Excerpt from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary – The Circumcision

The Circumcision

            I made a quick small cut done by the sharpest of blades.  I took special care to hone the knife testing its edge to ensure the cleanest of cuts. He cried aloud despite my efforts.  The blood dripped onto Mary’s hands, she held him tight and secure. Her face was set like stone. I know she was in deep prayer but also, she was locked onto her son and His distress.

            The knife cut cleanly, it cut the flesh of the child and also my heart and my soul.  Oh, painful obedience.

            It was over in seconds. Mary tended the wound and comforted Jesus. I pronounced His name, Jesus, as I circumcised Him, the name given to me by the Angel.

            He stopped crying, clinging tightly to Mary. He stayed awake long into the night making soft sounds. I, however, continued to hear his screams of pain in my mind. I am sorry my son it is the law and we must obey God. I had prayed for an Angel to stay my hand like was done for Abraham, but none appeared.  My hands are shaking now long after the ordeal is over. Mary has tried to comfort me; she is still shaken but does not show it outwardly.

Joseph

 The Circumcision

            I held my sweet child as firmly as I could fearful of hurting him and fearful he would be hurt worse if I let go. Joseph took special care honing the blade. No razor was ever so sharpened. He nodded to me and I held Jesus on my legs. He quickly made the cut, his expert hands finishing the cut in two quick passes.

            The screams pierced my heart like a spear. My body wanted to quake. I prayed to God for strength not to fail my child. If I should flinch and cause Joseph to hurt the child more I would regret that forever, hurting my son and my husband.

            Joseph pronounced his name, Jesus. It was over. I embraced our son. He gripped me fiercely his body shaking; I could feel his heart beating against my chest. Joseph’s face grew pale and his hands began to shake, my dear husband obedient to God despite the cost. I know Joseph felt the knife cut into his heart.

            It is quiet and the stars are beginning to shine brightly. My hands are stained with drops of my son’s blood. My son’s precious blood shed out of obedience.

Mary

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Excerpt from 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

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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 during the years I visited the Temple with my father.

            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 haste in his step that defied 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 Mary and our 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

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 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. He approached and bowed then took the child 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 here 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 Feast of the Holy Family – Book Excerpt from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

His Time has Arrived

            My son, you are now a man. I never doubted God’s word though I did not understand how He would accomplish His plans. I trusted His care for me when I knew the consequences. Fear was not there but questions yes. I pondered many things.

            My eyes have seen Shepherds and Kings praise you. My ears have heard horrible news as some sought to kill you. My heart dropped at the prophecy of a good holy man and the pronouncement of a trusted daughter of Israel.

            I believed you and I were safe even as we fled through the desert.  I should not have been surprised when bandits provided us hospitality. Even though I was led to understand what would happen, I still felt amazement as the idols crashed to the ground. I was overwhelmed when the high Priest bowed as he said the idols did.

            I was cared for among strangers who became friends. I waited for the Angels to direct my husband whom I trust with my soul and my life.

            Time has passed and now my son is a man. We have been to the Temple many times, but this trip is special, his first as a man.

            I am watching him. Does he know I am watching him? He is with Joseph and the other men. Then he is with his friends as their energy drives them to horseplay. I was a bit shocked when I saw Jesus with the other young men as they noticed the young women with us. They tried to conceal their interest, they failed. Jesus had a far off look on his face as if he was looking beyond the beauty of the girls. 

          We will arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow. Our group will join many others who are journeying there. Everyone is excited for the feast. I too am excited but also I wonder, how will my son the man be this time in Jerusalem?

 Mary

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The Passover in Jerusalem

            We are in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Mary, Jesus, myself, my cousins, nephews and uncles, our friends and neighbors. O glorious day! During our stay in Egypt, I dreamed of the Temple, yearned for the Temple. We have been to it since our return, but this trip is special. Jesus is now a man, He is twelve years old. He traveled up here spending most of his time with his cousins who are the same age as he or nearly so, all of them staying in a group. I spent some time walking near them, they argue like old men, each trying to impress the others with their knowledge of Scripture.  Jesus joined in but not quite like the others. He did not argue or try to defeat them, rather he seemed more like he was trying to find the deeper meanings in the questions and explain the meaning to the others. Sometimes they were amazed at his conclusions, at other times, they refused to agree even if his argument made sense.

