Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy St. Joseph's Day

As you enjoy a little "break" from your Lenten fasts today, take a moment to consider this beautiful saint, the husband of the Queen of Heaven and the earthly father of Our Lord.

Picture: Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus, c. 1622.

Last year our choir sang this beautiful hymn on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph's feast. This year, as we have the feast of the Annunciation rapidly approaching and only one Sunday in between the two, we'll be singing a Marian hymn instead. I know Saint Joseph doesn't mind--he always points us to Mary and to the Holy Child, instead of to himself.

One of my favorite aspects to ponder about Saint Joseph is that he is the patron of a happy death. I pray daily for his intercession, that my death will be a good one, not unprovided for but surrounded with holy prayer and access to the sacraments, especially Confession, Holy Communion, and the Anointing of the Sick. This is a favor Saint Joseph is all too happy to be asked to intercede for on our behalf, and though only God can know the time and manner in which we will die, I'm sure that Jesus likes for us to ask his earthly father for such a good thing, and will grant our prayer in some way.

Because St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death, I think it's fitting that his feast day falls during Lent. For a time before his feast we have been practicing the art of dying to ourselves and of earthly detachment, of putting aside the cares and concerns of the world and cultivating a greater awareness of our eternal destiny, of being caught up in the Kingdom of Heaven instead of the worldly life which surrounds us. However well or ill we've managed so far, we can stop today, look around at our successes and failures, ask St. Joseph for his help, and remember that this Lent is a time for us to practice those virtues which will lead us closer to God and to His Kingdom. We can celebrate a little, recommit ourselves to our sacrifices and spiritual practices, and take heart when we think of St. Joseph and his life of devotion, in which he was privileged to live in the daily presence of Our Lord Jesus and His Blessed Mother.

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

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