Wednesdays Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Solemnity & Inauguration of Pope Francis

The Just Man Shall Blossom Like a Lily © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

The Just Man Shall Blossom Like a Lily © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

The just man shall blossom like the lily (Divine Office, Feast of St. Joseph).

Heaven and earth united in heartfelt joy yesterday, as the Solemnity of St. Joseph was celebrated as never before. On this solemn feast day, set aside to reverence the merits of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis was inaugurated as the 266th man chosen to fill the sandals of St. Peter, and Shepherd the Holy Catholic Church.

The Solemnity of St. Joseph has always been among my favorite feast days. I love St. Joseph, and especially since the death of my own father, have felt deep closeness to this formidable saint. I recognize his presence in my life, and the lives of my family, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the gifts God bestows upon us, through his powerful intercession. As a family with deep ties to Carmelite Spirituality, St. Joseph is a revered patron. Several years ago, one of my sons specifically chose to make his First Holy Communion on the Feast of St. Joseph at Holy Hill Basilica, as a reflection of his devotion to this powerful saint. Celebration of St. Joseph’s feast is also therefore a celebration of that important anniversary in our family history. Thus, here in the middle of winter, and the long penitential weeks of Lent we revel in the joy of this great solemnity. St. Teresa of Avila, the Carmelite Holy Mother, directed that St. Joseph’s Feast be celebrated with the “highest Solemnity” in all of her monasteries, so great was her personal devotion to this beloved intercessor.

Our Prayers as Incense Rise © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Our Prayers as Incense Rise © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Who are we to argue with the Holy Mother? As this special feast was accentuated by the inauguration of our new Papa, Pope Francis, yesterday we celebrated in grand fashion. The older kids, three Labrador Retrievers and I camped on the family room floor in front of the T.V. to watch the Inauguration Mass; it began at 3 a.m. our time. Outside, the wind howled and the thermometer read a balmy 11 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill we were definitely subzero). Our dogs eagerly shared their floor space with the kids and I as we huddled around the television to witness history and to pray for our new supreme pontiff. The Holy Mass was beautiful! We were particularly moved by the scene of our Holy Father praying outside of the tomb of St. Peter, and the long procession of cardinals prior to Mass – an unbroken succession stretching from the tomb of he who had been told by Our Lord: “You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it! (Matthew 16:18)”- through Pope Francis and extending toward the horizon of the future.

Carmelite Community Singing "Salve Regina" at the Basilca of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

Carmelite Community Singing “Salve Regina” at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

Later, we headed to Holy Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill to celebrate with the Carmelite Community. Our prayers rose with incense in the sanctuary at Holy Hill, just as the prayers of 1,000,000 Catholics rose in St. Peter’s square as Pope Francis celebrate Mass there. Truly from sunrise to sunset a perfect offering is made around the world, and Heaven and Earth united in glory, praise and thanksgiving to the one True, Triune God. The mystery of salvation is unfathomable and wondrous to contemplate!

After Holy Mass we headed home and celebrated with a few little treats throughout the day, as we embarked upon our daily tasks – homeschool, chores, and prayer. At meals we chatted eagerly about our new Pope – enumerating his virtues: humility, wisdom, simplicity, poverty of spirit, compassion, zeal. . . . The children and I have been impressed by the manner in which Pope Francis conveys the relevance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The EWTN footage of the Holy Father winding through St. Peters Square yet stopping to greet a disabled gentleman and kiss babies moved us all as profoundly beautiful and relevant. Like St. Joseph, Pope Francis possesses the unique ability to demonstrate the Gospel through actions even in moments of verbal silence. As our family discussed our aspirations for Pope Francis and shared hopes for the renewal of our Church, it became evident that among the Christian community there is a hunger for the authentic Gospel, and even in his first few days as pontiff this Holy Father is truly feeding and leading his sheep as commanded by Christ.

Habemus Papam!

Habemus Papam!

For a taste of the spiritual direction that Pope Francis has already offered his flock, I invite you to read the full text of yesterday’s inaugural homily: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TxSJa5tpCmE/UUiX0aZByRI/AAAAAAAAPLo/ouDCTY_j1l8/s1600/pf1in3.jpg (provided through Whispers in Loggia) and the full text of his Lenten message as Cardinal Bergoglio http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XBNBP3VukYE/UUmB35e6ZXI/AAAAAAAAPME/6HL5faPfS-8/s1600/f1sbi.jpg .

All Creation Gives You Glory, O Lord of Hosts © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

All Creation Gives You Glory, O Lord of Hosts © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Yes, just as St. Teresa of Avila specified, our Feast of St. Joseph was commemorated with the “highest Solemnity”: we witnessed the Inauguration of the Holy Father, assisted at Holy Mass, attended to our daily duties, and celebrated with sweet treats on a cold, blustery March 19th. As twilight turned to night, a herd of nine deer munched seed from the bird feeders on our back porch, we gazed through the window at their serenity as we enjoyed a slice of blackberry cheesecake and chocolate éclairs in honor of the sweetness of the feast day. A single flame glowed in the St. Joseph candle on the kitchen table, as together in gratitude and supplication we prayed:

Celebrating the Sweet Joys of St. Joseph © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Celebrating the Sweet Joys of St. Joseph © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Please, St. Joseph, do assist me with your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, all possible spiritual blessings. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and the child Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.

May the Holy Heart of St. Joseph be a source of blessing and inspiration for each of you and your loved ones. Happy Feast Day!

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Sacred Silence and Prayer for the Election of the Holy Father

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

As the children and I sit here riveted to the television, watching the Cardinal Electors recite their oath in the Sistine Chapel as they solemnly prepare to elect the new Holy Father, I am overwhelmed by the profundity of this moment in history.

My heart and prayers are with these chosen souls who are entrusted with the immense responsibility of electing the Servant of Servants, the man among them who will fill the shoes of St. Peter, sit in the Cathedra of Peter, and shepherd 1.2 billion Catholics: our Papa!

Opinions and prognostications have flooded forth from both the secular and religious press. It seems everyone has a favorite papabile or at least something to say about the conclave and the election of the new pope.

While the chatter is exciting, the antithesis of all the noise is sacred silence. At this moment in history, perhaps the most meaningful manner we may participate in the election of our new Holy Father is through prayerful sacred silence.

O Guide Our Minds with Thy Blest Light, With Love Our Hearts Inflame. . .  © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

O Guide Our Minds with Thy Blest Light, With Love Our Hearts Inflame. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

It is thus I invite you to join my children and I in ardent supplication for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Cardinal Electors and upon our new Holy Father. Each day my older children and I have been offering a novena of the Veni Creator for this intention. We have also been invoking the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and striving to pray the “St. Michael Prayer” with extra devotion.

As we approach the Solemnity of St. Joseph, we have been praying this lovely 2,000 year old prayer to St. Joseph as a novena. Please consider joining us in prayer.

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Please, St. Joseph, do assist me with your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, all possible spiritual blessings. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and the child Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, please hold our Cardinal electors close to your Holy Heart. Guide and protect them, and intercede for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them as he who will Shepherd your Divine Son’s flock is chosen. Amen.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.     JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Patron of the Universal Church, Pray for Us!

"On this Rock I will Build My Church." © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“On this Rock I will Build My Church.” © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“On this Rock I will Build my Church (Matthew 16:18).”

Perhaps at no other time in my nearly half-century of life have I felt the need to commend my beloved Holy Catholic Church to the tender care of the Holy Heart of her esteemed patron. In 1870, Blessed Pope Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti ) declared St. Joseph to be the Patron of the Holy Catholic Church.

A brief review of history demonstrates that the late 1800’s were indeed a turbulent time both in secular and ecclesiastic history. During the pontificate of Blessed Pope Pius IX, the longest reigning Holy Father in history (32 years), the First Vatican Council was convened from 1869-1870 to counter-act the rising tide of materialism, rationalism, and liberalism. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared in 1854, and the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was defined as a fruit of the First Vatican Council. Secular global history was marked by revolutions and changing borders. Truly, the intercession of a powerful advocate was necessary.

As tempestuous as history demonstrates that period of history to have been, today we are faced with even greater trials. Faithful Catholics are confronted daily by a myriad challenges – both from the secular world and sadly also from within the community of believers. One has only to glance at the media feeding-frenzy that has taken place since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to witness a vivid example of these assaults to the Faith.

The Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail Against It © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

The Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail Against It © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

While devout Catholics have approached these finals days of his pontificate with both a sense of gratitude for the magnificent blessing Pope Benedict XVI has been in our lives, and ardent prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to guide the Bride of Christ into future, we have had to struggle for a sense of peace amid the bombardment of media distractions and a noisy din of secular speculations, Vegas bookies, and conspiracy theorists.

A dear friend and Carmelite friar offered a sage piece of advice last week. He noted that as Catholics we are invited by the Holy Spirit to approach this time as a mystery to be lived rather than a problem to be solved. As we seek to embrace the mystery implicit in being members of the Mystical Body of Christ, let us together invoke the intercession of the Holy Heart of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Dear St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, we seek your guidance and invoke your powerful aid on this the eve of a decisive moment in the history of our beloved Catholic Church. With deepest gratitude, please thank our Heavenly Father for the abundance grace He has bestowed upon the Church, and especially upon the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Through the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoke a blessing upon the inviolate Bride of Christ, and pray that the fullness of the Holy Spirit will descend upon those charged with the responsibility to choose wisely he who will subsequently hold the Keys of St. Peter. St. Joseph, powerful patron, please cradle the Holy Catholic Church close to your Holy Heart.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

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May God bless and reward our cherished Papa, Pope Benedict XVI!

You are Peter! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

You are Peter! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Listening today to Our Holy Father deliver his final audience, I was struck by the simple beauty of his message. Thus, I am reposting the text of the Final General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI here:

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood! Distinguished Authorities! Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church – charity that makes the Church to live in love – and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

 

At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know – all of us know – that the Gospel’s word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy. When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, [2005], I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all, entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

In Our Hearts and Prayers Forever. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

In Our Hearts and Prayers Forever. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support. A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with the father’s heart. I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service.

At this point I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many people throughout the whole world, who, in recent weeks have sent me moving tokens of concern, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone: now I experience this [truth] again in a way so great as to touch my very heart. The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world’s greatest figures – from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline. In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

 

The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.

Let us invoke the Power of the Holy Spirit. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Let us invoke the Power of the Holy Spirit. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.

 

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Final General Audience, 27 February 2013