Who doesn’t love looking at Our Lady? 

Walk with us, O Mother of Sorrows, through this Valley of Tears.  Hold us by the hand; shield us under your mantle; lead us to your Son.

[Photos:  not mine]

LADY’S NIGHT - “Madre Dolorosa

(Sorry.  I know I’m a day late, but I actually fell asleep writing this last night.)

As you might have guessed, I have a fondness for Spanish religious art, particularly their statues.  I am drawn to the realism of the figures, the expressiveness of their features, and, since I’m Filipino, we share many cultural similarities including devotional imagery with our former colonists, so Spanish religious statues give me a sense of familiarity; there’s something about them that I find them quite comforting.

In my adventures in Spain, I’ve learned that the Spaniards have a great devotion to Our Lady, most especially to the Sorrowful Mother.  Why is it?  One may think that life is depressing enough without being surrounded by melancholy, teary-eyed Virgins often with swords sticking into their hearts.  Why not choose another, happier moment in Our Lady’s life of which to create splendid sacramentals?

Of course, Spain abounds in statues of the Immaculate Conception or Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but I get the impression that our Sorrowful Mother is by far the most popular. 

When I was in Madrid last summer for World Youth Day, I had a couple hours to explore the city before meeting up with the other pilgrims in my group.  One of my stops was the Colegiata de San Isidro el Real where I wished to venerate the relics of St. Isidore the Laborer and his wife, St. Mary of the Head.

I arrived just as the large wooden doors were being opened.  Upon entering the beautiful church, the vaulted ceiling drew my eye up towards heaven and the long nave directed my attention to the tabernacle, heaven on earth, and to the baroque altar piece where the remains of St. Isidore and St. Mary of the Head were kept.  I walked down one of the side isles, slowly making my way towards the coffin-shaped reliquary. 

Then, behind one of the grilles which protected the many side chapels, I saw her.  A light shown on her, making the tears on her cheeks sparkle like the stars which encircled her crown.  There Our Lady stood as if she had been waiting for me.  Later, I learned her name; the title of this life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin is María Santísima de la Esperanza Macarena de Madrid.

The door of the grille was open, so I entered the chapel and knelt at the feet of our crying Mother.  There was something about this image which engaged my heart, drawing me closer.  I can honestly tell you that it wasn’t her gold crown, delicate lace, or intricate robes.  Perhaps it was her eyes, furrowed brows, or parted lips.

Then I reached into my backpack and pulled out about 30 sheets of folded paper inside a clear Ziploc bag.  These were the petitions of our family, friends, and parishioners that we carried with us since the start of our pilgrimage.  In every shrine and church we visited, we would lift up the prayers of the people from back home who were unable to physically accompany us on our journey.  I laid these memorialized cries—the broken marriages, the unsuccessful job searches, the diagnoses of cancer—of our loved ones and even total strangers before Our Lady, entrusting them and their needs to her maternal care.

Perhaps the reason that the Sorrowful Mother is so popular with Spaniards is that they feel she can relate to their sufferings.  It is not that life is difficult enough without mournful images, but that life is, in fact, very difficult, so images of Our Lady of Sorrows help us to realize that we have a Mother who not only understands our trials and suffering, but who can also provide us with relief, for she gave to the world Jesus, our greatest and eternal Relief.

Such images which we will often see in these next 7 days, reflect the agony of Our Lady as she accompanied her little Boy through His scourging, as she witnessed His Crucifixion, and as she held the lifeless body of the world’s Redeemer in her arms.  It is truly heartbreaking. Here is how St. Alphonsus Liguori describes Our Lady’s martyrdom:

Mary was the Queen of Martyrs, for her martyrdom was longer and greater than that of all the Martyrs.

Who can ever have a heart so hard that it will not melt on hearing the most lamentable event which once occurred in the world?…This poor Mother had to suffer the grief of seeing that amiable and beloved Son unjustly snatched from her in the flower of His age by a barbarous death….

First point. As Jesus is called the King of sorrows and the King of martyrs, because He suffered during, His life more than all other martyrs; so also is Mary with reason called the Queen of martyrs, having merited this title by suffering the most cruel martyrdom possible after that of her Son. Hence, with reason, was she called by Richard of Saint Lawrence, “the Martyr of martyrs”; and of her can the words of Isaias with all truth be said, “He will crown thee with a crown of tribulation;” that is to say, that that suffering itself, which exceeded the suffering of all the other martyrs united, was the crown by which she was shown to be the Queen of martyrs…”Mary was a martyr,” says Saint Bernard, “not by the sword of the executioner, but by bitter sorrow of heart.” If her body was not wounded by the hand of the executioner, her blessed heart was transfixed by a sword of grief at the passion of her Son…

Second point. Ah, Mary was not only Queen of martyrs because her martyrdom, was longer than that of all others, but also because it was the greatest of all martyrdoms. Who, however, can measure its greatness? Jeremias seems unable to find any one with whom be can compare this Mother of Sorrows, when he considers her great sufferings at the death of her Son. “To what shall I compare thee or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem “… for great as the sea is thy destruction: who shall heal thee?” Wherefore Cardinal Hugo, in a commentary on these words, says, “O Blessed Virgin, as the sea in bitterness exceeds all other bitterness, so does thy grief exceed all other grief. Hence Saint Anselm asserts, that “had not God by a special miracle preserved the life of Mary in each moment of her life, her grief was such that it would have caused her death. Saint Bernardine of Siena goes so far as to say, “that the grief of Mary was so great that, were it divided amongst all men, it would suffice to cause their immediate death…Whence the holy Abbot Arnold of Chartres says, “that whoever had been present on Mount Calvary, to witness the great sacrifice of the Immaculate Lamb, would there have beheld two great altars, the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary; for, on that mount, at the same time that the Son sacrificed His body by death, Mary sacrificed her soul by compassion.”

Moreover, says Saint Antoninus, “while other martyrs suffered by sacrificing their own lives, the Blessed Virgin suffered by sacrificing her Son’s life, a life that she loved far more than her own; so that she not only suffered in her soul all that her Son endured in His body, but moreover the sight of her Son’s torments brought more grief to her heart than if she had endured them all in her own person. No one can doubt that Mary suffered in her heart all the outrages which she saw inflicted on her beloved Jesus. Any one can understand that the sufferings of children are also those of their mothers who witness them. Saint Augustine, considering the anguish endured by the mother of the Maccabees in witnessing the tortures of her sons, says, “she, seeing their sufferings, suffered in each one; because she loved them all, she endured in her soul what they endured in their flesh.” Thus also did Mary suffer all those torments, scourges, thorns, nails, and the cross, which tortured the innocent flesh of Jesus, all entered at the same time into the heart of this Blessed Virgin, to complete her martyrdom. “He suffered in “the flesh, and she in her heart,” writes that Blessed Amadeus. “So much so,” says Saint Lawrence Justinian, “that the heart of Mary became, as it were, a mirror of the Passion of the Son, in which might be seen, faithfully reflected, the spitting, the blows and wounds, and all that Jesus suffered.” Saint Bonaventure also remarks that “those wounds—which were scattered over the body of our Lord were all united in the single heart of Mary.”

Thus was our Blessed Lady, through the compassion of her loving heart for her Son, scourged, crowned with thorns, insulted, and nailed to the cross. Whence the same Saint, considering Mary on Mount Calvary, present at the death of her Son, questions her in these words: “O Lady, tell me where didst thou stand? Was it only at the foot of the cross? Ah, much more than this, thou wast on the cross itself, crucified with thy Son.” Richard of Saint Lawrence, on the words of the Redeemer, spoken by Isaias the prophet, “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me,” says, “It is true, O Lord, that in the work of human redemption Thou didst suffer alone, and that there was not a man who sufficiently pitied Thee; but there was a woman with Thee, and she was Thine own Mother; she suffered in her heart all that Thou didst endure in Thy body.”…

Let us now imagine to ourselves the Divine Mother standing—near her Son expiring on the cross, and justly applying to herself the words of Jeremias, thus addressing us: “O all ye that pass by the way attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” O you who spend your lives upon earth, and pity me not, stop awhile to look at me, now that I behold this beloved Son dying before my eyes; and then see if, amongst all those who are afflicted and tormented, a sorrow is to be found like unto my sorrow. “No, O most suffering of all mothers,” replies Saint Bonaventure, “no more bitter grief than thine can be found; for no son more dear than thine can be found.” Ah, “there never was a more amiable son in the world than Jesus,” says Richard of Saint Lawrence; “nor has there ever been a mother who more tenderly loved her son than Mary! But since there never has been in the world a love like unto Mary’s love, how can any sorrow be found like unto Mary’s sorrow?”

Perhaps in a moment of chivalry, I wanted to comfort her but, instead, she was the one who comforted me.  For I confided to her Most Sorrowful Heart my own trials and struggles, and experienced her maternal consolation.

What child upon seeing his or her mother in such great distress is not moved to run to her side?  The image of Sorrowful Mother, most especially, is quite disarming because we see in her a very universal human quality, and our hearts cannot help but be moved with tenderness and compassion.  In this way, Our Lady shows herself as being very accessible to even the most wayward of her children.  She invites us to fly to her protection, to bound into her arms which once held the Infant Jesus and his bloody corpse.

As I knelt there before Our Lady, I looked into her eyes and saw the intensity of her pain and the undying love of a mother.  Her tears, gracefully resting on her flushed cheeks, are not a sign of weakness.  No.  Despite her anguish of soul, Our Sorrowful Mother is a fortress of strength.  While others fled and hid out of fear, Our Lady stood at the foot of the cross, strong and unwavering as the fortified stone walls of ancient Castile.  She stood, and she watched. 

Mary beheld every step that He took, every strike from the soldiers, every painful fall to the ground, every hammer blow.  In doing so, she witnessed the means of our salvation, the price of eternal life, our ransom paid.  And having watched these most lamentable events unfold, what testimony does give?  Tears.  Our Mother weeps. 

Surely, Our Lady weeps as a Mother for her only Son reviled by so many and tortued so greatly.  But her will is perfectly conformed to that of God; she knows this must be since her Son—Who could do all things—willed it thus.  So, as Jesus said to the Daughters of Jerusalem, “do not weep for me; but for yourselves and your children…" (Luke 23:28), Mary shed tears also for us. 

No mother wishes to see her child suffer.  In fact she would do almost anything to prevent her little one from experiencing terrible pain.  What then is the source of our greatest pain?  Sin.  Sin causes us tremendous suffering in this life, and can lead to unspeakable torment in the next life.

Our Mother weeps for us because she sees our affliction; she knows how much sin hurts us, and she does not want any of her children to be lost.  She sees the unhappiness which sin has causes us, the self-inflicted gashes of pride and lust and greed.  These, too, are the swords that pierce her heart.  And so our Mother is moved with pity.  She desires to tend our wounds and to lead us to her Son who is rich in mercy.  But we, rebellious children, refuse to take our Mother’s hand.  We choose to remain far from Christ, our only Good and the source of true joy.  He alone can fulfill the deepest longings of our heart.  He alone can satisfy. 

On Calvery’s hill, the Place of the Skull, Mary saw with her red and tear-filled eyes the smug satisfaction of the Pharises, the brutality of the guards, and the hate of the crowd who demanded blood, the Blood of her Son.  She looked at them not with hate or contempt in her eyes but with love.  For, they were her children too, and what mother can ever hate her child?  On the cross, Jesus, barely breathing, gave us one more gift before handing over His spirit.  He turned to St. John and to all of us, and said, “Behold your mother" (John 19:27).

On that first Good Friday, our Mother saw me as well.  She saw me spit on Jesus.  She saw me laugh at Him.  She saw me scourge Him and impail on His head a crown of thorns.  She saw me nail Him to the tree and taunt Him to come down.  And even now she still loves me; in her eyes, I am her beloved child.  Oh, how undeserving we are of the love of our mothers, especially from so tender, so gentle a Christ’s own Mother! 

Despite her martyrdom, Our Lady of Sorrows, the weeping Mother of the Crucified Savior, is also the Mother of our Risen Lord.  The Glorious Mysteries follow the Sorrowful.  As no one can fully appreciate the sword that pierced her heart, who could ever know the profound joy she experienced on that Easter morning? 

Thus, the last reason why I think that the Sorrowful Mother receives so much affection from her Spanish sons and daughters is that she speaks of the life that comes after the cross and of the joy that proceeds from the empty tomb.  For in the name of this particular image is “Esperanza,” Hope.  Indeed there is hope!  Hope flows from His side, shaking the earth, opening graves, and calling out to the dead, “'It is finished' (John 19:30).  Rise!”

iamphilothea:

eve and ave
this really speaks for itself.

iamphilothea:

eve and ave

this really speaks for itself.

(via nikosnature)

Spiritual Adoption

Today, as I am sure you already know, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (which is usually celebrated on March 25).  Today, we liturgically celebrate the Incarnation, that moment following our Blessed Mother’s “fiat” when the Word became flesh in her immaculate womb.  Then, about 9 months from now, we will celebrate Christmas, the birth of Our Lord Jesus in the poor stable in Bethlehem with only a manger to sleep in and shepherds to adore Him.

So, today, I propose to you that we take up the practice of Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and spiritually adopt a baby who is in danger of being aborted.

Babies all around the world will be conceived today, enriching our world by their new lives.  Yet some of them may be threatened by abortion.  So, what can we do about it?  We can spiritually adopt them!

How? 

First, by giving them a name.  By naming them, we recognize their dignity and value as children of God.  This year, I think I am going to name my spiritual son, Pier Miguel after Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and St. Michael the Archangel.  If you want, I suppose you can adopt more than one child.

Second, pray and offer sacrifices on their behalf, particularly, everyday offer the following prayer composed by Archbishop Sheen:

Jesus, Mary ,and Joseph, I love you very much.  I beg you to save the life of [baby’s name], the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted and is in danger of abortion.

Mary, our Mother in Heaven, pray for us, and especially for your little ones in danger of abortion!

That’s it.  That is the basics of spiritual adoption.

If you are doing this as part of a group, you can pass out periodically mark the development of your spiritually adopted children by posters, pamphlets, or booklets.  Hopefully, I will also post on my blog periodic updates as to the development of our spiritually adopted children.

Also, please contact Bob Paige for little cards that have the prayer and space for you to write your baby’s name and his or her expected birth date.  In the past, I have ordered cards from him.  He gave them to me for free (the shipping was even free), and, if you are able, please offer him a donation in any amount so that he can continue to provide this wonderful prayer resource.

Lastly, especially for groups, it is a great idea to throw a baby shower for all the spiritually adopted children.  The guests can bring gifts of baby products that you can donate to your local pregnancy resource center.  You may even want to plan the baby shower to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12 - Since her famous image shows her pregnant, the Virgin of Guadalupe is often invoked as the Protectress of the Unborn) or the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28).

Today, our new spiritual children have been conceived.  So, what has happened to them? 

According to The First 9 Months, "The egg and sperm most often unite in the fallopian tube (tube from the ovary to the uterus) to form a single cell called a zygote.  The zygote contains 46 chromosomes, 23 chromosomes from each parent.  This tiny new cell, smaller than a grain of salt, contains all the genetic information for every detail of the new created life—the color of the hair and eyes, the intricate fine lines of the fingerprint, the physical appearance, the gender, the height and the skin tone.  This new life is now called an embryo.

The embryonic cells continuously divide while traveling down the fallopian tube before arriving at the uterus, around days 3-4.  Meanwhile, the lining of the uterus prepares for implantation.”

