Saint Joseph, Light of Patriarchs

Reflection By David Carvalho
Senior Director for Faith Formation, Youth, Young Adult, & Family Life Ministries

The patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament serve as models for us not only of how to respond to God’s call but of God’s relentless work to save us. The likes of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, as well as Jacob and Rachel, each learned how to respond to God’s salvific plan: leaving home, trusting in the impossible, grieving loss, and even – quite literally – wrestling with God.

From their lineage came the Son of David — Jesus the Christ — whose entrance into this royal lineage is made possible by God’s choice of Joseph as Jesus’ adoptive father. God not only enters humanity’s story; he enters Joseph’s story — a story of a royal lineage and a chosen people.

Why Joseph? Because amidst all the patriarchs in salvation history, Joseph is the light of patriarchs. In him, the lineage of covenants comes to a head and flowers in Jesus. And in this role, Joseph serves as a light and model: a man who lived in humble and dedicated service to God, willing to lay down his life for his family.

Although today the term patriarchy may not always be received in a positive light, in Joseph, it can be understood in the proper light together with that of Mary, the light of matriarchs. Mary and Joseph’s relationship is pure, other-centered, and, most importantly, God-centered. Their lives, gifts, and marriage work together to welcome God into their home.

While some of the Old Testament patriarchs had their flaws, Joseph is described simply as a “righteous man” (Mt 1:19). This detail says a great deal about Joseph (and perhaps was even shared with the evangelist by Jesus and Mary themselves). To be righteous in God’s sight is to be a person after God’s own heart; to be in right relationship with God.

For this reason, in the Litany to St Joseph, the Church can confidently name Joseph’s attributes: just, chaste, prudent, courageous, obedient, and faithful. These are the true attributes of a man of God who is willing to lay down his life for a friend (Jn 15:13); of a husband and father who is willing to lay down his life for his wife and children as Christ did for his bride the Church (Eph 5:25).

As a father and husband, I find in Joseph, a model for living the vows made to my wife at our wedding and the promises made to my children at their baptism. How grateful I am for his model because, quite frankly, living these promises each day takes work, effort, self-sacrifice, and self-awareness. The last is perhaps the hardest to accept; to acknowledge my failures and recognize where I can grow as a man of God. This task becomes easier when, like Joseph, I realize that fatherhood and being a husband are not something to be afraid of or disdain. Rather, through both, I become fully myself—I can be the man God created me to be by embracing the vocation he called me to.

Joseph said yes to the Lord, and so became the light of patriarchs.
May St Joseph, Light of Patriarchs, intercede and be a light for us as we seek after God and strive to respond to his call.

Consecration to St. Joseph ~ Prayers for Week Five

Prayer for the Year of St. Joseph

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil.  Amen.

~ Pope Francis, Patris Corde, 2020

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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