Saint Joseph, Protector of the Church

Reflection by Bishop Edgar da Cunha

When Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church 150 years ago— during times of challenge and difficulties in the Church—he entrusted the needs of the Catholic Church to the patronage, care, and protection of St. Joseph. In the Prayer to Saint Joseph, Protector of the Church, we recite that Saint Joseph has been charged with the protection of the Universal Church. This idea of Saint Joseph bestowed with that protection of the Church reflects the role he played as the head of the Holy Family and how he was charged with the protection of the Holy Family, especially of the infant Messiah, Jesus the Christ. 

I like the connection that we can easily make with the Church as the body of Christ entrusted to Saint Joseph’s care and how he cared for Jesus as an infant, child, and adolescent. I can picture Saint Joseph taking care of the baby Jesus, taking him into his arms, feeding him, watching over him, and protecting him. 

There probably were many times, while Jesus was a child when he fell or got hurt as all children do, and Saint Joseph would pick him up, console him, hug him and take care of whatever he was in need of at that time. That little body of a child who needed the protection and care of a loving father is also the body of Christ, the Church, journeying in this world, surrounded by all kinds of difficulties, challenges, sufferings, oppositions, and threats. This body of Christ has been entrusted to the care of St. Joseph to be defended, protected, and cared for by this great and loving Saint.

One clear example of St. Joseph as the Protector of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, is when the Infant Jesus was threatened by King Herod. Joseph followed the direction of the angel and took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to be safe from the threat of Herod. The life of the infant Jesus was then saved by the actions of St. Joseph.

Another example illustrated when Jesus was separated from His parents during their visit to Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary went back anxiously looking for him. They found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And Mary said to him: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Luke 2:46-48).

It is consoling for all of us as members of the body of Christ, the Church, to know we have the protection of such a great and powerful intercessor watching over us as a loving father.

Consecration to St. Joseph ~ Prayers for Week One

Prayer to Saint Joseph, Protector of the Church

St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus,
you have been charged with the protection of the universal Church
so that you might care for all the children of the Kingdom
in the same way you lovingly cared for the members of the Holy Family.

From heaven, where you now live with Jesus and Mary,
Guide and protect the people of God walking toward fullness of life.
Bring together from the four corners of the world all your children
so that they may live in one Spirit. Lead all Christians to unity in the same faith.

Obtain for the Holy Father, for all our bishops, and for all the faithful,
who with them, form the Church community, the graces of
enlightenment and strength so that all may live in the teaching
of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
Pray for us. *recite after each invocation

Saint Joseph,

Noble son of the House of David,

Light of patriarchs,

Husband of the Mother of God,

Guardian of the Virgin,

Foster father of the Son of God,

Faithful guardian of Christ,

Head of the Holy Family,

Joseph, chaste and just,

Joseph, prudent and brave,

Joseph, obedient and loyal,

Pattern of patience,

Lover of poverty,

Model of workers,

Example to parents,

Guardian of virgins,

Pillar of family life,

Comfort of the troubled,

Hope of the sick,

Patron of the dying,

Terror of evil spirits,

Protector of the Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

God made him master of his household,
And put him in charge of all that he owned.

Let us pray.

O God, who in your inexpressible providence were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as spouse of the most holy Mother of your Son, grant, we pray, that we, who revere him as our protector on earth, may be worthy of his heavenly intercession.
Through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

[During the Year of Saint Joseph: This litany is ordinarily enriched with a partial indulgence (Manual of Indulgences, conc. 22). During the Year of Saint Joseph, however—which lasts from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021—the use of the Litany of Saint Joseph has been included among other prayers to St. Joseph enriched with a plenary indulgence (see Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary issued Dec. 8, 2020, section E), which may be earned once a day subject to the usual conditions: sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope, and a total detachment to all sin, including venial sin. Source: USCCB]

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