Posts Tagged ‘St. Joseph’

From Mt. Carmel to Nazareth to Mt. of Beatitudes

It is very early Thursday morning here on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. After figuring out some computer networking problems, I’m up and running again this morning!

Statue of the Prophet Elijah in cave within the church of Santa Maria Stella Maris.

Statue of the Prophet Elijah in cave within the church of Santa Maria Stella Maris.

Wednesday morning begin for our pilgrimage on Mt. Carmel.  Mt. Carmel extends some 25 miles and overlooks the Jezreel Valley.

Our morning began at the cave of the prophet Elijah.  You may wish to read 1 Kings, Chapters 18 – 19 for the passages which are specific to the significance of this location.  Elijah was by his own declaration a man who was zealous for the Lord.  This site reminds us that God does reveal Himself to those who seek and serve Him.

Many of our group have indicated one big reason for making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is to grow in their relationship with the Lord.  It is powerful to stand in this place, touching the walls or ceiling of this cave, and praying to be open to God’s desire, and to give voice to the desire deep within one’s heart for the Lord.

Nazareth, Mt. Carmel 006Also here in this chapel is a large statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  Of course, in the image, Our Lady is holding the brown scapular.  The scapular was revealed by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock during a difficult period for the Carmelite Order.  There is also a beautiful and fairly new statue of another famous Carmelite, St. Teresa of Avila.  This year is the 500th anniversary of her birth.  There is also a large image recalling another Arab Carmelite, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified.  Pope Francis will canonize her a saint next month.  Of course a few of the other well known Carmelites recalled in this chapel are St. John of the Cross of St. Therese, the Little Flower.

As a little background, the State of Israel has only existed as a state since 1948.  Presently there are approximately 8 million people living in Israel, a section of land equivalent in size to the state of New Jersey.  The present population is roughly 80% Jewish, 18% Muslim and less than 2% Christian.  The population are either Israeli Jews or Israeli Arabs.  It is important to realize that a portion of the Arabs are Christian.  The number of Christians in Israel and well as throughout the Middle East is in sharp decline.

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

From Mt. Carmel we made our way East to Nazareth.  In the time of Jesus, in Nazareth, families lived in grottos or small caves.  For the most part, there were no ‘built’ structures or homes.  It was a very small community, of no more than 200 – 500 families.  It is here in Nazareth that Mary lived with her parents, Joachim and Anne.

Tradition holds that Joachim was a temple priest, and so he and his family would have made pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year for the major feasts of Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Booths.  So the family probably had a home in Jerusalem as well.

It is in Nazareth where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce to her that she was to be the Mother of the Savior.  (see Luke 1: 26-38)  Here in this humble setting, the history of the world changed; “God became flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:14)  There is perhaps no other place on earth that tells us more clearly that God does desire to be known, loved and served.  God does desire to be in intimate relationship with each and every person.


Statue of St. Joseph with the child, Jesus

Statue of St. Joseph with the child, Jesus

Keeping in mind how small Nazareth was at the time of Jesus, no more than 100 yards up the hill from the home of Mary is the home believed to belong to St Joseph, and of course, eventually became the home of the Holy Family.  In this home, Jesus grew under the loving presence of Mary and Joseph.

Here would also have been the workshop of St. Joseph.  And, as one of the pilgrims remarked as we were leaving this church, he now has serious doubts about Joseph being a carpenter.  The location would tend to indicate stronger evidence that he would more than likely St. Joseph would have been a stone mason.

From Nazareth we continued our drive through the beautiful Galilean countryside to the Sea of Galilee.  The majority of Jesus time was spent in this territory.  It is a rich area with many fertile valleys and a few small mountains, including Mt. Tabor, which we will visit today.  Jesus would have walked much, and spent many nights with his disciples in the open air, under the stars of the sky.  No wonder so much of his preaching so regularly recalls the pastoral settings.

We eventually arrived at the Mt. of Beatitudes where our group enjoyed a lovely meal and our first of three nights.  Please know of our prayers for all of you, and please continue to pray for us.




Ad Limina; Day Three

Today, May 1st is a holiday in Rome and the Vatican to mark the feast of St. Joseph, the Worker. So, all the Vatican Offices are closed, meaning, there will be no meetings today.
However, the Region XIII Bishops will gather for another working session at 10:00 am to further refine our thoughts in order to lead to fruitful discussions in our time with each of the dicasteries.

For each group of bishops making their ad limina visit, there are three receptions.  Today, the American Graduate House of Studies, the Casa Santa Maria, will host us for lunch.  Also a part of each group’s visit are five Masses at the various major basilicas in Rome.  Today our group will celebrate Mass at Saint Mary Major.  I was told years ago that the gold that guilds the ceiling of this church was a gift to the church … the gold was from a newly discovered territory… America.

