, have the same goal as St. Joseph: to give and beget life, be generous in self-giving, and compassionate and steadfast. “The priesthood and the consecrated life greatly need these qualities nowadays, in times marked by fragility but also by the sufferings due to the pandemic, which has spawned uncertainties and fears about the future and the very meaning of life. Saint Joseph comes to meet us in his gentle way, as one of ‘the saints next door.'”

Francis notes three key characteristics of St. Joseph: to dream, or nurturing the hope of finding fulfillment in life, to serve, or freedom from all possessiveness, and fidelity, or the daily preservation in enacting God’s plans in his life.

Francis conclude by reflecting on the connection between fidelity and joy:

This fidelity is the secret of joy. A hymn in the liturgy speaks of the “transparent joy” present in the home of Nazareth. It the joy of simplicity, the joy experienced daily by those who care for what truly matters: faithful closeness to God and to our neighbor. How good it would be if the same atmosphere, simple and radiant, sober and hopeful, were to pervade our seminaries, religious houses and presbyteries!