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Deacon-structing devotions to St. Joseph

Deacon Pedro

Monday, March 15, 2021

Mosaic depicting an angel instructing Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt, from the Baptistery of Saint John in Florence, Italy. Photo credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen on Wikimedia Commons, cropped and used under the terms of license CC-BY 2.5
For the last couple of weeks, as we’ve been discussing spiritual reading and, last week, our spiritual tool bag, I’ve been thinking about all those prayers and devotions that were so much a part of Catholics in my mother’s time. I would like to take a closer look at them – but we’ll do that next week.
This week, since we celebrate his feast day on Friday and since it’s his year, let’s start by looking at some of prayers and devotions to St. Joseph.
Even though there are records of a formal devotion to St. Joseph from around the year 800, the devotion began to grow around the 14th century. It was then that the Servite Friars used to observe his feast on March 19, the date when he is believed to have died. Pope Sixtus IV introduced the devotion in 1480 when he allowed the Franciscans to celebrate that same feast day. Slowly, the observance spread throughout the Church.
150 years later St. Joseph was chosen as Patron of Canada.
In 1624, Recollect Franciscan Fr. Joseph Le Caron wrote to his provincial father in France:
“It will always be much to gain some souls to God; we expect the rest from His grace. We have since that time had a great solemnity, when all the settlers were present and many Indians, for a vow we have made to Saint Joseph whom we have chosen Patron of the country and protector of this rising Church.”
From the history of the Ursulines of Quebec we know that this vow to St. Joseph was made by “all French settlers and Christian Indians of Quebec on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th”.
In 1625, the Jesuits arrived in Canada, and there are many references in The Jesuit Relations to the devotion of St. Joseph as patron saint of Canada.
St. Jean de Brebeuf wrote about a time when no one wanted to take him and his missionaries back to the Huron Mission:
“Several times I was completely baffled and desperate, until I had special recourse to Our Lord Jesus for whose glory alone we were undertaking this painful journey, and until I had made a vow to glorious St. Joseph, the new Patriarch of the Hurons. Immediately I saw everything become quiet and our savages so satisfied that those who embarked Father Daniel had already placed him in their canoe." (Jesuit Relations, Cleveland Edition, 8,73.)
In fact, the residence from where Brebeuf was writing was called St. Joseph.
In 1637, Fr. François Joseph Le Mercier writes from that same residence in Huronia about the conversion of a young boy, “which we have every reason to attribute to the merits of St. Joseph”. The boy was baptized and named Joseph.
Jesuit Superior in New France, Fr. Paul LeJeune, in his Relation of 1637 implies that Pope Urban VIII had approved this choice of patron for Canada. He wrote, "His Holiness, wishing to crown us with his blessings, has had sent to us this year plenary indulgences for the feasts of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin and of our glorious Patron and Protector, St. Joseph” (Jesuit Relations, 11, 47).
In Quebec City, that same year, the choice of St. Joseph as Patron of Canada was celebrated with a festival, fireworks, and a bonfire. This annual festival continued to be celebrated in Quebec until 1647.
Bishop Laval had a great devotion to the Holy Family and recognized St. Joseph as the Patron of Canada when he wrote in 1668 asking that Christ bless their labours. He concluded: “We beg it most humbly by His merits, by the intercession of His Holy Mother, of the Blessed Joseph, special Patron of this rising Church, of all the tutelary angels of the souls under our charge and of all the saints who are the protectors of this Christian Church.”
In 1621, Pope Gregory XV declared March 19 a Holy Day of Obligation in the Church.
In 1870, Pope Piux IX declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church, and in 1955, Pope Pius XII established May 1 as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Pope John XIII inserted his name into Eucharistic Prayer I, and then Pope Francis added St. Joseph’s name to the other three Eucharistic Prayers.
In 2020, with the apostolic letter Patris Corde, on the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis proclaimed a “Year of St. Joseph” from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021.
When this special year was declared, I wondered why there wasn’t a prayer, like the Hail Mary, that was standard for all Catholics to pray to St. Joseph. Turns out there are many prayers to St. Joseph. There is also a very popular novena, prayed by many every year. I hope that you are praying it with your Salt + Light Media family this year. Don't worry about starting it late. Start it any time!
Here are a few other prayers to St. Joseph. How many do you know?
By St. Alphonsus Liguori:
Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you;
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as they spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as they consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honour him as they honoured him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as they were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him, as they love him still.
Litany to St. Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, pray for us.
Light of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most valiant, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of workmen, pray for us.
Glory of home life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us!
He made him the lord of His household,
And prince over all His possessions.
Let Us Pray
O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most holy Mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth may be our intercessor in Heaven. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
Memorare to St. Joseph
Remember, O most pure spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, my great protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection, or implored your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding therefore in your goodness, I come before you. Do not turn down my petitions, foster father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.
Consecration to St. Joseph
O dearest St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to thy honour and give myself to thee, that thou mayest always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a great purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life. After thine example, may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary! And do thou, O Blessed St. Joseph, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of thy holy death Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph for Purity
Saint Joseph, guardian and father of virgins, to whose safekeeping were entrusted Innocence Itself, Christ Jesus, with Mary the Virgin of virgins; by these dear pledges, Jesus and Mary, I pray and beseech you to keep me free from all uncleanness, and make me with spotless mind, pure heart and chaste body, ever to serve Jesus and Mary most chastely all the days of my life. Amen.
O happy indeed are you, blessed Joseph, to whom was given the privilege not only of seeing and hearing the God whom many kings desired to see and saw not, to hear and heard not; but also of carrying, nourishing, embracing, clothing and guarding him!
V. Pray for us, blessed Joseph.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
From a 19th Century French Prayer Book
Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty.
Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome.
My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.
Traditional Novena Prayer to St. Joseph from the second century:
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us.
The official prayer of the Year of St. Joseph, Ad te, beate Ioseph, was composed by Pope Leo XIII for his 1889 encyclical, Quamquam Pluries. For this Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis asked that it be added to the end of the Rosary.
To you, O blessed Joseph (Ad te, beate Ioseph)
To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our afflictions, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.
Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.
O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.
As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.
From Pope Francis' Patris Corde:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
May St. Joseph guide you, defend you and protect you and your family.

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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