Pope Francis Exhorts All to Evangelize

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EVANGELII GAUDIUM: THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL

Two weeks ago, His Holiness Pope Francis released the first apostolic exhortation of his pontificate to close out the Year of Faith. Now if you are like me the first time I heard that, you are probably wondering just what is an apostolic exhortation. An apostolic exhortation is a letter or document from the Holy Father to a specific community of people that urges them to take a specific sort of action. However, it does not define Church doctrine and is generally considered lower in authority than a more formal papal encyclical (such as Lumen Fidei released earlier this year), but not necessarily lesser in importance.

In this case, the apostolic exhortation, called Evangelii Gaudium (in English, “The Joy of the Gospel”) is addressed to all the Christian faithful, rather than a specific group, which means that we can all benefit from reading it. Although as fair warning, it is quite a long document with over 51,000 words! With that in mind, I’ll try my best to summarize it, although I do recommend taking the time to read it if you have the chance. It can be found here:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

ALL ARE CALLED TO EVANGELIZE JOYFULLY AND GENEROUSLY

Evangelii Gaudium is addressed to all the Christian faithful because we are all called to be evangelizers, to spread the Gospel message to others, despite the differing levels of theological formation each of us may possess. Evangelization is not just for those who devote their whole lives to Catholic apologetics or missionary work. We must trust in the Holy Spirit to act through us as we seek to evangelize others. However, at the same time, we are also called to delve deeper into our own faith formation to assist us in this mission.

Often we have the misguided belief that we must guard our free time very carefully, that we can only devote so much time to God each week and that the rest belongs to us. This can discourage us from attempting to begin such a daunting task as evangelization, which we believe may not yield results quickly or easily. However, we need to recognize that evangelization is not some task carried out dutifully, perhaps against our own wishes and desires, but rather that it is a joyful response to God’s immense love for us. Successful evangelization of others consists primarily of patience and disregards for the constraints of time. We may not see success after only a few discussions with another, but we do not know if we have planted a seed of faith that will continue to grow after our departure.

Our Holy Father also emphasizes the need to be joyful as we work to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. He argues that we should not be “Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter” [EG 6]. The world needs to hear the Gospel message from those who appear as “joyful messengers of challenging proposals” [EG 168] and whose lives have been radically “transfigured by God’s presence” [EG 259]. Pope Francis recognizes that in all of our lives there are moments of grief when it is often difficult to be joyful. However, we must persevere, knowing that we are infinitely loved by God. “[L]owering our arms momentarily out of weariness is not the same as lowering them for good, overcome by chronic discontent and by a listlessness that parches the soul” [EG 277]. Man cannot live without hope, but Christ is the wellspring of our hope and He will not deprive us of it in our hour of need. To this end, the Holy Father recommends frequent prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, and reading of the Sacred Scriptures to prepare ourselves for the task of evangelization.

REACHING OUT TO THE SPIRITUALLY OR MATERIALLY POOR

The Holy Father also talks at length about whom we need to be evangelizing, and one of the easiest groups of people to evangelize are those we meet in our daily lives. For most, if not all, of us, those lives take place in and around the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pope Francis talks about a spiritual desertification that has occurred in some societies as a result of attempts to build things without God. This is especially evident in a secular setting such as the UW. In spite of this, the challenge we face is not atheism or secular rationalism as such, the real challenge is the need to respond to people’s thirst for God adequately. True missionary zeal rests in the knowledge that there exists in every individual “an expectation, even if an unconscious one, of knowing the truth about God, about man, and about how we are to be set free from sin and death” [EG 265]. We must work to convince others that the solution is never found by fleeing from a committed relationship with God.

Additionally, Pope Francis desires that we approach the poor and despised with the Gospel message as they are very much in need of it’s saving grace. He especially encourages us not to fall into the thinking that our jobs are too important and so preclude us from taking time to help the least of our brothers. “Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others” [EG 270]. Small acts of solidarity performed for those we encounter daily are just as important as working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty in society. All Christians must be concerned with building a better world; we cannot simply seek to build ourselves a nice shelter from human misfortune and ride out the storm, so to speak.

As has been the case with Pope Francis throughout his pontificate, with Evangelii Gaudium the Holy Father is continuing to challenge us to grow in our faith lives and bring the light of Christ to the world. We cannot let our love of Jesus Christ be relegated to just an hour for Mass on Sunday:  we must carry it with us always and we must do so with great joy, confident in the knowledge that Christ is victorious.

Written by Josh Sauppe, UW Graduate Student

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“Newness in God’s Surprises”: Wisdom from Pope Francis at Pentecost

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Steve Driscoll/EWTN News

Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness – God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.”

