Are you ready for the feast of St. Joseph? This year we had an extra day, since that wonderful happy date of March 19th fell on the 4th Sunday of Lent, and so Holy Mother Church liturgically transferred the solemnity to March 20th . . . though it's hard not to then simply celebrate our dear father St. Joseph on both days!
You may have been praying away, preparing by a traditional novena, or you may have made it a little novena, forgetting some days, or you may be saying "oops!" right now. That last especially would make you ready to dive into our novena, but you're more than welcome to pray it in addition to yours even if you've been very together! Here at MIss Marcel's Musings, we like to end novenas on the actual feast day, and we LOVE St. Joseph. Consequently we've been praying to him for days and days and it's unlikely we'll stop after today - and all your intentions are included! We find it easy as pie because God our Heavenly Father wants to give us so many things, and He loves to give them through the request of dear St. Joseph who was His stand-in on earth.
So come on down! Let's importune St. Joseph and get those graces showering upon all our near and dear ones, all who have commended themselves to our prayers, all who are in need of our prayers (whether we're aware of their needs or not) and all for whom we've promised to pray. Whew, that's quite a list! Good thing our guardian angels are with us to keep track - we don't need to name every name (in fact we couldn't, come to think of it), but just trust. And as always, we can fortify our small supply of trust by drawing on the HUGE confidence of our sister St. Therese. Now that she sees Our Lord face to Face, she has no need of her trust and is happy to give it to us!
I'm not aware of our dear Marcel Van having written on St. Joseph, but I do love what Jesus told him in Conversations about the Heavenly Father's love for us, and I'm certain these words apply to good St. Joseph in his capacity as our father too. Jesus said:
"Come, come, little brother, the goodness of your true Father is without measure, as I have told you many times already. Even if, in His Love, He indulged you in everything, filling all your desires, He would never find it enough for His Love; He would only be afraid that you might not have the strength to receive all His treats." (492)
St. Joseph must have felt exactly this way regarding the Treasures the Heavenly Father confided into his care: Jesus, and Mary, his spouse, when they lived on earth, and the whole universal Church now. I'm sure St. Joseph wants to indulge us just as he would have wanted to indulge Mary and little Jesus in everything! And I've been thinking about how Mary and Jesus must have felt about him too. I imagine that St. Joseph was such a tremendous comfort to Our Lady and Jesus. He was both strong and gentle, prudent and loving, faithful, devoted, always near and ever ready to help in any task that arose in their little household. And when trials came - the first intimations of the cross in the flight to Egypt, their exile, and later the three day loss of the boy Jesus when He remained in the temple - St. Joseph was no doubt a refuge for Our Lady and a reminder of the faithfulness of the Father who would never abandon them.
I have a favorite St. Joseph novena prayer that I say a lot, and you'll be glad to hear it works! In his kindness and knowing my timorous heart, St. Joseph sometimes answers a petition even before I've said his prayer two or three times, let alone nine, and I'm so grateful. What a way to show us that our confidence is well placed! He would never neglect us, his children, and he is even now working out the answers to as many needs as we present to him.
One reason I love this particular prayer - okay, besides that it has been the means of obtaining many favors and graces over the years - is that it's replete with hope and childlike dependence, plus a lot of great reminders about how reliable St. Joseph is, how responsive, how quick to hear and answer.
Full disclosure: Some of my petitions have been trotted out again and again, and I know that doesn't sound like "quick to hear and answer" on St. Joseph's part. Rest assured that many others were answered by him pronto, and I know he would take care of every intention that way except that he wants to be as obedient to God as God always was to him! Are some of your petitions like some of mine, and you find yourself commending to him the same needs that have been with you for more than one or two of his feasts? I suspect I'm not alone in this, but I have a story to boost your perseverance.
In the beautiful Year of St. Joseph which unfortunately ended in December 2021 (I would have liked a decade of St. Joseph or maybe a century!), I was able to assist my two earthly fathers, that is my dad and my father-in-law, in their passages Home to God. They both were blessed with holy deaths, and for my father-in-law this was particularly marvelous because we had been praying for his return to the sacraments for decades! God knew and waited. St. Joseph heard and persisted in reminding the Father. We just kept praying and trusting and trusting and praying - and voila! Wonderfully, two weeks before he left this life for Eternal Life, my father-in-law cheerfully consented to receive the sacraments and did! The prayers of his parents from long ago, of his wife of 62 years, of his children from their childhoods, of his grandchildren and eventually great grandchildren, these were answered at last in one fell swoop of grace and mercy at the perfect moment God had in mind from all eternity.
