ART OF MANLINESS:  THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUGHHOUSING

I like to think that St. Joseph roughhoused with Jesus.  Can you imagine God willing that you playfully throw Him on the bed! 

When I was little, one of my favorite bonding times with my dad was when we would place “monster”.  He would turn off the lights and put on a werewolf mask; then I would either have to hide or set a trap for him.  It got pretty intense. 

We would also wrestle, of course.  It usually began with me trying to push my dad off the bed or couch.  I actually got my first physics lesson trying to push my dad off of the couch:  leverage helps.

THE TEKTON & THE APPRENTICE
As you know, I have a great devotion to St. Joseph.  He has been so good to me, and I am very blessed to have him as my patron and father.  It is a joy to spread devotion to the Guardian of the Redeemer and the most chaste spouse of Our Lady. 
In previous posts I have mentioned an amazing book that all spiritual sons and daughters of St. Joseph should own, The Life of St. Joseph by Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. in which she recounts her private revelations of the hidden life of our beloved Patriarch and his relationship with Jesus and Mary in Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth.
Here is how Sr. Maria Cecilia describes the Boy Jesus working along side his foster father whom the Gospels describe with the Greek word, tekton, a craftsman or person who works with his hands like a carpenter or masonry worker.

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 so 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 on 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 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 imagine 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, at 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 most gracious spirit.

Oh, my friends, let us be like Jesus:  apprentices of Joseph, diligently performing our daily work under the guidance and close to the side of the holy Tekton of Nazareth!

[Image:  not mine.]

THE TEKTON & THE APPRENTICE

As you know, I have a great devotion to St. Joseph.  He has been so good to me, and I am very blessed to have him as my patron and father.  It is a joy to spread devotion to the Guardian of the Redeemer and the most chaste spouse of Our Lady. 

In previous posts I have mentioned an amazing book that all spiritual sons and daughters of St. Joseph should own, The Life of St. Joseph by Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. in which she recounts her private revelations of the hidden life of our beloved Patriarch and his relationship with Jesus and Mary in Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth.

Here is how Sr. Maria Cecilia describes the Boy Jesus working along side his foster father whom the Gospels describe with the Greek word, tekton, a craftsman or person who works with his hands like a carpenter or masonry worker.

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 so 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 on 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 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 imagine 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, at 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 most gracious spirit.

Oh, my friends, let us be like Jesus:  apprentices of Joseph, diligently performing our daily work under the guidance and close to the side of the holy Tekton of Nazareth!

[Image:  not mine.]

Here is the Holy Father’s address (from Zenit.org) at this Wednesday’s General Audience on the Feast of St. Joseph the Work and the beginning of Mary’s Month with my emphasis.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the 1st of May, we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During this encounter, I would thus like to reflect on these two important figures in the life of Jesus, of the Church and in our lives, with two brief thoughts: the first regarding work, the second on the contemplation of Jesus.
1. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, one of the times when Jesus returns to his native region, to Nazareth, and speaks in the synagogue, the Gospel underlines his fellow villagers’ astonishment at his wisdom, and the question they ask one another: is not this the Carpenter’s son?” (13:55). Jesus enters into our history, he comes into our midst, being born of Mary by the work of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, the legal father who guards him and even teaches him his trade. Jesus was born and lived in a family, in the Holy Family, learning from St. Joseph the carpenter’s trade, in the workshop of Nazareth, sharing with him his commitment, hard work and satisfaction, as well as each day’s difficulties.
This calls to mind for us the dignity and importance of work. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman by entrusting to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to cultivate and guard it, to care for it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the plan of God’s love; we are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and in this way we participate in the work of creation! The work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, “anoints” us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s nation. And here I am thinking of the difficulties which, in different countries, today’s world of work and enterprise are facing; I think about how many people, and not just young people, are unemployed, often because of an economic conception of society, which seeks selfish gain, outside of the parameters of social justice.
I would like to invite everyone to solidarity, and wish to encourage those those in charge of public affairs to make every effort to give new impetus to employment; this means caring for the dignity of the person; but mostly I would say not to lose hope. St. Joseph also had difficult moments, but never lost confidence and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God does not abandons us. And then I would like to address specifically the adolescents  and you young people: get involved in your daily duty, in study, in work, in friendships, in helping others; your future depends also on your wisdom in living these precious years of life. Don’t be afraid of effort, of sacrifice and don’t look to the future with fear; keep hope alive: there’s always a light on the horizon.
I add a word about another particular work situation that bothers me: I am referring to what could be defined as “slave labor”, work that enslaves. How many people, worldwide, are victims of this kind of slavery, where the person is at the service of work, when it must be work that offers a service to persons so that they may have dignity. I would ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will to make a decisive choice against the trafficking of persons, within which falls the category of “slave labor”.
2. The second thought: in the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: “She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (2:19.51).
To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, to perceive His constant presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space with prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numuerous here this morning, should ask yourselves: how much space do I give the Lord? Do I stop to dialogue with Him? Ever since we were little, our parents have accustomed us to begin and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more often in our days!
And in this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to teach us to be faithful to our daily commitments, to live our faith in everyday actions and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.
[Translation by Peter Waymel]
* * *
Speaker:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
On this first day of May, Mary’s month, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, reminds us of the dignity and importance of labour. Work is part of God’s plan for the world; by responsibly cultivating the goods of creation, we grow in dignity as men and women made in God’s image. For this reason, the problem of unemployment urgently demands greater social solidarity and wise and just policies. I also encourage the many young people present to look to the future with hope, and to invest themselves fully in their studies, their work and their relationships with others. Saint Joseph, as a model of quiet prayer and closeness to Jesus, also invites us to think about the time we devote to prayer each day. In this month of May, the Rosary naturally comes to mind as a way to contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life. May Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary help us to be faithful in our daily work and to lift up our minds and hearts to Jesus in prayer.