            We will return to Nazareth in a few days, I wish this time would not end. Mary is happy, truly joyous at seeing her Son become a man. She speaks of her love and pride for him. I am happy for Jesus and happy for her.

            God is good. To be able to pray in the Temple, to spend time with my wife and son, to be able to share this special moment with my kindred in such a joyous event at such a special time in Jesus’ life.  It feels as if my heart will leap from my chest, my mouth wants to shout Alleluia.

            Thank You Father for this blessing! I will remember this time the rest of my life. Indeed, I don’t think this joy will ever leave me during the rest of my life.

Joseph

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   Where is He

            Panic! Terror! Where is our son? The celebration of the Pasch ended and it was time to journey home. As in our travels here I traveled with the men, Mary traveled with the women. The young men all kept together continuing their arguments. I was certain Jesus was with them.

            Jesus was with us before we started the trip, I saw him standing with the group he came up with. After we started I was engaged in conversation with several friends and family members. They all wanted to talk about Jesus and how impressed they were with him. “A fine young man,” said my uncle. “A scholar of the Torah at such a young age,” said a friend. “He is wise beyond his years,” was the opinion of many. I found Mary and she was having the same experience among the women.  Many of the women said how he will make a wonderful husband one day, especially those who had daughters to marry off. After two days of our friends and family singing his praises, we decided to tell him how proud we were of him and of the wonderful things people were saying about him.

            We sought him among the young men, but he was not there. We then checked to see if he was looking for us among the men or the women, and he was not there. We then asked the young men where Jesus was, they said they had not seen him since we started home. My heart that was lifted to heaven days before was now dashed to the ground. Mary, ever calm and steady had fear and tears in her eyes. There was only one thing we could do. We hurried back to Jerusalem, our prayers moving up to heaven faster than our feet are skimming across the ground. 

            Mary is the most scared I have ever seen her. She is quaking   Not even when we fled to Egypt did she appear so scared. Jesus is not among our group. I thought he was with her or the young men, she thought he was with me or the young men. I am trying to look calm so as to not add to her fear, but I am in a panic as well. Jerusalem was a madhouse with the crowds for the Passover, so many pilgrims and so many predators to feast on the pilgrims. Please Lord, keep Him safe.

            I should have been more vigilant at keeping my eye on him. He has never done anything to cause us distress. He certainly would not leave us on his own without telling us. He must be aware that such an action would cause us great grief. That is why I am so afraid. Is he alive? Will we find his body on the side of the road as we return to Jerusalem? I mustn’t speak these fears to Mary. I must find Jesus and I must protect Mary. God help me to do both.      

Joseph

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 I Have Failed

            I am a failure. I have failed my son and I have failed God. Jesus is lost. How does a mother lose her child? How do you lose the gift that was given to you by God?

            Elizabeth said all generations will call me blessed. No, all generations will remember me as the mother who lost her Son, the Messiah!

            Joseph is blaming himself and trying to comfort me. I don’t want to be comforted, I want Jesus.  I want him here with me so I know he is safe.

            I am also a failure as a wife. My husband is deeply distressed. I should be easing his pain, but I can’t because my pain is so great.

            We have fled for our lives. We were captured by bandits and lived among strangers yet we have always been together. This truly must be the sword the Simeon prophesied. I am no longer whole. I am shattered, torn asunder. A sword has cleaved my soul. Where is my son? Jesus, where are you?

 Mary

———————————————————————————————————————He is Safe

            When we arrived in Jerusalem we first went to the room we had stayed in but he was not there. We prayed together and then decided to search for him at the Temple. We found him. He is safe!

            He was seated with the Priests and Elders as they discussed the Scriptures. I heard his voice as I approached. He was asking a question most profound that seemed to stump all who were gathered with him. He waited for a bit and when it became obvious by their silence that they were unsure how to answer he offered a thought. I smiled at the way he did it. Instead of making a pronouncement to his seniors he answered his own question with another question, seeking their opinion and approval.

            Mary stood next me watching the whole moment, she smiled at the way Jesus was teaching those whose job it is to teach. She wanted to call to him, as did I, but we were transfixed by what we were seeing and hearing.

            The whole company of men nodded in approval at his proposal and then added some points of their own. After they had finished we called to him.

