20 March 2017

Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(23) Monday 20 March 2017

Saint Joseph depicted in a Victorian stained glass window in Saint Mary’s Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

Today is being celebrated in many parts of the Anglican Communion as the Feast Day of Saint Joseph. This celebration always falls in Lent on 19 March. But because 19 March is a Sunday this year, it has been transferred in most Anglican calendars to today [20 March 2017].

The readings are: II Samuel 7: 4-16; Psalm 89: 26-36; Romans 4: 13-18; Matthew 1: 18-25.

This is a festival in the Calendar of the Church of Ireland, and the ‘Rules to Order Observance of Festivals’ in the Book of Common Prayer state: ‘Festivals falling on a Sunday may be transferred to the following Monday …’ However, in the case of both Saint Joseph and the Annunciation, these rules say: ‘When Saint Joseph’s Day or the Annunciation of our Lord falls on a Sunday in Lent or in Holy Week, they are observed on the Monday following the Second Sunday of Easter or at the discretion of the minister on another suitable weekday in the same week.’

This appears to miss the liturgical point that Saint Joseph is almost always celebrated in mid-Lent, and leaves the Church of Ireland celebrating on a different day than, say, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church, where this feast is only transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter when Saint Joseph’s Day falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter.

The Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’

I am using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning throughout Lent. Why not join me in these prayers and reflections, for just a few moments each morning?

In the articles and prayers in the prayer diary, USPG invites us to investigate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life’ (available online or to order at www.uspg.org.uk/lent), explores the idea that discipleship and authenticity are connected.

This week, from yesterday (Sunday 19 March) until next Saturday (25 March), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary is following the topic ‘Living with Difference.’ The topic was introduced yesterday in an article in the Prayer Diary by the Right Revd Michael Lewis, Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, who was a speaker at the USPG conference in High Leigh three years ago in 2014.

In his article, Bishop Michael reflected on being a disciple among communities of diverse backgrounds and asked how we should be disciples.

Monday 20 March 2017,

Saint Joseph:

Pray for Christians in Cyprus, Oman and Iraq who face many challenges, with many fleeing war and persecution (see article)..


God our Father,
who from the family of your servant David
raised up Joseph the carpenter
to be the guardian of your incarnate Son
and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Give us grace to follow his example
of faithful obedience to your commands;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
whose Son grew in wisdom and stature
in the home of Joseph the carpenter of Nazareth,
and on the wood of the cross perfected
the work of the world’s salvation.
Help us, strengthened by this sacrament of his passion,
to count the wisdom of the world as foolishness,
and to walk with him in simplicity and trust;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection and prayer

The Anxiety of Saint Joseph’ by James Tissot (1836-1902)

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