[Image:  not mine]

Here is the Holy Father’s address (from Zenit.org) at this Wednesday’s General Audience on the Feast of St. Joseph the Work and the beginning of Mary’s Month with my emphasis.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the 1st of May, we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During this encounter, I would thus like to reflect on these two important figures in the life of Jesus, of the Church and in our lives, with two brief thoughts: the first regarding work, the second on the contemplation of Jesus.

1. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, one of the times when Jesus returns to his native region, to Nazareth, and speaks in the synagogue, the Gospel underlines his fellow villagers’ astonishment at his wisdom, and the question they ask one another: is not this the Carpenter’s son?” (13:55). Jesus enters into our history, he comes into our midst, being born of Mary by the work of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, the legal father who guards him and even teaches him his trade. Jesus was born and lived in a family, in the Holy Family, learning from St. Joseph the carpenter’s trade, in the workshop of Nazareth, sharing with him his commitment, hard work and satisfaction, as well as each day’s difficulties.

This calls to mind for us the dignity and importance of work. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman by entrusting to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to cultivate and guard it, to care for it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the plan of God’s love; we are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and in this way we participate in the work of creation! The work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, “anoints” us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s nation. And here I am thinking of the difficulties which, in different countries, today’s world of work and enterprise are facing; I think about how many people, and not just young people, are unemployed, often because of an economic conception of society, which seeks selfish gain, outside of the parameters of social justice.

I would like to invite everyone to solidarity, and wish to encourage those those in charge of public affairs to make every effort to give new impetus to employment; this means caring for the dignity of the person; but mostly I would say not to lose hope. St. Joseph also had difficult moments, but never lost confidence and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God does not abandons us. And then I would like to address specifically the adolescents  and you young people: get involved in your daily duty, in study, in work, in friendships, in helping others; your future depends also on your wisdom in living these precious years of life. Don’t be afraid of effort, of sacrifice and don’t look to the future with fear; keep hope alive: there’s always a light on the horizon.

I add a word about another particular work situation that bothers me: I am referring to what could be defined as “slave labor”, work that enslaves. How many people, worldwide, are victims of this kind of slavery, where the person is at the service of work, when it must be work that offers a service to persons so that they may have dignity. I would ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will to make a decisive choice against the trafficking of persons, within which falls the category of “slave labor”.

2. The second thought: in the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: “She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (2:19.51).

To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, to perceive His constant presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space with prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numuerous here this morning, should ask yourselves: how much space do I give the Lord? Do I stop to dialogue with Him? Ever since we were little, our parents have accustomed us to begin and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more often in our days!

And in this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to teach us to be faithful to our daily commitments, to live our faith in everyday actions and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

On this first day of May, Mary’s month, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, reminds us of the dignity and importance of labour. Work is part of God’s plan for the world; by responsibly cultivating the goods of creation, we grow in dignity as men and women made in God’s image. For this reason, the problem of unemployment urgently demands greater social solidarity and wise and just policies. I also encourage the many young people present to look to the future with hope, and to invest themselves fully in their studies, their work and their relationships with others. Saint Joseph, as a model of quiet prayer and closeness to Jesus, also invites us to think about the time we devote to prayer each day. In this month of May, the Rosary naturally comes to mind as a way to contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life. May Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary help us to be faithful in our daily work and to lift up our minds and hearts to Jesus in prayer.

