Septenary of St. Joseph

The Year of St. Joseph

Pope Francis declared December 8, 2020 – December 8, 2021 the Year of St. Joseph.

In celebration, we invite all of you to come and visit our beautiful sanctuary and spend some time in St. Joseph’s Grove in the Upper Gardens, where you can reflect on the life of St. Joseph.

We hope you enjoy this Septenary of St. Joseph, seven days of reflections leading up to the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19.

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE FIRST SORROW: Joseph is perturbed about the Motherhood of the Virgin Mary.

THE FIRST JOY: An angel reveals to him the mystery of the Incarnation.

“When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit, and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ … When Joseph woke from sleep, his did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife into his home…” (Mt. 1:18-25)

Joseph and Mary are already married. In Jewish culture at the time of Mary and Joseph, the couple would be betrothed, married formally, legally husband and wife and then later they would move in together. Joseph contemplates what he has learned, probably from Mary herself, and is filled with awe at the thought that he would be married to the Mother of the Savior. Was he ready for such an honor? Joseph decides to quietly divorce her in order to allow God’s plan to be carried out. Imagine the profound sorrow he experienced as he came to this decision! He was betrothed to the love of his life and a most beautiful woman but felt he was not worthy. He did not understand that God wanted him to play a significant role in the life of the Holy Family.

And then the Angel is sent by God to assure Joseph of his role in God’s plan. Joseph is filled with joy! Perhaps with some trepidation as well, but filled with joy when the mystery of the Christ’s incarnation is revealed to him and he realizes he is to be the guardian of the Messiah. Joseph did not wait! Joseph immediately took Mary into his home. He heard the voice of God and he did it.


St. Joseph, chaste lover of Mary, great was your SORROW when, in a state of uncertainty, you were inclined to quietly divorce Mary. But great was your JOY when the angel revealed to you the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and you realized that Mary would be your wife and you would be the guardian of the Messiah. Help us, St. Joseph, help our families and all our loved ones to overcome anxieties about their doubts and their futures and to overcome all sadness of heart and develop an absolute trust in God’s goodness.


Below: You will find these beautiful marble plaques, which depict the seven sorrows and seven joys of St. Joseph, in St. Joseph’s Grove. Today we feature the first sorrow and joy.

THE SECOND SORROW: Joseph is denied hospitality to Mary for the birth of the Savior
THE SECOND JOY: He exults in the angelic tribute of glory at the birth of Christ

“And while they were in Bethlehem, the day arrived for Mary to give birth. She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodge. The angel said to the shepherds: ‘You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you – tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord. … in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.’ The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger …” (Lk. 2:6-7, 10-11,16)

What grief Joseph must have felt that, when the time came for the Child to be born, he was not able to provide an appropriate environment and surrounding for the Mother and newborn Child. Joseph perhaps wondered if he should have made more preparations or if there was something more that he could have done. He must have felt distraught and inadequate in fulfilling his role.

And then the shepherds appear to adore the newborn Child and to share with Joseph and Mary all that the Angel announced to them and about the choirs of Angels singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among all with whom God is pleased.” Joseph is filled with joy to know that, despite his feeling of grief for failing to provide an appropriate surrounding, God’s plan has been realized.


Glorious St. Joseph, faithful guardian of Jesus, great was your SORROW when you thought yourself a failure when you could only provide a stable for the birth of the Christ Child. But great was your JOY when you experienced the wonder when the shepherds came to tell of angel choirs, and wise men came to adore the King of Kings. Through your example and prayers, help us St. Joseph and all we love to become sinless mangers where the Savior of the world may be received with absolute love and respect.


Below: You will find these beautiful marble plaques, which depict the seven sorrows and seven joys of St. Joseph, in St. Joseph’s Grove. Today we feature the second sorrow and joy.

THE THIRD SORROW: Joseph sorrowfully witnesses the circumcision of our Lord.
THE THIRD JOY: His delight when the holy name of Jesus is given to the infant.

