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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Way of the Cross

The Five Year Plan
A Home-Made Way of the Cross

I have to say, even in High School, the concept of a 'five year plan’ intrigued me. (I think it must have been the vigor of youth.) Imagine, being able to think of something in advance and then intentionally take five years to implement it. Despite its use within the Communist government, taking 5 years to get something done, is no longer a novelty to me: It has become a way of life. Normally, usually, almost always, an idea I have takes about 5 years (especially if I am in the ‘survival zone’) to become a reality. One example of this is my homemade Way of the Cross.

The Marian Seraphic Pathways, the rule book of the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, says “Each Friday let [the FTI] regularly make the way of the cross and each Saturday the way of the Mother.” (SP#31)
I hung up the 14 steps of the way of the cross in my house so that I could pray the Stations at home. You can see by the picture that this is by no means perfect. Many of them are not hanging at all, and when I took this picture, I hadn't finished mounting them all on wooden plaques. And who can miss the unfinished basement walls? It was my husband's idea to mount them on wooden plaques, to prevent the rag tag edges which inevitably occur with little children rubbing their shoulders, bulked up by coats, against the pictures.

So, about 5 years ago, I set out to Michael’s craft store. I needed wooden plaques, Mod Podge glue, sponge brush, scissors, hanging apparatus, and bronze spray paint.

In the first year, I was able to get outside with a cardboard box and the wooden plaques, to spray paint the wooden plaques bronze. I had to be especially careful with the edges, they will be seen. (The edges delayed this project by about 18 months.)
Well into the second year, probably closer to the third year, I was placing the pictures over the wood, pressing any edges with my fingers that need to be trimmed, so that I could use the crease as a good cutting guide.
I learned to cut the pictures carefully (mistakes can be fixed using a pinking shear, but will add another six to eight months.)
Around the fourth year, I finally began to use Mod Podge. (Use the glue on the wood and the back of the picture, using a sponge brush which fits into the Mod Poge jar.)
Then press picture from center out with your fingers, getting rid of air bubbles.
Mod Poge the entire top of the picture.

I am already three years into the Way of the Mother project as told by this picture. I am a little ahead of schedule. I hope to have this completed this year, eventhough the plaques are all stacked up next to the phone, waiting for their Mod Podge application.

Here are some prayers for
The Way of the Cross by Saint Francis. No set prayers are required to say the Way of the Cross. It is more important to just revisit the scene of the Passion, bring your heart and mind back to Calvary to keep the Lord company in His great agony.

El Greco
Christ Carrying the Cross
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Way of the Mother

The Way of the Mother consists of seven stations, very much like Way of the Cross, depicting the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. The Franciscan Tertiaries of the Immaculate are encouraged to pray this devotion every Saturday.

The Stations of the Way of the Mother
1. Presentation in the Temple, Simeon's prophecy
2. Flight into Egypt
3. Three Days' Loss
4. Meeting Christ on the way to Calvary
5. The Crucifixion
6. Pieta (The lance wound to Christ)
7. Entombment

I mentioned my ongoing attempt to make my own "Way of the Mother" a few months ago. During my search for artwork, I made a surprising discovery. (The picture is Giotto's Coronation of the Virgin.) I found it very difficult to find art images of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and I especially found it difficult to find a picture to represent the Three Days' Loss. The images I eventually discovered were painted by Giotto and they are all found in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The artist Giotto was a Third Order Franciscan, born in 1266 and worked in the Basilica of St. Francis in 1300. (He is actually a very important artist in art history. He is one of the first to show dimensionality in his figures. Before Giotto, icons reign. You can see in the angels reverently kneeling the impression of thick, heavy legs. Giotto's figures have the dimensionality of statues.) Beside Giotto's importance in art history, I think his work demonstrates the Marian devotion of the early Franciscans. Many artists have painted scenes of the life of Christ. But, in my search to represent the "Way of the Mother", I found Giotto supplied me with all the art I needed. I found this an interesting discovery. Either by considering Giotto as a Third Order Franciscan or that the work was commissioned by the earliest members of the Franciscan order, or that the art would be used to decorate the Church in which Holy Father St. Francis is buried, any of these reasons and all of these reasons highlight the importance of Marian devotion to the early Franciscans.

Another surprising discovery. When searching for Presentation in the Temple and Finding in the Temple, the search engine at Web Gallery of Art, returned a slew of Presentation of OUR LADY in the Temple. My distinct impression was that Our Lady's presentation was the more popular choice among artists and patrons. How often in Christian circles do we hear about Our Lady's Presentation in the Temple? A feast day celebrated on November 21. However, in the history of art, among patrons of art who paid money to have these treasures painted, the Presentation of Our Lady at the age of three in the Temple is a favorite subject. ("Christ among the Doctors" is a better way to search, I later realized.)

For my set of "The Way of the Mother", I ended up buying a used copy of The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi byElvio Lunghi (Scala, 1996). I cut the pictures from the book and Mod Podged them to wooden plaques I spray painted bronze.

I still need to buy some metal hooks to hang them. They are presently still sitting on my bookshelf, but they are useful for praying The Way of the Mother.

The Franciscans of the Immaculate have a shrine in Italy which features a Way of the Mother. The website is in Italian, but the pictures are stunning.

The following quote describing the Way of the Mother is taken from the Directory of Popular Piety.

(Since I found it difficult to link to numbers 136-7, I copied them here. The whole document is worth looking at from time to time. I especially like to look at Part Two; Guidelines for the Harmonization of Popular Piety with the Liturgy. This is a great list of Catholic practices.)

136. As Christ and Our Lady of Dolours were associated in God's saving plan (Lk 2, 34-35), so too they are associated in the Liturgy and popular piety.
As Christ was the "man of sorrows" (Is 53, 3) through whom it pleased God to have "reconciled all things through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross" (Col 1, 20), so too, Mary is "the woman of sorrows" whom God associated with his Son as mother and participant in his Passion (socia passionis).
Since the childhood of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary's life was entirely lived out under the sign of the sword (cf, Lk 2, 35). Christian piety has signalled out seven particular incidents of sorrow in her life, known as the "seven sorrows" of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Modelled on the Via Crucis, the pious exercise of the Via Matris dolorosae, or simply the Via Matris, developed and was subsequently approved by the Apostolic See(140). This pious exercise already existed in embryonic form since the sixteenth century, while its present form dates from the nineteenth century. Its fundamental intuition is a reflection on the life of Our Lady from the prophecy of Simeon (cf. Lk 2, 34-35), to the death and burial of her Son, in terms of a journey in faith and sorrow: this journey is articulated in seven "stations" corresponding to the "seven dolours" of the Mother of Our Saviour.
137. This pious exercise harmonises well with certain themes that are proper to the lenten season. Since the sorrows of Our Lady are caused by the rejection of her Son (cf. John 1,11; Lk 2, 1-7; 2, 34-35; 4, 28-29; Mt 26, 47-56; Acts 12, 1-5), the Via Matris constantly and necessarily refers to the mystery of Christ as the suffering servant (cf. Is 52, 13-53, 12). It also refers to the mystery of the Church: the stations of the Via Matris are stages on the journey of faith and sorrow on which the Virgin Mary has preceded the Church, and in which the Church journeys until the end of time.
The highest expression of the Via Matris is the Pietà which has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Christian art since the middles ages.

The painting
(b. 1639, Genova, d. 1709, Roma)

Father Stefano Manelli's
Meditations for the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

For each Sorrow recite one Our Father, seven Hail Marys, 1 Glory be and the ejaculatory prayer:

"O Mary, my sweetest good, make me feel Your sorrows in my heart."

I. The Presentation in the Temple
(LK 2:34,35)

“Mary Most Holy offers Jesus to God the Father. She offers the pure, holy and immaculate Victim and with Him She offers Herself, called to be the Coredemptrix of the world: for this reason Jesus will be the crucified Victim and She will have Her soul pierced by the’sword’ of sorrow for all the sins of the world.”

II. Our Lady flees into Egypt to save the Infant Jesus from death.
(MT 2:13-14)

“The sorrowful drama of Our Blessed Lady’s exile is a sustaining grace for all of us ‘poor banished children of Eve’ who are called to pass from this world of exile into our heavenly homeland that we reach by the way of the cross, sustained and comforted by Her.”

III. Our Lady loses Jesus and finds Him after three days in the Temple of Jerusalem
(LK 2:48-51)

“Mary Most Holy suffers a terrible anguish with the loss of Jesus in Jerusalem. She searches for Her Son for three days and finds Him anew in the temple. To misplace Jesus, to lose Jesus: this is the worst disgrace that could possibly happen to us because He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; therefore we must seek Him immediately and find Him anew in the temple, in the House of the Lord, approaching by way of the sacraments of Confession and Communion.”

IV. Our Lady meets Her Son Jesus along the way to Calvary

O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow. For he hath made a vintage of me, as the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger. Therefore do I weep, and my eyes run down with water, because the comforter, the relief of my soul, is far from me. (Lam 1:12,6)

“Mary Most Holy encounters Jesus along the road to Calvary and traverses the painful path with Him to Golgotha, carrying in Her Heart the cross of Jesus as a ‘sword’ which penetrates Her soul ever more deeply for the redemption of sinful humanity. Let us also follow Jesus with Our Lady of Sorrows by carrying the cross of our salvation.

V. The Crucifixion
(John 19:25-27)

“Our Lady of Sorrows is present at the crucifixion and death of Jesus and suffers in Her Mother’s Heart all the torments of Jesus’ body nailed to the cross, His lips given gall to drink, and His side thrust through. Here the ‘sword’ of sorrow pierces completely through Mary’s soul, but She offers everything in constant union with Her Redeemer Son as the universal Coredemptrix of salvation. She desires to imprint the image of the Crucified in our souls.”

VI. Our Lady of Sorrows receives Jesus into Her arms as He is taken down from the Cross.
(John 19:34-37)

Mary Most Holy Receives Jesus into Her arms when He is taken down from the cross. This is the image of the Pieta. But it is also the image of the priestly motherhood of the universal Coredemptrix who offers the Divine Victim to the Father, the salvific Host for all men of every time and place. O merciful mother, take us too into Thy arms in order to offer us to God.

VII. Our Lady places the dead body of Jesus in the sepulcher.
(John 19:40-42)

Mary Most Holy places the body of Jesus in the sepulcher in order to await His resurrection with invincible faith. The sepulcher of Jesus is one of life and glory, and so shall the sepulcher be of every redeemed person who welcomes the Redeemer, while the sepulcher of one who refuses Christ shall be one of eternal perdition. The Mother of Sorrows places us too in the sepulcher of Jesus in order to rise one day like Him to eternal life.

The Compassion of the Mother in the Passion of the Christ
By Father Angelo Mary Geiger, FI

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Rosary of the Seven Glories

The Seven Glories of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Immaculate Conception
Divine Maternity
Perpetual Virginity
Universal Co-redemption
Spiritual Maternity
Assumption into Heaven both body and soul.
Coronation as Queen of the Universe.

The Rosary of the Seven Glories of Mary consists of Our Father, seven Hail Marys and one Glory for each mystery (similar to the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.) This is a devotion originating with the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

As mentioned in tonight’s Mary Vitamin, this is a very good prayer in preparation for the Feast of the Assumption because it sums up the patristic tradition explaining Mary's Assumption into heaven. (I have another post coming soon with meditations for children, the way I explained these mysteries to my children.)

Here are some quotes for each meditation:

Immaculate Conception
St. Maximilian Kolbe
“That title contains many more mysteries which, with time, will be discovered. It points to the conclusion that, as it were, to the essence of the Immaculate pertains her Immaculate Conception. This title must be pleasing to her for it signifies her first grace, conferred upon her at the pristine moment of her existence, and the first gift is always the most beloved. This name is confirmed throughout her life for shes was always immaculate and unsullied by sin. Whence, she is full of grace and God is ever with her; to that degree moreover, that she became the Mother of the Son of God.”
Will to Love, (Marytown Press: 1998), 39.

Divine Maternity (Theotokos)
"In no wise, therefore, is it lawful to divide the one Lord Jesus Christ into two Sons.... For the Scripture does not say that the Word associated the person of a man with Himself, but that He was made flesh. But when it is said that the Word was made flesh, that means nothing else but that He partook of flesh and blood, even as we do; wherefore, He made our body His own, and came forth man, born of a woman, at the same time without laying aside His Godhead, or His birth from the Father; for in assuming flesh He still remained what He was."
Pope Pius XI, Lux Veritatis (On the Council of Ephesus),
Encyclical promulgated on 25 December 1931, #28

Perpetual Virginity
Father John A. Hardon, S.J.
“Significantly, however, those who impugned her right to the title Theotokos were often the same who questioned Mary’s inviolate celibacy. Augustine hinted at a reason for this when he said, ‘When God vouchsafed to become Man, it was fitting that he should be born in this way. He who was made of her, had made her what she was: a virgin who conceives, a virgin who gives birth; a virgin with child, a virgin delivered of child—a virgin ever virgin.’

Also St. Jerome

St. Louis de Montfort
“Thou, Lord, art always with Mary, and Mary is always with Thee, and she cannot be without Thee, else she would cease to be what she is. She is so transformed into Thee by grace that she lives no more, she is as though she were not. It is Thou only, my Jesus, who livest and reignest in her more perfectly than in all the angels and the blessed. Ah! If we knew the glory and the love which thou receivest in this admirable creature, we should have very different thoughts both of Thee and her from what we have now. She is so intimately united with Thee that it were easier to separate the light from the sun, the heat from the fire; …”
True Devotion to Mary, #63

Spiritual Maternity
Our Lady is truly our mother
St. Catherine Laboure’s example at the age of nine (Mary Vitamin #14)

“[She] pulled a chair over beneath the shelf, for it was too high for her to reach, even if she stood on tiptoe. Climbing up on the chair, she stretched overhead and took down Our Lady’s image…Throwing her arms about the statue, she hugged it close to her little body, as a child might fondle her favorite doll or teddy bear. But this was no doll. In a sense, it was no longer just a statue of Our Lady. It was Mary herself… ‘Now, dear Blessed Mother’ she said aloud with childlike fervor, ‘now you will be my Mother!’”
Father Joseph Dirvin, Saint Catherine Laboure, (Tan Books: 1981), 15-6

The Assumption
John Paul II
Angelus message August 15, 1996

"We greet you, glorious Virgin, in the mystery of your Assumption into heaven: in you God the Father anticipated what he intends to accomplish at the end of time for all those who die in communion with Jesus Christ, his Son and your Son.
We greet you, Queen of Angels and Saints; you intercede for us from heaven and sustain us on our earthly pilgrimage to the promised land: Keep our faith alive, our hope firm and our love fervent for God and for our brothers and sisters.
In contemplating the mystery of your Assumption O Mary, let us learn to evaluate earthly affairs in the proper light. Help us never to forget that our true and definitive dwelling place is heaven, and support us in our effort to live together here below in ever greater brotherhood and solidarity. Make us workers of justice and peacemakers in the name of Christ, our true peace."

The Coronation of Our Lady Queen of Heaven
(Feast of the Queenship August 22)
St. John Eudes
“But blessed the heaven and the earth which have for their Queen the admirable child Mary. For she possesses more light and wisdom, strength and power, than all the kings and queens who ever were or ever will be. And this little Mary is a great Princess and a most powerful Queen; Queen of men and Angels, Empress of the universe. She was Princess and Queen from the womb of her mother. … Is it not suitable to the glory of the eternal King of Kings, that she who was to be His Mother should bear a royal crown even from her birth?”
The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God, (PCP: 1998), 237.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Seven Glories for Children

Glories of Mary meditation for children
(This is written in a free style, the way I spoke to my children. It is a Continuation from a previous post.)

Immaculate Conception
Think of Our Lady as a child your age. Because of her Immaculate Conception she has never made any mistakes. She has no bad habits to unlearn. Every thing she has ever done is good and in conformity to God’s Will. She loves to speak to Him in her heart. She doesn’t have any inordinate desires. She is loving and good.

Mother of God
Is Jesus true God? Is Jesus true Man? Is Mary the mother of Jesus? Is Mary the Mother of God?

Yes, we can even say that Mary is the mother of God (not only of Jesus) because of the miracle of Jesus being both God and Man at the same time.

Perpetual Virginity
The great miracle of God becoming man is what makes Christmas such a wonderful feast in the Church. The great miracle of the God taking on human flesh has to mean that the Mother (of the Son of God) was special too. This birth is something wonderful. Because of her Immaculate Conception, Our Lady was not affected by original sin and did not have the consequence of pain in childbearing. But more than that, the child is so special that the birth of this wondrous mother was something miraculous. Jesus was born in such a special way that the best way to explain it is the similarity of light passing through glass. The glass is unharmed or changed by the light. So too, the birth of Jesus from Mary was as special as light passing through glass.
The shepherds saw and believed… they saw something wonderful.

Who flies the plane? A pilot. Does the pilot have a helper? Yes, the co pilot. Although God needs no helpers in His Omnipotence, He chose to have His Holy Mother share in His life in a way in which no other human being has ever experienced. From the beginning of her existence, she has been in the center of God’s plan for saving us. (As St. Teresa of Calcutta says, “No Mary, No Jesus.”) During Her marvelous childhood (remember she had no sin) God was preparing her for the great mission of His Son, to the time the Angel Gabriel visited her in the Annunciation and then all those hidden years in the bosom of the Holy Family. Finally in her presence at the foot of the Cross, the Mother of God continues to be a presence in the life of her Son. Her heart is joined with His on the Cross. (Remember the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism picture with Jesus on the Cross and the two hearts’ love symbolized as a burning flame, united and breaking down the closed doors of heaven?) He is the Redeemer – the Messiah. She is the Mother of the Redeemer, sharing in his sufferings and redemptive work, her prayers and sufferings being offered in addition for the salvation of souls.

Spiritual Maternity
"Woman behold your son."
The blessed Virgin Mary took these words of her Son very seriously from the Foot of the Cross. From that moment on she not only took St. John as her son, but every child of God became her real child. She looks on from heaven with her motherly concern in a real way for each of her children. You may not see her but she in a real way wants to share the gifts she has received. She knows that she didn’t deserve to be chosen to be Immaculately Conceived but instead God freely bestowed this gift on her out of His love for Her and mankind. She wants to share this gift with her children so that they may be pleasing to God and live a happy life.

Example of st. Catherine Laboure
“[She] pulled a chair over beneath the shelf, for it was too high for her to reach, even if she stood on tiptoe. Climbing up on the chair, she stretched overhead and took down Our Lady’s image…Throwing her arms about the statue, she hugged it close to her little body, as a child might fondle her favorite doll or teddy bear. But this was no doll. In a sense, it was no longer just a statue of Our Lady. It was Mary herself… ‘Now, dear Blessed Mother’ she said aloud with childlike fervor, ‘now you will be my Mother!’”
Father Joseph Dirvin, Saint Catherine Laboure, (Tan Books: 1981), 15-6

Because of all these gifts, Our Lord did not want to let our Lady’s body decay in the ground. So, He brought her to heaven to share with Him the glories of Heaven. Her death is as special as her conception and life.

Queen of Heaven
Good behavior, a life of sinless perfection, is rewarded by God.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows of Saint Joseph

It is praiseworthy to dedicate each Wednesday to St. Joseph, with the recitation of the Seven Sorrows and the Seven Joys of St. Joseph, a devotion widespread in the Churches of Franciscans.

St. Joseph is an exemplar of a Marian saint. He was the first Marian Saint and the best. His whole world view was the Divine Child and the Immaculate Mother.

1 Hail Mary for each sorrow shared with the Immaculate
1 Glory for each joy, in praise of God for the spiritual gifts given to St. Joseph.

The sign of the Cross
V. O God, come to my assistance
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

1. The First Sorrow and Joy of St. Joseph, the Annunciation

a. When St. Gabriel revealed the exalted mission entrusted to the Immaculate, St. Joseph in his great humility, believed that he was unworthy of her company. St. Joseph cannot, for one second, contemplate anything but Divine Intervention in Mary’s being with child. To him, it is obviously a miraculous Act of God. In great anguish and suffering, he must extricate himself from this sublimely holy situation in which he believes he doesn’t belong. Unwilling to cast aspersions on the Immaculate’s purity and with his humble obedience to the law, he pondered the self-sacrificial position to divorce her privately.

b. St. Joseph, Prince of the Interior Life, experienced great joy when the heavenly angel brought this news during prayer: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt1:20-22) "From the moment when the angel relieved him of the tormenting doubts concerning Mary, he never ceased adoring Jesus in her womb.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard, The Month of St. Joseph, 32)

2. Second Sorrow and Joy, the Birth of Jesus
a. The suffering begins on the long journey to Bethlehem, the quiet humility of the Immaculate and her divine Son, obeying the kings of the world, at the expense of their own comfort. St. Joseph is greeted with discouragement, as each inn turns the Holy Family away. The lodging secured is far beneath the great dignity of his dependents. He is burdened by the sight of the great poverty which will greet the Son of God, the dirt, the animals, the cold, the flies, the coarse straw. The provider of the family knows, they deserve better. Hail Mary…

b. But, amidst this sorrow, St. Joseph is filled with joy by numerous signs: A brilliant star, the heavenly host sing to God’s glory, the shepherd’s humble piety, the justice of the worship of the Three Kings, the Virgin Birth and the presence of the Son of God. Glory…

3. The Third Sorrow and Joy of St. Joseph, the Circumcision
a. “When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”( LK2:21) Circumcision was a sign of baptism, a sign of original sin and your belief in the promised Messiah. How great is the sorrow of St. Joseph, who knows the Glorious Nature of the infant, who understands that the Child emptied “himself, and took the form of a slave” “What a shock to Joseph to think that he himself would make the Infant-God suffer and would shed the first drops of His blood. How his heart ached at the sight of that wound, the blood that flowed from it, and the tears of the divine Mother.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard, Month of St. Joseph, 78) Hail Mary…

b. The Illustrious Son of David exercises his great inheritance, the legacy left him from his ancestor, the great King of Israel. It is to St. Joseph, chosen by God, the Just one who is given the privilege and honor to bestow the Holy Name of Jesus at this important ceremony. St. Joseph, a devout Jew, wouldn’t have even pronounced the Holy Name of God, but on this day, he will not only say the Name which means Salvation, he will be the one to command that it be given to the Infant. He well understood: “At his name every knee shall bend, in heaven on earth and under the earth” Glory …

4. The Fourth Sorrow and Joy of St. Joseph, the Presentation
a. Here we can imagine the Just and Faithful Head of the Holy Family leading his family towards the Temple in sacrificial obedience to the laws of God. In contemplative silence, he leads, almost dumbfounded by the overwhelming humility shown by the sinless Immaculate and the Only Son of God. Does the Son of God need to follow laws designed for a fallen human nature? Does the Immaculate Virgin need to be purified? However, in exceeding humility and in poverty St. Joseph offers the ransom, while the Virgin offers Her Son. Then, the great pain to hear that the beautiful Child and His Holy mother will suffer. At the words “And a sword shall pierce your heart” St. Joseph received a sword of suffering. Hail Mary…

b. The great joy at hearing the public declaration of the arrival of the Messiah: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Lk2:29-32)

John Paul II said:
Simeon uses an Old Testament phrase to express the joy he experiences on meeting the Messiah and feels that the purpose of his life has been fulfilled; he can therefore ask the Most High to let him depart in peace to the next world.” St. Joseph was a ‘just man’. Simeon’s joy is an insight of the joy of St. Joseph, for he too had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. Simeon’s words also open up salvation to people beyond Israel’s border, to the gentiles, in fact, to the whole human race. Here Joseph experiences the joy of the prophecy that Christ has come for all mankind.
“In his canticle, Simeon reverses the perspective and puts the stress on the universality of Jesus' mission: "For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory for your people Israel" (Lk 2:30-32).
How can we fail to marvel at these words? "And his father and mother marveled at what was said about him" (Lk 2:33). But this experience enabled Joseph and Mary to understand more clearly the importance of their act of offering: in the temple of Jerusalem they present the One who, being the glory of his people, is also the salvation of all mankind.”
John Paul II at the General Audience of Wednesday, 11 December 1996

5. The Fifth Sorrow and Joy, the Flight into Egypt.
a. We see in the OT that when angels visit men to bring them glad tidings, men are frightened, they fall prostrate, trembling at their glory. What if the message is dire “GET UP – FLEE” How great is the suffering of St. Joseph, another sword in his heart.
The suffering intensifies as St. Joseph leads the Holy Family stealthily, prudently, by his own judgment into the pagan land of Egypt, leaving behind his homeland, his friends, his family and his livelihood. How would he provide for his family? How would he keep them safe in the pagan land among foreigners? Hail Mary…

b.The joy he had in having God Himself always with him and to personally witness the fulfillment of prophecies: “See the Lord is riding on a swift cloud on his way to Egypt; The idols of Egypt tremble before him, the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.” Isaiah 19:1, (St. Joseph saw the overthrow of the idols of Egypt.)

6.The Sixth Sorrow and Joy of St. Joseph, the Return from Egypt.
“When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my Son.” Hosea 11:1
a. The journey back must have been difficult. St. Joseph needed two visits from the angel to guide him to the region of Galilee. “When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.’ He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But, when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there.” St. Joseph heard, he had studied the conditions, he had his ear to the ground listening, watchful for any danger.We see St. Joseph exercising his role as “Watchful Defender of Christ.” He discerned something troubling. Using his reason, steeped in prayer, he turns to God for an answer. (Did he turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary?) “And because he had been warned in a dream,” St. Joseph received the supernatural help, he prayed for. “he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled” (Mt2:19-23) Hail Mary…

b. The joy of the hidden life in Nazareth. The spirit of high contemplation reigned in the Holy Family, in the Holy House now in Loreto. The Silence of the Holy Family is like the silence of a thousand Carmelite deserts (Fr. Faber) All those quiet years of work, family, and meditation on the Holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary and developing a deep relationship with His God. “What must St. Joseph have thought when he saw his divine apprentice, taking pains at His work – He who by a single word had created the universe!” (Pere Benet, The Divine Favors Granted to St. Joseph, 19.) Glory…

7. The Seventh Sorrow and Joy of St. Joseph, Losing and Finding the Child Jesus in the Temple.
a. Had His hour arrived? Was He a prisoner? Injured? Trapped? Lost? … Dead?...Did I fail at my mission? Such foreboding! Wandering the streets of Jerusalem, the Spouse of the Mother of God, keeps the dread filled vigil with the Holy Mary, who gains many graces for sinners enduring this ‘loss of Jesus’. “So great was Joseph’s anguish, so bitter were his tears that the Holy Spirit has willed to immortalize them in Mary’s words: ’My Son, why has thou treated us so?” (St Peter Julian Eymard) Hail Mary

b. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished…” Luke 2:46-48 Why was St. Joseph astonished? St. Joseph, was the holy protector searching for his foster son. He should have expected to see Him in the Temple, didn’t St. Joseph go in to find Him? But, it is the manner in which St. Joseph finds Jesus that is his astonishment and JOY. He finds the Divine Child in a position of authority and adulation, not dejection. How happy the Foster Father of Jesus is to find his son, not only safe, but also admired by the teachers of the Law. How great is his joy after three long and terrible days of loss. Glory …

V. God made him master of His household.
R. And put him in charge of all that He owned.

Go to St. Joseph

Reflections on The Silence and Strength of St. Joseph

Whenever we find St. Joseph in the Gospel he is engaged in a difficult, life altering situation. St. Joseph faced great challenges that would make even a great man groan. Yet, St. Joseph remained silent.

What do I do? I must follow the law, but how can I? The law demands stoning. There is something so holy going on here I must not belong here. I must have made a mistake. What do I do?

