Pope Francis Reveals Special Prayer to Saint Joseph and Says "Let us ask him to intercede so that the whole Church may recover..." FULL TEXT + Video
POPE FRANCIS at the GENERAL AUDIENCE
Paul VI Audience Hall - Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Catechesis on Saint Joseph - 1. Saint Joseph and the environment in which he lived
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On 8 December 1870, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. One hundred and fifty years on from that event, we are living a special year dedicated to Saint Joseph, and in the Apostolic Letter Patris corde, I gathered together some reflections on him.
Never like before, today, in this time marked by a global crisis made up of several components, can he offer us support, consolation and guidance. Therefore, I have decided to dedicate a cycle of catecheses to him, which I hope may further help us to let ourselves be enlightened by his example and by his witness. For a few weeks we will talk about Joseph.
There are more than ten people in the Bible who bear the name Joseph. The most important among them is the son of Jacob and Rachel who, through various vicissitudes, went from being a slave to becoming the second most important person in Egypt after the Pharaoh (cf. Gen 37-50). The name Joseph is Hebrew for “may God increase, may God give growth”.
It is a wish, a blessing based on trust in providence and referring especially to fertility and to raising children. Indeed, this very name reveals to us an essential aspect of Joseph of Nazareth’s personality. He is a man full of faith, in providence: he believes in God’s providence, he has faith in God’s providence. His every action, as recounted in the Gospel, is dictated by the certainty that God “gives growth”, that God “increases”, that God “adds”: that is, that God provides for the continuation of his plan of salvation. And in this, Joseph of Nazareth is very similar to Joseph of Egypt.
The first geographical reference to Joseph, Bethlehem and Nazareth, also assume an important role in our understanding of him.
In the Old Testament, the city of Bethlehem is called Beth Lechem, that is, “House of bread”, or also Ephrathah, after the tribe that settled there. In Arabic, however, the name means “House of meat”, probably because of the large number of flocks of sheep and goats in the area. Indeed, it is not by chance that when Jesus was born, the shepherds were the first to witness the event (cf. Lk 2:8-20). In the light of the story of Jesus, these allusions to bread and meat refer to the mystery of the Eucharist: Jesus is the living bread descended from heaven (cf. Jn 6:51). He will say of himself: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (Jn 6:54).
Bethlehem is mentioned several times in the Bible, as far back as the Book of Genesis. Bethlehem is also linked to the story of Ruth and Naomi, told in the short but wonderful Book of Ruth. Ruth bears a son named Obed, to whom in turn Jesse is born, the father of King David. And it was from the line of David that Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, descended. Then the prophet Micah foretold great things about Bethlehem: “You, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are so little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Mi 5:1). The evangelist Matthew would take up this prophecy and connect it to the story of Jesus as its evident fulfilment.
In fact, the Son of God did not choose Jerusalem as the place of his incarnation, but Bethlehem and Nazareth, two outlying villages, far from the clamour of the news and the powers of the time. Yet Jerusalem was the city loved by the Lord (cf. Is 62:1-12), the “holy city” (Dn 3:28), chosen by God as his dwelling (cf. Zech 3:2; Ps 132:13). Here, in fact, dwelt the teachers of the Law, the scribes and Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders of the people (cf. Lk 2:46; Mt 15:1; Mk 3:22; Jn 1:19; Mt 26:3).
This is why the choice of Bethlehem and Nazareth tells us that the periphery and marginality are preferred by God. Jesus was not born in Jerusalem, with all the court… no, he was born in a periphery and spent his life, until the age of thirty, in that periphery, working as a carpenter like Joseph. For Jesus, the peripheries and marginality were favoured. To fail to take this fact seriously is equivalent to not take seriously the Gospel and the work of God, who continues to manifest himself in the geographical and existential peripheries. The Lord always acts in secret in the peripheries, even in our souls, in the peripheries of the soul, of feelings, perhaps feelings of which we are ashamed; but the Lord is there to help us move forward. The Lord continues to manifest himself in the peripheries, both geographical and existential. In particular, Jesus goes in search of sinners; he goes into their homes, speaks with them, calls them to conversion. And he is also rebuked for this: “But look, this Master”, say the doctors of the law, “Look at this Master: he eats with sinners, he gets dirty”. He goes in search also of those who have done no evil but have suffered it: the sick, the hungry, the poor, the least. Jesus always goes out to the peripheries of our heart, the peripheries of our soul, this is, that slightly obscure part that we do not show, perhaps out of shame.
In this respect, the society of that time is not very different from ours. Today, too, there is a centre and a periphery. And the Church knows that she is called to proclaim the good news from the periphery. Joseph, who is a carpenter from Nazareth and who trusts in God’s plan for his young fiancée and for himself, reminds the Church to keep her eyes on what the world deliberately ignores. Today Joseph teaches us this: “Do not look so much at the things that the world praises, look into the corners, look in the shadows, look at the peripheries, at what the world does not want”. He reminds each of us to accord consider important what others discard. In this sense he is truly a master of the essential: he reminds us that what truly matters does not attract our attention, but requires patient discernment to be discovered and appreciated. To discover what matters. Let us ask him to intercede so that the whole Church may recover this insight, this ability to discern, this capacity to evaluate what is essential. Let us start again from Bethlehem, let us start again from Nazareth.
Today I would like to send a message to all the men and women who live in the most forgotten geographical peripheries of the world, or who experience situations of existential marginalisation. May you find in Saint Joseph the witness and protector to look to. We can turn to him with this prayer, a “home-made” prayer, but one that comes from the heart:
you who have always trusted God,
and have made your choices
guided by his providence
teach us not to count so much on our own plans
but on his plan of love.
