Beloved St. Joseph

Saturday, March 19, 2022
Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate our beloved Saint Joseph.

saint-joseph-with-the-christ-child-ca-1650-oil-on-canvas-sebastian-martinez
St. Joseph and the Christ Child by Sebastian Martinez

Our first reading describes the line of descent from David down through the ages to Joseph of the House of David.

God promises David:

I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.

Joseph is the realization of that House.  He was the one who ultimately gave shelter, both literally and physically, to the Promised One.


Beloved Joseph, provider of safe and sacred shelter, opens his arms to our fearful and pleading prayers. Often in my life when I had a particularly difficult need, I have prayed the Litany of St. Joseph. Just a few of its beautiful phrases may bring you confidence and peace.

Praying with today’s Gospel, let’s imagine ourselves being invited by Joseph, Mary and Jesus to go down with them  to our own “Nazareth” — to find the voice of God in the sacred protection of our homes and hearts.

Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph
and came to Nazareth,

and he obediently listened to them.


Poetry: The Temptation Of St. Joseph by W. H. Auden

From For the Time Being

I

JOSEPH
My shoes were shined, my pants were cleaned and pressed,
And I was hurrying to meet
My own true Love:
But a great crowd grew and grew
Till I could not push my way through,
Because
A star had fallen down the street;
When they saw who I was,
The police tried to do their best.

CHORUS [off]
Joseph, you have heard
What Mary says occurred;
Yes, it may be so.
Is it likely? No.

JOSEPH
The bar was gay, the lighting well-designed,
And I was sitting down to wait
My own true Love:
A voice I’d heard before, I think,
Cried: “This is on the House. I drink
To him
Who does not know it is too late;”
When I asked for the time,
Everyone was very kind.

CHORUS [off]
Mary may be pure,
But, Joseph, are you sure?
How is one to tell?
Suppose, for instance. . . Well. . .

JOSEPH
Through cracks, up ladders, into waters deep,
I squeezed, I climbed, I swam to save
My own true Love:
Under a dead apple tree
I saw an ass; when it saw me
It brayed;
A hermit sat in the mouth of a cave:
When I asked him the way,
He pretended to be asleep.

CHORUS [off]
Maybe, maybe not.
But, Joseph, you know what
Your world, of course, will say
About you anyway.

JOSEPH
Where are you, Father, where?
Caught in the jealous trap
Of an empty house I hear
As I sit alone in the dark
Everything, everything,
The drip of the bathroom tap,
The creak of the sofa spring,
The wind in the air-shaft, all
Making the same remark
Stupidly, stupidly,
Over and over again.
Father, what have I done?
Answer me. Father, how
Can I answer the tactless wall
Or the pompous furniture now?
Answer them. . .

GABRIEL
No, you must.

JOSEPH
How then am I to know,
Father, that you are just?
Give me one reason.

GABRIEL
No.

JOSEPH
All I ask is one
Important and elegant proof
That what my Love had done
Was really at your will
And that your will is Love.

GABRIEL
No, you must believe;
Be silent, and sit still.


Music:  I absolutely love this video of these dear Sisters of St. Joseph in Rochester singing “Hail Holy Joseph, Hail”. Having been taught by the sisters of St. Joseph for twelve years, I know the hymn very well. Looking at these Sisters, we can just imagine the long legacy of their generous ministries under the guidance of Joseph, their beloved patron. May God bless all our Sisters of St. Joseph on their Feastday!
(Lyrics below as well as the Litany of St. Joseph in a second post)

Hail, holy Joseph, Hail
by Father Frederick Faber

Hail, holy Joseph, hail!
⁠Chaste spouse of Mary, hall!
Pure as the lily flower
⁠In Eden’s peaceful vale.

Hail, holy Joseph, hail!
⁠Prince of the house of God!
May His best graces be
⁠By thy sweet hands bestow’d.

Hail, holy Joseph, hail!
⁠Belov’d of angels, hail!
Cheer thou the hearts that faint,
⁠And guide the steps that fail.

Hail, holy Joseph, hail!
⁠God’s choice wert thou alone;
To thee the Word made flesh
⁠Was subject as a Son.
O Christ’s dear Mother, bless;
⁠And bless, ye Saints on high,
All meek and simple souls
⁠That to Saint Joseph cry.

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