Skip to comments.[Catholic Caucus] Third Sunday After Easter: The Patronage of Saint Joseph (Gueranger)
Posted on 04/21/2018 10:13:30 PM PDT by CMRosary
THE EASTER MYSTERIES are superseded today by a special subject, which is offered for our consideration.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 honoring 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 favors 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.
Devotion to St. Joseph was reserved for these latter times. Though based on the Gospel, it was not to be developed in the early ages of the Church. It is not that the Faithful were, in any way, checked from showing honor to him who had been called to take so important a part in the mystery of the Incarnation; but Divine Providence had its hidden reasons for retarding the Liturgical homage to be paid, each year, to the Spouse of Mary. As on other occasions, so here also; the East preceded the West in the special cultus of St. Joseph: but in the 15th Century, the whole Latin Church adopted it, and, since that time, it has gradually gained the affections of the Faithful. We have treated upon the glories of St. Joseph, on the 19th of March; the present Feast has its own special object, which we will at once proceed to explain.
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. Dating from the 13th century, when, as the Church herself assures us, the world began to grow cold—each epoch has had thrown open to it a new source of graces. First of all came the Feast of the Most Blessed Sacrament, with its successive developments of Processions, Expositions, Benedictions and the Forty Hours. After this followed the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus (of which St. Bernardine of Sienna was the chief propagator), and that of Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross, with its wonderful fruit of compunction. The practice of frequent Communion was revived in the 16th century, owing principally to the influence of St. Ignatius and the Society founded by him. In the 17th was promulgated the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was firmly established in the following century. In the 19th, devotion to the Holy Mother of God has made such progress as to form one of the leading supernatural characteristics of the period. The Rosary and Scapular, which had been handed down to us in previous ages, have regained their place in the affections of the people; Pilgrimages to the Sanctuaries of the Mother of God, which had been interrupted by the influence of Jansenism and rationalism, have been removed; the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary has spread throughout the whole world; numerous miracles have been wrought in reward for the fervent faith of individuals; in a word, our present century has witnessed the triumph of the Immaculate Conception—a triumph which had been looked forward to for many previous ages.
Now, devotion to Mary could never go on increasing as it has done without bringing with it a fervent devotion to St. Joseph. We cannot separate Mary and Joseph, were it only for their having such a close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation:—Mary, as being the Mother of the Son of God; and Joseph, as being guardian of the Virgin’s spotless honor, and Foster-Father of the Divine Babe. A special veneration for St. Joseph was the result of increased devotion to Mary. Nor is this reverence for Mary’s Spouse to be considered only as a just homage paid to his admirable prerogatives: it is, moreover, a fresh and exhaustless source of help to the world, for Joseph has been made our Protector by the Son of God himself. Hearken to the inspired words of the Church’s Liturgy: “Thou, O Joseph! art the delight of the Blessed, the sure hope of our life, and the pillar of the world!” Extraordinary as is this power, need we be surprised as its being given to a man like Joseph, whose connections with the Son of God on earth were so far above those of all other men? Jesus deigned to be subject to Joseph here below; now that he is in heaven, he would glorify the creature to whom he consigned the guardianship of his own childhood and his Mother’s honor. He has given him 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 St. 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 St. 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.
As usual, God revealed this new spiritual aid to a privileged soul, that she might be the instrument of its propagation. It was thus that were instituted several Feasts, such as those of Corpus Christi, and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the 16th century, St. Teresa (whose Writings were to have a worldwide circulation) was instructed by heaven as to the efficacy of devotion to St. Joseph: she has spoken of it in the Life (written by herself) of Teresa of Jesus. When we remember that it was by the Carmelite Order (brought into the Western Church in the 13th century) that this devotion was established among us—we cannot be surprised that God should have chosen St. Teresa, who was the Reformer of that Order, to propagate the same devotion in this part of the world. The holy solitaries of Mount Carmel—devoted as they had been, for so many centuries, to the love of Mary—were not slow in feeling the connection that exists between the honor paid to the Mother of God and that which is due to her virginal Spouse. The more we understand St. Joseph’s office, the clearer will be our knowledge of the divine mystery of the Incarnation. As when the Son of God assumed our human nature, he would have a Mother; so also, would he give to this Mother a protector. Jesus, Mary and Joseph—these are the three whom the ineffable mystery is continually bringing before our minds.
The words of St. Teresa are as follows: “I took for my patron and lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly … that he rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors which God hath given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and soul. To other Saints, our Lord seems to have given grace to succor men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, to help us in all: and our Lord would have us understand that, as he was himself subject to him upon earth—for St. Joseph having the title of father, and being his guardian, could command him—so now in heaven he performs all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they too know this by experience; and there are many who are now of late devout to him, having had experience of this truth.”
