Sunday, February 19, 2017

4th Sunday of St. Joseph

Presentation at the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1342

Joys and Sorrows - I

To think about the life of Saint Joseph is to discover a life full of joys and sorrows. the Lord teaches us through the life of the Holy Patriarch that true happiness is never far from the Cross. If we bear that suffering and trial with supernatural spirit, we will soon be rewarded with clarity and peace. With Christ at our side, sorrows turn into joys.

[First Sorrow and Joy]

When Mary his mother had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (Matt 1:18) Joseph ... loved Mary with a pure and deep human love. Yet he felt obliged by his upright conscience to follow the Mosaic law in this regrettable situation. In order to protect Mary from public shame, Joseph decided to put her aside privately. This was a most painful test for both Joseph and Mary.

Just as his sorrow was great, so was Joseph's joy immeasurable when at last he was shown the ways of God's Providence ...

We can learn from Joseph's first sorrow and joy that the Lord will always enlighten those who seek him with a clean heart. God's light can shine through the most perplexing situations imaginable.

[Second Sorrow and Joy]

And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger... (Luke 2:6-7)

We can imagine Joseph going from door to door in search of shelter and hospitality for his pregnant wife ... What must this terrible experience have been like for Saint Joseph? What were his feelings at the sight of his weary wife, her clothing travel-stained and every feature proclaiming her utter exhaustion? ...

All of this anxiety and suffering was quickly forgotten from the moment Mary held the Son of God in her arms. Saint Joseph realized that the Son of God was now his son as well. He kissed and worshipped him...

This alternating sorrow and joy should teach us that serving God is worth the effort, even though we will encounter difficulties, and perhaps poverty and pain.

[Third Sorrow and Joy]

And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21) ... The actual ceremony was sometimes performed by the father.

... The name Jesus means Savior; it had been chosen by God himself and communicated through the message of the angel ... It was the desire of the Holy Trinity that the Son should commence his salvific mission on earth in suffering. It would seem fitting that Joseph was the one to inaugurate the mystery of the Redemption by shedding the first drops of his Son's holy blood. This blood would yield its full effect in the awful context of the Passion. The Child who cried upon the receipt of his name had thereupon begun his work of salvation.

Saint Joseph ... was well versed in the Scriptures and he knew, if only in an imperfect way, that there would come a day when his Son would have to shed his blood even to the last drop. Joseph was filled with joy to carry the child in his arms and call him Jesus ...

[Fourth Sorrow and Joy]
And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22) ... When Joseph heard the prophecy of Simeon, surely a sword must have pierced his heart as well.

On that day in the Temple Joseph and Mary were given a more profound insight into the mystery of the Redemption which their Son would bring to completion. Saint Joseph was now able to understand a little better. He made this suffering his own...

Alongside this pain there was, of course, the joy of the impending universal redemption.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gone Retreatin' - to Help Good Marriages Get Better

We are off to help with our parish's Beyond Cana retreat. It is a labor of love and a pleasure to be part of the very special group of people putting this retreat on.

Please keep us in your prayers and, of course, also the attendees ... married couples who somehow were able to find the time to take 2-1/2 days apart from the world to focus on their marriages. These days that shows true dedication!

May this be a blessed time for everyone involved. Lord, hear our prayer.

(I'm outta here until Monday, not surprisingly! See y'all then!)

By the way - if you live in Dallas and are interested in finding out more, we hold these twice a year. You can get the basics here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Medieval Honey Bees

Medieval illustration from beekeeping manuscript
Via Animalarium where there is an antique treasure chest of illustrations for anyone who clicks through the link!

Well Said: The Path of Redemption

It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master; no path of redemption can make a detour around it.
Hans Urs von Balthasar
When I have this in mind it is so much easier to bear things that would otherwise really get me down. The challenge is often to keep it in mind instead of looking for that detour.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Well Said: Satan's Assurances

Before we commit a sin, Satan assures us that it is of no consequence; after we commit a sin, he persuades us that it is unforgivable.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Worth a Thousand Words: Water Spaniel

George Stubbs, Water Spaniel

Genesis Notes: Lot's Resume

I love these resumes. They pull together a Biblical figure's life in a way that gives me a whole new take sometimes.

Lot and his family flee from Sodom by Jacob Jordaens.
Jacob Jordaens

When still young, Lot lost his father. Although this must have been hard on him, he was not left without strong role models in his grandfather Terah and his uncle Abram, who raised him. Still, Lot did not develop their sense of purpose. Throughout his life he was so caught up in the present moment that he seemed incapable of seeing the consequences of his actions. It is had to imagine what his life would have been like without Abram's careful attention and God's intervention.

By the time Lot drifted out of the picture, his life had taken an ugly turn. He had so blended into the sinful culture of his day that he did not want to leave it. Then his daughters committed incest with him. His drifting finally took him in a very specific direction -- destruction.

Lot, however, is called "righteous" in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:7, 8). Ruth, a descendant of Moab, was an ancestor of Jesus, even though Moab was born as a result of Lot's incestuous relationship with one of his daughters. Lot's story gives hope to us that God forgives and often brings about positive circumstances from evil...

