Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary


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.

Recently a man poured out his heart to me about a great tragedy he had suffered. The  horrific incident shook the whole city of Louisville for the period of one news cycle. For reasons he could not explain he had been shown pictures of the bodies. Though he had deleted the photos, he could not get them out of his mind. They appeared to him day and night, week after week. I gave him a rosary brochure with a picture of the "Madonna and Child." I urged him to look at this icon whenever the Horror reappeared to him. By gazing upon the sacred image, as Saint Clare encouraged her sisters, we can be relieved of horrible images and healed of their deep, psychic wounds. I have given Veterans that picture on many occasions with similar instructions; but on this occasion, for once, the fellow actually gazed upon the image. He had just enough Catholic upbringing to know who it represented; he was in such desperate straits he looked to her.
The Angel in Joseph's dream instructed him, "Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home." The Angel's command applies to everyone who wants Jesus' healing; we must welcome his Mother.
"She represents the Church." it has been said. She is the Church. This feast of Saint Joseph is also a celebration of the woman he loved. As a married couple, they are inseparable.

"For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her."
The twentieth century saw a reawakening of interest in the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church has always prayed "Come Holy Ghost" but the Pentecostal movement among Protestants jolted Catholics into a new awareness of this Divine Presence. The Second Vatican Council also encouraged Catholics to invoke the Holy Spirit; we should be inspired, fired up, energized by the same Spirit that conceived a child in the womb of the Virgin Mary. One can hardly expect to receive a measure of that spirit without finding oneself in communion with her.
As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter we hurry with Mary to Jerusalem. She was among the thousands who made the Passover pilgrimage to the Holy City. She was there on Calvary when Jesus died; and in the Cenacle when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples. This pilgrimage will remind us that being inspired is not always about dancing in wild, gleeful abandonment. It is not necessarily making a loud noise for the Lord. The Spirit of Joseph may lead us into exile; the Spirit of Mary may lead us to Calvary. In exile we might meet Rachel grieving her children; and, on Calvary we find a grandfather who mourns the loss of his beautiful boys. We drink the cup of sorrow which Jesus offers us, and are refreshed on Easter.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.