Joseph Mysteries: Rosary, Work & Chastity

Last time I visited the Shrine of Notre Dame du Puy in the Auvergne I bought this rosary. It has twenty sets of decades for thefour mysteries of the Rosary – since John Paul II added the Mysteries of Light. I have to confess that I have not yet felt the need to pray all four sets in one go and thus need a twenty mystery set of beads; but just in case the Spirit leads me ….


The cathedral at Le Puy is stunning, built high on a rocky hill with a magnificent set of stairs that emerge in the middle of the nave.

The image of Our Lady at Le Puy has a fascinating history and is one of the ‘black’ images.

Vierge noire le Puy

I am very fond of the Rosary as  a devotion, the mixture of physicality and repetition with meditation on the basic Christian truths is very helpful. When I am most stressed the rosary is sometimes the only form of prayer I am able to use. Praying the Rosary with others is very powerful.
The  150 Hail Mary’s were a sort of layperson’s psalter, a real ‘people’s office’. Before Vatican II many communities of brothers and sisters prayed rosaries in place of a public Office.

Some communities have their own ‘Chaplets’ or Rosaries. Here’s  a set of Joseph mysteries that I use and find helpful. I use them with the traditional prayers but others could be prayed instead. One of the reasons for my devotion to St Joseph is that we have such a negative attitude to work in our culture and to ‘craftsmanship’; I don’t think we can really educate children if they don’t believe that work is a good thing and that happiness in life might consist of more than winning Pop Idol, the Lottery or becoming a footballer. Joseph’s ‘hiddeness’ is a good counter-cultural symbol. As is his chastity in a society where being ‘a man’ is so coarsely associated with ‘having sex’.
Joseph is also a good patron for those who, as teachers or in other roles, look after children who are not their own. Finally, just using the word husband – and I always commemorate ‘Joseph, spouse of Mary’ in the Eucharistic Prayer  – is good in raising the profile of marriage.

Mysteries of Saint Joseph

1 Joseph descended from David
2 Joseph the Just Man
3 Joseph following a dream takes Mary as his wife
4 Joseph warned in a dream takes Mary and Jesus into Egypt
5 Joseph the Carpenter

Commemoration of Saint Joseph for Working Days:

Hymn to Saint Joseph
Joseph true servant, trusted by the Father,
from whom Christ learnt a human Father’s kindness,
pray we may know and reverence God at all times
in the defenceless.

Joseph, true workman, teaching Word incarnate
patience and pride in honest labour finished,
show us who work, God’s plan for skill and service
in every calling

Joseph true saint, your Sanctity unsought for
won in you doubt and suffering and struggle,
pray we keep faith in every tribulation
till God shines clearly.

V. This is a wise and faithful servant.
R. Whom the master placed in charge of his household.

God our Father,
you willed that your Son,
under Joseph’s authority,
should experience daily life and human work.
By the prayers of Saint Joseph,
help us to sanctify the present moment,
to be concerned for our neighbour
and be faithful to the tasks of every day.
hear us, through Christ our Lord.

Saint Joseph, husband of Mary: Pray for us.
Saint Joseph, patron of workers: Pray for us.
Saint Joseph, the craftsman: Pray for us.

Alternative hymns of Saint Joseph from New Camaldoli, Lauds and Vespers:

                      – A –
O hidden saint of silent ways,
we do not know a word you spoke;
but deeds not words were all your strength
when to your calling you awoke.

Come as it might, you heard God’s word
and never stopped to count the cost
content to be his instrument,
and count your reputation lost.

Incarnate Lord, who came to save,
show us by Joseph’s prayer anew
the secrets of your darker ways;
keep us in life and dying true.

We have so little word of you;
how hidden, Joseph was your life.
yet what you chose to do speaks much,
in taking Mary as your wife.

The dreams you honoured led your soul;
you never stopped to count the cost,
content to listen and to act
than fear your reputation lost.

How often had you thought you’d failed
the flight by night, the life-long fears?
Yet quietly you stood your ground,
and, faithful, laboured through the years.

Lord Jesus, formed and fathered well
by one so faithful and so free;
may we not flee life’s darker days,
but live them fully, trustingly.


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