Prayer to work centered on the Lord like St. Joseph

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, 01 May 2021
Genesis 1:26-2:3   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 13:54-58
Photo by author, site of St. Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth beneath the chapel in his honor, May 2017.

God our loving Father, we praise and thank you for the gift of St. Joseph whom you have called to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of your Son Jesus Christ here on earth. In him, you have shown us the value of sharing in your work to nurture earth and its resources.

Most of all, in St. Joseph you have taught us to work centered on our Lord Jesus Christ by integrating work with family and with fatherhood to become truly a provider not only of food, clothing and other material needs but most of all in providing love and guidance to the family.

In St. Joseph, the motivation and the purpose of work is solely to serve Jesus Christ which is very evident in the gospel today.

Jesus came to his native place
and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son?"
(Matthew 13:54-55)

How beautiful that in the “wisdom and mighty deeds” displayed by Jesus, the people remembered St. Joseph the carpenter – what a marvelous job he must have done in forming and providing for our Lord!

He must have worked diligently for you, dear God, never focusing attention to himself so unlike these days when we have categories of workers like those doing “white collar jobs” and “blue collar jobs”.

Dearest God our Father, in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic when so many people have lost work and are now suffering the adverse effects of quarantine, we pray in the most special way for our workers to please protect them from all harm and sickness especially those working in the hospital.

We pray for those trying to find work these days so they may continue to provide for their families.

Photo by author, Chapel of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Israel, May 2017.

Open our hearts on this year of St. Joseph as proclaimed by Pope Francis last December 8 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his proclamation as patron of the universal church:

The crisis of our time, which is economic, social, cultural and spiritual, can serve as a summons for all of us to rediscover the value, the importance and necessity of work for bringing about a new “normal” from which no one is excluded. Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work. The loss of employment that affects so many of our brothers and sisters, and has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, should serve as a summons to review our priorities. Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!

Pope Francis, “Patris Corde” #6

O most chaste St. Joseph, pray for us! Amen.

Loving like St. Joseph in the time of pandemic

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16  +  Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22  +  Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
Photo by author of the site believed to be the workshop of St. Joseph in Nazareth, 2017.

Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph as most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a very special one being in the “Year of Saint Joseph” that began last December 8, 2020 until December 8, 2021 in commemoration of the 150th year anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s declaration of the beloved saint as Patron of the Universal Church.

In launching this Year of Saint Jospeh last year, Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (With a Father’s Heart) how the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day.

The Holy Father explained that the “ordinary” people like those who kept our lives going especially during the lockdowns resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation” (Vatican News, 12 December 2020).

I really hope you can have time to read today this very short letter by Pope Francis who is a known devotee of Saint Joseph having popularized among us during his 2015 Papal Visit the image of “Sleeping Saint Joseph”.

In Patris Corde, Pope Francis gives us some helpful points on how we can love with the heart of God our Father like Saint Joseph during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these traits the Pope invites us to imitate from Saint Joseph is his “creative courage” in loving God and loving others.

If the first stage of all interior healing is to accept our personal history and embrace even the things in life we did not choose, we must now add another important element: creative courage. This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.

Pope Francis, Patris Corde #5

A creative person is always someone who is deeply in love with another person or with one’s craft, art, career or whatever passion.

The most loving person is always the most creative like Saint Joseph who sought ways expressing his love for Mary and her child by deciding to silently divorce her as the gospel tells us.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Jospeh, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Matthew 1:18-19
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago of a mosaic at the San Padre Pio Shrine at Rotondo, Italy of the angel appearing to Saint Joseph in his dream.

Holiness is having creative courage like Saint Joseph.

Notice how the Pope’s description of Saint Joseph is not far from St. Matthew’s calling him a “righteous man” – a holy man – who obeys the Laws of God handed down to them by Moses, including their other traditions meant to keep them clean and pure before God.

Problem during that time is how people have lost sight of God and of others that they were so focused on the letters of the law than its spirit, becoming impersonal in the process as we have seen in instances when they would ask Jesus why he healed the sick even on sabbath day. Worst is when people brought to Jesus a woman caught committing adultery, reminding him of Moses’ instruction to stone her in public.

Such was the dilemma faced by Saint Joseph with Mary being pregnant with a child definitely not his!

In deciding to silently leave Mary, Saint Joseph expressed his righteousness or holiness wherein he showed the true interpretation of their Laws by upholding the dignity of every person, respecting life above all. Like Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph showed that real holiness is authentic love that is willing to sacrifice for the beloved by having the courage to be in pain in giving up or losing a beloved.

Here we find Saint Joseph was not only courageous in facing the painful truth about Mary having a baby not his but also very creative in the sense that because of his great love for the Blessed Virgin, he did not want her exposed to shame and public humiliation in allegedly breaking the seal of their betrothal.

Having courage is more than being able to do death-defying acts that is more on physical strength; courage is a spiritual virtue, a spiritual strength when we do extraordinary things because of higher ideals and values like the love of Jesus who offered us his life on the Cross.

Courage is from the Latin word “cor” for heart which is the seat of our being. And to have courage is to be true and loving that we have such expressions to speak from the heart, to listen to our heart, and to act from our heart when we dare to lose ourselves because of love.

Photo from Aleteia.org of “Let Mum Rest” image St. Joseph nursing the Infant Jesus while Mary sleeps, 2019.

A person who truly loves is always creative, 
finding ways in expressing one's love even sometimes 
it may be painful and difficult.

A “creatively courageous” person like Saint Joseph is someone so deeply in love with Mary and with God: after learning the circumstances surrounding Mary’s pregnancy, St. Matthew tells us “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Mt.1:24).

Saint Joseph’s love for Mary found ways to spare her all the pains and hurts that may result if found with a baby not his; but after learning the truth, the more we find him creatively courageous when he sought many ways to save Mother and Child from all harm and even death like bringing them to Egypt in the time of Herod.

See that when Saint Joseph accepted Mary, Jesus came forth to us while at the same time, when Saint Joseph accepted God through the angel as expression of his deep faith and love, he took Mary as wife.

And this is what Pope Francis further explains in Patris Corde that at the end of every account in which Saint Joseph plays a role, the Gospel tells us that he gets up and takes Jesus and Mary who are the most precious treasure of our faith.

Taking Jesus and Mary like Saint Joseph as creative courage calls us Christians to always love the Church and in loving the Church, we love the poor for whom Jesus came and Mary identified herself with in her Magnificat which she sang after accepting the Annunciation by the Angel of Christ’s birth which we celebrate next week on March 25.

In this time of the pandemic, we are called to be creatively courageous in finding Jesus among those people too familiar with us as well as with those so different from us. Don’t you find it so funny that the people we always take for granted are those either so close to us like family or completely strangers?

Being creatively courageous in this time of the pandemic means being more sensitive with others especially in our words and actions like Saint Joseph.

I was wondering during prayers why did he not ask Mary about the truth of her pregnancy so that he would have been spared with all the thinking and praying? That is when I realized the value of Saint Joseph’s silence: he did not speak at all to Mary as a sign of his love and oneness with her who must have been into some difficulties too with the situation of being the Mother of Christ. sympathy.

In his silence, Saint Joseph expressed his complete trust in Mary and in God. And in his being silent, Saint Joseph was creatively courageous expressing aloud his tenderness and care for Mary and her Child, something we need so much in this time of the pandemic.

Let us pray to Saint Joseph in this time of social distancing that like him, we may have the creative courage in touching others with the love of God, especially those who are sick and suffering, those in difficult situations, and those forgotten by their families and friends and even by the society. Have a blessed Friday, everyone!

Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

Photo from Vatican News, St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, 14 December 2020.

Loving “with a Father’s heart” like St. Joseph

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-3 for the Soul
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II 
Friday, Advent Week III, 18 December 2020
Genesis 49:2, 8-10     >><)))*> + >><)))*> + >><)))*>     Matthew 1:1-17
Photo from Vatican News, St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, 14 December 2020.

