Novena to St. Joseph (March 10-18)
March 10, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

 

Novena to Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer

Day 1 (Betrothal)

 

 

 

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary,

of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (Matt. 1:16)

 Joseph became a unique guardian of the mystery “hidden for ages in God” (Eph 3:9), as did Mary, in that decisive moment which St. Paul calls “the fullness of time,” when “God sent forth his Son, born of woman...to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). In the words of the Council: “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will (cf. Eph 1:9). His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and become sharers in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2 Pt 1: 4).”Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery. Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God’s self-revelation in Christ and he does so from the very beginning (John Paul II; Redemptoris Custos; August 15, 1989; quoted passim throughout).

We beg thee, Lord, assist us by the merits of the spouse of thy most holy Mother,

so that what is beyond the reach of our own effort may be given us by his intercession:

Who art God, living and reigning with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit

for ever and ever. Amen.

(Roman Missal; Traditional Collect; March 19)

 

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Day 2 (Annunciation)

 


 

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,  but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. (Matt 1:18-25)

One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as truth coming from God the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation. The Council teaches: “‘The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him.” This statement, which touches the very essence of faith, is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother:

Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

(Lesser Feasts and Fasts; March 19)

 

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Day 3 (Nativity)

 

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered…. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

St. Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood. It is precisely in this way that, as the Church’s Liturgy teaches, he “cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation” and is truly a “minister of salvation.” His fatherhood is expressed concretely “in his having made his life a service, a sacrifice to the mystery of the Incarnation and to the redemptive mission connected with it; in having used the legal authority which was his over the Holy Family in order to make a total gift of self, of his life and work; in having turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of self, an oblation of his heart and all his abilities into love placed at the service of the Messiah growing up in his house.”

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that by Saint Joseph's intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation,

whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Roman Missal; March 19)

 ***

Day 4 (Presentation)

 

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:21-24) 

At the circumcision Joseph names the child “Jesus.” This is the only name in which there is salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Its significance had been revealed to Joseph at the moment of his “annunciation”: “You shall call the child Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (cf. Mt 1:21). In conferring the name, Joseph declares his own legal fatherhood over Jesus, and in speaking the name he proclaims the child’s mission as Savior. The ransoming of the first-born is another obligation of the father, and it is fulfilled by Joseph. Represented in the first-born is the people of the covenant, ransomed from slavery in order to belong to God. Here too, Jesus - who is the true “price” of ransom (cf. 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; 1 Pt l:19) - not only “fulfills” the Old Testament rite, but at the same time transcends it, since he is not a subject to be redeemed, but the very author of redemption.

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother:

Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)


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Day 5 (Flight)

 


Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” (Matt. 2:13-15)

 In recalling that “the beginnings of our redemption” were entrusted “to the faithful care of Joseph,” the Liturgy specifies that “God placed him at the head of his family, as a faithful and prudent servant, so that with fatherly care he might watch over his only begotten Son.” Leo XIII emphasized the sublime nature of this mission: “He among all stands out in his august dignity, since by divine disposition he was guardian, and according to human opinion, father of God’s Son. Whence it followed that the Word of God was subjected to Joseph, he obeyed him and rendered to him that honor and reverence that children owe to their father.” Since it is inconceivable that such a sublime task would not be matched by the necessary qualities to adequately fulfill it, we must recognize that Joseph showed Jesus “by a special gift from heaven, all the natural love, all the affectionate solicitude that a father’s heart can know.” Besides fatherly authority over Jesus, God also gave Joseph a share in the corresponding love, the love that has its origin in the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15)

 God ever near to us, you numbered your Son, together with Mary and Joseph,

among the homeless of the earth, and counted them among the countless refugees

who have fled from hiding out of fear for their lives. 

Shield our families from the dangers to which this world exposes them. 

Clothe us with compassion and kindness, with gentleness, patience and mutual forgiveness,

so that we in turn may provide others with the shelter of a home where everyone is welcomed. 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.  Amen.

