Prayers of Devotion and Consecration to Saint Joseph

Introduction

In the early Church, devotion among Catholic faithful’s to St. Joseph was not widespread. While neither was it unknown, it took centuries for the Catholic Church to extend its understanding of St. Joseph’s role in the process of salvation. In the 16th century, popular devotion to St. Joseph flourished when St. Teresa of Avila became one of his greatest champions (O’Connell, 2005). Prominent figures in the Catholic Church also spoke highly of Joseph, chief among them, St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom.

Moreover, according to O’Connell, Venerable Pius IX during the 19th century declared St. Joseph to be the Patron of the Universal Church. By doing so, the Supreme Pontiff acknowledged that God had put the Holy Patriarch in charge of His household, the Church. Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. It could be said that the apex of the veneration of Joseph came in the early 1960’s when Pope John XXIII inserted Joseph’s name into the Roman Canon of the Mass. However, after the Second Vatican Council devotion to Joseph waned. Today though there are signs of a revival of popular devotion to Joseph.

Persons in the Holy Family

According to Vidko (2004), the hierarchy of persons in the Holy Family includes: Our Lord Jesus had first place, Mary second, and St. Joseph third. But according to hierarchy of authority, St. Joseph as lawful husband and father of the family had first place, Mary second, and Jesus Christ, Child of Mary and foster son of St. Joseph, third place.

O’Connell further stated that the Gospel served as the foundation for the devotion and theology of Joseph. According to him, God communicated to Joseph in dreams as He did to St. Joseph. Providence arranged that the Pharaoh placed Joseph over of his household; God put St. Joseph in charge of the Holy Family. Joseph brought the Israelites to Egypt in time of famine; St. Joseph brought the Holy Family to Egypt to escape Herod’s Deicidal designs.

The Gospels clearly record that God selected Joseph as the putative father of Jesus and the virginal spouse of the Immaculate Mother of God. God entrusted Jesus and Mary to Joseph’s care. Joseph was the Head of the Holy Family. Not only tradition, but also Scripture attests to this marvelous truth. That is why the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to take Mary and the Christ Child to Egypt.

The Roman Catholic Church’s avers, through its fourth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” According to the fourth commandment, God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents and those whom he has vested with authority for our good (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005). The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors.

Joseph as the father

According to the New Advent (2005), although Joseph was not the biological father of Christ-he did not physically generate Jesus-but he was the putative father and the legal father of Christ. God willed that the world would know Joseph as the father of Jesus Christ to cloak for a time the mystery of the Virgin Birth of Our Lord.

New Advent further cited that Mary herself says to her Son in the Temple, “your father and I have been looking for you”(Lk 2:48). After professing that Joseph did not physically generate Christ and that the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can assert that Joseph is in a real sense the father of Jesus. St. Augustine says that Joseph was the father of the human spirit of Christ.

Moreover, St. Luke in his Gospel mentions that Joseph was of the House of David (Lk 1:27). Joseph and the Holy Virgin were related. Providence had arranged that Joseph the putative father of Jesus, the Son of David, also belonged to the royal House of David.

Devotion towards Joseph

O’Connell contended that while scripture records not one word of Joseph’s, the glimpse of Joseph that the Gospel served as a foundation for the devotion and theology of Joseph, along with the belief of many saints that Joseph of the Old Testament prefigured St. Joseph. Devotion to Joseph, O’Connell believed, largely derived from realization that he possessed a supremely exalted vocation and mission. To prove his point, he cited one of the stanzas from the hymn Te Joseph Celebrent expresses the sublimity of Joseph’s vocation:

Other saints receive their beatitude after death
They receive their glory when they have won the palm:
But thou, by a strangely happy lot, hadst even during life,
What the blessed have in heaven-the sweet society of thy God.

Kavanaugh and Rodriguez (1980) likewise stated that no less than the great Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila, took St. Joseph as her patron. Known as one of St. Joseph’s most zealous devotees, St. Teresa said that her beloved patron came to her rescue in better ways than she knew how to ask for and never failed to grant any of her petitions.

