St. Joseph: Witness and Mentor During the Christmas/Epiphany Season

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min.

 

St. Joseph is one of the patron saints of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. A careful read through our MHSH archives reverberates with attention St. Joseph receives through the gradual unfolding of MHSH history. Our prayer manual contains a beautiful prayer to St. Joseph.

 

 

 

Dear St. Joseph, man of God.

You, whose heart was always on fire

with love, and whose life was a

constant prayer and continual

contemplation, teach us the

perfection of the interior life.

Teach us how to model our hearts in

accord with the hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Teach us how to live and labor for God

and our neighbor in the faithful

observance of our vows and commitments.

May we, after having honored and

imitated you on earth, eternally sing

with you, the mercies of Jesus, and

Mary.

St. Joseph, pray for us. Amen.

During these days of the Christmas/Epiphany Season we are reconnected with the two direct solitary references to St. Joseph by name in all of scripture. He does not speak. He listens. Both times it is in a dream that he encounters a call. Scriptures simply indicates he acts upon the call within the dream. He is the silent one in the crèche’ scene but the strength of his presence is the anchor for the early years of Jesus and Mary’s life.

St. Joseph demonstrates the power of listening, silence and acting upon the inner voice that calls us each and every day of our lives.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Exhortation “Redemptoris Custos: On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church.” The Pope writes: “He (Joseph) took her (Mary) in all the mystery of her motherhood. He took her together with the Son who had come into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way he showed a readiness of will like Mary’s with regard to what God asked of him through the angel.” (#3) Through moments of ambiguity and unsettled questions, the Holy Family’s exodus into Egypt, and the remaining silent years, Joseph represents one who is open in deep listening to the movement of God and with complete confidence responds in faith.

Pope Francis’s pre-Christmas (December 23, 2019) reflection on the vocation of St. Joseph said: “The example of this meek and wise man calls us to raise our gaze and press ahead. The surprising logic of God isn’t about making calculations of what people will accept, but of opening their hearts “to new horizons, to Christ and his word.”

As Mission Helpers move forward into a new period of our history, we discover the silent, firm faith and presence of St. Joseph modeling for us the way into the future.

Are You Ready for Your Epiphany?

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

According to scientific calculations, the earth will be habitable for a billion more years.  It could well be that we are in the early stages of God’s plan.”  So says The Little Blue Book: Advent and Christmas Seasons, 2011-2012 from the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan.

A stray thought surfaces: what about God’s plan for my life?  As I look ahead to this new year of 2012, how will “my life’s work” manifest itself?  I think most of us consider our active ministry or career as our life’s work, and we grieve when we have to relinquish it, thinking that the valuable, significant part of our lives is over.  Maybe not.

If we received an email or text from heaven, alerting us that this coming week will be the most valued of all our time on earth (valued by God, I mean), would our living out of those seven days be anything unusual?  What if nothing out of the ordinary happened or was undertaken by us?  Might we begin to understand that attitude and intention are everything, and that the quality of our being matters so much more than the success of our efforts to do great, important things?

What other “epiphanies,” revelations, manifestations of God’s will and work in us might come our way?  The Advent refrain returns:  “Stay awake.  Be ready.  You do not know the hour when the Lord is coming.…”

Another thought arises:  O.J. Brigance was a good football player for the Ravens—until he developed ALS, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” a few years ago.  Physically, he is appallingly diminished now, in a wheelchair, unable to control most of his movements (though still with a true megawatt smile).  In that condition, he has found what may be his true life’s work, as moral compass and chief encourager for all his teammates.  His mere presence among them, in the locker room, at team meetings, on the sidelines of the field, raises their awareness, in a gentle-but-forceful fashion, that they are so, so lucky in so many ways.  O.J. is greatly cherished—yet another epiphany.  Stay awake!

Is there an epiphany person or event in your life that has changed or enhanced your insights into life’s meaning?  Might there be more that you’ve been overlooking or choosing to ignore?  How might you access those?

Journey to Epiphany

By Jane Geiger, MHSH

At this time of the Church Year we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.  It is said that at a moment of insight and discovery, one has an “Epiphany moment.”  The Epiphany story of the Gospel of Matthew is a classic hero’s journey to enlightenment.  It is told in terms of a physical, geographical journey, but the deeper meaning intended points to an inner, spiritual path.  It begins with a sign that calls beyond the present reality to suggest that life offers more.

The Magi saw a star and left all behind to follow it.  The journey was not without perils: distance, uncertainty, danger.  An encounter with Herod, evil and treacherous, and in the end, the warning to return home by another route.

But their discovery when they arrived where the star had led was their reward and justification.  The manifestation of God was clear.  They saw.  They believed.  No questions asked.  The precious gifts they offered said it all: love, awe, perfect joy.  The perils of the journey were forgotten.  And they knew they received the greater gift: the Presence, the embrace of God, real, soul-stirring, redeeming, enduring.  The journey ended; life began!

Do you have a “star” beckoning…inviting you to step out, take risks to discover a deeper sense of God within: real, soul-stirring, redeeming, enduring?  Talk to the Magi.  Have an Epiphany moment.

Epiphany copyright 2003 Janet McKenzie www.janetmckenzie.com

Collection of Barbara Marian, Harvard, IL