For the Love of St. Joseph: A Novena

As I have written before, I took Joseph as my confirmation name and have a personal devotion to him. His feast day, March 19, is nine days away, counting from today, and so this seemed a perfect time to say my first novena. (We converts don’t know a novena from novella. This is a big deal for me.) I am using this text from the EWTN web site, and am praying for a private intention, but I would encourage anyone in special need to follow along with me. As St. Teresa of Avila knew, Joseph is a powerful saint.

As a complement to this novena, each day I will post an excerpt from a homily for the Feast of St. Joseph, written by Karl Rahner, S.J. I found the homily in a book loaned me by Father Barnes (another good father). The book is Saint Joseph and the Third Millennium, edited by Michael D. Griffin, OCD. I commend it to your attention.

Here is the beginning of Karl Rahner’s homily:

The Catholic Church today [March 19] celebrates the feast of her patron, her heavenly protector. We can understand such a feast only if we believe in the communion of saints, if we know by faith that God is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living, if we confess that whoever has died in God’s grace lives with God and precisely for that reason is close to us, and if we are convinced that these citizens of heaven intercede for their brothers and sisters on earth in the eternal liturgy of heaven.

The meaning of such a feast can be grasped only if we believe that after death all the events of this earthly life are not simply gone and past, over and done with forever, but that they are preparatory steps that belong to us for eternity, that belong to us as our living future. For our mortality does not change to eternity in an instant; rather, it is slowly transformed into life.

[To be continued tomorrow]

Oh blessed St. Joseph, pray for us!

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  • Lovely post Webster. Here's my confession: I only recently began to pray novenas! Guess what? I learned to pray my first novena via another Catholic blogger on her blog. My paucity of understanding about these ancient traditions is, for me, a result of a poor CCD program in the wake of Vatican II. So my friend, might I ask you to help ALL of us Catholics along the way to a better understanding of novenas? Exactly what prayers are you praying during your nine days leading up to the Feast Day of St. Joseph? More details please. Pax Christi.

  • Webster Bull

    @Mujerlatina, You're asking the blind to lead the blind! However . . . I am praying the prayers prescribed by the EWTN link above. Beginning each day with the lengthy reading-like prayer about St. Joseph, I then say the Novena prayer (same for each day), including my special intention. Then I close with the prescribed Memorare. I think you're supposed to add an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be along the way, but I'm a beginner. And I know that St. Joseph is listening. For more on the novena, see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry.

  • I'm in.

  • Webster Bull

    That's what I like about you. You see yellow footprints on the pavement and you jump on them, brother! 🙂

  • Warren Jewell

    @Mujerlatina, Webster, et al – novenas are just one more sweet reason YIM Catholic.Novena prayers are usually especially written for the patron for whom the novena is our means of special appeal. If you look at the novena to Saint Joseph, the days' prayers remember his various stations and holy traits, such as his patronage of our Holy Mother Church, of workers, of a happy death, etc., for which we hold our Saint Joseph a dear patron.And, I am indeed pleased that Webster reminded me of this novena, so I too can say it in the nine days leading to this great saint's feast. Saint Joseph the Worker is patron of my high school, from which I was a premier class grad. Saint Joe's 'a guy's Guy', if you will, and an eternal example of the giving, self-sacrificing saintly man, husband, father, devout worshiper, etc. About these holy facts about Saint Joseph, I have a small book written by Michael A. Kelly, C.S.Sp., Ph.D., named 'A Challenge to Modern Man'. Published & printed in 1948, it is probably unavailable. I think I got mine at a parish-library clearance sale. Plus, don't forget to hit those Saint Joseph tables! You can get 'Mom-med' a lot by the ladies who prepare and serve them. They are usually held in typically ethnic parishes on the week-end before or after Saint Joseph's feast day. I also recommend the novena of the Divine Mercy, begun on Good Friday and continuing to Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday of the Easter season. Go to, pull-down the 'Faith' tab, go to 'Devotions', then to Novenas' and find 'Divine Mercy' at 'Special Novenas'. Novenas to the Holy Spirit find a gratified and gratifying place with me.Then IT'S ON TO LITANIES! Whoo-hoo!!! It's great to be Catholic.

