Seven Sundays of Devotion to St. Joseph

st joseph_crop

By Katrisha Villarante

Got St. Joseph?

We’ve been hearing a lot about St. Joseph these days and you may be wondering why. Well, his Feast Day is fast approaching (March 19) and if you don’t already know, the seven Sundays of devotion to St. Joseph is one of the most fruitful intercessory devotions that only some faithful are aware of. And who can blame them? There’s a reason St. Joseph is said to have been such a humble man, he doesn’t even have a single word in the Bible!

The Saint with possibly the greatest devotion to St. Joseph is our very own Canadian – St. Andre Bessette. Who conceived the idea of erecting St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal.

Around this time last year was the first time I had ever heard of St. Joseph’s Oratory. A good friend of mine told me that it was the biggestPAINTING OF BLESSED ANDRE BESSETTE shrine dedicated to St. Joseph in the world! A few months later I was on a plane headed straight for that Oratory. In fact, I ended up staying at the John XXIII Pavillion – a very affordable lodge that is located on the same grounds as the Oratory. This journey began my devotion to St. Joseph, the adoptive father of Our Lord, Jesus.

As his Feast Day approaches I have been growing evermore in my devotion to him by observing the seven Sunday’s of Saint Joseph’s sorrows & joys.

7 Sundays of devotion to St. Joseph

How did it start? The story goes that, two Franciscan monks, who were ship wrecked at sea, clung to a plank for two days, were saved by a man of venerable appearance who miraculously brought them to shore. When they asked who he was, he replied, “I am Joseph, and I desire you to honor my seven sorrows and seven joys.” This was the origin of the devotion to the sorrows and joys of St. Joseph.”

Each Sunday, the Eucharist is taken in his honour and a sorrow and a joy of St. Joseph’s life is contemplated. The sorrows and joys go as follows:

 1st Sunday – Sorrow (Mt 1:19) The Doubt of St. Joseph
                          Joy (Mt 1:20) The Message of the Angel

 2nd Sunday – Sorrow (Lk 2:7) The Poverty of Jesus’ birth

                                Joy (Lk 2:10-11) The Birth of the Saviour

 3rd Sunday Sorrow (Luke 2:21) The Circumcision

                                Joy (Mt 1:25) The Holy Name of Jesus

 4th Sunday Sorrow (Lk 2:34) The Prophecy of Simeon

                                Joy (Lk 2:38) The Effects of the Redemption

 5th Sunday – Sorrow (Mt 2:14) The Flight into Egypt

                                Joy (Is 19:1) The Overthrow of the idols of Egypt

 6th Sunday – Sorrow (Mt 2:22) The return from Egypt

                                Joy (Lk 2:39) Life with Jesus and Mary at Nazareth

 7th Sunday – Sorrow (Lk 2:45) The Loss of the Child Jesus

                                Joy (Lk 2:46) The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple


These seven Sundays are best celebrated preceding the Sunday just before the Feast of St. Joseph. However, you can observe these any time of the year and as frequently as you like.

In the 1830’s Pope Gregory XVI promoted this special devotion by attaching several indulgences to it.

St. Teresa of Avila also had a special devotion to St. Joseph. She said, “I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” 

 Everyone’s Saint

Although, many Saints and Blesseds have had devotion to St. Joseph, he is truly a Saint for us all. Did you know that St. Joseph is an intercessor for several different designations?

Some of his designations include: Guardian of the Pure in Heart, Hope of the sick, Consolation of the afflicted, Patron of the dying, Model of Workers, Protector of the church, Support of Families and Terror of Demons.

 He’s got something for everyone.

 Pope France loves him too!

My trip to St. Joseph’s Oratory was such a memorable visit. It was nothing short of divine. I stayed three days and on the final day I found it difficult to leave. Just before I left, I said a special prayer to St. Joseph asking for his help to remember and love him more.

The very next day, Pope Francis made his first Papal decree that the name of St. Joseph be added to the second, third, and fourth Pope Francis elevates Eucharist as he celebrates Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish on outskirts of RomeEucharistic prayers, to be said immediately after the mention of the Virgin Mary with the words, ”with blessed St. Joseph, her spouse.” What a great gift to help us remember him everyday at mass!

As the adoptive father of Our Lord, he adopts us as well. So, we mustn’t be shy to ask for his intercession. In fact, I’m certain he appreciates being remembered!

Let us come together on March 19th and thank St. Joseph for helping Our Mother Mary raise Jesus so that he may fulfill God’s most loveable will.