            He turned his eyes to us, as his gaze met mine I felt a lump in my throat and a tightness in my chest.  I tried to speak but could not. Mary however did. She chided him for disappearing on us. His gaze met hers and I will never forget his reply, “Did you not know I had to be about my Father’s work?”

            He got up and rejoined us. We are traveling home together, a family. I have many questions I want to ask, but they will wait. Jesus is with us. Mary is content with that. Soon we will be home safe. After that, I will try to find the answers to my questions.

 Joseph

———————————————————————————————————————He has Never Done Anything Like This

            We are back in Machmas. It was here that we discovered Jesus was missing. He is with us now. He is asleep a few feet from me. I can see His cloak rising with each breath. I can hear the sweet sound of his breathing. Sleep eludes me but just watching my son sleep is more restful than sleep.

            Joseph is by my side. He is tossing and turning in his sleep. He has not stopped apologizing to me since we found Jesus. It was not his fault. It was not my fault either. Jesus has never done anything his entire life to cause us heartache, that is until now.

            That is the reason my heart froze with fear. He was missing. He would never deliberately separate himself from me or his father in a way that would cause us to despair. I feared the worse. Was he captured by the king’s men? Was he attacked by robbers? Was he attacked by a wild beast? So many fears flooded my mind and drowned my soul in a sea of sorrow.

            But he did just that. He left us without saying a word. I still can hardly believe it. I am trying to understand his reason, “To be about His Father’s work.”

            He did not mean Joseph!

            I understood. He meant His heavenly Father. The reason He was sent to earth. I remembered Simeon’s words and yes it did feel like my heart was pierced by a sword.

            He said those words, “His Father’s work,” in a plain manner yet there seemed to be a shadow in them, a shadow of dread that engulfed my heart that was aching already.

            The future does not bring me peace so I will live in the present and trust the Lord who chose me to be Jesus’ mother, unworthy though I am. 

            He is back with us. He is safe. Soon we will be home in Nazareth. I told Joseph I want to celebrate when we return home, to have a feast thanking the Lord that we are all safe together again. Joseph was a bit surprised at the extravagance I suggested.  But I told him, my son is home safe and that is a reason for any mother to celebrate.

 Mary

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Excerpts from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary – He is Born

Mary has fallen asleep; the child is in her arms nursing contentedly. All is calm now and the stars are shining brighter than I have ever seen them before. I don’t know how Mary can sleep, my mind is racing my very soul is pulsing, and all the fear and worry are gone.

There were no rooms available and the innkeepers were impatient, harsh even. They see in the census a gold mine for themselves. One offered us to use a stable and charged a dear price for it. I was heartbroken that I could do no more for Mary and the child. Mary’s time came and she delivered the child and what I beheld I will never forget.

The cave was alight with shining beings and the night was filled with their music such as I had never heard before. Angels from God, they surrounded the Child and Mary and I bathed in the glow of their radiance and all I could feel was profound love and joy. A fragrance of sweet flowers filled the cave where the animals had been. Mary seemed to be in ecstasy, her face reflecting the light emanating from the celestial guardians. After a time the Angels seemed to withdraw just a bit, they hovered above and behind her but the front of the cave they left open. Shepherds from the fields came, very hesitantly, the fear on their faces was evident but one of the Angels bade them to come closer and fear not. Indeed, he proclaimed to the Shepherds, Rejoice!

They brought gifts such as they had, food and wine for Mary and me, blankets for the child and wood for a fire. I took the wood and built a fire outside the stable to provide warmth, light and protection from the night predators. I have not slept for three days, but I am just beginning to feel tired. Indeed, I have never felt so alive in my life. My eyes are starting to grow heavy as I write this; I have never known such peace. Who is this child that Angels and Shepherds adore? Who am I to be trusted with His care?

Joseph

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           Joseph found us shelter, a cave used for the keeping of animals. I could see the concern in his face. The child was coming and I did not care if it was a cave or a palace. Joseph helped me to lie down on some blankets over a mound of straw.  He started a fire with the wood we had and then left to gather more. I prayed to God for help in my need.

            In my prayer I was lifted up, my body relaxed. I knew Joseph had returned I could feel his hand holding mine. “The child is coming,” I told him.

            I could hear Joseph answer, but his reply was a prayer to the greatness of God. The cave glowed with light. I could see heavenly beings all around me. I could smell a sweet fragrance fill the air.

