St. Joseph Novena 2023: Introduction

“Speak, do not fear, you are the representative of God, the head of the family.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Pious Recreation, 6: The Flight Into Egypt

For the Solemnity of St. Joseph, New Orleanians follow the Sicilian tradition of setting up elaborate altars decorated with braided bread, pastries, fava or “lucky beans,” flowers, and sacramentals. In school, each of us would take a blessed fava bean as a token to remind us of God’s providence and care through the intercession of the humble foster father of Jesus and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

My mother had often encouraged me to send my intentions to St. Joseph because the “waiting lines for Jesus and Mary were always too long.” My devotion to him increased dramatically years ago when I became ill while working in Macau, China. My parents begged St. Joseph to bring me home safely.

Each year on his feast day, I try to honor St. Joseph by baking braided bread and setting up a mini-shrine wherever I am, and when possible, giving alms. I also join the Church in invoking him to bring those who are dying safely home to Christ. Whenever I think of this silent and humble Saint who obeyed God unreservedly and sought to do His will even while asleep, I am filled with hope. 

Through the years, I have discovered that Carmelites and Jesuits have a special devotion to St. Joseph, who is not only the patron Saint of the Universal Church but also the patron Saint of Vietnam. St. Teresa Avila famously wrote: “I don’t recall up to this day ever having petitioned him for anything that he failed to grant… with other saints it seems the Lord has given them grace to be of help in one need, whereas with this glorious saint I have experience that he helps in all our needs” (The Book of Her Life, 6:6).

Teresa experienced severe physical and mental health impairments and underwent many trials and tribulations reforming her order. In the end, she emerged victorious, and she named her first convent after St. Joseph whom she credited for advocating for her before the Lord. She spoke of how she went all out trying to honor the Saint on his solemnity to the point where she “would celebrate it with more vanity than spirituality, being anxious for splendour and effect.” At the same time, it’s understandable how this beloved Saint could make it difficult for one to hold back one’s display of affection.

The late Jesuit Fr. Francis L. Filas, S.J., former professor at Loyola Chicago, wrote a nearly 700-page book entitled, Joseph: The Man Closest to Jesus; The Complete Life, Theology and Devotional History of St. Joseph (1962).

To write at such length about a man who did not have a single spoken word recorded in the Bible is a sign of the impact St. Joseph had on Fr. Filas’ life. He wrote: “[I]f I talk too much about my books, it is only that I wish you to love the man about whom all of them were written—St. Joseph. I honestly do not mean by that, that I think of myself as a worthy disciple of St. Joseph, because that is not true… The best I hope for is to be called a publicity man for St. Joseph, achieving the purpose of a publicity man to some worthwhile extent.”

Another Jesuit, Pope Francis, has from the beginning of his pontificate called the Church to turn to St. Joseph.

Francis’ inauguration Mass was on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. In his homily, he highlighted Joseph’s role as “protector,” which requires being a person of silent contemplation, courage imbued with tenderness, and decisive action.

Francis wrote: “To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!”

Additionally, Pope Francis also decreed that the name of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, be inserted into Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV (Paternas vices), and in 2020 Francis proclaimed the Year of St. Joseph with the apostolic letter Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”).

Finally, it was this Jesuit pope who popularized the devotion to the image of the Sleeping St. Joseph. Francis regularly slips notes under this statuette, entrusting the problems he is facing to the Saint.

Take these next nine days to give your devotion to St. Joseph a booster shot through spiritual reading and conversations, prayer and reflection, and above all decisive action that makes God’s presence and providence felt in the lives of those in need, the materially and spiritually poor. 

Father Quang D. Tran, S.J.


Day OneService

Day Two — He looks

Day Three — Workman

Day FourGod’s heart

Day Five — He knows

Day Six — If you knew

Day Seven — Happiness

Day Eight — Pleasing to God

Day NineMercy


Saint Joseph, you are the man who dreams,
teach us to recover the spiritual life
as the inner place where God manifests himself and saves us.
Remove from us the thought that praying is useless;
help each one of us to correspond to what the Lord shows us.
May our reasoning be illuminated by the light of the Spirit,
our hearts encouraged by his strength,
and our fears saved by his mercy.

(Mention your prayer requests)

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

V./ Pray for us, holy Father St. Joseph
R./ That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ.

you entrusted our Savior and his holy Mother
to the care of St. Joseph.
By the help of his prayers
may your Church continue to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

This year’s daily novena meditations are drawn from Pious Recreation 6, The Flight into Egypt, written by St. Thérèse of Lisieux for the 21 January 1896 feast day of her sister Pauline, Mother Agnès of Jesus, O.C.D. The complete edition of the plays of St. Thérèse, which were written as short plays or skits to be performed by members of the community at recreation on special feast days, has been published by ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Carmelite Quotes welcomes Father Quang D. Tran, S.J., who prayerfully composed our 2022 Novenas to St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and St. John of the Cross. Father Tran is a Jesuit priest of the Central Southern Province. He is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, and is currently a doctoral candidate in counseling psychology at Boston College. You can follow Father Tran on Instagram at @lemetellusumtin.

All scripture references in this novena are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America as accessed from the Bible Gateway website.

of Lisieux, T 2008, The plays of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: “pious recreations”, translated from the French by Conroy S and Dwyer D J, ICS Publications, Washington, DC.

Featured image: Apparition of the Angel to Saint Joseph by Martina Nita Cipcerova (2019) in the parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Sebechleby, Slovakia.

Don’t become discouraged and give up prayer, says St. John of the Cross. We offer varying novenas to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as well as novenas to St. Teresa of AvilaSt. John of the CrossSt. Thérèse of LisieuxSts. Louis and Zélie MartinSt. Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Edith Stein and St. Joseph.


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