St. Joseph, terror of demons, patron of our universal Church, model of all fatherhood and example of purity, pray for us.
These are some of the ways I had called upon St. Joseph, until some years ago when a very dear friend of mine and I were discussing some domestic church items. We went down the trail that led us to exchanging what our night prayer routine as a family looked liked. She threw me off a bit when she told me that every night her and her husband prayed for each of their children to die a happy and holy death. They called upon St. Joseph for intercession in this matter.
St. Joseph is the intercessor for a happy and holy death. He died both. The best of deaths.
I’d argue that no one died a better death… with both Jesus and Mary praying him from this life to eternal life.
I struggled at first to put this into practice. Who wants to think about their own death and the death of their children on a daily basis? It’s hard to remember that “we are dust and to dust we shall return” but it’s absolutely true. It’s the one assurance we have in life. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we beg this intention for ourselves and our children and the ones we love.
But, what does it mean to die a happy death? And what does it mean to die a holy death?
A happy death. I think confining what a happy death is to a simple definition would be impossible… but I’m going to attempt it here. A happy death would be a death where you know with certainty that you are a beloved child of God. This sounds so very simple, but in reality many die without the real knowledge of and relationship with the God who gave His life for them. This would be the saddest, the unhappiest of deaths. So we pray for a friendship with our Lord, for the grace to know how deeply He loves us; an incomprehensible love and for the awareness of the blessings He intends for our life.
A holy death is one where we die in the state of grace. We will have been given the opportunity of a last confession, last rites and our soul will be clean and pure; a hopeful state as a soul arrives to meet his Creator. The holiest of deaths would mean that we did not wait until our hour of death to strive for this clean state, but that we have been returning to a life of virtue and goodness as often as we failed, and quickly if we failed. That we have had our eyes fixed on Heaven the whole time, just as St. Joseph did.
Maybe now you will have a new practice in your daily prayer. Maybe now St. Joseph will encourage you to return to Christ more quickly if you fall and to seek to know the One who loves you most.
St. Joseph, patron of a happy and holy death, pray for us.