(Photos:  Pic of conception from Baby Birth Basics, and pic of embryo from WebMD.)

allaboutmary:

Nuestra Señora de las Angustias
The image of Our Lady of Anxiety in Salamanca, Spain.

allaboutmary:

Nuestra Señora de las Angustias

The image of Our Lady of Anxiety in Salamanca, Spain.

theeyoungcardinal:

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

theeyoungcardinal:

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(via theeyoungcardinal-deactivated20)

adaltaredei:

mrscaravaggio:

Guido Reni - the Immaculate Conception - 1627

And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Revelation 12:1

shortbreadsh:

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

shortbreadsh:

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

LADY’S NIGHT - Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary
HAPPY ST. JOSEPH’S DAY!!!
I hope that all of you had a wonderful day to feast and celebrate our glorious patron and father, the most chaste spouse of Mary and friend of the Sacred Heart, the holy St. Joseph!
I know that I recently moved my Lady’s Night posts to Sunday evenings, but, given this great Solemnity (and because I didn’t have time yesterday), I thought that tonight would be most fitting to post about Our Lady and her Joseph.
The Messiah, as you know, was prophesied to be a descendent of King David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12).  Joseph was a Son of David and into his family would be born the Son of Man in David’s City, Bethlehem, literally, the House of Bread, which would become the house of the Bread of Life.
Thus, our Joseph was chosen by God to play this important role in salvation history, namely, to be the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of the Son of God.
There is an ancient tradition that out of all of David’s descendents, Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s spouse when the dry, stick that he held in his hand miraculously sprouted blossoms.  Although, we don’t know exactly what flowers bloomed from the dead piece of wood, but lilies have always been associated with St. Joseph as a sign of his virtue and chastity; for the Gospels call him the just or righteous man (cf. Matthew 1:19).  In Joseph’s flowering staff, we see a sign that God can make use of any instrument, no matter how poor; no matter how seemingly dead and barren, God can bring forth life, gracious blossoms to honor Him.
Our Joseph, though he was resplendent with virtue, was far exceeded by his Immaculate Bride in holiness.  Ah, but who better to have as a spouse than the ever kind and compassionate Mother of God!  Joseph loved his Lady and sought to care for her needs, even feeling sorrow when, due to his poverty, he could not provide for her in a more fitting way.  Our Lady, most blessed among women, loved her Joseph, too, and sought to console him by her prayers and daily assisting his advance towards unity with God.  However, what Our Lady did to most bring joy to Joseph’s heart was to bear the Light of the World and present Him to to her faithful husband.
Again, please recall my previous discussion about the visions of the Holy Family by Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. in her book, The Life of Saint Joseph, noting once more the difference between public and private revelation.
Here is a glimpse of the relationship between Mary and Joseph shortly after the Incarnation (but before Joseph noticed Mary’s pregnancy) that Sr. Maria Cecilia describes in her book.

While Joseph was at work, he felt himself irresistibly drawn to go see Mary.  He felt himself being possessed by an ardent, reverential, and always more holy love towards Her…It was actually the Incarnate Word, resting in Mary’s bosom that was attracting his soul.  Although he did not realize this fact, the power of love, nevertheless, accomplished its task and often brought Mary and Joseph together, so as to give them the mutual happiness of seeing and conversing with each other.  For Joseph, this was always an occasion of great delight.  It was also most pleasing to the Incarnate Word to see Joseph there present before Him in so reverential a spirit, and so the Divine Savior would bestow His graces upon him.  The most holy Mother discerning all this, experienced on Her part a similar happiness.
Joseph told Mary all that he felt within himself.  He asked Her to forgive him if he was making a nuisance of himself with his frequent visits and disturbing Her peace.  He declared that he simply felt himself forcibly drawn to see Her, and he had never experienced the degree of consolation he now experienced in Her presence.  Consequently, he could hardly do otherwise than he was doing.
Mary was most kind, and told him to come without any fear of being troublesome to Her, for ever time that he visited Her they would sing a hymn together to God so that God would be praised by them, and they in turn, would receive His grace and favor.  Thus encouraged, Joseph continued amid great consolations to make his visits to Mary.  She seemed to become more beautiful and more filled with grace every time that he sought out Her company, which produced in him an ever increasing veneration.

Then, when the Incarnate Word was born, it was Joseph’s great delight to hold the Infant Savior in his arms and to press Him close to his heart.  There, in such great intimacy, the Heart of God would speak to the poor heart of his servant and foster-father (cor ad cor loquitur) as Sr. Maria Cecilia describes,

Joseph frequently held the Divine Savior in his arms, but always after first preparing himself for it by his ardent desires.  Every time that he so received Him, he was filled afresh with grace and glowing love.  The fortunate Joseph realized this fact and rendered fervent thanks to his beloved Lord for it.  Mary, being likewise conscious of it, added Her own thanksgiving to the Savior in Joseph’s behalf.
Sometimes, the Divine Infant would look smilingly upon Joseph and would permit His divine Voice to be perceived within Joseph’s heart, saying to him:  “Oh my Joseph, how much do I love you!  How pleased I am to accept your service and your love!  After My beloved Mother, I love you most of all.”  This would cause Joseph to be overcome with love and gratitude to his God, and he would answer the Divine Infant in words that expressed his own ardent and heartfelt affection:  “Oh my Savior, You are the sole object of my love.  You are my entire good, my contentment, my life, my rest!  After You, I also love Your Mother, because She is Your Mother and the holiest of creatures, so full of grace and virtue.  I love Her as my spouse and most dear companion, whom You have given to me by virtue of Your immense goodness.  I also love all creatures as the work of Your hands, and I love them all in You and through You, Who are my very life and my only good!”

As the Infant Jesus grew, so did our Joseph’s love for Him and His Virgin Mother.  What must have it been like for St. Joseph to be the head of the Holy Household in Egypt and Nazareth.  For he was given the responsibility for guarding and providing for Jesus and Mary:  One was God Himself and the other was conceived without original sin.

Indeed, these most holy individuals [of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph] actually competed with each other in the practice of humility and the other virtues.  Joseph strove earnestly to be a faithful and precise imitator of Jesus and Mary.  Though already very virtuous, he recognized that he was, nevertheless, very much inferior to Them.  Hence, he often humbled himself and said to his holy spouse:  “Oh, how ashamed I feel of my wretchedness when I see You and Jesus so rich in virtue and merits.  I am indeed poor and miserable.  I ought to be a most perfect imitator of each one of You, but I realize that I am far from it.  Oh, my beloved spouse, obtain for me the graces I need.”  In this manner, Joseph advanced to an ever greater fullness in grace.
Whenever Joseph brought their food supplies home, which usually consisted of vegetables, podded grains, and a few fish, Mary asked Joseph how he liked to have his food prepared.  Such a request generally distressed the Saint because he preferred to satisfy the desires of his spouse rather than his own.  However, in order to comply with the divine will, he would answer Her request and would make known his wishes, but in reality he still attempted to accommodate himself to Her desires by having Her prepare things in a very simple manner.  He himself had a great longing, at times, for a more rare dish, but he would say nothing about this to Her.
Mary, however, discerned everything.  Hence, when on occasion he would come to eat after a strenuous day’s work, he would find that Mary had already prepared for him the particular dish he had secretly longed to have.  Sometimes he ate of it, but at other times he gave it to the poor, with Mary’s consent, denying himself all the enjoyment of it.  After Joseph had discovered that Mary was discerning all his secret wishes, he would immediately suppress any desire for some special fare, and by doing this he hoped to prevent Mary from detecting these incipient desires and from paying any attention to them.  Mary smiled to Herself at this idea of Her spouse.  In order to please him, She stopped paying attention to these urges, which She knew to be coming upon him.  She did so because She wanted to conceal the evidence of the gifts and graces which God had bestowed upon Her; this ability to discern what was going on in the mind of Her spouse was certainly one of them.
Joseph, on the other hand, would devote considerable thought to what he should provide on his part for Jesus and Mary in regard to Their welfare.  However, if he ventured to ask Them what they would like to have, They would merely express their gratitude for his inquiry, and then tell him not to burden himself with such deliberations, inasmuch as They could not deviate from their ordinary regimen, composed of bread and water, vegetables, legumes, fruit, and an occasional fried fish.  The Saint made no further rejoinder, but bowed his head and again abased himself.  They both assured him, however, that They were pleased with this good will and that he would be rewarded for it, just as if he had actually performed the deed.
Joseph’s love and reverence for Mary was continually being augmented, and he always desired to be with Her.  He regretted that when he went to work he had to be separated from Her, making it impossible for him either to see, hear, or speak with Her.  Even though he would have Jesus with him, he still longed to be with Mary also, for She was his most dear spouse, and a creature of such eminent dignity and extraordinary virtue.
Joseph never gave any external evidence that his feelings were in any way affected.  When he left Mary to go to work, he would do so in a fully resigned spirit.  He frequently conquered his impulses to go and see Her, offering this as a sacrifice to God.  Jesus, however, Who was aware of this holy longing of the ardent Joseph, often found ways and means whereby He could send him to Mary, and so provide consolation for his spirit.  He wanted Joseph to have this consolation in addition to that which He, Himself, was already granting to him by His own presence.  For upon seeing Mary, Joseph’s love for God would increase, and his heart would become animated with the desire for greater holiness.  It was a special prerogative of the Mother of God to cause anyone whose gaze rested upon Her with a true and chaste love, as was the case with Joseph, to become permeated with a holy enthusiasm and heavenly desires.

