WEDNESDAY OCTAVE DAY OF THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH
The Liturgical Year – Dom Gueranger, O.S.B
O glorious St. Joseph! Father and Protector of the Faithful, we bless our Mother the Church, for that she, now that the world is drawing to the close of its existence, has taught us to confide in thee. Many ages passed away, and thy glories had not been made known to the world; but even then, thou wast one of mankind’s most powerful intercessors. Most affectionately didst thou fulfill thy office as head of the great human family, whereof the Incarnate Word was a member. Nations and individuals experienced the benefit of thy prayers; but there was not the public acknowledgment of thy favors, — there was not the homage of gratitude, which is now offered to thee. The more perfect knowledge of thy glories, and, the honouring thee as the Protector of mankind, — these were reserved for our own unhappy times, when the state of the world is such as to require help beyond that which was granted to former ages. We come before thee, O Joseph! to honour the unlimited power of thine intercession, and the love thou bearest for all the children of the Church, the Brethren of Jesus. Thou, O Mary! art pleased at seeing us honour him, whom thou didst so tenderly love. Never are our prayers so welcome to thee, as when they are presented to thee by his hands. The union, formed by heaven between thyself and Joseph, will last for all eternity; and the unbounded love thou hast for Jesus is an additional motive for thee’ to love him who was the Foster-father of thy Child, and the Guardian of thy Virginity. — O Joseph, we also are the children of Mary, thy Spouse; treat us as such, bless us, watch over us, and receive the prayers which now more than ever, the Church encourages us to present to thee.
Thou art the pillar of the world,” — columen mundi; thou art one of the foundations whereon it rests ; because of thy merits and prayers, our Lord has patience with it, in spite of the iniquities which defile it. How truly may we say of these our times: There is now no saint; — truths are decayed from among the children of men! How powerful then, must not thine intercession be, to avert the indignation of God, and induce him to show us his mercy ! Grow not weary of thy labour, O thou universal Protector! The Church of thy Jesus comes before thee, on this day, beseeching thee to persevere in thy task of love. See this world of ours, now it is become one great volcano of danger by the boasted liberty granted to sin and heresy! Delay not thine aid, but quickly procure for us what will give us security and peace. Whatever may be our necessities, thou art willing and able to assist us. We may be the poorest and last among the children of the Church; it matters not; thou lovest us with all the affectionate compassion of a Father. What a joy is not this to our hearts, O Joseph! — We will therefore turn to thee in our spiritual wants. We will beg thee to assist us in the gaining the virtues we stand in need of, in the battles we have to fight against the enemies of our souls, and in the sacrifices which duty asks at our hands. Make us worthy to be called thy Children, O thou Father of the Faithful! Nor is thy power limited to what regards our eternal welfare; daily experience shows us how readily thou canst procure for us the blessing of God upon our temporal interests, provided they are in accordance with his divine will. Hence it is, that we hope for thy protection and aid in what concerns our worldly prospects. The house of Nazareth was confided to thy care; deign to give counsel and help to all them that make thee the Patron of all that regards their earthly well-being. Glorious Guardian of the Holy Family, the family of Christendom is placed under thy special Patronage; watch over it in these troubled times. Hear the prayers of them that seek thine aid, when about to choose the partner who is to share with them the joys and the sorrows of this world, and help them to prepare for their passage to eternity. Maintain between husbands and wives that mutual respect, which is the safeguard of their fidelity to each other. Obtain for them the pledge of heaven’s blessings. Fill them with such reverence for the holy state to which they have been called, that they may never deserve the reproach given by St. Paul to certain married people of that day, whom he compares to heathens, who know not God. Grant us, also, Joseph, another favour. There is one moment of our lives, which is the most important of all, since eternity depends upon it: it is the moment of our Death. And yet we feel our fear abated by the thought, that God’s mercy has made thee the special Patron of the Dying. Thou hast been intrusted with the office of making Death happy and holy to those who invoke thee. To whom could such a prerogative have been given more appropriately than to thee, O Joseph, whose admirable death was one of the sublimest spectacles ever witnessed by Angels or by men, for Jesus and Mary were by thy side, as thou didst breathe forth thy soul. Be, then, our helper at that awful hour of our Death. We hope to have Mary’s protection, for we daily pray to her that she would aid us at the hour of our Death ; but we know that Mary is pleased at our having confidence in thee, and that where thou art, she also is sure to be. Encouraged by thy fatherly love, O Joseph! We will calmly await the coming of our last hour; for if we are careful in recommending it to thee, thou wilt not fail to take it under thy protection.
SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, CONFESSOR AND PATRON OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH
DOUBLE – MAJOR FEAST
Commentary taken from The Liturgical Year by Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger
On this Feast, dedicated to St. Joseph as Protector of the Faithful, the Church, in the Introit of the Mass, speaks to us of the confidence we should have in the Protection of God: she uses the words of the Royal Prophet, and would have us make them our own. Now, St. Joseph is the Minister of this Divine Protection, and God promises it to us, if we address ourselves to this his incomparable Servant.
INTROITUS – Psalm 32: 20, 21
Adjutor, et protector noster est Dominus: ideo laetabitur cor nostrum, et in nomine sancto ejus speravimus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis, velut ovem, Joseph. V. Gloria Patri .
Adjutor, et protector noster est Dominus…
The Lord is our helper and protector: in Him our heart shall rejoice, and in His holy Name we have trusted, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (Ps. 79. 1). Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. V. Glory be to the Father.
