Devotion to St. Joseph
1. The same aura of silence that envelops everything about St. Joseph, himself a lay person and model for Carmelite Seculars, also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what he “did.” Still, they allow us to discover in his “actions” — shrouded in silence as they are — an aura of deep contemplation. He was in daily contact with the mystery “hidden from ages past,” and which “dwelt” under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in the Western Church [cf. Pope John-Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, (“On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph In the Life of Christ and of the Church”), Aug. 15, 1989, #25].
2. As sons and daughters of St. Teresa, we honor St. Joseph as the patron of the Universal Church and the special patron and protector of our Order, as well as the patron of our Province. He is the model of attentive service to Christ, to Mary, and to the Church, and is also the “master of prayer” proposed to us by St. Teresa (Life, 6, 6-8).
Why we should renew our devotion to St Joseph today.
St Teresa of Avila said that St Joseph never refused her anything . Usually, people pray to St Joseph to find them a job. Men tend to pray to the foster father of Jesus to find them good wives. Women pray to him for decent husbands.
The 16th Century nun, St Teresa of Avila had a very serious reason for beseeching St Joseph. Not very long after St Teresa was professed a Carmelite nun, she was stricken with a strange illness. At its worst, she fell into a coma that lasted four days. As she lay unconscious it was feared that she was dead. After coming out of this coma, she was paralysed and confined to bed for at least three years. But when she prayed to St Joseph, she was healed of her chronic sickness. Never forgetting this favour, St Theresa always called attention to the remarkable intercessory powers of St Joseph.
St Teresa had a neat explanation as to why St Joseph is so successful in answering our prayers. It is that Our Lord Jesus Christ had to obey St Joseph when He was a Child, and so in Heaven, Our Lord still does as St Joseph asks.
Matthew’s gospel characterizes him as a “just man” (1:19). He is the patron saint of the Universal Church, and people call upon his aid for workers, families, home buyers and sellers, and the grace of a happy death, among other requests. St. Thomas Aquinas once noted that St. Joseph is unique among patron saints in that he is able to assist us at any time for anything.
St. Theresa of Avila echoed this idea when she wrote “I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.”
This prayer is among the earliest invocations to St. Joseph, and also one of the best known:
The Prayer to St Joseph
Oh, 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.
Oh 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.
Oh 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. Amen
The St Joseph Novena
Saying a St Joseph Novena can be an effective way to get what you’re asking for. Say these prayers for nine days in a row. Pray with the same cause in your mind each day, and really mean the words you say.
Day 1: Oh God, guide of those who listen and helper of those who hear your voice, speak to me, as you did to St. Joseph, and help me accomplish the things you give me to do.
Day 2: O God, you love your people and bless the ordinary lives we quietly live. As you blessed St. Joseph, bless what I do, however, hidden and simple it may be, and let all I do be done with love.
Day 3: O God, ever faithful, you remember us always and in time reveal your blessings. Help me trust in you, as St. Joseph faithfully trusted, and never let me lose faith in the wonderful gifts you promise me.
Day 4: God of families, bless the family that’s mine. Keep us safe from harm, and never let evil come between us. Let peace remain in our hearts.
Day 5: O God, who loves children, be kind to our children today. Give them eyes of faith for seeing far, a loving heart for welcoming life, and a place always at your side.
Day 6: God of our heavenly home, bless our home on earth. Let the spirit of Mary and Joseph rest at our table, shape our words and actions, and bring blessing to our children.
Day 7: God, our Father, give your fatherly spirit to those who are fathers now. Like Joseph, give them hearts of devoted love for their wives and children and strength for forgiveness and patience.
Day 8: Give shelter, O God, to those who need it, and bring together families divided. Give us enough to eat, and decent work to earn our bread. Care for us, O God.
Day 9: Bless all families, O Lord especially those in need. Remembering the life of your Son, we pray for the poor, for those who lack a good home, for those in exile. Grant them a protector like Joseph, O God.