A Thought on St Joseph

Pope John Paul II, who was very devoted to St Joseph, left us a beautiful document dedicated to St Joseph in the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, “The Guardian of the Redeemer”. Among the many aspects on which this Document sheds light, the silence of St Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in ‘contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires.’ (26).

The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that “very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs” (37)

“Recalling that God wished to entrust the beginnings of our redemption to the faithful care of St. Joseph, the Church asks God to grant that she may faithfully cooperate in the work of salvation; that she may receive the same faithfulness and purity of heart that inspired Joseph in serving the Incarnate Word; and that she may walk before God in the ways of holiness and justice, following Joseph’s example and through his intercession.”(48)


Hymn for Vespers

Written by Sr Kate Cleary, RIP


We praise you, Father, for your servant Joseph,

A noble Son of David’s royal line,

A man of honour, just in every action,

To whom a charge unique you did assign.


Betrothed to Mary, ardently he waited

Their wedding day now swiftly drawing near,

Then mystery, awesome, deep, his life invaded.

Anticipation was transformed to fear.


Your holy angel came while Joseph slumbered,

And turned that fear to joy beyond compare:

‘Be not afraid, conceived by God’s own Spirit

Is Mary’s Son, the Saviour she will bear.’


Then Joseph woke and did as you commanded,

In faith accepting Mary as his wife,

And when she bore her Son, he called him Jesus,

Then danger loomed, for Herod sought his life.


Again your angel came while Joseph slumbered

And bade him rise and into Egypt flee.

He took the child and Mary, and remained there

Till Herod’s passing set the exiles free.


We praise you, Father, for your servant Joseph,

We praise your Son o’er whom he watched with love,

We praise your Holy Spirit, guide for mortals,

Unite our praise with Joseph’s praise above.