  • Webster Bull

    @Warren, Thanks for the info and especially the enthusiasm. Whoo-hoo!! I agree: great to be Catholic.

  • Thanks.I prayed the Novena this morning before work.I, too, feel a very close affinity for St Joseph.My parish is St Joseph. So, I see him at least a couple times per week. :)As a husband and father, I need ALL the help I can get. So, like Pharoah, I tell myself to "Go to Joseph"Thanks!!!

  • Maria

    What are novenas? From the Latin novem, meaning nine–over 9 days/9 weeks/9 monthsHistorically these are a favorite form of prayer and had been used by the faithful as a means of obtaining help for life's many needs. Many who have turned to these prayers have found help in situations that would otherwise have been hopeless! The success of novenas may be due to the persistence in carrying out for nine days in succession (or even longer). As our Lord admonishes: "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you!" ***The effectiveness of these prayers is always linked with attending Holy Mass, receiving the Holy Communion, and leading a good life. Will you receive your petitions?***Let your petitions be subject to the Holy Will of God, for only He knows whether the favor you ask is going to be for your own good. So leave the decision to God and He will grant what is best for you. The date of the saint's feast is given in each case, but novenas may be made at any time of the year.–Catholic Doord MinistryI did not know this until today; however, not a word uttered by St. Joseph is recorded in the Bible. I find this fascinating. I wonder if perhaps that is why, in some ways, he is so mysterious, at least to me.

  • Warren Jewell

    @Maria,The silent strength of a real man of God – even His foster father.He was present, indeed, 'a presence', like grace, as His God was present to him. Saint Joseph was that solid strength, now one of heaven's formidable powers, who spoke with his obedient actions.

  • Maria

    Warren: how very right you are…Something the Church so needs now, Obedience.

  • Maria

    FYI–The nine days recalls the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday. I did not know this until today. Thought someone might be interested. One of the reasons I love this blog is that it becomes an opportunity to educate myself about my Faith.

  • Warren, does this explain why we haven't heard from you over at the book club??? ;^)

  • Anonymous

    Hi YIM, St. Joseph is my patron saint also. He wasn't always. I know this is going to sound crazy so bear with me, but, he showed up in a dream of mine. I was being hounded by two bad angels(I know they were angels b/c they were beautiful and appeared neither male nor female)The angels were taunting me and in reply I invoked the names of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. The angels taunted me right back. In a moment of inspiration I called on St. Joseph. In my dream he appeared and the bad angels screamed this blood-curdling scream and disappeared. The weird thing was he did not look like any of the statues or pictures I had seen. He looked like a mountain man-really tough and strong. He said nothing. Anyway, I know how this all sounds, but I realized, God communicated with St. Joseph through dreams, so maybe this was Joseph's way of showing me who he is. Thank you always for this magnificent blog!

  • Webster Bull

    @Anon 8:09,Thank you!

  • Maria

    Anonymous–All I can say is wow. It is remarkable to me how often, in the Bible, God speaks to people in their dreams.We were just discussing how St. Jospeh was strong, and apparently, a man of few words. St Joseph just keeps sounding better and better. Hmmm..Where are the St. Josephite types, anyway??Webster: I was laughing on the way to Mass as I thought about quiet St. Joseph and your enchantment with, and facility with, the printed

  • Anonymous

    I'm in too. For my brother whose name is Joseph and who is starting and taking care of a small family – like St. Joseph. Rose

  • Webster Bull

    @Maria,Yeah, I'm a motor mouth in real life (sometimes) and definitely a motor blogger (when it's not Lent). Thanks as always.

  • @ Maria: Thanks for explaining the significance of the '9' in Novena! I never knew it represented the nine days b/w Ascension Thursday and Pentacost Sundaywhen the Blessed Mother spent her time in prayer. WOW! That is the piece of 'nine' that I never quite understood. Thank you for that.@ Webster: Thanks for the roadmap on this Novena: albeit via 'yellow paw prints…' That's fine, because I have learned more about my Catholicity from blogs like this than in the years I have blindly tried to catechize alone.