Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush, who has been commenting on St. Louis de Montefort’s method of consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, addresses devotion to St. Joseph today on The New Theological Movement blog. Please be sure to read the entire article!

St. Joseph sometimes seems to be a rather neglected saint (I wrote about him here); even St. Louis de Montefort failed to include much about the Spouse in his writings on Mary. Fr. Erlenbush notes:

De Montfort did compose a prayer to St. Joseph to be used in his fifth method of praying the Rosary (from the “Secret of the Rosary”). The prayer is said with the sorrowful mysteries and is modeled on the Hail Mary:

“Hail Joseph the just, Wisdom is with you; blessed are you among all men and blessed is Jesus, the fruit of Mary, your faithful spouse. Holy Joseph, worthy foster-father of Jesus Christ, pray for us sinners and obtain divine Wisdom for us from God, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Beyond this little prayer, there is no significant mention of St. Joseph in any of St. Louis-Marie’s Marian works.

Perhaps one reason why St. Louis-Marie wrote so little about St. Joseph was that the Church herself had not yet awakened to devotion to this holy Patron. Though the first church building dedicated to his honor was consecrated in 1129, and not excluding his presence in visions given to numerous saints (including St. Bridget of Sweden), St. Joseph was not inserted into the Litany of the Saints until 1726.

We do not say that there was no devotion to St. Joseph; after all, St. Thomas Aquinas and numerous other Dominican saints were quite zealous in promoting his devotion. Further, we recall that St. Teresa of Jesus dedicated the reformed Order of Carmelites to St. Joseph as their special Patron. Still, it is noteworthy that it was not until the nineteenth century that devotion to St. Joseph had spread throughout the Church and among the laity.

In my previous post about St. Joseph, I noted that Leo XIII had instituted a prayer to St. Joseph that was to be said after the recitation of the Rosary all through the month of October. This year, I prayed that prayer faithfully all through that month, but since it seems like a prayer the Church needs now, and not just in October, I continue to pray it daily:

To you, O Blessed Joseph, we come in our trials, and having asked the help of your most holy spouse, we confidently ask your patronage also. Through that sacred bond of charity which united you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the fatherly love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you to look graciously upon the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by his blood, and to aid us in our necessities with your power and strength.

O most provident guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ. Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin. Our most mighty protector, graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness.  And just as you once saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God's Holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. Shield each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your help, we may be able to live a virtuous life, to die a holy death, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.

These are tough times for the Church. Tougher times seem likely to follow. This may be a very good time to increase our prayers to St. Joseph, Terror of Demons and Protector of Holy Church.

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!

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