Homily at the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 19, 2013, St. Peter’s Square

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Today is the 96th anniversary of the first time that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three peasant children named Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia in Fatima, Portugal.  On that day, the Virgin Mary asked the children to return to the same place on the 13th day of every month for the next six months and to say the rosary every day “to bring peace to the world and an end to war.”

This was the first in a series of apparitions that came at a time of great tumult in the world – many of the world’s nations were engaged in the Great War, which would later be named World War I, and in Moscow, Vladimir Lenin was in preparations to set in place the Russian revolution, preparations that would have a very particular impact on the remainder of the 20th century.  In the subsequent apparitions, Our Lady asked the children to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart, make sacrifices for sinners, and to continue to pray the rosary every day for peace in the world.

The apparitions to the three children concluded in October 1917, when the Miracle of the Sun occurred.  Up to 300,000 had gathered near Fatima and according to many of the witnesses, the sun appeared to spin in the sky (click the link for testimonies from eyewitnesses to the event).

This day also marks the 32nd anniversary of the assassination attempt on the life of Blessed Pope John Paul II.  John Paul was greeting crowds in St. Peter’s Square when he was shot at close range by Mehmet Ali Agca.  The Holy Father was hit four times and one of the bullets missed a major artery in his heart by a fraction of an inch.  John Paul credited the Virgin Mary with saving his life, saying, “It was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path.” Later, John Paul presented the bishop of Fatima with the bullet, which to this day remains in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

For more information on the assassination attempt on John Paul II and its connection to Our Lady of Fatima, RomeReports.com has put together a helpful video:

Why not take a moment today to thank Our Lady for her intercession in protecting our Holy Father those many years ago?

New Saints!

On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 802 new saints!

Their names are:

  • Saint Laura Montoya, Colombia’s first saint, who lived in the late 19th century as a spiritual mother to the indigenous peoples of the region
  • Saint Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, known as Mother Lupita, who dedicated her life to helping the sick and also assisted Mexican Catholics in avoiding persecution during the government’s enactment of anti-clerical laws during the 1920s
  • The Martyrs of Otranto, a group of over 800 Italian laymen who, when their citadel in southern Italy was overrun by a Turkish invasion, refused to convert to Islam and killed

Saint Laura, Saint Maria, and the Holy Martyrs of Otranto, pray for us!

The Catechismal Crusader : Grace & Merit

God has called each of us to be saints.  We have been called by our creator to turn from our sinful ways and love Him with all our hearts. Human nature is fallen, and so God in His infinite mercy and goodness gives us the grace needed to live and love according to our call.  This is what we mean by justification.  “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man. ”  (Council of Trent)  We know we are called to be holy, but how does this transformation of the sinner happen?  What role does God play?  What role do we play?  I’ve heard our sanctification described as “God and us, but all God.”  If that leaves you a little confused (as it did me) here’s what the Catechism teaches on Grace and Merit.

II. GRACE

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47

2002 God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of “eternal life” respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed “very good” since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.52

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord’s words “Thus you will know them by their fruits”57 – reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: “Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'”58

III. MERIT

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.59

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining “the promised inheritance of eternal life.”60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 “Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts.”62

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.


Viva la Madonna! Long live the Mother of God!

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Tony Gentile/Reuters

In the Catholic Church, the month of May has traditionally been a month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  It is during this month that priests, bishops, and even the Pope himself encourage and highlight the importance of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives and our need of her prayers.

It is clear that Pope Francis has a particular love of the Mother of God and wishes for us to love her too. Just last weekend, he traveled to the largest basilica in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Mary Major, to pray the rosary with the faithful.  This is his second visit to this basilica since he was elected pope – the Holy Father came to St. Mary Major the day after his election to ask Our Lady’s intercession for his new pontificate.

More From Catholic News Service:

Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, face the difficulties of life and use their freedom to make lasting commitments, Pope Francis said. Marking Catholics’ traditional celebration of May as the month of Mary, Pope Francis led the recitation of the rosary May 4 at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. After the service, he went to the steps of the basilica to greet thousands of people who were unable to get inside, and he asked them to say three Hail Marys “for me, because I need it.” He also led the crowd in chanting “Viva la Madonna” (Long live the mother of God). At the beginning and end of the service, Pope Francis venerated the basilica’s famous icon of Mary “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people, in the above photograph). In a reflection after the recitation of the glorious mysteries of the Rosary, Pope Francis said there are three primary ways in which Mary, as a mother with “great and tender love,” promotes the healthy growth of Christians.

On Monday, May 13th, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis will consecrate his pontificate to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Why not say three Hail Mary’s today, for Pope Francis but also that your love for the Virgin Mary might increase each day?

The Catechismal Crusader : Pilgrimage

This week’s Mustard seed topic is pilgrimage.  And while the night will be highlighted by a few stories and presentations of past pilgrimages we hope to convey the idea that a pilgrimage is something much greater than a religious vacation.  In fact the Church views herself as if on a pilgrimage here on Earth calling to mind the journey we all embark on towards heaven.  To help set the context of this week’s Mustard Seed here’s what we have found in the Catechism. Enjoy!

769 “The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,”179 at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations.”180 Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will “be united in glory with her king.”181 The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will “all the just from the time of Adam, ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,’ . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father’s presence.”182

2691 The church, the house of God, is the proper place for the liturgical prayer of the parish community. It is also the privileged place for adoration of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The choice of a favorable place is not a matter of indifference for true prayer.

– For personal prayer, this can be a “prayer corner” with the Sacred Scriptures and icons, in order to be there, in secret, before our Father.48 In a Christian family, this kind of little oratory fosters prayer in common.

– In regions where monasteries exist, the vocation of these communities is to further the participation of the faithful in the Liturgy of the Hours and to provide necessary solitude for more intense personal prayer.49

– Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer “in Church.”

1013 Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed,586 we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once.”587There is no “reincarnation” after death.

1419 Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.36 These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

 

For information regarding pilgrimages available in Wisconsin, please visit us at Mustard Seed or email Liz Frias!

The Catechismal Crusader : The Holy Spirit

This week’s topic was inspired by Pope Francis’ homily yesterday which called all peoples respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  He says  The Holy Spirit “gives us consolation and the strength to move forward” but often we ignore His promptings. What tremendous help the Holy Spirit gives us to know, love and serve, to put our will second.  However, (at least in my catechesis) the Holy Spirit was rarely discussed.   So who  is the third Person of the Trinity?  Here’s what the Catechism says.

687 “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”7 Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.”8 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.9

689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God.10 Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church’s faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him.

690 Jesus is Christ, “anointed,” because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness.11 When Christ is finally glorified,12 he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory,13 that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him.14 From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him

737 The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may “bear much fruit.”132

741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”134 The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)

The Catechismal Crusader : Vocations

This week we find ourselves deep with the Vocation paragraphs of the Catechism. It is our hope that these articles shed some light on the often mysterious world of our Vocations. As usual there is only so much space on the blog for Catechism quotes, but please feel free to read on in the text. A simple index search for “Vocation” has left me with ample resources. Also, come to Mustard Seed on the 10th for our Vocations Panel which will certainly expound on the ideas expressed here.  Remember we should never fear our Vocation, it is the integral part of God’s plan for us, and as St. Catherine  of Siena says “If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire.”  So Get Jacked!

Marriage

1603 “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”87 The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity,88 some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”89

1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.90 Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'”91

1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”92 The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.93 “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”94 The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”95

The Priesthood

1539 The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”6 But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance.7 A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”8

1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.”15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”;16 “holy, blameless, unstained,”17 “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,”18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood: “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.”19

Religious Life

925 Religious life was born in the East during the first centuries of Christianity. Lived within institutes canonically erected by the Church, it is distinguished from other forms of consecrated life by its liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.468

926 Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior’s bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.

927 All religious, whether exempt or not, take their place among the collaborators of the diocesan bishop in his pastoral duty.469 From the outset of the work of evangelization, the missionary “planting” and expansion of the Church require the presence of the religious life in all its forms.470 “History witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by religious families in the propagation of the faith and in the formation of new Churches: from the ancient monastic institutions to the medieval orders, all the way to the more recent congregations.”471

Please pray for an increase of Vocations to the priesthood and religious life as well as an out pouring of the Holy Spirit upon those called to marriage, that their families may be fertile ground for God to plant His seed.  And join us at Mustard Seed on the 10th at 7:00 PM!

Catechismal Crusader : St. Joseph Terror of Demons

Yesterday marked the Solemnity of St. Joseph husband of Mary.  St. Joseph served as the guardian of both the Christ child and Marry the Mother of God.  As he is Mary’s  husband, he was  viewed as the father of Jesus during his time and is still seen as fulling that role (although Jesus was not born of his seed).  We know he was a good and righteous man, who mimicked Mary’s “fiat” not in words, but in his action in obeying the angelic command to take the young virgin as his wife.  It is because of Joseph of Nazareth that Jesus was in at Bethlehem during the first world census.  The first time the people of the world were counted, Christ was counted among them.  The role of St. Joseph in the economy of salvation exemplifies the role of the family in the Church today and its importance in our society.  Let us never cease to pray for good families and in particular good fathers.   For more on St. Joseph please read Bl. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos  here.  (You’ll notice I took most of my information from this document)

1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”166 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.167 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world