The Lord is our helper and protector…
In the Collect, the Church lays stress upon God’s choosing St. Joseph as Mary’s Spouse, and teaches us that one of the consequences of this choice was our having a Protector, who will be ready to assist us by his all-powerful intercession, as often as we pray to him.
O God, who in Thine unspeakable Providence wast pleased to choose blessed Joseph for the Spouse of Thy Most Holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom we honor as our protector upon earth. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost.
EPISTLE – Genesis 49: 22-26
Lesson from the Book of Genesis.
Joseph was a growing son, a growing son, and comely to behold: the daughters run to and fro upon the wall. But they that held darts provoked him, and quarreled with him and envied him. His bow rested upon the strong, and the bands of his arms and his hands were loosed, by the hands of the mighty one of Jacob: thence he came forth a pastor, the stone of Israel. The God of thy father shall be thy helper, and the Almighty shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above, with the blessings of the deep that lieth beneath, with the blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of thy father are strengthened with the blessings of his father: until the desire of the everlasting hills shall come; may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren.
This magnificent prophecy of the dying Jacob, wherein he makes known to his son Joseph the glorious destiny which awaits himself and his children, is most appropriate to this Feast; it reminds us of the beautiful comparison drawn, by St. Bernard, between the two Josephs. We refer our readers to the 19th of March, where they will find the passage we allude to, and in which we are told that the first Joseph was a type of the second. After prophesying what was to happen to his ten eldest sons, the Patriarch Jacob speaks, with marked partiality, concerning the son of Rachel. After speaking of his comeliness, he alludes to the persecution he received from his Brothers, and to the wondrous ways where by God delivered him out of their hands, and exalted him to glory and power. The words he uses may well be applied to the second Joseph, the Spouse of Mary, and the Protector of the Faithful; for who better deserves the title of Shepherd and Stone (i.e., strength) of Israel? We are all of us his family: he affectionately watches over us: and, in our troubles, we may rely upon him, with all confidence, as our staunch unfailing defender. St. Joseph’s in heritance is the Church, sanctified and made fruitful by the ceaseless blessing of the Waters of Baptism: it is in the Church that he exercises his beneficent power upon all who confide in him. Jacob promised the most lavish blessings upon the first Joseph; and these blessings were to last till the Saviour, the desire of the everlasting hills should come, when the second Joseph would begin his ministry, — a ministry of help and Protection, which would continue till the second coming of the Son of God. Finally, if the first Joseph be spoken of, in this prophecy, as a Nazarite, (that is, one consecrated to God,) and as a Saint among his Brethren, the second Joseph is to fulfil the prediction still more literally; for, not only will his sanctity surpass that of Jacob’s son, but his very home will be Nazareth. In that city he will dwell with Mary; to that city he will return after the exile in Egypt; in that city he will terminate his holy career; in a word, Jesus, the Eternal Word, shall be called a Nazarite because he is to live in that city with his Foster-Father.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. In whatever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them, and be their protector always.
Alleluia. Obtain for us, Joseph, grace to lead an innocent life: and may our life ever be shielded by thy patronage. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – Luke 3: 21-23
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time: It came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized and praying, heaven was opened: and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape as a dove upon Him: and a voice came from heaven: Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased. And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years: being (as it was supposed) the Son of Joseph.
Being, as it was supposed, the Son of Joseph! Jesus’ filial affection for his Mother, — his jealousy for the honour of the purest of Virgins, — led him to treat Joseph as his Father, and to allow himself to be called the Son of Joseph! Joseph heard the Son of God call him Father. He had charge of, he laboured for the maintenance of the Son of the Eternal Father. He was the head of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and Jesus recognized his authority. The plan of the Mystery of the Incarnation required that these relations should exist between the Creator and the Creature. As the Son of God, now that he is seated at the right hand of the Eternal Father, has kept our Human Nature indissolubly united with his Divine Person; so, likewise, has he retained the feelings he had, when here on earth, for Mary and Joseph. With regard to Mary, his love for her, as his Mother, has but increased; and as to Joseph, it is impossible to suppose that the affection and respect he had for him, have now ceased to exist in the Heart of the Man-God. No mortal was ever on such terms of intimacy and familiarity with Jesus as Joseph was. Jesus was grateful to Joseph for the paternal care he received from him; what more natural than to believe, that Jesus now repays him with special honours and power in heaven? It is the belief of the Church; it is the conviction of the Faithful; it is the motive which suggested the present Feast.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 147: 12, 13
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, because He hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates: He hath blessed thy children within thee. Alleluia, alleluia.
Supported by the patronage of thy Spouse of Thy Most Holy Mother, we beseech Thy clemency, O Lord, that Thou wouldst make our hearts to despise all earthy things and to love Thee, the true God, with perfect charity: who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost.
PREFACE OF ST. JOSEPH
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should magnify with due praises, bless and proclaim Thee on the Solemnity of blessed Joseph; who, being a just man, was given by Thee as a Spouse to the Virgin Mother of God, and, as a faithful and prudent servant was set over Thy Family, that, with fatherly care, he might guard Thine only-begotten Son, conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, even Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say with lowly praise:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
COMMUNION – Matthew 1: 16
But Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ, alleluia, alleluia.
We who are refreshed at the fountain of divine blessing, beseech Thee, O Lord our God: that as Thou makest us to rejoice in the protection of blessed Joseph so, by his merits and intercession, Thou wouldst make us to be sharers of heavenly glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth.