Friday, February 19, 2021

St. Joseph as a Model of Holiness



I'm on Day 5 of the Consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Donald Calloway with the intention of making the consecration on St. Joseph's feast day of March 19th (if you feel like you've missed your chance, don't worry. You can start on March 30th and make the consecration on Mary 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker).

Today was all about St. Joseph as a model of holiness, someone who embodied the gifts of the Holy Spirit: knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, fear, and wisdom. The following quote resonated with me:

St. Joseph would tell you that if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit there is one absolutely necessary thing: prayer. Without prayer, you will never be able to have intimacy with God. Without prayer, you will not be able to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. 

. . . Ask the Holy Spirit to make you into "another Joseph." Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with graces similar to those he gave to the paternal heart of St. Joseph. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Remember That You Will Die


We all know that we are going to die. Most of us don’t like to contemplate that fact too often but facing a pandemic the past year has certainly brought impending death to mind more often than it might usually be. In addition, Lent is a liturgical season designed to make us contemplate our mortality. Like it or not, this life will come to an end.

Emily DeArdo has lived with death looming most of her life. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 11. This disease affects the way the body maintains the proper balance of salt and water, damaging the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. The average life span is 33 years. Thanks to a double lung transplant 14 years ago, DeArdo has exceeded that average. During her life, she has learned a great deal about how to face death. In the pages of Living Momento Mori: My Journey through theStations of the Cross, she shares her hard-earned wisdom, connecting it to Jesus’ passion and death.

Memento Mori is Latin for “remember your death.” In the Foreword, St. Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P. shares that the goal is to contemplate your mortality in order to live well. We all suffer in this world. We need to take up our daily crosses, but we can know Jesus is by our side as we suffer.

DeArdo wants us to know, however, that even in the midst of suffering (something with which she is all too familiar), “life [isn’t] doomed to be dark and terrible. Every human life, even with suffering and often because of it, can lead to joy and deeper intimacy with God.”

The 14 chapters in this book correspond to the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross. DeArdo shares her own story of suffering while reflecting on the larger truths of what it means to walk with Christ as he makes his way to Calvary. She does not sugar-coat pain but instead acknowledges the value of redemptive suffering. We can join our sufferings with Jesus. He is right there on the road with us. Each chapter includes reflection questions for personal or group conversation.  

Because we are Christians, we know that suffering and death are not the end of the story. In the Afterward, DeArdo reflects on the Resurrection (which is often considered the 15th Station of the Cross). We must always keep our eyes on the prize. We believe in eternal life. “Remembering that we will die is just another way of recalling that there is a whole new kind of life beyond death.”

DeArdo’s powerful testimony and reflections on the Stations of the Cross make Living Memento Mori ideal for Lenten reading or for when you are going through a personal time of suffering regardless of liturgical season.

Monday, February 15, 2021

St. Joseph as Spiritual Father



Today, I began reading Consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Donald Calloway with the intention of making the consecration on St. Joseph's feast day of March 19th (if you feel like you've missed your chance, don't worry. You can start on March 30th and make the consecration on Mary 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker).

Day 1 spoke about how St. Joseph can help us "become a faithful, loving, and trusting companion of Jesus and Mary", a role he filled as the husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus. Just as he was chosen by God to fill the role of earthly father of Jesus, he can also fill the role of a spiritual father in our lives. 

When I first considered making a consecration to St. Joseph for the Year of St. Joseph, I felt a little uncomfortable. After all, God is our heavenly Father. Do we need another one? Isn't God enough? Of course, yes, God is always enough. But that doesn't mean we can't have other role models, saints that show us how to become closer to God and help lead us to God. St. Joseph is in a unique position to do just that, especially given that God the Father trusted him to care for His own son. As Fr. Calloway states, "he protected the Holy Family; he will protect us, too, if we entrust ourselves to his paternal heart and his spiritual care."

 At the end of each day's readings, those making the consecration are asked to pray Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) and the Litany of St. Joseph. Both of these are beautiful prayers which are provided in the book. I've linked to online versions in case you would like to pray them without the book.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pro-Life Prayer

 A while back, I received a flyer from with the following prayer recommended by Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be said every day for a period of one year to spare the life of a baby in danger of abortion:

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted, who is in danger of abortion.

I liked the prayer and added it to my morning prayers. Recently, however, I was reading Surrender All: an Illuminated Journal Retreat through the Stations of the Cross by Jen Norton (a lovely book, by the way) and came across this longer version of the prayer which I like even more because it includes a prayer for the mother:

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to come to the assistance of the vulnerable pregnant woman who feels alone today. Help her and give her the hope she needs to spare the life of her child, the unborn baby who is in danger of abortion. By your Spirit, speak hope to their hearts today. Amen.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Lenten Devotionals for Lent 2021

 Looking for some spiritual reading to accompany you through Lent 2021? Here are two new books from Ave Maria Press to meet that need.


