St. Joseph, a Model of Recollection

The Holy Family by Adolfo Simeone

A figure of history often overlooked at this time of year is Joseph. It’s easy enough to do I suppose, as he isn’t credited with a single line of speech in the Gospels. Once I became a Catholic, a husband and finally a father, I discovered that much has been written of this human head of the Holy Family and that there were many lessons to learn from him and his example. When we moved into our current home almost nine years ago I purchased the painting of the Holy Family by Adolfo Simeone (pictured above) for our bedroom as a reminder to myself of the awesome responsibility that each of us as husbands and fathers has. For this Advent reflection I chose something from our last two Holy Fathers: John Paul II and Benedict XVI. You’ll note that once again I choose something that refers to keeping ourselves in silent contemplation during Advent in preparation for Christmas. This is especially important right about now as I’ve started to notice people complaining at work, via email or on Facebook about how sick they are of Christmas already. And it’s still Advent! I can’t really blame them as we’ve been bombarded with marketing for the holidays for a few months now (I heard Christmas jingle music in September this year!). But still, I can’t help but be sad to think that those people are missing out on something wonderful.

More than ever it’s important that we not loose our focus on the event that is yet to come. Using Joseph as our guide, may we be able to protect our senses and keep our interiors calm in these last ten days or so of Advent.

*****

With Christmas approaching in 2005, Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to cultivate a spirit of interior recollection in an often noisy world that makes it hard to listen to God.

The Pope presented St. Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, as a model of recollection. Joseph’s silence in the Gospel, the Holy Father said, “does not demonstrate an empty interior, but rather the fullness of faith that he carries in his heart. Let’s allow ourselves to be ‘infected’ by the silence of St. Joseph!”

Silence “is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God,” Benedict XVI said. “In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.”

He suggested that the faithful establish in these days “a kind of spiritual dialogue with St. Joseph so that he helps us live to the fullest this mystery of faith.”

The Bishop of Rome recalled that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, “who was very devoted to St. Joseph,” dedicated the apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos (Custodian of the Redeemer) to the adoptive father of Jesus.

In that 1989 document, John Paul II gave “a particular importance to the silence of St. Joseph,” observed Benedict XVI.

Such a silence was “permeated with the contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to the divine will,” Benedict XVI said. “A silence through which Joseph, together with Mary, guard the Word of God, known through sacred Scripture, comparing it continually to the events of the life of Jesus; a silence interwoven with constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of adoration of his holy will and of boundless confidence in his providence.”

The Holy Father added: “It is not exaggerated to say that Jesus will learn—on a human level—precisely from ‘father’ Joseph this intense interior life, which is the condition of authentic righteousness, the ‘interior righteousness,’ which one day he will teach to his disciples.”

Source: Zenit. Dec. 18, 2005

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