Today we continue the second part of Matthew’s genealogy that ended yesterday with a marked shift in its structure of begetting: “Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ” (Mt.1:15-16).

Matthew now fortifies this fact and conviction that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise to the Patriarchs, the Son of God who became human like us. See his solemn pronouncement about the coming of Jesus Christ:

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ cam about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Jospeh, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Matthew 1:18-19

It is so timely that on this rare occasion when we reflect on Joseph’s role in the coming of Jesus Christ that Pope Francis recently declared December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021 as the “Year of Saint Joseph” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the beloved saint as Patron of the Universal Church with his Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (With a Father’s Heart).

A known devotee of Saint Joseph who popularized in 2015 during his visit to the country the image of the “Sleeping Saint Joseph”, Pope Francis said in writing Patris Corde how the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day.

The Holy Father explained that the “ordinary” people like those who kept our lives going especially during the lockdowns resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation” (Vatican News, 12 December 2020).

Let us reflect on two beautiful traits of St. Joseph that made him love Jesus and Mary with a father’s heart according to Pope Francis: creatively courageous and being in the shadows.

Photo from Vatican News, 12 December 2020.

Saint Joseph as a creatively courageous father

In describing Joseph as a “creatively courageous father”, Pope Francis showed us his deep devotion to this great saint described by Matthew as a “righteous man” or holy man who obeys the Laws of God.

Having courage is more than being able to do death-defying acts that is more on physical strength; courage is a spiritual virtue, a spiritual strength when we do extraordinary things because of higher ideals and values like love and gaining eternal life in Jesus Christ.

According to Pope Francis, “creative courage emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had” (Patris Corde, 5).

The word courage is from the Latin “cor” for heart which is the seat of our being. To have courage according to the late Fr. Henri Nouwen means “to speak from the heart, to listen to our heart, and to act from our heart” when we dare to lose ourselves because of love.

A creative person is always someone who is deeply in love with another person or with one’s craft, art, career or whatever passion. See how people so in love become so creative that they can write songs and poems, do wonderful works, and accomplish so many wonderful things.

A “creatively courageous” person like Saint Joseph is someone so deeply in love with Mary and with God: after learning the circumstances surrounding Mary’s pregnancy, Matthew tells us “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Mt.1:24).

Photo by author, Gaudete Sunday 2020.

Matthew tells us how Saint Joseph from the very start has always been creatively courageous when he decided to quietly divorce Mary after learning of her pregnancy: here we find Saint Joseph not only very courageous to face the bitter truth about Mary having a baby not his but also very creative in the sense that because of his great love for her, he did not want her exposed to extreme shame and public humiliation in breaking the seal of their betrothal.

His love for Mary found ways to spare her all the pains and hurts that may result if found with a baby not his; but after learning the truth, the more we find him creatively courageous when Joseph found so many ways to save Mother and Child from all harm and even death.

See that when Joseph accepted Mary, Jesus came forth to us while at the same time, when Joseph accepted God through the angel as expression of his deep faith and love, he took Mary as wife.

And this is what Pope Francis further explains in Patris Corde that at the end of every account in which Saint Joseph plays a role, the Gospel tells us that he gets up and takes Jesus and Mary who are the most precious treasure of our faith.

Taking Jesus and Mary like Saint Joseph as creatively courageous calls us Christians to always love the Church and the sacraments and charity, and most of all in loving the Church, we also love the poor for whom Jesus came and Mary identified herself with in her Magnificat.

In this time of the pandemic, we are called to creatively courageous in finding Jesus among those people too familiar with us and those so different from us because too often, they are the people we always take for granted, those too close to us and the strangers.

Being creatively courageous in this time of the pandemic means also being more sensitive with others especially in our words and actions that many times lack any sympathy or empathy with those living at the margins like the poor and the sick, those living alone, and those forgotten by families and by society.

