by Fr Gerard Walsh, O.Carm
Every Lent, we suspend the penitential season on the 19 March to celebrate the Solemnity Feast of Saint Joseph, the Husband of the Virgin Mary and for us Carmelites, the Principal Protector of the Carmelite Order. This year is an even a bigger reason for celebrating, as we are in the Year of Saint Joseph, declared by Pope Francis last December. This coincides with the 150th Anniversary of Saint Joseph being declared the Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1870.
All of us are familiar with Saint Joseph, the Foster-Father of Jesus, a man that appears in the New Testament and never says a word but by his actions we can really get to know him. I have always had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, having been brought up in a parish and going to a primary school that bears his name. I find in him a strong character and a saint we can always ask to intercede for us in all our needs. One of the episodes in Saint Joseph’s life which has led to a popular devotion and has really touched me over the last number of years, is the devotion to the Sleeping Saint Joseph.
It was shortly after the election of Pope Francis that I became aware of this devotion. The Pope has a statue of Sleeping Joseph in his study and whenever he has a prayer intention that needs God’s intervention, he writes it on a note and puts it under the sleeping Joseph for him to dream about it. For a while now I have been doing the same it helps me to manage my own prayer requests and also, I know they are safe under the gaze of such a powerful intercessor.
During this Year of Saint Joseph, I have observed that this devotion is increasing in popularity, precisely because it is a practical prayer suggestion that speaks to people’s hearts. So, we invite you to ask Saint Joseph, our Spiritual Father, to intercede for all your needs, especially during these trying times and as he protected Jesus and Mary, in their vulnerability, allow him to protect you.
Let us pray…
Prayer to the Sleeping Saint Joseph
O Saint Joseph, you are a man greatly favoured by the Most High. The angel of the Lord appeared to you in dreams, while you slept, to warn you and guide you as you cared for the Holy Family. You were both silent and strong, a loyal and courageous protector. Dear Saint Joseph, as you rest in the Lord, confident of his absolute power and goodness, look upon me. Please take my need into your heart, dream of it, and present it to your son (mention your request). Help me then, good Saint Joseph, to hear the voice of God, to arise, and to act with love. I praise and thank God with joy. Saint Joseph, I love you.