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Going to St. Joseph in a Time of Chaos

Andrea Chamberlain
After the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, the Church was thrust into a period of intense turmoil known as the Western Schism, which saw three rival political factions each vigorously claim their own successor to the chair of St. Peter. The Schism finally ended in 1414 at the Council of Constance, which had been called to try to bring an end to the chaos.

patron of the universal Church

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church

One of the strongest forces present at the Council working towards the reunification of the Church was Jean Gerson, the Chancellor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris (1363-1429). He preached numerous sermons at the Council, invoking the assistance of St. Joseph to guide the Council to resolve the conflict, ultimately helping to pave the way for the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church in 1870 by Pope Pius IX.

Similarly, innumerable saints throughout the centuries, including St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales and St. Therese of Liseux, have turned with perfect confidence to St. Joseph to help them in personal trials and enthusiastically recommended others to seek his intercession. The Church herself refers to the particular veneration given to St. Joseph, proto-dulia, as second only to that of Our Lady (called hyper-dulia), higher than any other creature either human or angelic.

St. Joseph was seen alongside his spouse in the apparition at Knock, Ireland in 1879. On the day of the great Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, Portugal, on October 13, 1917, the three shepherd childred saw St. Joseph in the Heavens along with the two other members of the Holy Family, blessing the whole world.


St. Joseph Stairs in Loretto Chapel

Many people believe that St. Joseph assisted a community of nuns in New Mexico in 1878, who were in need of a staircase to allow them to access their chapel’s choir loft at the newly-constructed Loretto Chapel. Local carpenters could not resolve the problem of how to build a staircase that could fit into the small allotted space.

On the ninth day of their novena to St. Joseph, Patron of Carpenters, for this intention, a grey-haired man came to the convent on a donkey with a toolbox and asked to build the staircase, on the condition he was provided total privacy. He set to work.

Three months later, the carpenter disappeared without a word or even being paid. The result was this miraculous staircase whose design defies the laws of gravity and has baffled architects to this day.

Even the tradition of how St. Joseph was chosen as Our Lady’s spouse was miraculous. The holy Prophet Simeon is said to have gathered several upright men together in the Temple, giving each one a dry stick. He prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to make His will known as to who her spouse should be, and the stick held by St. Joseph sprouted beautiful white lilies.

Ways to increase our devotion to this great Saint

So, why in this current age of unprecedented turmoil in the Universal Church, do we seem to hear so little about her Patron? There are many practical and simple changes we can make in our daily lives to honor and increase our devotion to this most highly extolled Saint in these days when his intercession is so urgently needed.

madris st joseph statue

St. Joseph holding a staff topped by lilies, Madrid

One of the easiest is wearing the cord of St. Joseph. In 1637 an Augustinian sister in Antwerp, Belgium, was miraculously cured of a serious illness while wearing a cord in honor of St. Joseph. Afterwards, there was an increased demand for such cords worn around the waist, which are also said to assist the wearer in obtaining the gift of perfect chastity.

The white cotton cord has seven knots in remembrance of the seven joys and sorrows of St. Joseph (1) and wearers are asked to recite seven Gloriae daily in honor of St. Joseph. Today, the Archconfraternity of the Cord of St. Joseph is based out of the Church of St. Roch in Rome. The cords should be blessed with the formula promulgated by Pope Pius IX in 1859, which conferred additional indulgences on those who faithfully wear this cord. Cords are available for purchase from several online vendors.

Another way to express devotion to St. Joseph is by using the oil of St. Joseph, which is kept burning before his statue at the grand Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, Quebec. This oil can be ordered directly from the Oratory gift shop and shipped internationally.

The tradition of using this oil began when St. Brother Andre Bessette, who called himself the “dog” of St. Joseph, recommended its use to those who came to him seeking special favors. Many miraculous cures were granted to those who prayerfully used this oil with confidence.

The first Wednesday devotion in honor of St. Joseph is an additional way to express our devotion to and seek the powerful intercession of this great saint. Wednesday has traditionally been a day dedicated to St. Joseph, and the first Wednesday of the Month devotion was modeled after the First Friday and First Saturday devotions. Its conditions are to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion in a state of grace in honor of St. Joseph for nine consecutive first Wednesdays and petition him to grant you the graces of final perseverance and a happy death.