Birth of Christ
I must obey the king of this world and cause my wife discomfort. She is due to have the Holy Child any day now. I must ask her to travel 70 miles in winter.
Now that I have brought my family here to Bethlehem, there is nowhere for us to stay. Turned away by all, what am I to do now? Where should I go?
A stable? Is this the fitting birth place of the King of Kings? Have I done what God wishes?

Slaughter of the Innocents
Herod is in a jealous rage. He is seeking the life of the Divine Child. He will stop at nothing. Many are his spies, his people, his soldiers. How will I evade his evil? Where can I go? How can I take my family to safety?

Flight into Egypt
No friends, no family, no business connections, no Temple, nothing familiar; with my family, I face only poverty and hard work. How long do we stay here? How do I find work to support my family? How will I practice my faith? How do I keep my family safe?

Return from Egypt
Archelaus is ruling. He may be a threat to the Divine Child. I must be cautious. How can I keep my family safe? Where shall I take them? What is the Will of God?

Loss in the Temple
Where did He go? Where should we look for Him? What did I do wrong? Look how my Holy Spouse suffers.

St. Joseph was able to lead the Holy Family successfully because of his great faith, his keen intellect, his total self detachment, and his profound prayer.

In all these events, we see Our Lady listening to and following the direction of St. Joseph. Indeed, the Lord Himself listened to Joseph. How encouraging to those facing life changing events, to place all their concerns for their families in the competent and blessed hands of St. Joseph.

Go to Joseph!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


The more one prays, the more time there is to pray.

Click on the above link to follow a series of posts from the Castle of the Immaculate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Way of the Cross - the way of the soul

I Station: The Condemnation of Jesus by Pilate

Often the soul begins the journey to Christ through the sufferings imposed upon her from the world: sickness, failure, or sadness.
Spiritual realities can also begin the way of the soul: sadness due to sin and the realization of death.

II Station: Jesus' acceptance of the cross

As soon as the soul recognizes the limitations this world has to offer, she begins to follow in the footsteps of the true Master of the soul, she begins the Way of the Cross.

III Station: The First Fall

The Way of the Master is difficult. The soul encounters failure. She began the journey to Christ on her own power. She needs to be humbled to realize who is the Master and who is the follower.

IV Station: Jesus meets His Mother (John 19:25-26)

A fall allows us to know the great compassion of the Mother. Our Lord sends Her to us when we throw ourselves at His Feet. She will be our companion along the way.

V Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Carry the Cross
(Matt. 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26)

With Our Lady’s encouragement, the soul now begins to turn to heavenly help and not rely upon its own power. The soul begins to carry the Cross in earnest.

VI Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

With practice, the soul’s efforts at penance and carrying the Cross give comfort to Lord – even publicly. Veronica pushed her way through the crowd, undaunted by their jeering. She had one thing in mind, to offer a small comfort to the Lord despite the price she had to pay.

VII Station: The Second Fall

Pride can enter here easily. The soul forgets Whose work this is.
The soul forgets Whose power sustains it.

VIII Station: The Sorrowing Women of Jerusalem; (Luke 23:27-31)

The soul returns to the Master and listens to His Words.
Openness to life - purity - at all costs.

IX Station: The Third Fall

Even the saints fall seven times a day.
The soul recognizes the absolute poverty and weakness it possesses.
The soul begins to earnestly pray to live in the presence of God and for final perseverence.

X Station: Jesus Stripped of His Garments (Luke 23:34, John 19:23)

Detachment from this world, the stripping of needless comforts, and a heavenly vision set in.

XI Station: the Crucifixion

Words no longer suffice to express love for the Master – only deeds which speak of a crucified heart. Promises give way to the actualization of nails penetrating flesh.

XII Station: Jesus' Death on the Cross

The Dark Night of The Soul.
No one around save the Mother and the Saints.
Is there a God? Does Heaven exist?
Where have You gone O Love of My Soul?

XIII Station: Jesus' Removal from the Cross

The soul is dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus, all in the arms of Mary, His Mother.

XIV Station: the Burial of Jesus.

The hope of heaven enkindled by closeness to the Church and Her Sacraments;
most importantly worthy reception of Holy Communion:

Make my soul the sepulcher of your Holy Body
and I will long for
and believe
that Heaven
is the soul’s final resting place.