Jesus’ birth brought happiness to many people – his parents, Simeon and Anna, the shepherds and all peoples of all ages, including all of us. His birth in Bethlehem would mean that he would follow all laws there since his earlier years. And Joseph knew that. Joseph would want this divine child to do whatever he wanted and not to follow the human laws; however, God had a different plan. God wanted His Son to experience humanity through following the law, “On the eight day, the child was circumcised according to the law” (Luke 2:21a)

Joseph recognized the importance of following the law, but it must have hurt him to see his son being circumcised in that early age. No one would ever want to see a child in that circumstance at that age, but St. Joseph continued to trust in God’s plan of salvation through his Son. In his sorrow, St. Joseph continued to follow God’s command. He was delighted that the child was named Jesus, “the name the angel had given him before he was born” (Luke 2:21b).
That is a father’s greatest joy, to be able to call his child’s name, especially when the name was given before the child was even born. And St. Joseph’s joy to call Jesus was so great that he did not care what he would go through in his own life. The name of Jesus was already enough assurance for him.

The third sorrow and joy of St. Joseph remind us that whatever situation we are in right now, however painful our lives look like, we know that when we call on the name of Jesus to help us, to guide us and to journey with us, he will be delighted to come to us and be with us. So, call Jesus to be with you today and may he bring you all the blessings you need today, and every days of your life.


Saint Joseph, your heart was pierced with sorrow at the sight of the blood which flowed from the infant Jesus at his circumcision; you found joy when the child was given the name of Jesus. Through your prayers, may the name of Jesus remain in our hearts and guide our daily lives.


Below: You will find these beautiful marble plaques, which depict the seven sorrows and seven joys of St. Joseph, in St. Joseph’s Grove. Today we feature the third sorrow and joy.

THE FOURTH SORROW: The great sorrows of our lady are predicted by the prophet.
THE THIRD FOURTH JOY: The prophet Simeon foretells the salvation of many souls.

It would be impossible for anyone to hear from someone else that his or her loved ones would experience so much pain in their lives. How would you react to something like that? In Luke’s Gospel, St. Joseph heard from the mouth of Simeon that a sword shall pierce Mary’s heart (Luke 2:3-35). As Mary’s husband, St. Joseph wouldn’t want to hear that, let alone to let that happen to Mary. But again, he would rather follow God’s will than to do what he would do. He trusted God even when he knew the bad news.

Simeon prophesied, “I have seen a salvation, which you have prepared for all the nations to see: a light to guide all people and to show the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:28-33). This was a marvelous news for St. Joseph, although he knew it from the beginning. Although we don’t know whether St. Joseph was alive to see what Simeon prophesied, we know that he would become a proud (foster) father to see that many people have been guided by the light of Jesus to be reconciled with God. and with one another.

The fourth sorrow and joy of St. Joseph remind us that whatever bad news we have in our lives, at the end of the tunnel, we will see the light again. Don’t give up, and trust God for what he wants to bring into our lives. He wants something great for each and everyone of us.


Saint Joseph, with sorrow you heard the words that Mary’s heart would be pierced with a sword; you found joy in the promise that Jesus would bring us salvation. Please obtain for us the grace to have compassion for the sorrows of others, and to share the good news of salvation that Jesus offers us.


Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

THE FIFTH SORROW: Joseph’s concern and anxiety during the flight into Egypt.
THE FIFTH JOY: He is happy at the final safety of Jesus and Mary.

Like a deer with an arrow in its body while running for its safety, Saint Joseph’s journey couldn’t have gotten any worse. When everything seemed to settle down, his son’s life was threatened by Herod. What did this infant do so wrong that Herod wanted him dead? An innocent baby who couldn’t even crawl yet now need to run far away for his own life. And Saint Joseph’s sorrow seemed to never end. “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is searching for the child in order to kill him” (Mat. 2:13).

That is the worst thing a father will ever hear. And of course, he will do anything to safe his child’s life. Is there any greater suffering than the suffering of a newborn baby whose mother is in poverty, forced to flee with her and her father? Where do they live and where do they provide for their daily needs? Saint Joseph listened, and followed the angel.

With all these things going on in Saint Joseph’s mind, he would be relieved to hear that Herod died (Mat. 2:14). Although he knew that anything still could happen to his child, Saint Joseph’s burden must’ve been lifted knowing that his child was once again safe and free from danger.

We are invited to learn honesty, sincerity, humility and especially strong faith from St. Joseph, and to be able to understand the events that happens in our life every day.


