The Vatican has confirmed that a reference to St Joseph will be permanently included in the Eucharistic Prayers at most Masses in the Latin Rite.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said Pope Francis confirmed a decision originally made by Benedict XVI to include the reference.
A decree signed on May 1 by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, congregation secretary, said Benedict XVI had received petitions from Catholics around the world and approved adding after the name of the Virgin Mary, the words “with blessed Joseph, her spouse”.
Blessed John XXIII had added the name of St Joseph to the first Eucharistic Prayer, known as the Roman Canon, in the 1960s. The new decree inserts his name into Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV.
A congregation official told the American Catholic News Service that national bishops’ conferences could set a date for the changes to begin if they believe that is necessary, “but because it is a matter of only adding five words, priests can begin immediately”.
The decree described St Joseph as “an exemplary model of the kindness and humility that the Christian faith raises to a great destiny, and demonstrates the ordinary and simple virtues necessary for men to be good and genuine followers of Christ”.
St Joseph, “caring most lovingly for the Mother of God and happily dedicating himself to the upbringing of Jesus”, has been the subject of deep Catholic devotion for centuries, the decree said. The congregation provided bishops around the world with the exact wording to use for Masses in Latin, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German and Polish.
Pope Francis, who has a flower used as a symbol of St Joseph on his coat-of-arms, also chose the feast of St Joseph on March 19 as the date for his inaugural Mass.
In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis said that in the Gospels “St Joseph appears 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 new Pope said exercising the role of protector as St Joseph means doing so “discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand”. St Joseph responded to his call to be a protector “by being constantly attentive to God”, Francis said.