Novena to St. Joseph

Pope Francis established 2021 as a Year in Honor of St. Joseph. The following Novena is 9 days of prayer culminating on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19th, when you are invited to pray the Prayer of Consecration to St. Joseph at a Festive Meal.

First Day

Joseph the Prayer
“Christianity is not religion, it is a relationship.” Dr. Thieme

Reflection
The writer William Barry S.J. describes the personal relationship that God desires to share with us as “what occurs when I am conscious in some way of God’s presence. So, prayer can be as simple as watching a child trying to speak words… feeling the wind on your face… looking at someone you love; all can be prayer if you are aware (conscious, attentive) of God’s presence as you take in these experiences.” (Praying the Truth, Loyola Press 2012)

We can well imagine Joseph praying in a simple, grateful way as he gazes on the faces of Mary and Jesus. Our prayer opens us to the fruits of the Spirit which are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22 – 23)

Reflection Questions
Invoking the intercession of St. Joseph for wisdom, ask the Lord which fruit of the Spirit is most needed for your growth this day. How will you be Love in Action with the fruit of your prayer?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Second Day

Joseph the Dreamer
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move hearts.” 
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Reflection
Joseph has no fewer than four dreams in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt. 1:20 – 21, 2:13, 2:19 – 20, 2:22). Each dream challenges him to drastically alter the plan for his life, embark on dangerous journeys, and empowers him to act boldly and courageously. Yet, it is in restful dreams that action first stretches willing limbs of change. Both sleeping and waking dreams are the still places where inspiration, imagination and possibilities sing softly the music of a new vision. Sensitive to his inner life of the Spirit, Joseph trusted in his own experience and in God’s Providence.

God has a dream and vision for each of us which is always being sung in our hearts. Every move toward love, forgiveness and sacrifice is our response to the music of our soul.

Through the intercession of St. Joseph may we listen deeply to the angel sounds of God’s love song to us.

Reflection Questions
What dream, vision or potential does God seem to be inviting you to hear? What areas of your life are calling you to love, forgiveness or sacrifice so that dreams about beauty, truth and goodness may come true? What action will you take?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Third Day

Joseph the Provider
God forces no one, for love cannot compel, and God’s service, therefore, is a thing of perfect freedom. Hans Denk

God forces no one, for love cannot compel, and God’s service, therefore, is a thing of perfect freedom. Hans Denk

Reflection
Joseph served freely and through his own choice as the provider for the Holy Family and as a Saint accepting the responsibility of our spiritual wellbeing. The image of a faithful steward expresses the heart of giving that not only sustains relationships but enables flourishing and the care of souls.

Through the intercession of St. Joseph may we grow as faithful providers and stewards, receiving God’s gifts gratefully and sharing them with thankful hearts as Love in Action.

Reflection Questions
Who needs you to be a provider? Who desires your eyes to meet their eyes with approval and acceptance? Who listens for your words of encouragement? Who wishes to speak into your willing ear? Who waits for your helping hand? What action will you provide?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Fourth Day

Joseph the Husband
Love begins when a person feels another person’s need to be as important as his own. Harry Stack Sullivan

Husband and wife are companions on life’s journey. The word companion comes from the Latin, com (with) and panis (bread, food) which dates to the 14th-century. 1400 years before the word was used, Mary and Joseph shared their daily bread as married companions entrusted with a very special relationship and an extraordinary mission. (Mt.1:19, 1:20, 24)

Everyday things, meals, work, laughter, tears and all the little mundane tasks revealed to them the beauty of the sublime because they discovered God’s love in their love for one another and in all things.

Reflection Questions Who are your companions on the journey? In grateful prayer through the intercession of St. Joseph, pray for these people. List the names of the ones with whom you laugh, cry and break bread. What action will you take to show your love for them?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Fifth Day

Joseph the Father
“Being a parent… is to decide forever to have your heart go
walking around outside of your body.” Elizabeth Stone

Reflection The sounds a child makes to a parent are almost universally understood. In English we hear ‘mama,’ ‘papa.’ In Aramaic we hear ‘imma,’ ‘abba.’ Jesus calls His Heavenly Father ‘abba,’ pure tenderness in syllables. Joseph as father modeled for Jesus the very heart of the one who is Father, Mother and Creator of us all.

There is another side to fatherhood and parenting in general which is the pain involved in loving and in letting go. Joseph and Mary experienced the pain of parental love when Jesus did not return with them from the pilgrimage to the Temple. They thought he was lost. Upon finding Jesus, Mary spoke directly about their suffering, “Your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety!” (Lk. 2:48) The joy of being together and the pain of separation are the two hands of the body of love.

