Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY MARCH 18th, 2018 A.D.: SAINT JOSEPH
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the feast of St. Joseph, which we will celebrate on Monday (3/19). Below is the translation of this Collect from the MR’62 in the Angelus Press edition of the Daily Roman Missal:
“We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be helped by the merits of the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother: so that what we cannot obtain of ourselves, may be given to us through his intercession: Who livest and reignest, etc. Amen.”
In this straightforward Collect, we come to God admittedly deficient in merits, and so we plead those of St. Joseph. This prayer expresses the Church’s confidence in the “Treasury of Merit,” which, in turn, derives from her doctrine of the Communion of Saints, as professed in the Apostles’ Creed.
When we sinners recognize our own sins and deficiency in merit (that is, our failure to cooperate with grace for our salvation), we rightly do what Hebrews commends: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (cf. Heb. 4:16, RSV). Christ the High Priest is the source of grace, but He also shares His priesthood with the members of his Body through Baptism (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1268, 1272-3). Thus, all the Baptized, but especially Our Lady and the Saints in heaven, become mediators in and through Christ, the chief Mediator (Catechism nos. 947, 956-7, 969-70). These latter, especially, are channels of grace for us on earth and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Their merits and prayers further our ongoing purification from the effects of sin, and tend towards our overall growth in holiness (cf. Catechism nos. 1474-5).
The “Treasury of Merit” is a term that refers primarily to all the merits won by Christ, and secondarily, all the merits gained by Our Lady and all the saints who have “cooperated” with God’s will in their time (cf. Catechism nos. 1476-7). Thus, this doctrine is a recognition of the infinite riches of grace with which Christ endows his Body the Church for her sanctification. The Church’s various penances and indulgences are one consequent aspect of this teaching (cf. Catechism nos. 1478-9).
Of all the saints besides Our Lady, St. Joseph has exercised considerable influence in the lives of the faithful. The Church has had a growing sense of St. Joseph’s power as an intercessor and patron, indeed, rightly calling him “Patron of the Universal Church.” This is entirely fitting in view of his role as Guardian of Our Lady and Christ for two reasons: Firstly, the Church is Christ’s Body (cf. Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12; Catechism nos. 787-91), and secondly, Our Lady is the archetype of the Church (cf. Rev. 11-12; Catechism nos. 967, 972). Therefore, we are right to claim the solicitude of St. Joseph as members of Christ’s Body, and as children of Mary: we trust that his care for us is as prompt and loving as it was for Our Lady and the Christ Child. What a powerful and wonderful truth! How deeply consoling this is!
In Genesis 41:55, we read the following: “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do” (RSV). These are the words of the Egyptian Pharaoh regarding Joseph, the son of Jacob, who had been newly appointed as second-incommand to provide for the people during seven years of famine in Egypt. Modern devotion to St. Joseph has fittingly adopted and re-purposed the words “Go to Joseph” (in Latin, “Ite ad Joseph”). Like the patriarch Joseph of old, St. Joseph will be our guardian and provident protector to whom we may have recourse, especially in our trials.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.