Saint Joseph, a father in the shadows

I love the way Pope Francis started his Apostolic Letter about Saint Joseph because it is something very much alike with Matthew’s unique style in beginning his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus: the Holy Father began by citing how Joseph loved Jesus according to the gospels “WITH A FATHER’S HEART” written in all caps!

Pope Francis must be stressing to us these days of the need to have a father’s heart which is also rarely heard because most often, the heart is more associated with the mother. But that is what the world precisely needs now, a father’s heart like that of God our Father.

In every exercise of our fatherhood, we should always keep in mind that it has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a “sign” pointing to a greater fatherhood. In a way, we are all like Joseph: a shadow of the heavenly Father, who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:45). And a shadow that follows his Son.

Pope Francis, Patris Corde, 7
Photo is painting on acrylic (48×96) by Bulakenyo artist Aris Bagtas called “Luklukan ng Karunungan” (Seat of Wisdom) displayed at the second floor of the Library of the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary at Guiguinto, Bulacan.  A lively and beautiful rendition by Aris of Mary teaching her Son Jesus Christ while at the background is Joseph looking at them.  Used with permission.

To be with a heart of the father like God’s is to be “most chaste” like Saint Joseph which the Holy Father said is more than a sign of affection but the summation of an attitude that is the opposite of possessiveness.

Chastity is freedom from possessiveness in every sphere of one’s life. Only when love is chaste, is it truly love. A possessive love ultimately becomes dangerous: it imprisons, constricts and makes for misery. God himself loved humanity with a chaste love; he left us free even to go astray and set ourselves against him. The logic of love is always the logic of freedom, and Joseph knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.

Pope Francis, Patris Corde

I am so glad that Pope Francis mentioned the need to be “most chaste” as opposite of possessiveness because there is an ongoing crisis in fatherhood among us these days. Not just to biological fathers but also to fathers in the other institutions especially the Church.

Are we not priests in deep trouble with chastity these days not only with the scourge of sexual scandals and misconduct this century but also in how we have been lording it over in our parishes that we have remained an institution seen more in terms of power and control that we have never evolved to Avery Dulles’ other models of the Church like a community of disciples?

Are we not also guilty in the Church like fathers in the family and other institutions who “possessed” those below them, totally forgetting it is the Lord’s vineyard, that we are His stewards tasked to lead our flock to growth and maturity when all we think of is our own prestige and popularity that Jesus Christ is forgotten and put to the sidelights because we feel so good, so great?

In this time of pandemic amid the many temptations of social media, we priests must pause before doing all those online projects to keep in mind that we are shadows of the fatherhood of God, that like Saint Joseph, it is best for us to work in silence and as much as possible be at the background because we remain the shadows of the Son.

Fatherhood in the real and Christian sense is being a shadow not only of God the Father but also of his Son, Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, fathers must learn to decrease so that Jesus may increase.

Photo by author of the Chapel of St. Joseph in Nazareth (2017); below is the ancient site of his carpentry shop where Jesus grew up as a child.

Lately I have been dreaming of my late father due to so many problems coming my way. When people ask me about my vocation story, asking how it all started, I have always considered it all began with my dad. He never asked me to become a priest nor even taught me how to pray but I grew up seeing him pray daily before our altar before leaving for work and upon coming home. How I love waking up to the scent burning candles wafting through our home as he always lit candles at the altar and our grotto outside. It was from him that I learned that lesson I taught my students to have a rosary in the pocket so we may pray anywhere, any time.

The only other thing my dad taught me by personally telling me was to study hard so that we could be of service to the people and never a burden to the society.

I think that is the best thing any father can do — to form their children into another shadow of the Lord, not necessarily be like them.

A blessed day specially to all Fathers and dads!

Doing the work of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, 01 May 2020

Genesis 1:26-2:3 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 13:54-58

Photo by author of the site of St. Joseph’s shop in their home at Nazareth found beneath the Chapel of St. Joseph near the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel. May 2019.

As we start the third extension of our quarantine period, you have gifted us O God, our loving Father, with this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to guide many of us working at home during this time of the corona pandemic.

St. Joseph must have been a very good father to Jesus at Nazareth and a very wonderful carpenter too to their neighbors that long after he had died, the people still remembered him being the father of the Lord.

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is he not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”

Matthew 13:54-56

Remind us always, O Lord, that like St. Joseph, our main task in life is to do your work in the way you would want it to be done because all our work is just a sharing in your creation completed in six days, setting aside the seventh day of sabbath as a day of rest in you.

In this time of the corona virus when many of us are working at home with almost all establishments including churches are closed, may we find again the true meaning and value of all work and material endeavors in the light of Jesus Christ who did and spoke only what you willed, our heavenly Father.

May we break free from our works and be not their slaves that have destroyed our personal and family lives as well as our environment as we pursued in recent years material wealth and fame now useless in the face of COVID-19.

May we always find you, Lord, in all our work and undertaking as our only fulfillment. Amen.

Photon by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, March 2020.

A prayer to be not afraid like St. Joseph

40 Shades of Lent, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, 19 March 2020

2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 +++ Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 +++ Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

Photo from zenit.org, “Let Mom Rest” figurine

Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father in giving us your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. In sending him to us, you have asked St. Joseph to be not afraid to be the husband of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, Mary Most Holy.

…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Matthew 1:20-21, 24

We pray today on this Solemnity of St. Joseph that we may also not be afraid in fighting this pandemic COVID-19.

Let us be not afraid to stay home to be with our family again, together and longer.

Photo by author, Chapel of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Israel, May 2017.

Let us be not afraid to talk and converse really as husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Help us to be more open and more silent like St. Joseph to hear our family members’ innermost thoughts and feelings again with love and understanding.

Let us be not afraid, O Lord, to seek and work for real peace in our family now disintegrating as we disregard each other, choosing fame and wealth than persons.

Let us be not afraid to reach out also to those living alone like the sick, the elderly, the separated, those abandoned by family and friends or society, those widowed.

Let us be not afraid to share food and money to the needy, time and talent, joy and hope to those living in the margins.

Let us be not afraid to ask for forgiveness, to say again those beautiful words “I am sorry” to those we have hurt in words and in deeds; likewise, let us be not afraid to say also those comforting words “I forgive you” to those who have hurt us in words and in deeds.

Let us not be afraid to show respect anew to our elders. Forgive us, O God, in making disrespect a way of life in our time, in our society, in our government and right in our homes and family as we disregard the dignity of one another.

Let us not be afraid to pray again, to kneel before you, and humbly come to you as repentant sinners, merciful Father.

Let us be not afraid to bring Jesus your Son into this world with your love and kindness, sympathy and empathy so we may be healed of so many brokenness and pains deep within.

Let us not be afraid to be humans again and realize we are not gods, that we cannot control everyone and everything in this world.

Let us be not afraid to be open to you and to others, especially the weak and needy because the truth is, we need you O God and one another.

Please, like St. Joseph, let us not be afraid to wake up to the realities of this life to follow you always in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

O blessed St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, pray for us!

Photo by author, site of St. Joseph’s shop in Nazareth beneath a chapel in his honor, May 2017.

Lent and our dreams that link us with God and one another

40 Shades of Lent, Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16//Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22//Matthew 1:16, 18-24
The original site of the workplace of St. Joseph found at the basement of the church in his honor in Nazareth. Photo by the author, April 2017.

How was your sleep last night? And what did you dream about?

Too often, our dreams make our sleep more wonderful and meaningful no matter what we have dreamt. Our dreams are the means in uncovering the impulses and feelings suppressed in our waking state that reveal our unconscious state. And the kind of dreams we experience depend on the kind of waking stage we have. Some say that disturbing, recurring dreams reveal some problems within while wholesome dreams generally indicate everything is most likely going fine with your life. This we find very true in our celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.