If you know people struggling with sins against chastity or any mortal sin, make the nine First Wednesdays in petition for conversion for them and faithfully wait for St. Joseph to accomplish Our Lord’s designs in their lives. You could even spiritually adopt a member of the clergy and make the nine First Wednesdays as an offering for them.

happy death

St. Joseph, who died with Our Lord & Our Lady present, is patron of happy deaths

Reciting the Litany of St. Joseph, which was approved by Pope St. Pius X in 1909, is another way to express our devotion to St. Joseph. The litany addresses him as the “terror of demons,” which is exactly what Holy Mother Church will hopefully become once again under his patronage and through a revival of devotion to him.

To a large extent, St. Joseph is a man shrouded in mystery. The four-volume series The Mystical City of God by (incorrupt) Venerable Mary of Agreda may give us some detail about his hidden life, but we have little to rely on from Sacred Scripture. It is obvious, though, that this man was favored by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost in a way unlike anyone else in all of human history. Certainly, also, his knowledge that his death would occur before he saw the fulfillment of Christ’s earthly mission brought him a great deal of suffering.

Perhaps it is because of this tremendous reservoir of suffering he offered during his life that his intercessory prayers on our behalf are so powerful. Just as the Joseph of the Old Testament provided for the people in times of profound strife, St. Joseph can and will sustain us if we go to him and ask him. Now, more than ever, the Church needs this source of strength and renewal tapped by her faithful children who have been commissioned to live during this age of chaos.

Let us not allow this great Saint’s intercession to remain muted. St. Joseph, Protector of Holy Mother Church, pray for us!

patron of carpenters and workers

St. Joseph, patron of carpenters and workers

  1. This prayer meditates on the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph:

    1. St. JOSEPH, Chaste Spouse of the Holy Mother of God, by the SORROW with which thy heart was pierced at the thought of a cruel separation from Mary, and by the deep JOY that thou didst feel when the angel revealed to thee the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, obtain for us from Jesus and Mary, the grace of surmounting all anxiety. Win for us from the Adorable Heart of Jesus the unspeakable peace of which He is the Eternal Source.

    2. St. JOSEPH, Foster-Father of Jesus, by the bitter SORROW which thy heart experienced in seeing the Child Jesus lying in a manger, and by the JOY which thou didst feel in seeing the Wise men recognize and adore Him as their God, obtain by thy prayers that our heart, purified by thy protection, may become a living crib, where the Savior of the world may receive and bless our homage.

    3. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW with which thy heart was pierced at the sight of the Blood which flowed from the Infant Jesus in the Circumcision, and by the JOY that inundated thy soul at thy privilege of imposing the sacred and mysterious Name of Jesus, obtain for us that the merits of this Precious Blood may be applied to our souls, and that the Divine Name of Jesus may be engraved forever in our hearts.

    4. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW when the Lord declared that the soul of Mary would be pierced with a sword of sorrow, and by thy JOY when holy Simeon added that the Divine Infant was to be the resurrection of many, obtain for us the grace to have compassion on the sorrows of Mary, and share in the salvation which Jesus brought to the earth.

    5. St. JOSEPH, by thy SORROW when told to fly into Egypt, and by thy JOY in seeing the idols overthrown at the arrival of the living God, grant that no idol of earthly affection may any longer occupy our hearts, but being like thee entirely devoted to the service of Jesus and Mary, we may live and happily die for them alone.

    6. St. JOSEPH, by the SORROW of thy heart caused by the fear of the tyrant Archelaus and by the JOY in sharing the company of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth, obtain for us, that disengaged from all fear, we may enjoy the peace of a good conscience and may live in security, in union with Jesus and Mary, experiencing the effect of thy salutary assistance at the hour of our death.

    7. St. JOSEPH, by the bitter SORROW with which the loss of the Child Jesus crushed thy heart, and by the holy JOY which inundated thy soul in recovering thy Treasure on entering the Temple, we supplicate thee not to permit us to lose our Saviour Jesus by sin. Yet, should this misfortune befall us, grant that we may share thy eagerness in seeking Him, and obtain for us the grace to find Him again, ready to show us His great mercy, especially at the hour of death; so that we may pass from this life to enjoy His presence in heaven, there to sing with thee His divine mercies forever.

    Let Us Pray

    O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence has vouchsafed to choose Blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy protector: Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted April 27, 2018