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For Jesuits
Chapter 9 - Foster Father of the Lord

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

§  Now the origin of Christ was in this wise. When Mary his mother had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. But Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wishing to expose her to reproach, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins."

Matthew 1:18-21

St. Joseph

The special motives for which St. Joseph has been proclaimed patron of the Church—and for which the Church looks for singular benefit from his patronage and protection—are that Joseph was the spouse of Mary and that he was reputed the father of Jesus Christ. From these sources have sprung his dignity, grace, holiness, and glory. The dignity of the Mother of God is so lofty that nothing created can rank above it. But as Joseph has been united to the Blessed Virgin by the ties of marriage, it may not be doubted that he approached nearer than anyone else to the eminent dignity by which the Mother of God so nobly surpasses all created natures. For marriage is the most intimate of all unions, which from its essence imparts a community of gifts between those joined together by it. Thus, in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as spouse, God appointed him to be, not only her life's companion, the witness of her maidenhood, the protector of her honor, but also, by virtue of the conjugal tie, a participator in her sublime dignity.

Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men.

From this twofold dignity flowed the obligation which nature lays upon the heads of families, so that Joseph became the guardian, administrator, and legal defender of the divine house whose head he was. He set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing; he guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch's jealousy, and found for Him a refuge; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitterness of exile he was ever the companion, the helper, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus.

Now the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father contained within its limits the scarce-born Church. From the very fact that the most holy Virgin is the mother of Jesus Christ she is the mother of all Christians, whom she bore on Mount Calvary in the painful throes of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the Firstborn of Christians, who by adoption and redemption are His brothers.

Therefore the blessed patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided especially to his trust—this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus Christ, he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.


Guardian of Jesus

St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste spouse of Mary, you passed your life in perfect fulfillment of duty. You supported the Holy Family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly turn to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes; and they turn to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too have known trial, labor, and weariness. But, even amid the worries of material life, your soul was filled with deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with the Son of God entrusted to you, and with Mary, His tender Mother.

Teach those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them how to find Jesus near them, to greet Him with grace, and to guard Him faithfully, as you have done. Grant that in every family, in every factory and place of work—wherever a Christian labors—all may grow in charity, patience, justice, and in seeking to do right, so that a flood of gifts may descend from heaven. Amen.


Happy Death

Glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, obtain for us pure, humble, and charitable hearts, and perfect conformity to the will of God. Be our guide, our father and model during life, so that we may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Dear St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ, true spouse of the Virgin Mother of God, pray for us.

Special Favor

Blessed St. Joseph, tenderhearted father, faithful guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of the Mother of God, I pray and beseech you to offer to God the Father His divine Son, bathed in blood on the cross for sinners, and through the most holy name of Jesus obtain for me of the eternal Father the favor I implore (here mention silently the favor requested).

Appease the divine anger so justly aroused by our sins; beg of Jesus mercy for your children. Amid the splendors of eternity, do not forget the sorrows of those who suffer, those who pray, those who weep; stay the almighty arm which smites us that by your prayers and those of your most holy spouse, the Sacred Heart of Jesus may be moved to pity and to pardon. Amen.


Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,

have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Illustrious son of David,
Light of patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of laborers,
Strength of the home,
Guardian of virgins,
Safeguard of families,
Consoler of the afflicted,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of holy Church,

pray for us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,

spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,

graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

He made him lord of His house,

and prince of all His possessions.

LET US PRAY O God, in Your marvelous providence You deigned to choose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Your most holy Mother. We ask You to grant that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom on earth we venerate as our protector. Who live and reign world without end. Amen.

Father of Virgins

St. Joseph, father and guardian of virgins, to whose faithful keeping were entrusted Innocence itself, Jesus Christ, and Mary the virgin of virgins, I earnestly ask you, by Jesus and Mary, these pledges so dear to you, to bring me to serve Jesus and Mary most chastely, and to be preserved from all uncleanness, with untainted mind, pure heart, and chaste body. Amen.

At the Last Hour

Blessed Joseph, who yielded your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary, when the seal of death shall close my life, come, holy father, with Jesus and Mary to aid me, and obtain for me the one solace I ask for that hour, to die encircled by their holy arms. Into your sacred hands, living and dying, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I commend my soul. Amen.