Don't worry, then, if some of your prayers are still unanswered. God's timing is always perfect, and He loves that you continue to turn to Him with these persistent requests. And when you go to Him through St. Joseph, you are bringing in one who has great power over God's heart! We have much power over His Heart too, He loves us so much, but with St. Joseph there is that added business of obedience, since the Heavenly Father made St. Joseph the earthly father for Jesus Who was perfect in obedience as in everything else. As Marcel's father in the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus, explains: "Just as Jesus Christ wanted to be subject to Joseph on earth, so He does everything the saint asks of Him in Heaven."
So what do you say? Shall we pray together? Let's honor St. Joseph with our filial confidence and take refuge in him as our Blessed Mother and little Jesus did. And the bigger your needs, the more challenging your requests, the better! This will give Jesus a chance to thank St. Joseph for the years of tender care he provided, and since God will never be outdone in generosity, He is delighted to have the opportunity to provide the tender care St. Joseph now asks on our behalf. May St. Joseph win the day and obtain God's answer to your petitions as swiftly as he obeyed the angels' messages when he was caring for Our Lord and Our Lady!
Marcel and Therese and I (and St. Andre Bessette) wish you the happiest of feasts. May St. Joseph spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, obtain for you an abundance of heavenly graces to more than answer all your deepest desires and petitions. And we pray he throws in a cupcake, or something equally sweet and fun, just to seal the deal!
As for that prayer I can never get enough of, here it is. I gladly pray it again, with you and for you, asking our angels fill in the blanks:
With childlike confidence I present myself before you, O holy Joseph, faithful foster father of Jesus! I beg your compassionate intercession and support in this, my present necessity. . .(and I pray too for all those who have asked my prayers, all those who need my prayers, and all those for whom I have promised to pray).
I firmly believe that you are most powerful near the throne of God, who chose you for the foster father of His well-beloved son, Jesus Christ. O blessed Saint, who saved that treasure of heaven, with His virginal mother, from the fury of His enemies, who with untiring industry supplied His earthly wants and with paternal care accompanied and protected Him in all the journeys of His childhood, take me also, for the love of Jesus, as your child. Assist me in my present difficulty . . . with your prayers before God. The infinite goodness of Our Savior, who loved and honored you as His father upon earth, cannot refuse you any request now in heaven.
How many pious souls have sought help from you in their needs and have experienced, to their joy, how good, how ready you are to assist. How quickly you turn to those who call upon you with confidence! How powerful you are in bringing help and restoring joy to anxious and dejected hearts! Therefore, do I fly to you, O most worthy father of Jesus, most chaste spouse of Mary! Good St. Joseph, I pray you by the burning love you had for Jesus and Mary upon earth, console me in my distress and present my petitions . . . through Jesus and Mary, before the throne of God! One word from you will move Him to assist my afflicted soul. Then most joyfully shall I praise Him and you, and most earnest shall be my thanksgiving!
Draw me, we will run!
"'You have taught me from my youth, O God, and until now I will declare Your wonderful works. And until old age and gray hairs, Oh God, forsake me not.' What will this old age be fore me? It seems this could be right now, for two thousand years are not more in the Lord's eyes than are twenty years, than even a single day." - St. Therese, the first Little Flower (from Story of a Soul)
My goodness, our favorite brother and sister are getting old! Or they would be, had they not departed for heaven when they were young . . . This year on January 2nd we celebrated the 150th birthday of St. Therese, and here we are with her little brother Marcel, and he is 95 today! The remarkable thing about this is to realize that although he went to heaven in 1959, aged 31, if he had stayed on earth he would be only 95 today! What a wild and wonderful thought! Why just the other day my husband and I spent the day with a dear friend who is 95 . . . and to think that would be Marcel too!
So Marcel, dear brother, here's to you - and I see roses and presents which I can only imagine are from you to us, since you're in need of no such party favors where you are in Light and Love . . . and I have a very good idea what is in at least one of those boxes. I think you want to give us the Little Way today, because you've been knocking on my door in the middle of the night, not to ask and receive, but so that you could give and give and give!
Last night (or perhaps this morning, in the wee small hours) I opened Conversations and read from April 9, 1946, about the vision you had of Jesus, dear little brother. You wrote:
"Then I suddenly saw a cross appear beside little Jesus. At the top of the cross a piece of cloth was suspended on which was printed the Face of Jesus. Little Jesus looked at me with a joyful expression, then, showing me the cross He said to me, 'Little brother, here is your portion of the inheritance, here is the portion of the inheritance of the children. Do you see it clearly?' Then little Jesus, indicating Himself added, 'Little brother, here is the elevator which will allow you to take possession of this inheritance, and it will also be the same for the children. Do you understand? This is the way your sister Therese has led you up till now, after having followed it herself. Little brother, tell that to the children.'"
