St. Joseph’s feast: March 19th 2023
On this great feast of St. Joseph and our Congregational feast, I take this opportunity to send you our warmest wishes and prayers as we unite as One across the Congregation. As we renew our vows today may we recall the enthusiasm and the vibrancy of our first commitment and ask St. Joseph to rekindle those same feelings in each of us as we renew our « yes »in 2023.
In this circular we take time to consider some of the faces of St. Joseph as he is seen and celebrated by different cultures and races. These faces remind us of our presence inserted in many distinct realities that cry out for our Charism of communion. In 2020 Pope Francis dedicated a year to St. Joseph and wrote a special letter entitled Patris Corde which means « with a father’s heart ». He went on to say that everyone could find in St. Joseph, a man who goes unnoticed, a man who lived an ordinary life, a hidden life, a simple a man who was an intercessor, a support, and a guide through difficult times. The life of St Joseph reminds us that those who are apparently hidden or in the background often have an important role to play in our lives.
Today we think of all those in our experience who have devoted their lives to taking care of people ; of those who often sacrifice themselves for others : ordinary people who inspire hope and who pray often, exercising patience. It is in these people that we can best recognise the presence of St. Joseph today in our midst. The realities that surround us today are filled with pain and suffering, with war and violence. Throughout our world there is hunger, crime, deforestation, domestic violence religious persecution, unemployment, broken families, young people with little hope of a future, human trafficking etc. But in all these situations we see the unnoticed and quiet presence of so many compassionate people who stand up for justice. We all know people like this, and it is through these people that we experience once again the presence of St. Joseph.
The greatness of St. Joseph is found in the fact that he was the husband of Mary and the adoptive father of Jesus, placing himself entirely at their service. He fully embraced this mission to care for and protect his family. We know many families today who experience difficulties economically and also in relationships. Jesus would have experienced the tender love of the father through St. Joseph his adoptive father who taught him to walk and held his hand. Who are the people in our lives who show us the tender love of the father ? Who are those who help us to walk when times are tough ? Who are the people who reach out to us when we are sick or in pain ? Who are those who take our hand when we are unable to take one step more.
Joseph was a courageous and creative person. On arriving in Bethlehem and not finding any place in the inn where Mary could give birth, he found a stable and arranged it so that it would become a place of welcome for the Son of God who was to come into the world. Who are the people around us who despite their difficulties look for creative solutions for the good of the whole ? Who are the people who try to overcome difficulties and use their positive energy to enable and encourage us ? Joseph continuously gave others confidence by his unwavering presence. Has God gifted us with people like that in our lives ? Who are those who give us confidence by their assurance and their presence ?
We know very little about Joseph. He was a quiet man who silently let Jesus grow. Silence seemed to have been a part of his way of life. He was dreamer who was always attentive to the movement of the spirit in his life. . Throughout the gospels Joseph never says a word. His silence is not, however, simply the absence of words. It is an inner silence that creates space and place. True silence – Joseph type silence – is always about presence. It is the silence of Divine Presence that fills, encourages, and sustains Joseph, enabling him to meet the physical realities, trust his dreams and carry out his mission. Pope Benedict highlighted Joseph’s silence and his contemplative nature, and recalled how his predecessor, John Paul II, who was particularly devoted to this humble carpenter, had expressed this devotion in his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos (The Guardian of the Redeemer).
“His silence,” Benedict explained while recalling John Paul’s Exhortation, “is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires. In other words, Saint Joseph’s silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action. It is a silence in which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence.” Do we make sufficient space in our day to day existence for creative silence? We live in a world which is almost afraid of silence, a world of noise where there has to be music, television radio and mobile phones to fill in the spaces. Are we afraid of silence? In choosing silence we are open and attuned to what God might want to say to us in our reflections, prayer and our dreams.
Joseph’s example invites us to consider the ways in which we live out each day and to look again, at how our prayer lives feed one another. Do we arrange our days with work, rest, play, and prayer so that we are prepared for the surprises that God offers us? Or are we distracted and completely taken up with our work to the point of exhaustion? Are we able to find the balance between our own activities, rest, and nurturing the relationships in our lives? So Joseph in his silence is challenging us to think again, to be outward looking, to be aware of the world around us, to be caring and compassionate and to be attuned to the dream of God for His planet……………in our moments of silence. May St. Joseph on this special feast of our Congregation, watch over each of us and protect us.
With every blessing and prayer,