I’m delighted to wish you a very happy Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary! As I expressed at the end of each Mass this past weekend, it is an extraordinarily special day this year, as this important feast day falls in the year consecrated to St. Joseph by Pope Francis. Recognizing the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, Pope Francis wrote a beautiful text called Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) which you can find here
. It’s not very long, and it’s easy to read. I encourage you to read it, and pause frequently to reflect on the ideas and images that our Holy Father offers.
As I recalled in my homily earlier today, St. Matthew the Evangelist tells us that St. Joseph received four different dreams from God giving him direction. On Saturday, during our Lenten parish retreat, Sr. Cecilia and her associates shared with me a beautiful reflection on these dreams which impacted me greatly. When do we dream, they asked? When we fall asleep! So, we see that Joseph had so much trust in God, that in the most confusing or terrifying of circumstances (e.g., learning of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy, and preparing to flee into, and then return from, Egypt) he is able to peacefully fall asleep. Do we do that, or do we lie awake, worrying anxiously? As Pope Francis puts it, Joseph “teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course.” (#2) Of course, Joseph doesn’t merely dream. He wakes up and lives out the mission entrusted to him by God. This is further inspiration: like St. Joseph, we must cooperate with God in accomplishing His will.
As we shared at our online gathering last night, we’re preparing a special opportunity for Sacred Heart parishioners to participate in a consecration to St. Joseph. We’ll be using the book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Fr. Donald H. Calloway, MIC. We encourage you to purchase the book online, or to contact Joyce in the parish office, who has copies available at a significant discount. You’re invited to read the daily reflections and offer the daily prayers on your own, and, if you like, to gather online with other Sacred Heart parishioners on Tuesday evenings at 7pm, beginning March 30, to discuss what we’ve read. Please contact Joyce to sign up, and to get the access information for that weekly Zoom meeting. (Would you prefer to meet on Tuesday mornings in the church, in person and socially distanced? With enough interest, we’ll assemble this group also.)
The consecration process will culminate with a special noon Mass on Saturday, May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, where all those who have prepared will make their consecration. St. Joseph, who supported his family as a carpenter, reminds us that God empowers us to work to fulfill our vocations, contribute to the wellbeing of others, and to support our families. “From him,” Pope Francis observes, “Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.” (#6)
Also, an important reminder: please join us this Tuesday, March 23rd, for our annual Lenten Penance Service. I look forward to being joined by my great friend, Fr. Carlos Lerma, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rocky Mount. Please keep us busy! We’ll begin a brief service at 6pm, and then we’ll be available for individual confessions as long as you need us. Being reconciled with God is perhaps the most important way to prepare our hearts and souls for the pivotal events we remember during Holy Week, which is swiftly approaching.