You who come from the peripheries
help us to convert our gaze
and to prefer what the world discards and marginalises.
Comfort those who feel alone
and support those who work silently
to defend life and human dignity. Amen.
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus des pays francophones, particulièrement les Sœurs Filles du Cœur de Marie, les élus des Hauts de Saine avec l'Evêque de Nanterre et le groupe Alphabétisation et santé pour tous du Cameroun. Que saint Joseph, venu des périphéries, nous aide à convertir notre regard et à take soin des personnes rejetées et marginalisées dans la société. A vous tous, but Bénédiction!
[ I am pleased to greet the pilgrims who have come from French-speaking countries, in particular the Sisters Daughters of the Heart of Mary, the elect of Hauts de Saine with the Bishop of Nanterre and the Literacy and Healthcare for All group from Cameroon. Saint Joseph, who came from the peripheries, help us to convert our gaze and to take care of people who are rejected and on the margins of society. To all of you, my blessing! ]
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, especially the groups from The Netherlands, Denmark and the United States of America. In this month of November, let us pray for our deceased loved ones, and for all who have died, that the Lord in his mercy will welcome them into the Kingdom of heaven. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of Christ. May God bless you!
Liebe Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache, immer und in allen Nöten unserer Zeit und unseres Lebens dürfen wir uns an den heiligen Josef wenden. Nach seinem Beispiel wollen wir ganz auf Gott vertrauen und zugleich unseren bescheidenen und gehorsamen Beitrag zum göttlichen Heilsplan leisten.
[ Dear German-speaking brothers and sisters, always and in all the needs of our time and life we can turn to Saint Joseph. Following his example, we want to trust completely in God and at the same time make our humble and obedient contribution to the divine plan of salvation .]
I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. Hoy, de modo particular, quisiera que mi mensaje llegue a todos los hombres y mujeres que viven en las peripherias más olvidadas y que atraviesan situaciones de marginalidad. Que san José los proteja, no se olviden de acudir a él en todo moment with confianza y amor filial. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Saúdo cordially os peregrinos de língua portuguesa. Vos convido to pedir a intercessão de São José for that he may grow a nossa confiança nos desígnios amorosos from Divina Providência and amemos mais aqueles a quem o mundo descarta and abandona às margens. Deus vos abençoe!
[ I cordially greet the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims. I invite you to ask for St. Joseph's intercession so that our trust in the loving designs of Divine Providence may grow and we love more those that the world discards and leaves on the sidelines. God bless you! ]
أُحَيِّي المُؤْمِنِينَ الناطِقِينَ باللُغَةِ العَرَبِيَّة. لنسأل القدّيس يوسف الذي أتى مِن الأطراف الهامشيّة ، أن يساعدنا في تغيير نظرتنا الذي أتى مِن الأطراف وأنتم الذين تعيشون في الأطراف الجغرافية, المنسيون في العالم أو الذين تعيشون في حالات تهميش في الحياة, يمكنكم أن تجدوا في القديس يوسف الشاهد والحامي الذي تنظرون إليه. بارَكَكُم الرَّبُّ جَميعًا وَحَماكُم دائِمًا مِنْ كُلِّ شَرّ!
[ I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. We ask St. Joseph, who comes from the suburbs, to help us convert our gaze and to prefer what the world discards and puts on the margins. And you who live in the most forgotten geographical peripheries of the world or who live situations of existential marginalization, may you find in San Giuseppe the witness and protector to look to. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil! ]
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Święty Józef, Opiekun Kościoła, to człowiek głębokiej wiary, odważny i pokorny. W tym czasie globalnego kryzysu w świecie i zagubienia wartości, prośmy go w modlitwie, aby nauczył nas dostrzegać to, co świat usuwa na margines i odrzuca. Niech wyprasza nam wrażliwość na potrzeby innych. Z serca wam błogosławię.
[ I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Church, is a man of deep faith, courageous and humble. In this time, marked by a global crisis and the loss of values, let us invoke him to teach us to see what the world places on the margins and rejects. His intercession helps us to be sensitive to others. I bless you from my heart. ]
Tomorrow in Italy the first national day of prayer for victims and survivors of abuse is celebrated , promoted by the Episcopal Conference. I hope that this initiative can be an opportunity for reflection, awareness and prayer to support the paths of human and spiritual recovery of the victims. It is the essential duty of those who have some educational responsibility in the family, in the parish, in the school, in recreational and sporting places, to protect and respect the adolescents and children entrusted to them, because it is precisely in these places that most of the abuses occur.
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My thoughts go to the workers of Borgo Valbelluna and the area, worried about their future work. Faced with their nagging problems, I join the Bishops and parish priests of the area, expressing my closeness. I make a heartfelt appeal so that in this situation, as well as in other similar situations that put many families in difficulty, the logic of profit does not prevail, but that of fair and solidarity sharing. The person and his dignity must always be placed at the center of every job issue; when bread is not earned, dignity is lost! We have to pray a lot for these people.
I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the participants in the Conference of the National Sanctuaries Connection, the group of the Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia, and the faithful of Sant'Elpidio a Mare. I encourage you to adhere with joy to the will of God, entrusting yourselves to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.
Finally, as usual, my thoughts go to the elderly, the sick, the young and the newlyweds. Today's liturgy commemorates Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a woman of faith and ardent charity. May the example and intercession of this illustrious Saint of charity help each of you to live a virtuous life, going out to meet the poor and those in need with an open mind.
My blessing to all of you.
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