For a Wayward Soul

Joseph most just, I earnestly commend to you the salvation of a soul dear to me and redeemed by Jesus through the shedding of His blood. Great St. Joseph, you know how unhappy are those who have banished the Savior from their hearts and how dangerously these sinners are exposed to eternal loss. I beg of you, dear St. Joseph, to call this wayward soul from the path of sin. Enlighten this sinner, call back this prodigal son (daughter) to his (her) Father's embrace. Do not desist from your urgings till finally you have opened for him (her) the gates of heaven, where he (she) shall bless you forever for the happiness in God to which you have led him (her). Amen.

Novena to St. Joseph the Worker

O God, the Creator of all things, You have laid the law of labor upon the human race. Grant, we beseech You, that by the example and protection of St. Joseph we may perform the work You command and attain to the reward that You promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Novena Prayer

To you, O blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our distress and having implored the help of your most holy spouse we confidently invoke your patronage also.

By that love which bound you to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by the fatherly affection with which you embraced the Child Jesus we humbly ask you to look kindly on the inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased with His blood, and assist us in our needs by your power and strength. Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption; mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in our present conflict with the powers of darkness; and as of old you rescued the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God's holy Church from the snares of the enemy and all adversity. Keep us one and all under your continual protection, in order that by your example and supported by your help, we may lead a holy life, die a happy death, and come at last to possess eternal blessedness in heaven. Amen.


Remember, O most pure spouse of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, my beloved patron, that never was it heard that anyone invoked your patronage and sought your aid without being strengthened. With this confidence I come before you and fervently commend myself to you. Foster father of the Redeemer, do not despise my prayer, but receive it graciously. Amen.

Conformity to the Will of God

Great St. Joseph, to whose will the Savior subjected Himself, obtain for me the grace to subject myself in all things to the will of God. Through the merits you obtained when in the darkness of night you obeyed the angel's commands, ask for me this grace, that nothing may detain me from fulfilling the will of God with perfect conformity. In the stable of Bethlehem, on the flight to Egypt, you recommended yourself and those dear to you to divine Providence. Ask for me this same grace to conform myself to the will of God in discouragement and despondency, in health and sickness, in happiness and misfortune, in success and failure so that nothing may disturb the tranquillity of my soul in obediently following the way of God for me. Amen.

Consecration of Self

Glorious St. Joseph, chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, chaste spouse of Mary ever virgin, head of the Holy Family, and therefore appointed by the vicar of Christ as the heavenly patron and defender of the Church founded by Jesus, with fullest confidence I implore at this moment your powerful aid for all the Church militant. With your truly fatherly love protect in a special way the supreme pontiff and all bishops and priests united to the Holy See of Peter. Be the defender of all who labor for souls amid this life's trials and tribulations, and bring all peoples of the earth to submit themselves to the Church, the necessary means of salvation for all men.

Be pleased also, dear St. Joseph, to accept the consecration which I now make of myself to you. I dedicate myself wholly to you, that you may always be my father, my patron, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life. Following your example, may I direct all my actions to the greater glory of God, in union with the divine Heart of Jesus, with the immaculate heart of Mary, and with you. Finally, pray for me, that I may share in the peace and joy which you possessed in your holy death. Amen.

To the Holy Trinity

Eternal Father, by the love You have for St. Joseph, who was chosen by You in preference to all men to represent Your divine fatherhood over Your Son made man, have pity on us and on the needy who are dying.

Eternal divine Son, by the love You have for St. Joseph, Your most faithful guardian on earth, have pity on us and on the needy who are dying.

Eternal divine Spirit, by the love You have for St. Joseph, who protected Your beloved spouse, most holy Mary, have pity on us and on the needy who are dying.

Fidelity to Work

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God, disregarding difficulties and weariness; to work, above all, with purity of intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes death, and the account which I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all after your example, patriarch Joseph. This will be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.

Perfect Man of Nazareth

St. Joseph, the "just man," the perfect man of Nazareth, the spouse of Mary, the foster father of Jesus, the patron of labor, the patron of a happy death, the patron of the whole Church, sinless, selfless, unflinchingly generous. I am a poor beggar, I am in need, my tale is against me, I am very disappointing, I have no excuse, I deserve nothing, even for the future, how much can I promise? I cannot be sure of myself, but I would it were otherwise. I would become true, and you can help me; for Jesus hears you. Ask Him to forgive, ask Him to forget, ask Him to make me sinless, like to yourself, to make me selfless, like yourself, to make me generous. Take me as your companion, and Mary's, and His.

