Icon of St. Joseph the Worker
The Terror of Demons, The Solace of the Wretched, The Splendor of Patriarchs and The Protector of the Holy Church are all titles ascribed to St. Joseph in his litany. Although not a single word from St. Joseph is recorded in scripture, by the accounts of Matthew and Luke’s Gospels we know that these names have been bestowed upon him for his humble obedience to God and his fortitude in protecting the Holy Family.
St. Joseph is a true example of authentic masculinity. He is bound by his faith, trusting in God and God’s Angel by not dissolving his marriage with Mary. He is devoted to loving Mary chastely and on her own terms as the Mother of God. He is tender and gentle with the baby Jesus. He is patient in teaching Jesus his earthly trade of carpentry (Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:54-55).
Can you imagine being tasked to marry the most beautiful woman to ever exist and be required to preserve her perpetual virginity? Can you imagine trusting in God so deeply to not only raise a child that is not yours, but to raise the only begotten Son of God? Can you imagine having to travel far and wide to protect the Holy Family from the ruler of the land? St. Joseph is the only man in history, by the power of God’s grace to obediently and silently carry out these tasks.
Thusly, St. Joseph’s example of a fierce protector, a masculine father and a chaste spouse make clear that veneration and imitation of him is urgently necessary in the culture of today. Entrenched in a society hailing the pursuit of lust as virtuous and propagating perilous evils such as sexual license, fatherlessness and pornography, the powerful intercession of Jesus’ earthly foster father should be sought expediently, especially by men.
When I first received my Prayer Book, I turned to the Powerful Prayers section and found the following words.
“An Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph;
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.
A powerful prayer indeed. The image of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus is powerful. It illustrates the reverence we seek to have for Christ in our hearts, daring not to approach the baby Jesus lest we wake him from his rest. Again we see the way in which protection of Jesus is entrusted to the powerful St. Joseph, with Jesus asleep peacefully in his arms. The ending supplication brings a chill to my spine every time. “Kiss his fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.” Our hearts yearn for the graces of God to overcome hardships and setbacks in our lives. Is it not our ultimate goal to live according to God’s will for us and cooperate as St. Joseph did, with his grace, so that we may be worthy to receive the kiss from Jesus as we pass from this life into the hope of heavenly beatitude?
The closing request, “St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me” stems from what can be inferred about St. Joseph’s death. St. Joseph is recognized as the Patron of a Happy Death, as he was personally consoled and accompanied by both Jesus and Mary during his departure from this world. Once again, can you imagine being surrounded by Jesus and Mary on your deathbed and not only the tenderness and love, but the magnitude of heavenly graces bestowed upon you for your humble obedience to God? It is again our hope, and our request to St. Joseph to pray for us on our behalf that we may depart from this world in the imitation of his own pious departure.
This prayer, and the image and example of St. Joseph are strong reminders of what genuine, sanctified masculinity requires of us. To love our families deeply and to protect them. To commit ourselves to right chastity according to our state in life. To deny our love for sensual pleasures and love for self so that we may humbly follow God’s will for us. To protect those who cannot protect themselves. To stand strong in the face of any earthly adversity. To advocate for justice and peace. To grow deeply in our love for God and to grow in virtue every day, glorifying the Lord by our lives.
My hope is that this prayer will find a home in your life, help deepen your relationship with St. Joseph through his foster son, our Lord Jesus Christ and bring about his powerful intercession.
Sanctus Ioseph, Ora Pro Nobis.
Note: Click here to read an article I’ve written about the “words that usually accompany this prayer”.