Category Archives: Saints

In Saint Joseph we look to the future with confidence & courage, total trust in God’s mercy, Pope says

St Joseph & Jesus.jpgIn the Season of Advent there are so many people to emulate: Jesus, Mary, the martyrs, various other saints, and Joseph in particular. Saint Joseph factors into Catholicism so much that one can reasonably ask, Can any good Catholic not pay attention to Saint Joseph? Obviously not. I took as my oblation name with the Benedictine oblates “Meinrad-Joseph” primarily because of the virtues of Saint Meinrad and for the devotion shown by Joseph for Jesus; in taking the name Meinrad-Joseph I honor my father, Edward Joseph.

The Pope spoke on Sunday at the Angelus on the great foster father of Jesus and the patron saint against doubt, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, happy death, holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France, people in doubt, Peru, pioneers, protector of the Church, social justice, travelers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, workers, working people. AND now the Pope adds pastors to this list under Saint Joseph’s care.

At Sunday’s Angelus Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about Saint Joseph:

On this fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us how the birth of Jesus came about, taking the perspective of St. Joseph. He was the betrothed of Mary, who, “before they lived together, was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). The Son of God, realizing an ancient prophecy (cf. Isaiah 7:14), became man in the womb of a virgin, and such a mystery simultaneously manifests the love, wisdom and power of God on behalf of humanity wounded by sin. St. Joseph is presented as a “just man” (Matthew 1:19), faithful to God’s law, ready to do his will. On account of this he enters into the mystery of the Incarnation after an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife with you. In fact the child that has been conceived in her comes from the Holy Spirit; she will give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus: he in fact will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). Forgetting the thought of repudiating Mary in secret, he takes her in because his eyes now see the work of God in her.

St. Ambrose comments that “in Joseph there was amiability and the figure of a just man to make the quality of his witness more worthy” (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14,32-33). “He,” Ambrose continues, “could not have contaminated the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the fruitful womb of the mystery” (ibid. II, 6: CCL 14, 33). Although he had been concerned, Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord ordered him,” certain of doing the right thing. Also giving the name “Jesus” to that child who rules the entire universe, he enters into the ranks of the faithful and humble servants, like the angels and prophets, like the martyrs and the apostles — in the words of ancient eastern hymns. St. Joseph proclaims the wonders of the Lord, witnessing Mary’s virginity, the gratuitous deed of God, and caring for the earthly life of the Messiah. So, we venerate the legal father of Jesus (Code of Canon Law, 532), because the new man takes form in him, who looks to the future with confidence and courage, does not follow his own project, but entrusts himself totally to the infinite mercy of him who fulfills the prophecies and inaugurates the season of salvation.

Dear friends, to St. Joseph, universal patron of the Church, I would like to entrust all pastors, exhorting them to offer “to faithful Christians and the whole world the humble and daily proposal of the words of Christ” (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests). May our life be evermore conformed to the person of Jesus, precisely because “the one who is himself the Word takes on a body, he comes from God as a man and draws the whole of man’s being to himself, bearing it into the Word of God” (Jesus of Nazareth, San Francisco, 2008, 334). Let us invoke the Virgin Mary with confidence, the one who is full of grace, “adorned by God,” so that at Christmas, which is already near, our eyes may open and see Jesus, and the heart rejoice in this wondrous encounter of love.

Holy Youths Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael


Holy Youths in fiery furnace.jpg

The Byzantine Church honors many Old Testament prophets and holy people that the Church in the West recognizes but does not commemorate in the sacred Liturgy, though the Roman Martyrology noted the holy youths yesterday. I actually think we ought to honor the OT figures as saints in our Liturgy, but greater minds will have to make that decision. Being faithful to the Divine Office you’ll recall that we pray the Canticle of the Three Youths (Daniel 3:57-88; 56) at Lauds at Sunday I. The pertinent section of the canticle follows:

O Israel, bless the Lord. Priests of the Lord, bless the
Lord; Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord. Spirits and souls of the just,
bless the Lord;  Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord. Hananiah, Azariah,
Mishael (Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego), bless the Lord; Praise and exalt him above all forever. Let us bless
the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost; Let us praise and exalt God above
all forever. Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven; Praiseworthy and
glorious forever.

