In popular practice, March traditionally has been devoted to St. Joseph. Here are some ways to practice that devotion with your family this month.
by Brian Smith
Back in the Middle Ages, many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month — the Holy Name of Jesus in January, for instance. Today, many families are reviving this practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. By practicing monthly devotions, the core values of the faith will become more alive within your family. The beauty of monthly devotions is that there is no set way to celebrate. So, be creative, make it fun, and adapt your celebration to your own family.
Talking with Kids about St. Joseph
Jesus’ true father is God, who lives in heaven. But because Jesus was to live life on earth, God asked St. Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father, or foster father. Joseph took this role very seriously. As a father, Joseph’s job was to protect and provide for Mary and Jesus.
St. Joseph is described in the Bible as a “righteous man.” Before Jesus was even born, Joseph needed to protect Mary while Jesus was in her womb. Since Mary and Joseph were not married, many people believed that it was impossible for Mary to have a child in her womb. Joseph’s job was to attest to the truth that Mary spoke and to encourage people to have faith in God and to believe.
Today, we celebrate St. Joseph as the patron saint of the entire Church! Joseph worked hard to care and protect Mary and Jesus. As Catholics, we believe that St. Joseph is in heaven praying for us that we might carefully listen to the lessons that Jesus teaches us. St. Joseph is the patron saint of many other things too, including dying (because Mary and Jesus were at his deathbed), carpentry and social justice.
Feast Days & Memorials
The following days can be connected to this month’s devotion. Click to learn more.
17 St. Patrick
19 St. Joseph
A take-a-way for kids to memorize and/or include in their daily prayer.
“…The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” (Mt 1:20)
Questions to help propogate the faith with your children.
- How can we help to protect the Church in our home and community?
- How can we listen to the words of Jesus better?
- What can we do to help others learn about Jesus?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Grow your prayer life as a family.
Wednesday has been the day of the week traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph. Lead your family in saying the Litany of St. Joseph.
Alternatively, you can pray a novena asking St. Joseph to intercede for you and your family. A novena prayer is recited for nine consecutive days.
St. Joseph Novena
O good father Joseph! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows and joys, to obtain for me what I ask.
(State your petition).
Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers, everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Be near to me in my last moments, that I may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Amen.
(Recite an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be)
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
The Chapel of Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has a mysterious staircase. When the church was built in 1852, the builder forgot to design a staircase to the choir loft. The Sisters of Loretto were told by the builder that building a staircase was impossible because there was no space for it. The sisters prayed a novena to St. Joseph.
After their nine-day prayer was concluded, a man knocked on the chapel’s door and said that he could build a staircase, but that he would need to be left alone for three months. After the three months had passed, the sisters entered the chapel and found a beautiful spiral staircase. The man who built it was nowhere to be found. It is believed that St. Joseph himself built the staircase!
The spiral staircase is by no means normal. It has no central pole or other support structure (which is required in every other spiral staircase ever created!). Thousands of people have gone up and down this staircase for nearly 150 years, and yet it shows no sign of age. The design of the staircase remains an architectural mystery.
Help the Church to grow within your own community.
Many of us are blessed with a comfortable home to live in. Yet many people around the world lack a safe place to sleep. In the spirit of Lent, let’s consider how we can be more like St. Joseph.
- Volunteer or bring supplies to a homeless shelter
- Donate food, or better yet your time, at a local soup kitchen or food pantry
- Give alms to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity
- Build a birdhouse to place in your prayer garden
- Build a prayer box to hold your rosary, religious cards, etc.
For more information about monthly devotions, see the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: #20, #32, #190-191 and the Catholic Encyclopedia: Special Devotions for Months
Brian Smith is a stay-at-home dad of two girls. He and his wife of more than 10 years enjoy traveling, the outdoors and discovering new things with their children. He can be reached at [email protected].