…"If My people who bear My name, humble themselves and pray and seek My presence and turn from their wicked ways, I Myself will hear from Heaven and forgive their sins…" (2 Chron. 7:14) – "You will see that in prayer you will find more knowledge, more light, more strength, more grace and virtue than you could ever achieve by reading many books, or by great studies. Never consider as wasted the time you spend in prayer. You will discover that in prayer God communicates to you the light, strength and grace you need…" (Sr Lucia dos Santos)
Let us go to Saint Joseph, let us beg him to help us on the difficult road of this life. He, like ourselves, has travelled there. He, like us, has suffered there. Born in lowly circumstances, although of a royal family, he earned his daily bread by rough toil.
How many humiliations he endured! How much anxiety and trouble! When, chosen by God, he had to watch over Jesus and Mary, and to provide for them. He knew the miseries of life, the moments when courage abandons us, when all is dark around us.
Let us have recourse to Saint Joseph, and ask him for resignation. Let us go to him, for he loves us. He loves us because we belong to Jesus and Mary. Their affections have become his. Let us ask him to love us as he loved Jesus and Mary, and to obtain for us that we may love them as he loved them. O Joseph, who had the incomparable honour of watching over Jesus, and of providing for Him by your labours, Speak to Him for us. He loves you. He remembers your tenderness. Lead us to this Saviour, so dearly loved. And when the last hour shall have arrived, present us to Him, that we may see Him and love Him for eternity.
Is it possible that so many Christians, capable of finding in God their sovereign felicity, should amuse themselves with pleasures which flatter the senses, with reading profane books, and seeking an empty satisfaction in idle visits, vain conversation, news, and sloth, in which they pass those precious hours which they might employ in exercises of devotion, and in the duties and serious employments of their station? What trifles do they suffer to fill their minds and hearts, and to rob them of the greatest of all treasures?
Conversation and visits in the world must only be allowed as far as they are social duties, must be regulated by charity and necessity, sanctified by simplicity, prudence, and every virtue, animated by the spirit of God, and seasoned with a holy unction which divine grace gives to those whom it perfectly replenishes and possesses.
(From a prayer leaflet by the Mill Hill Missionaries)
DAILY NOVENA PRAYER:
Please read and reflect on the themes of the day and read/recite/pray the above Novena prayer.
Almighty God, you have chosen Saint Joseph to be the mainstay of Jesus and Mary, the wise and faithful servant in whom they could trust. We pray, that he may truly be the guardian of your Church; that he may inspire with confidence those who are devoted to him; that he may give security to those who work in the vineyard of your Son; and finally, that he may be a source of strength to us, who wish, like him, to dedicate ourselves to Christ’s service, now and in times to come. Amen.
Joseph – The Man of Morals
‘Joseph was a man who always did what was right.’ Matthew 1.19
What a predicament Joseph was in when he discovered Mary was pregnant. What was he to do? Being a man of God and an honourable man, he trusted in God’s guidance to show him the way.
We often feel uncertain what to do. We fret and worry, and blame God for allowing things to happen to us. When we are troubled and worried, may we learn to trust in God. Pray, that like St Joseph, we will put our problems before the Lord and trust Him to show us the right path to take.
Joseph – The Man who Listened
‘If you listen to me, you will know what is right and fair.’ Proverbs 2.9
Joseph was a man who listened. Constant noise prevents us from listening and hearing our friends, family and God. Joseph knew how to be silent to allow God’s Word to come through to him. No spoken word is recorded of him.
In our world today, we are surrounded by noise and distraction. Our spiritual ‘senses’ become numbed by the intrusive noises of television, vehicles, mobile phones and modern technology. Is it any wonder we do not hear God speaking to us? We ask St Joseph to help us to know how to be silent and to carve out some ‘quiet time’ in our day to listen to God.
Joseph – The Man of Trust
‘An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph.’ Matthew 1.20
God spoke to Joseph in his dreams and he trusted in the plans God laid before him to take Mary as his wife.
Like St Joseph, who questioned but trusted God’s judgement of what was right for him and his family, we too should trust that God, our Father, loves us so much, he knows what is right for us as individuals. St Joseph questioned God’s plan. We also may question God’s intention for us. However may we, like him, have the strength to place our trust in the Lord.
Joseph – The Man of Protection
‘Joseph got up and took the child and his mother and left that night for Egypt.’ Matthew 2.14
Joseph fled with Mary, his wife, and the new born baby conceived by the Holy Spirit to the land of Egypt, to protect his family from King Herod, who was about to search for the child and kill him.
St Joseph, a husband and father, shared the demands of providing food, clothing, a stable home and support for Mary and his foster-son, Jesus. As Guardian of the Holy Family, he recognised the danger they were in and took action to keep Mary and Jesus safe from harm. We ask St Joseph to protect our families and to strengthen us in love.