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • He was a successful businessman
  • Peter calls him a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7, 8)
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When faced with decisions, he tended to put off deciding, then chose the easiest course of action
  • When given a choice, his first reaction was to think of himself
Lessons from his life:
  • God wants us to do more than drift through life; he wants us to be an influence for him
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Lived first in Ur of the Chaldeans, then moved to Canaan with Abram. Eventually he moved to the wicked city of Sodom.
  • Occupation: Wealthy sheep and cattle rancher; also a city official
  • Relatives: Father - Haran. Adopted by Abram when his father died. The name of his wife, who turned into a pillar of salt, is not mentioned.
Key verse:
"When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them." (Genesis 19:16)

Lot's story is told in Genesis 11-14; 19. He also is mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:9; Luke 17:28-32; 2 Peter 2:7, 8.

All quotes from Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Holy Martyrs of Libya, pray for us

21 Martyrs of Libya
by Tony Rezk
(See more about this icon below)
The martyrs of Libya are the 21 young men who withstood imprisonment by ISIS for 40 days and then were murdered when they refused to renounce Jesus Christ.

They died with Jesus' name on their lips, saying "Jesus help us" and "My Lord Jesus."

It has been two years since they were martyred.
The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.
In these uncertain times, I am strengthened by their witness, faithful unto death. I pray that I may likewise bear faithful witness in whatever circumstances I find myself.

Let us pray for those persecuted for their faith, for the persecutors to recognize the truth they strive to silence, and that we will be as faithful our love and witness.

Holy martyrs, pray for us and for the whole world. Amen.
+Milad Makeen Zaky
+Abanub Ayad Atiya
+Maged Solaimain Shehata
+Yusuf Shukry Yunan
+Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
+Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
+Somaily Astafanus Kamel
+Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
+Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
+Girgis Milad Sinweet
+Mina Fayez Aziz
+Hany Abdelmesih Salib
+Bishoy Adel Khalaf
+Samuel Alham Wilson
+Ezat Bishri Naseef
+Loqa Nagaty
+Gaber Munir Adly
+Esam Badir Samir
+Malak Farag Abram
+Sameh Salah Faruq
+Matthew Ayairga, originally non-Christian, who was captured with the others and witnessed their faith. When terrorists asked if he rejected Jesus, despite knowing he would be killed, he said, "Their God is my God."

21 Martyrs of Libya icon

I discovered this icon at New Liturgical Movement which shared insights about the symbolism, always important for any icon.
[Matthew Ayairga is] represented here in the middle of the group. Note also that the rest of them are shown with the same face as Jesus, whose Holy Name they spoke as they were killed; the sea behind them is shown reddened by their blood. The red stoles and crowns above them symbolize their martyrdom; the stoles are arranged like those of Coptic deacons during the liturgy. ... The red stoles worn by Christ and the martyrs symbolize the cross identifying them as Christlike Cross bearers, (staurophoroi).

Here is an interview with Tony Rezk where he talks about his faith and the Coptic Church.

Holy Martyrs of Libya icon

Holy Martyrs of Libya
by Nikola Sarić
Notice how the waves of the sea stained with the martyrs’ blood are shown around the edge of the image; Matthew Arayiga is distinct among the group on the top right. The men were killed wearing orange prisoners’ jumpsuits; all them are looking at Christ except for the one at the bottom, who is looking out at us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Japan Mail Steamship Co.

Japan Mail Steamship Co., via BibliOdyssey
Title: Nippon Yusen Kaisha = Japan Mail Steamship Co. [Three ukiyo-e women]
Description: Three Ukiyoe women in kimono standing at the shore
Subject (Company): Nihon Yūsen Kabushiki Kaisha 日本郵船株式会社

Well Said: Finding Peace

Great peace is found in little busy-ness.
Yes. When I remember to do the little things it helps the big problems recede.

Scott and Julie lose the signal, but their bad housekeeping pays off.

There are glasses of water everywhere. And a bat. Lucky! Or not?

Episode 151 looks at Signs directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Get it at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Leek and Potato Soup

This seems like a basic soup but James Beard's flavoring makes it something out of the ordinary.

Worth a Thousand Words: Arlene Dahl in Desert Legion

Arlene Dahl for Desert Legion
via Not Pulp Covers
I love this. The costuming should have won an award! And how about that sultry look? It is classic not only for what it is portraying but for a picture of 1953 movie making.

Beware if you explore Not Pulp Covers. It has some really great stuff but, keeping in mind how close a lot of it comes to pulp, there are a fair number of scantily clad damsels.

Well Said: A continual remembrance

Food is the daily sacrament of unnecessary goodness, ordained for a continual remembrance that the world will always be more delicious than it is useful.
Robert Farrar Capon
Yes indeed. Which makes the modern tendency to slam down a meal as fuel all the more deplorable. We all do it from time to time. The trick is to be sure that we are mindful. That we do not make it a habit. That we appreciate the goodness available to us, thanks to the sheer generosity and goodness of God who wants us to have something delicious.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

3rd Sunday of St. Joseph

Lorenzo Lotto. Madonna and Child with St. Jerome, St. Joseph and St. Anne.

Joseph, Husband of Mary

Painters have traditionally depicted Joseph as an elderly man in order to emphasize the perpetual virginity of Mary. Yet it is more likely that Joseph was not much older than Mary. You don't have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength and joy of youth are no obstacle to a noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned of the mystery of her divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world as one more sign that he had come to share the life of his creatures. (St. Escriva, Christ is passing by)

Let us ask the Holy Patriarch to teach us how to live this kind of love in the circumstances to which God has called us. We want this love that lights up the heart (St. Thomas, On Charity) so that we may perform our ordinary work with joy.