Saint Joseph, the faithful foster-father and guardian of Jesus and Mary, stands humbly behind them. He was chosen by God as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, his wife. He carried out his duties with complete fidelity. Through him, Christ was fittinly and honorably introduced into the world. After our gratitude to Mary for being chosen to bring Christ into the world, we must acknowledge Saint Joseph for not only bringing the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfillment, but for being the kindly caretaker of Our Blessed Lord and Our Blessed Mother. At a time when Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant without being married, Saint Joseph obeyed the words of the angel and took her into his home.
Thank you, dear Saint Joseph, for the justice and the fidelity that enabled the greatest event in human history to unfold. Pray for us that in our world today men can muster the mercy and grace which you showed to the world. Help the fatherless families that need your support and help fathers to be faithful to their duties in life. We need your help, dear Saint Joseph, now more than ever. I ask in the name of your foster-child, Jesus the Christ.
We are assured of the accurate accounts of the martyrs’ death in 203 through their own testimony and a writer of that period. “The day of the martyrs’ victory dawned. They marched from their cells into the amphitheater, as if into heaven, with cheerful looks and graceful bearing. If they trembled it was for joy and not for fear.”
They loved God with an undivided heart. They happily went to their death for God. Their intense love of God was demonstrated by their lives and their willingness, no joy, to die for their faith. I read this and marvel at their faith.
Today the godlessness in our world is popular. Our world does not pray in school; our world does not want an end to abortion or embrionic stem cell research; our world cannot live in peace; our world denies the presence of sin; and our world shows no evidence of faith. Those of us who feel the presence of God, hide it and don’t speak our secret. We carry our dwindling faith to our jobs and our friends and family hidden underneath our egos and our desire to not offend anyone. In this environment, I can’t imagine the obvious faith of the early Christians.
Today, God, please give me the courage to love you openly!
Today as I walk through my day, I will remember Saints Perpetua and Felicity. Perhaps I may even
St. Paul said “On the journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, “Who are you, sir?” And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
In this year of St. Paul, I often think about this exchange. The voice calling his name changed Saul’s life forever. In all his writings, he glorifies Jesus Christ and Him crucified with such devotion, it is hard to imagine his previous life where he sought out “people of The Way” to torture and kill. It is difficult to realize that he was present at the first martyr’s assassination.
I’ve had my own conversion of heart. It makes no sense to those who know me and it is a glorious gift to me. I sought God for years and felt that perhaps the story of Christ might be a myth that people wanted to believe in. The sheer number of Christians made me wonder if it was something the world needed to make sense of their existence. I certainly could make no sense of mine.
Today I am a believer. I love my religion. My mediocre world has been colored in the brilliant rays of faith. I have received the gift! Me! Of all people! I am gifted every day of seeing the people I meet and the conversations I have as an illustration of God’s love. I feel I walk with God’s love and the Blessed Mother’s care. The fact that I am nobody makes the truth that much more wondrous.
My God, my God, Why did I persecute you?
My birthday is on the feast of St. Agnes. I took her name in Confirmation. My name was going to be Agnes, but my father wanted a more Irish name. However, St. Agnes, a young martyr who was killed by Roman soldiers for not renouncing her faith, has been the singular most important saint in my life. As a child, I read her story in Book Two, Miniature Stories of the Saints, and wished she just said she wasn’t Christian but had her fingers crossed behind her back. Today as a mature woman, I see the importance of her giving up her young life.
She is always pictured with a lamb. She was a lamb taken to slaughter just like her Lord. Pope Damascus adorned her tomb with sacred poetry and many of the Fathers of the Church honored her in their writings.
Beyond her slaughter she gained eternal life. How did such a twelve year old overcome the fear of pain and death? She loved God more than she loved her life.
Dear St. Agnes, help us! Show us the way to eternal peace!