Bernie Dutke is bringing St. Joseph more into her life during the Year of St. Joseph, and a devotion her parish recently began called the Seven Sundays Devotion to St. Joseph is helping her.

St. Joseph and Jesus CNS photo / Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin

On each of seven Sundays leading up to St. Joseph’s March 19 feast day, one of the two priests at her parish, St. Joseph in West St. Paul, is posting on Facebook and the parish website videos with scriptural meditations on one of the sorrows and one of the joys of St. Joseph’s life, as well as a litany to the saint. Fathers Michael Creagan, pastor, and Tim Wratkowski, parochial vicar, also have given parishioners written information about the devotion.

The traditional devotion is one of several prayers and devotions that Dutke, 66, has added to her prayer time this year. “It’s high time we spent more time meditating on St Joseph and learning more about him,” said Dutke, a parishioner at St. Joseph for 25 years.

The devotion began Jan. 31. But people can join any time before the March 19 feast day, whether by watching the videos or doing one of the devotions linked below. The devotion also can be done any time of the year.

Along with the meditations, the devotion traditionally involves receiving holy Communion and reciting prayers in St. Joseph’s honor. The number of prayers varies by specific meditation.

Although not a single word is attributed to St. Joseph in Scripture, the Gospels tell us a lot about his life, faith, character and devotion to Mary and Jesus — the basis for the seven sorrows and joys.

The Seven Sundays Devotion to St. Joseph is one way to get to know this great saint, and learn from his example. Catholics who’ve made the Consecration to St. Joseph using Father Donald Calloway’s book, “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,” may recognize this devotion, which is described on page 157. See below for a list of the seven sorrows and joys with corresponding Scripture references, as well as links to sites containing meditations.

References to the sorrows and joys in St. Joseph’s life date back at least to the fourth century in the writings of St. John Chrysostom.

Meditating on St. Joseph’s life became a popular devotion in the 16th century after the saint appeared to two Franciscan friars who were stranded at sea after their ship sank off the coast of Belgium, according to a 1536 account written by a Capuchin friar.

The shipwrecked friars prayed for three days to St. Joseph as they clung to pieces of wood. Then a man who identified himself as St. Joseph appeared and brought them to shore. When they asked how they could honor him, St. Joseph told them to recite the Our Father and Hail Mary seven times while meditating on seven sorrows in his years with Jesus and Mary.

Two hundred years later, an Italian priest added seven joys to the devotion.

Watch videos posted on Sundays until March 14 on Facebook at Church of St. Joseph, West St. Paul, MN or at

The Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph with Scripture references:

1st Sunday 
Sorrow (Mt 1:19) The Doubt of St. Joseph
Joy (Mt 1:20) The Message of the Angel

2nd Sunday –
Sorrow (Lk 2:7) The Poverty of Jesus’ birth
Joy (Lk 2:10-11) The Birth of the Savior

3rd Sunday –
Sorrow (Luke 2:21) The Circumcision
Joy (Mt 1:25) The Holy Name of Jesus

4th Sunday –
Sorrow (Lk 2:34) The Prophecy of Simeon
Joy (Lk 2:38) The Effects of the Redemption

5th Sunday –
Sorrow (Mt 2:14) The Flight into Egypt
Joy (Is 19:1) The Overthrow of the Idols of Egypt

6th Sunday –
Sorrow (Mt 2:22) The Return from Egypt
Joy (Lk 2:39) Life with Jesus and Mary at Nazareth

7th Sunday –
Sorrow (Lk 2:45) The Loss of the Child Jesus
Joy (Lk 2:46) The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple


Seven Sundays Devotion Meditations:

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