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Solemnity of St. Joseph

March 19, 2011

Blessed Solemnity of St. Joseph!

We get to feast in the midst of our Lenten fast!
Solemnities have the same rank as Sundays,
so if you’re celebrating your “little Easter” every Sunday
by enjoying some of the things you’ve given up,
you get yet another day of enjoyment thanks to St. Joseph.

Today is also the last of the Spring Ember days.

Father, You entrusted our Savior to the care of St. Joseph.
By the help of his prayers
may Your Church continue to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 (David’s throne will endure forever)
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29 “Save me, O Lord, in your steadfast love”
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 (Abraham is the father of all who have his faith)
+Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 (an angel tells Joseph to take Mary as his wife)
or +Luke 2:41-51 (the finding of Jesus in the temple)

Go to Joseph
-Genesis 41:55

Go to the faithful and wise steward
whom God has put in charge of His family
to give them their portion of grain in due season (see Luke 12:42).

Go to the royal son of David
who fulfilled prophesy by providing a house for God (II Samuel 7:13)
–not a gilded temple this time, but rather the love-filled home in Nazareth
where Jesus spent most of His earthly life.

Go to the man who, like Abraham, is our father in faith;
the man who became a father through faithful obedience
to the word God spoke to him:

Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife…
she is to have a son and you are to name Him Jesus
-Matthew 1:20-21

By becoming one with the Virgin Mother of God in holy matrimony,
Joseph received her Child as the fruit of that holy union,
taking on all the rights and responsibilities of a virgin father.
The angel made this explicit by commanding Joseph
to take on the fatherly responsibility of naming this Child.
Jesus grew in wisdom and age and grace before God and men
as He obeyed Joseph’s fatherly authority! (Luke 2:52)

Furthermore, just as Mary is our mother
by virtue of our incorporation into the Body of her Son
(see Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 12:12, 27, Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23, Colossians 1:18),
so St. Joseph fathers not only the Head of the mystical Body of Christ (Jesus),
but Its members as well (the Church).
He, like all fathers, participates in the fatherhood of God (see Ephesians 3:15),
but as a righteous man (Matthew 1:19),
he participates in this fatherhood
in a way that is totally dependent on and obedient to God.
If we can call Abraham our father in faith (Romans 4:17),
how much more St. Joseph!

We see, then, the Holy Family as the Church in miniature,
the original “Domestic Church”.
All of us, as adopted sons of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus
(Romans 8:16, 29, Galatians 4:5-7, Ephesians 1:5), are members of this blessed family.
As God set St. Joseph in authority over this first Holy Family
(even though he was the least of the three!),
so He sets St. Joseph in authority over the Universal Church.
This was made official in 1870,
when Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church.

Even more of St. Joseph’s role comes into focus
in light of the first Joseph in the Old Testament (see Genesis 37, 39-48, esp. ch. 41).
Both were sons of Jacob.
The first Joseph received a multicolored coat from his father as a sign of princely dignity,
but was later reduced to slavery.
St. Joseph inherited a royal lineage from his father as son of David,
yet led the humble life of a manual laborer (Matthew 13:55).
Both Josephs were led by dreams.
Both went down into Egypt under emergency conditions (Genesis 37, Matthew 2:13-14).
Both were righteous men, especially known for safeguarding purity
(see Genesis 39, Matthew 1:25).
Both were husbands and fathers.
Pharaoh set Joseph in authority over the whole land of Egypt, second only to himself.
God set St. Joseph in authority over the Holy Family (see Sirach 3:2),
second only to God Himself.
Pharaoh gave the first Joseph a name that means “savior of the world”
for his work in storing up food in years of plenty…
and in doing this the first Joseph also saved the life of Judah,
the ancestor of the Messiah (!).
St. Joseph saved the Messiah Himself, the Bread of Life (John 6:35),
by preventing Mary from being stoned while Jesus was in her womb (Matthew 1:19),
by fleeing with Mary and Jesus into Egypt when Herod sought to kill Him (Matthew 2:13)
and by going to Nazareth instead of Judea on their return
to avoid Herod’s untrustworthy son (Matthew 2:22).
In other words, St. Joseph repeatedly saved our Savior,
in addition to tending the only food that will save our souls from spiritual starvation!

We owe him, big time!

Let’s go to Joseph. He will take us to God.

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
R/ Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, hear us.
R/ Jesus, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
R/ have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Spirit,
R/ have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
R/ have mercy on us.

(Response for each of the following invocations: pray for us)

Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
R/ have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of His household.
R/ And prince over all His possessions.

Let us pray.
O God, in Your ineffable providence You were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph
to be the spouse of Your most holy Mother;
grant, we beg You, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in Heaven
whom on earth we venerate as our Protector:
You who live and reign forever and ever. R/ Amen.

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