St. Joseph’s central role in the life of Christ and the Church is commemorated traditionally by devoting Wednesdays to him. Honoring St. Joseph with devotions each week offers the opportunity to remember, amid the ordinariness of life, that Christ was born into the lives of a specific group of people whose lives were not too different from our own. His people had a history with God, a story that Jesus embraced with the help and guidance of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is still serving his son by guiding his Church to embrace that salvation story that he helped Jesus to know and love.
There are also a few fitting characteristics pertaining to Wednesdays that speak to the significance of honoring the foster father of Jesus on this day. In consideration of this, we might find more meaning for the devotion in our lives.
Wednesday is the middle of the week for Christians — a day which serves as a pivot point, just as St. Joseph is in the Bible. This sense of being in the center of things can be better understood by the image of a bridge, and Wednesday is like a bridge from one part of the week to another. It’s true that St. Joseph is like a bridge for us, too — a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. Through the little we learn about him in the Gospels, we get the impression that St. Joseph is like the patriarchial figures of the Old Testament. For example, the ancient patriarch Joseph was a man of dreams, and so is our own St. Joseph. Abraham received God’s promise because he was a man of faith, and those promises are realized through the Messiah — who is being cared for faithfully by St. Joseph. Hence, St. Joseph is a figure who invites us to ponder over the patriarchs. Why? To better understand him while, like Mary, he leads us to our savior, Jesus Christ. St. Joseph knows that it is in the Messiah that the promises given to the patriarchs gain fulfillment. Thus, in this light, I think we can see why Wednesday is a fitting day to honor St. Joseph, a man who helps us travel between not only both the Old and New Testaments but also this life and eternal life with his Son.
The Glorious Mysteries
Another reason it seems fitting to honor St. Joseph on Wednesdays is because that is when the people of God pray the glorious mysteries of the Rosary. What do the glorious mysteries have to do with St. Joseph? There is a tradition in the Church that views the death of St. Joseph as the moment that Jesus sought John’s baptism and began his public ministry. Here again St. Joseph is a bridge-like figure. St. Joseph’s death was a turning point in the life of Jesus and, by ushering in his public ministry, led him to his death on the cross and his resurrection. As we pray the glorious mysteries, we reflect upon the resurrection, the cornerstone of our faith. And we reflect upon how St. Joseph’s own faith prepared Christ to achieve the mission he was sent to accomplish and, of course, to take care of Mary, who received fitting rewards at the end of her life. St. Joseph’s witness of great faith can shape us and strengthen our faith in the resurrection.
Ways to commemorate St. Joseph on Wednesdays
What are some concrete things we can do to commemorate St. Joseph on Wednesdays?
Here are a few ideas:
· Read about St. Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew.
· Spend 10 minutes praying before an icon of St. Joseph.
· Pray the Litany of St. Joseph.
· Arrange to have a Mass offered in honor of St. Joseph on a Wednesday and attend it.
· Get together with friends to learn about St. Joseph together.
As St. Teresa of Ávila wrote about St. Joseph: “I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted… .” If she had that kind of faith in St. Joseph, I believe we all can have faith that our devotion to him will bear much fruit.
Father Nicholas Blackwell, O. Carm., writes from New York. Follow him on Twitter at @CarmeliteNick.