Month: January 2011

Three Cheers for Joseph

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics.   My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe


 Three Cheers for Joseph

…the husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus. He is the most unsung hero of our Faith.  In spite of the important role he played, we have scant information about him. The few facts are:

1.     He and Mary were descendents of King David.

2.     In the Book of Matthews, he is identified as a carpenter and “a just man.”

3.     He was a dreamer of three special dreams with guidance which he followed. (a) Accepting the divine conception of Jesus, (b) the warning to take Mary and the baby to Egypt, and then (c) the advice to return to Israel. St. Jerome said, “This is the testimony to Mary’s purity that Joseph, knowing her chastity, and wondering what had happened, he hides in silence the mystery of which he was ignorant.”

4.     We don’t know when Joseph died. When Jesus was twelve and found in the temple, we know that Joseph was there searching with Mary.  Then when Jesus began his ministry, the people asked, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” This implies that he was alive at that time, yet he is not mentioned at the Cana Feast or any later date in the Scripture.

With these few facts, we have much freedom in determining what Joseph was like.  I picture him as a quiet fellow with a kind sense of humor. Regarding his carpentry, I think he was more concerned about quality and perfection, rather than quantity. Also, he must have lived in a sense of awe, realizing the responsibility God had placed on him.  In his Joseph poem, G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Yes, in the one wise foolish hour God gives this strange strength to a man. He can demand, though not deserve, where ask he cannot, seize he can.”

     In summary, I am convinced I would have liked Joseph. If he were here today, I would enjoy frequent get-togethers at Starbucks and the pub. I see Joseph traits in those around me — persons of pleasing reserve who do charitable acts, not for the notice or praise of others. A few of these are Shep, an prominent attorney who weekly volunteers at a facility for AIDs patients; Brother Ed, who  keeps Christmas going all year; Weezie, who took her dying mother into her apartment when she was unhappy in a hospice; Bob, who in spite of the many thorns in his body devotes his time to those in need.

     Father Luke Tancrell, O.P., wrote, “Given the witness of the Gospel about him, Joseph’s serenity attracts, because his silence has something to say to us. Even if it means changing our plans.

     So, Saint Joseph, lead us on!


Other recommended Catholic blogs

Being Frank (New Zealand)

Creative Minority Report

Musings from a Catholic Bookstore

Recommended readings

 “On the Slope with Teilhard” (12/13 America)

“The Abuse Scandal” (Dec. The Catholic World Report)

“How women who work for the church keep the faith” (Jan. USCatholic)

“My Journey from Darkness to Light” (the winter issue of Spiritual Life)


The first to send the right answers to will receive a gift copy of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics.

1.     Who was the first United States citizen to be canonized?

     2.  Which was not a miracle of Jesus?

          (a) feeding the multitude

          (b) walking on water

          (c) calming the storm

          (d) solving the financial crisis

     3.  Who were the first two to recognize Jesus as the Messiah?


“Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics.   My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe 

– (Lest we forget) 72 years ago, 10,000 Catholics were martyred for their faith in the Spanish Civil War (when we favored the side of killers), and two-thirds of the martyrs were priests and religious.

– (and today) In Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old Protestant pastor, has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam; as has Asia Bibi in Pakistan, for the same reason.


US Catholic reports that, because of the draconian Israel rule, the Christian population in Bethlehem has dropped from 80% to 12%.

-Thomas Friedman, in The New York Times, points out that instead of giving Israel a $3 billion bribe for a three month freeze on settlement building, we should have spent this on our own fire departments and schools that are closing because of lack of funds.(comment: AMEN!)


My favorite priest, layperson, breathing saint or organization

As Director of Loyola Jesuit Retreat House on the Potomac, in Faulkner MD, Jim Greer is devoting his life to enriching the lives of his fellow Catholics.  His impressive background includes serving as a senior advocacy specialist for people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and addictions. For a prison in Eastern Massachusetts he instituted a boot camp for addiction treatment for violent offenders. In the business world, he is a Leadership Coach and Trainer for five major national companies…

          More impressive than these achievements is the man himself. In his inspirational words, actions and mere presence, he is a model for all Joyful Catholics.

