Monday, March 19, 2012

happy st. joseph's day!

St. Joseph is regarded as the Patron of the Catholic Church for the Church is the Holy Family extended in the course of centuries.  St. Joseph watches over children with a loving care as he guarded and cared for the Infant Savior. He protects families because he was the head of the greatest family that ever existed.  He also loves workers because even if he came from the royal house of David, he worked as a carpenter to support the Holy Family.  He protects virgins because he himself had a virginal heart, his wife was a Virgin.  He is also the patron of those who rejoice and suffer because his own heart experienced seven joys and seven sorrows.  He is even the patron of exiles since he spent seven years with Jesus and Mary in a foreign land.  He is invoked for a happy and holy death since he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. 
A novena is often said to St. Joseph when someone is trying to sell a home.  This famous (and successful) ritual is said to aid in the swift sale of homes.  The procedure for this ritual is to obtain a small statue of St. Joseph (sold in most gift stores.)  Make a hole in the ground that is large enough to bury the statue vertically.  Place the statue upside down in the ground.  Face the upside down statue TOWARDS the home that is to be sold.  For nine consecutive days, pray the St. Joseph Novena.  Once the home is sold, remove the statue from the ground.  Display the statue in a place of honor in the new home.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 
Come to my aid, O God, O Lord, make haste to help me. 
Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all good gifts,
I come before you to honor you in your saints
and ask their help in my many needs.
You promised those who ask, would receive,
those who seek, would find,
those who knock, would have doors opened.
Hear the prayers of your church, grant my requests
and pardon my sins. 
St Joseph, just and true, with a father's care
you raised the child Jesus,
and with a husband's love,
you shared your life with Mary, his mother.
I entrust myself to your care and place in your hands
this request of mine (say request)
In quiet Nazareth, long ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart
and you followed God's will with wonderful faith.
In the quiet of my days, and in the hard choices I must make,
help me follow the Spirit's guidance
and believe when I cannot see.

Day 1:  Oh God, guide of those who listen and helper of those who hear your voice, speak to me, as you did to St. Joseph, and help me accomplish the things you give me to do.

Day 2:  O God, you love your people and bless the ordinary lives we quietly live. As you blessed St. Joseph, bless what I do, however hidden and simple it may be, and let all I do be done with love.

Day 3:  O God, ever faithful, you remember us always and in time reveal your blessings.  Help me trust in you,  as St. Joseph faithfully trusted, and never let me lose faith in the wonderful gifts you promised me.

Day 4:  God of families, bless the family that's mine.  Keep us safe from harm, and never let evil come between us.  Let peace remain in our hearts.

Day 5:  O God, who loves children, be kind to our children today. Give them eyes of faith for seeing far, a loving heart for welcoming life, and a place always at your side.

Day 6:  God of our heavenly home, bless our home on earth. Let the spirit of Mary and Joseph rest at our table, shape our words and actions,and bring blessing to our children.

Day 7:  God, our Father, give your fatherly spirit to those who are fathers now. Like Joseph, give them hearts of devoted love for their wives and children and strength for forgiveness and patience.

Day 8:  Give shelter, O God, to those who need it, and bring together families divided. Give us enough to eat, and decent work to earn our bread. Care for us, O God.

Day 9:  Bless all families, O Lord, especially those in need. Remembering the life of Your Son, we pray for the poor, for those who lack a good home, for those in exile. Grant them a protector like Joseph, O God.

As with most novenas, conclude each day reciting Our Father, Hail May and Glory Be.
In the 1890s - 1930s, the waves of Polish and Italian immigrants were faced with a largely Irish Roman Catholic clergy that was unsympathic to a group of peoples they considered inferior, primitive and overly superstitious.  So Poles and Italians created their own Polish and Italian churches, importing priests from the old country and creating schools that preserved the language and traditions. 

Not to be outdone by the huge celebrations of St. Patrick's Day on March 17, St. Joseph's Day, just two days later on March 19, became a chance for Poles and Italians to express their ethnic pride with the wearing of the red, a color that appears in both countries' flags, and huge feasts known as St. Joseph's Tables. 

For Poles, many parishes hold these banquets in the church hall with tables decorated in red and white, a statue or holy cards of St. Joseph, flowers and a donation bowl for the needy. 
fava bean sprout

This is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph's intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought.  After Mass, a big altar is laden with food contributed by everyone such as minestrone, pasta with breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered St. Joseph's floor), Sfinge di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's cream puffs);seafood; and always fava beans, which are considered lucky because during the drought, the fava thrived while other crops failed. 

The table, which is always blessed by a priest, will be in three tiers, symbolizing the Most Holy Trinity.  The top tier will hold a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery.  The other tiers might hold the food; flowers (especially lilies); candles; figurines and symbolic breads and pastries shaped like chalices, fishes, doves, baskets, St. Joseph's staff, lilies, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, carpentry tools; 12 fishes symbolizing the 12 Apostles; wine symbolizing the miracle at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; lemons for luck; bread and wine symbolizing the Last Supper; and pictures of the dead.  There will also be a basket in which the faithful place prayer petitions. 

The cry "Viva la tavola di San Guise!" begins the feasting and is heard throughout the day.  When the eating is done, the St Joseph's altar is mashed and three children dressed as the Holy Family will knock on three doors asking for shelter.  They will be refused at the first two, and welcomed at the third, in memory of the Holy Family's seeking of hospitality just before Christ was born.  This re-enactment is called "Tupa Tupa"  meaning "Knock Knock."
The day ends with each participant taking home a bag that might be filled with bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a medal of St. Joseph, a Holy Card and a blessed fava bean.  Keep your lucky bean and let it remind you to pray to St. Joseph. xo