For the Love of St. Joseph I

March 19, 2008, was a decisive day for me. Easter Vigil was three days away, as was my reception into the Catholic Church. Throughout RCIA, I had planned to take Thomas More as my confirmation name, but I came into Mass that morning and discovered that it was the Feast of St. Joseph. That did it. St. Joseph took me by surprise.
I had been utterly clueless about him until that morning of March 19. In fact, I had even thought that the statue at the head of the right aisle in our church, which illustrates this post, was of St. Peter. I think it was Ferde who set me straight about that, as he has set me straight about many things Catholic.

I decided to take Joseph as my confirmation name because I realized that St. Joseph represents something more important to me than all of the worldly accomplishments or moral courage of Thomas More; Joseph represents the good father. For me, that is the highest standard, a bar that sometimes looks way over my head, although my own father seemed to glide over it effortlessly.

St. Joseph became my patron, and when my father got sick and died over the ensuing six months, I spent many minutes kneeling before this statue and another one in the Catholic Church in my parents’ town. I found myself in front of St. Joseph again this morning, under less dramatic but still compelling circumstances. Other than Mary, Joseph is the only saint I have prayed to, but I do pray to him. I believe that my prayers are heard.

St. Joseph’s Day is still nearly two months away, but I’d like to dedicate a few posts to him between now and then. Yesterday morning in men’s group, a non-parishioner and non-Catholic, Kirk Kvistad, gave a beautiful presentation of his own prayer-song compositions. I wish I could share some of these with you via MP3, but they’re not available yet.

However, Kirk started off the meeting with a prayer to St. Joseph that I had not seen before, and I can share that:

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I confide 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 of 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 me.

According to a footnote Kirk passed along, “This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505, it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or be burned in any fire, or be overpowered in battle.”

I do not know on what authority, if any, this footnote was written. But I do not disbelieve it.

  • http://virginmartyr.blogspot.com Kelly

    Thank you for this prayer. It is lovely and powerful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18363990657173316219 Lavona

    Thank you … I had "issues" with my earthly father and I asked St Joseph to be my foster father. He is awesome. I thank God for him and ask him to take the needs of my little family to him daily.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    I suppose that is appropriate.Joseph had all sorts of plans and expectations for a typical marriage and family life. And then, just when those plans were on the verge of fruition, God says to him, "I have another plan, a plan that involves you realizing none of those aspirations."And in the greatest expression of faith and trust — greater even than Mary, who knew for certain that she had not "known man," whereas Joseph only had Mary's word for it and that of a dream that could very well have been his imagination — Joseph said "yes" to God. Instead of demanding proof, instead of putting God to the test, Joseph acted on faith. Joseph acted on love.Joseph is a model of love – true love – not the false so-called “love” of feelings and emotions, of making himself happy, of satisfying his own wants and desires, but the true and perfect love of consciously deciding to empty himself and make a gift of self in seeking the good of others. Joseph set aside his own wants and dreams and aspirations of a typical marriage and family life and instead, in true love, devoted himself to Mary and Jesus.We should all do the same.

  • Anonymous

    A bit presumptuous there, Flexo. Joseph had already had a "typical married and family life" that had borne fruit – he was a widower with children. He probably had already experienced the "love of feelings and emotions" which are not false at all – merely aspects of love; not to mention that his "wants and desires" had probably also been fulfilled as he had children. He was likely quite old when he married the Virgin; who knows – that may even have been a contributing factor in why he was chosen by God to be her husband…no 'conflict' there.You're right on about the trust – it was a huge act of faith for him, but even so, he needed a bit of coaxing from AN ANGEL, did he not?It's hard to say what his "wants and dreams" might have been at that time, isn't it?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06195528409761980551 Anne

    My favorite line of this prayer is "Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms." Lovely!My parents used to have a little blue prayer book called "Pieta". Their copies were well used and worn out. They used to order additional copies by the gross to share with others. This prayer is in that book. It has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Webster Bull

    I'm not sure how Flexo or Anonymous or anyone else knows quite what Joseph's life was really like. How old he was. How long he lived. I know that the Church has some traditions regarding Joseph. I know that some of these, like the lily springing from the staff, come from Apocryphal writings and oral transmission. But isn't it Joseph's anonymity that is itself a big part of his power? Do we have to fill in the details, even invent them, to appreciate the basic facts of his life? That he was married to a virgin? That he was the earthly protector of the child Jesus? That, contrary to our received notion of the father as the boss, the pants-wearer, the king of the household, Joseph followed?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16142633311407145793 Wine in the Water

    I feel Joseph as my patron as well. It began with Joseph the Worker. Coming from a very blue collar family, I always felt the connection to the labor of the hands. Later when I became a father myself, I turned to him as an example of fatherhood. He is probably the only saint that I have ever prayed to of my own inspiration.I always think to myself, imagine what kind of man Joseph must have been, that God chose Him to be the foster father of His own Son.I have come, increasingly, to see myself in this light: the laborer and the father. It is a high identity to which to aspire.

  • Webster Bull

    Lavona's comment about "issues" with one's earthly father has stuck with me. I often have wondered how a person with such issues could possibly overcome them enough to love God the Father, but it strikes me now that, well— It's not just that Joseph can be our foster father, which is a compelling thought, and of course we can have earthly foster fathers as well (teachers, mentors, priests, grandparents) but also this— Have we so swallowed the 20th-century model of psychology peddled by Freud et al, that we don't think a person can overcome scarring in infancy or early childhood by grace or intercession? Most of us do operate on this "enlightened" 20th century model of early suffering = permanent damage. I don't mean to minimize anyone's suffering; but I do think we might rethink the model.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    Wow Anonymous, and here I thought that I was writing something positive.But as for being presumptuous, one of those traditions of the Church is the virginity, not only of Mary, but of Joseph as well. As for what his expectations were, it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that he had the same expectations as anyone going into a marriage. Especially in that time in history, virginity was not at all common, much less a virtue, so it is hardly the height of presumption to conclude that he did not expect when he contracted the marriage that it would be a completely chaste and virginal one (although some have maintained that, at the time of betrothal, there was such an understanding between them).Now, it is true that some, even some of the Church fathers, argued for a prior marriage of Joseph, but the predominate view (including St. Jerome, who translated the Bible we have today) is that the "brothers of Jesus" spoken of in the Gospels is in regard to cousins, not step-brothers, especially if you consider that those "brothers" were nowhere to be seen when you really needed them (like at Bethlehem or after the Crucifixion to take care of Mary).Now, if Joseph was not previously married, what are we to conclude from that?Joseph's foster fatherhood of Jesus and espousal to Mary was not some added extra, merely some job that someone, anyone needed to do — the marriage of Mary and Joseph itself has significance — virginal significance, including eschatalogical significance — the parenthood of Mary and Joseph has significance — virginal fatherhood as well as virginal motherhood — and the Holy Family being entirely composed of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph also has significance. None of which can be realized if Joseph had a prior wife. (Not to mention that, if there was a prior family, it would hardly be the act of a "just man," a "righteous man," to dedicate himself entirely to the service of one's "new family.")And, of course, more recently such presumptuous people like Pope John Paul II have said, in Redemptoris Custos "26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah's coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family." There are, of course, many other writings on St. Joseph, including his hidden interior life, but this should suffice for my point.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Webster. I do have the song Passing through available on youtube as well as several other songs. Here is the link to Passing Through.Best to you and all!Kirkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaK25R37ZNY&feature;=related


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