Saint Lucy, martyr


St Lucy martyrdom2 DVeneziano.jpg

In your patience, O Lucy, you
possessed your soul; you have hated the things of this world, O bride of
Christ, and so received glory among the angels; you vanquished the adversary, O
martyr, with your own blood.

(Magnificat Antiphon, First Vespers of St. Lucy)


Today is a good day to remember in prayer before Saint Lucy the people of Sicily, those who live with blindness, diseases of the eye, salesmen and for my friend and seminarian Ken Dagliere on his birthday.

Saint Ambrose

The patristic reading in the Office of Readings (in the Divine Office) there is a beautiful letter from Saint Ambrose about governance and the use of words. Wouldn’t be good to heed Ambrose’s exhortation about relying on the guidance of the Church as the surest sign of God’s faithfulness, in keeping our words clean, reflective and full of meaning? Ambrose’s letter bears thinking about today. Let us keep in prayer today the Church in which Ambrose lived and worked, the Archdiocese of Milan.

St Ambrose detail GPiamonte.jpg

You have entered upon the office of bishop. Sitting at the helm of the Church, you pilot the ship against the waves. Take firm hold of the rudder of faith so that the severe storms of this world cannot disturb you. The sea is mighty and vast, but do not be afraid, for as Scripture says: he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.

The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved. The Church’s foundation is unshakeable and firm against the assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress. Although the Church is tossed about on the sea, it rides easily on rivers, especially those rivers that Scripture speaks of: The rivers have lifted up their voice. These are the rivers flowing from the heart of the man who is given drink by Christ and who receives from the Spirit of God. When these rivers overflow with the grace of the Spirit, they lift up their voice.

There is also a stream which flows down on God’s saints like a torrent. There is also a rushing river giving joy to the heart that is at peace and makes for peace. Whoever has received from the fullness of this river, like John the Evangelist, like Peter and Paul, lifts up his voice. Just as the apostles lifted up their voices and preached the Gospel throughout the world, so those who drink these waters begin to preach the good news of the Lord Jesus.

Drink, then, from Christ, so that your voice may also be heard. Store up in your mind the water that is Christ, the water that praises the Lord. Store up water from many sources, the water that rains down from the clouds of prophecy.

Whoever gathers water from the mountains and leads it to himself or draws it from springs, is himself a source of dew like the clouds. Fill your soul, then, with this water, so that your land may not be dry, but watered by your own springs.

He who reads much and understands much, receives his fill. He who is full, refreshes others. So Scripture says: If the clouds are full, they will pour rain upon the earth.

Therefore, let your words be rivers, clean and limpid, so that in your exhortations you may charm the ears of your people. And by the grace of your words win them over to follow your leadership. Let your sermons be full of understanding. Solomon says: The weapons of the understanding are the lips of the wise; and in another place he says: Let your lips be bound with wisdom. That is, let the meaning of your words shine forth, let understanding blaze out. See that your addresses and expositions do not need to invoke the authority of others, but let your words be their own defense. Let no word escape your lips in vain or be uttered without depth of meaning.

Saint Nicholas

St Nicholas Liberation of 3 Innocents Fra Angelico.jpg

O Holy Father Nicholas, the fruit of your good deeds has enlightened and delighted the hearts of the faithful. Who cannot admire your measureless patience and humility? And who cannot wonder at your graciousness to the poor? At your compassion for the afflicted? O Bishop Nicholas, you have divinely taught all things well. And now wearing your unfading crown, you intercede for our souls with Christ, our God.

 

(Vesperal antiphon, Byzantine)

 

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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