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Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts

Saint Joseph

Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Wednesday after the feast of Jesus the Good Shepherd

Reflections on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger

THE PATRONAGE OF SAINT JOSEPH
The Easter mysteries are superseded today by a special subject, which is offered for our consideration. The holy Church invites us to spend this Sunday in honouring the Spouse of Mary, the Foster-Father of the Son of God. And yet, as we offered him the yearly tribute of our devotion on the 19th of March, it is not, properly speaking, his Feast that we are to celebrate today. It is a solemn expression of gratitude offered to Joseph, the Protector of the Faithful, the refuge and support of all that invoke him with confidence. The innumerable favours he has bestowed upon the world entitle him to this additional homage. With a view to her children’s interests, the Church would, on this day, excite their confidence in this powerful and ever ready helper.

The goodness of God and our Redeemer’s fidelity to His promises have ever kept pace with the necessities of the world; so that, in every age, appropriate and special aid has been given to the world for its maintaining the supernatural life. An uninterrupted succession of seasonable grace has been the result of this merciful dispensation, and each generation has had given to it a special motive for confidence in its Redeemer.

God has given Saint Joseph a power, which is above our calculations. Hence it is, that the Church invites us, on this day, to have recourse, with unreserved confidence, to this all-powerful Protector. The world we live in is filled with miseries which would make stronger hearts than ours quake with fear: but, let us invoke Saint Joseph with faith, and we shall be protected. In all our necessities, whether of soul or body, –in all the trials and anxieties we may have to go through,– let us have recourse to Saint Joseph, and we shall not be disappointed. The king of Egypt said to his people, when they were suffering from famine: «Go to Joseph». The King of Heaven says the same to us: the faithful guardian of Mary has greater influence with God, than Jacob’s son had with Pharaoh.

Let us pray. – O God, who, by Thy unspeakable Providence, didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother; grant that, as we venerate him for our Protector on earth, we may deserve to be aided by his intercession in heaven. Who livest and reignest…. Amen.

Epistle

Lesson from the book of Genesis, Ch. XLIX
Joseph is a growing son, a growing son and comely to behold. But they, that held darts, provoked him, and quarrelled 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 Shepherd, 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 fathers: until the Desire of the everlasting hills shall come, may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarene among his brethren.

Reflection on the Epistle

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.

Gospel

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, Ch. III.
At that time : It came to pass, when all the people were baptised, that Jesus also being baptised, 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”.

Reflection on the Gospel

O glorious Saint 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 fulfil 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 favours, –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.