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Retrouvaille Patron Saint Joseph

fl. 1st century AD, Nazareth, Galilee, region of Palestine; principal feast day March 19, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker May 1 in the New Testament, Jesus' earthly father, the Virgin Mary's husband, and in Roman Catholicism patron of the universal church. His life is recorded in the Gospels, particularly Matthew and Luke.

Joseph was a descendant of the House of King David. After marrying Mary, he found her already pregnant and, being "a just man and unwilling to put her to shame" (Matt. 1:19), decided to divorce her quietly; but an angel told him that the child was the son of God and was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Obeying the angel, Joseph took Mary as his wife. After Jesus' birth at Bethlehem (modern Bayt Lahm, Jordan) in Judaea, where the holy family received the Magi, an angel warned Joseph and Mary about the impending violence against the child by King Herod the Great of Judaea, whereupon they fled to Egypt. There the angel again appeared to Joseph, informing him of Herod's death and instructing him to return to the Holy Land.

Avoiding Bethlehem out of fear of Herod's successor, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settled in Nazareth (Matt. 2:22-23) in Galilee, where Joseph taught his craft of carpentry to Jesus. Joseph is last mentioned in the Gospels when he and Mary frantically searched for the lost Jesus in Jerusalem, where they found him in the Temple (Luke 2:41-48). Like Mary, Joseph failed to comprehend Jesus' ironic question, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" The circumstances of Joseph's death are unknown, except that he probably died before Jesus' public ministry began and was certainly dead before the Crucifixion (John 19:26-27).

Some of the subsequent apocryphal narratives concerning Joseph are extravagantly fictitious. The 2nd-century Protevangelium of James and the 4th-century History of Joseph the Carpenter present him as a widower with children at the time of his betrothal to Mary, contributing to the confusion over the question of Jesus' brothers and sisters. The allegation that he lived to be 111 years old is spurious. Reliable information about Joseph, therefore, is found only in the Gospels, for the later pious stories distort his image and helped delay his commemoration.

Although the veneration of Joseph seems to have begun in Egypt, the earliest Western devotion to him dates from the early 14th century, when the Servites, an order of mendicant friars, observed his feast on March 19, the traditional day of his death. Among the subsequent promoters of the devotion was Pope Sixtus IV, who introduced it at Rome c. 1479, and the celebrated 16th-century mystic St. Teresa of Avila. Already patron of Mexico, Canada, and Belgium, Joseph was declared patron of the universal church by Pope Pius IX in 1870. In 1955 Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker as May 1 in countercelebration to the Communists' May Day.

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Based on Matthew 1:18-25

We ask your prayers, St. Joseph, an upright man, a spouse who planned to divorce Mary in secret and who by God's grace was able to see his role in God's plan.

We ask you in our behalf to pray to God that our marriage be healed. We are enveloped in pain and despair as you must have been when you learned of Mary's pregnancy. Be for and with us, Joseph, in our hour of doubt. Let us listen to and heed the voice of God as you did.

Be our intercessor to your Jesus, to give us the blessings to change, to listen, to forgive and most of all to hope that our marriage will heal and our family remain whole and holy.

We give you honor, quiet St. Joseph, for you are a spouse like us, who while knowing pain, did not divorce. By God's grace you nourished the Holy Family and the Savior of all families throughout the ages.

St. Joseph, as the foster father of Jesus, played a major role in the life of Jesus but this is rarely mentioned in the Gospels, in fact only two of the gospel writers mention St. Joseph and the roles he plays. There is very little factual information available about his life, even in the Gospels. St. Joseph is never described; he never speaks; we only know that God saw him as a just man.

The obscurity of his life hides a great and holy mystery. With his immeasurable faith and love he effaced himself completely in the service of Christ and the Blessed Virgin. His life was to live for them; he chose no other goal. This was the office that God assigned to him, and though it was hidden from men's eyes it was of the highest dignity and importance. For he was entrusted with the care of God's beloved maiden Mary and was to stand in the place of father to God's own Son. Did anyone ever have such a privilege before or since?

Just as St. Joseph served as the guardian of Jesus during his formative years, he now serves as the guardian and patron of the Universal Church. Because of the belief that at the hour of his death he was consoled by Jesus and Mary, he is also invoked for the grace of a happy death.

Novena to St. Joseph O Glorious St. Joseph, foster father and protector of the Virgin Mary, to you I raise my heart to implore your intercessions. Obtain for me the necessary graces for my spiritual and temporal welfare. Please, St. Joseph, may I have the grace of a happy death and the special favor I am now presenting to you .... that we would have more workers, couples and priests, in this ministry of Retrouvaille. I am confident that through your powerful intercession my petitions will be granted. I promise to live a good Christian life and love you and your beloved Jesus and Mary. Pray for us, O holy Joseph That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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