Ah, see how our beloved Joseph loves his foster-Son and his Bride!  And see how Our Lady and Jesus love their Joseph!
My brothers, as sons of God and sons Mary, give yourselves as well to the paternal care and most just heart of Joseph.  Be his faithful and obedient sons.  Turn to St. Joseph and ask him to teach you how to be men, men like him.  Often sons try to be like their dads, imitating their habits both good and bad.  We want to make our fathers proud.  Let us, then, be imitators of St. Joseph, our beloved father, following his example of righteousness and love for Jesus and Mary.
The young Jesus willed to labor at Joseph’s side at his workbench.  Let us be also be Joseph’s apprentices in holiness, laboring tirelessly for our own sanctification and that of others.  He will teach us to serve Jesus, to identify with the poor, to practice humility and patience, to joyfully submit to the will of God in all things, to persevere in chastity, and to honor Mary:  the highest honor of our race.
He will teach us, too, how to treat women, by recognizing their special dignity as daughters of his Immaculate Spouse, and by purifying our thoughts and desires.  Our gracious father is often invoked as Joseph Most Strong, so it is definitely not weakness to be the guardian of a woman’s virtue rather than its taker.  God did not create us to be weak, imperfect though we are, so let us be strong like our father, Joseph, courageous in the pursuit of holiness, heroic in the practice of virtue, and thereby honor our loving patron.
It is a challenge to be men like St. Joseph, for the world provides alternative examples of manhood.  Yet, take most any actor, musician, or mogul and compare them to St. Joseph—then see who is a real man.  The challenge is worth the sacrifice and suffering, brothers!  The salvation of our souls is worth it.  The sanctification of the world is worth it.  Our future brides and daughters are worth it.
Will we meet this challenge?  See here the mountain; will we climb it?  See the ocean wide; will we swim it?  See the narrow gate; will we enter it?  See the road to Calvary; will we walk it?
Now, my sisters, O lovely daughters of Mary, entrust yourselves also to the mighty care and patronage of St. Joseph.  For he who loves Mary, his spouse and Queen, will surely also take you under the mantel of his protection.  Mary trusted Joseph with her life and that of her Son.  So, trust Joseph with the care for your soul.  As he was gentle and tender with the Child Jesus and his chosen Bride, he will be as tender and gentle with your soul—ever prompting you to imitate his Lady’s virtues, to pray with great fervor and devotion, and to love his Jesus with your whole being and desire above all to be united with Him forever.
And to my sisters who are called to the married life, I implore you, see Joseph as the model of the man you will marry.  Do not settle, my dear sisters!  Do not settle for less than a son of Joseph.  We need you to help us be men like him by encouraging us to be his faithful imitators.  Don’t settle.  Demand holiness from us!  Be patient, however, with our poor attempts.  Pray for us, that we may be men worthy of you.
In all things… 
Ite ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

LADY’S NIGHT - Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

HAPPY ST. JOSEPH’S DAY!!!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful day to feast and celebrate our glorious patron and father, the most chaste spouse of Mary and friend of the Sacred Heart, the holy St. Joseph!

I know that I recently moved my Lady’s Night posts to Sunday evenings, but, given this great Solemnity (and because I didn’t have time yesterday), I thought that tonight would be most fitting to post about Our Lady and her Joseph.

The Messiah, as you know, was prophesied to be a descendent of King David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12).  Joseph was a Son of David and into his family would be born the Son of Man in David’s City, Bethlehem, literally, the House of Bread, which would become the house of the Bread of Life.

Thus, our Joseph was chosen by God to play this important role in salvation history, namely, to be the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of the Son of God.

There is an ancient tradition that out of all of David’s descendents, Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s spouse when the dry, stick that he held in his hand miraculously sprouted blossoms.  Although, we don’t know exactly what flowers bloomed from the dead piece of wood, but lilies have always been associated with St. Joseph as a sign of his virtue and chastity; for the Gospels call him the just or righteous man (cf. Matthew 1:19).  In Joseph’s flowering staff, we see a sign that God can make use of any instrument, no matter how poor; no matter how seemingly dead and barren, God can bring forth life, gracious blossoms to honor Him.

Our Joseph, though he was resplendent with virtue, was far exceeded by his Immaculate Bride in holiness.  Ah, but who better to have as a spouse than the ever kind and compassionate Mother of God!  Joseph loved his Lady and sought to care for her needs, even feeling sorrow when, due to his poverty, he could not provide for her in a more fitting way.  Our Lady, most blessed among women, loved her Joseph, too, and sought to console him by her prayers and daily assisting his advance towards unity with God.  However, what Our Lady did to most bring joy to Joseph’s heart was to bear the Light of the World and present Him to to her faithful husband.

Again, please recall my previous discussion about the visions of the Holy Family by Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. in her book, The Life of Saint Joseph, noting once more the difference between public and private revelation.

Here is a glimpse of the relationship between Mary and Joseph shortly after the Incarnation (but before Joseph noticed Mary’s pregnancy) that Sr. Maria Cecilia describes in her book.

While Joseph was at work, he felt himself irresistibly drawn to go see Mary.  He felt himself being possessed by an ardent, reverential, and always more holy love towards Her…It was actually the Incarnate Word, resting in Mary’s bosom that was attracting his soul.  Although he did not realize this fact, the power of love, nevertheless, accomplished its task and often brought Mary and Joseph together, so as to give them the mutual happiness of seeing and conversing with each other.  For Joseph, this was always an occasion of great delight.  It was also most pleasing to the Incarnate Word to see Joseph there present before Him in so reverential a spirit, and so the Divine Savior would bestow His graces upon him.  The most holy Mother discerning all this, experienced on Her part a similar happiness.

Joseph told Mary all that he felt within himself.  He asked Her to forgive him if he was making a nuisance of himself with his frequent visits and disturbing Her peace.  He declared that he simply felt himself forcibly drawn to see Her, and he had never experienced the degree of consolation he now experienced in Her presence.  Consequently, he could hardly do otherwise than he was doing.

Mary was most kind, and told him to come without any fear of being troublesome to Her, for ever time that he visited Her they would sing a hymn together to God so that God would be praised by them, and they in turn, would receive His grace and favor.  Thus encouraged, Joseph continued amid great consolations to make his visits to Mary.  She seemed to become more beautiful and more filled with grace every time that he sought out Her company, which produced in him an ever increasing veneration.

Then, when the Incarnate Word was born, it was Joseph’s great delight to hold the Infant Savior in his arms and to press Him close to his heart.  There, in such great intimacy, the Heart of God would speak to the poor heart of his servant and foster-father (cor ad cor loquitur) as Sr. Maria Cecilia describes,

Joseph frequently held the Divine Savior in his arms, but always after first preparing himself for it by his ardent desires.  Every time that he so received Him, he was filled afresh with grace and glowing love.  The fortunate Joseph realized this fact and rendered fervent thanks to his beloved Lord for it.  Mary, being likewise conscious of it, added Her own thanksgiving to the Savior in Joseph’s behalf.

Sometimes, the Divine Infant would look smilingly upon Joseph and would permit His divine Voice to be perceived within Joseph’s heart, saying to him:  “Oh my Joseph, how much do I love you!  How pleased I am to accept your service and your love!  After My beloved Mother, I love you most of all.”  This would cause Joseph to be overcome with love and gratitude to his God, and he would answer the Divine Infant in words that expressed his own ardent and heartfelt affection:  “Oh my Savior, You are the sole object of my love.  You are my entire good, my contentment, my life, my rest!  After You, I also love Your Mother, because She is Your Mother and the holiest of creatures, so full of grace and virtue.  I love Her as my spouse and most dear companion, whom You have given to me by virtue of Your immense goodness.  I also love all creatures as the work of Your hands, and I love them all in You and through You, Who are my very life and my only good!”