Messages of Letting Go for Lent 2021 by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran features short devotions designed to help you let go of feeling offended. We all get offended from time to time. Those offenses may be unintended or deliberate, but in either case, "the fruit of offense is hurt, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred, and envy." These are not qualities God wants us to have. God calls us to live a life rooted in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. "We can choose to repent of the times in the past and in the present that we have chosen to hold onto an offense rather than let it go."

Each one-page reflection includes a Scripture quote, a short reflection, and a prayer prompt. These short reflections invite you to take a hard look at the offenses you are holding on to and can help you let them go to life life more fully in God. 

The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Lent 2021 by Sr. Theresa Rickard, O.P., president of RENEW International, offers two-page devotions for each day of Lent. Each devotion includes a prayer from Scripture, an additional Scripture passage, a reflection, an action to take, and a concluding prayer.

Sr. Theresa invites us to "walk more intentionally on the two feet of discipleship - love of God and love of neighbor" so that we might "live a more authentic Christian life long after Lent has passed." These prayerful and practical devotions will help us to do just that. 

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Saturday, February 06, 2021

The Joy of Paying Attention




 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. - Psalm 34:8

I've heard this line from Scripture many times, but I've never really stopped to reflect on it before. It is an invitation to pay attention to the beauty around us and to remember who made it. It is through our senses that we experience life and come to know the goodness of God. God has created this amazing world for us and so often we take it for granted. Most days, we go through life in a fairly numb state. We get up, do what is required of us, and never really feel alive. We are merely existing, waiting to go to sleep and get up and do it all again the next day.

How might our lives be different if we paid attention? This psalm instructs us to taste the goodness of the Lord. I know I often do something else while I am eating breakfast and lunch (usually reading or working). While I try to make food that tastes good, I don't necessarily appreciate it or savor it. I eat my meal and then move on with my day. I don't taste my food thinking of how God provided the sun and water and raw materials for each of the ingredients to grow. What if I did make a conscious effort to appreciate each bite? How might that change the experience of my day?

The psalm also tells us to see the goodness of the Lord. The world is full of amazing creations - the sky, plants, animals, flowers, rocks. It isn't possible to stop and pay attention to every little thing. If we did so, we would soon suffer from sensory overload. But what if we took the time each day to pay close attention to something in nature: appreciate the sunrise or sunset, the bird that comes to sit on a tree outside your window, the tree itself, the falling snow, or a green sprout pushing its way through the earth in spring. We can stop and acknowledge fleeting moments of beauty.

God made this incredible world and gave us our senses so that we might appreciate it. Taking time to pay attention to the good gifts God has given us can help us cultivate a spirit of gratitude and joy. It gives us the opportunity to take a break from our hectic, stress-filled lives and to simply be. It doesn't cost anything but a few moments of our time. What do we have to lose?

This post is part of a blog hop by Spoken Women, an online community of Catholic women nurturing their creative callings. Click here to view the next post in this series "Taste and See"

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Consecration to St. Joseph begins February 15th


As you may have heard, this liturgical year was named "The Year of St. Joseph" by Pope Francis. He is clearly calling us to pay more attention to the Foster-Father of Jesus and the lessons that we can learn from St. Joseph's example. 

I was thinking about purchasing a copy of Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of our Spiritual Father by Father Donald Calloway, MIC when I was pleasantly surprised by a table full of free copies (a gift from our pastor - Thank you, Fr. Dave!) when I walked into Mass a couple weeks ago. 

Consecration to St. Joseph is a 33 day period of prayer and readings culminating in turning oneself over to St. Joseph. You can do this at any point during the year, but if you start on February 15th (as I am planning to), you can finish on St. Joseph's feast day which is March 19th. Plus, I figure it is a good Lenten activity, seeing as Lent begins on February 17th.

Why do this? In the Introduction to the book, Fr. Calloway states:

"It basically means that you acknowledge that  he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. To show it, you entrust yourself entirely to his paternal care so that he can lovingly help you acquire his virtues and become holy."

You can do this even if you have already consecrated yourself to Our Blessed Mother. 

"God desires that all children be committed to the love and care of a mother and a father. You are not a member of a single-parent spiritual family. Mary is your spiritual mother, and St. Joseph is your spiritual father. . . . Everything you have given to Jesus and Mary can also be given to St. Joseph. Be at peace. The Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph are one."

I admit as a woman that I don't often model my life after that of St. Joseph. I do ask for his assistance with the various work that members of my family do and think of him as the patron saint of a happy death. I'm taking this as an opportunity to think more about him and the example that he has to offer, especially in light of this being "The Year of St. Joseph."

I invite you to join with me. I may (depending on how busy I am) post about various things I read as I make my way through the book. The paperback book is currently available through the Marian Helpers website. Amazon is apparently currently out of the actual book, but a Kindle version is available if you want instant access. 

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