Reflection Questions Through the intercession of St. Joseph reflect on your experience with your parents. What would you like to say to God about your parents? Pray for them. Pray about your children or others for whom you feel responsible. What one action will you take to give love or to heal a hurting love this day?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Sixth Day

Joseph the Worker
“Work is love made visible.” Kahil Gibra

The crowd asked about Jesus, “is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Mth 13:53)

Biblical studies reveal that a carpenter in the time of Joseph worked in stone as well as in wood. One charming legend is that Joseph specialized in making yokes. Yokes fit around the neck and shoulders of plowing beasts. The carpenter needed to carefully craft the yoke to fit the contours of the animal’s body so that the yoke would not damage the animal and render it unable to work. Jesus, surely learning his father’s trade worked in the same manner. During his ministry as teacher Jesus said, “Follow me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30)

An easy or well-fitting yoke helps the burden feel lighter. Jesus uses this image to assure us that our work is chosen and crafted with care. Work is a great blessing and a burden. Work with the Lord is an easier yoke. As Paul writes, “God’s power at work in us can accomplish far more than we could ever hope for or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20)

Reflection Questions
Through the intercession of St. Joseph reflect on your work which includes all areas of responsibility, relationships, employment, ministry etc. Discuss these burdens prayerfully with the Lord. In what way are you being supported by the Lord? What action can you take to relieve someone else’s burden?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Seventh Day

Joseph in Silence
“The small truth has words that are clear. The great truth has great silence.” Tagore Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11

Abraham praises, Moses commands, Elijah prays, David sings, Jeremiah complains, Angels speak, Mary says, ‘Yes’ and Joseph speaks not a word in all of Scripture.

Joseph is silent because his life speaks for itself. How tempting it is to write and to speak many words when no words are really the way to the portal of unconditional acceptance found in silence. Breathe deeply, close your eyes – be still in silence with the Lord – and rest – go there.

Reflection Questions
Karl Rahner a great spiritual writer and theologian wrote a devotional book entitled, Encounters with Silence. Through the intercession of St. Joseph pray with Rahner’s words. What phrase catches your imagination? How do you identify with these images? What surprises or upsets you? Speak to the Lord about your experience.

Only in love can I find you, my God. In love the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom and forget my own petty self. In love my whole being streams forth out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, which make me a prisoner of my own poverty emptiness. In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you, wanting never more to return, but to lose themselves completely in you, since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself.

Who needs your prayer? How will you respond to this need?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Eighth Day

Joseph the Patron of a Happy Death
“My eyes already touched the sunny hill going far ahead of the road I have begun, so we are grasped by what we cannot grasp; it has its inner light, even from a distance – and changes us, even if we do not reach it, into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

In prison for his active role in resisting the Nazi Regime, the Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter from his cell on Christmas Eve in 1943, about death and grief. The following is a portion of his letter written just months before his execution.

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Vol.8, Fortress, 2009)

Through the intercession of St. Joseph may we, like Bonhoeffer, find and give comfort in the face of suffering because of our spiritual perspective and a deep meaning, abiding trust in God’s Providence.

Reflection Questions
Prayerfully recall those for whom you grieve. Express your gratitude to the Lord for the love of this Communion of Saints. Ask them to assist you in your challenges and sufferings. Whose suffering needs your assistance? How will you respond?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Ninth Day

Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

St. Joseph as a patron is an honored and special guardian or protector for the Universal Church. The word catholic means universal or whole which challenges us to be inclusive and welcoming to all. Vatican Council II stressed the Church’s role and responsibility for all human lives. The title of St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church expands our responsibility to do Christ’s Work throughout our world and beyond.

Pope John XXIII had a lovely epiphany as he lay dying. The following story contains an image of God’s unconditional acceptance for all.

At one point, gazing at a crucifix on the wall of his room, he pointed to it and declared it the “secret” of his ministry. “Look at it, see it as I see it,” he said to the assembled members of the pontifical household. “Those open arms have been the program of my pontificate: they say that Christ died for all, for all. No one is excluded from his love, from his forgiveness.” (John XXIII, A Short Biography, Kerry Walters, Franciscan Media, 2014.)

Reflection Questions
It is always easier to have compassion and to do good works for those who we consider to be “like us,” family, friends, church community etc. Our role as a catholic and universal community challenges us to move beyond “us” and “them” thinking toward “we.”

Through the intercession of St. Joseph pray for those whom you see as “other.” Ask God to open your heart to all of our brothers and sisters, our human family. What action will you take to promote inclusivity?

Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory be…

Prayer to St. Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph, through your intercession, made this prayer gives me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life. Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

March 19

Prayer of Consecration to St. Joseph

Dear St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to your paternal care as we celebrate this blessed time devoted to your patronage.

Hold me in your prayer, so that I may pledge to serve others in imitation of your selfless stewardship for the Holy Family.

Inspiration for workers, teach me to use wisely the spiritual tools that enable me to change the things within my ability and to accept what must be left to God’s Providence.

Through your intercession, may this prayer gift me with serenity in mind and heart so that I may dream a vision of God’s desire for my life.

Faithful worker and provider, bless my mission to do Christ’s Work to be Love in Action in every word and deed. Amen.

Novena Author: Rev. Joseph J. Garbarino DMin.
Saint Philip the Apostle
797 Valley Rd.
Clifton, NJ 07013
stphilp.org
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