We continue our series today of analyzing the prayers required to be recited daily by all members of American Catholic Solidarity. When I began American Catholic Solidarity I chose St. Joseph as our patron. No, it wasn’t because my middle name is Joseph. It was at the suggestion of my then-spiritual adviser. St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, so I figured he would be a great patron for American Catholic Solidarity.
“O glorious St. Joseph, chosen to be the foster-father of Jesus, the chaste spouse of Mary ever-Virgin, and the head of the Holy Family, and then appointed by the Vicar of Christ to be the heavenly patron and Defender of the Church founded by Jesus; most confidently do I implore at this moment your powerful aid for all the Church Militant on Earth.”
That is one, long opening sentence, right? We start this prayer off by proclaiming the greatness of St. Joseph. He was the foster-father of Our Lord, so why not speak of his greatness? What other man could have so perfectly fulfilled the roles of foster-father of Jesus, and husband of Our Lady? As such, it was St. Joseph who lead the Holy Family. This is borne out by the fact that the angel appears to Joseph to warn of Herod’s design to kill the Christ child.
We then go on to acknowledge St. Joseph’s role as protector and patron of the Catholic Church. Essentially, St. Joseph continues to be the protector of the Holy Family. Only now it is the Holy Family of the Holy Church!
We then invoke the aid of St. Joseph, and acknowledge the power of his intercession. This is not to say St. Joseph has any power of himself. All of Joseph’s greatness and power come from God. It is only because of his acceptance of God’s will in life that Joseph possesses in power, greatness, or influence with God in Heaven. So our prayer to St. Joseph does not detract from the mediatorship of Jesus. Rather, St. Joseph’s role as intercessor and protector actually glorifies Jesus further!
Now, who do we ask St. Joseph to provide aid for? We ask his aid for “All the Church Militant on Earth”. We don’t just ask St. Joseph’s aid for American Catholic Solidarity. We ask his aid for all of the Church present on Earth.
“Do you shield with your truly paternal love, especially the Supreme Pontiff, and all of the bishops and priests who are in union with the Holy See of Peter.”
We ask St. Joseph to watch over, not only the Pope, but the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church. And we don’t just ask St. Joseph to watch over the hierarchy as an intercessor or protector; but also as a father. We want St. Joseph to watch over the hierarchy as a father.
This makes sense, since priests are often described as children of Mary, and brothers of Jesus Christ. The gospels are clear that Joseph was viewed as Jesus’ father. If he watched over Jesus as father, why wouldn’t Joseph watch over Jesus’ brother priests as a father?
“Be the defender of all who labor for souls amid the trials, the tribulation of this life, and cause all the peoples of the Earth to submit themselves in the docile spirit to that Church which is the ark of salvation of the whole world.”
We not only ask St. Joseph to watch over the hierarchy, but over everyone who works to bring souls to Christ. You know what? That should be every single one of us!
We then ask St. Joseph to cause everyone to enter the Catholic Church. This is not a denial of free will. It is an acknowledgement of St. Joseph’s power as an intercessor. His prayers are powerful enough to provide enough grace to that not a single person could avoid his influence; and not a single person could avoid the call of Christ to enter the Church!
“Be pleased also, dear St. Joseph, to accept this dedication of myself which I now make unto you.”
We have asked a lot of St. Joseph thus far. We aren’t done yet. We ask him to accept our dedication of ourselves to him. Why shouldn’t we dedicate ourselves to Joseph. This humble, holy man who is barely mentioned in Scripture spent a good portion of his life in the background. He was content to allow the focus to be on his wife and foster-child. Just like Mary, Joseph always leafs to Jesus.
“I dedicate myself wholly to you, that you may ever be my father, my patron, and my guide in the way of salvation.”
Just as Joseph was Jesus’ father, guide, and role model, so we ask him to be for us. Need I really explain all this again? Is not obvious why we would desire to invoke St. Joseph in such a way?
“Obtain for me great purity of heart, and a fervent devotion to the interior life.”
We now shift to asking for very specific interior graces from St. Joseph. We ask for interior purity, and a great devotion to spirituality. This is more than a mere devotion to prayer. A devotion to spirituality is a being consumed with the will and love of God. It is a transforming of our lives to being wholly concerned with the things of God. Scripture sometimes describes God as a fiery furnace of love. She we not be the same? Can not St. Joseph be a great help in this? He most certainly can!
“Grant that, following your example, I may direct all my actions to the greater glory of God, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in union with you.”
Once again we call on St. Joseph to make us more like himself. Doing everything for God’s glory, no matter how difficult it may be. We realize, however, that Joseph is powerless without Christ. It is from Him that Joseph receives his ability as an intercessor. So we ask to be United with Our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart.
That isn’t all. Jesus didn’t come into this world on His own. He didn’t suffer alone. The Blessed Mother was there for it all. She played an integral part in our redemption. So we also ask to be united with Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
“Finally, pray for me, that I may be a partaker in the peace and joy which were yours at the hour of your holy death. Amen.”
We wrap up this prayer by asking St. Joseph to pray that we may experience the peace and joy he surely experienced in death. What better way to die, than to be in the physical presence of the two greatest people who ever lived? If St. Joseph didn’t experience peace and joy in death I suspect no one will.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity