By: FR. ED BROOM, OMV
Saint Joseph can help us to live a most fruitful Advent, and for many reasons. Let us quietly meditate upon five extraordinary virtues of this greatest of all saints so that we can live a most fervent Advent season and allow Jesus to be born in the depths of our hearts this Christmas!
1. Silence. Not once in the Bible do we hear a word from the great Saint Joseph. This silence of Saint Joseph is very eloquent. It teaches us a fundamental attitude to enter into deep prayer: silence. If we are constantly bombarded by noises then it is impossible to hear the Word of God, the Holy Spirit that speaks to us in the gentle breeze of silence. Also the silence of Saint Joseph teaches us the importance of example. We must prove our authenticity by words, but also by our actions. Saint Joseph taught the world by the holy way that he lived. May he be an example for us.
2. Prayer. Saint Joseph was a man of prayer. What an extraordinary role he played in the history of salvation. He was both the spouse of Mary the Mother of God as well as the foster-father of Jesus the Son of the living God. Saint Joseph actually taught Jesus to speak and to address God as “Abba”—meaning “Daddy”. In a certain sense Saint Joseph taught Jesus to use the human words to talk to the Heavenly Father—this is prayer. Therefore, if Saint Joseph taught Jesus how to pray, how much could he teach me how to pray if I simply ask for his help. Start now: Saint Joseph, teach me how to pray!
3. Courage and Maliness. In a society where too many men shirk their obligations toward their wives, children and family and turn to vices and the easy life when confronted with difficulties, Saint Joseph shines as a model of courage and fortitude. He travelled the many miles in the cold and wind, only to meet rejection. He found refuge in an animal shelter for the birth of Jesus. He arose early to flee into Egypt saving the Child Jesus from the vicious and murderous threats of King Herod. Faced with so many difficulties, Saint Joseph stood tall and confronted the obstacles with manly courage. May the men of the present generation lift up their gaze to the gentle but courageous man of God—good Saint Joseph.
4. Provide and Protect. Saint Joseph both protected and provided for the Holy Family. He was a hard worker—exercising the trade of a Carpenter. He earned the bread that he made with the sweat of his brow. He thought not of himself but of how he could best provide for and protect the family that God had entrusted to his care. As we draw close to Christmas let us beg good Saint Joseph to provide and protect our spiritual lives. Materialism, consumerism, hedonism are the gods of the present culture. These actually suffocate spirituality. Saint Joseph’s prayers can help us to look beyond the buying, having, and possessing. He can help us to realize that true joy and happiness does not come from having things, but in possessing God. To hold the Child Jesus in our arms and in our hearts is worth more than all of the money and possessions of the entire world. Good Saint Joseph can teach us this simple but profound lesson!
5. St. Joseph, Our Lady, and Jesus. To arrive at a true and authentic devotion to Mary, good Saint Joseph can serve as a powerful bridge. Aside from Jesus Himself, nobody on earth knew, understood, cherished and loved the Blessed Virgin Mary more than good Saint Joseph. Turn to Good Saint Joseph and beg him for the grace of greater knowledge and love for Mary, his beloved spouse. Your devotion to Mary will make a huge jump! Then turn to Saint Joseph and beg him for the grace of intimate knowledge of Jesus that you will love Jesus more ardently and follow Jesus more closely. Aside from Mary nobody knew Jesus better on earth than good Saint Joseph. The Holy Family is complete only when the three members are recognized, honored and loved. May the prayers of good Saint Joseph open your hearts to the immense treasures that God has in store for you this Advent Season. Then may Jesus be born in the depths of your heart this Christmas day!
By: Chaplain Mike
One of the books I will be reading and meditating upon during my sabbatical is Thomas Merton’s Thoughts In Solitude.
A well-known passage from this book has been called, “The Merton Prayer” (see below). This prayer acknowledges that, despite our human tendency to think we know what life is about and how we can manage it, we really have no clue. As the Jews say, “Man plans; God laughs.”
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov 16:9)
In the chapter following this prayer, Merton writes,“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.
“…Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.”
Merton suggests that it is learning to live in “silence” that enables us to live at peace with the contradictions that lie within us. The contradictions remain, but they cease to be a problem for us.
The prayer that precedes this counsel expresses the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God’s presence in a life with so many unknowns and irresolvable conflicts.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
By: Fr. Thomas Rosica
Standing in the middle of the present day city of Nazareth is the mammoth Basilica of the Annunciation, built around what is believed to be the dwelling of Mary. In a grotto-like room at the heart of the basilica is a small inscription on an altar. It reads, "verbum caro hic factum est," here the Word became flesh. There, it is believed, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and her response changed the world forever.
Imagine yourself in Mary's place, asked to say "yes" to a divine plan so vast, so profound and so seemingly impossible that you cannot comprehend it. "How can this be?" she asks, bewildered. She is rooted in the faith of her ancestors, and yet now an angel has appeared in the midst of everyday life, extending a startling invitation. "You have found favor with God," the angel says, "and you will conceive and bear His Son." Will she accept?
It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live by faith, and how to respond when God's providence disrupts the daily course of our lives, overturning its rhythms and expectations. Despite her fears and uncertainty over how this promise could be fulfilled, she still answered "Yes." Are we able to respond to God this way?
When we reflect on the Annunciation to Mary, and her acceptance of the angel's message, we also reflect on our own vocation -- our own calling from God. In the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" -- an echo of Mary's "Be it done unto me according to your word." Each time we commit ourselves to embracing God's call and accepting His will, we mark a new point on the path of our relationship with Him. For the rest of her life, Mary pondered her extraordinary encounter with God, turning the weight of the angel's message over and over again in her heart. From the manger to the cross, Mary's life was radically changed -- her relationship with God profoundly deepened -- the moment she said "Yes."
Mary received and welcomed God's Word in the fullest sense -- becoming impregnated with it, and bearing it to the world. Angels might not appear in our doorsteps, but we do encounter God in each of our daily prayers, and he whispers to us a similar invitation: Will we accept His love and bring it joyously to those around us? Will we trust in His providence, even when we can't see the path ahead? Amid the noise of everyday life, will we listen for and embrace his call?
When making his pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Annunciation, Pope Benedict XVI offered this prayer to the humble Virgin of Nazareth. It speaks for all of us who likewise seek to accept God's will with joy:
Mary, Mother of the "Yes," you listened to Jesus, and know the tone of his voice and the beating of his heart. Morning Star, speak to us of him, and tell us about your journey of following him on the path of faith.
A question for today:
When have I felt that God was calling me to something greater than myself? When have I succeeded, and when have I failed, in accepting His will? What was the outcome of those situations?
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox