Monday, March 19, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT; Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church. It is also the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI’s “name day”. The head of Vatican Radio’s English for Africa service, Fr. Moses Hamungole, offered his reflections on the role of St. Joseph in the life of the Church.

“Today is the day to celebrate fatherhood,” he said. “To be a father is not an easy challenge – there are many difficulties that go with it.” At the same time, Fr. Moses said, “We can look to St. Joseph, who quietly – as I would say, one of the ‘silent fathers’ – handled whatever needed to be handled.” Speaking of St. Joseph’s exemplary faith and wisdom, Fr. Moses said, “it is important [that fathers] pray for discernment, to pray for patience, to pray for these qualities, which can make one a good father.”

At the Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict thanked the faithful for all those who sustain him by their prayers, especially around his name day. Fr. Moses said it is extremely important to pray for the Pope, who is spiritual father to the whole Church. “If he has to discharge his ministry, he needs the spiritual support of every one of us.”

RADIO VATICANA REPORT; Pope Benedict XVI and Italian prime minister Mario Monti exchanged best wishes in a brief telephone conversation on Monday. March 19th is the feast day of St. Joseph, and the “onomastic” or Name-day of Pope Benedict XVI, who was baptised Joseph Ratzinger. It is also the birthday of Monti, the head of Italy’s government.

The Holy Father’s Name-day was also celebrated here at the Vatican, where papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope is inspired by his patron saint:

“Saint Joseph guided his family ‘as one who serves.’ He teaches us that one can love without possessing, and he reveals to us the secret of living in the presence of mystery. In him there is no separation between faith and action, because his faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Joseph is a ‘just man’ because his existence is always ‘adjusted’ to the word of God. This is how the Pope spoke about his patron some time ago, in a beautiful sermon that expressed not only his devotion, but also the inspiration he receives from this humble and sublime model (March 18, 2009, Vespers in Yaounde).”

On behalf of everyone here at Vatican Radio, as well as for the members of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and the Press Office of the Holy See, Father Lombardi then addressed the Pope directly: “In this same spirit, we wish you a very happy Name Day, especially in light of your upcoming duties of faith and service. Best wishes, Holy Father!”



by Joseph Mahmoud
In Jordan, two days of meetings and discussions to shape the future of Christians in the Middle East. The event was attended by religious and secular scholars, Christian and Muslim from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Iran and Jordan itself. The goal: to preserve the Christian presence.

Amman (AsiaNews) - Under the patronage of the Jordanian Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies (Riifs), in collaboration with the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and the Mennonite Central Committee, Christian and Muslim, bishops and scholars have discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East, in light of "current changes" and the upheavals caused by the Arab Spring. Starting from the question "Christianity in the East: where to now?" on March 12 and 13 in Amman - Jordan's capital - lay and religious from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Iran and Jordan have outlined points of common interest and divergence to safeguard the presence of the religious minority in the Arab Muslim-majority nations.

Professor Kamel Abu Jaber, Director of Riifs, opened the roundtable discussions emphasizing the importance of the current "context" in the Middle East. Afterwards, His Eminence Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan of Aleppo, on behalf of the Syrian-Orthodox Church focused attention on the "crucial problem", the exodus of Christians from countries in the region for fear of conflict, violence and persecution. He also added that the religious minority are denied rights of "citizenship and equality" in some Arab nations.

In the past two days the meeting was also addressed by Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal, who explained that "the Christians are in every respect Arabs, and are the pioneers of Arab thought and revival." He also added that "they are authentic and genuine" citizens "of their countries." For this, he concludes, "cooperation between Christians and Muslims" should be increased for the good of our nations.

And it is the "active" Christian participation in and contribution to the growth of Arab nations the key repeatedly stressed by the speakers. Plus the need for greater collaboration between the two sides, together with enhanced visibility in the media, in order to strengthen the "awareness of the importance of the Christian presence in Arab societies."

At the end of the meetings, the attendees drafted a final document of guidelines for future work. Among these, the birth of a "committee" that will help achieve the objectives including - among others - Professor Kamel Abu Jaber, Jordan, the Syrian Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Muslim scholar Ali Muhafza Jordanian and Archbishop of Kirkuk, Archbishop Louis Sako.

