Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Solemnity of St. Joseph

In Christianity on March 19, 2012 at 7:38 am

March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the day we recognize the role of Our Lord’s foster father. The Saint was in my thoughts as I prayed the Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah this morning.

The background for Zechariah’s song is birth of his son, John the Baptist (Luke 1:57), and the presentation of John for circumcision (1:59-63). John’s conception had, of course, been miraculous—given Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s advanced age (1:5-25).

Yet Zechariah’s song does not only celebrate his son’s birth, but Our Lord’s. For The Blessed Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel announced Christ would be born to her by the power of the Holy Spirit (1:26-38). When Mary arrived at the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah,  John leapt within the womb of Elizabeth (1:39-41). Elizabeth then acknowledged this recognition of the unborn Christ Child (1:42-45). Mary responded with the Magnificat, acknowledging “the Mighty One has done great things for me” (1:46-55).

All of this is background to Zechariah’s song and St. Joseph’s role in Our Lord’s life. From the Benedictus:

Luke 1:69: “. . . born of the house of His servant David” (Joseph’s line is the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Redeemer would come from the house of David, Jeremiah 23:4-6 and Matthew 1:1-17)

Luke 1:71: “. . .  [God] promised to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us” (Joseph protected the Christ Child and the Blessed Virgin Mary from Herod’s wrath, taking them into Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15)

Luke 1:75: “. . . holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life” (God the Holy Spirit said of St. Joseph in scripture, that he was “a just (righteous) man,” Matthew 1:19a, just as God has given us the marvelous promise that we shall be holy and blameless before Him in Christ, Ephesians 1:4)

May we celebrate with joy the Solemnity of Our Lord’s foster father, Saint Joseph, giving thanks for his God-given role in our Savior’s life.  St. Joseph, pray for us!

How Should We Then Live?

In Christianity on March 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

In the 1970s, the popular evangelical writer, Francis Schaeffer, wrote a book titled How Should We Then Live?  In the years since, other Christian authors have implicitly acknowledged Schaeffer’s work with titles like How Now Shall We Live and How Then, Shall We Live.

Why does this question occupy our thoughts? It does so because—if we are not alone in the universe; if we are not simply the evolutionary product of time and chance—then we want to know what expectations of us exist; how to guide the conduct of our lives. And if we are not alone, but belong to an Other, how shall we know that Other?

Psalm 24 is a great help. Perhaps that is why it is among the Invitatory Psalms (Psalms 95, 100, 24) that open The Liturgy of the Hours. After acknowledging God as Creator, the psalm goes directly to the question “How shall we know You? And how shall we live?”

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things,
who has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbor.
He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Consider “How Should We Then Live?” as a fruitful theme for Lenten meditation. Read and pray over Psalm 24. Consider the four cardinal and three theological virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, and faith, hope, and love). And give thanks to God that, in the riches of His grace, we are not without instruction. We have His revelation in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to guide our paths. That is Christianity Richly!

Lent 2012

In Christianity on March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

It is fitting to begin, once again, with posts to Christianity Richly during Lent. Lent is a time for beginning again with God. Lent is a time during which the Holy Spirit speaks more plainly; more urgently, if we are listening.

So it was this morning: “Before They throne, O God, we kneel; give us a conscience quick to feel.”¹ End my coldness, O Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening—or trying to.

What then? What did God say? And how? My mind wandered back to a recent journey, during which I knew in advance I would be tempted to be judgmental and unloving. “Don’t judge. Just do. Just love.” By God’s grace, during that trip, I believe I did. Yet how quickly we drift! How have I done lately?

Not well, apparently. For I was reminded of a meditation, also in Magnificat, that I had dog-eared to remind myself to return and read more carefully. “Jesus loves as pure gift . . . He makes others better by loving them. Not only does he not accuse their mediocrity . . . but He takes up their defense . . . He defends Mary Magdalene, as he defended the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus.“²

“Experience has shown me too late that we cannot judge people by their vices, but on the contrary by what they hold intact and pure, by the childlike qualities that remain in them, however deeply one must search for them.”³

Well, there we have it! My marching orders for the day. Let’s get to it. “Don’t judge. Just love. Just do.”

¹ From Magnificat, the hymn beginning Prayer for Morning, March 6.

² Fr. Bernard Bro, O.P., quoted in Magnificat, “How We Can Love Our Enemies,” March 3, 2012.

³ George Bernanos, quoted in the same Magnificat meditation, by Fr. Bernard Bro.