This article was originally published in The Catholic News Herald of the diocese of Charlotte.
I love to meditate on the many titles of St. Joseph. As I have grown in awareness and devotion to him over the last several years, his litany has become one of my favorite prayers. Different titles will resonate with me at different times and in different circumstances of life. I’ve also discovered that the litany can make for a good examination of conscious, drawing to the fore of my mind certain sins or vices with which I might be struggling, and with the added benefit that I can then immediately petition St. Joseph to aid me in overcoming them.
We must be careful not to let his titles limit St. Joseph in our minds, however. One might think that he is only worth turning to if you are a father or if you work in manual labor or are nearing death. The truth is that the patronages of St. Joseph are universal, virtues that apply to each one of us – regardless of gender, age or circumstances.
St. Joseph is Head of the Holy Family, Spouse of the Mother of God, and Foster Father of the Son of God. He is the Glory of Domestic Life and the Pillar of Families. We all come from a family, whether it is whole or broken, whether we knew our parents and had a relationship with them or not.
Perhaps the family that you came from is a source of strength for you, or perhaps it is a wound that you need God’s grace to heal. St. Joseph is a model to all of us, because he shows us what true domestic strength looks like and what a husband and father are meant to be. In my own years as a single young woman, I turned to St. Joseph to show me what genuine masculinity was supposed to look like, I asked him to help guard my virtue as he guarded that of the Virgin Mary, and I prayed that he would lead me to my true vocation, whether it be to physical or to spiritual motherhood. Now, as God has revealed more of His plan for me and I prepare to start a family of my own, I continue to turn to St. Joseph and his Blessed Spouse to show me how to act and how to care for those in my life.
St. Joseph is called Just, Chaste, Prudent, Valiant, Obedient and Faithful. When I meditate on these virtues, I must ask myself whether I am living up to them or not and if I need the strength of St. Joseph to show me the way.
He was not a knight or a great warrior, yet he is called valiant for his heroic nature in protecting the Virgin Mary and Jesus, especially during the flight to Egypt when they were in such great danger and uncertainty. St. Joseph was valiant in a way that any one of us has the ability to be, in sacrificing and caring for those that we love. Are we willing to stand against the Herods of the world for the good of our family, to leave the comfort of a familiar life that we know and follow God’s call?
St. Joseph was always faithful to the will of God, obeying immediately the counsel of the angel, first when told to take Mary into his home, then when told to flee to a foreign land and finally to return after what must have been many years away. He didn’t question or hesitate; he didn’t hedge his bets in case things went sour. He followed his own vocation, using the skills God had given him to provide for and protect the family which had been put into his care.
God also formed each one of us with specific strengths and inclinations, knowing the trials that we would be facing in our lives, and the Lord gives certain people into our care, whether by a physical or spiritual relationship, and asks us to do His will in supporting them. Christ lives in all of us, and we are all called to care for Christ in others, as St. Joseph cared for the Christ Child on earth.
Terror of Demons and the Protector of the Holy Church are among my favorites of St. Joseph’s titles, and are we not, by virtue of our baptism, called to be the same? If we aimed to live in such a way as to make the demons tremble, we would be well on our way to the holiness needed to reach heaven, which should be the goal for all of us. St. Joseph lived in daily communion with Jesus and with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and surely it was this sanctifying grace that made him so terrifying to the devil. In scripture, demons shuddered and fled at just the name of Jesus, and here we are able to be living tabernacles and carry Him with us by receiving the Eucharist. Evil should indeed be terrified of us every time that we receive Holy Communion.
As members of Christ’s Holy Church, we are also meant to be its protectors, fighting and defending it against the heresies of the world. Perhaps that means speaking out when we experience untruth, propaganda or slander against the Church and God’s teachings. Perhaps that means being silent but loving witnesses to the Truth, as St. Joseph was. But let us always strive to be courageous in defending God’s Church and the Body of Christ.
This Lent, I encourage you to take the time to pray the Litany of St. Joseph, to invite this great saint into your life and ask him to share his many virtues and love of Jesus and Mary with you.
Litany of Saint Joseph
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the 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.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, pray for us.
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Guardian of the Redeemer, pray for us.
Pure Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Provider for the Son of God, pray for us.
Zealous defender of Christ, pray for us.
Servant of Christ, pray for us.
Minister of salvation, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph, most just, pray for us.
Joseph, most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph, most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph, most brave, pray for us.
Joseph, most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph, most loyal, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model for workers, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Cornerstone of families, pray for us.
Support in difficulties, pray for us.
Comfort of the sorrowing, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of exiles, pray for us.
Patron of the afflicted, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
He made him master of his house, and ruler of all his possessions.
Let us pray.
O God, who in your inexpressible providence
were pleased to choose Saint Joseph
as spouse of your most holy Mother,
grant, we pray,
that we, who revere him as our protector on earth,
may be worthy of his heavenly intercession.
Who live and reign for ever and ever.