As the Infant Jesus grew, so did our Joseph’s love for Him and His Virgin Mother.  What must have it been like for St. Joseph to be the head of the Holy Household in Egypt and Nazareth.  For he was given the responsibility for guarding and providing for Jesus and Mary:  One was God Himself and the other was conceived without original sin.

Indeed, these most holy individuals [of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph] actually competed with each other in the practice of humility and the other virtues.  Joseph strove earnestly to be a faithful and precise imitator of Jesus and Mary.  Though already very virtuous, he recognized that he was, nevertheless, very much inferior to Them.  Hence, he often humbled himself and said to his holy spouse:  “Oh, how ashamed I feel of my wretchedness when I see You and Jesus so rich in virtue and merits.  I am indeed poor and miserable.  I ought to be a most perfect imitator of each one of You, but I realize that I am far from it.  Oh, my beloved spouse, obtain for me the graces I need.”  In this manner, Joseph advanced to an ever greater fullness in grace.

Whenever Joseph brought their food supplies home, which usually consisted of vegetables, podded grains, and a few fish, Mary asked Joseph how he liked to have his food prepared.  Such a request generally distressed the Saint because he preferred to satisfy the desires of his spouse rather than his own.  However, in order to comply with the divine will, he would answer Her request and would make known his wishes, but in reality he still attempted to accommodate himself to Her desires by having Her prepare things in a very simple manner.  He himself had a great longing, at times, for a more rare dish, but he would say nothing about this to Her.

Mary, however, discerned everything.  Hence, when on occasion he would come to eat after a strenuous day’s work, he would find that Mary had already prepared for him the particular dish he had secretly longed to have.  Sometimes he ate of it, but at other times he gave it to the poor, with Mary’s consent, denying himself all the enjoyment of it.  After Joseph had discovered that Mary was discerning all his secret wishes, he would immediately suppress any desire for some special fare, and by doing this he hoped to prevent Mary from detecting these incipient desires and from paying any attention to them.  Mary smiled to Herself at this idea of Her spouse.  In order to please him, She stopped paying attention to these urges, which She knew to be coming upon him.  She did so because She wanted to conceal the evidence of the gifts and graces which God had bestowed upon Her; this ability to discern what was going on in the mind of Her spouse was certainly one of them.

Joseph, on the other hand, would devote considerable thought to what he should provide on his part for Jesus and Mary in regard to Their welfare.  However, if he ventured to ask Them what they would like to have, They would merely express their gratitude for his inquiry, and then tell him not to burden himself with such deliberations, inasmuch as They could not deviate from their ordinary regimen, composed of bread and water, vegetables, legumes, fruit, and an occasional fried fish.  The Saint made no further rejoinder, but bowed his head and again abased himself.  They both assured him, however, that They were pleased with this good will and that he would be rewarded for it, just as if he had actually performed the deed.

Joseph’s love and reverence for Mary was continually being augmented, and he always desired to be with Her.  He regretted that when he went to work he had to be separated from Her, making it impossible for him either to see, hear, or speak with Her.  Even though he would have Jesus with him, he still longed to be with Mary also, for She was his most dear spouse, and a creature of such eminent dignity and extraordinary virtue.

Joseph never gave any external evidence that his feelings were in any way affected.  When he left Mary to go to work, he would do so in a fully resigned spirit.  He frequently conquered his impulses to go and see Her, offering this as a sacrifice to God.  Jesus, however, Who was aware of this holy longing of the ardent Joseph, often found ways and means whereby He could send him to Mary, and so provide consolation for his spirit.  He wanted Joseph to have this consolation in addition to that which He, Himself, was already granting to him by His own presence.  For upon seeing Mary, Joseph’s love for God would increase, and his heart would become animated with the desire for greater holiness.  It was a special prerogative of the Mother of God to cause anyone whose gaze rested upon Her with a true and chaste love, as was the case with Joseph, to become permeated with a holy enthusiasm and heavenly desires.

Ah, see how our beloved Joseph loves his foster-Son and his Bride!  And see how Our Lady and Jesus love their Joseph!

My brothers, as sons of God and sons Mary, give yourselves as well to the paternal care and most just heart of Joseph.  Be his faithful and obedient sons.  Turn to St. Joseph and ask him to teach you how to be men, men like him.  Often sons try to be like their dads, imitating their habits both good and bad.  We want to make our fathers proud.  Let us, then, be imitators of St. Joseph, our beloved father, following his example of righteousness and love for Jesus and Mary.

The young Jesus willed to labor at Joseph’s side at his workbench.  Let us be also be Joseph’s apprentices in holiness, laboring tirelessly for our own sanctification and that of others.  He will teach us to serve Jesus, to identify with the poor, to practice humility and patience, to joyfully submit to the will of God in all things, to persevere in chastity, and to honor Mary:  the highest honor of our race.

He will teach us, too, how to treat women, by recognizing their special dignity as daughters of his Immaculate Spouse, and by purifying our thoughts and desires.  Our gracious father is often invoked as Joseph Most Strong, so it is definitely not weakness to be the guardian of a woman’s virtue rather than its taker.  God did not create us to be weak, imperfect though we are, so let us be strong like our father, Joseph, courageous in the pursuit of holiness, heroic in the practice of virtue, and thereby honor our loving patron.

It is a challenge to be men like St. Joseph, for the world provides alternative examples of manhood.  Yet, take most any actor, musician, or mogul and compare them to St. Joseph—then see who is a real man.  The challenge is worth the sacrifice and suffering, brothers!  The salvation of our souls is worth it.  The sanctification of the world is worth it.  Our future brides and daughters are worth it.

Will we meet this challenge?  See here the mountain; will we climb it?  See the ocean wide; will we swim it?  See the narrow gate; will we enter it?  See the road to Calvary; will we walk it?

Now, my sisters, O lovely daughters of Mary, entrust yourselves also to the mighty care and patronage of St. Joseph.  For he who loves Mary, his spouse and Queen, will surely also take you under the mantel of his protection.  Mary trusted Joseph with her life and that of her Son.  So, trust Joseph with the care for your soul.  As he was gentle and tender with the Child Jesus and his chosen Bride, he will be as tender and gentle with your soul—ever prompting you to imitate his Lady’s virtues, to pray with great fervor and devotion, and to love his Jesus with your whole being and desire above all to be united with Him forever.

And to my sisters who are called to the married life, I implore you, see Joseph as the model of the man you will marry.  Do not settle, my dear sisters!  Do not settle for less than a son of Joseph.  We need you to help us be men like him by encouraging us to be his faithful imitators.  Don’t settle.  Demand holiness from us!  Be patient, however, with our poor attempts.  Pray for us, that we may be men worthy of you.

In all things…

Ite ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

Countdown to St. Joseph’s Day:  1 day!

It’s Josephmas Eve!

As part of my pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Madrid last summer, I was blessed to visit the Basilica Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family (Sagrada Familia) in Barcelona, Spain.

It is a magnificent church, and one of the few places in the world that literally took my breath away.  I remember standing completely speechless as I gazed up at a forest of stone columns rising to the heavens like the biblical cedars of Lebanon.  I can honestly say without hyperbole that it is nearly impossible to accurately describe the experience of being in a church that is both of this world and of another world altogether.

After we had left, I remarked to one of the pilgrims in my group, “Sagrada Familia is an example of man at his best.”  What I meant was that all those who participated in raising this monumental temple to Christ and His Holy Family were truly fulfilling what they were created to do.  And should not that also be our desire?  To be, to do, to say what the Creator of the universe had made us to be, to do, to say from the very first moment of our lives in our mothers’ wombs. 

On many occasions, we do not live up to this potential.  Pride and sin lead us to act in ways that are contrary to God’s will for us.  When we act in ways that make us less than the person we ought to be, we become, in a sense, less alive.  And as St. Irenaeus famously said, “The Glory of God is man fully alive.”

An example of man fully alive, glorifying God by conforming his will to that of his Creator, being the person he was meant to be and doing great things, is the humble and faithful architect of Sagrada Familia, who may one day be a canonized saint, Servant of God Antoni Gaudí.

Besides being a visionary designer and unparalleled archetypical, Gaudí was first a man of faith, a man of prayer whose primary goal was to be holy.  Through prayer,  reflecting on Sacred Scripture, and reception of the Sacraments, Gaudí became the person he was created to be:  a man fully alive for the glory of God.  In his remarkable design of Sagrada Familia, Gaudí put into stone and glass the mysteries of the faith and made a fitting place for the Word Incarnate to be adored, worshiped, and received.

