Saturday, March 26, 2011

MARCH: Seven Sorrows and Joys of Saint Joseph

Among the many exercises of piety practiced in honor of St. Joseph, there is one generally known, namely, that of meditating on his Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys. This devotion owes its origin to a celebrated event, never omitted by any historian of the Saint.

It is as follows:

Two Fathers of the Franciscan order were sailing along the coast of Flanders, when a terrible tempest arose, which sank the vessel, with its three hundred passengers. The two Fathers had sufficient presence of mind to seize hold of a plank, upon which they were tossed to and fro upon the waves, for three days and nights. In their danger and affliction, their whole recourse was to St. Joseph, begging his assistance in their sad condition. The Saint, thus invoked, appeared in the habit of a young man of beautiful features, encouraged them to confide in his assistance, and, as their pilot, conducted them into a safe harbor. They, desirous to know who their benefactor was asked his name, that they might gratefully acknowledge so great a blessing and favor. He told them he was St. Joseph, and advised them daily to recite the Our Father and Hail Mary seven times, in memory of his seven dolors or griefs, and of his seven joys, and then disappeared.

The Seven Sorrows and Joys of Saint Joseph

Recite one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be after each number.

1. St. JOSEPH, Chaste Spouse of the Holy Mother of God, by the SORROW with which thy heart was pierced at the thought of a cruel separation from Mary, and by the deep JOY that thou didst feel when the angel revealed to thee the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, obtain for us from Jesus and Mary, the grace of surmounting all anxiety. Win for us from the Adorable Heart of Jesus the unspeakable peace of which He is the Eternal Source.

2. St. JOSEPH, Foster-Father of Jesus, by the bitter SORROW which thy heart experienced in seeing the Child Jesus lying in a manger, and by the JOY which thou didst feel in seeing the Wise men recognize and adore Him as their God, obtain by thy prayers that our heart, purified by thy protection, may become a living crib, where the Savior of the world may receive and bless our homage.

3. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW with which thy heart was pierced at the sight of the Blood which flowed from the Infant Jesus in the Circumcision, and by the JOY that inundated thy soul at thy privilege of imposing the sacred and mysterious Name of Jesus, obtain for us that the merits of this Precious Blood may be applied to our souls, and that the Divine Name of Jesus may be engraved forever in our hearts.

4. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW when the Lord declared that the soul of Mary would be pierced with a sword of sorrow, and by thy JOY when holy Simeon added that the Divine Infant was to be the resurrection of many, obtain for us the grace to have compassion on the sorrows of Mary, and share in the salvation which Jesus brought to the earth.

5. St. JOSEPH, by thy SORROW when told to fly into Egypt, and by thy JOY in seeing the idols overthrown at the arrival of the living God, grant that no idol of earthly affection may any longer occupy our hearts, but being like thee entirely devoted to the service of Jesus and Mary, we may live and happily die for them alone.

6. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW of thy heart caused by the fear of the tyrant Archelaus and by the JOY in sharing the company of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth, obtain for us, that disengaged from all fear, we may enjoy the peace of a good conscience and may live in security, in union with Jesus and Mary, experiencing the effect of thy salutary assistance at the hour of our death.

7. St. JOSEPH, by the bitter SORROW with which the loss of the Child Jesus crushed thy heart, and by the holy JOY which inundated thy soul in recovering thy Treasure on entering the Temple, we supplicate thee not to permit us to lose our Saviour Jesus by sin. Yet, should this misfortune befall us, grant that we may share thy eagerness in seeking Him, and obtain for us the grace to find Him again, ready to show us His great mercy, especially at the hour of death; so that we may pass from this life to enjoy His presence in heaven, there to sing with thee His divine mercies forever.

The Litany of Saint Joseph may be inserted here.


O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence has vouchsafed to choose Blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy protector: Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

MARCH 25: Annunciation

Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating:  Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.

And yet - today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery - the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel:  the Virgin Mary.

St Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of aquaeductus (cf. Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae:  PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour his Mother. The Angel's proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart:  "Here I am... let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1: 38), at that moment the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.

From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks:  "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?". The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting:  "Hail, full of grace" (cf. Sermo 291: 6).

In fact, the Angel, "appearing to her", does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God:  "Full of grace - gratia plena", which in the original Greek is kecharitomene - "full of grace", and the grace is none other than the love of God; thus, in the end, we can translate this word: "beloved" of God (cf. Lk 1: 28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6: 7).

It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response:  in being loved, in receiving the gift of God, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom and thus exercises the freedom through obedience to the Father.

In the Second Reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ's Incarnation:  "When Christ came into the world, he said:  ..."Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God'" (Heb 10: 5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements, the "Here I am" of the Son and the "Here I am" of the Mother, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God's loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration…

What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church!

…The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II in harmony with his motto Totus tuus.

In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981 here in St Peter's Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace looking down over St Peter's Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his Pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal.

The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary's acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed. Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his Successors, is "included" under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her "yes" to God's will. This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us, but first of all it has an objective value.

Between Mary and the Church there is indeed a connatural relationship that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its felicitous decision to place the treatment of the Blessed Virgin at the conclusion of the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium

So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfilment of each. As St Paul says, charity is the "greatest" charism, the "most excellent way" (I Cor 12: 31; 13: 13).

Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain. For this reason, my Brothers, taking the opportunity offered by this favourable time of Lent, let us commit ourselves to ensure that everything in our personal lives and in the ecclesial activity in which we are engaged is inspired by charity and leads to charity. In this respect too, we are enlightened by the mystery that we are celebrating today.

Indeed, the first thing that Mary did after receiving the Angel's message was to go "in haste" to the house of her cousin Elizabeth in order to be of service to her (cf. Lk 1: 39). The Virgin's initiative was one of genuine charity; it was humble and courageous, motivated by faith in God's Word and the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbour. Here we have the image and model of the Church!

Every Ecclesial Community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch my Pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a "community of love" (cf. Deus Caritas Est, Part II)…

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Saint Peter's Square
Saturday, 25 March 2006

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MARCH: Chaplet of Saint Joseph

How to Pray the Chaplet of Saint Joseph

While holding the St. Joseph medal, make the Sign of the Cross and then recite the

Opening St. Joseph Prayer

O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.   Amen

 (This prayer was found in the 50th year of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In 1505, it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. It is said that whoever shall read this prayer or take it with them, shall never die a sudden death or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or shall be burned in any fire or shall be empowered in battle.)

On the first bead, recite the Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

On the second bead, recite the Our Father

Our Father who art in Heaven hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.  Amen.

On the third bead, recite the Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy sacred wounds hide me.
From the wicked enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come to thee
that with thy saints I may praise thee
forever and ever. Amen

On the fourth bead, recite the Prayer for the Help of the Holy Ghost

O God, send forth your Holy Ghost into my heart that I may perceive, into my mind that I may remember, and into my soul that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen.

On the fifth bead, recite My Sovereign Lady

O Holy Mary , my sovereign Lady, into your blessed trust and special custody, and into the heart of your mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my whole being. To you I commit all my hope and happiness, all my cares and concerns and my whole life, that, through your most holy intercession and through your merits, all my actions may be guided and governed according to your will and that of your divine Son.

Like the Holy Rosary, the St. Joseph chaplet is a "bead-prayer."  The beads are designed to keep count of the prayers. They are not required to perform the devotion, however. There are 49 beads in the circlet, organized into seven sets of seven beads. Each set is preceded by a larger bead. This larger bead in the circlet are used to pray the "Prayer for a Heavenly Crown" The seven beads in the circlet are used in petition to St. Joseph for prayers and assistance in growing in virtue.

At the beginning of each section, Recite  Prayer for a Heavenly Crown, then we humbly pray for St. Joseph to intercede on our behalf in asking our heavenly Father to bestow upon us virtues which St, Joseph himself was a perfect model.

Prayer for a Heavenly Crown

O ST. JOSEPH, virgin father of Jesus and most pure spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray every day for us to the same Jesus, the Son of God, that being defended by the power of His grace and striving dutifully in life, we may be crowned by Him at the hour of death. Amen. (Pope Pius X)

 We humbly pray for the virtue of …

(Each set of seven beads is dedicated to virtues which we are petitioning St. Joseph to obtain for us)

1. Wisdom, Understanding & Counsel          
2. Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety & Fear of the Lord                                      
3. Charity, Joy & Peace                                                                                  
4. Patience, Benignity (Kindness) & Goodness                                             
5. Longsuffering, Mildness& Faith (Fidelity)                                   
6. Modesty, Continence & Chastity                                      
7. Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance & a love for Voluntary Poverty, Perpetual Chastity, Entire Obedience

1-2       7   Gifts of the Holy Ghost
3-6       12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost
7          4   Cardinal Virtues & the 3 Evangelical Counsels

On the seven following beads, we petition St. Joseph to aide us by reciting the following prayer seven times:

V.  St, Joseph, we love and honor you,
R.  Protect and Guide Us.

After the last set of prayers, the Chaplet is concluded with the Prayer of St. Joseph prescribed by Pope Leo XIII.

To you, O blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction, and having implored the help of your thrice holy Spouse, We now, with hearts filled with confidence, Earnestly beg you also to take us under your protection. By that charity, by which you were united to the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and by that fatherly love, with which you did cherish the Child Jesus, We beseech you and we humbly pray that you will look down with gracious eyes upon That inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His Blood, And will aid us in our need by your power and strength. Defend O most watchful guardian of the Holy family, The chosen offspring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving Father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, most valiant defender, In this conflict with the powers of darkness, and even as of old, You did rescue the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, So now defend God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under your patronage, that, following your example and strengthened by your help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen

St. Joseph hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
St. Joseph of the House of David, pray for us. 
St. Joseph of the House of David, pray for us.
St. Joseph of the House of David, pray for us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MARCH: Devotion to Saint Joseph

218. In activating His plan of salvation, God, in His sapient providence, assigned to Joseph of Nazareth, "the just man" (cf. Mt 1, 19), and spouse of the Virgin Mary (cf. ibid; Lk 1, 27), a particularly important mission: legally to insert Jesus Christ into the line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be born, and to act as his father and guardian.

In virtue of this mission, St. Joseph features in the mysteries of the infancy of Jesus: God revealed to him that Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit; (cf. Mt 1,20-21); he witnessed the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2, 6-7), the adoration of the shepherds (cf. Lk 2, 15-16), the adoration of the Magi (cf. Mt 2, 11); he fulfilled his mission religiously with regard to the rearing of Christ, having had him circumcised according to the discipline of the Covenant of Abraham (Lk 2, 21) and in giving him the name of Jesus ( Mt 1, 21); in accordance with the Law of the Lord, he presented Christ in the Temple and made the offering prescribed for the poor (cf. Lk 2,22-24; Ex 13, 2. 12-13), and listened in wonder to the prophecy of Simeon (cf Lk 2, 25-33); he protected the Mother of Christ and her Son from the persecution of Herod by taking them to Egypt (cf. Mt 2, 13-23); together with Mary and Jesus, he went every year to Jerusalem for the Passover, and was distraught at having lost the twelve year old Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2, 43-50); he lived in Nazareth and exercised paternal authority over Jesus who was submissive to him (Lk 2, 51); he instructed Jesus in the law and in the craft of carpentry.

219. The virtues of St. Joseph have been the object of ecclesial reflection down through the centuries, especially the more recent centuries. Among those virtues the following stand out: faith, with which he fully accepted God's salvific plan; prompt and silent obedience to the will of God; love for and fulfilment of the law, true piety, fortitude in time of trial; chaste love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, a dutiful exercise of his paternal authority, and fruitful reticence.

220. Popular piety has grasped the significance, importance and universality of the patronage of St. Joseph "to whose care God entrusted the beginning of our redemption", "and his most valuable treasures". The following have been entrusted to the patronage of St. Joseph: the entire Church was placed under the patronage and protection of this Holy patriarch by the Blessed Pius IX; those who are consecrated to God by celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 19, 12): "in St Joseph they have [...] a type and a protector of chaste integrity"; workers and craftsmen, for whom the carpenter of Nazareth is a singular model; the dying, since pious tradition holds that he was assisted by Mary and Jesus in his last agony.

221. The person and role of St. Joseph is frequently celebrated in the Liturgy, especially in connection with nativity and infancy of Christ: during Advent; Christmastide, especially the feast of the Holy Family, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph (19 March), and on his memorial (1 May).

St. Joseph is also mentioned in the Communicantes of the Roman Canon and in the Litany of the Saints. The invocation of the Holy Patriarch is suggested in the Commendation of the Dying, as well as the community's prayer that the souls of the dead, having left this world, may "be taken to the peace of the new and eternal Jerusalem, and be with Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, and all of the Angels and Saints".

222. St. Joseph plays a prominent part in popular devotion: in numerous popular traditions; the custom of reserving Wednesdays for devotion to St. Joseph, popular at least since the end of the seventeenth century, has generated several pious exercises including that of the Seven Wednesdays; in the pious aspirations made by the faithful; in prayers such as that of Pope Leo XIII, A te, Beate Ioseph, which is daily recited by the faithful; in the Litany of St Joseph, approved by St. Pope Pius X; and in the recitation of the chaplet of St Joseph, recollecting the Seven agonies and seven joys of St. Joseph.

223. That the solemnity of St. Joseph (19 March) falls in Lent, when the Church concentrates her attention on preparation for Baptism and the memorial of the Lord's Passion, inevitably gives rise to an attempt to harmonize the Liturgy and popular piety. Hence, the traditional practices of a "month of St. Joseph" should be synchronized with the liturgical Year. Indeed, the liturgical renewal movement attempted to instill among the faithful a realization of the importance of the meaning of Lent. Where the necessary adaptations can be made to the various expressions of popular piety, devotion to St. Joseph should naturally be encouraged among the faithful who should be constantly remained of this "singular example [...] which, surpassing all states of life, should be recommended to the entire Christian community, whatever their condition or rank".

Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
December 2001