EFORE 2020 ENDED, I used a “saint name generator” website to randomly select a saint for me to learn about and ask to intercede for me in the coming year. In full disclosure, I had done this a few years prior but never took it upon myself to do the research of the saint chosen. Needless to say, this time I was determined to follow through. To my surprise, and pleasure, Saint Joseph was the wonderful saint chosen for me. I quickly realized this was no coincidence. Pope Francis had just proclaimed the coming liturgical year to be dedicated to Saint Joseph. Also, I had lately become fascinated with Saint Joseph’s title “Terror of Demons,” (especially after living through 2020), and his ‘quiet’ life was something I longed to live! So I embarked on finding books about him that I could read throughout the year and also decided to complete the Consecration to Saint Joseph. I knew our Lord wanted me to learn more about his earthly Father!
These past few years have been tumultuous and left many of us with more questions than answers, especially when it comes to the future of our Church and how to counteract those who brazenly attack Her, both physically and spiritually. As a mother of five children, who wishes for nothing more than to shape, guide, protect, and lead my children to their eternal home, how can I not call upon St Joseph—the Zealous Defender of Christ, the Head of the Holy Family, Most Prudent, Most Courageous, Mirror of Patience, Lover of Poverty, Model of Workmen, Glory of Domestic Life, Pillar of Families, Terror of Demons, Protector of the Holy Church—to shape me, guide me, protect me, and lead me, as my spiritual father, to his Son?
Throughout this consecration, I’ve come to meet Saint Joseph much more intimately and to know some ways that I myself can emulate many of his virtues. The life I lead is not glamorous—nor do I feel like I am making a ‘big difference’ most days, as I sweep the floors incessantly, correct my daughter’s dictation, change diapers, sing folk songs, and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It is an ordinary life. It is a life in the shadows. It is an ordinary, humble life. It is a life of silent service.
But how could I ever want more?! It is a life filled with the gift of FIVE souls entrusted to me, just as our Lord, Jesus Christ, was entrusted to Saint Joseph. It is in the quiet recesses of my domestic monastery that I unite myself with Saint Joseph – he who labored without accolades, who taught his son all he knew, who searched for him when he was lost, who molded his character, who simply loved and trusted in God’s will.
Litany to Saint Joseph
“Devotion to Saint Joseph is one of the choicest graces that God can give to a soul, for it is tantamount to revealing the entire treasury of our Lord’s graces. When God wishes to raise a soul to greater heights, he unites it to Saint Joseph by giving it a strong love for the good saint.”—Saint Peter Julian Eymard
March is dedicated to Saint Joseph, thus we’ve been praying the Litany of Saint Joseph daily. It’s a beautiful litany to add to your daily routine and the children enjoy taking turns ‘leading’ it. BONUS: during this Year of Saint Joseph, the litany carries a plenary indulgence if prayed in accordance with the usual conditions of an indulgence—sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope, and a total detachment to all sin, including venial sin.
We feast on a Feast!
The feast of Saint Joseph is especially important to our family because its the ‘name day’ of my husband and oldest son! To prepare for the Feast, which is a wonderful celebration given to us during Lent, we’ve been learning “Te Joseph Celebrent.” Its a beautiful hymn sung during Vespers on March 19 and again on May 1 (Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker). You can download the score from the Liber Hymnarius (Solesmes Abbey, 1983). My colleague, Jeff Ostrowski, has also posted the more common version, which is identical except for a few horizontal episemata. It doesn’t matter which version you choose, as long it’s sung well. The children took a bit longer than usual to learn this melody, but we dissected it, line by line, and now they’ve grasped it!
Here’s is a short recording of the first verse, sung by myself and my two oldest:
Te, Ioseph, celebrent agmina caelitum,
te cuncti resonent Christiadum chori,
qui, clarus meritis, iunctus es inclitae,
casto foedere Virgini.
May the heavenly hosts praise thee;
may all Christian choirs sing to thee, O Joseph;
thou, who renowned for merits wast
united in chaste wedlock with the august Virgin.
Almo cum tumidam germine coniugem
admirans dubio tangeris anxius,
afflatu superi Flaminis, Angelus
conceptum puerum docet.
Astonished at seeing that thy spouse
is about to become a mother,
thou art sorely afflicted with doubt;
an Angel teaches thee that
the conception of this Child
is by the action of the Holy Ghost.
“Saint Joseph is always the choir director who intones the songs, but he sometimes allows a few sour notes.”—Saint Joseph Marello
I love this quote because it demonstrates that while we must do our best at our vocation, perfection is not necessary. What is needed is a heart willing to work, a heart willing to love, a heart willing to risk a few sour notes. As wild as this past year has been, we must not lose hope! May we let Saint Joseph, our spiritual father, guide us just as the child Jesus let himself be guided by this humble carpenter. Ad Jesum per Joseph!