            I was moved to kneel in prayer, deeper prayer than I had ever experienced. The child came forth and two angels received Him from me. One was the Angel Gabriel that brought me God’s message; the other was dressed in armor like a warrior.

            The child’s face radiated light like that of the Angels around us only his light was more solid, more real. The Angels placed the child in my arms and stepped back a few paces and dropped to the ground face down in adoration of the child.

            After a while, the Angels moved out from the cave. I knew they were still present as I could hear their singing and see their light. Shepherds from the fields nearby came and paid homage to my Son. Their faces reflected the glow of light from the Angels and the Child. Tears of Joy streamed down their faces as they praised God’s faithfulness to His promise.

            Then they left and the Angels stationed themselves outside the cave. As I write this I recall how I never felt safer, more loved and more fully alive than at that moment when my son Jesus was born.   

 Mary 

 

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Two Christmases Remembered

 

I love Christmas. I love to gaze at Nativity scenes especially when the room is dark with only the stable alight. I love everything about Christmas; Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Santa Claus and Rudolph. My heart swells with memories of Christmases past recalling my children’s joys.

On Christmas night 2014 I sat in my darkened living room gazing at our Nativity set in the glow of our Christmas tree lights. The house was quiet. Outside the wind blew and the night was cold. I offered a short prayer of thanks that we were all together safe in our warm home.

My mind jumped to another Christmas and another Christmas tree glowing in the dark. It was 1995 and that tree was in my wife’s hospital room. She was pregnant with our seventh child. Six months into the pregnancy there were complications and she nearly lost the baby. She was confined to bedrest. With six young children at home, rest there was impossible. She remained in the hospital for over a month. Since it was December her room was decorated with a tree. The wonderful staff even put presents under the tree for our children. We all visited Mom on Christmas morning for an hour, opening the presents then went home. At home our presents remained unopened, waiting for Mom’s return. On Christmas night, a friend from Church came to the house at 9 p.m. to babysit. I went to the hospital by myself for some alone time with my wife after the kids went to bed. There in the hospital room, in the soft light and silence, I held my wife in my arms, both of us praying for our child.

Then my mind recalled Christmas 1999 and more flashing lights. They came from the firetrucks, ambulances and police in front of our home. We had a house fire on December 14, two days before our wedding anniversary and less than two weeks before Christmas. Everyone, even the pets, got out safe, but we were homeless for seven months while repairs were made.

If you recall there was a bit of a worldwide panic in 1999 as the Y2K bug was predicted to strike. Doomsayers predicted the worse. Utilities would stop working, banks would lose our assets and medical records would vanish.  As a husband and father of eight, I felt it prudent to take some precautions just in case some of the scenarios played out. I began to stockpile non-perishable food in October. By December, I had added extra shelves to hold my growing larder. I also purchased extra propane cylinders to use with my camp stove so we could cook if the gas went out. For heat, I purchased a kerosene heater and we had plenty of blankets. Temperatures in central Pennsylvania can easily go to minus twenty degrees in December. As December arrived I was certain we could survive at least four weeks if Y2K did cause a disruption.

Those supplies were untouched by the fire as they were stockpiled in my garage and basement. The fire was confined to the upstairs. However while we were living away from our home burglars broke into it and took my food, a television set and even my hand tools.

Finding adequate housing for a family of ten is no easy task. The Red Cross put us up in a hotel the first few nights.  They also gave us a voucher to use to buy necessities as we only escaped with the clothes on our backs. The only catch was we had to spend all the money in one trip. Imagine Walmart less than two weeks before Christmas, the store was a zoo. It took the ten of us three hours to push through the crowds with four shopping carts. We looked like the pioneers pushing west in a Conestoga wagon. Eventually, we found adequate housing in what was previously a convent.

On Christmas night 2014 I counted my blessings. Our son Joseph, our seventh child, was asleep in his room and our other children were also in bed. My wife was upstairs waiting for me. As I walked up the steps to our room I could not help but whisper a prayer of thanks. Joseph survived his crisis, the fire damage was repaired and the burglary was now just a story to tell. I had many reasons to say Merry Christmas.YoungFamily

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Excerpts from the Diaries of Joseph and Mary by Dennis P. McGeehan

The trip to Elizabeth and Zachary

Mary was overjoyed at the revelation, our cousin Elizabeth is pregnant. This wonder was revealed to her in deepest prayer. She revealed this to me and I have no doubt she is correct.  I wonder if this has something to do with Zachary’s condition, he has been unable to speak for six months.

