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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Seven Sorrows And Seven Joys Of St Joseph

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St Joseph traces its roots from a story where the great saint, after saving two Franciscan monks from drowning along the coast of Flanders, instructed them to pray seven Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes to honour his seven sorrows and joys.

The number seven is very popular in our faith: we have seven sacraments, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and seven sorrows of Our Lady. We trace this practice from the Jews, our forefathers in faith. They associate this number with perfection. Did not Christ exhort his disciples to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect?

The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are three very common prayers. They are used in this devotion to show that St Joseph was the Father’s representative on earth as he nurtured and provided for Jesus, God’s only Son. He was Mary’s faithful and supportive husband. He was the trustworthy servant of the Triune God.

St Joseph’s life --- sorrows and joys --- is not at all different from what we are facing right now. Life can be sorrowful at times: hardships, physical or spiritual ailments, persecutions, poverty. Yet it can also be joyful: recovery from sickness, birth of an awaited child, reunion with a long-lost friend. In performing his extraordinary roles as father and husband, St Joseph faced many trials as can be seen in the seven sorrows. But because he trusted in the Lord and kept himself from being swayed to the contrary, he was able to overcome his sorrows. He was able to experience happiness, as his seven joys would attest. He may have had other sorrows and joys in life; however the ones presented in this work may be more than enough to inspire us to imitate him and be closer to God.

This prayer can be done privately or publicly and may be used in making a novena to our beloved saint. One may also reflect on one sorrow and joy each day. Like the Rosary of Our Lady, meditation is necessary. Hence a Bible reading and silent reflection are both provided. In each prayer, different groups of people are remembered as they are the ‘new Josephs’ in our society. Yet devotees are encouraged to include more groups of people as the need would arise.

In 1870, Pope Pius IX proclaimed St Joseph as “Patron of the Universal Church”. Holy Church believes that as he took care of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, he would do the same to us who were saved by Jesus’ blood. On numerous images of St Joseph we read: “Ite ad Joseph” (“Go to Joseph”). Following our Lord’s example, let us have recourse to him, the only man God called “Abba” (“Father”).


This edition is offered in loving memory of my late grandfather Dr Paulino E Albano (1911-1984)whose 100th Birth Anniversary is celebrated this year. For me, his life was a reflection of St. Joseph’s fatherly love and care.

Special thanks go to Rev Msgr David Forde for his encouragement and support when this devotion was being written in 2005.

- Pietro S. Albano
© 2011 - All rights reserved

Heavenly Father, fill us with your Spirit that as we reflect on the seven sorrows and joys of your servant St Joseph we may be inspired to follow his example and unite ourselves with your plan of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary
(Matthew 1, 18-21; 24. Today’s English Version – Second Edition ©1992)
This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.” So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, you had plans of your own when unexpected events suddenly took you by surprise. At first you were perplexed, yet you did not resort to rash judgment. You searched for God’s will. After realizing how a greater plan was in store for you and Mary, you wholeheartedly obeyed it.

In our life we oftentimes experience incidents that make us resentful of God, of other people, of ourselves. Teach us how to behave properly and root out the bitterness in our hearts, continuously discerning God’s plan so that we may become more aware of what He wants us to do with the life He has entrusted to us and make this same life consistently attuned to His will.

We remember in our prayers all those who are preparing for marriage or the priesthood, and those who are still having thoughts of the vocation they will be embracing for life, that like you they may be open to the Holy Spirit’s intervention, empowering them to make the right decision. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Birth of Jesus Christ(Luke 2, 1-7; 14. Today’s English Version – Second Edition ©1992)
At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown. Joseph went from the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger – there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

Suddenly a great army of heaven’s angels appeared…singing praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased.”

