Friday, 18 March 2016

St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The readings for the feast at Matins in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I: Genesis 39: 1-3, 4-5; 41: 37-40, 41-44.

Reading 1: And Joseph was brought into Egypt, and Putiphar an eunuch of Pharao, chief captain of the army, an Egyptian, bought him of the Ismaelites, by whom he was brought. And the Lord was with him, and he was a prosperous man in all things: and he dwelt in his master's house.Who knew very well that the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

R. The Lord was with Joseph, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
* And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison.
V. And whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.
R. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison.

Reading 2: And Joseph found favour in the sight of his master, and ministered to him: and being set over all by him, he governed the house committed to him, and all things that were delivered to him: And the Lord blessed the house of the Egyptian for Joseph's sake.

R. When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to the king for bread. And the king said unto all the Egyptians
* Go unto Joseph; and what he saith to you, do.
V. The famine was more grievous every day over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians.
R. Go unto Joseph; and what he saith to you, do.

Reading 3: The counsel pleased Pharao and all his servants. And he said to them: Can we find such another man, that is full of the spirit of God? He said therefore to Joseph: Seeing God hath shewn thee all that thou hast said, can I find one wiser and one like unto thee? Thou shalt be over my house, and at the commandment of thy mouth all the people shall obey: only in the kingly throne will I be above thee.

R. The Lord hath made me as a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house fear not
* For God sent me before you into Egypt, to save your lives.
V. Come unto me, and I will give you all the good things of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
R. For God sent me before you into Egypt, to save your lives.

Reading 4: And again Pharao said to Joseph: Behold, I have appointed thee over the whole land of Egypt. And he took his ring from his own hand, and gave it into his hand: and he put upon him a robe of silk, and put a chain of gold about his neck. And he made him go up into his second chariot, the crier proclaiming that all should bow their knee before him, and that they should know he was made governor over the whole land of Egypt.  And the king said to Joseph: I am Pharao; without thy commandment no man shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

Nocturn II (From the Sermons of St Bernard, Abbat of Clairvaux. 2nd on Luke i. 26)

Reading 5 : What and what manner of man the blessed Joseph was, we may gather from that title wherewith, albeit only as a deputy, God deemed him fit to be honoured he was both called, and supposed to be the Father of God. We may gather it from his very name, which, being interpreted, signifieth Increase. Remember likewise that great Patriarch who was sold into Egypt, and know that the Husband of Mary not only received his name, but inherited his purity, and was likened to him in innocence and in grace.

R. Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem
* Because he was of the house and lineage of David.
V. To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife.
R. Because he was of the house and lineage of David.

Reading 6: If then, that Joseph that was sold by his brethren through envy, and was brought down to Egypt, was a type of Christ sold by a disciple, and handed over to the Gentiles, the other Joseph flying from the envy of Herod carried Christ into Egypt. That first Joseph kept loyal to his master, and would not carnally know his master's wife; that second Joseph knew that the Lady, the Mother of his Lord, was a virgin, and he himself remained faithfully virgin toward her.

R. Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt;
* And be thou there until I bring thee word.
V. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying Out of Egypt have I called My Son.
R. And be thou there until I bring thee word.

Reading 7: To that first Joseph it was given to know dark things in interpreting of dreams; to the second Joseph it was given in sleep to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.The first Joseph laid by bread, not for himself, but for all people; the second Joseph received into his keeping that Living Bread Which came down from heaven, not for him only, but for the whole world.

R. When His parents brought the Child Jesus into the temple, to do for Him after the custom of the law,
* Simeon took Him up in his arms, and blessed God.
V. And His father and mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.
R. Simeon took Him up in his arms, and blessed God.

Reading 8: We cannot doubt but that that Joseph was good and faithful to whom was espoused the Mother of the Saviour. Yea, I say, he was a faithful and wise servant, whom the Lord appointed to be the comfort of His own Mother, the keeper of His own Body, and the only and trusty helper in the Eternal Counsels.

Nocturn III: (Homily by St Jerome)

Reading 9 : Why was the Lord conceived of an espoused virgin rather than of a free? First, for the sake of the genealogy of Mary, which we have obtained by that of Joseph. Secondly, because she was thus saved from being stoned by the Jews as an adulteress. Thirdly, that Himself and His mother might have a guardian on their journey into Egypt. To these, Ignatius, the martyr of Antioch, has added a fourth reason namely, that the birth might take place unknown to the devil; who would naturally suppose that Mary had conceived by Joseph.

Reading 10: Before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. She was found, that is, by Joseph, but by no one else. He had already almost an husband's privilege to know all that concerned her. Before they came together. This doth not imply that they ever did come together the Scripture merely showeth the absolute fact that up to this time they had not done so.

Reading 11: Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. If any man be joined to a fornicatress they become one body; and according to the law they that are privy to a crime are thereby guilty. How then can it be that Joseph is described as a just man, at the very time he was compounding the criminality of his espoused? It must have been that he knew her to be pure, and yet understood not the mystery of her pregnancy, but, while he wondered at that which had happened, was willing to hold his peace.

R. Jesus went down with them, and came to Nazareth
* And was subject unto them.
V. He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
R. And was subject unto them.

(Note: reading 12 for the Benedictine Office is not available online)

The Gospel for today's feast is St Matthew 1:18-21:

18 Christi autem generatio sic erat: cum esset desponsata mater ejus Maria Joseph, antequam convenirent inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu Sancto. 19 Joseph autem vir ejus cum esset justus, et nollet eam traducere, voluit occulte dimittere eam. 20 Hæc autem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei, dicens: Joseph, fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam: quod enim in ea natum est, de Spiritu Sancto est. 21 Pariet autem filium: et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum: ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum.

[18] Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. [19] Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. [20] But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.[21] And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins.

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