Honoring The "Shadow Saint"; Joseph of Nazareth

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

March 19 is the day we honor St. Joseph.  I think we should give him the whole month of March.  I love this man.   I will run this (and nothing else) starting today  March 16, through Friday, March 21.

I call Joseph of Nazareth the “Shadow Saint” because, even though he was responsible for being foster-father to the God-man and husband to the God-man’s mom, the Blessed Virgin, his own life was so quiet and unknown.  He had to shelter them, protect them, feed them, provide for them.  He married Mary (who was a teenager) while the cloud of “adultery” (a sin punishable by death) hung over her head.

Imagine how incredibly difficult this must have been for him, a “righteous Jew” who followed the law and found himself betrothed to a pregnant woman who was not carrying his child.  He must have loved Mary so much and had such great faith.

Then he managed to take her to Bethlehem for the census when she was almost full term.  If that were I,  I would have been sick to my stomach the whole way, wondering if my wife could make it and if the child would survive.  This was an 80-mile trip over rocky and dusty roads and Mary had to ride a donkey.

Then, after the baby is born in a dingy stable with smelly animals, he had to hide his wife and Son and run from the maniacal Herod, who wanted the child dead and had ordered his soldiers to find Him so they could kill Him. Imagine the fear and anxiety as you try to avoid detection.  Feel your heart pounding faster and faster at the sound of every hoofbeat or snapping branch.  I cannot imagine.  Joseph must have had incredible courage.

Back in Nazareth he raised his Boy as any loving and caring father would.  He aided the Boy when he took his first steps, held Him on his lap when he scraped his knee causing it to bleed, showed Him how to eat, taught Him how to pray, read the scriptures to Him and tucked Him into bed at night.  No-one ever in the history of the world has ever been entrusted with such incredible responsibility.  No one in the history of the world could tell Jesus, the God-man, when to go to bed or when to wash His hands for supper or “not to interrupt” if mom or dad was speaking.

Yet, we know so little about this just and holy man.  What we do know is he saved the Son of God who, in turn, lived long enough to save us all.  Oh yeah, he also was married to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He loved her with all of his heart, took care of her, and protected her against all dangers.  There is a love story for you.

There are no writings left behind by Joseph.  There are no words that were spoken by him that were ever recorded.  We have no idea as to what he might have even looked like.  None of that matters, because we do know he was there when God needed him to be there.  Last year Pope Francis picked St. Joseph’s Feast Day day to be installed as Pope.  This was no coincidence I am sure.

Joseph is considered the Protector of the Universal Church.  He is also the patron saint of fathers and families.  Next to his wife, he is the greatest of all other saints.  Just remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, called him, and only him, “dad”. And maybe (I like to think this) the Blessed Mother called him “sweetie” or “hon”.

Hey guys, imagine this. You get up in the morning and your wife says to you, “Good morning sweetie, want some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast?”  You turn and look and the Blessed Virgin Mary is standing there in a housecoat holding two eggs in her hand.  That would have happened to only one man in all of history and his name was Joseph.  No one, anywhere, ever, was afforded such an honor. No one.
HAPPY FEAST DAY ST.JOSEPH.  Thanks for being there for your Boy, your wife, and for all of us.

Repost: New Year's Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

by Larry Peterson

This is a redux of last years New Year’s blog  that won the “Frankie” Award  ( named after St. Francis de Sales) as the best catholic spirituality blog of  2013.

JANUARY 1, 2013  (and 2014)

New Year’s Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

A little about Catholics (myself included)  and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We Catholics have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones I believe) and she is the greatest of all saints. We believe that she has been spared from original sin and was taken into heaven body and soul never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom and a housewife.  I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our spiritual Mom. January 1st of each year we Catholics honor her  with a day we call the Solemnity of Mary; the Mother of God. In the catholic world today is a Holy day of Obligation and, just like on Sundays, going to mass is required. This woman is worthy of and deserves this special day of honor..
Remember that Mary  had already survived the possibility of execution by stoning  because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn’t  Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law and she knew the penalty.  Her life was out of her hands and her fate thrust into  the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy,  she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census.  She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem)and the countless contractions she must have had along the way to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay.  She winds up giving  birth in a stable with smelly animals,  lots of straw, no running water and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after  awhile word comes to them that Herod wants to kill their baby. Hey, all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom  is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while  all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about  anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a  typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain which she would have to grind  into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days) . Of course, there was the laundry.  Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald
‘s either.  Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day. The years go by and  she is witness to  his horrendous execution. No mom should ever have to witness her child being butchered. She was there for His first breath and His very last.


