Commentary on the St. Joseph Prayer

The Prayer of Praise to Saint Joseph is found in full here. Below is the first part of my commentary on this prayer, which I wrote earlier this year. This prayer is a powerful spiritual remedy in a time of great spiritual need.

Title: “The Prayer of Praise to Saint Joseph”
The purpose of this prayer is to praise St. Joseph, who is too often forgotten, despite his important role in our Savior’s early human life, and who is most often misunderstood. Praising this Saint is a way of praising God, for the holiness and good works of Saint Joseph are from the goodness of God. The gifts God gave to Saint Joseph are gifts for us all, just as Joseph is a gift to us all.

And praise is an important method of prayer. There are prayers of repentance, expressing sorrow for sin. There are prayers of thanksgiving. There are prayers of petition, asking for what we need or want.
{17:27} Confess while living; you should give thanks while you are still alive and healthy. And you should praise God and glory in his compassion.
{17:28} How great is the mercy of the Lord, and his forgiveness, for those who convert to him!

The first stanza:
Saint Joseph, virgin spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
loving father to the Christ-child,
head of the most holy Family,
patron of the universal Church:
you are among the closest imitators of your divinely conceived Son, Jesus.

Joseph was not a widower, previously married to another woman. That theory was proposed to explain the “brothers” of Jesus in the Gospel. But the explanation is simply that “brothers” means cousins. God reserved Joseph to be the husband of Mary. God chose Joseph to be the foster-father, as they say, of the Christ-child. So he was prepared for that role from the womb. He did not take a wife and raise children, as if to pass the time while waiting for his true vocation. His high degree of holiness and his sanctity from the womb, as well as his fitness to be the husband of Mary all imply that he must have been a virgin.

Joseph and Mary did not have marital relations, so he is her virgin spouse. But their relationship was not like any other married couple. First, they did not have the Sacrament of Marriage as they were not baptized. They had a married under the Old Testament religious law; Mary was a betrothed virgin, and she remained in that state. Certainly, she was and is ever-virgin. But I mean that her marital state was that of a betrothed virgin, under religious law, which is the law of God. So they were married, but not as a Sacrament. And they did not have relations.

They did not treat one another in a romantic or physically affectionate manner. They were not “in love”. They did not focus on one another, nor on their ‘relationship’, but on God and the Son of God.

Joseph did not imagine that Mary was unfaithful to him, when he noticed that she was with child. He realized that this was a conception of God, and he felt himself to be unworthy. So he planned to “divorce” her quietly. This would not have been a divorce as we consider it today. He would have simply ended the betrothal. It would have been more like an annulment, if I had to make an analogy to the customs of today.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph prior to the virgin conception and Incarnation of Jesus. This makes Joseph the legal father of Jesus under religious law. Prophecy held that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. So one way in which the prophecy is fulfilled is through Joseph, as Joseph was the father of Jesus under religious law. The other way that the prophecy is fulfilled is through Mary, as she is also of the house of David.

Certainly, Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. But there are other ways in which Joseph is not the same as a human father with a merely human son. Jesus had the beatific vision from conception. So he always knew that God was His Father. This means that Jesus and Joseph had something of a different kind of father-son relationship. Sometimes we say “foster father”, which is not accurate, but does express a difference in Joseph’s fatherly role.

Joseph treated the Christ-child with great reverence, and yet he also had to take a fatherly role over Him, as the Son of God chose to be a human person from conception all the way through the process of development to adulthood. Joseph was a loving father to Jesus, and Jesus was inexpressively loving to Joseph and Mary.

Joseph was the head of the holy family, even though Jesus is God and even though Mary is far holier than Joseph. And this proves the order that God has ordained for the family. The husband is the head of the family, even if the wife is holier. Mary and Jesus were obedient to Joseph, but this obedience was of course ordered under and in the obedience to God.

Joseph’s role as the head of the holy family prepared him to be the patron of the Universal Church. He has a fatherly role over the Church, as if he were the human father over the holy extended family which is the Church. And as the Church is the body of Christ, and Joseph raised the Christ child from birth to adulthood, Joseph is fittingly given the role of Patron of the universal Church.

Joseph raised Jesus all the way to adulthood. And then Joseph passed away. He was much older than Mary when their marriage began. And he died an elderly man. Joseph died at that point in time, when Jesus completed His journey to adulthood, because he had fulfilled his purpose in life. Joseph had no role after Jesus became an adult. Just as John the Baptist had to diminish so that Christ could increase, Joseph had to pass away, so that Jesus could take his proper role over humanity.

“you are among the closest imitators of your divinely conceived Son, Jesus.”

St. Joseph is one of the closest imitators of Christ Jesus. He is not the absolute closest, as that would be Mary. But for someone conceived with original sin, he is among the holiest. He is the mere human man who is most like Jesus.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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8 Responses to Commentary on the St. Joseph Prayer

  1. sc says:

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for expanding your commentary on St. Joseph. Be assured of his powerful intercession to which I’ll add my poor prayers on your behalf.
    If indeed humanity is starting its preparatory stage for the first phase of the Tribulation, we all indeed need St. Joseph’s powerful intercession for all our Spiritual and temporal needs. After all, he too underwent the trials that believers of the One and True God must undergo in this passing life.
    Secondly, St Joseph is much needed in this time of History when the unity of the family has been under such relentless attack. St Joseph, foster father of the Infant Christ, pray for us all!

  2. I was watching a video about Fr. Donald Calloway’s ‘Consecration to St. Joseph’, then I decided to purchase the book, soon after that, I saw this, your new post on St. Joseph!

    In this video, Fr. Calloway talks several things that you have also mentioned in this post, so you may want to check it out.

    And you are also in my prayers, Ron.

    • William Merlock says:

      Ron, a long time ago you wrote an article quoting a revelation to St. Brigid, I believe, which asserted that St. Joseph had not been assumed into heaven. Fr. Calloway’s book mentioned here asserts that he was. I have no concerns about conflicting pious beliefs on issues that (I believe) have not been formally declared by the magisterium. But I was wondering, since your article was so long ago, if your opinion on the assumption of St. Joseph has changed in the intervening time.

      I always appreciate your insights. I pray that St. Joseph intercede on your behalf for all your spiritual and physical needs!


    • Ron Conte says:

      I do not believe that Saint Joseph was assumed into heaven. St. Bridget quotes Mary as saying that no human body is in heaven by the glorified bodies of herself and her Son Jesus.

  3. Matt says:

    Ron, I will pray for you. Can I suggest to you, based on writings/advice of Catholic Saints, whenever they had difficult times spiritually, they would offer their sorrow to God the Father, in union with his son Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and with the Holy Spirit, for the conversion of the worst sinners in the World. It is quite powerful prayer to offer it and if what you’re suffering is oppression from the devil, he will flee. If not, even the better, and you would receive joy knowing that worst sinners are benefiting from your trials. One Saint said that when a soul enters into Heaven, you will be greeted by thousands of souls that you do not know, that will thank you for their conversion and salvation, due to your trials and sufferings offered to God.

  4. King Robert the Bruce says:

    Ron I too will pray for you keep fighting the good fight there is a reason you are having a difficult time spiritually quite simply you are an enemy of Lucifer and a very effective one at that so he will discourage you any way he can as he knows you are leading people onto the right path, remember night is darkest just before the dawn one day you will be vindicated with the majority of things you teach remember what Our Lady said at la salette up ye children of light and fight.

  5. David says:

    Praying for you Mr. Conte. You have built up the faiths of many and helped edify the Church, so may God come build you up and console you in your time of trouble.

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