Tag Archives: St Joseph

Saint Joseph…a contemplative of pure love

St Joseph“… the apparent tension between the active and the contemplative life finds an ideal harmony that is only possible for those who possess the perfection of charity. Following St. Augustine’s well-known distinction between the love of the truth and the practical demands of love, we can say that 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.”

Blessed John Paul II
Guardian of the Redeemer

Saint Joseph: participator in Mary’s dignity

Go to JosephThe Catholic devotion to Saint Joseph is strong and vital, and it is has been for centuries. You will see the phrase, “Ite ad Joseph” at the Saint Joseph shrine or altar. In fact, over the head of Joseph in this image you see the scroll with just that: Ite ad Joseph. The beloved spouse of Mary, since 1870, has been the Patron of the Church, named so by Pope Pius IX. In biblical typology of the OT Saint Joseph is prefigured by an earlier Joseph who is the protector of Israel.

Pope Leo XIII in his 1889 encyclical, Quamquam pluries, speaks of Saint Joseph an “exemplary model of kindness and humility.” Such are the virtues that we expect all Christians to possess and develop: this is especially true for fathers, parents, priests, educators, and the like. As the spouse of Mary and earthly father of Jesus we come to understand Joseph as a “participator in her [Mary’s] sublime dignity.” Leo develops in a new way a theology of Joseph in looking at his chaste spousal relationship to Mary by describing him for us when he says that Joseph was “closer than any” other person.

Leo also designated Saint Joseph to be the universal patron of the Church.

One aspect of Saint Joseph that’s not well spoken of but was raised by Pope Leo is Joseph as protector, guide, patron of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Considering biblical typology with regard to Joseph we see the Spouse of Mary as connected with, that is, echoing, Joseph of Egypt found earlier in the OT and as the earthly father of Jesus he is custodian of holiness. This man of righteousness we say exercised significant overseeing of Jesus is the “true bread come down from heaven.” Hence, Joseph’s role as guardian of the Holy Child, it is not unrealistic to consider as crucial to the life of both the ministerial AND lay priesthood. What is seen in Joseph is now seen in the our priestly life. Catholics distinguish the two priesthoods, one serving the other in a unique manner all oriented to salvation in Christ Jesus.

Just as Joseph attended to his family and daily work, he also was attentive to life of prayer and sacrifice given to him through the Torah (the Law of Moses). It is fitting to see these things held in creative tension but likely with an accent on prayer. All the things we say that Joseph could have done that would be opposite to having concern for Mary and Jesus were actually fulfilled because the Holy Spirit was such a powerful presence in Joseph. Without this Divine Presence Joseph would have collapsed under the weight of self-absorption. The intense friendship (that is, obedience) with the Divine Majesty allowed for his earthly love to taken on a new dynamism for all of history. One might say, like we ascribe to Mary, that Joseph was the second disciple of Jesus. Yet, he is the first to experience this discipleship in an unrepeatable way as being that close to the dignity of Mother and Son.

One last point of salvation history, Joseph is a fitting patron of the priesthood because he was the spouse of Mary, and that the report of Fatima is that he was with Mary then, leading up to these last days in the Lord.

Saint Joseph, husband of Mary

Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God’s Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen.

Blessed John XXIII


Pope’s Christmas greetings to Roman Curia

color armsThe Holy Father meets with the Roman Curia typically on the Third Saturday of Advent in the Clementine Hall. In the past the papal address was longer and had a slightly different tone and content. Francis’ talk this year is spiritual with with a tone of fraternal correction aiming at a more substantive pastoral ministry for the of the person, and that of others. What the pope said to the curia is applicable to all. It ought to be attended to by all of us.

The Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas.  They are days marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the creche…  It is in this climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the Superiors and Officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the service of the Church.  I greet all of you with affection.  Allow me to extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!

While our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to one another.  In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of service, and to each of you individually.  I thank you for the work which you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you display; and for your effort I know it is not always easy – to work together in the office, both to listen to and challenge one another, and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts, in a spirit of mutual respect.

In a particular way, I want to express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and approaching retirement.  As priests and bishops, we know full well that we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not least to devote ourselves a little more fully to prayer and the care of souls, starting with our own!  So a very special and heartfelt “thank you” goes to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world.  This is something truly admirable.  I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons…  We need them today, too!  People who work with competence, precision and self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties.  Here I would like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people notice are the ones that are missing!    Besides, I would also risk overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of charity.  But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.

They are also an example, and their example and their witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to emphasize: professionalism and service.

Professionalism, by which I mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things…  This is a basic requisite for working in the Curia.  Naturally, professionalism is something which develops, and is in part acquired; but I think that, precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good foundation from the outset.

The second hallmark is service: service to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to the particular Churches.  In the Roman Curia, one learns – in a special way, “one breathes in” – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of the universal and the particular.  I think that this is one of the finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: “to sense” the Church in this way.  When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity.  Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives.  Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customshouse, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.

To these two qualities of professionalism and service, I would also like to add a third, which is holiness of life.  We know very well that, in the hierarchy of values, this is the most important.  Indeed, it is basic for the quality of our work, our service.  Here I would like to say that in the Roman Curia there have been, and still are, saints.  I have said this publicly on more than one occasion, as a way of thanking the Lord.  Holiness means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers.  It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s people.  For priests, this is indispensable.

Holiness, in the Curia, also means conscientious objection.  Yes, conscientious objection to gossip!  We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection, but perhaps we too need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip.  So let us all be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching!  For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final stretch of the road to Bethlehem.  We would do well to meditate on Saint Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady.  Let us think about him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the Baby Jesus.  This can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church!   So let us experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint Joseph.  This will benefit all of us!

I thank you most heartily for your work and especially for your prayers.  Truly I feel “borne aloft” by your prayers and I ask you to continue to support me in this way.  I too remember you before the Lord, and I impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas filled with light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones.  Happy Christmas!

Adding the name of St Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayer

St Joseph with child.jpg

The Prefect and Secretary of Congregation for Divine Worship have prepared a decree, Paternas vices (Prot. N. 215/11/L), indicating that in praying Eucharistic prayers II-IV, the priest is to insert the name of Saint Joseph. The decree states: “henceforth” and “… by virtue of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff FRANCIS, is pleased to decree that the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is henceforth to be added to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, IV….”

Blessed John XXIII added the name of Saint Joseph to the Roman Canon in 1962.

At this point, no effective date has been determined for usage (See CIC 8). However, the cover letter from the USCCB General Secretary mentions that it is to be done “as soon as possible.” There is, however, a significant question as to when the priest can legitimately make the change in the Eucharistic Prayer.

The Latin:

II: “ut cum beáta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María, beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, beátis Apóstolis”
III: “cum beatissíma Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum beátis Apóstolis”
IV: “cum beáta Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum Apóstolis”

The English:

II: that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with Blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with the blessed Apostles

III: with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with your blessed Apostles and glorious Martyrs

IV: with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, and with your Apostles

The Spanish:

II: con María, la Virgen Madre de Dios, su esposo san José, los apóstoles y…

III: con María, la Virgen Madre de Dios, su esposo san José, los apóstoles y los mártires…

IV: con María, la Vigen Madre de Dios, con su esposo san José, con los apóstoles y los santos…

Ite ad Ioseph


Joseph EP Paternas vices decree.jpg

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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