Devotion honors the seven joys and sorrows of St. Joseph

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Devotion honors the seven joys and sorrows of St. Joseph

On the seven Sundays preceding his feast, March 19, one can contemplate a series of circumstances – seven joys and sorrows – in Saint Joseph’s life so that he/she mightconfront the joys and sorrows of his/her life as he did

The Seven Sundays of Saint Josep

First Sunday

Reading:

“Now the origin of Christ was in this wise. When Mary His mother had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. But Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not wishing to expose her to reproach, was thinking to put her away privately.

But while he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying:

‘Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take Mary your wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus; for he shall save His people their sins.’

Now all this came to pass that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son; and they shall call His name Emmanuel’;

So Joseph, arising from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took unto him his wife.” (Mt. 1: 18-25)

Commentary:

Until the angel appeared, Joseph suffered immensely. His sorrow was as great as his love for the Virgin Mary.

The Fathers of the Church comment on this scene in different ways. The interpretation that Thomas Aquinas gives to Joseph’s perplexity corresponds to the reality of the situation. He explains: “Joseph wanted to leave Mary not because he was suspicious but because, out of humility, he was afraid to live beside such great sanctity. This is why the angel told him, ‘Do not be afraid.’ ”

Joseph felt that he was worthless, that he was nothing, compared to the incomprehensible mystery that surrounded Mary. To his great sorrow, he determined to withdraw discretely. But from the angel, he received confirmation of the fact that what had happened to her was God’s work and that besides, he too, had a part, a mission in the mystery: ‘You shall call his name Jesus’. In Biblical language, this expression meant that he was going to be Jesus’ father according to the law. Knowing this, St. Joseph was filled with the joy of his vocation.

Prayer:

O chaste spouse of most Holy Mary, glorious St. Joseph, great was the trouble and anguish in your heart when you were perplexed over putting away your immaculate spouse, yet your joy was was immense when the sublime mystery of the Incarnation was revealed to you by the angel.

By this sorrow and this joy, we ask you to comfort our souls, both now and in the sorrows of our final hour, with the joy of a good life and a holy death like your own in the company of Jesus and Mary.

Specifically, I ask (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Second Sunday

Reading:

“Now it came to pass in those days, that a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that a census of the whole world should be taken… And Joseph also went from Galilee out of the town of Nazareth into Judaea to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem – because he was of the house and family of David – to register, together with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2: 1-7)

Commentary:

The mystery of the Incarnation is veiled in this humble scene. Joseph contemplates the Child. He loves Jesus so much, and he suffers seeing Him whom He knows is the Word, the King of the universe lying in a manger. He would give Him anything and everything, yet he has nothing to give. The difference between what he would like to do and his poverty of means places his soul in great straits.

But then there comes a moment, perhaps as he holds the Child in his arms, when he grows calm. His sorrow recedes before a great light. He renews his dedication to God once more and carries out perfectly the divine command to loveHim with his whole heart, his whole soul and with his whole strength. He gives himself completely to God who lies asleep in his arms. And perhaps the only outward display of his great dedication would be to hug the Child close to his breast, but ever so lightly so as not to wake him.

Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer has written: “There is a great simplicity about His birth. Our Lord comes without any fanfare. No one knows about Him. On earth, only Mary and Joseph share in the divine adventure. And then the shepherds who received the message from the angels. And later on, the wise men from the East. They were the only witnesses of this transcendental event which unites heaven and earth, God and man…. The greatness of this Child who is God! His Father is the God who made heaven and earth and there he is, in a manger, ‘because there was no room at the inn’ – there was nowhere else for the Lord of all creation.” (J. Escriva de Balaguer, “Christ is Passing By”, No. 18)

“I can imagine him recollected in prayer, lovingly protecting the Son of God made man who has been entrusted to his paternal care. With the marvelous refinement of one who does not live for himself, the holy patriarch spends himself in silent prayer and effective service…. If you want my advice, which I have never tired of repeating these many years, ‘Go to Joseph’ (Gen. 41: 55). He will show us definite ways, both human and divine, to approach Jesus. As soon as you will dare, as he did, ‘to take up in his arms, kiss, clothe and look after’ (Prayer to St. Joseph, Roman Missal) this Child-God who has been born unto us. As a homage of their veneration, the Magi offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus. But Joseph gave his youthful and loving heart.” (Christ is Passing By, No. 38)

Prayer:

Most blessed patriarch, glorious St. Joseph, chosen to serve as father of the Word made flesh, the sorrow which you felt when you saw the infant Jesus born amid such poverty was suddenly turned into heavenly joy when you heard the song of the angels, and when you saw the glory of that resplendent night.

By this sorrow and this joy, we ask you to obtain for us that, after the course of this life, we may pass onward to hear angelic songs of praise and to rejoice in the splendors of heavenly glory.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Third Sunday

Reading:

“And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Lk 4: 21)

Commentary:

What a great joy to be on intimate terms with Christ and call Him by His name, Jesus! Joseph is the master who teaches us how to deal confidently with the Word made flesh.

St. Teresa of Avila reveals her great love for the glorious patriarch. She tells us her personal experience: ” I took for my advocate and lord the glorious St. Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him; and I found that this father and lord delivered me both from this trouble and also from other and greater troubles concerning my honor and the loss of my soul, and that he gave me greater blessings that I could ask of him…I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint…I only beg, for the love of God, that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will see by experience what great advantages come from his commending himself to this glorious patriarch and having devotion to him. Those who practice prayer should have a special affection for him always. I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of Angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the way he helped them.” (St. Teresa of Avila, “Autobiography”, Chapter 6)

Prayer:

Obedient follower of the law of God, glorious St. Joseph, the precious blood which flowed at the circumcision of the Infant Jesus caused your heart to be pierced, but the name of Jesus gave new life and filled you with peace.

By this sorrow and joy, obtain for us that by struggling against the slavery of all sin, we may die in joy with the most holy name of Jesus in our hearts and on our lips.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Fourth Sunday

Reading:

“And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord – as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’ – and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.’

And behold, there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he has seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by inspiration of the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he also received Him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

‘Now you dismiss your servant, O Lord, according to your word, in peace because my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared before the face of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for your people, Israel.’

And His father and mother were marveling at the things spoken concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother:

‘Behold this child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And your own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'” (Lk 2: 22-35)

Commentary:

Simeon tells them that Jesus will be a sign of contradiction, the standard which men will either follow or oppose. And he adds that the Son’s sufferings will be intimately connected with his Mother’s sorrows.

The sorrows of Jesus and Mary are made known in greater detail. This revelation enables St. Joseph to glimpse more clearly the mystery of the Son’s cross. It is impossible to guess the depth of his suffering. He always wanted to protect the Child whom he loved with the greatest of fatherly love, for, as St. Pius X says, he is “the virgin father of Jesus.” Now he understands with new insight all the Old Testament prophecies related to Christ’s passion.

St. Joseph’s mind and heart have been marked by the cross. With the exception of the Virgin Mary, no other human being suffered so much.

As Mary offered her Son on the cross, so did St. Joseph. This offering constitutes the holy patriarch’s greatest act of generosity. “It took all the generosity of his love to offer Jesus and Mary to God. It was his supreme sacrifice since he loved them immeasurably more than his own life.” (Garrigou- Lagrange, “The Mother of Our Savior)

Prayer:

O glorious St. Joseph, model of faithful fulfillment of God’s plans, the prophecy of Simeon about the future sufferings of Jesus and Mary brought mortal fear to you but at the same time filled you with blessed joy for the salvation and glorious resurrection which he prophesied would follow for numberless souls.

By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that we may be among those who through the merits of Jesus and the intercession of the Virgin Mother are to rise in glory.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Fifth Sunday

Reading:

“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: ‘Arise, and take the Child and his mother , and flee into egypt, amd remain there until I tell you. For Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him.’

“So he arose, and took the Child and His mother by night, and withdrew into Egypt, amd remained there until the death of Herod; that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.'” (Mt. 2: 13-18)

Commentary:

Saint John Chrysostom comments on this scene: “On hearing this, Joseph was not shocked nor did he say: ‘This is strange. You yourself made it known not long ago that he would save his people, and now you are incapable of even of saving Him – we have to flee, to set out on a long journey and spend a long while in a strange place; that contracdicts your promise.’