Moreover, according to Binet (1980), further proof of the Church’s belief in the devotion to St. Joseph is the fact that the Holy Ghost has willed to make the genealogy of the glorious St. Joseph known to us so exactly, that we need only read the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke to be acquainted with all his ancestors. By birth he is a prince of the royal house of David; his ancestors are the patriarchs, the kings of Juda, the great captains of the people of God, the most illustrious among the sons of men. Yet this descendant of David was reduced to obscurity, and lived a poor and humble life.

The liturgical feasts dedicated to St. Joseph and The Holy Family

The Oblate of St. Joseph (2005) provided a comprehensive listing of the liturgical feasts dedicated to St. Joseph and the Holy Family as follows:

Ã?· Eastern Commemoration of St. Joseph’s Passing – Coptic Egyptians celebrate this feast in their monasteries AbÃ?®b 26 (July 20 in the old Julian calendar, and now August 2 in our current Gregorian calendar reformed in 1582).
Ã?· Feast of St. Joseph – Tenth-century calendars in the East compiled in the Palestinian monastery of St. Saba mention the feast of St. Joseph. The menology (liturgical calendar of saints) of Basil II commemorates St. Joseph on the actual day of Christmas, and the flight into Egypt on the following day.
Ã?· Feast of Mary and her husband Joseph – Other Synaxaries celebrate this event on December 26; on the Sunday before Christmas the feast of Jesus’ ancestors from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary; and on the Sunday within the octave of Christmas the feast of St. Joseph together with King David and James the brother of the Lord.
�· March 19, the earliest liturgical feast of St. Joseph in the West, remains to this day his principal feast.
Ã?· The liturgy of the hours of St. Joseph – A Benedictine monastery at Liege had an Office to celebrate the feast as early as the thirteenth century, and the Franciscans adopted a nine-lesson Office in 1399.
Ã?· Feast of the espousals – In 1537 the Franciscans adopted it to be celebrated on March 7, and soon after the Servites for March 8, and the Dominicans for January 22. A 1550 work invites people in Holland to celebrate the recently instituted feast on January 15.
Ã?· Feast of the Patronage of the Ring – celebrated every July 10 for the “venerated the holy Virgin together with her husband.”
Ã?· Feast of the Patronage of Saint Joseph – decreed to be celebrated as a second class double on the third Sunday after Easter
Ã?· Votive Mass of St. Joseph – a practice as early as the late thirteenth century votive Masses in honor of St. Joseph
Ã?· Feast of the Holy Family – celebrated on January 22 as a positive understanding of St. Joseph’s true role.
�· Feast of the Flight into Egypt: The Redemptorists (and so also the Archconfraternity of the Holy Family, which they directed in Li�©ge) celebrated the Feast of the Flight into Egypt on the fourth Sunday of April
�· Inclusion in the Rites for the Sick and the Dying: In 1920 the Pious Union of the Transitus of St. Joseph received a ten year permission to add special prayers to St. Joseph in the votive Masses for the dying and for a happy death celebrated at their Church in the Trionfale Quarter of Rome, and the permission was soon extended to all priests and houses of the institute.
Ã?· Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker: The encyclical letter of Pius XI issued on March 19, 1937 named St. Joseph, who “belongs to the working class,” as the patron of the Church’s campaign against atheistic communism.

Sources:

Binet, Pere. (N.D.) Divine Favors Granted to St. Joseph. USA: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Lumen Gentium. Proclaimed By His Holiness, Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964
Kavanaugh, K. and O. Rodriguez. (1980). The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, USA: ICS Publications, p. 53
New Advent. (2005). Popular Devotions. Retrieved October 27, 2005, from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12275b.htm
Oblate of St. Joseph. (2005). St. Joseph in Liturgy. Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.osjoseph.org/stjoseph/liturgy/partA.php

O’Connell, John. Devotion to St. Joseph. Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/MARAPR99/devotion.html

Schulte, A.J. (2003). Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition. Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04276a.htm
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2005). Catechism of the Catholic Church. http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2.htm
Vidko, Podr�¯�¿�½aj. (2004). The Heart of Saint Joseph. Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.sspx.ca/Angelus/2004_April/Heart_St_Joseph.htm

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