In conclusion, He came here for us and she gave birth to Him for us. She wiped His runny nose, changed His dirty diaper and watched Him grow up and be killed for us. That is why we call her MOM too. We believe that she is still watching out for us, her other kids. Ultimately, this  transposes into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus was the leading Man and Mary, the leading woman . You have to LOVE this story and its two main characters, from Beginning to Never-Ending.

"Silent Night"– when Humility crushes Pride

by Larry Peterson

Peace on earth? Where is it? Is it in Syria? How about Pakistan? Maybe Sudan or Iraq? It is definitely not hanging out in Afghanistan or Iran. How about Cuba?  What does “Peace on Earth” mean? It is not a cease fire between warring factions. It is not a complicated or even simple agreement between nations. True Peace on Earth can only come about by the destruction of the great demon, Pride, and there is only one true weapon that can go head-to-head with Pride and crush it. That weapon is more powerful than all the weapons in all of the arsenals in the world put together. That weapon is Humility.

The weapon of Humility came to us in the form of a newborn baby on Christmas.  This story is so amazing that our simple common sense will tell us it was never fabricated or made up. The most creative writers who ever lived could not have conjured up such a preposterous tale. Imagine, a king being born in a smelly, dirty animal stall to a simple teenage girl whose husband was a struggling carpenter with no money. Then the couple would have to take the baby King and run for their lives because the reigning king, Herod, feared the baby might grow up and overthrow him. Herod’s Pride seizes him so he sends his soldiers to kill the baby King. You are  familiar with the rest of the story. As preposterous as this story may seem more than a billion people believe it. For two thousand years this belief  has continued to transform the world. Millions upon millions of us  celebrated His birth the world over the other night. How can that be? It is due to that great intangible we call FAITH. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it and you cannot  smell it. However, if you open yourself up to it, it can grab you in a life-long embrace that might take your breath away.

Peace without love is an illusion. It cannot exist. It can never come from our own agenda. That is because the deadly toxin, Pride, gets inside us and drips its venom into our hearts filling our egos so much that they sometimes explode with hatred. This hatred is quite visible in the Middle East where Christians are being killed and tortured every day because they believe in this baby and who He grew up to be. The Good News is we have been given the antidote. It is Humility.

Our greatest of all gifts, FAITH, allows us to  believe that God, the Creator of all that is, shared Himself with us through  His Son and, in so doing,  humbled Himself in the most profound act of selflessness that was and will ever be. This was God become man for us. He came as a helpless, innocent newborn, barely able to grasp the finger of his Mom. He allowed himself to be born amidst  the squalor and filth of a stable. Poor shepherds from the hillside were His first visitors. Humility lay in a pile of straw and  looked up into the beautiful face of His weary Mom. A few small pot fires provided enough light for the man of the family, Joseph, to see the two people that he had to care for and protect. No bells were ringing…no trumpets blaring …no cymbals were smashing. The deafening quiet made this the greatest of Silent Nights.  Thirty-three years later, booming thunder would echo His death and three days after that brilliant sunshine would announce our redemption. It is the most beautiful of all truths.

Seventy-three years ago the story of Our Lady of Lourdes was presented in the movies under the title “The Song of Bernadette”. Franz Werfel, the author, had a prologue appear on screen before the movie began. It said, “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe no explanation is possible.”  That is not exactly true. FAITH is a gift that many non-believers have seen fit to grab onto. They have responded to God’s graces and listened. They have grabbed the ‘brass ring’. Many more cannot escape the all consuming Pride that keeps telling them they are so much smarter than all those ‘believers’. I only wish they would reach out and allow that little hand to squeeze their finger, just  for a moment. It will not hurt one bit and they might find out they were not so smart after all..