Saint Joseph, Patron of the Dying

Reflection By Deacon Paul R. Levesque

When we pray the Litany of St. Joseph, we recite: Patron of the Dying, Pray for us. St. Joseph is also known as the Patron of a Happy Death. 

There’s no mention in Sacred Scripture about how or when St. Joseph died. The last time the Gospels mention St. Joseph is right after he and Mary find the twelve-year-old Jesus teaching in the temple in Jerusalem. One can deduce that St. Joseph died sometime between then and when Jesus begins public ministry, some eighteen years later. 

Scripture does not reveal how he died, but it’s safe to assume St. Joseph died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. A peaceful and beautiful passing to eternity after a life of obedience to God’s call—a life totally devoted to the service of Jesus and Mary. He perfectly fulfilled his role in God’s plan of salvation.

St. Joseph’s death can be an excellent example for us and a guide for how we too can enjoy a happy, peaceful death. Let’s look at three ways he does that. First, his death encourages us not to fear death when we’re in the state of grace, in union with our Lord. The graces available on Joseph’s deathbed are available to us on our deathbed, especially through holy Viaticum—the reception of Holy Communion by a sick person on their deathbed.

Second, St. Joseph can help us prepare for a good death by the example of his holy life, which teaches us how to properly prepare to die happily. We should not postpone or delay readying our hearts but demonstrate it daily by the way we live. The beautiful life of St. Joseph: his pious, devout life, his life filled with love for Jesus and Mary, teaches us how we should live our lives to prepare for our death. Nothing is more certain than death, and nothing more important, since at that moment, our eternity is decided. 

Thirdly, St. Joseph will intercede for us for a happy death through our devotion to him. All the prayers that we pray in his honor will bring us his blessings at the hour of our death.

As part of my personal prayer each morning, I pray a Daily Act of Consecration to St. Joseph. The prayer ends: Should I take my last breath today, be by my side, and take me to heaven to be with Jesus and Mary.

I can’t think of a better way to end my life on earth and enter eternity, can you?

Consecration to St. Joseph ~ Prayers for Week Three

Prayer to St. Joseph, Patron of a Happy Death

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.

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.

St. Joseph, I never weary 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. Amen.

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
Pray for us. *recite after each invocation

Saint Joseph,

Noble son of the House of David,

Light of patriarchs,

Husband of the Mother of God,

Guardian of the Virgin,

Foster father of the Son of God,

Faithful guardian of Christ,

Head of the Holy Family,

Joseph, chaste and just,

Joseph, prudent and brave,

Joseph, obedient and loyal,

Pattern of patience,

Lover of poverty,

Model of workers,

Example to parents,

Guardian of virgins,

Pillar of family life,

Comfort of the troubled,

Hope of the sick,

Patron of the dying,

Terror of evil spirits,

Protector of the Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

God made him master of his household,
And put him in charge of all that he owned.

Let us pray.

O God, who in your inexpressible providence were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as spouse of the most holy Mother of your Son, grant, we pray, that we, who revere him as our protector on earth, may be worthy of his heavenly intercession.
Through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

[During the Year of Saint Joseph: This litany is ordinarily enriched with a partial indulgence (Manual of Indulgences, conc. 22). During the Year of Saint Joseph, however—which lasts from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021—the use of the Litany of Saint Joseph has been included among other prayers to St. Joseph enriched with a plenary indulgence (see Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary issued Dec. 8, 2020, section E), which may be earned once a day subject to the usual conditions: sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope, and a total detachment to all sin, including venial sin. Source: USCCB]

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