Reflection for the Feast of St. Joseph
This reflection was prepared by S. Paula Hagen OSB for the prayer of the Monastic Community.
I feel very blessed to be asked to reflect on the liturgy for this feast day. I grew up with the Sisters of St. Joseph, so we celebrated this feast day with a day off from school and a long weekend!
The Sisters of St. Joseph from St. Catherine’s were very good to the farm families in Bird Island, Minnesota, and our parents, as well as the pastor, supported them 100%. We had 8 vocations when we were in high school and college.
This year as I practiced lectio on all the wonderful Scripture passages for the Feast of St. Joseph, I was struck by three ideas:
1. Joseph’s faith brought him through a crisis to practice the virtue of trusting God;
2. Joseph’s ability to deal with change (or “conversion of heart”), which lead to transformation of what it meant to be married to Mary and the father of Jesus;
3. Joseph’s ability to process his anger and disappointment in one change of plans after another.
These three ideas are deeply interrelated in his soul and expressed concretely as faith, conversion and good zeal.
Embracing Change and Accepting Grace
For example, when Mary comes home from visiting with Elizabeth and tells Joseph that she is pregnant by a miracle. What a crisis in his thinking and his feelings as a human person who loved her and was planning to be married to this beautiful young woman.
And when they had to travel to register for the census and Mary gives birth to Jesus in a stable. He had to beg for Shelter and Hospitality was demanded of him as various guests arrived to honor this child.
Then Joseph also had to change his plans completely when they were in danger from Herod’s men, they could not go back home. They became immigrants seeking shelter and work until it was safe to return to Nazareth.
It is not hard to imagine his gradual transformation process and God’s grace at so many points of his life as it kept changing. Even after the flight into Egypt, Joseph had to seek safe shelter and hospitality from friends or relatives. Later, he had to set up a workshop to make a living.
When I was child, I just thought of Joseph as a saint, assuming it would have been easy for him to be obedient to God, making all these changes to his feelings and thinking smoothly. Now as an adult, I realize all this was not at all easy. Just imagine what was happening in his soul as he faced all of these situations.
How do we practice faithful generosity during a time of deep anxiety?
We are facing some changes in our own lives, too. How is God asking each one of us to change the way we are living our Benedictine values in community at this time?
- Are we angry that “we worked hard all our life and now we have to give up or share this lovely monastery with others?”
- Are we moody or crabby about being isolated with this disease that is overtaking all of our schedules?
- Are those of us who suffer less fear and anxiety willing to reach out and provide comfort to those who do?
- Are we showing our support to our Sisters in leadership and our good zeal for all those in our community?
Let us take some time to think about St. Joseph and to pray for the grace we need to practice deep faithful generosity, renew our vow of conversion, and commit to good zeal in our relationships with each other.
Let us pray
Let us pray to St. Joseph, that on this his feast day he will intercede for us and our needs: Let us pray:
Dear St. Joseph, defend with unfailing protection our Benedictine Communities and our Health Care Systems around the United States. We pray that our families and communities will be safe under your fatherly protection. Feed your starving children with love and food. Bless our leadership that they can continue to make good decisions for our health and safety. We ask for these blessings through the intercession of God our Father, Jesus our Brother, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Feast of St. Joseph, March 26, 2020
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