Joseph – The Patron of the Church
‘Joseph went…to David’s town of Bethlehem – because he was a descendant of David.’ Luke 2.4
Joseph, being a descendant of the royal House of David, understood the need to register his family by census in the town of Bethlehem. God appointed Joseph as head of the Holy Family. Through Mary, the Church received Christ our Saviour, thereby the Church owes her gratitude and veneration to Joseph who was chosen to enable Christ to enter into the world.
Joseph was the head of the Holy Family, who was father, protector, guide and support and the starting point of the Church. Today it is believed the Church is the family of God on earth. Bless the Pope, Bishops, Priests, the religious and the laity of the Catholic Church that they ever grow in God’s love and faithfulness in his service. We ask St Joseph to protect the Church from the evils of our day and from the persecution of her enemies.
Joseph – The Man of Faith
‘Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival.’ Luke 2.41
Joseph observed the religious feasts and practices of the Jewish faith especially attending the Synagogue on the Sabbath. He taught Jesus to say his prayers at meals and at certain hours of the day, he also introduced the Scriptures and Psalms to his foster son.
As with Joseph, our faith is a gift which should be treasured and accepted with grace. Joseph lived and shared his faith and was devoted to deepening his relationship with God. We ask Joseph to help us to strengthen our faith by spending time in prayer each day and to take part in the Church’s liturgy. Let us be confident to share our faith with all we meet and give them a warm welcome in our hearts and communities.
Joseph – The Family Man
‘And Joseph named him Jesus” Matthew 1.25
Joseph, an ordinary man, faced many family problems such as Mary’s pregnancy, the threat to the life of Jesus, exile to a foreign land and how to make ends meet. As husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus, Joseph showed the deepest love and respect for his family and cherished all the experiences that come with family life. He died peacefully in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
As head of the family, Joseph watched out for Jesus and Mary at all times. May he help all couples to live out the love which they promised to each other. As Patron of families help us with our financial problems so that we do not allow money or material things to spoil the bond that unites a family. May all families be a source of peace, unity and happiness for children as well as for parents.
Joseph – The Worker
‘Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?’ Matthew 13.55
Joseph loved his work, was dedicated to his chosen trade, took pride in his workmanship and taught Jesus the skills of his craft. He probably knew the hardship of unemployment when there was little or no work for himself and Jesus.
St Joseph, help us to see our work as a service for others, a means of bringing order and beauty out of chaos and making our world a better place. Help us to see work as more than a means of making money. Help us appreciate the dignity of work and grant us meaningful employment. We pray for the unemployed, underemployed and those who are working under stress.
Joseph – The Faithful Servant
‘Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant? He is the one that his master has placed in charge of the other servants to give them food at the proper time.’ Matthew 24.45
Joseph’s life was one of loving service, he served his family, he served his community and he served his God. He was faithful to his duties, sacrificed unselfishly; his life was one of generous giving and devoted to the Will of God. Joseph faithfully carried out his duties using the graces and gifts bestowed on him by God to serve the Lord unconditionally.
Joseph, you had the privilege of being God’s faithful servant, as a token of your own gratitude, obtain for us the grace to be a faithful servant of God. By your own example, inspire us to be, as you were, faithful, unselfish and devoted in your duties, without praise or reward. Help us to trust in the Providence of God and to follow in the obedience of Jesus who came not to do His will but the will of His Father.
Blessed Saint Patrick, glorious Apostle of Ireland, who did become a friend and father to me for ages before my birth, hear my prayer and accept, for God, the sentiments of gratitude and veneration with which my heart is filled. Through you I have inherited that faith which is dearer than life I now make you the representative of my thanks, and the mediator of my homage to Almighty God. Most holy Father and patron of my country, despise not my weakness; remember that the cries of little children were the sounds that rose, like a mysterious voice from heaven, and invited you to come among us. Listen, then, to my humble supplication; may my prayer ascend to the throne of God, with the praises and blessings which shall ever sanctify your name and your memory. May my hope be animated by the patronage and intercession of our forefathers, who now enjoy eternal bliss and owe their salvation, under God, to your courage and charity. Obtain for me the grace to love God with my whole heart, to serve him with my whole strength, and to persevere in good purpose to the end, O faithful shepherd of the Irish flock, who would have laid down a thousand lives to save one soul. Take my soul, and the souls of my countrymen, under your special care. Be a father to the Church of Ireland and her faithful people. Grant that all hearts may share the blessed fruits of the Gospel you did plant and water. Grant that, as our ancestors of old had learned, under your guidance, to unite science with virtue, we too, may learn, under your patronage, to consecrate all Christian duty to the glory of God. I commend to you my native land, which was so dear to you while on earth. Protect it still, and, above all, direct its chief pastors, particularly those who teach us. Give them grace to walk in your footsteps, to nurture the flock with the word of life and the bread of salvation, and to lead the heirs of the Saints you have formed to the possession of that glory which they, with you, enjoy in the kingdom of the Blessed: through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
V. Pray for us, O glorious St Patrick. R. And obtain for us the intention of this Novena.
Glorious St Joseph, who wast chosen by Almighty God to be the foster-father of the Word made flesh, the comforter of His most holy Mother, the faithful co-operator among men in His greatest design, obtain for me to do in all things the Will of the Father, to cherish in my heart the mysteries accomplished in the person of the Son, and by the abundant graces of the Holy Ghost to persevere, pure of heart and chaste of body, in the service of God.