We are called to serve and glorify God in many ways.  Some are called to be teachers, attorneys, nurses, and accountants.  Some are called to be fathers, mothers, priests, and sisters.  But, what Gaudí and St. Joseph teach us is that we must be attentive to God’s voice, desire to do His will, and live in conformity to His will with great love.  As an architect who was not ashamed to incorporate his faith into his professional life, Gaudí created an earthly temple, a tangible image of the mystical body of Christ.  And because he did everything with great love, Gaudí himself—like all parents who created new life—reflected the almighty Creator who made the stars with His hands and who knows them each by name (cf. Psalm 147:4).

Antoni Gaudí also had a deep devotion to our beloved St. Joseph.  In undertaking this monumental project, this holy Servant of God knew that he would not live to see its completion.  Yet, he still was faithful in doing what he could, what he was called to do. 

From the book, Faces of Holiness II:  Modern Saints in Photos and Words by by Ann Ball, when people questioned about the amount of planning, labor, and money needed to complete this grand temple, Gaudí would reply, “Don’t worry—St. Joseph is a saint with many resources.”  And, another occasion when asked about the time that it would take to complete, again Gaudí turned with confidence to the Guardian of the Sagrada Familia, “He who asked me to do it is not in a hurry.”

Also, it is interesting to note that Sagrada Familia was first envisioned and funded by a group of Spanish Catholics called The Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph.  The cornerstone of the future basilica was placed on the Solemnity of St. Joseph in 1882.  Gaudí first constructed the crypt church which is the chapel of St. Joseph.  And the first Mass ever said in the yet unfinished temple was in that chapel on the Solemnity of St. Joseph in 1885.

St. Joseph, however, did not construct a magnificent and glorious house for the Son of God and Our Lady.  Yet, he was the man who best served God by continuously conforming his will to the divine Will; Joseph was indeed a man fully alive.

Surely, St. Joseph gave much aid and assistance to Servant of God Antoni Gaudí particularly in building the Sagrada Familia.  And, where he alive, would almost certainly been chipping at stone blocks or hoisting up buckets of mortar.  Sawing, hammering, carving, this is how St. Joseph worked and this is how he glorified God.

He also glorified God in fulfilling his vocation as spouse to the Queen of Heaven and foster-father of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Thus, who else on earth loved Mary and Jesus more than Joseph?  Who then can we turn to for help in loving them more but our faithful patron?  What must our Joseph have felt to hear the Son of God call him “father”, and what unworthiness he must have felt to call him “Son”!

Recall, my previous post about the Life of Saint Joseph written by Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. and our discussion about public revelation and private revelation.

Sr. Maria Cecilia writes,

After the Divine Child rendered His acts of oblation and homage [to the Father] and gave Himself into the arms of His holy Mother, Joseph went off to his work.  While engaged in his labors he suddenly found himself again in ecstasy, in virtue of his meditations upon the actions of his beloved Jesus.  Drawn by the forces of love, he longed to go and give himself the satisfaction of contemplating Him directly.  Fearing to be a nuisance to Jesus, the Saint suppressed this urge.

Whenever the Divine Child wished to console His faithful servant, however, He would lovingly invite him by means of an interior locution.  This invitation Joseph was unable to resist, and so he would hasten to go to Him, impelled as he was by the exceedingly powerful force of his love.  Usually, Joseph would also find Jesus already on His way to meet him.  The first time Jesus came to meet him, He was being led by His most beloved Mother.  Upon seeing Joseph, He called out to him:  “Father!” and then flung Himself into his arms and caressed him with His tiny hands.

The joy of hearing himself be called “father” for the first time moved Joseph to tears.  He considered himself to be wholly unworthy of it, and he made it very evident how grateful he was for the honor that the Child Jesus was giving him by doing so.  He ardently thanked the holy Child, and besought his most holy spouse also to give thanks in his behalf to God and to His Son.  This Mary gladly did for him.  She rejoiced with Joseph over the great blessing that was his, and they gave joint thanks to the Heavenly Father for the graces He had given to both of them, and especially for the dignity He had conferred upon His servant, in permitting him to be His representative on earth.

….

Joseph did not venture to address Jesus as his Son, though his paternal love made him feel most desirous of doing so.  He asked Mary if it would be proper for him to address Jesus in this manner.  Mary ascertained from Jesus that, inasmuch as He Himself deigned to call Joseph, “father,” and also assigned him to his paternal position here upon earth, He thereby granted him the privilege of calling Him, “Son.”  He furthermore declared that it was the will of the Heavenly Father that He, Jesus, should make Himself subject in this manner to Joseph, just as if He were truly his own offspring, and that consequently, Joseph should freely address Him as “Son,” and deal with Him as if he were His real father.

Joseph’s heart was jubilant as Mary transmitted these things to him, and he shed copious tears as a result of the consolations that he experienced.  At the same time, he gave thanks to God, in union with Mary.  To himself he remarked:  “I am indeed blessed in being the possessor of this delightful privilege which allows me to address the Divine Incarnate Word, the Son of the Eternal Father, as ‘my Son.’”

Finally, he exclaimed aloud:  “Oh Jesus, my Son.  Oh my Son, my Jesus!”

We know St. Joseph as a carpenter from the scriptures.  However, the original Greek word that is found in the gospels is tekton, a laborer who works with his hands.  It is this trade of tekton that our Joseph taught the Son of God, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created the stars in the heavens and the atoms in every grain of sand.  In the company of Jesus, to honor the Blessed Virgin, and give glory to God, this is how St. Joseph sanctified all his labors.  So, too, can he make holy our everyday, mundane tasks:  taking out the garbage, studying diligently, watering the plants, driving your sibling to school, buying groceries at the store—these can be moments for the sanctification of yourself and others; such ordinary work can be altars where you offer love.

Just think of Joseph’s workbench and his little Jesus at his side.

As soon as the Divine Youth grew up sufficiently to be able to render some assistance to Joseph, He sought of His own accord to go and help him in his work and to console him by His presence.  The happy Joseph never considered that Jesus actually wanted to humble Himself to such an extent as to perform this menial work, and when Jesus offered His willing assistance, the Saint was deeply moved and declared he would never allow it unless the Heavenly Father Himself had actually ordained it.

Turning to Jesus he exclaimed:  “Oh, Eternal Wisdom, why do You wish to humiliate Yourself to such a degree?  How can I, Your servant, consent to see You devoting Yourself to such work as this, delicate as You are, and engaged as You are in continually treating with Your Heavenly Father concerning the vital business of man’s redemption?  How could I look and see You being thus humiliated?”

The holy Youth set his mind at rest by declaring that this was the will of His Heavenly Father, and that in reality He Himself had come into the world not to be ministered unto, but rather to minister, wherefore, it was necessary that He should give an example of disdain for all ostentation and worldly esteem.  Joseph submitted to the will of the Heavenly Father and no longer made any objection.  Instead, he pondered over the joy that would be his by having his beloved Jesus with him in the workshop.  He became exceedingly consoled, and proclaimed his unbounded happiness.  Turning to Mary, he expressed to Her his regret that She would, necessarily, be deprived of the loving presence of Jesus during those periods of time in which He would now be with him.  The Mother of God, being always conformed to the divine will and with a heart brimming with love, assured him that She was happy about the consolations that would be his, and that the divine will would be accomplished.

One can well image what spiritual joy the happy Joseph must have experienced, and how filled with consolation he must have been, as he took his beloved Jesus with him.  When he started to work it seemed to him as if he was in Paradise.  Was not the Son of God Himself there beside him, seeking to be of assistance to him?  Sometimes, the Boy Jesus would hand him tools, and other times pieces of lumber, even though He was only about five or six years old, He apparently wanted to carry on like a strong, grown-up man, as was indicated by the efforts he made to lift up the heavier boards.  The Saint was deeply touched by this and tried in every way possible to limit these exertions.  Besides all this, the Divine Youth was always so obliging that He even anticipated Joseph’s needs; and He performed everything in a gracious spirit.

Day 9 of our novena.  Ite ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

Countdown to St. Joseph’s Day:  4 days
I love art.
Or, rather, I love beauty.  In a previous post, I told you of my first experiences with Beauty and how He has captivated my heart ever since.  The topic of beauty, particularly in the liturgy, is something I am passionate about and will probably bring up on many occasions. 
Artists, therefore, make best use of their creative talents when they are employed in the service of Beauty.  Authentic beauty leads one to God who is the Source of all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  Thus, beauty is objective—for in the end, it leads to an encounter with a Person, a real, objective, living Person:  Jesus Christ!
The above picture was hand drawn by the extremely talented edmundofthewest.  Here, he uses his talents to do a quick and simply sketch of the Holy Family.  He purposely intended for it to be a rough drawing, but there is something about this piece—I never grow tired looking at it. 
Like this artist, our Joseph also knew Beauty, for he held in his arms the second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who took on our flesh and willed to be born as a tiny infant.  Also, our beloved patron and father was the spouse of the Queen of Heaven, she who radiated virtue is the most beautiful of all God’s creation, far surpassing the most glorious sunset or loveliest of flowers (not to mention any Maxim or import model).
Part of what makes the above picture beautiful is its subject, its content, if you will.  The Holy Family has inspired artists and saints throughout the centuries.  What I think draws me in to this particular depiction of the Holy Family is that it seems as if Mary has just given the Infant Jesus to the open arms of Joseph who has received Him with great joy and is bearing him towards his heart.
Wow.  Can you imagine that?  Our mighty God, the glorious Messiah, cradled in the arms of Joseph.  Why would such a thing ever happen?  Because He willed it so. 
What profound moments when our faithful Joseph held in his own poor, week arms his Savior whom he called “Son”!  Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., Abbess of the Benedictine Convent of St. Peter in Montefiascone, Italy, from 1743-1766, describes these moments and much more in the book, The Life of Saint Joseph, which, I think, every son and daughter of St. Joseph should read. 
This book is comprised of messages given to Sr. Maria Cecilia by Jesus.  Now, before I go further, I suppose it may be helpful to go over public versus private revelation.  Public revelation is encompassed in the Word of God; thus, Jesus is the fulness of God’s revelation.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word.  In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65).  So, public revelation ended at the death of the last apostle and “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (CCC 66).
"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church.  They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith.  It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more by it in a certain period of history.  Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church” (CCC 67).
Therefore, the Father’s revelation in Jesus is completely sufficient and should be believed by all.  On the other hand, the faithful do not have to believe in private revelations which, if they are truly from a heavenly source, must be in conformity with Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and are intended to help us live the Christian life.  
Okay, with that said, let us return to the messages of Christ to Sr. Maria Cecilia, which I read more as meditations on the hidden and silent life of St. Joseph since not a single word of his is recorded in the Gospels.  The content of these messages as they appear in the book have received the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat:  basically, nothing in The Life of St. Joseph is in opposition to the teachings of the Church, although, the individual bishop who reviewed the work and issued the Imprimatur doesn’t necessarily have to agree with its contents.
Recall, yesterday, I reflected on the Holy Family journeying as refugees into Egypt.  Of course, scripture does not elaborate much on their exile, however, Sr. Maria Cecilia does provide us with a glimpse of what hardships the Holy Family had to endure as they made their way to the land of Egypt.
(Note that the author or publish chose to capitalize the pronouns relating to Our Lady not to make her like God but, rather, out of great respect.)

Since Joseph was very much concerned about protecting the Infant Jesus as much as possible from the cold, he often asked Mary, whenever She had Him in Her arms, to see if He was really warm or if perchance, He was cold.  Mary would comply with his request, and to his comfort, would inform him whenever the Infant was sufficiently covered and warm.  But sometimes, the Divine Infant also was cold—which was as He Himself wished it to be—and then Mary, to be obedient, would in like manner inform Joseph of this as well.  He would become exceedingly disturbed and would weep disconsolately, since he was not able to provide a fire to warm the Child. 
The Divine Infant would then let his Mother know that He wished to be given to Joseph in order that He might comfort him.  Joseph would receive the Infant with eagerness, for he wished to impart to Him some of the heat of his own body, and in this way eliminate His feelings of coldness.  The Infant Jesus, indeed, was responsive to this desire on the part of Joseph, and He drew unto Himself additional warmth from the fires of love that were burning within Joseph’s heart.  The Saint was once more content, and together they again gave thanks to God.

Ah, see our Joseph too poor to afford more blankets or better protection for his baby Boy, lacking even the means to make a fire.  Our beloved patron and father has nothing to warm the Christ Child—who has chosen even as a baby to endure the cold and experience suffering for mankind.  Our Joseph has nothing but his love and the warmth of his own body.  So what does he do?  He offers himself, giving without reserve everything that he has in service to Our Lord.  And the shivering Jesus finds warmth in the love and arms of Joseph.
O what blessed arms held the Savior of the world close to his heart!  Let us be like our humble Joseph:  hold nothing back from Jesus; give Him your will, your heart, your body, your loved ones, your plans for the future; offer Him all, for He is your everything!
(Lastly, I want to again thank edmundofthewest for sharing his artistic talents.  May our St. Joseph, Model of artisans, help him to continuously refine his gifts and employ them in the service of Beauty.)
Day 6 of our novena.  Ite ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

Countdown to St. Joseph’s Day:  4 days

I love art.

Or, rather, I love beauty.  In a previous post, I told you of my first experiences with Beauty and how He has captivated my heart ever since.  The topic of beauty, particularly in the liturgy, is something I am passionate about and will probably bring up on many occasions. 

Artists, therefore, make best use of their creative talents when they are employed in the service of Beauty.  Authentic beauty leads one to God who is the Source of all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  Thus, beauty is objective—for in the end, it leads to an encounter with a Person, a real, objective, living Person:  Jesus Christ!

The above picture was hand drawn by the extremely talented edmundofthewest.  Here, he uses his talents to do a quick and simply sketch of the Holy Family.  He purposely intended for it to be a rough drawing, but there is something about this piece—I never grow tired looking at it. 

Like this artist, our Joseph also knew Beauty, for he held in his arms the second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who took on our flesh and willed to be born as a tiny infant.  Also, our beloved patron and father was the spouse of the Queen of Heaven, she who radiated virtue is the most beautiful of all God’s creation, far surpassing the most glorious sunset or loveliest of flowers (not to mention any Maxim or import model).

Part of what makes the above picture beautiful is its subject, its content, if you will.  The Holy Family has inspired artists and saints throughout the centuries.  What I think draws me in to this particular depiction of the Holy Family is that it seems as if Mary has just given the Infant Jesus to the open arms of Joseph who has received Him with great joy and is bearing him towards his heart.

Wow.  Can you imagine that?  Our mighty God, the glorious Messiah, cradled in the arms of Joseph.  Why would such a thing ever happen?  Because He willed it so. 

What profound moments when our faithful Joseph held in his own poor, week arms his Savior whom he called “Son”!  Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., Abbess of the Benedictine Convent of St. Peter in Montefiascone, Italy, from 1743-1766, describes these moments and much more in the book, The Life of Saint Joseph, which, I think, every son and daughter of St. Joseph should read. 

This book is comprised of messages given to Sr. Maria Cecilia by Jesus.  Now, before I go further, I suppose it may be helpful to go over public versus private revelation.  Public revelation is encompassed in the Word of God; thus, Jesus is the fulness of God’s revelation.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word.  In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65).  So, public revelation ended at the death of the last apostle and “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (CCC 66).

"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church.  They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith.  It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more by it in a certain period of history.  Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church” (CCC 67).

Therefore, the Father’s revelation in Jesus is completely sufficient and should be believed by all.  On the other hand, the faithful do not have to believe in private revelations which, if they are truly from a heavenly source, must be in conformity with Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and are intended to help us live the Christian life.  

Okay, with that said, let us return to the messages of Christ to Sr. Maria Cecilia, which I read more as meditations on the hidden and silent life of St. Joseph since not a single word of his is recorded in the Gospels.  The content of these messages as they appear in the book have received the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat:  basically, nothing in The Life of St. Joseph is in opposition to the teachings of the Church, although, the individual bishop who reviewed the work and issued the Imprimatur doesn’t necessarily have to agree with its contents.