St. Joseph is the most silent person in the bible without any words uttered ascribed to him. In his silence, he was so filled with God and that is why he is considered holy or “just” and “righteous” according to Matthew. Most of all, St. Joseph has the most enviable distinction of always sleeping soundly while in the midst of serious problems with great dreams where angels delivered him with messages from God – not once or twice but thrice!

Contrary to common beliefs, St. Joseph was able to sleep soundly in the midst of great problem after learning Mary was pregnant with a child because right away, he faced and confronted it with a decision. Being a just or holy man, he had decided to silently divorce Mary so as not to subject her to public humiliation. It must have been a very difficult choice for St. Joseph to make because he loved Mary so much which was also an expression of his great love for God. The love of God was the sole basis of his decision that put him into peaceful sleep.

Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Matthew 1:20-21, 24

For St. Joseph to dream of receiving messages from God like in our gospel today shows his deep and profound disposition for God and His will. He made the right decision of silently leaving Mary behind to go on with her pregnancy because he loved her so much. When the angel revealed to him the reason behind Mary’s virginal conception through the Holy Spirit, his decision was perfected as he found himself an essential link, a connector, in the the plan of God! Being from the lineage of King David, he saw the important connection with him to marry the Blessed Virgin Mary so that her Son Jesus Christ would thus become the fulfillment of God’s promise through the Prophet Nathan.

“When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm… Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”

2 Samuel 7:12, 16

So often, the very reason why we cannot sleep when we are beset with a problem is our failure or refusal to make a decision. It is not the problem that keeps us awake but our inaction and indecision. St. Joseph shows us the healthy link and connection of one’s self with God and with reality, with the present and the future. Just like the other great patriarchs in the Old Testament that included Abraham (second reading) and Jacob, they all received messages from God in a dream along with Peter in the Acts of the Apostles where they saw the interconnection of everything and especially of one’s self in God. Break away from this connection, sin and disorder happen.

Likewise, we also see how in the development of devotions to St. Joseph through history where he has always been linked or connected with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Compared with Marian devotions and other saints, veneration of St. Joseph started very late in the Church. One is the obvious reason that Mary is the Mother of God. The earliest record celebrating this March 19 feast of St. Joseph as Husband of Mary dates back to the year 800 that also indicates how devotion to him has always been linked with the veneration of the the Blessed Virgin. Devotions to St. Joseph spread later in the 12th century when the crusaders built a church in his honor in Nazareth when the Christians soon realized the many links and connections in our lives that our Lord’s foster father pointed us to. In 1621, Pope Gregory XV made this feast an obligatory and 270 years later, Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph patron of the Universal Church. Devotion to St. Joseph gained a big push in 1962 when Pope St. John XXIII introduced his name into the Roman canon which Pope Francis emulated, making it to be officially followed in every Mass after he assumed the papacy in March 13, 2013.

This unique role of St. Joseph being the link with Christ’s Davidic ancestry as well as direct correlation and connection of his love for God and for Mary and eventually, for us all in naming her Son Jesus that means “God saves”, perfectly jibe with the motif of Lent we celebrate this month of March: our interconnectedness with God and with one another in Jesus Christ our Savior. St. Joseph teaches us the basic truth about holiness which literally means being “whole” where there is a direct link or connection with our waking stage and inner self expressed in our dreams during deep sleep.

Main altar of the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth originally built by the Crusaders in the 12th century above the site believed to be the home of the Holy Family. Photo by the author, April 2017.

Lastly, St. Joseph teaches us today in his dreams and decisions, in his life of silence and holiness what most people say about two kinds of dreamers: those who dream with eyes shut and those who dream with eyes wide opened. Those who dream with closed eyes are those who merely daydream and live in fantasies; those who dream with eyes wide opened are the visionaries, those who work to fulfill their dreams to make it a reality. St. Joseph belonged to that kind of dreamer, a visionary of God who strove hard with patience, protecting Mary and the child Jesus so that God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled. Amen.