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St. Joseph, Pray for Us
Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Opening Prayer: Lord, bless me as I contemplate your words today in Scripture. I thank you profoundly for the gift of St. Joseph, who watched over you and Mary, and who intercedes for our priests and families everywhere.
- Righteous: When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he was not irate or resentful, according to Scripture. Instead, we learn that he was righteous and unwilling to expose her to shame. Our church teaches us that this humble, unassuming foster father of Jesus “is the holiest human person after Mary and the ‘Most Just’ of all the saints” (Consecration to St. Joseph, p.141). In the words of St. Frances de Sales, St. Joseph was perfectly righteous: “To be just is to be perfectly united to the Divine Will, and to be always conformed to it in all sorts of events, whether prosperous or adverse. That St. Joseph was this, no one can doubt.” Let us beg God for the grace to imitate St. Joseph in his righteousness.
- Protector: When Joseph took Mary and her unborn child into his home, he began to live his unique vocation as “Guardian of the Redeemer, Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, Glory of Domestic Life, and Pillar of Families” (Litany of St. Joseph). In his role as guardian and protector, Joseph was a perfect model of paternal love. As such, he is the patron saint of the Universal Church and fathers. “If St. Joseph was so engaged, heart and soul, in protecting and providing for that little family in Nazareth, don’t you think that now in Heaven, he is the same loving guardian of the whole Church, of all of its members, as he was of its head on earth?” (Venerable Pope Pius XII). St. Joseph, pray for us.
- Promptly Obedient: Joseph had decided to divorce Mary quietly, but once Our Lord’s will was made clear to him by the angel in a dream, he immediately abandoned his plan and brought her into his home. Reflecting on his righteousness, one can imagine with what great love Joseph promptly obeyed God’s commands as soon as he understood what was being asked of him. There was no hesitation, no questioning, no doubt in his response—just pure trust in God and love of Mary. “Why was St. Matthew so keen to note Joseph’s trust in the words received from the messenger of God, if not to invite us to imitate this same loving trust?” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for the great witness of St. Joseph. You placed him in an exalted position as head of the Holy Family, which alone says volumes about his character, even though we know very few facts about him because he spoke no words in Scripture and died before Jesus began his ministry. May I imitate his righteousness, his prompt obedience, and trust in God, knowing that he is my spiritual father, as he was for Jesus.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take the opportunity to pray the Litany of St. Joseph with special devotion.
For Further Reflection: Consecration to St. Joseph by Donald Galloway.
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book for moms who have college-aged young adults, And So We Pray, Guidance for Moms with College-Aged Young Adults. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four, and grandmother of nine and counting.