While there are many prayers to the foster father of Jesus, there are perhaps none that bear as many benefits as the one known simply as the Prayer to St. Joseph. The origin of this powerful, personal prayer is disputed, but regardless of when it was written, it has never failed to provide assistance to those who pray it. It is even charged with aiding Emperor Charles in battle in the 16th century.
In this final installment of 19 on the 19th, Rev. Francis Hoffman “Father Rocky” talked about the power of the Prayer to St. Joseph, as well as the importance and reasoning behind praying to saints.
Father Rocky, whose middle name is Joseph, said that he never really developed a serious devotion to St. Joseph until about 12 years ago when he started at Relevant Radio. At the time, Relevant Radio was in serious trouble, and in Father’s words, “We needed miracles and we were out of any sane solutions to our problems.” They needed a miracle and so, based on the guidance of St. Teresa of Avila, they turned to St. Joseph. Fast-forward to today and Relevant Radio is thriving, thanks to the intercession of St. Joseph and the generosity of our listeners and donors.
Father talked about the time he first discovered the Prayer to St. Joseph. At the bottom of the card, beneath the prayer, it reads, “Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves shall never die a sudden death, nor be drowned, nor shall poison take effect of them, neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, nor shall they be burned in a fire, nor shall they be overpowered in battle.” Those are strong promises for a prayer card to claim, but it should tell you just how powerful the intercession of Joseph is.
Father Rocky admitted that when he first read that promise on the card, he expressed doubt about its legitimacy. But after his initial hesitation, he wondered whether it was true. How could Jesus deny his loving foster father? How could Joseph, the protector of the Christ child, be denied any righteous request on our behalf? To clarify, the claims of this prayer are not part of the revelation of Christ, and therefore not required beliefs. However, Father Rocky said that often, when one appeals to the intercession of private revelation, amazing things happen.
He told the story of just such a case. At the Lenten luncheon 2 ½ years ago, Patrick Madrid gave a talk about St. Joseph and all of the attendees were given a copy of this prayer card. A few months later, a woman sent an email to Father Rocky with her story. As she was driving one day, her muffler fell off and got caught up in the bottom of her car. Sparks were flying everywhere, and she was forced to abruptly pull over. The police came to assist her and expressed their amazement that she hadn’t died. Apparently, the muffler had been caught up right next to the gas tank and had been shedding sparks in every direction. Had the fuel been exposed to the sparks, her car would have ignited. When she looked in her purse, there, sitting amongst her belongings was the prayer card to St. Joseph. She was convinced that St. Joseph had saved her life.
In addition to all of the protections that this prayer card offers, it also offers another promise. It says, “Say for 9 mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail.” In other words, it is a very powerful Novena. While it might seem too good to be true, Father qualified the statement. First of all, he said, it is more difficult to follow through on a Novena than people think because oftentimes, the person praying doesn’t truly want what they say. He said that the handful of times that he has followed through, his prayer has been granted. “But even if your prayer is not granted the way you asked for it, God does hear your prayers. God does love you and he gives you an answer to your prayers, even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, because he’s giving you something better.”
He likened the way God answers prayers to the way a parent responds to their child’s requests. The child may ask for a motorcycle or a shotgun, but because the parent loves the child, they will choose to do what is best for them, which would be to say no.
But why even pray to St. Joseph? Why ask for the intercession of a saint? Can’t we just pray directly to God, the source of the graces and blessings we receive? We can, but Father Rocky said there are five reasons God wants us to pray to the saints. The first reason is that He wants to remind us that there is a heaven and that one day, we may be a saint ourselves. Then, we will be responsible for interceding for the Church on earth. We will appeal to God on behalf of others.
The second reason we are encouraged to pray to saints is to remind us that souls don’t die. The saints might be gone from this world, but they’re entirely present in heaven. We can talk to them and ask them for things. In fact, they are more alive than we are. They have eternal life with God. The third reason is to remind us that we are not alone. Even if everyone we have on earth were to pass away or abandon us, we are far from alone. We have the entire communion of saints, all the angels, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph with us. All they’re waiting for is for us to go to them.
The fourth reason we should go to the saints is to remind us that Jesus Christ is both divine and human. He is one person with two natures. The more people you have asking for a specific intention, the more powerful the request. “This is what opinion polls are all about. This is why you have lots of fans in the stadium cheering for you. In the basketball world in high school, it’s called the 6th man. You’ve got the whole student body out there, cheering like crazy. It gives them special energy and inspiration.”
And the fifth reason we should pray to saints is that it often encourages an imitation of that saint’s virtues. A special devotion to a saint may give us cause to use them as our role model. It might compel us to ask how they would act or respond in certain situations and there are no better people to imitate than those who made it to heaven.
The Prayer to St. Joseph
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departed souls, pray for me. Amen.
Available in your Year of St. Joseph booklet or in the prayer section of your Relevant Radio App: In the top right corner, tap “Pray”, then “Devotions.” It is listed as “Novena – Saint Joseph.”
Learn more about St. Joseph by listening to or reading the full 19 on the 19th talk below:
Support Relevant Radio today and bring Christ to others! Consider joining the St. Joseph Recurring Gift Society by opting to donate $25/month to Relevant Radio. If you join, you will be remembered at daily masses, special masses are offered for members near feasts of St. Joseph, and your intentions are prayed for at the Shrines of St. Joseph.