We might quote several other equally clear and fervent words from the writings of this seraphic Virgin. The Faithful could not remain indifferent with such teaching as this. The seed thus soon produced its fruit; slowly, it is true, but surely. Even in the first half of the 17th century, there prevailed amidst the devout clients of St. Joseph a presentiment that the day would come when the Church, through her Liturgy, would urge the Faithful to have recourse to him as their powerful Protector. In a book published in the year 1645, we find these almost prophetic words: “O thou bright sun, thou father of our days! speed thy onward course, and give us that happy day, whereon are to be fulfilled the prophecies of the Saints. They have said, that in the latter ages of the world, the glories of St. Joseph will be brought to light; that God will draw aside the veil, which has hitherto prevented us from seeing the wondrous sanctuary of Joseph’s soul; that the Holy Ghost will inspire the Faithful to proclaim the praises of this admirable Saint, and to build Monasteries, Churches and Altars in his honor; that, throughout the entire kingdom of the Church Militant, he shall be considered as the special Protector, for he was the Protector of the very founder of that kingdom, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ; that the Sovereign Pontiffs will, by a secret impulse from heaven, ordain that the Feast of this great Patriarch be solemnly celebrated through the length and breadth of the spiritual domain of St. Peter; that the most learned men of the world will use their talents in studying the divine gifts hidden in St. Joseph, and that they will find in him treasures of grace incomparably more precious and plentiful than were possessed by every the choicest of the elect of the Old Testament, during the whole four thousand years of its duration.”
These ardent wishes have been fulfilled. It is now more than a century ago that the Carmelites sought and obtained the approbation of the Holy See for an Office in honor of the Patronage of St. Joseph. A great number of Dioceses obtained permission to use it. A Sunday was selected for the celebration of this new Feast, in order that the Faithful might be, in a way, compelled to keep it; for the Feast of St. Joseph in March is not a day of obligation for the universal Church and, as it always falls during Lent, it cannot be kept on a Sunday, since the Sundays of Lent exclude a Feast of that rite. That the new Feast might not be attended with the same risk of being unnoticed, it was put upon a Sunday—the third Sunday after Easter, that thus the consolations of such a solemnity might be blended with the Paschal joys. The new Feast went on gradually spreading from one diocese to another; till at last, there was unexpectedly issued an Apostolic Decree, dated September the 10th, 1847, which ordered it to be kept throughout Christendom. The Church was on the eve of severe trials; and her glorious Pontiff, Pius the Ninth, by a sacred instinct, was prompted to draw down on the Flock entrusted to him the powerful protection of St. Joseph, who, assuredly, has never had greater miseries and dangers to avert from the world than those which threaten the present age.
Let us then, henceforth, have confidence in the Patronage of St. Joseph. He is the Father of the Faithful, and it is God’s will that he, more than any other Saint, should have power to apply to us the blessings of the mystery of the Incarnation—the great mystery whereof he, after Mary, was the chief earthly minister.
In the Greek Liturgy, this third Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the Paralytic, because of a special commemoration is made of the miracle wrought by our Savior at the Probatica.
The Roman Church begins today, in her Office of Matins, the Book of St. John’s Apocalypse.
MASS.—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.
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.
A Commemoration of the third Sunday after Easter is then made, by this Collect.
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 whereby 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 inheritance 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 Savior, 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 fulfill the prediction still more literally; for nor 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.
In the first Alleluia-Versicle, we have St. Joseph speaking to us; he encourages us to have recourse to him, and promises us untiring Protection. In the second, the Church prays, for her children, that they may have the grace to imitate the purity of Mary’s Spouse: her prayer is addressed to him.
Being, as it was supposed, the Son of Joseph! Jesus’ filial affection for his Mother—his jealousy for the honor 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 labored 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 honors 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.
The words of the Offertory are taken from Psalm 147. Jerusalem, that is, the Church, is bid to rejoice, because of the means of defense, which God has given her against her enemies. One of the greatest of the blessings thus conferred upon her is St. Joseph’s Protection.
In the Secret, the Church prays that we may imitate the Carpenter of Nazareth in his detachment from earthly things.
Then is made a commemoration of the Third Sunday after Easter, by the following Secret.
The Communion-Anthem is a sentence taken from St. Matthew’s Gospel, wherein we find the glorious title of our holy Protector: Joseph, the husband of Mary; and the still more glorious one of Mary: Of whom was born Jesus.
Holy Church prays, in the Postcommunion, that St. Joseph, who is our Protector during this present life, may intercede for us in what concerns our eternal welfare.
The Priest then adds this commemoration of the Third Sunday after Easter:
The following Gospel of the Third Sunday after Easter is read at the end of Mass.
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 honoring 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 honor 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 honor 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 labor, 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, O Joseph, another favor. 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 entrusted 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 father 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.
The gladness of today’s Feast has been united with the Paschal joy: still, it is but just that the latter should have its own expression apart. We will, therefore, end the day by offering to our Risen Lord the following Preface: it is taken from the ancient Gothic Missal, published by Dom Mabillon.
Below please find a painting from Luc-Oliver Merson called "Rest on the Flight into Egypt." I have always derived such great comfort and strength from the simple image of the resting St Joseph....selflessly sleeping on the ground yet seemingly ready to jump into protective detail.
Thank you again.
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