(Now, tell me about your favorite Catholic priest, layperson or organization that is making a difference

Interesting Sayings

We can grow from joy as well as from sorrow. Joy can also move toward overt self-orientation but it most often  promotes gratitude, praise, eagerness to share and enthusiasm for the Creator’s gifts. Perhaps this best present we could give one another this Christmas is a joyful heart and a cheerful attitude.

Sister Joyce Rupp. O.S.M.



The desire for God is for a relationship that is complicated, involving all of us and the full reality of God, whoever God is.

Mark Neilson

Everything is heaven to me. All my moments are pure divine action, and in life and in death I remain content with that.

Father Jean-Pierre of Caussade, (a French Jesuit who died in 1751)

Asked whether spreading the faith was a high priority of their parishes, 75 percent of conservative Protestant congregations and 57 percent of African American congregations responded affirmatively, whereas only 6 percent of Catholic parishes did the same. Asked whether they sponsored local evangelistic activities, 39 percent of conservative Protestant congregations and 16 percent of African American congregations responded positively as compared with only 3 percent of Catholic parishes.”

Avery Cardinal Dulles



Does God want our love, or our allegiance? Perhaps God desires our love,but will settle with allegiance –party line affiliation? Given, that on one hand I believe in God, and on the other I believe in Humankind, what is the true essence of the relationship? Or, do we as human just feel a need to set parameters and define relationships (so they can ultimately fail from their own weight)? Does God need us, or we God? 

Fr. Walter Van Zandt Windsor, Pine Bluff Ark


I agree with the message in your “The New Mass, a la Show Biz” chapter in Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics. As the author Gertrude von Le Fort said, “For when God bids us speak, he bids us be silent.”

Thomas Minton

Regarding our need to give more attention to our Bible as the Muslims give to their holy book, St. Bernard said that “anyone who eagerly meditates on Scripture knows that there he is certain to find the One for whom he thirsts.”

Susie Fredericks

Your “caterpillar thoughts” reminded me of this writing from Brother Simon in the Cistercian Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA: “Blessed be God, who has given us a desire for his love and truth that is far stronger than all the combined forces of our fallen nature, which recoils in honor at the prospect of thorough transformation.”

                                                Andrew Cardona


 Chuckle Time

If instead of three kings, three Jewish women had shown up at the manger in Bethlehem, (1) they would have arrived on time because they would have asked directions. (2) They would have brought practical gifts of food, medical supplies and diapers. (3) They would have kicked out the animals and hired someone to clean up the stables. (4) They would have helped deliver the baby.

          After leaving on their way back home, their comments would have been: (1) I hear that Joseph doesn’t have a job. (2) Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that shmatta? (3) That donkey they are riding has seen better days. (4) The baby doesn’t look like Joseph.”

Special Intentions List

As you pray with a broad brush, please include these loved ones, who have been submitted by our readers. You, too, are invited to send me names of your special persons who are in need of prayer.  My address is They will be on the list for 60 days. At the end of that time, if prayers are still needed, you merely have to renew the name.

Juanita Caldwell, Isola Todd, David Abbey, Linwood “Skip” Williams, Roseanne Somlock, Nicholas Gallagher, Tom Lewis, Donald Whitcomb, Violeta Zepeda, John Aylor, Rev. Joseph Marini, Enrique Portillo, Sharon McPike, Tom Ryan,Joseph Normile, Jim Quimby, Russell Edwards,

Gertrude Goldstein, Rev. Stephen Huffstetter, Hugh Cannon, Eric Moore, Joan Barrett, 8-year-old Michael Fotta and his parents, Lolita Alvarez, Camilus Musselman, Ed Block, Isobel Milligan,

Peter Bartkiewiez and his family, Joe Toles, Bob Earll, Camilus Musselman,   Ed Cole, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Jay Parker, William Stephenson,

Roger Stoven, Bob Abbott, Denny Kline, Lois Pinkin, Larry Mannino, Cheryl DeSantis. the cholera victims in Haiti, all those in refugee camps throughout the world.