St. Joseph, “blessed spouse of Mary”

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By: Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J. HPR Editor.

August is a month of transitions. It is when we honor our Lady’s Glorious Assumption and her Coronation as Queen of heaven and earth. It is also the month most families begin to worry about school supplies, new schedules, and the stresses of having summer come to a close. August also witnesses the vows of many men and women religious as well as the entrance of new novices into their communities. It is when our diocesan seminarians report for duty. And this just in: August has recently outpaced June as the top month for weddings. It is truly a time of change and hopeful expectation.

To contemplate our Lady’s role in heaven this month is to recall how she intercedes for all of us in all of these various circumstances here on earth. As we all pray for our new classes of religious and seminarians, for schoolchildren’s safety all around the world, and for all this month brings, I am grateful that St. Joseph now has a more a visible—at least, a more audible—part of our daily worship. For behind Mary’s tender care of Christ stood Joseph, that “just man” extolled in the scriptures. Joseph was no doubt the first one to whom Mary revealed her Immaculate Heart, trusting his strong silence as a place where her most intimate secrets and hopes for this new mystery inside of her would be safe.

On June 20 of this year, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments declared that the name of St. Joseph “blessed spouse” of Mary, was to be added to the canon of the Mass, added to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV of the Roman Missal. (One wonders why Rome could not have made this decision last year when the new {and expensive} Missals were being printed, as this was a change already being talked about at the beginning of Emeritus Benedict’s pontificate.) As a universal and mandatory change, we should now hear at every Mass:

Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and Blessed Joseph her spouse, with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages

The exact English phrase has not been established by our bishops yet. The Latin in Eucharistic Prayer II is: “ut cum beáta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María, beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, beátis Apóstoli.” In Eucharistic Prayer III, it reads: “cum beatíssima Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum beátis Apóstolis.” In Eucharistic Prayer IV, it reads: “cum beáta Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum Apóstolis.”

The Congregation for Divine Worship, working with native speaking bishops in each language, will soon publish the vernacular; I do think, however, we can be fairly sure “with Blessed Joseph, her spouse” will stand.

Regardless of the final wording, this is the perfect time to call upon St. Joseph’s intercession. As our government forces conscientious Catholics to pay for atrocities against our faith and rights, we invoke St. Joseph the Patron of the Unborn. As so many dads today struggle to understand their role and their importance, we invoke St. Joseph the Patron of Fathers. When our land is debating the rights of those who have crossed our borders without the proper documentation, we invoke St. Joseph the Patron of All Immigrants. We also invoke him as the Patron of Workers and of a Happy Death, two everyday occurrences that stand in constant need of consecration and constant intercession. Finally, at each Mass, we now vocalize the nuptial holiness between man and woman that Mary and Joseph represent in the Holy Family.

…He intercedes now more explicitly for Christ’s Church, showing us how we, too, should never divide heaven and earth, God and man, Mother and Child. He provides us with an example of intimacy and abandonment, of commitment and freedom, of silence and strength. Because of Mary’s vow to the Father to allow the Christ to be formed in her, Joseph’s entire life changed. He was shaped more by Mary’s promise than by any of his own choices. Out of the selfless love he was given for this woman, Joseph freely received the grace to overcome his initial confusion and possible bitterness. His heart was changed because of the faith she had in their God. Like many of us, he looked toward Mary to lead and, even though he may not have understood exactly what was occurring, he trusted her enough to say, “Let it be done to me” as well….

St. Joseph, pray for us.

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Thank you Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J. for your insightful and inspiring words about St. Joseph.

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