Katrisha Villarante is a S+L Blog Contributor from the West Coast.  She is part of the community at St. Clare’s parish in Coquitlam, British Columbia.  Katrisha is continuing her studies at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and in her spare time blogs, jogs, and gets involved in activities at Vancouver’s Crestwell Centre, a centre for young women run by Opus Dei.  While rediscovering her faith she developed a passion for Church History and learning about little-known traditions and devotions.

Top image: CNS Photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic

Middle Photo: CNS Photo / Bob Mullen

Lower Photo: CNS Photo/Paul Haring





The Word Made Flesh – Joseph: The Faithful and Wise Servant, a reflection by Bishop William McGrattan

The seasons of Advent and Christmas seem to come so quickly and to be filled with many activities to say the least.

In the everyday planning and preparations for family and community celebrations there are inevitably certain individuals who for whatever reason go unnoticed or unrecognized. They make important contributions.  They are invaluable in their presence and support but are quiet and simply unassuming in their role. If you wish to recognize them and thank them they are often reluctant to accept such praise and notoriety among the many others who are present.

It has often struck me that in the Advent and Christmas season this could quite easily describe the role of St. Joseph, if it were not for certain Gospel passages and the celebration of Feast dedicated to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph which falls  on the Sunday immediately following Christmas.

There is also a reference to Joseph at the beginning of the octave period, the eight days leading up to Christmas which the Church highlights through the praying of the O antiphons. It is in Matthew’s Gospel where he sets out the origin or genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph.

As Saint Leo the Great states:

To speak of our Lord, the son of the blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he descended from the line of the ancestors set out in the Gospel.

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The Word Made Flesh – Joseph: The Faithful and Wise Servant, a reflection by Fr. Thomas Rosica

St. Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely.  He is often overshadowed by the glory of Christ and the purity of Mary. But he, too, waited for God to speak to him and then responded with obedience. Luke and Matthew both mark Joseph’s descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge about him: he was “a righteous man” a “just man” (Matthew 1:18).

Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been engaged, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary quietly according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. Joseph was also a man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome.  When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all of his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

We are told that Joseph was a carpenter, (more likely a builder), a man who worked to provide for his family. Joseph wasn’t a wealthy man, for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb.

Joseph revealed in his humanity the unique role of fathers to proclaim God’s truth by word and deed. His paradoxical situation of “foster father to Jesus” draws attention to the truth about fatherhood, which is much more than a mere fact of biological generation. A man is a father most when he invests himself in the spiritual and moral formation of his children.  Joseph was keenly aware, as every father should be, that he served as the representative of God the Father.

The Gospel, as we know, has not kept any word from Joseph, who carries out his activity in silence. It is the style that characterizes his whole existence, both before finding himself before the mystery of God’s action in his spouse, as well as  when — conscious of this mystery — he is with Mary in the Nativity. On that holy night, in Bethlehem, with Mary and the Child, is Joseph, to whom the Heavenly Father entrusted the daily care of his Son on earth, a care carried out with humility and in silence.

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Perspectives Daily – Monday, Oct. 17

Tonight on Perspectives: the Pope makes a special announcement, we recap the first day of the Canadian bishops’ assembly and Montreal celebrates the first anniversary of the canonization of Saint Brother André.

Brother André: Montreal’s Porter and Heaven’s Gatekeeper – A Reflection on St. André of Montreal

Among those canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at the Vatican was Canadian Brother André Bessette, of the Congregation of Holy Cross.  For nearly 40 years Brother André worked as a porter at the College of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur in the Montreal neighborhood of Côtes-des-Neiges.  Speaking about his assignment as doorman, he once quipped, “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door.”

As porter of the College, Brother André lived in a small room located near the main entrance that also served as his office.  He urged people who came to him to pray with confidence and perseverance, while remaining open to God’s will. He admonished people to begin their path to healing through commitments to faith and humility, through confession and a return to the sacraments. He encouraged the sick to seek a doctor’s care. He saw value in suffering that is joined to the sufferings of Christ. He allowed himself to be fully present to the sadness of others but always retained a joyful nature and good humor. At times he was seen weeping along with his visitors as they recounted to him their sorrows and difficulties.  Word spread quickly when many of those with whom he prayed were healed. As Brother André was becoming known as a miracle worker, he insisted all the more, “I am nothing…only a tool in the hands of Providence, a lowly instrument at the service of St. Joseph.”
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Anniversary coverage of St. Andre’s canonization

It feels like just yesterday that we celebrated the canonization of Brother André of Montreal, the first Canadian-born male Saint. The lead-up to this historic event last year, as well as the Commemoration Mass in Olympic Stadium, remains fresh in our minds at S+L. To celebrate the first anniversary, S+L will air highlights from last year’s events, as well as our documentary God’s Doorkeeper: St. André of Montreal.