(Feast of the Holy Family; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

***

 

 

Day 6 (Return)

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.  There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” (Matt. 2:19-23)

The Church deeply venerates this Family, and proposes it as the model of all families. Inserted directly in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Family of Nazareth has its own special mystery. And in this mystery, as in the Incarnation, one finds a true fatherhood: the human form of the family of the Son of God, a true human family, formed by the divine mystery. In this family, Joseph is the father: his fatherhood is not one that derives from begetting offspring; but neither is it an “apparent” or merely “substitute” fatherhood. Rather, it is one that fully shares in authentic human fatherhood and the mission of a father in the family. This is a consequence of the hypostatic union: humanity taken up into the unity of the Divine Person of the Word-Son, Jesus Christ. Together with human nature, all that is human, and especially the family - as the first dimension of man’s existence in the world - is also taken up in Christ. Within this context, Joseph’s human fatherhood was also “taken up” in the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks,

Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, and on the commemoration of Saint Joseph to give you fitting praise,

to glorify you and bless you.

For this just man was given by you as spouse to the Virgin Mother of God

and set as a wise and faithful servant in charge of your household to watch like a father over your Only Begotten Son,

who was conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you.

Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together with exultation.

May our voices, we pray, join with theirs in humble praise, as we acclaim: Holy, holy, holy…. 

(Preface of St. Joseph; Roman Missal)

 

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 Day 7 (Finding)

 

 

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41-52)

The reply of Jesus in the Temple brought once again to the mind of his “presumed father” what he had heard on that night twelve years earlier: “Joseph...do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” From that time onwards he knew that he was a guardian of the mystery of God, and it was precisely this mystery that the twelve- year-old Jesus brought to mind: “I must be in my Father’s house.” The words which Mary spoke to the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple take on their full significance: “Your father and I...have been looking for you.” This is no conventional phrase: Mary’s words to Jesus show the complete reality of the Incarnation present in the mystery of the Family of Nazareth. From the beginning, Joseph accepted with the “obedience of faith” his human fatherhood over Jesus. And thus, following the light of the Holy Spirit who gives himself to human beings through faith, he certainly came to discover ever more fully the indescribable gift that was his human fatherhood.

O God, ever faithful to your covenant,

you strengthened Saint Joseph to embrace the mystery of your will and to welcome your Word,

made flesh of the Virgin Mary.

Keep your Church also steadfast in faith,

ready to trust in your promises and eager to fulfill your saving purpose. 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

(March 19; Sunday Celebration of the Word and Hours)

 

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Day 8 (Nurture)

 

 

Jesus came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? (Matt. 13:54-56)

 Why should the “fatherly” love of Joseph not have had an influence upon the “filial” love of Jesus? And vice versa why should the “filial” love of Jesus not have had an influence upon the “fatherly” love of Joseph, thus leading to a further deepening of their unique relationship?Joseph experienced both love of the truth-that pure contemplative love of the divine Truth which radiated from the humanity of Christ-and the demands of love-that equally pure and selfless love required for his vocation to safeguard and develop the humanity of Jesus, which was inseparably linked to his divinity.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always,

here and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God. 

In your providence you chose Saint Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son,

to bring him up with a father’s love and to be for your people a saving example,

a model and industrious craftsman. 

Though born of David’s royal line he earned his bread in the sweat of his brow,

gracing his labors with holiness in the company of Jesus and  Mary.

To his trade he gave such nobility of spirit that your only Son our Lord was not ashamed to be called the Carpenter’s son. 

And so, with him and all the angels and saints we celebrate your glory in this,

their exultant hymn of praise:  Holy, holy, holy…..  

(Preface of St. Joseph the Worker; Ambrosian rite)

***

Day 9 (Death)

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead--and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial. (Heb. 11:13-22)

The path that was Joseph’s- his pilgrimage of faith - ended first, that is to say, before Mary stood at the foot of the cross on Golgotha, and before the time after Christ returned to the Father, when she was present in the upper room on Pentecost, the day the Church was manifested to the world, having been born in the power of the Spirit of truth. Nevertheless, Joseph’s way of faith moved in the same direction: it was totally determined by the same mystery, of which he, together with Mary, had been the first guardian. The Second Vatican Council made all of us sensitive once again to the “great things which God has done,” and to that “economy of salvation” of which St. Joseph was a special minister. Commending ourselves, then, to the protection of him to whose custody God “entrusted his greatest and most precious treasures,” let us at the same time learn from him how to be servants of the “economy of salvation.”

O God, Creator of all things,

who laid down for the human race the law of work,

graciously grant that by the example of Saint Joseph and under his patronage

we may complete the works you set us to do and attain the rewards you promise.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

(May 1; St. Joseph the Worker)