Finally, the Islamic-Christian leaders called for the effective implementation of the document (see AsiaNews 16/01/2012, Al-Azhar in defense of democracy and religious freedom) outlined by the Egyptian Al-Azhar University, based on principles of freedom, respect for human rights, equality between citizens, without discrimination of race or creed. Desire was expressed for a meeting - under the leadership of Al-Azhar - designed to consolidate and strengthen cooperation in the future. In this sense, Prince Ibn Talal of Jordan called for an " Arab Social Charter" regulating freedom and rights, by implementing the principles of social justice, human dignity and equality between citizens of one State.
SHARED FROM:,-a-Charter-for-the-rights-and-protection-of-Christians-in-Arab-countries-24270.html


WASHINGTON—The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), at its March 13-14 meeting in Washington, called for a nationwide prayer campaign for protection of religious freedom and conscience rights from several threats, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers, including religious ones, to provide contraception/sterilization in their health plans.
“We call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the restoration of our First Freedom—religious liberty—which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great Nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition,” the bishops said in “United for Religious Freedom” a March 14 statement. “Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.”
To support the effort, the USCCB has posted prayer resources at
The heart of the campaign is a new “Prayer for Religious Liberty” prayer cards, in English and Spanish, and available electronically. They can be downloaded and printed locally. Bulk packages of prayer cards will soon be available. English-language prayer cards feature the image of Mary Immaculate; Spanish-language cards feature Our Lady of Guadalupe. They may be ordered at www.usccbpublishing.organd ready for shipping in April.
The full text of “United for Religious Freedom,” prayer campaign resources, and related information on religious liberty and conscience rights, are at


Cisa News REPORT
GULU, March 16, 2012 (CISA) -A film detailing atrocities committed by the Northern Uganda rebel leader Joseph Kony has become an Internet sensation, but faith leaders in the region said they fear the production will cause further trauma to the population who are recovering from a 23-year brutal war.
The 30-minute film, titled Kony 2012, was released on March 5 by Invisible Children, a charity organisation based in San Diego, California.
It has put fresh global attention on atrocities committed by the Ugandan rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but also attracted praise and criticism from faith leaders, the conflict’s victims and the public.
“While it publicizes the problem, we see it as being outdated. It should have been released in 2003 … but now that it is drawing a new attention to the problem, we would like the international community to find ways of stopping Kony. He is still there,” Anglican Bishop Johnson Gakumba of Northern Uganda diocese told ENInews in a telephone interview on March 14 from Gulu town.
“Our proposal is dialogue, since we believe the military option will not help,” added Gakumba, who is also the chairperson of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiatives (ARLPI), an inter-faith peace and transformation group which has been responding to the conflict since 1997.
Within a week of its unveiling on the Internet, the film has been viewed 78 million times (and counting) on You tube with more than three million people sharing it on Facebook.
“Our concern is that it reminds us of war when the people were starting to recover. The reminder is likely to traumatize those who were affected. We are concerned it sends a different message of war and appeals to a military option to end the conflict. Our view is peace negotiations are the best option,” said Sheikh Musa Khalil, the Kadhi of the Muslim region of northern Uganda in an interview.
The film tells the story of the rebel leader’s brutal tactics through the eyes of a former child soldier named Jacob. It then calls on viewers to help “make Joseph Kony famous” so that he can be stopped.
But the ARLPI said its members watched it hoping to find peaceful solutions to the conflict, only to find sensational messages. “It lacks the current facts of the LRA activities. It misrepresents the current situation on the ground and is full of over simplified justifications,” said the statement.
The film, whose purpose is to promote charity to stop the fugitive, has received support from global celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and raised USD$5 million, according to reports.
In the city of Bangassou in the Central Africa Republic where the LRA is said to have moved from northern Uganda, Catholic Bishop Juan Jos Aguirre said the film had the merit to bring the war to the world’s attention.
“I have counted every tear of these people and I encourage them not to lose hope,” Aguirre was quoted in news reports as saying.


    Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, REPORT
    19 Mar 2012

Coptic Pope Shenouda III visited
Australia six times
More than 3000 of the city's Egyptian Coptic community will gather tonight at St Mary and St Mina's Coptic Cathedral at Bexley to mourn the death of their Patriarch and Pope, His Holiness Shenouda III who died in Cairo on Saturday, 17 March.
"His Holiness served for more than four decades as the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church; in this time with the grace of God, he has impacted profoundly on the lives of those who are within and outside the Church," says the Very Rev Father Tadros Simon, Vicar General of the Coptic Orthodox Sydney Diocese. "He will be remembered as the charismatic spiritual leader of this era, the Athanasius of the 21st Century."
Known to many as Baba Shenouda, the Pope of Alexandria and 117th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III was spiritual leader to Egypt's 10 million Copts as well as the more than 3-5 million Copts worldwide, including Australia's 80,000-strong Coptic community.
Yesterday, Melbourne's Copts joined Bishop Suriel, the leader of the Australian Coptic Orthodox Church to mourn the passing of their popular and charismatic Patriarch. For Bishop Suriel, the death was particularly poignant.
Secretary to Pope Shenouda III for five years, he broke down in tears during his morning sermon yesterday. "He left his mark on his church and his people. He got on well with Muslims, was a great ascetic and scholar, wrote more than 120 books and some very beautiful poetry in Arabic," Bishop Suriel said, and reminded the faithful of the six visits Pope Shenouda had made to Australia and his love of the country and pride in the work being carried out by the Coptic Church, and in Coptic schools in Melbourne and Sydney.

St Mary and St Mina's Coptic Christian Cathedral
at Bexley
Tonight, Monday 19 March, Sydney Copts will mourn the passing of Pope Shenouda. The Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Bexley will be open from 7 pm until 9 pm to receive condolences and tributes from the Sydney Coptic Diocese's many clergy as well as members of Diocesan committees, associations and various boards. This evening of prayer will also give Sydney's Coptic community an opportunity to remember, pray and grieve for the loss of their Patriarch.
A religious thinker, charismatic and known for his sense of humour and quiet diplomacy, Pope Shenouda III led Egypt's minority Christians for 41 years. For several years the Coptic Pontiff had suffered lung and liver problems. Finally on Saturday, 17 March at the age of 88 he lost his struggle.
Patriarch of the Copts who trace their origins back to the time of St Mark the Apostle, believed to have brought Christianity to Egypt, Pope Shenouda III fought to protect Egypt's ethnic minority in the face of increasing persecution and tensions between Christians and Muslim fundamentalists.
With his death, there is great fear in the vacuum left by his passing, the escalating tensions between Islam extremists and Egypt's Christian minority will be exacerbated. During his leadership as Patriarch, the Coptic Pontiff often found himself in an invidious position. Wary of speaking out too loudly in defence of his flock in case he was accused of fomenting sectarian divisions among Egypt's people, he was equally aware he could not stand idly by while Egypt's Christians suffered violent attacks on themselves, their businesses and their churches.

Egyptian Coptic Christians touch a portrait of their late
Patriarch before entering the Cairo Cathedral
to view his body
The delicacy of his position in protecting and leading his congregation was best illustrated in 1981 when outraged by the government's failure to rein in Muslim extremists, he publicly criticised the then president, Anwar Sadat. Sadat responded by banishing the Coptic Patriarch to a desert monastery in Wadi Al-Natrum where he was forced to remain for four years.
From then on, Pope Shenouda worked more quietly to protect his people and it is a measure of his tact and careful diplomacy that at the time of his death, he had won the respect of all sides.
Since news of his death became public at the weekend, political leaders including Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard have paid tribute to the Coptic Patriarch.
"On behalf of all Australians I offer my condolences to the Coptic community in this very said hour," the Prime Minister said. "We know the 10 million Coptic Christians in Egypt and millions more worldwide have lost their Patriarch at a most difficult time in their history. I also know the Australian Coptic community looks to events in Egypt with great anxiety for their fellow faithful and their holy places. I want them to know today that the Copts of Egypt are not without friends in the world, or in Australia."
Born Nazeer Gayed on 3 August, 1923 in a town 200 km south of Cairo, he took an early interest in religion. But on leaving school, rather than theology he studied history at Cairo University and on graduation in 1947 entered the military as a soldier. He swapped his uniform after a few years to become a journalist and a teacher before discovering his true vocation and entering Cairo's Orthodox Seminary.

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
who died on Saturday
Ordained a priest in 1954, he modelled his life on St Anthony, the third century ascetic whose letters were the earliest original writings in the Coptic language. Shenouda then spent the next four years in prayerful retreat at a monastery in the Eastern Sahara. But in 1959 he was appointed private secretary to Coptic Patriarch, Pope Cyril VI and three years later was consecrated Bishop Shenouda. Then in 1971, on the death of Pope Cyril VI, he was elevated to the See of St Mark and named His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.
The Coptic Pontiff had a good relationship with Hosni Mubarak, who released him from his exile in 1985, but since the toppling of Mubarak in February last year, the Egypt's Christians have faced escalating attacks not only from Muslims but from hardline security forces and the military.
In October last year during a peaceful demonstration by Copts to protest the burning of their churches, they were set on by Islamic extremists and then by tanks and army personnel carriers. More than 24 Copts were killed and many more injured. But no one has been brought to justice for these killings and the Interim Government's inquiry led nowhere.
Official mourning of His Holiness, Pope Shenouda III began in Egypt yesterday with many hundreds of thousands crowding into Cairo's Abbassiya Cathedral to view the embalmed body of their Patriarch lying near the altar and dressed in his elaborate gold robes of office.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 20 March, the funeral for the Coptic Pontiff will be held followed by burial at the Monastery at Wadi Al-Natroun where he spent his four years of exile from 1981 to 1985.


IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: Fr Edward Murphy RIP | Fr Edward (Eddie) Murphy,Gentili Province,Rosminians

Fr Eddie Murphy
Fr Edward (Eddie) Murphy, died following a car accident on Friday, 16 March, while driving to the home of his mother near Waterford City after attending the Assembly of the Gentili Province (Rosminians) in Dublin.

Fr Eddie was parish priest of Wisbech, East Anglia, for just under a year; prior to that he had been parish priest in Neath, Sth Wales which was his first parish appointment after his ordination in March 2007.

He joined the Institute of Charity (Rosminians) in 1976, coming from a period of study at Osterley. Amongst those in the novitiate house at the time was the future bishop, John Arnold, who was eventually to ordain him.

Fr Eddie was dyslexic, something which caused him great frustration over the years. But he was extraordinarily determined and in the late 80s he successfully completed a degree course in computing, which he used to great advantage. His lifetime dream was to become a priest and after three attempts at studying for the priesthood was ordained in 2007.

Prior to his ordination he had served in various Rosminian parishes and houses, assisting with the establishment of computer systems. For a couple of years he had full time employment with the Church Army in London.

Wherever he worked, whether in schools, parish or religious community Eddie, or Ted as he was known to his family, endeared himself to both adults and children alike. He brought with him a charming vivacious personality along with his many gifts and talents. He was especially sympathetic to the needs of the poor and marginalised and his door was always open to those in difficulty. “No, “I can’t”, or “it’s impossible” were words rarely found in Eddie’s life.

He loved music and could play a number of instruments including the piano, but his favourite was the flute, and he was well on his way to becoming an accomplished fluatist.

Fr Eddie’s wish was to be buried in Ireland and that wish was fulfilled when he was laid to rest among his Rosminian brethren in St Patricks Cemetery Clonmel, just a short few miles from his home in Waterford. His sudden passing leaves a tremendous void but he leaves behind a legacy of love, laughter, and good deeds and he goes to God, whom he loved above all with those good works gone before him. May his rest in peace.

The Rosminians say: 'We convey our deepest expressions of sympathy to Fr Eddie's mother and brothers and sisters."

Fr Edward MURPHY IC BSc. 1954 - 2012


Matthew 1: 16, 18 - 21, 24

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;
19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,


St. Joseph
Feast: March 19

Feast Day: March 19
Died: 1st century
Patron of: against doubt, against hesitation, Americas, bursars, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, Catholic Church , confectioners, craftsmen, Croatian people , dying people, emigrants, engineers, expectant mothers, families, fathers, holy death, house hunters, immigrants, interior souls, laborers, married people, Oblates of Saint Joseph, people in doubt, people who fight Communism, pioneers, protection of the Church, social justice, travellers, unborn children, Universal Church , Vatican II, wheelwrights, workers, many more...
The glorious St. Joseph was lineally descended from the greatest kings of the tribe of Judah, and from the most illustrious of the ancient patriarchs; but his true glory consisted in his humility and virtue. The history of his life hath not been written by men; but his principal actions are recorded by the Holy Ghost himself God entrusted him with the education of his divine Son, manifested in the flesh. In this view he was espoused to the Virgin Mary. It is an evident mistake of some writers, that by a former wife he was the father of St. James the Less, and of the rest who are styled in the gospels the brothers of our Lord; for these were only cousin-germans to Christ, the sons of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin, wife of Alphaeus, who was living at the time of our Redeemer's crucifixion. St. Jerome assures us1 that St. Joseph always preserved his virgin chastity; and it is of faith that nothing contrary thereto ever took place with regard to his chaste spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was given her by heaven to be the protector of her chastity, to secure her from calumnies in the birth of the Son of God, and to assist her in his education, and in her journeys, fatigues, and persecutions. How great was the purity and sanctity of him who was chosen the guardian of the most spotless Virgin! This holy man seems, for a considerable time, to have been unacquainted that the great mystery of the Incarnation had been wrought in her by the Holy Ghost. Conscious, therefore, of his own chaste behaviour towards her, it could, not but raise a great concern in his breast to find that, notwithstanding the sanctity of her deportment, yet he might be well assured that she was with child. But being , as the scripture calls him, and consequently possessed of all virtues, especially of charity and mildness towards his neighbour, he was determined to leave her privately, without either condemning or accusing her, committing the whole cause to God. These, his perfect dispositions, were so acceptable to God, the lover of justice, charity, and peace, that before he put his design into execution he sent an angel from heaven, not to reprehend anything in his holy conduct, but to dissipate all his doubts and fears, by revealing to him this adorable mystery. How happy should we be if we were as tender in all that regards the reputation of our neighbor; as free from entertaining any injurious thought or suspicion, whatever certainty our conjectures or our senses may seem to rely on; and as guarded in our tongue! We commit these faults only because in our hearts we are devoid of that true charity and simplicity, whereof St. Joseph sets us so eminent an example on this occasion.
In the next place we may admire in secret contemplation with what devotion, respect, and tenderness he beheld and adored the first of all men, the new-born Saviour of the world, and with what fidelity he acquitted himself of his double charge, the education of Jesus and the guardianship of his blessed mother. "He was truly the faithful and prudent servant," says St. Bernard,2 "whom our Lord appointed the master of his household, the comfort and support of his mother, his foster-father, and most faithful co-operator in the execution of his deepest counsels on earth." "What a happiness," says the same Father, "not only to see Jesus Christ, but also to hear him: to carry him in his arms, to lead him from place to place, to embrace and caress him, to feed him, and to be privy to all the great secrets which were concealed from the princes of this world!"
"O astonishing elevation! O unparalleled dignity!" cries out the pious Gerson,3 in a devout address to St. Joseph, "that the mother of God, queen of heaven, should call you her lord; that God himself, made man, should call you father, and obey your commands. O glorious Triad on earth, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, how dear a family to the glorious Trinity in heaven, Father, Son,, and Holy Ghost! Nothing is on earth so great, so good, so excellent." Amidst these extraordinary graces, what more wonderful than his humility! He conceals his privileges, lives as the most obscure of men, publishes nothing of God's great mysteries, makes no further inquiries into them, leaving it to God to manifest them at his own time, seeks to fulfil the order of providence in his regard without interfering with anything but what concerns himself. Though descended from the royal family which had long been in the possession of the throne of Judea, he is content with his condition, that of a mechanic or handicraftsman, and makes it his business, by labouring in it, to maintain himself, his spouse, and the divine Child.
We should be ungrateful to this great saint if we did not remember that it is to him, as the instrument under God, that we are indebted for the preservation of the infant Jesus from Herod's jealousy and malice, manifested in the slaughter of the Innocents. An angel appearing to him in his sleep bade him arise, take the child Jesus, and fly with him into Egypt, and remain there till he should again have notice from him to return. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed Joseph to many inconveniences and sufferings in so long a journey, with a little babe and a tender virgin, the greater part of the way being through deserts and among strangers; yet he alleges no excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return. St. Chrysostom observes that God treats thus all his servants, sending them frequent trials to clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing seasons of consolation.4 "Joseph," says he, "is anxious on seeing the Virgin with child; an angel removes that fear; he rejoices at the child's birth, but a great fear succeeds; the furious king seeks to destroy the child, and the whole city is in an uproar to take away his life. This is followed by another joy- the adoration of the Magi; a new sorrow then arises; he is ordered to fly into a foreign unknown country, without help or acquaintance." It is the opinion of the Fathers that upon their entering Egypt, at the presence of the child Jesus all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of their gods trembled, and in many places fell to the ground, according to that of Isaiah xix.: The Fathers also attribute to this holy visit the spiritual benediction poured on that country, which made it for many ages most fruitful in saints.
After the death of King Herod, which was notified to St. Joseph by a vision, God ordered him to return with the child and his mother into the land of Israel, which our saint readily obeyed. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus succeeded Herod in that part of the country, apprehensive he might be infected with his father's vices- cruelty and ambition-he feared on that account to settle there, as he would otherwise probably have done, for the more commodious education of the child. And therefore, being directed by God in another vision, he retired into the dominions of his brother Herod Antipas, in Galilee, to his former habitation in Nazareth, where the wonderful occurrences of our Lord's birth were less known. St. Joseph being a strict observer of the Mosaic law, in conformity to its direction annually repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. Archelaus being banished by Augustus and Judea made a Roman province, he had now nothing more to fear at Jerusalem. Our Saviour being advanced to the twelfth year of his age, accompanied his parents thither; who, having performed the usual ceremonies of the feast, were now returning with many of their neighbours and acquaintances towards Galilee, and, never doubting but that Jesus had joined himself with some of the company, they travelled on for a whole day's journey without further inquiry after him before they discovered that he was not with them. But when night came on, and they could hear no tidings of him among their kindred and acquaintance, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost speed to Jerusalem; where, after an anxious search of three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the learned doctors of the law, hearing them discourse, and asking them such questions as raised the admiration of all that heard him, and made them astonished at the ripeness of his understanding: nor were his parents less surprised on this occasion. And when his mother told him with what grief and earnestness they had sought him, and to express her sorrow for that, though short, privation of his presence, said to him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I sought thee in great affliction of mind": she received for answer that, being the Messias and Son of God, sent by his Father into the world in order to redeem it, he must be about his Father's business, the same for which he had been sent into the world; and therefore that it was most likely for them to find him in his Father's house: intimating that his appearing in public on this occasion was to advance his Father's honour, and to prepare the princes of the Jews to receive him for the Messias; pointing out to them from the prophets the time of his coming. But though in thus staying in the temple, unknown to his parents, he did something without their leave, in obedience to his heavenly Father, yet in all other things he was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, and there living in all dutiful subjection to them.
Aelred, our countryman, Abbot of Rieval, in his sermon on losing the child Jesus in the temple, observes that this his conduct to his parents is a true representation of that which he shows us, whilst he often withdraws himself for a short time from us to make us seek him the more earnestly. He thus describes the sentiments of his holy parents on this occasion."5 Let us consider what was the happiness of that blessed company, in the way to Jerusalem, to whom it was granted to behold his face, to hear his sweet words, to see in him the signs of divine lie wisdom and virtue; and in their mutual discourse to receive the influence of his saving truths and example. The old and young admire him. I believe boys of his age were struck with astonishment at the gravity of his manners and words. I believe such rays of grace darted from his blessed countenance as drew on him the eyes, ears, and hearts of every one. And what tears do they shed when he is not with them." He goes on considering what must be tie grief of his parents when they had lost him; what their sentiments, and how earnest their search: but what their joy when they found him again. "Discover to me," says he, "O my Lady, Mother of my God, what were your sentiments, what your astonishment and your joy when you saw him again, and sitting, not among boys, but amidst the doctors of the law: when you saw every one's eyes fixed on him, every one's ears listening to him, great and small, learned and unlearned, intent only on his words and motions. You now say: I have found him whom I love. I will hold him, and will no more let him part from me. Hold him, sweet Lady, hold him fast; rush on his neck dwell on his embraces, and compensate the three days' absence by multiplied delights in your present enjoyment of him. You tell him that you and his father sought him in grief. For what did you grieve? not for fear of hunger or want in him whom you knew to be God: but I believe you grieved to see yourself deprived of the delights of his presence even for a short time; for the Lord Jesus is so sweet to those who taste him, that his shortest absence is a subject of the greatest grief to them." This mystery is an emblem of the devout soul, and Jesus sometimes withdrawing himself, and leaving her in dryness, that she may be more earnest in seeking him. But, above all, how eagerly ought the soul which has lost God by sin to seek him again, and how bitterly ought she to deplore her extreme misfortune!
As no further mention is made of St. Joseph, he must have died before the marriage of Cana and the beginning of our divine Saviour's ministry. We cannot doubt but he had the happiness of Jesus and Mary attending at his death, praying by him, assisting and comforting him in his last moments: whence he is particularly invoked for the great grace of a happy death, and the spiritual presence of Jesus in that tremendous hour. The church reads the history of the Patriarch Joseph on his festival, who was styled the saviour of Egypt, which he delivered from perishing by famine; and was appointed the faithful master of the household of Potiphar, and of that of Pharaoh and his kingdom. But our great saint was chosen by God the saviour of the life of him who was the true Saviour of the souls of men, rescuing him from the tyranny of Herod. He is now glorified in heaven, as the guardian and keeper of his Lord on earth. As Pharaoh said to the Egyptians in their distress, "Go to Joseph"; so may we confidently address ourselves to the mediation of him, to whom God, made man, was subject and obedient on earth.
The devout Gerson expressed the warmest devotion to St. Joseph, which he endeavoured by letters and sermons to promote. He composed an office in his honour, and wrote his life in twelve poems, called Josephina. He enlarges on all the circumstances of his life by pious affections and meditations. St. Teresa chose him the chief patron of her order. In the sixth chapter of her life she writes thus: "I chose the glorious St. Joseph for my patron, and I commend myself in all things singularly to his intercession. I do not remember ever to have asked of God anything by him which I did not obtain. I never knew anyone who, by invoking him, did not advance exceedingly in virtue; for he assists in a wonderful manner all who address themselves to him." St. Francis of Sales, throughout his whole nineteenth entertainment, extremely recommends devotion to him, and extols his merits, principally his virginity, humility, constancy, and courage. The Syrians and other eastern churches celebrate his festival on the 20th of July; the western church on the 19th of March. Pope Gregory XV in 1621, and Urban VIII in 1642, commanded it to be kept a holiday of obligation.
The holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph presents to us the most perfect model of heavenly conversation on earth. How did those two seraphim, Mary and Joseph, live in their poor cottage! They always enjoyed the presence of Jesus, always burning with the most ardent love for him, inviolably attached to his sacred person, always employed and living only for him. What were their transports in beholding him, their devotion in listening to him, and their joy in possessing him! O heavenly life! O anticipation of the heavenly bliss! O divine conversation! We may imitate them, and share some degree of this advantage, by conversing often with Jesus, and by the contemplation of his most amiable goodness, kindling the fire of his holy love in our breasts. The effects of this love, if it be sincere, will necessarily appear in our putting on his spirit, and imitating his example and virtues; and in our studying to walk continually in the divine presence, finding God everywhere, and esteeming all the time lost which we do not spend with God, or for his honor.


No comments: