Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St Joseph
St. Theresa of Avila wrote, “I took for my patron the glorious St. Joseph and recommended myself earnestly to him. It is now very many years since I began asking St. Joseph for something on his feast, and I always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good.”

The very way the Church defines the Feast tells us a great deal about Joseph. Men are seldom described by their relationship to a woman.  It is more often the other way around. Consider our lingering custom of wives assuming their husband’s surnames, for example.

But Joseph is known because of his connection to Mary. He is a steady force in the background of her life and the life of Jesus. Joseph is the kind, generous and faithful one who nurtures and protects them.

And he is the silent one. Not a single word was ever recorded from him. What we know of Joseph issues from his actions. For example, before he knew that Mary had conceived through the Holy Spirit:

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.

This virtue of righteousness sums up the character of Joseph as we find him in scripture. Righteousness is complementary to justice.

Walter Brueggemann in his book, Journey to the Common Good, says this about the relationship between justice and righteousness:

“Justice in the Old Testament concerns distribution in order to make sure that all members of the community have access to resources and goods for the sake of a viable life of dignity…. Righteousness concerns active intervention in social affairs, taking an initiative to intervene effectively in order to rehabilitate society, to respond to social grievance, and to correct every humanity-diminishing activity.”

Joseph exercised such righteousness not only in responding to Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. He took the risk of becoming a refugee family in order to save Jesus’s infant life. After the finding in the Temple, he stepped into the background in order to allow young Jesus to assume his teaching vocation. No doubt, during the silent years which then surround Joseph, he continued to live an active life doing good for his family and community, and quietly fostering the ministry of Jesus.

Despite the scarcity of recorded knowledge about Joseph, there is an ample devotional treasury describing him. It is captured in outline form in the Litany to St. Joseph, a prayer I learned to love because it was one of my father’s favorites. I sometimes say just a few lines, slowly, to let the holiness of Joseph call me deeper into my own spiritual life.
(Music is below the Litany.)

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
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 Spirit, have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us. 

Holy Mary, pray for us (after each line)
Saint Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster-father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched, Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Protector of Holy Church, 

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us. 

V. He made him the lord of His house:
R. And ruler of all His substance. 

Let us pray.
O God, who in Your unspeakable providence chose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Your own most holy Mother: grant, we ask, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom we reverence as our defender on earth. Amen.

Music: I Am a Carpenter – Cher & Gene Klosner 

4 thoughts on “Saint Joseph, Silent Strength

  1. St. Joseph, my protector! He has always been there for me! My father also had great devotion to Joseph, because of the work of his hands. Thank you for this! Beautiful!❤️🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This music so touched me. My father, also Joseph, was a carpenter too! Joseph’s quiet strength and humility is a model for all of us!

    Like

  3. This past summer I abruptly became unemployed and was until I was hired by an international school in Uzbekistan last October. When I entered a parish church one afternoon to escape from our practical world, I noticed a statue of St. Joseph at the foot of the altar on the left side opposite the one of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It then occurred to me that St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers, so I knelt on the kneeler facing St. Joseph’s image and read the prayer that was placed on the arm rest. I ended the prayer simply by asking St. Joseph to help me find a new job, anything other than teaching if possible. A few days later I applied for a primary school teaching position by email and was invited to come to the school ASAP later in the day. I honestly believe that I have St. Joseph to thank for. A lesson I learned from all of this was that until then I hardly paid any thought to our good carpenter in the way of devotion unlike the attention I have long given to our Blessed Mother. I suppose I neglected him nearly as much as Protestants ignore the merits of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps she was patiently waiting for me to implore his intercession for a change. St. Joseph is indeed a silent and less prominent figure in the Gospels, an extra so to speak in theatric terms, so maybe this might explain why I hardly noticed him despite my admiration of the saintly man. Again, wonderful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

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