So many Feasts! (and a little fasting)
Are you ready for St. Joseph's Day? It's tomorrow, and Marcel has been playing all sorts of tricks to keep me from posting until now. I was perplexed until I realized just what he was about . . .
First off, he wanted us to bypass his birthday (March 15, this past Friday), so he sent me on a wonderful visit to a young friend, D.C. aged 9, at City of Hope hospital. We had a marvelous day (D.C., Marcel, Therese, and myself) playing cards - I learned Kings in the Corner and taught Crazy 8's, my own favorite - watching the very first 3 episodes of Andy Griffith, playing 'Shut the Box', and even entertaining a married couple who has a music ministry and played "Lean on Me" at my request. And yes, I sure did sing along! What a day!
Next Marcel conspired to invite to our home on Saturday a handful of delightful college students and a dear couple we love, and next thing I knew we were eating Indian food and watching our favorite Bollywood movie. Fun!!!
Finally it was St. Patrick's day yesterday, but the double feast of Sunday and St. Pat meant that for once I used a Sunday as the Lord meant it - a day of worship (Mass - ah, Jesus!) and then rest, rest, and more rest!
So that now, finally, I'm able to pop over to Miss Marcel's Musings and muse . . . except that with Marcel's plan, he's likely to kick me off before I've finished so I'm not wasting any time.
And just what is his plan?
Marcel wants to make up for lost time. Since he never (to my knowledge) found himself deep in conversation with St. Joseph (at least not in Conversations!), he wants to be sure and acknowledge here, at his 21st century party place where I keep reserved for him his 21st century soapbox, the great and very silent St. Joseph, spouse of Mary and foster father of little Jesus!
Marcel's tribute to St. Joseph will be, as far as I know (as far as he's letting on), posted tomorrow, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and Marcel was so excited that he woke me at 4:30 this morning. This annoyed me slightly - until I realized it was because he wanted me to read a book I'd had my eye on a month ago: Joseph the Silent, by a wonderful French Dominican, Fr. Michel Gasnier, O.P.
This book, which has been my constant companion since about 5 a.m. this morn, was originally published in 1960 but re-issued in 2002. Yay! It was $7.95 on my kindle, and since I keep failing to make it to the dollar store for batteries to get my book light up and running, I was quite grateful that what I needed to read was easy enough to procure on my light up kindle. Thank You, Jesus! Thank you, Marcel!
So what's left? Marcel also reminded me that on the day before a HUGE feast (a solemnity, no less), my husband and I are invited to fast and abstain - this is in our provincial (i.e. local) statutes attached to the Constitutions we follow as Discalced Carmelite Seculars (a.k.a. third order Carmelites). St. Joseph is a special guardian of the Carmelite order, as well as guardian of the universal Church, but somehow we'd always missed this fast and abstinence day, and somehow (thanks again, Marcel!) I remembered this year, and in time, even.
If you would like to join us in preparing in this traditional way for the big feast, feel free to actually follow one of your Lenten resolutions today, in honor of our dear and gentle St. Joseph. Ha! Am I implying that I'm not the only one to have failed at all 3 of my Lenten resolutions before we'd even gotten a week in? Well, misery loves company, and hilarity loves company even more! I'm laughing more than anything else. What could be better for humility? And isn't humility terrific? Ah, glorious poverty!
Which reminds me of one of the hundred things I've learned about St. Joseph this morning and which I'd like to share with you (though I don't dare share the other 99 because my computer is likely to run out of juice, or me out of time, before I post, which would mean another opportunity lost to sing the praises of everyone from Marcel to St. Joseph to little Jesus Himself).
So, here's the one (from the 100) that I can share now:
You know how Jesus is called, in the gospels, "Son of David"? This is because he is known as the son of Joseph who is also known as a Son of David. As Jesus' genealogy in both Luke and Matthew's gospels show, He is a direct descendant of David through Joseph, that is, with Joseph as His father. Although Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and Joseph and Mary lived always in perpetual virginity, nonetheless, according to the law, Jesus was Joseph's son. Mary was also of David's line, but her genealogy had no legal status, as it was through the father that the line was traced. Well . . . here is the thing I learned that just stuns me:
Somehow I had the idea that there were tons of direct descendants of King David and it was really no big deal. You know, "of the house of David" sounded to me kind of like "of the house of Adam." Not quite that big a pool, but maybe more like "of the house of Judah." Which again, sounded like 1/12th of the Jewish people, so not that rare an honor.
Reading Fr. Gasnier's Biblical, historical, Thomistic and patristic reflections and explanations, I finally understood that for Joseph to be a Son of David meant that he was the direct descendant of 12 kings of Israel and was himself a sort of prince, at the least. It would have been somewhat shocking to everyone that he was a poor carpenter. Actually, the fact of his being a manual laborer would have been held in esteem and not looked down upon, for the Jewish people held work with one's hands as tremendously dignified and worthy of the rich as well as the poor. But St. Joseph's poverty - that was unexpected, as he was a Son of David. It wasn't totally unheard of or entirely conspicuous, but in the census line at Bethlehem - where I'd always thought everyone was a Son of David, but come to think of it, there were many others from Bethlehem besides David and his descendants! - those who heard Joseph register, those behind him in line, for instance, would have been a little surprised that this evidently poor man was one of David's descendants.
Ah, glorious poverty! Fr. G points out that this holy poverty made St. Joseph, the just man, a living exemplar, in anticipation, of the Beatitudes and in possession of full beatitude. We could expect nothing less from the one who lived as virginal spouse of Mary and virginal father of little Jesus, the Word Incarnate, our Savior and true Spouse!
So . . . happy belated birthday, Marcel! Happy belated feast, St. Patrick! Please bless Ireland again! And most of all, thank you dear St. Cyril of Jerusalem for so willingly sacrificing your feast that we may anticipate (with a tiny fast) the glory of St. Joseph tomorrow!
Incidentally, I also discovered that this past Saturday, March 16, was the anniversary of the first Holy Communion of St. Peter Julian Eymard, apostle of the Eucharist. Magnificent! And, too, the anniversary (for which their is a special proper Mass, even) of St. Philip Neri's bringing a dead young man back to life so that he could be forgiven his sins in confession to St. Phil, and prepared for a second, much happier death a half an hour later! Happy anniversary, St. Peter J. Eymard, St. Philip, and Paolo Massimo!
And now, in order to proceed as quickly as possible to the joys of tomorrow, let's say our prayer inviting the whole world into the embrace of the Holy Family, and then perhaps before we know it, March 19th will be upon us.
Draw us, we will run!!
I certainly hope to post tomorrow a lovely picture of St. Joseph and the Holy Fam along with Marcel's reflections (as whispered to me, his little pencil), but we'll see what that imp Marcel has planned. I can only guess we're going to get to celebrate together, but if I'm delayed, don't wait for me: Feast away, beginning after Evening Prayer tonight, or its equivalent in your world. A Solemnity begins on the Vigil, though the Vigil begins a little later than I usually am ready to start. I'm sure Marcel will help you figure it out. The important thing is: Praise God, our Heavenly Father, for His stand-in, good and gentle St. Joseph!
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