New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saint Joseph: Marytr of Grandeur

The following text is by Dr. Plinio Correa

To even begin to comprehend the nature of Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, we must bear in mind two awe-inspiring facts. St. Joseph is the virgin-husband of Our Lady and the guardian-father of Our Lord.

The husband must be proportional to the wife. Saint Joseph's spouse is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most perfect of all creatures and masterpiece of the Creator's handiwork. In her incomparable person, we find the sum of all the virtues of all the angels, and saints, indeed all creation until the end of time. Even these poor considerations, of course, fail to convey adequately the sublime perfection of the Most Holy Mother of God.

From among all men, God chose one man worthy to love and honor the Mother of His Only-Begotten Son as her husband He was a husband proportional to his wife in love of God, purity, wisdom, justice-in every virtue. Saint Joseph was that man. However there remains something even more incomprehensible. The father must be proportional to his son, and, as we have noted, the Son for Whom God sought an earthly father was none other than His Own. There could be but one man fit for such an awesome responsibility, the man God created for precisely this vocation and whose soul He crowned with every virtue. That man, too, was Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph is proportional to the Blessed Mother and her Divine Son. What greater homage could we render him? It is beyond our power to imagine the grandeur of Saint Joseph's exaltation. Words cannot express the depth of his penetration of the most holy soul of Our Lady and the degree of his intimacy with the Incarnate Word.

Saint Anthony of Padua is commonly depicted holding the Child Jesus. Because the Divine Child rested in his arms for a few moments, we deem Saint Anthony particularly blessed. Yet how many times did Saint Joseph hold the Christ Child in his arms?

Saint Joseph's were the pure lips that taught Jesus and answered His questions. Consider Saint Joseph's carpenter shop in Nazareth, where a son learns the trade of his father. If you can conceive of a man with the purity, humility, and wisdom to govern the Holy Family as its lord, you may begin to appreciate the sublime virtue of Saint Joseph. But how did Saint Joseph's contemporaries react in the face of this grandeur? Saint Luke provides clear testimony. "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7)

These last words reveal a bitter truth. In their petty selfishness, men find it difficult to accept that which is great - much less that which is divine. We may think that men like to deal with important matters. Indeed some men do enjoy such things, but in a superficial and selfish manner. What attracts men is not so much grandeur as mediocrity, a mixture of good and evil in which evil predominates. So we can understand why the innkeepers of Bethlehem were unwilling to make room for the Holy Family. Saint Joseph and Mary showed them the most tender kindness. Their majesty was unmistakable, even in their poverty.

However distinction is only acceptable when it is accompanied by wealth, for the latter pardons the former. Moreover, greed incites flattery, which takes the place of respect. Thus, when a poor man of great distinction knocks at the door, there is no room. It would have taken but five minutes to arrange ample accommodation for mediocre rich men, but there was no room in the inn for Saint Joseph or for his wife with Child. Even had they known that the Child was the promised Messiah, they still would not have received them. As Donoso Cortes aptly reminds us, "The human spirit hungers for absurdity and sin."

The Child Jesus resembled Our Lady. She was the prefigure of the Redeemer. Saint Joseph also looked like Him, but there was no room in the inn for the Holy Family. Thus history records the first refusal of the Hebrew people. Our Lord knocks at the doors - at the hearts of men, through the paternal intercession of Saint Joseph and He is refused.

Saint Joseph, prince of the House of David, the royal family from which would come the Hope of the Nations - knocks at the door and is rejected, but in this rejection lies his glory. Taking another step toward martyrdom, he leads his august spouse to a poor stable, where the Lord of the Universe will be born.

To this glory would be added many others: the glory of being considered a person of little worth; the glory of taking upon himself the humiliation, ignominy and opprobrium that was to fall upon Our Lord; or the glory of being scorned by men for the grandeur of his soul. Even to this day, that same glory leads us to implore, "Saint Joseph, Martyr of Grandeur, Pray for us!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Faith - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The one word “faith” can have two meanings. One kind of faith concerns doctrines. It involves the soul’s ascent to and acceptance of some particular matter.
It also concerns the soul’s good according to the words of the Lord: Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and will not come to be judged. And again: He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but has passed from death to life.

How great is God’s love for men! Some good men have been found pleasing to God because of years of work. What they achieved by working for many hours at a task pleasing to God
is freely given to you by Jesus in one short hour. For if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and taken up to paradise by him, just as he brought the thief there. Do not doubt that this is possible. After all, he saved the thief on the holy hill of Golgotha because of one hour’s faith; will he not save you too since you have believed?

The other kind of faith is given by Christ by means of a special grace. To one wise sayings are given through the Spirit, to another perceptive comments by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing. Now this kind of faith, given by the Spirit as a special favour, is not confined to doctrinal matters, for it produces effects beyond any human capability. If a man who has this faith says to this mountain move from here to there, it will move. For when anybody says this in faith, believing it will happen and having no doubt in his heart, he then receives that grace.

It is of this kind of faith, moreover, that it is said: If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small in size but it holds an explosive force; although it is sown in a small hole, it produces great branches, and when it is grown birds can nest there. In the same way faith produces great effects in the soul instantaneously. Enlightened by faith, the soul pictures God and sees him as clearly as any soul can. It circles the earth; even before the end of this world it sees the judgement and the conferring of promised rewards. So may you have the faith which depends on you and is directed to God, that you may receive from him that faith too which transcends man’s capacity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Clement Mary Hofbauer - 16th March 2010

For more about this saint, please refer to the link to this web site by a Religious brother from Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank.

Monday, March 15, 2010

St. Louise de Marillac - 15th March 2010

Born in 1591, Louise was illegitimate and never knew who her mother was but was acknowledged and raised by her father, a member of the aristocracy. When her father married, Louise had a difficult time adjusting as was sent as a resident student to a Dominican convent where her aunt was a religious. This experience deepened Louise's introspective ways, her many intellectual skills, as well as her desire to be a religious. When her father died and resources were limited, she lived in a boarding house where she had the opportunity to learn many basic domestic and organizational skills. This experience rounded out her classical, upper-class education and prepared her well for her future service.

Louise married Antoine le Gras, secretary to the Queen of France, but their marital happiness was short-lived because of his poor health. As a young matron, Louise travelled and socialised among both the royalty and aristocracy of France, but she was equally comfortable with the poor, no matter how their desperate situations. She held a leadership role in the Ladies of Charity, an organization of rich women dedicated to assisting the poor.

Suffering was never far from Louise. During civil unrest, her two uncles who held high rank within the government were imprisoned. One was publicly executed and the other died in prison. In 1623, when illness was wasting Antoine who died in 1625, depression was overcoming Louise. While at prayer, Louise had a vision in which she saw herself serving the poor and living the vows of religion in community.

She wrote this "lumiere" on parchment and carried it on her person as a reminder that despite her difficulties, God was guiding her life. In that vision a priest appeared to her, whom she later identified as Vincent de Paul, her future confidante and collaborator in ministry

In 1629, Vincent de Paul, who in 1625 had established the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), invited Louise to assist him with the Confraternities of Charity in the parishes of France. These tasks were therapeutic for Louise and formative for her future work and that of the Vincentian family. She conducted site visits to assure the quality of the service being offered; reviewed financial accounts for stewardship reports; and encouraged the workers and volunteers to see Christ in those whom they served.

Through this work, she gained a deep knowledge of the needs of the poor, developed her own innate management skills and identified effective structures for service. On November 29, 1633 in her own home she began to train young women to address the needs of the poor and to gain support from their life together. From this humble beginning, the community of Daughters of Charity emerged. Louise provided leadership and expert management to the evolving network of services she and Vincent inspired.

Louise, who died on March 15, 1660 just a few months before Vincent de Paul, was proclaimed a Saint of the Church in 1934. In 1960 Pope John XXIII proclaimed her the Patroness of all Social Works. As a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, social worker and religious foundress, she stands as a model to all women. She lives today in the 21,000 Daughters of Charity serving throughout the world, as well as in their many lay collaborators.