When it comes to lenten observance, our family belongs to the takes-it-seriously- but- looks- for- every legitimate- excuse-to-not-take-it-seriously- category. For example, we go without meat every day except Sunday, and for us Sunday starts with its vigil on Saturday night. Yet somehow, Sunday night is not the vigil of Monday. (you know, like Sunday Evenng prayer I and II. They’re both Sunday, right?) So that’s two meaty dinners per week. And we also break out the pop, chips, video games, or whatever else was given up each Saturday night thru Sunday as well.
In addition, children brought up with this sort of lent become very aware of the liturgical calendar. They know what a solemnity means: another day to relax from lent for 24 hours. They also know about the significance of Laetare Sunday as a mid-lenten pause to rejoice that the season of penance is more than halfway through. So this year, we had the rare conjunction of three celebrations: St. Patrick on Saturday, Laetare Sunday yesterday, and today, the solemnity of St. Joseph. (Although good St. Pat is technically only a memorial, he is one of our diocesan patrons, and we have just enough Irish blood here to justify making a big deal out of March 17th).
So tonight will have us dining on roast pork rather than tuna noodle delight, and enjoying some cream puffs for dessert. I’m still figuring out what prayers we’ll use to honor St. Joseph, but am toying with the idea of reading the sermon by St. Bernadine from today’s Office of Readings after dinner. It contains some fine thoughts:
Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.This general rule is verified in the case of St.Joseph, foster-father of our Lord and husband of the Queen of the world.
. ..In him the Old testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of patriarchs to its promised fulfillment. What divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms. …Remember us, St. Joseph, an plead for us to your foster child. Ask your most holy bride, the virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen.
There’s also a lovely poem, which is appropriate both for the upcoming Triduum, and for today’s solemnity. Even if you are not a huge fan of poetry, I guarantee you will be moved by this one. If this your first time reading it, pass it on to anyone else you know who loves St. Joseph.
Limbo by Sister Mary Ada, OSJ
The ancient grayness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue –
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”