Joseph Mysteries: work and chastity

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Here’s a set of Joseph mysteries that I use and find helpful. I use them with the traditional prayers of the Rosary, but others could be prayed instead. One of the reasons for my own 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, husband 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

Here is a daily commemoration of Saint Joseph that can be prayed after the Office each working day:

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.

-B-
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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