Saint Joseph, with fear and sorrow you learned that you and your family would have to flee to Egypt; what joy you must have felt when you found safety there. Help us to face difficult and uncertain moments with trust and confidence that the Lord will always walk beside us.


THE SIXTH SORROW: In Egypt, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Get up and return to the land of Israel with child and his mother, for those who wanted to kill the child have died.” … But Joseph was afraid to return to Judah, knowing that Herod’s son was now king.

THE SIXTH JOY: They returned to Galilee and to their own town of Nazareth. There the child grew and matured, day by day growing in wisdom. The grace of God was in him.

There is nothing that concerns a loving father more than the safety of his family. The constant hardships he endures is nothing compared to the great joy and consolation he feels seeing his children growing in wisdom, respect and love of God and neighbor. But greater than the love of parents is the love of God to all. For the Lord says in the first reading today, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Is 49:15). These are indeed assuring and consoling words from the mouth of our loving God.

Today is the six day of the Septenary in honor of St Joseph. We remember his sixth sorrow and joy. Joseph as a “holy and righteous man” (Mt 1:19) was afraid to return to Judea because of the threat that awaits them, especially to the child Jesus, knowing that Archelaus, son of Herod, was the one who replaced his father Herod as king. But because it was God who told him to do so, he goes.

To feel afraid is perfectly human. But to be holy and righteous, like St Joseph, are the proofs of trust and obedience to God. We all feel afraid and threatened as St. Joseph did. What is lacking in us sometimes is trust and obedience to God’s commands. Trust and obedience do not totally remove fear; rather, they vanquish fear and can establish a closer relationship to God. After all, threats are always there. Threat does not end to Herod. It can be prolonged or heightened by another next to him anyway. But again, let us not forget that the love of God is greater than anything that could harm us in this world, and even greater than the love and promises of anyone.

Therefore, threats and fears are nothing compared to the loving presence of God in the life of St. Joseph. This is exactly what reassured and constantly sustains St. Joseph as played his role being guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. In fact, he was consoled by the fact, that, “Jesus grew and matured, day by day growing in wisdom” (Lk 2:40). How happy is the father to witness his children growing in this manner?

The tragedy in many families today is the fact that children grew full of pride and arrogance instead of love and respect. Many children are showing ungrateful attitudes and no sense of respect. Why do they behave and act that way? What’s wrong with our young? Or rather, what’s wrong with us pastors, educators and parents? What else have we not given them? Sometimes, the problem lies on what is given. They may lack nothing in their needs. Perhaps, what we have forgotten to give or to teach them is God.


May we learn anew from the example of St Joseph, who never spoke a single word in the Bible, ye, he tirelessly labored day and night for the good and safety of Jesus and Mary. Drawing inspiration and example from St. Joseph, may we also become true protectors and guardians of family and the young. 


The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE SEVENTH SORROW: When the child Jesus was twelve years old they went to Jerusalem, as was the custom. When they left at the end of the feast, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem without his parents realizing this. They returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

THE SEVENTH JOY: On the third day they found him in the temple, seated among the elders, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who had listened to him were amazed by his intelligence and his responses. The child returned with them to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother faithfully kept all these memories in her heart.

REFLECTION: To be away or separated from a beloved is one of the saddest moments in life. But worse is when one is separated from the love of God because of sin of pride. No matter how far we run away, God, as prodigal Father, he is ready give away his love in search of us, just to bring us back into his loving presence.

St Joseph, as a loving father, immediately looked for Jesus when he found out that the latter was not in their company back home. For St. Joseph, to be away from Jesus meant to be away from God. After all, Jesus was not lost. He was in the place he meant to be.

I think the lessons of this gospel are, first and foremost, about relationship. The narrative is telling us how sorrowful Joseph and Mary were when they found out that Jesus was not with them. It simply tells us how sad or empty life is when we are not in the presence of God, when he is not the center of everything.

Many people continue to believe that complete happiness can be found in worldly things. What a restless and endless search that must be. No… complete joy and happiness can only be found in finding Jesus and following the Lord in his Church. Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the temple, the perfect place where to find perfect happiness. If you feel that there seems to be lacking or missing in your life’s journey, perhaps you’ve missed something or better, you’ve missed someone. Maybe you need to return to God, where we can find complete happiness and joy: Jesus Christ our Lord.


Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM