Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
March 18, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Each year we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on March 19.
From his place in Heaven, St. Joseph is always ready to be a father and a great intercessor for us! We have only to trust him and place confidence in his love for God and our souls. Just as he cared for Jesus and the Virgin Mary on earth, so now from Heaven he desires to manifest his loving concern for our spiritual and temporal needs!
I encourage you to grow in your devotion to St. Joseph through prayer and some daily devotion to him. Entrust some intentions to him and then see what happens! This week I offer you an excerpt from an article called: St. Joseph: A Theological Introduction by Fr. Michael D. Griffin, O.C.D.
“Prayer to Saint Joseph
It goes without saying that the surest sign of personal devotion to Saint Joseph is manifested by praying to him frequently. His good friends have always called upon him in time of need, when in doubt or discouraged.
We are not only speaking of the prayer of petition. We should of course ask the saints to help us in our material needs, such as finding a job or succeeding in our work. But here we are thinking of prayer on a deeper level. In this perspective, we should pray to Joseph in order to have a greater appreciation of the meaning of religion and the practice of virtue. More important still, we should pray to him to gain a better understanding of a genuine, authentic Christian life , that is, of a life which is lived in Christ and with Christ and for Christ.
Saint Teresa of Avila, the great apostle of devotion to Saint Joseph, is truly outstanding in explaining the manner in which we should pray to Joseph. She writes in the sixth chapter of her Autobiography:
I took the glorious St. Joseph for my advocate and protector, and commended myself earnestly to him; and it was clearly he who both healed me of this sickness and delivered me from great dangers that threatened my good name and the salvation of my soul. His aid has brought me more good than I could ever hope for from him, I do not remember once having asked anything of him that was not granted... God seems to have given other saints power to help us in particular circumstances, but I know from experience that this glorious Saint Joseph helps in each and every need. Our Lord would have us understand that, since on earth He was subject to this man who was called His father, whom as His guardian He had to obey, so now in heaven He still does all that Joseph asks. Others, who have turned to Joseph on my advice, have had the like experience; and today there are many people who honor him and keep on finding out the truth of what I say.39
Teresa's advice is especially valuable because she tells us that she discovered this from her own personal experience. And she assures us that those who follow her example have learned that she was telling them the truth. Teresa grew in devotion to Saint Joseph through her meditation on the infancy scenes of the gospels. As she reflected on the perfect obedience that Christ practiced towards Joseph on earth, she concluded that Our Lord would refuse him no request. That is why she reasoned that Joseph was able to obtain a favorable answer to all his petitions, whereas other saints can only help in particular circumstances. Pius XI was later to confirm this intuition of Teresa when he spoke of "an almost omnipotent power" that Joseph still has over the heart of Christ.40
Teresa continues: Of all the people I have known with a true devotion and particular veneration for St. Joseph, not one has failed to advance in virtue; he helps those who turn to him to make real progress. For several years now, I believe, I have always made some request to him on his feast day, and it was always been granted; and when my request is not quite what it ought to be, he puts it right for my greater benefit.41
And then Teresa reminds us: Prayerful persons, in particular, should love him as a father. I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of angels, at the time when she was undergoing so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for looking after them in the way he did. If anyone has not a guide to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious saint as his master and he will not go astray.42
In this passage Teresa uncovers for us most profound meaning of devotion to Saint Joseph. For Teresa, Saint Joseph was truly the patron and master of the interior life; and those interested in cultivating the interior life of personal intimacy with Jesus and Mary should take him as their master and guide. She confidently asserts that those who complain that they do not understand how to pray properly, or who feel that they are not making progress in the art of genuinely and sincerely conversing with Christ, need not despair, even if they can find no director to help them. But if they turn to Joseph and take him as a father they will never go astray or fail to make real spiritual progress.
So convinced was Teresa from her own personal experience that she did not hesitate to challenge anyone who doubted her words:
All I ask, for the love of God, is that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will then learn for himself how advantageous it is to commend oneself to this glorious patriarch Joseph and to have a special devotion to him.43” (from www.ewtn.com)
39 Life of Saint Teresa. written by herself, chap. 6.
40 See the text of the discourse given on March 19, 1938, quoted in Cahiers de Joseph, 9 (1961) 141-142.
41, 42, 43 Ibid
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may our good Lord Jesus bless us and the whole world with an outpouring of His Divine Mercy!