[Image:  not mine]

From the website of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico:

The history of the Loretto Chapel began when Bishop Jean Baptisite Lamy was appointed by the Church to the New Mexico Territory in1850. Bishop Lamy, seeking to spread the faith and bring an educational system to this new territory, began a letter writing plea for priests, brothers and nuns to preach and teach. In one of his letters he is said to have written, “I have 6000 Catholics and 300 Americans.” The first acceptance of his general plea was from the Sisters of Loretto.

In 1852 the Sisters of Loretto responded to Lamy’s pleas by sending seven sisters who agreed to make this arduous journey to Santa Fe. Their trek was through St. Louis, then up the river to Independence, Mo. This small group was beset by a cholera epidemic, the Mother Superior died, and another nun was too ill to continue the journey and returned to Kentucky. An additional story continues that they traveled by wagon through bad weather, and Indian country.

The Sisters arrived in Santa Fe in 1852 and opened the Academy of Our Lady of Light (Loretto) in1853…The school was started in 1853 and grew from very small beginnings to a school of around 300 students. The campus covered a square block with 10 buildings. Through tuition’s for the girls schooling, donations, and from the sisters own inheritances from their families, they built their school and chapel…

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.

The stairway’s carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs.

Also, it is interesting to note that the number of steps of unusual staircase is 33, the traditional age at which Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  Also, the wood used to construct the staircase is not native to that region of New Mexico. 

Whoever the mysterious carpenter may have been, this staircase in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe is a powerful reminder that God is so good and to always “Go to Joseph" (Genesis 41:55).

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

St. Joseph the Worker and his little Apprentice

[Photo:  Drawing by Anthony Van Arsdale from The Catholic Illustrator’s Guild]

St. Joseph the Worker and his little Apprentice

[Photo:  Drawing by Anthony Van Arsdale from The Catholic Illustrator’s Guild]

Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.

Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 9

[Photo:  Chinese style St. Joseph, taken on a recent mini-pilgrimage to the Old Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in San Francisco (California’s first cathedral)]

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 9


[Photo:  Chinese style St. Joseph, taken on a recent mini-pilgrimage to the Old Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in San Francisco (California’s first cathedral)]

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 8

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 8

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 7

[Photo:  Painting by Murillo]

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 7

[Photo:  Painting by Murillo]

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 6

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 6

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 5

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 5

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 4
[Photo:  I suppose that since I’m posting pics from Venice today, this one would be most appropriate for the fourth day of our novena in preparation for the Feast of St. Joseph, the Worker.  During a walking tour of Venice, I took this photo of a shrine to our beloved patron on the outside wall of some random building.  In many Catholic countries, these little shrines are a common sight (I wish we had that sort of Catholic culture in the United States).  I love how Catholics in these places are not shy or ashamed to publicly express their faith; hopefully, they also live their faith in public and in private—that’s the tough part.  But these outdoor shrines are signs that we are not alone; they remind us to turn to God for help and to seek the intercession of our heroes in the faith—like our glorious father, St. Joseph!] 

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 4

[Photo:  I suppose that since I’m posting pics from Venice today, this one would be most appropriate for the fourth day of our novena in preparation for the Feast of St. Joseph, the Worker.  During a walking tour of Venice, I took this photo of a shrine to our beloved patron on the outside wall of some random building.  In many Catholic countries, these little shrines are a common sight (I wish we had that sort of Catholic culture in the United States).  I love how Catholics in these places are not shy or ashamed to publicly express their faith; hopefully, they also live their faith in public and in private—that’s the tough part.  But these outdoor shrines are signs that we are not alone; they remind us to turn to God for help and to seek the intercession of our heroes in the faith—like our glorious father, St. Joseph!

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 3

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 3

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 2

[Photo:  Not mine.  I like this pic because it shows 3 things:  the trust that the young people have in their beloved protector and father, the tender care and strength of St. Joseph in safeguarding his children; and the fear of the evil demons.  I can just hear the booming voice of St. Joseph say, “Go to hell!  You can’t touch these children; they are mine.”  St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!]

Novena to St. Joseph:  DAY 2

[Photo:  Not mine.  I like this pic because it shows 3 things:  the trust that the young people have in their beloved protector and father, the tender care and strength of St. Joseph in safeguarding his children; and the fear of the evil demons.  I can just hear the booming voice of St. Joseph say, Go to hell!  You can’t touch these children; they are mine.”  St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!]