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Among Women Espresso Shot #22: February and Devotion to the Holy Family

Among Women Espresso Shot #22: February and Devotion to the Holy Family

I’m back with another short “Espresso Shot” — the shorter-version of Among Women. 

Today’s podcast topic: Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus 

Every year, in the month of February, the Catholic Church calls us to increase our devotion to the Holy Family. It may seem like Christmas has just passed and should we not be moving on? Not so fast. There’s a lot to be gained with this devotion. This short podcast is the second in a year-long series on the monthly devotions that the Church suggests for our prayer. Join me as I share a thoughts from St. John Paul II, ideas about my own nativity “prayer prompts” and a prayer from Pope Francis.

Listen to the podcast now.

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St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

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St Joseph and Jesus, a stained glass window in St Francis of Assisi Church, Springfield, IL

A few men in my family have Joseph as a name. Many of my recent meditations on the infancy narratives have given me a stronger love for Joseph. As I’ve been praying the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, every week I make my own little trip to St Joseph’s retreat house in Milton, MA. So I’m developing an even greater fondness for the Universal Patron of the Church.

St John Paul II thought Joseph was pretty special too. He wrote quite a bit on Joseph and about his faith. I’m particular struck by his submissive will to God’s will. We often hear of Mary’s perfect alignment with the will of God, and then we think — she was sinless. Yet St Joseph does this too, like all great saints, really — finding delight in God’s will rather than one’s own. Let’s just say I’m taking notes.

The Primacy of the Interior Life

25. The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph “did.” Still, they allow us to discover in his “actions” – shrouded in silence as they are – an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery “hidden from ages past,” and which “dwelt” under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.

26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that “very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.

This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. (From Guardian of the Redeemer)

Catholic Photo Challenge # 5: “Filial trust.” (Or, after Mass in a small town)

Catholic Photo Challenge # 5: “Filial trust.” (Or, after Mass in a small town)

Steve Nelson’s Everything Estaban blog continues to intrigue me with the Catholic Photo Challenge. The theme for this week’s challenge is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34),
and St. Peter the apostle repeats: “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).”

Steve writes:

For this photo challenge, capture a scene or event that expresses joy in a carefree moment. A scene when you, or someone else, is living in the moment, not fettered by worries or needing to be in total control.

Anyway, since I’m caregiving and not really keeping my usual schedule, I had not planned on participating in this current challenge until something unexpected happened after Mass yesterday.  This was a photo I just happened to snap — without even trying to do the challenge… but it just happened to work out that way.

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I attended Sunday Mass at my parents’ parish which is St Joseph the Worker — a combined collaborative of St John’s in Clyde, St Patrick’s in Savannah, and St Michael’s in Lyons, NY. Dad and attended Mass at St John’s today. Since my mother is still in the nursing home getting rehab, I decided to take a few photos of the church for her, since it has been several weeks since she has been at Mass in this church.

After Mass I was busy taking photos of the tabernacle and the major statues very quietly as the church emptied out. As I focused my lens in on the statue of St Joseph, a woman quickly stepped into my frame just as I pushed the shutter. It was not until I looked at this later on, did I realize that this would make a great depiction of “filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father.”

From top to bottom… within the artistic rendering of the statue we first see Jesus gazing confidently (with filial trust) into the eyes of St Joseph, his foster father. What a model for us!

Then, in the lower portion of the photo we see this darling woman placing her own filial trust in her patron, St Joseph. She prayerfully lights a candle as she trusts Joseph’s spiritual fatherhood — after all, he is the Patron of he Universal Church — with her special intention.

Finally there is the implicit and ultimate to call to you and to me — as stated in CCC 322 above — to trust in the providence of our heavenly Father. St Joseph was the Heavenly Father’s choice and provision for his Precious Son, Jesus. Joseph, the gospel attests, was an upright and just man. He was a humble follower of God whose own filial trust in God allowed him to carry out his vocation as the earthly father of Jesus.

This photo reminds me that both Jesus and Joseph trusted the Heavenly Father to provide for their ultimate good. Those are pretty good endorsements. May we all aspire to such deep and abiding and childlike trust in our Father, “the one who searches hearts (Rom. 8:27)”.

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Check out the latest Catholic Photo Challenge, and be sure to read Maria Johnson’s poignant entry too.

St Joseph, pray for us… a few links of interest

St Joseph, pray for us… a few links of interest

In the course of that pilgrimage of faith which was his life, Joseph, like Mary, remained faithful to God’s call until the end. While Mary’s life was the bringing to fullness of that fiat first spoken at the Annunciation, at the moment of Joseph’s own “annunciation” he said nothing; instead he simply “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). And this first “doing” became the beginning of “Joseph’s way.” The Gospels do not record any word ever spoken by Joseph along that way. But the silence of Joseph has its own special eloquence, for thanks to that silence we can understand the truth of the Gospel’s judgment that he was “a just man” (Mt 1:19).

One must come to understand this truth, for it contains one of the most important testimonies concerning man and his vocation. Through many generations the Church has read this testimony with ever greater attention and with deeper understanding, drawing, as it were, “what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52) from the storehouse of the noble figure of Joseph.

Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer”) by Bl. John Paul II.

Joseph’s Way – my reflections on St Joseph from 2011 at Patheos.

Salute to a Silent Saint – from the Marians at the Shrine of Divine Mercy

AW 160: In this Among Women podcast from the archives, I describe the obedience and faith of Joseph as it impacts the  marriage of Joseph and Mary, drawing on the writings Blessed John Paul II in Redemptoris Custos, above.

Prayers to St Joseph – from St Joseph’s Shrine in Lowell, MA – one of my favorite places to hang out and pray. A nice little pilgrimage if you are ever in the area.

Finally, a video tour of St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.