We are leaving in two days for their home.  Mary wants to leave as soon as possible. She even suggested she go ahead alone. I was adamant, NO, it is not safe.  I have work promised that I must finish before I leave. Tomorrow I should finish it and deliver it. Then I can prepare for the trip and we can leave early the next day. We will take the donkey I use to deliver goods to my buyers, Mary can ride and I will lead it. The journey will take three days. We can pack some provisions for the trip and there should be places to rest safely. Mary plans to remain with Elizabeth for three months until she delivers the child.

There is something different about Mary. Is it possible that she is even more beautiful, more spirit-filled? I am overjoyed at Elizabeth’s blessing, but the news seems to have profoundly affected Mary in a most positive light, indeed it seems her face actually radiates light at times. It is as if I feel that light in my soul, filling it with hope and joy. It is something akin to what I feel in deepest prayer only more solid.

Joseph

 

We are Going to Visit Elizabeth

My cousin is expecting! Her prayers have been answered by our gracious God. She is well past the age to bear children. As such there is much talk that this is truly a blessing from God, a miracle.

I must go to her to help with whatever she needs. The child I am carrying inside me I sense wants to go as well. Is that possible as small as He is?

I should be feeling weak and sick; such is the way with women who are with child. But I feel nothing but joy and am filled with abundant energy to be off to see my cousin.

I told Joseph I was leaving to spend time with Elizabeth and that I would see him when I return. I told him I would miss him.

Joseph reminded me that he is now my husband even if we have not yet lived together. He is my guardian and as such he will not allow me to make such a trip alone.

The roads are dangerous, especially for a lone woman. Joseph is insisting that he will escort me to Elizabeth’s. They are family to him as well.

He has some promised work to complete then we will leave. He is dutiful to me and to his customers. I am anxious to leave, but I must obey my husband.

 

Mary

 

Arrival at Elizabeth’s and Zachary’s Home

Our journey was uneventful for that I thank God. Mary for her part seemed to never tire. She has an abundance of joy and life in her that I have never seen.

As we approached Zachary’s home he spied us from a distance. He came towards us gesturing, he obviously could still not speak. He signaled me to the stable where I could unload the donkey and give it water. He assisted me in this effort. Mary for her part walked on ahead to see Elizabeth.

We decided on the trip that in a few days we will continue on to Jerusalem to give thanks to God at the Temple. Afterward we will return to Zachary and Elizabeth. Mary wants me to go home to the shop while she stays with Elizabeth. I have no need to return so fast, all my orders are complete and it has been a good year so far, praise the Lord. As long as Mary is here I will be here, that is my place.

 

Joseph

 

We Arrived at Elizabeth’s Home

I am grateful to God that Zachary came out to meet us as we arrived, he had seen us as we were coming up the road. He stayed with Joseph to help care for the donkey while I went into the house to meet my cousin. God is great indeed.

Joseph did not hear my cousins greeting to me, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

I told Elizabeth that Joseph is unaware that I am pregnant. It is not my place to tell him. God in His good time will reveal His plans to Joseph. Elizabeth agreed to keep silent, even to not telling her husband.  Only she, her child and I know the great gift that God has bestowed on all of us.

 

Mary

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Saint Joseph – Terror of Demons

October 31, Halloween, is for most people a time to attend parties, greet Trick or Treaters or for a few sit in a Pumpkin Patch and await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. Some may enjoy watching Horror movies (not me) or visiting a Haunted House, Mine or Corn Field (again not me).

The general public looks on the supernatural decorations as just another form of merriment akin to the Easter Bunny or Frosty the Snowman. But it should be recognized that there is a darker side to the festivities and it is demonically driven.

For those who believe in the reality of a Spiritual realm, the existence of Good and Evil non-corporeal Beings are a fact. Some deliberately choose to associate with the dark cohort of this plane, often in an attempt to control the Demons to gain power for themselves (see this). Others solicit the aid of the Saints and their Guardian Angel to protect them from demonic attack. In this eternal Spiritual War, one name stands out as the ultimate battle-tested warrior, Saint Joseph.TheAnnunciation

While it is undeniable that the Virgin Mother Mary will crush the head of Satan and that St_Michael_the_ArchangelSaint Michael the Archangel has already won a primeval battle against Satan and his legions, it is to Saint Joseph that the title Terror of Demons is given.

Mary is the most perfect creature in all of God’s creation. Michael is pure spirit and endowed by God with supernatural abilities to combat His enemies. How then is Saint Joseph able to be listed among these super-eminent beings? For that answer, we look to the Bible and the proclamations of some the Church’s Saints.

First it will do us well to explain why the demons attack us and how. The why is simple, they hate God and wish to hurt Him. They also take perverted joy in hurting any other creature they can. Their motives are driven primarily by pride and hatred of all humanity. Pride as they see themselves as superior to all others and desire the worship that is due only to God. Hate because it was through a human, the Virgin Mother Mary, that God acted to save the entire human race.

The Baltimore Catechism answers the question, “Why did God create us? God created us to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and to be happy with Him for eternity in Heaven.” It is God’s eternal desire that all of His creatures choose to be with Him in indescribable bliss.

The demons are aware of this and know each time they trick a creature to reject God they hurt Him. It is really the only way they can inflict any pain on God. Jesus wept for the people who rejected Him. For the demons, they keep a tally in their futile battle against God by snatching our souls from their eternal rest. A hash mark on a scorecard is all we are to them.

Understanding this, we can then begin to understand why Saint Joseph is given the title Terror of Demons.St_Joseph,_portrayed_as_a_young_man

The demons use our weaknesses in their battle against God. They learn we are greedy for money or lust after illicit physical pleasures. They encourage us to seek our ease to the point where we neglect our duties to others and to God. They fortify our notions of our own greatness, boasting of our innate talents instead of acknowledging them as the gifts from God they really are.

All of us are susceptible to these attacks because we have been weakened by the effects of Original Sin. Baptism cleanses us, but like a scar from a healed wound we are permanently marked. The Church teaches that Mary was given the singular grace of being immaculately conceived, that is, she never was tainted by the effects of Original Sin in preparation for her role as the Mother of God. It is also taught that Jeremiah and John the Baptist were also freed from the effects of Original Sin, prior to their birth, in preparation for their missions. But the mission of Saint Joseph to be the foster-father of the Son of God and the guardian of His Mother is greater than either the call of Jeremiah or John.

Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bernadine of Siena teach that God provides sufficient grace for the work He calls us to. In that light then, Joseph must have received a gift superior to that of both the Prophet and the Pre-Cursor. It is reasoned that Joseph was delivered from the effects of Original Sin immediately after his conception. By this gift, he was able to be in full conformity with his will which was to serve God and God alone.

Joseph experienced temptations like any human does, however, he was endowed with sufficient grace to resist them and freely choose to do God’s will always. Since temptations are the normal means of attack by the demons they find in Joseph an immovable object. His desire, so completely centered on God’s, proves to be a shield against their attacks on him. When we invoke his protection for our family and us, we are utilizing that same impenetrable shield. They see their attacks neutralized and in the realization of their own futility are stricken with fear.

During his mortal life, Joseph was the Father’s chosen instrument to protect His most precious Son and Mary His mother. Joseph was chosen to do this when God could have assigned a whole Legion of Angels to do the task. Joseph was the savior of the Savior. With God’s grace, Joseph completed his mission in an exemplary manner. If the earth-bound mortal Joseph was able to do that, how much more can he do now that he immortally dwells in Heaven with Jesus and Mary by his side?

In the Old Testament, Pharaoh told the people to, “Go to Joseph” for their needs. Today, as the activities of the demons are more frequently shown on the six o’clock news, we should seek the aid of the New Testament Joseph for our needs and especially for our protection.

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A Tale of Two Josephs

The Bible is an amazing book; actually an amazing collection of books. Compiled nearly two thousand years ago, it contains History, Poetry, Prophecy and lessons for life that remain pertinent no matter the year on the calendar.

Many of the stories of the Bible contain meanings on top of meanings on top of more meanings. A person can read the same passage repeatedly over ensuing decades and still discover, for the first time, deeper insights that reveal truths directly applicable to them. When you realize that different human authors, over a span of centuries, took part in its assembly, you cannot help but be astounded.

The Christian sees in this continuity the Hand of God as He inspired the mortal writers. But not only did God inspire the writers as they put quill to parchment, He also inspired the people about whose lives are revealed.

The Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament points to the Coming of the Messiah while the New Testament proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. Like the overture of a musical, the Old Testament presents in small parts what will be revealed in full later on.

While Jesus the Messiah, or Savior, is the person around whom the whole story revolves, there are others, call them supporting actors, who play a key part in the tale. Two, in particular, deserve attention, and they are both named Joseph.

Joseph of the Old Testament was the son of Jacob. He experienced dreams that foretold his father and his brothers would one day bow down to him.

Joseph of the New Testament also had a father whose name was Jacob. God spoke to him in dreams directing his actions toward Jesus and Mary. He became the head of the Holy Family and Mary and Jesus were obedient to him.

 The brothers of the Old Testament Joseph first plotted to kill him but then sold him into slavery to some Midianites. He was taken to Egypt where he was again sold, this time to Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s chief steward. God blessed Joseph in all the duties he was given and Potiphar’s house prospered. Potiphar gave control to Joseph over all matters of his house. Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph and when he denied her advances, she falsely accused him of a sexual assault and he was thrown into jail.

 The New Testament Joseph served God the Father’s purpose by becoming the foster-father of Jesus and the chaste guardian of the Virgin Mary.  

Joseph of the Old Testament came to dwell in the House of Pharaoh and serve a man who was the ruler of much of the world. Joseph of the New Testament brought the King of Heaven and Earth to dwell in his home. He served God by teaching and directing Jesus when he was a child.

Joseph of the Old Testament had the ability to interpret the dreams of others. God the Father spoke directly to Joseph of the New Testament in dreams. It was clearly revealed to him that he should take Mary as his wife and that the child she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was clearly warned in a dream to flee Herod’s wrath and later in a dream informed when it was safe to return home.

The family of the Old Testament Joseph sought relief in Egypt from the famine. Joseph stored up grain during the plush years that kept his family and others alive during the famine.

Joseph of the New Testament is the savior of the Savior. He appeared as the natural father of Jesus to the people, shielding Mary from the law and sheltering the helpless baby. He, with Mary and Jesus, sought sanctuary in Egypt. Because of Joseph’s obedience, the Infant Savior grew to manhood. With Jesus’ death and resurrection, millions have been eternally rescued.

The ancient Joseph was especially loved by his father and given a glorious many-colored coat as a symbol of this love. The New Testament Joseph was much beloved by God the Father, so much so that he was given as his bride the most precious creature in all Creation, Mary the Mother of God.

The ancient Patriarch is a precursor to the New Testament Joseph. Joseph of the Old Testament showed mercy to his brothers who sold him into slavery. Our New Testament Joseph so attuned his desires to those of God that he, above all others, is called a Just Man.

 For the modern reader, separated by millennia from the authors of the Bible, guidance for life is abundant in its pages. For those who aspire to greatness, modeling their lives on the two Josephs is an excellent place to start.

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Who Lives in Heaven’s Penthouse?

 

Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., often said that if he was granted entrance into heaven, he would be assigned the lowliest of positions. His guess was that he would be assigned to find lost pets. For us pet lovers, that is a very important task, but it also indicates the notion that there are different levels of heaven.

First it must be said that everyone in heaven is completely joy-filled. But the human mind is wired to put things in order. On Earth, we have Kings and Prime Ministers, Generals and Captains and Privates. In our families the Father and Mother are the head of the household, at work the Boss has supervisors under him who have employees under them. The Bible speaks of Principalities and Powers indicating different types of Angels. Saint Augustine and others spoke of Nine Choirs of Angels. On the far opposite end, we have Dante’s Nine Levels of Hell.

The highest realms of heaven are occupied by God Himself, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This mystery of Three Persons in One God we call the Trinity.

Beneath the Trinity we find the Nine Choirs of Angels and these are each divided into three groups of three. Each group signifies how close to God the Beings in that group are. The three groups from highest to lowest are:

1) Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones

2) Dominations, Virtues and Powers

3) Principalities, Archangels and Angels

However, there is another level that must be mentioned and it resides above the Seraphim and below the Trinity. You could reckon it to be Heaven’s Penthouse!

 The residents of this level are Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family.

Jesus is True God and True Man. Within Him is the Divine Nature and Human Nature. This duality has a name, the Hypostatic Union. The Hypostatic Union is the name of the level above the Seraphim. In the time of the Early Church, this name and this union was much discussed and debated. So much so that Saint Augustine cautioned the men of his flock not to discuss the Hypostatic Union while they were at the Barber as he thought that to be profane.

Mary is the Mother of God and also the Queen of Angels. As Queen, she should be positioned above her subjects.  Joseph is the spouse of Mary, her Earthly guardian and the guardian and foster-father of Jesus. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family during its residence on Earth. In their home both Jesus and Mary were obedient to him. Joseph by his obedience shielded Mary from charges of adultery that would have led to her death. Joseph by his obedience took Jesus and Mary safely into Egypt away from the murderous Herod.

God in the form of the Trinity is the very essence and reason heaven exists. All of creation sits below the Trinity and is ordered according to the wishes of God. Closest to God, according to His design, is His Son Jesus with Mary and Joseph, eternally above all of the Angels and lesser inhabitants.

On Earth, Joseph looked down into the face of Jesus while he held the infant in his arms. With his last breath, he gazed up into the faces of Jesus and Mary. Now when he looks up he sees the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and beside him stands Jesus and Mary the Queen of Heaven.

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The Assumption of Saint Joseph

August 15 is the date the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates the Assumption of Mary into Heaven Body and Soul. It was Pope Pius XII who on November 1, 1950, declared this to be a dogmatic teaching of the Church.

This teaching makes sense on so many levels that as early as the fourth century it was a popular belief among the faithful that Mary was brought body and soul into heaven upon her death.

1) She said, “Yes, let it be done to me according to thy will.”

2) She was the true Mother of God, Jesus Christ, the perfect son who loved her more than any son ever loved his Mother. Would He allow His Mother to remain in the tomb when He could do something about it?

3) She was Full of Grace, not subject to the stain of original sin, which results in death.

4) She was faithful to Him even as He hung on the cross. Then she continued His work by teaching the Apostles.

The Assumption of Mary makes sense. What about Joseph?

First – there is NO dogmatic proclamation about Joseph being assumed into heaven body and soul after his death. Beyond that, we have much to consider.

I) Joseph was the true husband of Mary. Mary and Joseph loved each other with a perfect love.

II) Joseph was selected by God the Father to be the guardian of Jesus and Mary. He fulfilled this duty completely.

III) Jesus, Mary and Joseph, all three comprise the Holy Family. They are a unit.

IV) We read in Matthew 27; vs 51 -53, “The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the city and appeared to many.

So we know from the Bible that some have already experienced the reuniting of their souls with their bodies. The Bible does not give us names but we can piously speculate and some of the Church Fathers and saints have done so.

·       Saint Bernadine of Siena proclaimed that just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph labored on earth together they now reign in splendor in Heaven Body and Soul.The Youth of Our Lord John Herbert

·       Saint Francis de Sales declared in a sermon, “St. Joseph is, therefore, in Heaven in body and in soul; of that there is no doubt.”

·       Saint Leonard of Port Maurice whose preaching on the Immaculate Conception was instrumental in its eventual declaration stated that Saint Joseph was granted a special privilege when his body and soul were brought to heaven. For proof he references the book of Proverbs that states all her (Mary’s) household are “clothed with double garments.” Interpreters say that double garments signify the body and the soul.

Consider the fact that Jesus cannot refuse his mother any reasonable request. When she was assumed body and soul into Heaven was she to be greeted by her husband’s disembodied soul? If this had occurred would she not ask her son to reunite Joseph with the body that had served both of them for so many years? Saint Augustine and other Church Fathers state it would be improper for Saint Joseph’s body to lie in the ground until the Second Coming given that no other person was as close to Jesus as Joseph was with the exception of his spouse Mary. If the bodies of unnamed saints were raised at the resurrection does it not make sense that the body of the man chosen by God the Father to be the guardian of His Son and his Mother would be among them?

If the body of Saint Joseph remained in the ground would it not long ago have become the object of veneration like so many other saints? Would not his bones be displayed for the edification of our souls? But no remains are available despite claims of where his tomb is located. The body of Moses, who appeared with Jesus on Mount Tabor in glorified form with Elijah, who was taken directly to Heaven, is missing. Is it missing or is it no longer on earth?

So we are left to use our capabilities and decide for ourselves. We cannot make a firm dogmatic proclamation as that is left to the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But just as the Assumption of Mary was piously believed by many for centuries before it was made firm, so too may the faithful pray that Joseph is soon honored with the same dignity.

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