1st Sorrow – Joseph Resolves to Leave Mary (St. Matthew 1:18-19)

When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.

1st Joy – The Annunciation to St. Joseph (St. Matthew 1:20-21)

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife with you. In fact the child that has been conceived in her comes from the Holy Spirit; she will give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus: he in fact will save his people from their sins."

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O glorious St. Joseph, chaste spouse of Mary most holy, what anguish filled your heart when you thought of putting your spouse away privately.  Yet your joy was unspeakable when the stupendous mystery of the Incarnation was made known to you by the angel. By this sorrow and joy of yours, we ask you to comfort us with the joy of a good life, followed by a holy death, patterned after your own, in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

2nd Sorrow – The Poverty of Jesus’ Birth (St. Luke 2:6-7)

And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. – St. Luke 2:6-7

2nd Joy – The Birth of the Savior of Mankind (St. Luke 2:10-19)

And the angel said to them: “Fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy… For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord …” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:  “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.” … And they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

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O glorious St. Joseph, chosen to be the virgin father of the Word made flesh, your sorrow at seeing the child Jesus born in such poverty was changed into heavenly exultation when you heard the angelic hymn and beheld the glories of that resplendent night. By this sorrow and joy, we beg you to obtain for us the grace to one day hear the angelic songs of praise and rejoice in the shining splendor of heavenly glory.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

3rd Sorrow – The Circumcision of Christ (St. Luke 2:21)

And after eight days were accomplished, the child was circumcised…


3rd Joy – The Holy Name of Jesus (St. Matthew 1:24-25)

And Joseph … did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him … and he called his name Jesus.

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O glorious St. Joseph, you faithfully obeyed the law of God. Your heart was pierced at the sight of the precious blood shed by the Infant Saviour during his circumcision, but the name "Jesus" gave you new life and filled you with quiet joy. By this sorrow and joy, obtain for us the grace to be freed from all sin during life, and to die rejoicing, with the holy name of Jesus in our hearts and on our lips.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

4th Sorrow – Simeon’s Prophecy (St. Luke 2:34-35)

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted;  And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.


4th Joy – The Salvation of Mankind (St. Luke 2:29-33)

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him.

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O glorious St. Joseph, most faithful saint who shared the mysteries of our redemption, the prophecy of Simeon regarding the sufferings of Jesus and Mary caused you to shudder with fear.  But at the same time it filled you with blessed joy over the salvation which Simeon foretold would be attained by countless persons. By this sorrow and joy, obtain for us the grace to be numbered among those who, through the merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary, are destined to enjoy eternal salvation.

Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

5th Sorrow – The Flight into Egypt (St. Matthew 2:13-14)

 Behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him.”  Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod.

5th Joy – The Toppling of the Idols (Isaiah 19:1)

Behold the Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud, and will enter into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst thereof.

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O glorious St. Joseph, most watchful guardian of the incarnate Son of God, how you toiled and struggled, caring for the Son of the Most High, especially during the flight into Egypt!  Yet at the same time, how you rejoiced to have God himself always near you amid the idols of Egypt. By this sorrow and joy, obtain for us the grace to keep ourselves safe from the evil one, especially by fleeing spiritual dangers; may every idol of earthly affection be recognized and rejected by us; may we become wholly engaged in serving Jesus and Mary, and for them alone may we live and happily die.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

6th Sorrow – The Perilous Return from Exile (St. Matthew 2:19-22)

 But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, saying: “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child.” Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee.

6th Joy – Family Life at Nazareth (St. Luke 2:39-40)

And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth.  And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him.

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O glorious St. Joseph, you marveled to see the King of Heaven obedient to your commands, but your consolation in bringing Jesus out of the land of Egypt was troubled by your fear of Herod's successor; nevertheless, being reassured by the angel, you lived happily at Nazareth with Jesus and Mary. By this sorrow and joy, obtain for us deliverance from harmful fears, so that we may rejoice in peace of conscience and live in safety with Jesus and Mary, and like you, may die in their company.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

7th Sorrow – The Loss of Jesus in Jerusalem (St. Luke 2:42-45)

And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.


7th Joy – The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (St. Luke 2:46-52)

And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father's business? … And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

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O glorious St. Joseph, pattern of all holiness, when you lost the child Jesus through no fault of yours, you sorrowfully sought Him for three days until with great joy you found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers. By this sorrow and joy, we beg you to keep us from ever having the misfortune of losing Jesus through mortal sin.  But if this grave misfortune should befall us, grant that we may seek Jesus with sorrow until we find Him again, ready to show us His mercy, especially at the hour of death.  Thus may we enjoy His presence in heaven, and there, in company with you, sing the praises of His divine mercy forever.

 Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

 

CONCLUSION

V. And Jesus himself was beginning his ministry about the age of thirty years.

R. Being, as it was supposed, the son of Joseph. (St. Luke 3:23)


Pray for us, O holy Joseph, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray. O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.


R. Amen.


In the 16th Century there arose a devotion called “The Seven Our Fathers of Saint Joseph”, which would later be known as “The Seven Sorrows and Joys”. The devotion as it appears today is credited to Blessed Gennaro Sarnelli (1702-1744). Below is related the brief story of how this devotion came to be requested by St. Joseph himself:

There were once two priests of the Franciscan order who were sailing along the coast of Flanders. A terrible tempest arose, sinking the ship along with 300 passengers. The two Fathers grabbed hold of a nearby plank, embracing it for dear life, as they were tossed about in the violent waves for three days and three nights. All the while the two men had recourse to St. Joseph, praying and begging for his assistance, to save them in the name of God from their most helpless and dire situation.

On the third day someone came to their aide, appearing as a most radiant man, encouraging them to have faith and to continue to confide in St. Joseph. The mysterious man safely conducted them into a harbor much to the happiness and relief of the two priests. Upon arriving safely, they thanked him repeatedly and asked for the name of the man who had just saved their lives. The man revealed to them that he was none other than St. Joseph—the one to whom they had prayed all this time.

The two priests wanting to extend some form of honour or respect to the saint for all that he had done for them, asked what they could do to show their gratefulness. St. Joseph told them to honour him thusly: to recite daily the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” seven times while meditating on his seven sorrows and seven joys. After advising them, he disappeared as mysteriously as he had come.