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Pope Francis Adds Name of St Joseph to Every Mass in the Eucharistic Prayer: What Does it Mean?

By Deacon Keith Fournier
June 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was made public on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. The decree was promulgated on May 1, 2013, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. The Decree mandates the insertion of the name of St. Joseph in the Prayer offered by every Catholic priest in the world when they offer Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Joseph is already included in Eucharistic Prayer I. So, why does this decree matter? What does it mean?

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was made public on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. The decree was promulgated on May 1, 2013, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

The Decree mandates the insertion of the name of St. Joseph in the Prayer offered by every Catholic priest in the world when they offer Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Joseph is already included in Eucharistic Prayer I.

So, why does this decree matter? What does it mean?

There is a Latin maxim describing the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Catholic Church; Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. The phrase in Latin means the law of prayer (the way we worship), and the law of belief (what we believe). It is also written as, Lex orandi, Lex credendi, Lex vivendi, deepening the implications - how we worship determines how we will live.

The Church knows that part of her vital role as mother and teacher is to watch over worship, for the sake of the faithful and in obedience to the God whom she serves. How we worship reveals and guards the deposit of faith. What we believe guides us in how we live our Christian mission in the world.

Liturgical Worship is the foundation of Catholic identity; expressing our highest purpose. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of the Church (CCC#1324-1326). The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest worship. We enter into the heavenly liturgy at every Holy Mass (CCC# 1136-1199).

The words said by the Priest at every Mass, standing in the person of Christ the High Priest, are of profound importance. The Eucharistic prayer is the very heart and summit of the celebration. (CCC  # 1352).

The Decree from the Congregation explains the vital role of St. Joseph in the plan of salvation. It affirms his vital example as a model of virtue and his role as a patron and intercessor for the universal Church.  It notes the great affection which the faithful have shown toward him for millennia.

It explains that Blessed Pope John XXIII added the name of Joseph to the Roman Canon during the Second Vatican Council and that, since then, there have been petitions from the faithful requesting that his name be added to the other Eucharistic prayers.

These petitions had the support of both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. Pope Francis has now officially decreed the addition of the name of saint to all of the canons used during the Mass. It has been done n the official Latin. The implementation in every vernacular language used is underway.

The Decree explains "the Pontiffs had before their eyes the full communion of the Saints who, once pilgrims in this world, now lead us to Christ and unites us to Him." 

Pope Francis has a coat of arms which incorporates a flower used to symbolize St. Joseph. He chose March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph, as the date for his Papal inaugural Mass.

In his homily he referred to Joseph as a "strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak, but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love."

The overriding experience we have had of Pope Francis in his first 100 days is humility. Humility is the virtue which characterizes St. Joseph. The readings for the Feast of Joseph were used for the papal installation Liturgy. The Gospel account (Matt 1: 16, 18-21, 24 A) records Joseph's Annunciation.
 
An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to prepare him for the significant role He would play in God's saving plan. He was invited to exercise his human freedom, to give his assent to the Lord's invitation - and he did. He said yes by his actions.

From antiquity, Christians have especially cherished Joseph as a model of manly virtue. We use an expression to refer to men who are comfortable in their skin. We say of such a man "He is a man's man". That is how I experience this Pope named Francis.

In his first 100 days we have witnessed a man comfortable in his skin. He does not read the wind of opinion before he acts. Joseph was a man of few words who spoke through his actions; doing as the angel of the Lord commanded.  We see a similar pattern of response in Pope Francis.

The Scriptures say little about Joseph. That absence speaks volumes. Why? Because to Joseph, he was not the one who was important, others were. He was not self referential, to borrow a phrase commonly used by Pope Francis.

Neither is Pope Francis. He constantly reminds us all that it is not about us - but about the Lord, and challenges us to learn how to love others as Jesus does. In fact, through the Holy Spirit, to allow Jesus to continue offering that love through us.  

Joseph loved God first. He loved Mary above himself. He was prepared to do the right thing when she was found to be with child. He could have chosen otherwise. In just one hundred days we have seen a similar pattern in Pope Francis. We see he truly is a man for others.

Joseph was a man of faith and courage. He had a close, intimate personal relationship with the God of His Fathers. He was the last Patriarch, completing the lineage. Through his response of faith, he was privileged to hold in His arms the One that His fathers had only longed to see. What a symbol of prayer, holding Jesus close to your heart.

Joseph was a man of such deep prayer, the kind of life changing and intimate prayer which alone can fuel the living faith needed to be used by the Lord in a life of mission. Pope Francis is a man of deep prayer. It is evident in his simplicity and Gospel joy.  He regularly reminds us we are all missionaries.  

There was not an ounce of false bravado or machismo in Joseph. Named after the great Patriarch who was sold into slavery in Egypt; he bore the name with similar humility. As the Old Testament Joseph embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or victim-hood and actually came to rule Egypt, forgiving the brothers who had sold him into slavery; so too this son of the Covenant embraced the One who would establish the New Covenant on the altar of Calvary.

Joseph emptied himself of self - and became filled with the love and life of God. He gave himself fully to God through accepting his unique and specific vocation as a guardian of the Redeemer. The child Jesus, God in the flesh, was given to Joseph.

A Carpenter, Joseph taught this child how to work with wood. That was, after all, what he had to give. During these hidden years, Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph was with Jesus. This same Jesus who learned to work with wood from the hands of Joseph would save the world through the wood of the Cross.

Joseph uniquely participated in the mystery of Gods plan of redemption through simply being the man he was called to be. How challenging in an age of narcissism and inordinate self-love. Since the fourteenth century there has been a specific day set aside in the Roman calendar to honor Joseph.  He is the Patron of the universal Church, of all husbands and of social justice.

He has also been designated as the patron of all workers, this Carpenter who taught the Word Incarnate, the Child Jesus, how to work with wood. This man was the foster father of the Incarnate Word of God and he loved Jesus with an exemplary love which is a model for all men who bear the name Christian.

In an age that has lost its way, given over to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph is being lifted up again by Holy Mother Church as a model to everyone who desires to follow Jesus Christ.  The Canon of every Holy Mass will constantly seek his intercession.

Those words of the Canon which become a part of the fabric of our lives as Catholics will regularly be recalled within us after we leave the sanctuary. They get inside of our hearts and we find them coming up wothin as we live out our daily routines of service in love. Lex orandi, lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi

In one hundred days we have witnessed the heart and spirit, the character, of this Pope named Francis. I am increasinly taken with how much he reminds me of Joseph. How we need his kind of prophetic witness in this hour.

Over two millennia, the mission of Jesus has continued through His Body on earth, His Church. He has entrusted the work of that mission to all who accept the invitation to empty themselves in order to be filled with the very life and love of God and be used in His redemptive mission for the world.

Through the Fount of living water called Baptism, he invites each one of us into His new family, the Body of His Son, the Church. He needs more men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage.

He still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation and participation.

The Lord is looking for men like Joseph who will work in the workshop of the world that He created in order to recreate it anew in His Son. He has found one in this Pope named Francis. We are blessed to be alive during this pontificate.

The addition of the name of St. Jospeph, the great Patron of the Church, to every Liturgy is a welcome gift. 

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