Silent Reflection

Dear St Joseph, it was truly a sad experience to allow your pregnant wife to give birth in a lowly cave. No one can truly imagine the embarrassment you experienced setting eyes on the King of kings laid in the animals’ trough. Yet this formed part of God’s plan, making His Son’s coming at a time least expected by people who were so preoccupied with what matters in the world: power, wealth, prestige. Soon enough, the birth pangs, the cold treatment from people who shut their doors before you, and the poor condition of the stable were all set aside, giving way to the true joy of this passing world – the Messiah born of your immaculate spouse, tended by you, and worshipped by both angels and shepherds.

There are moments when we behave like the Jews who failed to recognize our Lord’s coming. We have been fully engaged in enjoying the blessings we received, but have forgotten the needs of others. May we always bear in mind that our God is someone who, on that first Christmas, decided to be with his people. Like you, may we take courage from this reality, remaining still in the abiding presence of our Saviour-God.

We remember in our prayers all those who suffer in war-torn parts of the globe that like you, they may see the hand of God working for their deliverance. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Circumcision of Jesus Christ
(Luke 2, 21. Today’s English Version – Second Edition 1992)
A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, the Christ Child shed his first drops of blood in his circumcision. It was his “baptism of blood”, an occasion that gave you and Mary a heart-rending foretaste of his blood shed on the cross. But you were also consoled to remember that Jesus came to save his people from their sins.

In moments of trials, may we never fail to call on that sweet name you gave our Lord, that name your lips have lovingly and frequently uttered, the only name where we can truly find salvation.

We remember in our prayers those who are persecuted because of their faith, those who are discriminated against because of their race or belief, and the perpetrators of these evils, that like you they may pray to the Father through the powerful name of Jesus, enabling them to break from the oppressive bonds of persecution, discrimination, and other illnesses of society. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple
(Luke 2, 22-23; 25; 28; 33-35. Today’s English Version – Second Edition 1992)
The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it was written in the law of the Lord: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.”

At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God. The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your heart.”

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, you are the head of an obedient family. You have brought your family to the Temple in observance of the law. The Child Jesus, being your first-born, was offered to the Lord. It was a pre-figuration of his self-offering for the glory of the Father. Simeon foretold a bleak future for Jesus and Mary as a price for the redemption of men. You were one with Mary in experiencing pain, knowing what would become of this helpless infant. Yet you were convinced that your family’s suffering would be used by the Almighty to reconcile Himself with His people.

We tend to be pessimistic of what will happen to the world, to the Church, to our family, to our very own life. Guide us to keep our hopes up in God’s plan no matter how uncertain it may be for now. May we obey His will, filled with happiness in our hearts till we meet Him face-to-face.

We remember in our prayers all newly baptized babies and adults and those preparing for baptism, that like you they may value the gift of faith and consistently profess it throughout life. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Escape into Egypt
(Matthew 2, 13-15. Today’s English Version – Second Edition 1992)
An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother and left during the night for Egypt where he stayed until Herod died.

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, Herod was truly upset to know that he had a rival to his throne. So full of hatred and envy was he that he ordered all babies to be killed hoping that one of them would be the new- born King. You were commanded to flee with your family to a foreign land, as it was not yet time for Jesus to offer his life. It was a shame to think of how evil can get the better of people, leading them to do harm to others, even to those who are innocent.

Sorrow and anguish struck the hearts of parents as they witnessed how the soldiers slaughtered their little ones. Sadness too was in your heart, commiserating with these hapless souls. You and your family, though, experienced relief when finally you set foot in Egypt.

There is an emerging “culture of death” in our society today where human life is no longer respected. May we imitate how you have upheld the sacredness of life by protecting Mary and Jesus from Herod’s fury. May we stand up for life from the moment of conception till natural death.

We remember in our prayers all victims of abortion, euthanasia, and all unnecessary killings, that through your intercession the provident Father may welcome them in His kingdom. We pray too for those in danger of these abominations, that you may also protect them from all harm. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Return to Nazareth
(Matthew 2, 19-23. Today’s English Version – Second Edition 1992)
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Israel. But when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. He was given more instructions in a dream, so he went to the province of Galilee and made his home in a town named Nazareth. And so what the prophets had said came true: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, it was a happy moment to journey back home after being told of Herod’s demise. Yet you feared that his successor may plot against the child entrusted to your care. You went to Nazareth instead, that remote place where the Lord began to reveal His plans to both you and Mary. You came back with your family to begin life anew, where you and the Blessed Mother would rebuild your home, provide for the family, and spend the rest of your life nurturing God’s only Son.

Look upon our present condition and teach us how to unite ourselves daily with our loved ones, our fellowmen, our Creator. May we always see the beauty of life as we follow your example, setting aside fear and rekindling the belief that all things will be brought unto good by our merciful Lord.

We remember in our prayers all families, especially those whose fathers, mothers, or children are away from home working in other countries where there is better opportunity to earn a living, that like you they may remain united and strengthened in charity. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

The Finding in the Temple
(Luke 2, 41-43; 45; 52. Today’s English Version – Second Edition 1992)
Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they went to the festival as usual. When the festival was over, they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this; they thought that he was with the group. They did not find him; so they went back to Jerusalem looking for him. On the third day they found him in the Temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his intelligent answers. His parents were astonished when they saw him, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find you.” He answered them, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand his answer. So Jesus went back with them to Nazareth, where he was obedient to them. Jesus grew both in body and wisdom, gaining favor with God and people.

Silent Reflection
Dear St Joseph, the loss of a son for three days was truly worrisome. Upon finding him in the midst of teachers you could hardly understand his reason for leaving you and Mary in order to be up and about in the Father’s business. However, this did not prevent you from supporting and preparing him further to fulfil the Father’s will at the appropriate time.

We are sometimes at odds with how young people behave. We have shaped them into what we believe would make them better people. Yet we have failed to recognize that they too have the ability to shape their own future. Guide us as you have guided Jesus. May we support our young people, nurturing them properly so that they can know clearly the value of life and discover how they can better involve themselves in the Father’s business – in school, in the Church, in the community, in the world.

We remember in our prayers the youth of the world, especially those who are suffering due to exploitation, forced labour, vice, drugs, and prostitution, that they may find in you a friend and supporter, inspiring them to overcome their predicaments and transform themselves as the bright future of the world. We pray too for all parents and all adults involved in youth care, that like you they may wholeheartedly provide inspiration and guidance to those entrusted to them. Lastly, we also remember our particular intentions…Amen.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be

We come to you, O beloved St Joseph. Implore for us before the throne of Jesus who, in His life here on earth, was subject to your authority. Full of trust in your powerful intercession, we pray:

St Joseph, chosen to be the foster father of Jesus our Saviour,
Pray for us that we may see Christ in our fellowmen and love them in His Name.

St Joseph, pure spouse of the Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Pray for us that we may also love her as you have unselfishly loved her.

St Joseph, protector of families,
Pray for us that we may transform our homes into that of your own home in Nazareth.

St Joseph, example for all labourers,
Pray for us that the work of our hands may bear witness to the magnificence and glory of our Creator.

St Joseph, model of contemplation,
Pray for us that we may always seek God’s will in the events of daily life.

St Joseph, lover of simplicity,
Pray for us that we may rely more on the power of God than on our own.

St Joseph, man of peace and solidarity,
Pray for us that we may work together in uniting all of creation under the headship of Christ.

St Joseph, intercessor of the dying,
Pray for us that we may leave this world at peace with God and our fellowmen.

St Joseph, patron of the Universal Church,
Pray for us that we may courageously profess our faith and teach others to do the same.

Pray for us, O glorious St Joseph.
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Almighty God, we praise and thank you for choosing St Joseph as the foster father of your only Son. Through his example and prayers, may we fully realize the value of living as your children – struggling in this world, yet bound for eternal life in your kingdom. Grant that we may remain faithful to you until we finally reap the fruits of joy whose seeds were sown in this vale of sorrows. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Download Filipino version of this devotion HERE.

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