Here is the schedule of our St. André coverage:

1. Rebroadcast of the Mass of Thanksgiving in Rome with Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte
Sunday, October 16 at 10:00 am ET (Bilingual commentary)

2. Rebroadcast of the Commemorative Mass at Olympic Stadium in Montreal
Sunday, October 16 at 3:30 pm ET (English)

3. S+L original documentary God’s Doorkeeper: St. André of Montreal
Sunday, October 16 at 8:30 pm & 12:30 pm ET (English)

4. Portier de Dieu (French version of God’s Doorkeeper)
Monday, October 17 at 9:00 pm & 1:00 am ET  (French)

You can find more details about our broadcasts by going to S+L’s Brother André webpage. And don’t forget: all of our programming can be watched on our live web stream.

In the coming days, we welcome your thoughts and comments. Feel free to reach us via Facebook, Twitter and our Blog.

We also invite you to purchase your own copy of God’s Doorkeeper. This one-hour documentary highlights the life and history of St. André. Get your copy today at our online store or by calling 1-888-302-7181.

St. André, pray for us!

From Downtown Chapel to St. André Bessette Church

Last week, the Downtown Chapel in Portland, Oregon, made a special announcement:  they’re changing their parish name.  A recent degree by the Archbishop of Portland will change the Church’s patronage from St. Vincent de Paul to the Congregation of Holy Cross’ first saint, St. André Bessette.

For any of you who have seen the documentary God’s Doorkeeper:  St. André of Montreal, you may recall the foot washing scene.  This was filmed at the Downtown Chapel, an apostolate of the Congregation of Holy Cross for over 20 years.

This name change is significant for the Downtown Chapel because it affects their identity.  The idea of changing the name is not new to them.  The pastor, Fr. Steve Newton, CSC, has this to say about the process his parish had gone through:

When I first met with the Archbishop in September, I asked him whether it might even be possible to change our name.  He had people in his office research this.  Our staff had been considering names such as Christ the Healer (after the icon in the worship space) and St. André Bessette.  In the excitement of André’s canonization this past October, that emerged as the more popular of the two.  Of course, he was also a member of our Holy Cross Congregation.

We thought that once we found out if it were even possible to make a change, we would have a parish forum to discuss whether we wanted to and, if so, what name we would want.

But before we could do that, we received a decree stating that the Archbishop had changed our name to St. André Bessette Church.  There was to be an article in the Catholic Sentinel announcing the change!   I asked the Archdiocese to hold off until we could discuss it as a parish.  They agreed.

We discussed it Sunday, January 16, at the forum.  The acceptance of the change was quite high. A lot of good reasons for doing so were mentioned by those present. And although there was no opposition among those present, I want to invite feedback from those who could not be present. We can be proud to be among the first parishes in the world with the name St. André Bessette Church.

But we have no intention of rushing to change our name on signs and stationery.  It takes time to do all that needs to be done when any organization makes a name change.  One of the goals of the planning process will be to identify all the things that need to be done before we drop one name and go to the other.  The official name has been changed; the popular name will take some time.

Find out more about the Downtown Chapel and its name change, by going here.

Celebrate Vespers with Pope Benedict on the Conversion of Saint Paul

We are all in need of conversion.

My colleague Pedro mentioned previously in his blog and the weekly edition of Perspectives on Christian Unity (and they talked about this on the show).

Hearing the phrase “we are all in need of conversion,” I recall the story of how Brother André begged those around him to pray for his conversion.  This request always baffled me.  Why would a saint pray for conversion?  I understand now it was his humility and self-awareness that motivated him to make the request.

We certainly are in need of conversion — of turning away from sin, and turning to God (after all, sin is turning our back to God).

On Tuesday, January 25th, we celebrate the feast of the conversion of St. Paul.  It’s a significant event to mark.  As Pope Benedict said on last year’s feast, it “became the beginning of [Paul's] tireless missionary activity. In this he was to spend every ounce of his energy, proclaiming to all the peoples the Christ whom he had met personally.”

It also marks the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or perhaps accurately the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, which began on Tuesday, January 18th.  (It’s interesting to note that Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches celebrate January 18th as the feast of the Confession of St. Peter, where Peter acknowledges Jesus at the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20)).

To mark the feast, and the conclusion of the week of prayer, Pope Benedict XVI will one again preside over Vespers at St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Last year, the Holy Father pointed to an encounter with Christ, like St. Paul’s dramatic conversion, as a key to Christian unity:

Each one of us is called to make his or her contribution towards the completion of those steps that lead to full communion among the disciples of Christ, without ever forgetting that this unity is above all a gift from God to be constantly invoked. In fact, the force that supports both unity and the mission flows from the fruitful encounter with the Risen One, just as was the case for St Paul on the road to Damascus, and for the Eleven and the other disciples gathered at Jerusalem.

Vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul will be broadcast live on Salt + Light with English translation, Tuesday, January 25th at 11:30 ET, with an encore presentation at 8:00pm ET / 9:00pm PT.


CNS photo/Paul Haring:  Pope Benedict XVI waves after celebrating vespers closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome on January 25th, 2010.

Matthew 16:13-20

Ottawa’s Celebration of St. André Bessette

This year we celebrated Brother André’s first feast day as Saint André.

There were many special celebrations throughout Canada, and at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral there was a bilingual Mass of Thanksgiving for Canada’s newest saint.

Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was the main celebrant.  In his homily, he spoke of the qualities that make Brother André a saint.

We celebrate this Mass of Thanksgiving for Brother André’s life and example of holiness with a Gospel [Matthew 11.25-30] that expresses the foundation of his simplicity.  The passage begins with Jesus giving praise to the Father for revealing personal knowledge of God not to the wise and clever, but to the innocent and little ones. Yes, that is what the heavenly Father chose to do, to remind all—even the shepherds and Magi who are very much in our minds at this Christmas season—that the Kingdom is God’s gift to us and that we must receive it with the humility and simplicity of those who become “children” in the heavenly Kingdom by knowing intimately God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son.

You can see a presentation of this special bilingual Thanksgiving Mass on Salt + Light Television this Thursday, January 13th, at 8pm ET or 9pm PT.

Rise Up Keynote Address: Br. André — Montreal’s Miracle Man who was Caritas in Veritate

In his December 28, 2010 keynote address to the Catholic Christian Outreach “Rise Up” conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Montreal, Salt + Light Television CEO Father Thomas Rosica shared the story of St. André Bessette, CSC, Canada’s newest saint, with the national gathering of close to 600 university and college students, lay missionary and chaplaincy teams from across Canada. Catholic Christian Outreach [CCO], a lay movement dedicated to peer-to-peer campus ministry, and founded in 1988, is the largest youth and young adult movement in Canada.  This year’s national conference had as its theme, “St. André Bessette: I am only a man, just like you.”

Juxtaposing the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman in September 2010 with the canonization of Blessed Brother André Bessette, CSC, one month later, Fr. Rosica said:  “The “definite service” which Brother André was assigned, and which the Church, in canonizing him, insists is every bit as important and necessary as Cardinal Newman’s scholarship, could not have been simpler: Brother André’s service was to open the door and to teach us what charity in truth is all about.”

Rosica stated: “Andre’s climb to sainthood had nothing to do with taking part in holy battles, like Joan of Arc, the writing of great works of theology, like Thomas Aquinas or Cardinal Newman, or the creation of new religious orders, like Francis of Assisi or Dominic de Guzman.  André’s story was about accepting the little he had and turning it into a holy act…  Brother André grew up to become a true folk hero because, like other role models in a bygone era, he was seen to be close to the people, unburdened by pride.”

Rosica reminded the assembly that with little formal education, Brother André Bessette seems like an unlikely “educator in the faith”.  Yet he saw countless opportunities in his ministry to teach people the faith, about charity, and about truth.  He loved to spend time talking with people about St. Joseph, or about the Lord’s Passion.  And not only did he teach people how to pray, he showed them how to pray by praying with them.”  Rosica spoke of Brother André’s great trust in Divine Providence.  “Despite the many obstacles he encountered in its construction, including a World War, somehow he knew in his heart that this shrine was God’s will… He always had complete confidence that, if he were really doing the Lord’s will, the Lord would bring it to fruition.”

See the text of Fr. Rosica’s address below.

Photo: Deborah Gyapong/Canadian Catholic News. The Archbishop of Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte welcomed close to 600 university students across Canada to Rise Up! 2010; with Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB; and CCO staffer Jackie O’Donnell, who organized the conference.

Brother André Bessette:
Montreal’s Miracle Man who was Caritas in Veritate

Keynote Address of Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
CCO 2010 Rise Up Conference – Montreal
December 28, 2010

Your Eminence Cardinal Turcotte,
Your Grace, Archbishop Prendergast,
Dear Friends,

It is an honor and privilege to begin the 2010 Rise Up Conference here in Montreal, Brother André’s own city.  For the past nine months, we at Salt + Light Television have been immersed in the story of Brother André as we made the documentary “God’s Doorkeeper” (English) and “Portier de Dieu” (en français.)  Brother André has been part of my own life since I was a 16 year-old high school student and visited St. Joseph’s Oratory for the first time.  I have returned to Brother André many, many times over the past years.  Let me tell you a little about Canada’s first native-born male saint.

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