Sunday, March 8, 2015

March is the Month of St. Joseph: Fr. Andersen

Bulletin Letter from Sunday, March 1, 2015
by Fr. Eric Andersen, Parochial Vicar
Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Bandon, OR

March 19th is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The entire month of March belongs to him.  Devotion to St. Joseph is as old as the Church itself, being that he is mentioned in the gospels.  The most recent phase in the development of devotion to him began in the 19th century, culminated at the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, and continues.
To begin with this most recent phase, Popes Pius VIII (1829-1830) and Gregory XVI (1831-1846) “both endowed with indulgences the pious meditation of (a devotion called) the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph. Pius IX increased those indulgences considerably soon after the beginning of his pontificate (Feb 1, 1847). On June 11, 1855, he enriched with great spiritual favors the daily devotion to St. Joseph during the month of March, and on April 27, 1865, he issued a decree that had for its aim, or effect, to make the month of March, as it were, the counterpart of the month of May, inasmuch as the month of March was to be dedicated to St. Joseph as the month of May is especially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin” (Mueller.  The Fatherhood of St. Joseph p. 6). Pius IX also gave approval for the forming of the Confraternity of the Cord of St. Joseph in 1860.  This cord is blessed and worn by married men as a sign of fidelity to the Church’s teaching on marital chastity.

In 1869, the Bishops who attended the First Vatican Council presented a petition to the Council to “solemnly declare St. Joseph the first patron and protector, after the Blessed Virgin, of the whole Church, and…accord to him, next to the Mother of God, the highest liturgical veneration”(7).  In 1870, Pope Pius IX responded by solemnly declaring St. Joseph to be the Patron of the Universal Church and in 1871 he increased liturgical veneration in several ways. 

His successor, Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) wrote an encyclical on St. Joseph.  Pope Pius X (1903-1914) approved the Litany of St. Joseph and inserted it into liturgical books for public and private use.  Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) had a Preface for Masses of St. Joseph composed and inserted into the Roman Missal.  Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) inserted prayers to St. Joseph, patron of the dying in to the Rite of Extreme Unction and the liturgical prayers for the dying.  In 1955, Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st to elevate the dignity of work for the common man, in opposition to Atheistic Communism.  Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) added St. Joseph to the Roman Canon of the Mass and to the liturgical prayers of the Divine Praises during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) wrote an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Redemptoris Custos about the person and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and the Church.  Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) approved the insertion of the name of St. Joseph into Eucharist Prayers II, III, and IV in the Roman Missal and this act was completed and promulgated by Pope Francis (2013-present). 

During this month of March–the month of St. Joseph–please consider making a month-long novena to St. Joseph.  Alternately, every Wednesday throughout the year is a good day to pray to him.  I will also make available booklets with the “Seven Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph” devotion available. 

Memorare of St. Joseph

Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, Ever Virgin, my loving protector Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked your aid without obtaining relief.  Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you.  Despise not my petitions, Foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them.  

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