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Henrik Hagnell wrote:

Hi, guys —

In the Litany of St. Joseph we say:

O God, who in Thy Ineffable Providence, didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy Most Holy Mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may have for our advocate in Heaven, him, whom we venerate as our protector on Earth. Who livest and reignest world without end.

Amen.

  • What do we mean when we (say/state) that St. Joseph is our protector on Earth?
  • What does it mean when we ask for the grace to have him as an advocate in Heaven?
  • Is there a difference between protector on Earth and an advocate in Heaven?

I thought all deceased saints, (we have some living on Earth right now), are in Heaven interceding for us. This prayer uses a language that I am not comfortable with right now.

Henrik

  { What do we mean when we say St. Joseph is our protector on Earth and advocate in Heaven? }

Bob replied:

Henrik,

The two phrases point to two facts about Joseph:

  1. He was the protector of the Holy Family;
  2. He is in Heaven and, as all saints do, he is (advocating/praying) for us.

In this prayer, we are asking God for Joseph's protection; and since Jesus is our brother, and Mary is our spiritual Mother, he is like a father to us too, and we want him as well to keep praying and advocating for us in a particular way. It honors Joseph to include him in our thoughts and love, and that pleases God who created him and is his father too. God is blessed when we honor and elevate each other as families do with each other.

It is not idolatry, for nowhere do we conclude that Joseph or any saint is anything beyond what God made them to be — His children! We honor our parents because it is a commandment to do so. We take that same attitude and honor and bless all of our saintly family, because ultimately that blesses God. He is not threatened by it, jealous of it, or condemning of it, despite the admonitions that Protestants hurl about idolatry. That lack of understanding has robbed Protestants of an important relationship with the Church Triumphant.

Finally, in short . . .

It is simple, albeit poetic language, based on a style belonging to an earlier time and earlier generation.

Don't be thrown off by it. There is nothing suggesting Joseph should have some deified role that glorifies him beyond his God-given status.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Dear Henrik,

I just wanted to add two cents to what Bob has said.

Whenever we ask any saint in Heaven for help or honor an attribute of God: we honor God, the Father who sees His Son's image in all Christians and He marvels in the good, vocational behavior of those who remain faithful to His Church.

It's not the saint per se, it's the Lord and the saints that have gone ahead of us, working through us. It's a family affair.

Our Protestant brethren will never understand this because they don't embrace the Catholic theology behind the Eucharist.

You said:

  • What do we mean when we (say/state) that St. Joseph is our protector on Earth?

We ask him for the same protections which he gave Our Lord when he raised him as his earthly son. Again, in doing so, we are honoring God the Father who is the ultimate source of the ability Joseph had to protect and raise his Earthly son and the Father's divine Son.

You said:

  • What does it mean when we ask for the grace to have him as an advocate in Heaven?

It means to be motivated to ask for his help as an advocate and a protector.

  • Why?

Because in doing so, we again, honor the Father who marvels in the merits of His children: this includes St. Joseph, the other saints, and you and me!

You said:

  • Is there a difference between protector on Earth and advocate in Heaven?

Not really, just the location.

You said:
I thought all deceased saints, (we have some living on Earth right now), are in Heaven interceding for us. This prayer uses a language that I am not comfortable with right now..

If you are not comfortable with this, then you probably have a misunderstanding of what the Communion of Saints is. Use our Site Search to find more answers:

Mike

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