THE SEASON OF LENT begins on Ash Wednesday marking the start of a six week period of preparation for the most important feast in the Church’s calendar, the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter.
‘CHANGING ONE’S HEART’
Traditionally, Lent is penitential in character, reflecting the importance of ‘Changing One’s Heart’ by carrying out Acts of Charity, such as Almsgiving, denying oneself some of the everyday pleasures that we may take for granted, Fasting and, above all, Prayer and greater care in participation at the Eucharist. Acknowledging our failures and celebrating the Lord’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation has also been regarded as a valuable means of preparation and making that ‘Change of Heart’, which can transform our lives and open us to the fullness of gifts given to us at Easter.
REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS
During Lent the Church reflects the penitential character in its liturgies and prayers, especially the celebration of the Eucharist. The scripture readings emphasise repentance and forgiveness. The music used helps us to create this mood with the songs and chants we sing. The ‘Gloria’ is omitted and the Gospel Acclamation is said or sung without the ‘Alleluia’. There is more emphasis on the penitential rite and the proclamation of the Word, particularly the Gospel. There are no flowers on the altar and the colour of the vestments is violet.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who later also survived repetitive coughing of blood and for very many years achieved immense amounts of daily work with just a quarter of normal lung capacity left, mentioned the healing through Mary Immaculate’s intercession after using Holy Water from Lourdes. This is an excerpt from a letter to his mum, Maria Kolbe, nee Dabrowska:
“I was on the point of losing my right thumb. It had developed an abscess that defied medical treatment. The suppuration would not subside. The doctor was talking about amputating the thumb, because the bone was already starting to erode. I told him that I knew a better way. Father Rector at our college had just given me Lourdes water and had told me about his own miraculous cure.
When he was twelve years old he had a diseased foot. The degeneration of the bone had already started to spread. He told me that he would scream in pain, day and night.
The doctors considered removing the foot to be the only cure left.
After the doctor’s visit on the evening before the operation was scheduled, though, his mother stepped in. She removed the bandages, washed the diseased foot with soap and water and then applied a compress she had soaked in Lourdes water. After only a few minutes, the boy fell asleep. After a quarter of an hour he awoke again, but completely cured. It was obviously a miracle, but the unbelieving doctor did not want to admit it; he went so far as to devise explanations that convinced no one. After a few days, however, when a piece of purulent bone was discharged through the sole of his patient’s foot, the doctor finally had to admit that a higher power had been at work here. He then converted and had a church built at his own expense.
When our doctor here in Rome heard that I had Lourdes water, he said he would be happy to make a bandage with it for me. The next morning the doctor said that there was an improvement, and he probably would not have to amputate the thumb. After a little further treatment my thumb was healed. Glory be to God and to the Immaculata!”
And when the days of her (Mary’s) purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they (Mary and Joseph) brought him (Jesus) to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
V. The Gospel of the Lord. R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, we have heard your works and we have been astounded. We have pondered your marvels and we have fainted. As your Word descended, our heart has been melted and all our innermost being, trembling, has been laid bare to him.
For while silence held all things and night in her journey reached her mid-course, your Almighty Word came from its royal abode. You poured out, O Father, the tenderness of your love upon us and you could no longer contain the multitude of your mercies. You shed light in the darkness, dew upon the dryness and in the bitter frost you kindled a raging fire.
Your Son appeared to us as an abundance of food when grievous famine threatened, as a spring of living water to a life in distress and fainting from thirst in the heat. Or surely just as there is want to appear a strong helper and deliverer for men besieged, who are about to rush out into battle with death before their eyes, with the enemy’s threatening sword and his armed right hand thirsting for blood, so he appeared for us and became our salvation.
Yet it is an excellent and salutary thing to recount again the beginning of our salvation and to treat of his Incarnation, to recall whence he came, in what sort he descended, where and how he was conceived. – Amadeus of Lausanne, Bishop, 12th cent.
O Lord, give us a new Epiphany when You will be manifested to the world: to those who do not know You, to those who do not want You, to those who vilify Your Name, to those who oppress Your Mystical Body, to those who deny You, and to all those who unconsciously long for You.
Bring the day closer when all people will know and love You together with the Father and the Holy Spirit – and the Kingdom of God will have arrived. Amen.