Monthly Spiritual Message, March 2012
By Br Louis Schmid OFM Conv.
In the midst of Lent, we celebrate the solemnity of St Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin, foster father of Christ and protector of the Church. St Mary MacKillop, with the encouragement of Fr Tennison Wood, placed herself and the women who joined her in her new religious Institute under the patronage of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Throughout her life, Mother Mary of the Cross encouraged not only her fellow Sisters but all Catholics to have devotion to St Joseph.
We need that devotion more than ever in our Church today here in Australia. As Franciscans, we can be proud of our traditional love for St Joseph. We seek to promote devotion to him. His example of courage, justice and dedication to the will of God should encourage us all in our Christian living. St Joseph is, of course, a saint for both genders, but I believe he is especially needed for our generation of men, particularly younger men and for fathers who seem not to be grounded upon a firm foundation of truth and morals.
Too many women in our society are suffering physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their husbands. How many times we see footballers on the television charged for assaulting their girlfriends. Why are so many men acting like animals instead of being men of virtue? We need the intercession of St Joseph especially to promote authentic fatherhood and manhood in our Church and society. As Christians, we call on St Joseph to assist the Church to uphold Christian marriage and family life. May St Joseph inspire our bishops and clergy to be zealous men of God with courage and integrity to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel in Australia where unfortunately these days we often seek the easy way out, which is not the path to everlasting life.
Franciscans, such as St Bernardine of Siena, have always promoted devotion to St Joseph, the spouse of Our Lady and the foster father for Christ on earth. St Bernardine preached, “Obviously, Christ does not now deny to Joseph that intimacy and reverence, and the very high honour that he gave him on earth, as a son to his father. Rather, we must say that in Heaven Christ completes and perfects all that he gave at Nazareth” (Sermo 2 de S. Joseph).
St Joseph is the saint who guides us to living in union with Jesus and Mary in the ordinary experience of daily life with its joys and sorrows. St Joseph encourages us to trust in our Heavenly Father and to know that our good God permits what happens to his children for their eternal wellbeing. This is not an easy lesson, surrendering to the will of God and trusting in Him. But it is of the essence of the saints and indeed of St Joseph, who helps us to learn this lesson as he had to undergo the task of caring for Our Lady and the Christ Child in the most difficult circumstances.
When the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt, there were no first class tickets, but there was the dark unknown of the desert as they had to flee into the night.
Joseph is the silent witness of the Gospel. We do not hear his words but we see his actions, courage, patience, purity, self-sacrifice and love. There was no earthly glamour in being the foster father of the Son of God, yet Joseph was faithful and sacrificed his all for Jesus and Mary. He did the will of God in his silence and in labours until his holy death. The carpenter of Nazareth teaches us minority, which we see in St Francis, St Clare and St Mary MacKillop. May we love St Joseph and live and die in union with Jesus and Mary.
In the words of St Bernardine of Siena, “Remember us, St Joseph, and plead for us”
Br Louis Schmid OFM Conv
National Spiritual Assistant SFO-Oceania