Recall, yesterday, I reflected on the Holy Family journeying as refugees into Egypt.  Of course, scripture does not elaborate much on their exile, however, Sr. Maria Cecilia does provide us with a glimpse of what hardships the Holy Family had to endure as they made their way to the land of Egypt.

(Note that the author or publish chose to capitalize the pronouns relating to Our Lady not to make her like God but, rather, out of great respect.)

Since Joseph was very much concerned about protecting the Infant Jesus as much as possible from the cold, he often asked Mary, whenever She had Him in Her arms, to see if He was really warm or if perchance, He was cold.  Mary would comply with his request, and to his comfort, would inform him whenever the Infant was sufficiently covered and warm.  But sometimes, the Divine Infant also was cold—which was as He Himself wished it to be—and then Mary, to be obedient, would in like manner inform Joseph of this as well.  He would become exceedingly disturbed and would weep disconsolately, since he was not able to provide a fire to warm the Child. 

The Divine Infant would then let his Mother know that He wished to be given to Joseph in order that He might comfort him.  Joseph would receive the Infant with eagerness, for he wished to impart to Him some of the heat of his own body, and in this way eliminate His feelings of coldness.  The Infant Jesus, indeed, was responsive to this desire on the part of Joseph, and He drew unto Himself additional warmth from the fires of love that were burning within Joseph’s heart.  The Saint was once more content, and together they again gave thanks to God.

Ah, see our Joseph too poor to afford more blankets or better protection for his baby Boy, lacking even the means to make a fire.  Our beloved patron and father has nothing to warm the Christ Child—who has chosen even as a baby to endure the cold and experience suffering for mankind.  Our Joseph has nothing but his love and the warmth of his own body.  So what does he do?  He offers himself, giving without reserve everything that he has in service to Our Lord.  And the shivering Jesus finds warmth in the love and arms of Joseph.

O what blessed arms held the Savior of the world close to his heart!  Let us be like our humble Joseph:  hold nothing back from Jesus; give Him your will, your heart, your body, your loved ones, your plans for the future; offer Him all, for He is your everything!

(Lastly, I want to again thank edmundofthewest for sharing his artistic talents.  May our St. Joseph, Model of artisans, help him to continuously refine his gifts and employ them in the service of Beauty.)

Day 6 of our novena.  Ite ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

Countdown to St. Joseph’s Day:  5 days

This past Fall, I was very blessed to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome, the Eternal City.  One of the many ancient and culturally significant sites I visited was the Pantheon where I took the above pictures, including that of the statue of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus.

Pantheon literally means “for every god" since the building was originally constructed in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa to honor all the Roman gods.  The present structure was built in 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian.  However, today, this ancient pagan temple is now a Catholic Church dedicated to Our Lady:  Chiesa Santa Maria dei Martiri (Church of St. Mary of the Martyrs)

Seeing this image of St. Joseph in the Pantheon reminded me of a particular moment in the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph:  their flight into Egypt.  The devotion to the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph includes the following reflection and prayer:

Courageous protector of the Holy Family, how terrified you were when you had to make the sudden flight with Jesus and Mary to escape the treachery of King Herod and the cruelty of his soldiers. But when you reached Egypt, what satisfaction you had to know that the Savior of the world had come to replace the pagan idols. 

By this sorrow and this joy, keep us far from the false idols of earthly attractions, so that like you, we may be entirely devoted to the service of Jesus and Mary.

There is a pious tradition that the pagan idols, that is, the statues of the Egyptian gods crumbled and fell to the ground as the Holy Family passed.  An interpretation of this belief could be that wherever Jesus goes, He dispels the darkness.  On encountering this Word made flesh, people experience a conversion:  they put aside their past lives and follow Him.

Our Lady, of course, as the Mother of God, is the Theotokos, God Bearer.  St. Joseph, who led his Child and his Bride to Egypt, brings Christ and His Blessed Mother to others.  Thus, let us imitate our beloved patron and father.  Let us bring Christ to hearts who do not know Him or to souls that are as dry as the Egyptian desert.  Jesus, the life-giving Water, will make barren land fruitful.  Also, let us bring Our Lady, the Theotokos, to a world that has turned away from God and forgotten the beauty of purity.

In your own lives, I’m sure, you know the transformative power of the Gospel.  Where the Good News is preached, where the Light of Christ shines, lives are changed forever.  St. Peter and the early Roman Christians were witnesses to this, for their very blood, spilt at their martyrdom, cries out, giving eloquent testimony that with Jesus, life can never be the same.  For Him they lived, and for Him they died. 

The ancient Romans used to gather in the building above to worship false gods, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of the martyrs, those pagan idols are gone.  Today, the true and only God is worshiped in the Church of St. Mary of the Martyrs, and in it we find images not of Neptune, Venus, or Jupiter but those of two authentic icons of Christ:  Our Lady and her Joseph.

So, as we progress in this desert of Lent towards the oasis of St. Joseph’s Day and the great celebration of Easter, let us seek the aid of the loving Guardian of the Holy Family in transforming our own lives, and through the power of his precious Bambino, may our own idols crumble and fall at the feet of Joseph.

Day 5 of our novenaIte ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)

LADY’S NIGHT — Love Mary!

Welcome to the first Lady’s Night on its new day!  Since I barely have the energy to write anything coherent at the moment, I present to you a little bio and meditation of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows from a little devotional book called Lent and Easter with Mary by Thomas J. Craughwell.

"When St. Gabriel Possenti entered the Passionist order in 1856, he took the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.  While this name reveals his devotion to Mary, and particularly to her seven sorrows, it is a bit misleading in terms of Gabriel’s personality.  As a child he was an outgoing, happy boy—in spite of his own sorrows, the death of several of his brothers and sisters, and the loss of his mother when he was only four years old.  In adolescence Gabriel was popular with the boys, and liked to flirt with the girls.  And at some point he learned how to shoot.

In 1860, while Gabriel was a novice at the Passionists’ monastery in Isola di Gran Sasso, a band of rebels from Garibaldi’s army rampaged through the town, breaking into homes and shops and setting several buildings on fire.  Gabriel arrived on the scene just as one of the soldiers was dragging a screaming woman across the piazza.  He rushed the would-be rapists, freed the…woman, and began wrestling with her attacker.  Somehow he wrenched a pistol from the man’s belt, then, at gunpoint, ordered him out of town.

At that moment the other marauders arrived in the square and burst out in laughter at the sight of one of their own made helpless by a boyish seminarian in a cassock.  They were about to make their own move against Gabriel when a lizard darted across the piazza.  Gabriel wheeled to the side and shot the lizard through the head.  The display of marksmanship dumbfounded the soldiers.  Before they could recover, Gabriel ordered them to drop their weapons and get out of town.  After this incident, Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows became a local hero, and the patron saint of marksmen.”

“Love Mary!  She is loveable, faithful, constant.  She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme.  If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you.  If you are troubled, she will console you.  If you are sick, she will bring you relief.  If you are in need, she will help you.  She does not look to see what kind of person you have been.  She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her.  She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you.  She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.”

- St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Heart of Mary

Our Vice President, Joseph Biden, recently visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He offered flowers to La Virgencita and knelt down before her image to pray for a few minutes; he even took out a handkerchief to wipe away a tear. 
At least he didn’t ask, as did Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, during her visit to the Basilica several years ago, “Who painted it?”
According to the Catholic News Agency, Biden recalled his own mother’s devotion to Our Lady:

“My mother was very devoted to the Blessed Mother. She taught her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother….”

Mr. Vice President, always listen to your Mama!  May the Virgin of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn and Empress of the Americas, pray for you and guide all your actions toward her Son.
(Photo from El Universal.)

Our Vice President, Joseph Biden, recently visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He offered flowers to La Virgencita and knelt down before her image to pray for a few minutes; he even took out a handkerchief to wipe away a tear. 

At least he didn’t ask, as did Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, during her visit to the Basilica several years ago, “Who painted it?

According to the Catholic News Agency, Biden recalled his own mother’s devotion to Our Lady:

My mother was very devoted to the Blessed Mother. She taught her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother….

Mr. Vice President, always listen to your Mama!  May the Virgin of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn and Empress of the Americas, pray for you and guide all your actions toward her Son.

(Photo from El Universal.)

I have a fondness for Spanish-style religious statues.

artistsvspoets:

Throwing saints into the sea..