On this feast of St. Joseph, we remember the dignity of the human person, and the particular dignity of human labor.  We pray for those who are unemployed or those who labor in oppressive conditions.  We seek the intercession of St. Joseph who was entrusted with the care of the Holy Family, that he may continue to watch over the Church, our Mother, and lead us to the Son of the Father.

With continued prayers from the Eternal City,


Feast of St. Joseph

This Second Weekend of Lent brought me to St. Joseph parish in Rawlins, Wyoming.  Even though we celebrated the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we also celebrated the parish feast day.  The Saturday Evening Mass had a very full church, followed by a nice dinner and reception in the parish hall.

At one point in time, Carbon county was the wool capitol of the world (so I’m told by the present pastor, Fr. Sam Hayes, who now pastors his home parish.)  This community is another one that relies heavily on the energy industry of the state.  I truly enjoyed being here, praying with the community, and visiting with many individuals after Mass.  St. Joseph is taking care of those entrusted to his paternal care.

It seems one of the primary messages of this weekend, “Listen to God” is a model of how St. Joseph lived his life.  He listend to God, especially in the midst of difficulty, to find his way, to make his decisions, to guard and provide for his family.  May we learn this same tenant of faith in each of our lives.

Keep praying and growing closer to the Lord, church.  Enjoy the pics.


4TH Sunday of Advent

The Annunciation:  The angel of the Lord declared unto…Joseph! 

 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.  (Mt 1:20-21)

Not only is it interesting that the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, but the other message delivered by the angel is that the people already belong to the Lord!…for he comes to save hispeople.  We always belong to the Lord, whether in cooperation with His grace, or in destructive separation, or apparent apathy…we are the Lord’s!  As St. Paul says: whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  (Romans 14:8)

So, as this great period of salvation history culminates in the approaching birth of the promised savior, Joseph is encouraged by the ancient message of God: Do not be afraid!  Take Mary into your home and receive your Savior! 

Somehow or another, many find it easy to separate our experience from that of Mary, when the angel declared to her that she was to give birth to Jesus.  However, I believe that we can perhaps relate our human experience more closely to that of Joseph…and in this case, it does not matter, because their experience is the same!  They received the message of God and believed.

St. Paul in his letter to the Romans this weekend gives us the same message.  Paul came among the Gentiles as an Apostle sent by God to proclaim Jesus Christ.  The message is still urgent today: belong to Jesus Christ!  (Romans 1:6)

How imperative (and challenging) it is for us today to find the “language” that speaks to the modern world, the current culture, to belong to Jesus Christ.  More and more I am coming to believe that the language is simply (and powerfully) the Gospel.  This is the urgency of the New Evangelization, to speak of Christ to the world.  To speak the language of today, of today’s youth, so that Christ may speak to them, and draw all people to Himself.

May we all live these final days of Advent, and always, in a manner that speaks to the world: “We belong to Jesus Christ!”


St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

St. Joseph

As a pastor, I always placed the parish families, facilities and finances under the protection and intercession of St. Joseph, and he always provided for every parish.  As we celebrate his feast again today, I’m reminded to do the same now for the families, facilities and finances of the diocese.  St. Joseph was such a humble obedient man to God’s will.  He was a great protector and provider for Mary and Jesus.  He continues to play a crucial role in the life of the Universal Church today.  St. Joseph, Pray for us!

After two days back in the office, I made a quick trip to Denver yesterday for a spiritual tune-up with my spiritual director, then had the great opportunity to take four of our seminarians out to dinner before beating it back to Cheyenne in advance of a winter storm.  Today, I’m enjoying the storm, and getting some needed rest.  I’m glad to report that our future as a diocese looks bright with the young men who are entrusting themselves to God’s providence pursuing a calling to diocesan priesthood.  Deacon Tim Martinson will be ordained this May, and he was one of the four men who joined us for dinnner last night.  The seminarians at St. John Vianney in Denver are enjoying a free weekend these next few days.  I had the opportunity to meet all our seminarians over the Christmas break, and have enjoyed the company of a few of them in recent months as they served for various Masses.  I believe we have a good group of men, ten in total at the moment.  Presently, it looks like we will have three more men joining us for seminary studies in the Fall, which all remaining the same and one ordination this Spring would bring our total to twelve seminarians next fall.  I also spoke with a few other young men in my recent trip around the diocese who are interested in studying for the priesthood in the coming years.  So, church, let’s keep these generous individuals in our prayers and keep praying for generous and ardent servants of the Gospel to serve our local church of Cheyenne. 

A wise priest once told me that there is nothing wrong with the Church that a few good and holy men and women cannot solve.  In our own day, we have witnessed such holiness in the late Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  We may never enjoy the reputation of such saints, but it is to such holiness that we are all called.  This, again, is what the Lenten season calls each of us to pursue…holiness.  Let us pray that God continue to raise up such saints in our day.  Let each of us strive to be one of those saints among God’s people.

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October 2015
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