The Church calls upon Joseph as her protector because of a profound and ever-present desire to reinvigo-rate her ancient life with true evangelical virtues, such as shine forth in St. Joseph.

Recalling that God wished to entrust the beginnings of our redemption to the faithful care of St. Joseph, [the Church] asks God to grant that she may faithfully cooperate in the work of salvation; that she may receive the same faithfulness and purity of heart that inspired Joseph in serving the incarnate Word; and that she may walk before God in the ways of holiness and justice, following Joseph's example and through his intercession.

One hundred years ago, Pope Leo XIII had already exhorted the Catholic world to pray for the protection of St. Joseph, [whom he declared] patron of the whole Church. The encyclical epistle Quamquam Pluries appealed to Joseph's “fatherly love … for the child Jesus” and commended to him, as “the provident guardian of the divine Family,” “the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by his blood.”

Since that time … the Church has implored the protection of St. Joseph on the basis of that sacred bond of charity which united him to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and the Church has commended to Joseph all of her cares, including those dangers which threaten the human family.

Today we still have good reason to commend everyone to St. Joseph. May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ's saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate.

This just man, who bore within himself the entire heritage of the old covenant, was also brought into the “beginning” of the New and eternal covenant in Jesus Christ. May he show us the paths of this saving covenant as we [enter the third] millennium, in which there must be a continuation and further development of the “fullness of time” that belongs the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.

From the 1989 apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer).