Stories from the Early Church on the Birth of Mary

September 8th. is the day we celebrate the birth of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. The readings and the gospel for that day speak appropriately of the Messiah however they also speak of what preceded Jesus’ birth and how God is truly the Lord of History.

Mary by herself is only another human, as is her husband Joseph. But Mary and Joseph are forever joined to Jesus. To study Joseph you must study Mary, and to study Mary you must speak of Jesus. They are the Holy Family. It is because of their close relationship to Jesus that we speak of Joseph and Mary and Mary always says, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you to do.” Joseph, though silent of words, always stands ready to serve God the Father by giving his all to Jesus and Mary.

It is dogma that Joseph and Mary always lived a chaste life as husband and wife. Some believe that Joseph was previously married and that his first wife died. They point to the scripture passage where the brothers and sisters of Jesus are mentioned as proof. But other theologians of high regard from the Early Church adamantly insisted that Joseph only ever had one wife and that was Mary.

Jacob was the father of Joseph. Joachim and Anne were the parents of Mary. Joseph’s mother’s name is lost in time. We do know that Jacob was related to Anne, and thus Joseph and Mary are related, both of them descending from the House of David.

Tradition, with a small ‘”t”, relates how Joseph decided to take a vow of celibacy while he was young man so he could totally serve God in any capacity he was called to. This vow he kept a secret from all.

Joachim and Anne, Mary’s parents, lived twenty years together as husband and wife without the gift of a child. Tradition, again small “t”, tells how on a visit to the Temple they each vowed to God that if He favored them with a child, they would dedicate the child to God.

Being childless was considered a curse by the culture of the day. One story speaks how Jacob was chastised by a Temple Priest for even presenting himself in the Temple when he was so obviously a sinner and under God’s wrath. Despite the pronouncement of the Priest, God heard the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anne and she became pregnant with Mary.

Some believe that Joseph used his skills as a Tekton, often translated as Carpenter, in the expansion and adornment of the Temple that Herod ordered. Herod undertook this project as a political move to gain the approval of the Jews. If Joseph did indeed work on the Temple, he would have lived in Jerusalem. If that is so, then Joachim and Anne would certainly have visited him when they traveled to Jerusalem for the various feasts. Joseph would have been aware of the sadness the holy couple felt at the barrenness of their marriage. As such, he also would have joined in their delight when Anne finally conceived.

The first reading for September 8 says,

Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne…

While the second reading states,

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son …

It is estimated by some of the Early Church Fathers that Joseph was in his twenties to thirties when he married Mary, she being fourteen years old at the time. This is in conflict with many of the images depicting Joseph as a man of advanced years, but it makes sense when you consider how arduous the work was that Joseph did to support Jesus and Mary, not to mention their trek to Egypt to escape Herod’s plot to kill Jesus.

If this is correct, then we see God at work in calling Joseph to remain celibate and also the delay in the conception of Mary.

Joachim and Anne fulfilled their promise to God by sending Mary to live in the Temple at the age of three. Small “t” tradition states that while she lived in the Temple, Mary felt called to make a vow of celibacy herself, a decision contrary to her culture. By the time she was fourteen, her father had died and she was now in need of a guardian as was her mother. According to Jewish law, it fell to a relative to marry her. Enter Joseph, an unmarried male relative with the skills of a craftsman to earn a living.

To select an appropriate husband, the small “t” tradition says, Joseph was summoned to the Temple along with other eligible bachelors. They were instructed to leave their staffs with the Priest. The next day it was discovered that a lily had sprouted from Joseph’s staff indicating that he was God’s choice.

So we can now put the chain of events together. Mary’s birth is momentous. The Angels in heaven must have rejoiced as they knew this was part of the Plan of Salvation. But it is tied to Joseph’s earlier decision to remain celibate and also to the period of childlessness of Joachim and Anne. With his selection by the Sign of the Flowering Staff, Joseph’s can keep his vow as the chaste husband of Mary and Mary is also permitted to remain celibate with Joseph as her husband.

God’s timing and methods are always perfect although for us they may be difficult to understand.

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Hateful Unions

There you sit at the head of the table, with your lovely wife of fifty-five years. Around the table are your eight children, your 12 grandchildren, and a few special friends. They are there to celebrate your anniversary.

Through the door of the restaurant burst a cohort of armed men, all wearing uniforms of the federal government’s Special Cadre for Undiscriminatory Marriage, also known as S.C.U.M. Your public display of faithful love for your spouse is now classified as a hate crime because it encourages others to participate in practices that are discriminatory to non-binary people.

Is this a parody skit on a late night talk show? No. It is, however, a possible glimpse of the future if the progressives of the American Bar Association succeed in their efforts.

As reported in the Washington Times and covered by EWTN’s World News Nightly, the American Bar Association has adopted Model Rule 8.4.

What’s that, you ask, and why should I care?

Model Rule 8.4 defines as unethical behavior any speech or membership in any organization, including churches, which hold to a traditional view of marriage, sexuality. gender and other related issues. A lawyer who is found to be engaged in unethical behavior stands to lose their license to practice law.

The American Bar Association does not control the practice of lawyers, that power lies with the State Bar Judiciary. The problem is, most states use the American Bar Association decisions as a template for their particular state’s rules.

A lawyer can, therefore, lose their license because they are a member of a Church, Mosque or Synagogue that upholds the teaching of marriage as the union between one Man and one Woman.

The leaders of the A.B.A. understand the impact this change will have, in fact, it is their intent to force lawyers to change their personal beliefs and get in line with the new normal.

Our Federal and State legislative bodies are overrun with lawyers. How long until Model Rule 8.4 morphs into a new Federal Law that declares believing or participating in traditional marriage is a hate crime?

Traditional marriage and the family are under a vicious, unrelenting attack. The assailants will not cease their onslaught until all worship at the altar of their LGBTQ manifesto. We have seen Bakers and Florists who have lost their livelihood. Now lawyers are in the gun sights. Everything held as true from a traditional Judeo-Christian perspective is considered worthy of prosecution.

Lawyers who hold traditional views will, without a doubt, bring to bear all the legal cunning they can muster to defend their livelihood. But those of us, non-lawyers, should also make it clear to our legislators that we are aware of this undermining of our rights. You stop an infection at the earliest stage possible. You do not wait until the patient is at death’s door. Traditional marriage and the nuclear family will soon be on life-support if this juggernaut of political correctness is not stopped.

Please, check out the facts and then share with your family and friends.

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/aug/17/how-the-lawyers-plan-to-stifle-speech-and-faith/

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Violence is the Answer

What has recently happened in Dallas is a tragedy for the families of the officers killed, a shocking event for the families of the wounded and most importantly of all, a clarion call for pure unvarnished truth to be spoken.

As if their reactions were pre-written, a chorus of voices arose demanding that more restrictions be placed on guns. Others pleaded for calm and begged that we find a way to come together as a nation to prevent more senseless death.

To the first group, I say the obvious, a person intent on killing will find a weapon to kill with be it a gun, a vehicle, a bomb or a knife. Inanimate objects are not our problem.

To the second I say you have a nice message, but it needs to be clearly defined.

The answer to Dallas and to all the other violence has been right before our eyes for ages. It is a cornerstone of most of the world’s religions and practically ignored by men and women worldwide.  It is often called the Golden Rule and is usually stated as Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.

The answer to Dallas is we all must live our lives according to the dictates of love.

Stay with me, this is not some hippy-dippy, sweet-sappy collection of feel-good sayings.

To start with, if we truly are going to live our life according to the dictates of love we must immediately begin to do violence unto ourselves.

We must grasp our anger and choke it until it is dead. We must ensnare our egos and grind them into oblivion. We must arrest our me-first attitudes and lock them away in some dark and forgotten spot never to see the light of day again.

Only by doing violence unto ourselves can we be victorious and achieve the life we all dream of.

Love is a Choice! We must choose to be patient when we feel anger. We must choose to act kindly when we want to denigrate another. We must force ourselves to be repulsed when evil is inflicted on another.

As an athlete pushes through the pain of training we must persevere in our choices to follow the path of LOVE!

No matter what we have been taught growing up, no matter what our instant reflex reaction is in any situation, we must use our free will to force ourselves to act in love!

To everyone reading this, I promise you, if you decide to enter on this path, it will be the most arduous and painful journey you have ever experienced. There will be moments of high elation interspersed with periods of pain all joined by long fatiguing intervals of struggle. This will continue until you take your last breath.

But I also promise you, if you walk this path and teach and encourage your brother, your sister, your spouse, your parent, your children, your friends to do the same, that together we will accomplish the impossible.  We will not eliminate hatred and evil from this world but we will make hatred and evil very uncomfortable. Our victories within ourselves will spread and create an environment where those who are tempted to choose the other path will hesitate and question why they want to hate and not love. And over time we can make this world the best it can be this side of heaven.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous. Love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude. Love does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS!

                                                                                                1 Corinthians 13 verses 4 -8

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Sitrep

Our sons have autism and other challenges. The experts wrote them off. The experts were wrong!

It has been a long road. Nineteen years ago our son Kenneth was changed overnight (literally) from the sweet loving child he was into something uncontrollable. The experts – medical, psychological, educational, etc. were worse than useless in our search for answers. After three years of struggle, Sue and I discovered the word Autism. Stephen was also affected but in a different way. Joseph nearly died at age one due to a three-hour grand mal seizure brought on by a fever. The drugs they gave him to stop the seizure depressed his respirations so much he was life-flighted to a major medical center for care. Devon was almost missed in our efforts to care for Ken, Stephen, and Joe but he too was struggling in some ways and we discovered he

Ready to train!

Ready to train!

was also legally blind in one eye. More visits to experts who only said that we should accept that our four youngest children would NEVER be able to care for themselves and would REQUIRE assistance their entire life.

I have never been one to accept pronouncements from experts as if they were carved in stone unless the expert can demonstrate their ability to walk on water and change water into wine. So Sue and I got up each day and did our best.

We eventually homeschooled our kids, all eight. Ken, Stephen, Joseph, and Devon all became altar servers at church, participated in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, played Miracle League Baseball (not Ken he hates baseball), did Judo and Hapkido. They all received the Sacrament of Confirmation,

Ken asked to go to public high school when he hit 10th grade. With trepidation, we agreed because we could tap into their connections for vocational training. We had to constantly urge the school to challenge Ken to stretch his limits. Stephen, Joe, and Devon also entered public school, and for them too, we pushed the system to push them.

This past week, Ken and Stephen received their Red stripe in Hapkido and Joseph and Devon got their Yellow belt. Ken works about 25 hours a week at Kentucky Fried Chicken and has done so for about a year now. He is doing really good. Stephen is looking for work and now Joe and Devon as well. Devon and Joe also babysit their 2-year-old niece each afternoon so her dad can go to work until mom, my daughter, gets home from work. So much for not being able to do anything.

The journey’s not over and hopefully God will grant me enough years of life to get my sons to the point where they no longer need my or their mom’s help.

The experts were expert ONLY in an academic field. They were not experts on our children. I was and so was Sue. We refused to give up on our kids when we constantly were told to do just that.

To any parent facing similar ordeals, please, Do Not Give Up. The journey is incredibly scary and hard. But I promise you, no one knows the future for your son or daughter. It is better that their reach exceeds their grasp than to set the bar so low that success is truly meaningless to them.

If you know one challenged person – YOU KNOW ONE CHALLENGED PERSON. The biggest obstacle people with mental and physical challenges face are the so-called normal people, especially the experts, who believe they can predict the future and assume incompetence and failure in the disabled. They need to get out of the way.

I do not know how much further my children will go but I will be both alongside them encouraging them and behind them nudging them to go further. One day maybe they will be in front of me as old age slows me down and I will be able to look to them for help. Who knows? Not me.

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The Visitation and Saint Joseph

In the Gospel of Luke we read,

The Angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph …

Mary gives her fiat then sets off to visit her cousin Elizabeth who she is informed is also pregnant.

In art, Mary is often pictured by herself at the door of Elizabeth’s home.  When thoughtful minds think about this, a young, pregnant woman traveling three days over bandit-infested roads, the standard answer is she was probably accompanied by an elderly matron.

For the moment, let’s be more thoughtful.

How will an elderly matron protect Mary from harm?

Mary was espoused to Joseph.

Joseph was selected by God the Father to be the Husband and Guardian of Mary.

Mary tells Joseph she intends to visit Elizabeth to help her and to celebrate God’s blessing to her.

So according to the elderly matron theory, Joseph agrees to allow her to walk three days along dangerous roads escorted by an older woman while he remains home.

Another point – Joseph is also related to Elizabeth but he decides to not join in the celebration of the good news for Zachary and Elizabeth.

Really?

If this was your relative what would think of him?

What a loser! I feel sorry for Mary being stuck with that guy!

Let’s remember that Joseph is the par excellent example of what a real man should be. He was given that grace by God Himself so he would be a suitable spouse to the Virgin and foster-father to His Son.

Joseph remaining in Nazareth while Mary travels to Hebron just doesn’t sound right.

Saint Bernadine of Siena and Saint Bernard both insisted that Joseph accompanied Mary. They taught how blessed was the house of Zachary to have the entire Holy Family present for the birth of John. Saint Francis de Sales, founder of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, also insisted that Joseph went with Mary.

As a Catholic, when we read the Bible, we must submit ourselves to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. But that does not prevent us from using our minds to seek out what the Bible does not say. We cannot change any part of the Faith, neither adding nor taking away, but we are permitted to try to fill in the blanks.

The Bible does not say Joseph went with Mary nor does it explicitly state he remained behind. Thus, it is left to us to decide.

Would the man chosen by God to be the Head of the Holy Family allow anyone else to escort Mary on her journey to Elizabeth?

It does not seem likely in my mind. When Mary visited Elizabeth Joseph was at her side.

 

Dennis P McGeehan is the author of The Diaries of Joseph and Mary, a book based on the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.

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Some Thoughts on Heaven and the Big Bang

Early GalaxiesIn the Bible, God says, “Let there be light.” With His word God brings forth all there is. Father George Lemaitre, a Belgian priest, was the first to postulate the Big Bang Theory. If you close your eyes and envision the results of God’s words you can get a glimpse of creation.

Heaven we are told is the dwelling place of God. We are also told by Jesus that a place in Heaven is prepared for us by Him and that it will be our eternal home. Eternity is a concept that is hard to wrap your brain around.

As mortals we are used to the concept of time. There are twenty four hours in a day. We may work an eight hour day that also requires a forty five minute commute each way. We number our age in years and look forward to retirement around age sixty five.

If you study history, the United States is two hundred and forty years old as of 2016. Jesus was born over two thousand years ago and Moses lived approximately four thousand years ago. Our ability to grasp this span of time is tenuous. But scientists tell us that the Earth is over four and a half billion years old and the universe is about fourteen billion years old. If you were to live to one hundred years, you would need to do that one hundred and forty million times to equal the universe’s existence. And yet that is a blink of the eye when you speak about eternity.

But wait a moment; time itself is part of God’s creation. When He spoke everything into being God did not fill an already existing empty space with energy and matter, He actually brought forth the space in which everything now exists. The universe itself came into being out of nothing and began as an infinitesimally small point that then expanded and continues to expand to this day. It was this expansion, first noted by Edwin Hubble, which led Fr. Lemaitre to conjecture that the expansion had a beginning. Time also was created along with the matter and energy. For a simplification, consider that time is a measure along with distance and velocity that connects all there is in the universe.

Heaven is not located some place many parsecs away from Earth. The universe exists within God. As such, God exists outside of Time and Space. The Bible tells us a million years is like a day and a day is like a million years to God. Angels, the church tells us, are able to move at the speed of thought and we are to become like angels in the next life.

Think about a location other than where you are and you can be there now! If you can think of more than one location, you could theoretically be in two or more places at the same time because you move at the speed of thought. Distance is now meaningless and time is not in the equation for our journeying from place to place.

If our brain had the capacity, we could potentially be everywhere at once if we could simultaneously think of everyplace at one time. That is beyond our ability but it is a trait that we ascribe to God, that is, God is omnipresent.

So eternity in heaven is not measured in years, in fact it is not measured at all. It becomes a state of being for us. We exist at some point of creation with God and with a thought can move to some other point, always remaining with God and experiencing a different aspect of Him.

Our physical universe is huge. It occupies a space about fourteen billion light years across. The Hubble Telescope probes this vastness to reveal new galaxies, thousands of them, each containing millions, some maybe billions, of stars. Each star is a possible home for life. But the universe contains more than stars and planets. Scientists speculate on the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Their existence is postulated based on observations. Dark Matter may account for seventy percent of the mass of the universe and yet it is invisible to our eyes.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible …

But our dwelling in eternity is infinitely greater because we will dwell in God who Himself is infinite. We will have unlimited time to realize unending truths about Him and His creation. We will not need a telescope to observe because He will gladly reveal to us His sublime nature. We will be able to rejoice in each manifestation and then with a thought be amazed at the next. Our imagination is incapable of comprehending the possibilities.

Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him.

God gave Fr. Lemaitre a gift when He led him to the theory of the Big Bang. He also gave us a gift in that it offers a hint of the indescribable that will be our life with God.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God, but they pale in comparison to Him.

  • Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI and L. Infante (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
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Sun Dancing – A Book Review

On one day a year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, people around the world celebrate their Irish heritage, even if they have none. Parades, parties and the Wearin-of-the Green are ubiquitous. It may not be a stretch to state that those who celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day the hardest, know the least facts about the man and the land that adopted him as their Patron Saint. He drove the snakes from Ireland, likely myth. He brought Christianity to the Irish (partially true).
Patrick was appointed Bishop of Ireland and can be rightfully credited with spreading and securing Christianity throughout the land, but he was not the first Christian missionary to set foot on the Emerald Isle.
There are tales of Coptic monks from Egypt who traveled to Ireland and the legend of a Roman soldier named Althus, who was present at Christ’s Crucifixion. He too is credited with first bringing Christianity to the Irish shores. The actual facts are lost in time and blurred with myth. These are illuminated, like the manuscripts, in the book Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse.
Sun Dancing uses historical fiction to present the life of the men who lived and prayed on the skeilics, the precipitous rock islands littered about the coast of Ireland. The first part of the book uses historical narrative while the remainder presents short essays on the men and the culture that have impacted the entire world.
Men sought the isolation of the skeilics too better commune with God. On these pinpoints of land that some saw as the end of the world, Irish monasticism developed. Here they copied the ancient books and developed a way of living and praying. Despite the cruelties of self-mortification, nature and invasion, they survived and flourished. In years later they journeyed from the skeilics and spread throughout Europe the ancient knowledge that would otherwise have been lost during The Dark Ages.
The narrative spans the years 588 A.D. to 1222 A.D. and depicts the monks in their beehive shaped stone huts, in Irish called clochain. They survived by fishing and nurturing vegetables from the rocky ground. Their ascetic practices are graphically described and are not to be copied by the modern reader.
For the modern reveler who raises a Guinness; the Scourge used to subdue the carnal desires will seem alien. Instead of voices raised in raucous song; faces drop onto the cold stone floors in oratories for prayer. For the person who meticulously plans their day, the peregrinatio, the traveling where the wind, waves and God take you, will seem more folly than faith.
Here is Patrick, Brendan the Navigator and Brian Boru. Here is Olaf Trygvasson – the Viking who embraced Christ. Read about the Culdees, the Scoti and the Dancing Sun on Easter Morn.
More than Saint Patrick, the entire scope of Irish monasticism and life in the sixth through thirteenth centuries is presented. Here are disease and monsters, invaders and saints. Here is life lived explicitly on the edge of a cliff looking ever outward and upward to an horizon that the soul, not the eyes can see.
Embrace your Irish heritage and drink deep from Sun Dancing as from a fine pint.

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The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph – A Book Review

Among the classics of Catholic literature, The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph is a book to be consumed, savored and meditated on. Do not attempt large bites rather enjoy each morsel one paragraph, even one sentence at a time.
This book, written in 1888 by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A., is based on the earlier work of theologian Canon Antonio Vitali, Father Jose Moreno and others. They in turn cite the works and opinions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Augustine, Saint Bernadine, Saint Bridget, Ven. Maria d’Agreda and others.
I purchased the book over twenty years ago and for over a decade it languished on my bookshelf. Time and again I would begin to read it only to be rebuffed by its language and depth. It is a heavy read. Approximately ten years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a weekly holy hour. The silence was wonderful however my senses needed something to help me direct my mind towards God and not my pressing To Do list at home. I began to bring books with me to read and meditate on. The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph became my regular companion.
As a husband and father, I have been drawn to Saint Joseph believing he would be the best model I could choose for my life. I have other books on Saint Joseph, but many are full of prayers to him rather than providing insight into the man he was. Growing up without a good male role model I deeply wanted someone to copy so I could be the husband and father I hoped to become. In the silence of the holy hour, one paragraph at a time, through the teaching of the Church Fathers, Saint Joseph materialized before my eyes.
As the book explicitly states, to dwell on Saint Joseph one must out of necessity also meditate on Jesus and Mary. They are (and these are my words) a package deal. Jesus, of course, can stand alone (except there is that matter of the Trinity). Jesus embodies the Divine and Human Nature in Himself and Mary and Joseph are forever part of this Union.
Joseph, and the man he had to be to carry out the mission the Father gave him, is the main subject of the book, but to study Joseph is to be immersed in Jesus and Mary. The ancient Fathers deduced much as they meditated on the events of the Nativity of Jesus. The conclusions they arrived at they shared in homilies with their flocks. These conclusions are discovered by the reader of this marvelous book.
Nothing in the Bible is changed, but the events are fleshed out to give a fuller picture of God’s work in our salvation. The reader is first privy to details of Joseph and Mary as youngsters. They are then provided with insights into their lives together including the visit to Elizabeth’s house (yes the Church Fathers agreed Joseph accompanied Mary), their flight to Egypt and their time spent there. Other familiar moments are studied such that the reader feels he is with them at the Presentation or on their search for the lost child. What I found most beneficial was the illumination of Joseph’s role as the husband of Mary and father of Jesus. He is made real and tangible.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Embrace the man who first taught Jesus the Torah, the man that Jesus called Daddy.

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Excerpt from the The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

The Purification of Mary

Her time of separation was over. Mary traveled with me to the Temple to perform the ritual. She wanted to walk to the city barefoot as reparation to God. I told her firmly no. She obeyed my decision without complaint.  Mary was astride the animal carrying Jesus in her arms. When we arrived I took Jesus from her as she prepared herself and entered the Mikvah. After the ritual, she took Him back in her arms. Her expression was serene. On the way to Jerusalem, I saw tension in her face. She was concerned for Jesus’ safety.  After the rite, it seemed liked the tension was washed away. We knew the risk to us and the child of our being in the city. The Magi had pronounced him King of the Jews. Herod would be even more incensed than his usual murderous self if he heard those words.  I am aware that some of the Priests in the Temple are in league with him. They are his spies serving their avarice while performing their duties. May God shield us from their eyes. I have noticed that Mary gains strength of body and spirit when she fulfills God’s law. To her, it is not a burden but an act of love. She is my strength.

Joseph

 

The Presentation

            What words are these pronounced by him? Is he a Prophet? His name is Simeon.  I am certain he is not one of Herod’s spies. I saw him many times when I visited the Temple. He always seemed to me a good and pious man who was dedicated to the Lord.

            The Temple was empty when we brought Jesus for His dedication, just Simeon, us and one other, a woman named Anna.

            As we walked towards the Inner Temple he came to us. Mary was prepared to wait in prayer as she cannot enter the inner chamber but Simeon came to us with a haste of step that was beyond his years. He was as a man full of the joy of God. He took the child from us and sang praises to God. Mary and I were astonished at what he said.

            “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

            I was relieved that the Temple was empty. What Simeon proclaimed could be a death sentence to the child and us. Then he looked directly at Mary and proclaimed, “A sword shall pierce you …!” At those words, I felt as if a sword had pierced my heart. I became even more determined to protect her and the Child.

            Anna, the woman heard Simeon’s proclamation and came over to us. She too was overjoyed. Anna had been one of the instructors of the young women who, like Mary, lived at the Temple. She recognized Mary right away but her eyes were focused only on Jesus. She too proclaimed great words of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. In her zeal she left and I feared she would spread word of our presence in Jerusalem.

            We offered the required sacrifice and left as quickly and quietly as we could. We offered the sacrifice of the poor. The gifts of the Magi I kept concealed. I intend to distribute them quietly. For a man like me to offer a grand sacrifice would attract too much attention. I trust in God’s providence for our safety but I must also act cautiously, Mary and Jesus’s lives are in my care.

            We retreated to Bethlehem as we both felt safe at the place where God had led us.

Joseph

The Presentation

            My spirit was lifted as I left the bath. I pondered the Angel’s words, “Hail full of grace …!” My only desire is to do His will. I gladly follow the law that fills my heart.

            My spirit was lifted higher than ever as we walked towards the Inner Chamber. There I saw a familiar face, Simeon. I knew him from my days of living in the Temple. Joseph had Jesus in his arms.  

            “Salvation,” he proclaimed “salvation and a light for all, even the Gentiles.”

            My soul has felt that light ever since the Angel’s words. The light has burned intensely as God has continued to reveal His benefits.  They came to honor Him, the Shepherds then the Kings and, of course, the Angels’ singing their praises.  Even the animals seemed to worship Jesus.

             Simeon’s words, at first, lifted me higher, but then, I fell, I plummeted to the ground crushed and broken.

            “A sword!”

            I would gladly be pierced by a sword to save my child. What does he mean a contradiction?

            Anna was also there. She too I knew from my time at the Temple. She exulted at the sight of the Child and began to proclaim wondrous words. I wanted to caution her, but in her excitement she left to tell others of her joy.

            I saw the look on Joseph’s face, a look of deep concern but also determination.  We completed the ritual and left quietly in haste. Joseph was intent on our leaving the city. We traveled back to Bethlehem. We have been safe there for the time. It is the place God chose to bring His Son into the world. He will protect us.

 

Mary

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The Espousals of Joseph and Mary

*Fifteen Traditions about Joseph and Mary

This list draws on traditions that are mostly forgotten today. They were however well known during the time of the Early Church Fathers. They can be considered small “t” tradition for those of the Catholic faith.

1) Mary and Joseph are cousins. Joseph’s father Jacob and Mary’s mother Anne were brother and sister.
2) Joachim and Anne were unable to conceive a child. After twenty years of prayers, Anne conceived and bore Mary. Both had promised to dedicate their child to God if he answered their prayers.
3) At the age of three, Mary was sent by her parents to live in the Temple as a dedication to God.
4) Joseph was approximately ten to fifteen years older than Mary.
5) As a young man, Joseph secretly swore a vow of celibacy.
6) As a young girl living in the Temple, Mary secretly swore a vow of celibacy.
7) At this time in Israel, many were rushing into marriage in the hope that they would be chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah.
8) During her time in the Temple, Mary’s father, Joachim, died.
9) Zachary, the husband of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was among the Priests to call for Mary to be married after her father’s death.
10) Joseph, along with others, was summoned to the Temple, to be the chosen spouse of Mary. The choice was made by lot, each man delivering his staff to the High Priest. The next morning, Joseph’s staff had blossomed with a lily growing from it.

11) Mary was informed by God that Joseph had taken a vow of celibacy. If Mary accepted Joseph as her husband she could keep her vow also.
12) Mary was free to marry Joseph or she could refuse. God would not force her decision.
13) Joseph was informed in a dream that Mary had taken a vow of celibacy and he thus was able to maintain his vow and still marry Mary.
14) The time between their Betrothal and Espousal was two months.
15) Joseph became the guardian of Anne, Mary’s mother, upon his marriage to Mary.

*Reference: The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

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