On 15 August 1889, Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical, Quamquam
, encouraging a greater devotion to San Giuseppe. In explaining
his reasons, Pope Leo gave a description of the circumstances the Church found
herself in that could be said to be similar to today.
"During periods of stress and
trial - chiefly when every lawlessness of act seems permitted to the powers of
darkness - it has been the custom in the Church to plead with special fervour
and perseverance to God, her author and protector, by recourse to the
intercession of the saints" . . . . "Now,
Venerable Brethren, you know the times in which we live; they are scarcely less
deplorable for the Christian religion than the worst days, which in time past
were most full of misery to the Church. We see faith, the root of all the
Christian virtues, lessening in many souls; we see charity growing cold; the
young generation daily growing in depravity of morals and views; the Church of
Jesus Christ attacked on every side by open force or by craft; a relentless war
waged against the Sovereign Pontiff; and the very foundations of religion
undermined with a boldness which waxes daily in intensity. These things are,
indeed, so much a matter of notoriety that it is needless for Us to expatiate on
the depths to which society has sunk in these days, or on the designs which now
agitate the minds of men. In circumstances so unhappy and troublous, human
remedies are insufficient, and it becomes necessary, as a sole resource, to beg
for assistance from the Divine power." Like I said, sound familiar?
Pope Leo goes on to call for greater prayer by the faithful.
He also explained the special role that San Giuseppe played as Padrone of the
Universal Church. He also called on the faithful to develop a greater devotion
to San Giuseppe, esp asking his intercession. He even had a special prayer
composed that he sent out with the encyclical. He called on the faithful to use
this pray. "We prescribe that during the whole
month of October, after the recitation of the Rosary a prayer to St. Joseph be
added and that this custom should be repeated every year."
October is still the month of the Rosary. Sadly the prayer to
San Giuseppe has fallen mostly (but not completely) into disuse. Given the fact
that the circumstances we face are similar, I would suggest that we again
regularly say this prayer, not only after the Rosary during the month of
October, but year round.
This prayer is esp appropriate for those of us who are on the
front lines battling for the "Culture of Life". As Pope Leo said: "It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed
Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about
with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly
patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ."
On 15 August 1989, Pope John Paul the Great released an
Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris
to commemorate the 100th Anniversay of Pope Leo's encyclical.
Towards the end he echoed Pope Leo's call: "Even
today we have many reasons to pray in a similar way: "Most beloved father,
dispel the evil of falsehood and sin...graciously assist us from heaven in our
struggle with the powers of darkness...and just as once you saved the Child
Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God's holy Church from the snares of her
enemies and from all adversity." Today we still have good reason to commend
everyone to St. Joseph
Pope John Paul went on to say: "It is my heartfelt wish that these reflections on the
person of St. Joseph will renew in us the prayerful devotion which my
Predecessor called for a century ago. Our prayers and the very person of Joseph
have renewed significance for the Church in our day in light of the Third
God gave us the gift of the Saints in Heaven interceding for
us. He wants us to call on them, just as He wants us to call on our Christian
brothers & sisters here on Earth, to intercede for us. We would be foolish
not to take advantage of all the gifts available for us to accomplish the work
to which we have been called by Jesus.
Prayer of Pope Leo XIII
to St. Joseph
To Be Said After the
To you, O Blessed Joseph, we
come in our trials, and having asked the help of your most holy spouse, we
confidently ask your patronage also. Through that sacred bond of charity which
united you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the fatherly love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you to look graciously
upon the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by his blood, and to
aid us in our necessities with your power and strength.
O most provident
guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ. Most
beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin. Our most mighty protector,
graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness.
And just as you once saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend
God's Holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. Shield
each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example
and your help, we may be able to live a virtuous life, to die a holy death, and
to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.