Celebrate Every Wednesday, Especially First Wednesdays, in Honor of St. Joseph

It’s time to honor St. Joseph in particular ways on the day dedicated to him.

Francisco de Zurbarán, “The Coronation of St. Joseph,” 1640
Francisco de Zurbarán, “The Coronation of St. Joseph,” 1640 (photo: Public Domain)

This Year of St. Joseph inspires us to honor St. Joseph in many ways we might have forgotten or not have known. One of them is honoring him in a particular way on Wednesdays. We already honor his wife Mary on Saturdays, the day dedicated to her, and we pay honor to Jesus’ Passion and his Sacred Heart on Fridays, the day dedicated to both.

Traditionally, the Church has named Wednesday as a day to honor St. Joseph. “St. Joseph plays a prominent part in popular devotion: in numerous popular traditions,” the Holy See’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy tells us, starting with “the custom of reserving Wednesdays for devotion to St. Joseph, popular at least since the end of the seventeenth century.”

“This is the day the week turns on,” explains David Clayton in his book The Little Oratory. “It’s no wonder that the wisdom of popular piety put St. Joseph here, in the center of daily life. St. Joseph represents fatherhood, care, protection, a happy death, and sanctified work. He has been called the Shadow of the Father.”

Joseph is one of the essential members of the Holy Family.

This year dedicated to him is the time to consider doing something to honor St. Joseph on Wednesdays.

In the 15 ways to receive an indulgence in this Year of St. Joseph, the decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary proclaimed on Dec. 8 that one specific way is to “honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.”

We can find one of the Church’s approved prayers, do a specific act of piety, and (another choice) attend Mass. Offer it in honor of St. Joseph. Offer it in thanksgiving for St. Joseph. Receive Holy Communion and offer it in thanksgiving for, and in honor of, St. Joseph.

(Remember, the conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence are sacramental confession, receiving Holy Communion and praying for the pope's intentions. And not being attached to sin, even venial sin. See below for conditions for homebound.)


Celebrating “First” Wednesdays

While at the present the Church does not have an official “First” Wednesday devotion to St. Joseph, we’ve seen it already traditionally honors St. Joseph in an extra way on Wednesdays.

But no “First Wednesdays” as such. Nevertheless, we have a major precedent with Jesus and Mary in the Holy Family.

In the early 1670’s, Our Lord Jesus gave St. Margaret Mary Aloquoque the Nine First Fridays devotion, which she then was to spread for all.

In 1925, Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, appeared to Sister Lucia and told her — and us — to observe the Five First Saturdays. In 1930 Jesus also appeared to Lucia and gave her the reasons why “five.”

Since then, those who listen and celebrate the Nine First Fridays and the Five First Saturdays devotion don’t normally stop after completing them, but they continuously observe every First Friday and every First Saturday.

With these precedents, why not similarly celebrate the First Wednesdays for St. Joseph, who is also part of the Holy Family?

Why not consider it might be the number between the five and the nine — seven First Wednesdays? That would reflect St. Joseph’s Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys, which are usually celebrated on seven consecutive Sundays. Why not do them also on Seven First Wednesdays?

Or why not celebrate every First Wednesday by honoring St. Joseph by attending Mass, offering it in his honor, receiving Communion in his honor, and thanking God for him?

Look what Pope Benedict XV said in 1920 in Bonum Sane (Devotion to Saint Joseph, Patron of the Catholic Church for Half a Century) —

“Therefore, We, full of confidence in the patronage of him, to whose provident vigilance God was pleased to entrust the custody of his Only Begotten Incarnate and of the Virgin Mother of God, warmly exhort all the Bishops of the Catholic world so that, in such stormy times to Christianity, lead the faithful to implore the valid help of St. Joseph with greater commitment. And since there are several ways approved by this Apostolic See by which the Holy Patriarch can be venerated, especially on all Wednesdays of the year and in the entire month consecrated to him, We want that, at the request of each Bishop, all these devotions, as far as possible, are to be practiced in every diocese.”

Think how pleasing it would be to Jesus to see his adoptive father and our Blessed Mother to see her holy husband honored this way too.

Or as Benedict XV put it officially in that same 50th anniversary document: “Thus, with the flourishing of the devotion of the faithful to St. Joseph, their devotion to the Holy Family of Nazareth, of which he was the August Head, will increase at the same time, spontaneously flowing the two devotions from each other. In fact, through Joseph we go directly to Mary, and, through Mary, to the origin of all holiness, Jesus, who consecrated the domestic virtues with his obedience to Joseph and Mary.”

NOTE: For those unable to go to church the Apostolic Decree for the indulgences for the Year of St. Joseph said: “In the current context of health emergency, the gift of the plenary indulgence is particularly extended to the elderly, the sick, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave the house, who, with a soul detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions, in their own home or where the impediment keeps them, recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, comfort of the sick and patron of a happy death, offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts of their life.”