Archbishop Goodier

Consecration of the Society of Jesus

O blessed patriarch, St. Joseph, today the whole Christian world calls upon you, its intercessor, and proclaims you its loving patron. To you also come the sons of the Society of Jesus in humble petition, that united in spirit we may with one voice make known our special devotion to you; and that our entire Society, long since consecrated to the most sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary, may with like affection claim to be yours.

And so, blessed Joseph, on this your feast we, the members of the Society of Jesus throughout the world, in the presence of our king and leader, Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, your spouse and our mother, with fullest confidence, solemnly choose and adopt you as the special patron of our entire Society and of each one of us. To you do we wholly consecrate ourselves, and into your hands we desire that all our concerns be entrusted and confided forever. Most benign Joseph, from the royal throne of your glory, turn upon us your eyes of mercy and show us your paternal affection; hear our prayers, accept this our offering, and grant to our Society the assurance of your lasting protection.

Be henceforth the lord and ruler of our Society, which in word and deed is the company and possession of Christ Jesus. Receive it as your own; guide, advance, and govern it as of old you watched over your own most Holy Family. Urge on your loyal sons, our Scholastics, in whose increase and sanctification rests the Society's hope, that they may know our Lord more intimately, love Him alone, and strive earnestly to imitate Him.

Obtain for our pastors and missionaries, our teachers and writers, that abundance of knowledge and virtue which will enable them to lead to the Virgin Mother of God, your spouse, an army of followers most like to your dear Son, Jesus. Fill our faithful Coadjutor Brothers with your own spirit of devotion, humility, and charity, that they may show in the performance of their duties the same care that you always showed in providing for your holy charge. Inspired by your example and assistance, may our superiors live united with Christ our Lord. May they cherish their subjects as sons, ruling with gentleness and kindness, and inflaming them all with zeal for the advancement of the Society and for the greater glory of God.

Now we earnestly beg of you, O just and noble St. Joseph, who rescued the Infant Jesus from the hands of Herod, that the power and snares of the enemy may never harm our Society entrusted to your care, nor turn any of us from the love of our great king and leader, Jesus Christ. Be our guide and protector in life, our support and consolation in death; that yielding up our souls in the loving arms of Jesus and Mary your own, we may enjoy your blessed friendship forever. Amen.

Protector of Holy Church

Having besought the aid of your most holy bride, we turn to you in our distress, blessed Joseph, and confidently invoke your protection too. We beseech you to look kindly on our heritage that Jesus Christ made His own with His blood, and to use your power to help us in our needs, through the love that bound you to the immaculate Virgin, God's Mother, and through the fatherly love you poured out on the Child Jesus. Most careful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; most loving father keep us from all stain of error and corruption. Most mighty deliverer, look down on us from the height of heaven; aid us in our battle against the powers of darkness, and defend God's holy Church from the guiles of the enemy and all adversity, as once you snatched the Child Jesus from the jaws of death. Assist us unceasingly, so that, upheld by your example and your help, we may live a holy life, die a holy death, and reach the everlasting happiness of heaven. Amen.

For Workers

O glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you.

You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God. Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls. Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil. Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as You did.


Personal Consecration

Dearest St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to your service. I give myself to you, that you may always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a great purity of heart, a fervent love of the interior life, and the spirit of prayer.

After your example may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the divine Heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of Mary. And you, blessed St. Joseph, pray for me, that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.

Patron and Guide

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, my Lord, and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I, (NAME), choose you for my particular patron and guide; and, as God has appointed you head of His Holy Family, I humbly pray and entreat you to favor my vocation by your protection and to foster it by your intercession. Teach me, I beseech you, to cherish Mary as my queen, to venerate her as my advocate, to love her as my mother. Under your leadership may I walk in the way of virtue and piety, in accordance with the constitutions of the Society, and thus become worthy, under your patronage, ever to live and die as a true son of Mary and faithful companion of Jesus. Amen.

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

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