Joseph does not think in this way, for he is a man who trust God. Nor does he ask when he will return, even though the angel left it so vague: ‘Stay there until I tell you to return.’ Joseph does not object; he obeys and believes and joyfully accepts all the trials.” (St. John Chrysostom, “In Matt. Homilae”, 8, 3)

St Joseph faithfully fulfills God’s will. Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer adds: “The Gospels give us a picture of St. Joseph as a remarkably sound man who was in no way frightened or shy of life. On the contrary, he faced up to problems, dealt with difficult situations and showed responsibility and initiative in whatever he was asked to do.

I don’t agree with the traditional picture of St. Joseph as an old man,even though it may have been prompted by a desire to emphasize the perpetual virginity of Mary. I see him as a strong young man, perhaps a few years older than our Lady, but in the prime of his life and work.

You don’t have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. purity comes from love; and the strength and gaiety of youth are no obstacle for noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned the mystery of he divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world.” (Christ is Passing By, No. 40)

Prayer:

O watchful guardian of the Incarnate Son of God, glorious St. Joseph, what toil was yours in supporting and serving the Son of the Most High, especially when you were forced to flee into Egypt, yet what joy you felt having God himself always with you and seeing the idols of Egypt fall to the ground.

By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that we may keep the infernal tyrant far distant especially by flight from occasions of sin; and that every idol of earthly affection may fall from our hearts; and being wholly employed in the service of Jesus and Mary for them alone may we live and happily die.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Sixth Sunday

Reading:

“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying:

‘Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.’

So he arose and took the Child and His mother, and went into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there; and being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee. And he went and settled in a town called Nazareth.” (Mt. 2: 13-18)

Commentary:

After the sorrow of not being allowed to go into Judea, St. Joseph experiences the joy of returning to Nazareth. His joy increases as the days of Christ’s hidden life go by. The home life of Jesus, Mary and Josephresembled that of their neighbors. Time was spent in family life. Sometimes Joseph would contemplate the Child “in the most pure arms of Mary, the blessed Mother. She held God veiled in flesh, and pressed her lips in sweet kisses on the flesh of the One who is true God and true man.” (Paulinus of Aquilea)

And St. Joseph, as F. de Eximensis so charmingly says, “showed great delight and joy in constantly providing for the Infant Savior’s needs, bathing him, reverently handling the small limbs of His precious body, changing His clothes and doing other things that little children require.” (F. de Eximensis, “Vita Christi”)

Contemplating Joseph’s life in the company of Jesus and Mary,we can make our own the words of a prayer composed by Pius XII: “St. Joseph, grant that according to your example,we may keep our eyes fixed on Mother Mary, your most sweet spouse, who silently used to do her weaving in a corner of your modest workshop, with the sweetest smil playing on her lips. Grant that we may not lose sight of Jesus, who busied Himself with you at your carpenter’s bench. Thus we may be able to lead a peaceful and holy life on earth, as a prelude to that eternally happy one which awaits us in heaven for ever and ever. Amen.” (Pope Pius XII, “Prayer”, March 11, 1958)

Prayer:

O glorious St. Joseph, how you marveled to have the King of Heaven subject to your commands; though your consolation in leading Him out of Egypt was troubled by fear of Archelaus, nevertheless being reassured by the angel, you lived at Nazareth with Jesus and Mary.

By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that our hearts may be freed from harmful fears, and that we may have peace of conscience living in security with Jesus and Mary and also dying in their company.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Sixth Sunday

Reading:

“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying:

‘Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.’

