Prayers for March

The Month of Saint Joseph

In the United States, the month of March is most often associated with Saint Patrick, and tons of corned beef and cabbage and many gallons of Irish stout are consumed on March 17 in his honor. Throughout most of the rest of the Catholic world, however (with the obvious exception of Ireland), the month of March is associated with a saint whose primary feast falls two days later, on March 19: Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, the Catholic Church dedicates the entire month of March to Saint Joseph and urges us to pay special attention to his life and example. In the 20th century, several popes had a deep devotion to Saint Joseph, and Pope Saint Pius X (1903-14) approved a public litany, the Litany of Saint Joseph, while Pope John XXIII (1958-63) wrote A Prayer for Workers, asking Saint Joseph to intercede for them.

Fathers, in particular, should cultivate devotion to Saint Joseph, whom God Himself chose to care for His Son. As we learn more about Saint Joseph, we can teach our own boys about the virtues of fatherhood through his example.

One place to start is with a novena to Saint Joseph. The Novena to Saint Joseph is a very good prayer for fathers; while the Novena to Saint Joseph the Worker is perfect for those times when we have an important project or assignment that we're having trouble completing.

1
Litany of Saint Joseph

Saint-Joseph du Bessillon Monastery where St Joseph appeared to shepherd Gaspard Ricard.
Monastery where St Joseph appeared to shepherd Gaspard Ricard. Pascal Deloche /GODONG/Getty Images
This litany, approved by Pope St. Pius X (1903-14), shows the growing devotion to Saint Joseph in the 20th century. The list of titles applied to Saint Joseph, followed by his saintly attributes, reminds us that the foster father of Jesus is a perfect example of the Christian life. Like all litanies, the Litany of Saint Joseph is designed to be recited communally, but it can be prayed alone.

2
A Prayer for Workers

Childhood of Christ (Detail)
'Childhood of Christ', c. 1620. Detail. Found in the collection of The Hermitage, St Petersburg. The Art Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images
This beautiful prayer was composed by Blessed Pope John XXIII (1958-63). It places all workers under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker, and asks for his intercession so that we may regard our work as a means of growing in holiness.

3
Novena to Saint Joseph

As the foster father of Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph is the patron saint of all fathers. This novena, or nine-day prayer, is therefore especially well suited for fathers to ask for the graces and strength necessary to rear their children well, or for children to pray on behalf of their fathers.

4
Novena to Saint Joseph the Worker

Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph and the Christ Child. DircinhaSW/Moment Open/Getty Images
St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, was a carpenter by trade, and thus he has always been regarded as the patron of workers. This novena is perfect for those times when we have an important project or assignment that we're having trouble completing.

5
An Offering to Saint Joseph

The Holy Family, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Decatur, GA. (© flickr user andycoan; CC BY 2.0)
Icon of the Holy Family in the Adoration Chapel, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Decatur, GA. (Photo © flickr user andycoan; licensed under CC BY 2.0)

O great Saint Joseph, thou generous depositary and dispenser of immortal riches, behold us prostrate at thy feet, imploring thee to receive us as thy servants and as thy children. Next to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, of which thou art the faithful copy, we acknowledge that there is no heart more tender, more compassionate than thine.

What, then, have we to fear, or, rather, for what should we not hope, if thou dost deign to be our benefactor, our master, our model, our father, and our mediator? Refuse not, then, this favor, O powerful protector! We ask it of thee by the love thou hast for Jesus and Mary. Into thy hands we commit our souls and bodies, but above all the last moments of our lives.

May we, after having honored, imitated, and served thee on earth, eternally sing with thee the mercies of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

An Explanation of the Offering to Saint Joseph

As the foster father of Jesus and the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph protected the Holy Family from harm. In this prayer, we consecrate ourselves to Saint Joseph and ask him to protect us, too, especially at the hour of our death.

6
A Prayer for Fidelity to Work

Saint Joseph, detail from Flight Into Egypt
Saint Joseph, detail from Flight Into Egypt, 14th-15th century fresco, St. Peter's Church, Avigliana, Italy. A. De Gregorio/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God, disregarding difficulties and weariness; to work, above all, with purity of intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes death, and the account which I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all after your example, patriarch Joseph. This will be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.

An Explanation of the Prayer for Fidelity to Work

Sometimes, it's hard to convince ourselves to do the work that we need to do. Seeing a spiritual purpose in that work can help. This prayer to St. Joseph, patron of workers, helps us call to mind that all of our labor is, in fact, part of our struggle on the road to heaven.

7
For the Intercession of Saint Joseph

Statue of Saint Joseph, Senlis Cathedral
Statue of Saint Joseph, Senlis Cathedral. Christophe Lehenaff/Photononstop/Getty Images

O Joseph, virgin-father of Jesus, most pure spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray every day for us to the same Jesus, the Son of God, that we, being defended by the power of His grace and striving dutifully in life, may be crowned by Him at the hour of death.

An Explanation of the Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Joseph

As the foster father of Christ, Saint Joseph is, in a very real sense, the foster father of all Christians. We turn to him, then, in prayer, asking him to pray for us to the Son of God, whom he protected and reared.

8
An Ancient Prayer to Saint Joseph

This novena to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Christ, is often distributed on prayer cards with the following text: "This prayer was found in the 50th year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505, it was sent from the pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves shall never die a sudden death or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them—neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy or be burned in any fire or be overpowered in battle. Say for nine mornings for anything you desire. It has never been known to fail, provided that the request is for one's spiritual benefit or for those whom we are praying for."

9
Conformity to the Will of God

Great St. Joseph, to whose will the Savior subjected Himself, obtain for me the grace to subject myself in all things to the will of God. Through the merits you obtained when in the darkness of night you obeyed the angel's commands, ask for me this grace, that nothing may detain me from fulfilling the will of God with perfect conformity. In the stable of Bethlehem, on the flight to Egypt, you recommended yourself and those dear to you to divine Providence. Ask for me this same grace to conform myself to the will of God in discouragement and despondency, in health and sickness, in happiness and misfortune, in success and failure so that nothing may disturb the tranquility of my soul in obediently following the way of God for me. Amen.

An Explanation of the Prayer for Conformity to the Will of God

Throughout the Gospels, Saint Joseph remains silent, but his actions speak louder than words. He lives his life in service to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in perfect conformity to the will of God. Therefore, it is appropriate that we ask Saint Joseph to pray for us, so that we, too, may live the lives that God wills us to live.