Illustrious son of David, Light of the Patriarchs, Spouse of the Mother of God, Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, Foster-father of the Son of God, Watchful Defender of Christ, Head of the Holy Family— all of these and many other titles are attributed to Glorious Saint Joseph in just one of the many Litanies prayed in this great Saint’s honor.
Therefore, let us strive to get to know, make a sincere effort to love, and to cultivate within the depths of our hearts a limitless confidence in the greatest of all the saints—the Glorious Saint Joseph.
THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE: WHY THE GREATNESS OF SAINT JOSEPH? In theology we render various distinct degrees of honor to God, Mary, the angels and saints, as well as to the person of Saint Joseph. To God, the three Persons in the Blessed Trinity, is rendered the cult of Latria—meaning, that of praise and adoration. Indeed, only to God do we properly give adoration, glory, and praise.
To the Blessed Virgin Mary is rendered the cult of Hyperdulia—meaning: the highest veneration possible. Then follows Saint Joseph and to him is rendered the cult of Protodulia—meaning: the first in veneration among the saints. Following is that of Dulia—meaning: veneration that is rendered to the saints.
WHY PROTODULIA to Saint Joseph? The Doctors of the Church, Saint Frances de Sales and the Franciscan Doctor, Saint Bernadine of Siena explain the reason for such special veneration. One is honored in direct proportion or commensurate with the office, duty, or vocation of that individual. For example, a married man, imbued with the grace of Matrimony, is capable of being a noble, faithful, and holy spouse, as well as father of the family. Equally important, an ordained priest, if faithful to the grace of Holy Orders, acts in the Person of Christ and can confect the Eucharist, absolve sinners from their sins, and become a saintly priest.
In the case of the Glorious Saint Joseph, the same principle can be applied related to the grace of his office or the grace of his state of life. Indeed, this holy man of God was called to a double vocation: that of being the spouse of Mary, the Mother of God, and even greater, the vocation of being the earthly Father to Jesus the Son of the Eternal Father. Therefore, God definitely showered down upon Glorious Saint Joseph a true deluge of graces so as to carry out with perfection this double vocational state: Spouse of Mary and Earthly Father of the Son of the Eternal God—God, the Father! How sublime the mission of Saint Joseph, but also how abundant did God endow him with ineffable, extraordinary, and sublime graces!
With this knowledge of the Glorious Saint Joseph, we will offer to all people of good will ten concrete ways that we can draw closer to the Glorious Saint Joseph, who will bring us closer to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Indeed, Saint Joseph will never distance us from Mary and Jesus but like a magnet draw us ever more closer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
1. PRAY TO SAINT JOSEPH. In prayer-books, websites, the Liturgy, and devotionals, there are countless prayers that can be offered to Saint Joseph. It is up to you to choose any prayer to your liking, but the key is to pray to Glorious Saint Joseph every day—preferably morning and night! To be as direct and to the point as possible, you can simply say: “Saint Joseph, pray for me! I love and trust you as my Father!” Indeed, a very short but heart-felt and beautiful prayer!
2. IMAGE OF SAINT JOSEPH. If you do not have one already, purchase an attractive image of Glorious Saint Joseph. Icon, painting, statue, drawing or etching—whichever one appeals most to you. Or if you like, purchase the one that inspires you best to talk to Saint Joseph and trust in his loving but most powerful presence. Why not go all out: have an image of Saint Joseph in every bedroom! Only graces and blessings will flow from his presence through an image!
3. PRAY THE LITANY! The introduction to this essay offers you a small taste of some of the beautiful, Biblical, poetic, spiritual and mystical short prayers or phrases attributed to Saint Joseph. Indeed, there are several Litanies in honor of Saint Joseph; they serve as a prayer guide but also as an instructional catechism to get to know better and better this beautiful and shining star in the firmament of heaven.
4. CELEBRATE SAINT JOSEPH’S LITURGICAL FEAST-DAYS IN THE CHURCH CALENDAR. Being such a sublime saint, the Church celebrates two separate Liturgical Feasts to honor Saint Joseph: March 19th, which is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary; and May 1st, the Memorial of Saint Joseph, the worker! All married men need help to be good husbands, and we all need help in our daily work. Saint Joseph is a sure guide, intercessor, and model! He will be at our side to help us, inspire us, and sanctify us through his prayers and example.
5. TERROR OF DEMONS: INVOKE HIS POWERFUL NAME. In the Formal Rite of Exorcism, the Church invokes the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the name of Saint Michael the Archangel, but also Saint Joseph known under the title “Terror of demons” is invoked so as to cast out the evil spirits from our midst! There is a plaque in the Oratory of Saint Joseph in Canada displaying his power to terrify and expel the evil spirits from our presence!
6. PILGRIMAGE IN HONOR OF SAINT JOSEPH. Why not plan and organize a pilgrimage to honor Saint Joseph. Possibilities? A pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the places where Saint Joseph lived, especially Nazareth, would be superb! Another? If possible plan a trip and pilgrimage to Montreal, Canada, in which is located one of the largest Oratories of Saint Joseph in the world.
7. READ UP ON SAINT ANDRE BESSETTE.(1845-1937) Before heading off to this Oratory of Saint Joseph in Canada, it is strongly encouraged to read up on the saint who was responsible for the construction of this wonderful Oratory. His name is Saint Andre Bessette, a charming, prayerful, loving, humble, heart-warming saint who will fill you with great peace and consolation. And of course, he will draw you closer to the heart of the saint that he loved so much—the Glorious Saint Joseph!
8. PRAY THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES WITH GREATER DEVOTION AND ATTENTION. The Joyful Mysteries of the most Holy Rosary focus on contemplating Jesus through the eyes and heart of Mary. However, to contemplate the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary without recognizing the importance and role of Saint Joseph would be gross neglect. For example, at the Nativity or Birth of Jesus, Saint Joseph plays a key role. He travels to Bethlehem, protecting Mary who carries the Christ Child within her; he receives the rejection of the innkeepers. He finds the place where Mary will bring forth the Child Jesus. He accommodates the stable of Bethlehem. In a word, Saint Joseph prepares the whole environment or milieu for the Birth of Jesus, the Son of Mary and the Son of God. How easy it is for us to underestimate the importance of Saint Joseph, to become oblivious to his presence, or worse yet, to simply forget about him. May God forbid!
9. BECOME AN APOSTLE OF GLORIOUS SAINT JOSEPH. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, make a concerted effort to promote the cult of Saint Joseph—love, honor, devotion, and prayers to this shining star in the firmament of heaven. Books on Saint Joseph, statues, Holy cards, prayers, novenas, manger scenes—do all you can to promote a greater love and knowledge of Saint Joseph.
10. DIE IN THE ARMS OF THE HOLY FAMILY: JESUS, MARY, AND SAINT JOSEPH. Saint Catherine of Siena states that the most important moment in our life is the moment that we die, the moment that we pass from time into eternity, the moment that our soul leaves our body to go before the Judgment Seat of God. Among the many titles given to Saint Joseph, one of the most pertinent is that of Patron of the dying or Patron of a holy and happy death. Why not pray even now that you will have the extraordinary grace to die in the arms of Saint Joseph so that He will take you to Mary and Jesus and heaven—your eternal destiny.
Related in the grace of a holy and happy death in the arms of Saint Joseph we conclude with this beautiful poetic prayer in honor of Saint Joseph and the Holy Family:
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Jesus Mary, and Joseph, make my heart like unto thine. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I breathe forth my soul unto thee. O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine.”