I know this way, it is the Little Way! And since Jesus is the Way, little Jesus must be the Little Way!
You tell us, Marcel, in your Autobiography, about being led by Therese, when you write in these words to Jesus:
"You have aroused in my mind the desire to become a saint. Then You made me find in a very simple manner the little way by which You guided St. Therese of the Infant Jesus. In short, You have used the hand of this little saint to write for the use of souls the sweet counsels to which You have led her on her little way. Today, I know that You love me, and that in Your immense love You behave towards me as with a little child. Oh, how You deserve to be loved in return!" (577)
Thank you, dear Marcel, for letting Jesus use your hand, too, to write for the use of souls the sweet counsels of the little way! But what did our sister say that showed you Jesus and His way? She did not see Him in a vision as you did, and yet she, the littlest Doctor of the Church, could tell us with certainty what she had experienced, and you are like an echo of her heart. She wrote:
"I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new.
"We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: 'Whoever is a LITTLE ONE, let him come to me.' And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for. But wanting to know, O my God, what You would do to the the very little one who answered Your call, I continued my search and this is what I discovered:
'As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you.'
"Ah! never did words more tender and more melodious come to give joy to my soul. The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more." (Story of a Soul, Ms C, Chapter X)
Here we have your word, Marcel, with Jesus in your sight. Then we have Therese's word, with Scripture in her hands. And then . . . may I have a word?
Being a bear of very little brain and so forgetful (just like you, dear brother), I was entirely moved, as if for the first time, by a passage in Isaiah yesterday. And then it began to dawn on me, this passage wasn't entirely unfamiliar. It had moved me just so the day before! Ah, the eternal newness of Scripture and Jesus' message! Today I at least remembered it from the get go, but since the third time is the charm (for the Trinity!), here is my third day of Isaiah 63, 7-9, and it makes the third testimony to our elevator. What a charming Little Way for sure!
Our passage is a dialogue, beginning with our lines, then switching over to our Divine Lover's:
The favors of the Lord I will recall, the glorious deeds of the Lord, because of all He has done for us; for He is good to the house of Israel, He has favored us according to His mercy and His great kindness.
He said: "They are indeed my people, children who are not disloyal." So He became their Savior in their every affliction. It was not a messenger or an angel, but He Himself Who saved them. Because of His love and pity, He redeemed them Himself, lifting them and carrying them all the days of old.
* * *
Marcel, if ever anyone has shown us in all the particulars, in each tiny detail day by day, how He became our Savior in every affliction, how He Himself saved us, how because of His love and pity He came down and lifted us and carried us - oh Marcel, I am saying "us" but you have shown us it is true by showing how He did each of these things for you in your little life on earth. You are the one who has shown us, just like our sister St. Therese did before you!
And so we owe you much, dear brother, and on this birthday we do what birthdays inspire us to do best: We thank God for you!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving Your Beloved Son Jesus to Your beloved son Marcel!
Thank You, Jesus, dear Spouse of our souls, for giving us Marcel as Your little secretary. Thank You for carrying him through all the vicissitudes of his 31 year life on earth and escorting him to Heaven when You finally gave him that first real kiss. Thank You for lifting him to Yourself, and showing us through his words that You desire to lift us too!
Thank You Holy Spirit of Love for teaching Marcel the Little Way through our sister, the angelic Therese, and yet not resting content with her experience, but filling his heart with Yourself that he could be another apostle for us children . . . and yet assuring us through him, as through Therese, as through Your own Inspired Word of Scripture, that finally it is Jesus Who is embracing us in all these words and teachings, that it is Jesus Himself who is the One Word of the Father, a Word which comforts and consoles, and then becomes Flesh to love us in Person, to be with us as we are, to show us all the way to the Cross this depth of Love from the Trinity . . . and remain with us in the Blessed Sacrament to continue to embrace and carry us!
Marcel, do shower us with roses on your birthday! Help Therese to cover the world with these roses, and especially all those we pray for through the intercession of St. Joseph, in these days leading to his feast. Oh, and don't stop teaching us the Little Way. You know we forget all the time, so we need your constant companionship to make us laugh, take ourselves more lightly, and look at Jesus, standing before us with open arms, ready to embrace us and press His lips to our faces.
Hooray for birthdays! Hooray for Marcel! Hooray for Jesus!
Draw me, we will run!!!
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