The Bishop of East Anglia, Alan Hopes, has celebrated a Mass and blessed an icon to inaugurate the Year of the Family, which began on 19th March.
The icon of the Holy Family which he blessed was created by Fr Luke Goymour from the St Thomas of Canterbury parish in Brandon.
The Year of St Joseph began last December and runs until the Feast of Christ the King. Pope Francis established the Year of St Joseph because throughout this pandemic many people have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as St Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.
Providentially, the icon which Fr Luke has produced focuses devotion for both of the overlapping years. Throughout the year it will be touring the diocese.
In his homily for the Feast of St Joseph, Bishop Hopes asked people to remember three things. First, that Joseph was a worker, a carpenter. “Jesus must have stood often by him, and in his apprenticeship the Son of God blesses all human work and gives it a great dignity,” said the bishop.
Second, he is a family man, one who had a deep love and concern for Jesus and His mother Mary. And third, St Joseph was a “great model of faith”, someone who did not speak in the Gospel, but listened to God.
“May Joseph guard us all with his prayer,” concluded Bishop Hopes.
Fr Luke’s often his own thoughts on the icon he created: “The Icon is of the Holy Family, which depicts St Joseph standing very slightly forward of Mary and Jesus. The image of St Joseph breaks out of the border and approaches us at the bottom of the icon. This is to show that St Joseph is the protector of the family. In approaching us the icon also shows us how, in the Year of St Joseph, St Joseph now draws us into the Year of the Family.
“He is also depicted offering the two pigeons or turtledoves referenced in Luke’s gospel as the offering to be made by the poor for the Presentation of the Lord.
“This shows St Joseph as provider of the family, for out of his poverty he provides for his Holy Family. The theme of sacrifice is also present here.
“As Joseph is offering the two doves, Mary is offering the child Jesus to us who sits at the heart of the icon. This reminds us that Christ is at the centre of the Holy Family as he should be at the centre of our own family lives.
“Both Mary and Joseph’s heads incline towards their divine Son, both protecting and looking to him at the same time.
“Again, through this icon we are encouraged to look to Christ at the heart of family life, but also to protect his presence in our own families. Protecting the presence of Christ in our families includes protecting the vulnerable, the weak, the poor and marginalised in our families and in our wider communities. It also means protecting our faith, nurturing it, helping it to grow and be strong against all that threatens it.”
Picture: Fr Luke with the icon of the Holy Family. (Daniel Longar).