Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. Joseph, Man for Everyone!

   Little is known about St. Joseph, but the little knowledge we have, actually tells us much about him as a follower of Christ. Joseph himself is mentioned only a few times in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. From these two gospels we learn that Joseph was betrothed to Mary and was a talented carpenter and craftsman who would hand on his skills to the young child Jesus.
   Joseph was a truly devout and righteous man of God. In Matthew's gospel, instead of exposing his betrothed Mary to shame for an unexpected pregnancy, Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream telling him to not be afraid to take Mary for his wife for it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that she had conceived this child. At this time Joseph may have been greatly bewildered as to what was happening in his life. But nonetheless, he did as the angel said. This shows us his faith in God, and that he may have had a fairly good understanding of the Messianic prophecies.
   Joseph too, kept the Jewish laws and festivals given by the Lord to Moses. He took the Holy Family to Jerusalem, presented Jesus in the temple, offered sacrifice, celebrated the Passover, the Feast of Booths and even Pentecost. Though Joseph never spoke a word in Scripture, his actions speak for him. A poor, simple and humble man, Joseph had great faith in God and along with his spouse Mary, kept silent as they marveled at the little child they raised in Nazareth. There are still unanswered questions about Joseph; Did Joseph die before Jesus was crucified? Or how old was Joseph? Though it is not said in Scripture, tradition holds that Joseph died before the crucifixion of Christ. As for his age, Joseph may have been in his twenties when he was betrothed to Mary for it was a common custom in Jewish culture for young women to betrothed to older men. Even in art Joseph is depicted in different forms of age: young, middle aged, or as an elderly man with white hair, well-built physically and with a staff (white hair showing his wisdom, and a staff showing him being the provider and protector of the family).
   For several centuries, the church put great focus on Jesus' divine paternity, along with Mary and her role in the economy of salvation history with Joseph receiving little attention. But now, devotion to St. Joseph has grown more popular. Pope Pius IX named him the title Patron of the Universal Church in 1870 and Pope Pius XII added May 1 as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, while keeping his original feast day on March 19. St. Joseph is the patron of: fathers, travelers, carpenters, workers and is the patron saint of Peru, Canada and Mexico. This all-around saint is known as: Terror of Demons, Guardian of Virgins, Lover of Poverty, Head of the Holy Family and Pillar of Families.

Good St. Joseph pray for us.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

The word “Lent” is an old English word which means “springtime.” Since the early centuries, the Church has suggested three things that we undertake during Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Prayer– We have busy lives and there is much emphasis on enjoying life, but life without prayer is a life without the joy of the presence of God. If we do not pray, we are not Christians at full potential. We are like birds who are walking instead of flying. We will not have an intimate relationship with God our loving Father. We pray because all goodness comes from God and when we pray we come in contact with God. We pray to experience the joy of knowing and loving God our Father. We can make the effort to go to Mass an extra time or two during the week, or attend the Stations of the Cross at our local parish, or pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Prayer can be as short as 10 minutes a day—praying on a few verses of Scripture and trying to listen to what God wants us to savor from them. Whatever it is, it needs to make a difference—it needs to bring us closer to God.
Fasting — The Church commands two days of fasting, but encourages us to do more during Lent. From the spiritual point of view, fasting symbolizes our dependence on God. We don’t look at fasting as an end in itself— giving up something because it is hard, but fasting expresses the fact that we are trying to put God first in our life. Strictly speaking, fasting does concern food and is applicable for those from age 18-59, but our fasting from food is to be accompanied by a loving and forgiving attitude toward others —and that applies to everyone no matter what age. Fasting can also be applied to other areas of our lives. We can fast from noise by turning off our TV or radio. We can fast from checking our phones every two minutes; fast from Netflix, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We can fast from hitting the snooze button on our alarm clocks. Something that will bring us closer to God.
Almsgiving —For helping the poor, the Church makes it easy for us by giving us the opportunity to contribute to Catholic aid agencies by using the Rice Bowl. It can be giving money, it can also be giving of our time to spend time with others in need, forgiving someone who has hurt us in some way, thanking someone who has made a positive difference in our lives, praying for those whom we have hurt in some way, bringing a pot of soup to one of our Lenten soup suppers. Whatever we do for one of the least of these we do for Jesus.
May this Lent be a new springtime in our lives. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, may we like Jesus in the desert for forty days overcome temptation and thus be well prepared to celebrate Easter.