So he arose and took the Child and His mother, and went into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there; and being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee. And he went and settled in a town called Nazareth.” (Mt. 2: 13-18)

Commentary:

After the sorrow of not being allowed to go into Judea, St. Joseph experiences the joy of returning to Nazareth. His joy increases as the days of Christ’s hidden life go by. The home life of Jesus, Mary and Josephresembled that of their neighbors. Time was spent in family life. Sometimes Joseph would contemplate the Child “in the most pure arms of Mary, the blessed Mother. She held God veiled in flesh, and pressed her lips in sweet kisses on the flesh of the One who is true God and true man.” (Paulinus of Aquilea)

And St. Joseph, as F. de Eximensis so charmingly says, “showed great delight and joy in constantly providing for the Infant Savior’s needs, bathing him, reverently handling the small limbs of His precious body, changing His clothes and doing other things that little children require.” (F. de Eximensis, “Vita Christi”)

Contemplating Joseph’s life in the company of Jesus and Mary,we can make our own the words of a prayer composed by Pius XII: “St. Joseph, grant that according to your example,we may keep our eyes fixed on Mother Mary, your most sweet spouse, who silently used to do her weaving in a corner of your modest workshop, with the sweetest smil playing on her lips. Grant that we may not lose sight of Jesus, who busied Himself with you at your carpenter’s bench. Thus we may be able to lead a peaceful and holy life on earth, as a prelude to that eternally happy one which awaits us in heaven for ever and ever. Amen.” (Pope Pius XII, “Prayer”, March 11, 1958)

Prayer:

O glorious St. Joseph, how you marveled to have the King of Heaven subject to your commands; though your consolation in leading Him out of Egypt was troubled by fear of Archelaus, nevertheless being reassured by the angel, you lived at Nazareth with Jesus and Mary.

By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that our hearts may be freed from harmful fears, and that we may have peace of conscience living in security with Jesus and Mary and also dying in their company.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

Seventh Sunday

Reading:

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And after they have fulfilled the days, when they were returning, the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it. But thinking that He was in the caravan, they had come a day’s journey before it occurred to them to look for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem in search of Him.

And it came to pass after three days, that they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all who were listening to Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.” (Lk. 2: 40-47)

Commentary:

We can easily understand Mary’s and Joseph’s sorrow upon realizing that Jesus had disappeared. They were filled with apprehension as they searched up and down for their Son. Those three sorrowful days were a premonition of the time that would intervene between Calvary and the Resurrection. Suddenly, they hear His dear voice. There He is! They are greatly comforted, and their pent-up emotions overflow with a great joy.

In this scene, St. Luke a number of times uses the word “parents” to designate the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. But this word has its deepest meaning when Mary tells her Son: “Behold, in sorrow your father and I have been seeking for you.” (Lk. 2:48)

“Father”. That was the word St. Joseph would want to hear most. How he would smile and gaze fondly at Jesus when He called him “Father”. As Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer writes: “Joseph loved Jesus as a father loves his son and showed his love by giving the best he had. Joseph, caring for the child as he had been commanded, made Jesus a craftsman, transmitting his own professional skill to Him. So the neighbors of Nazareth will call Jesus both ‘faber’ and ‘fabri filius’, the craftsman and the son of the craftsman.

Jesus worked in Joseph’s workshop and by Joseph’s side. What must Joseph have been, how grace must have worked through him, that he should be able to fulfill this task of the human upbringing of the Son of God!

For Jesus must have resembled Joseph: in His way of working, in the features of His character, in His way of speaking. Jesus’ realism, His eye for detail, the way He sat at the table and broke bread, His preference for using everyday situations to give doctrine – all this reflects His childhood and the influence of Joseph.” (Christ is Passing By, No. 55)

Afterwards, the Gospel says that Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them; and His mother kept all these things carefully in her heart.” (Lk. 2: 50)

Prayer:

Pattern of all holiness, glorious St. Joseph, when you lost the Child Jesus through no fault of your own, with great sorrow you sought Him for three days, until you rejoiced exceedingly in finding Him in the temple amid the doctors.

By this sorrow and this joy, we ask you most earnestly to prevent us from ever losing Jesus by mortal sin; but if through supreme misfortune we would lose Him, grant that we may seek Him with untiring sorrow, until we find Him again, and can live in friendship with Him. May we pass onward to enjoy His presence in heaven, and there with you, to sing forever His divine mercies.

Specifically, I ask that…. (mention in silence the favor asked and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be).

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