Joseph and Jesus, a Father's care

Joseph and Jesus, a Father’s care

We can imagine St. Joseph’s joy when hearing of Herod’s death. Now they can return home to family and friends. They can root their family life in the Jewish tradition and establish a stable trade. They can have a normal family life. Dutifully, he takes the child Jesus and Mary to the land of Israel. But this is not to be their home; fearing Archelaus, Herod’s son, St. Joseph listens to the guidance of an angel and they move again. This time to Nazareth in the district of Galilee. Finally, their wandering ends. Here the child Jesus grows in strength and wisdom as he learns the carpenter’s trade.

Over and over, St. Joseph obediently moves his family – protecting and caring for them – fully accepting his responsibility as spouse and father. How many times he must have knelt in prayer; beseeching the Father’s help and pleading for a permanent, safe home. Maybe by St. Joseph’s example, Jesus learned to seek a place of solitude for prayer. Psalm 31, which we sang in today’s celebration of the Holy Mass, may have been a psalm St. Joseph prayed often:

In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, incline your ear to me, make haste to deliver me.
Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord. Ps 31: 2-3, 3-4, 17, 25

Are we in constant prayer with God? To know the Father’s will, we have to be in dialogue. Jesus Christ shows us by his life that we need to pray. It was part of his life to seek solitude for prayer, to pray constantly, and to lead his disciples to prayer. Let us pray for each other as we discern how to live out our love of Christ and respond to the Father’s will.

O glorious St. Joseph, how you must have marveled at the child Jesus learning to pray by your side. You show us the necessity for constant prayer and the grace that is given for each part of our journey of faith in love. Following your example of obedience and trust, may we freely and generously go where the Father’s will calls us.

Pray for us, blessed St. Joseph,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
In your infinite wisdom and love
you chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven,
particularly as we discern our chosen-ness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The below meditation, based on the readings for Sunday, Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year B, particularly the parable of the mustard seed found in Matthew’s Gospel, appropriately ushers us into this week where we will begin the Fortnight for Freedom.   The Fortnight for Freedom is a call by the United States Catholic Bishops for all peoples to unite in 14 days of prayer, education, awareness and action concerning  the growing assault on the dignity of the human person, which is now manifest in the government’s infringement on religious liberty.  More information can be found at these sites:

http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/index.cfm

http://www.religiousliberties.org/

Copyright United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Christians and all people of good will can join together in upholding the basic rights of the human person endowed by our Creator.  It is the government’s role to protect these rights, not to infringe upon them.  May this meditation be a source of inspiration, contemplation and action. May God bless our country and bless all who work for religious freedom, justice and peace.

In Christ our Hope,

Mother Susan Catherine Kennedy

Difficulties ought not to discourage us. [1]

The Apostles and first Christians faced a society threatened in its very foundations; a society well-nigh impossible to have ideals.  St. Paul describes Roman society and the pagan world as places where the natural light of reason had been darkened in many ways, especially in regard to the dignity of the human person.  He goes on to say: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

                For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.  They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice.  Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they were gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom 1:24-26, 29-31) Working from within society, Christians changed it.  There the seed fell, then spread to the whole world. Although it was a small seed it carried a divine power, because the seed was Christ’s.  The first Christians who came to Rome were not different from ourselves, and with God’s help were able to do an effective apostolate, working shoulder to shoulder, in the same jobs as everyone else, facing the same problems, obeying the same laws, unless they were directly contrary to the law of God.  Truly the first Christians in Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome were a tiny mustard seed seemingly lost in a huge field.

Although our society seems at times to be like the one described by St. Paul, we ought not to lose heart at meeting obstacles.  God counts on us to transform the place where we live and work.  Although what we can do may seem small and insignificant, like the grain of the mustard seed, let us not neglect to do what we can, because God counts on the contribution.  With our prayer and sacrifice He will ensure that there is growth and fruit.  That ‘little’ we can do may be advising a colleague or a friend to read a particular book; or be attentive to a client, fellow passenger or workmate; or giving a helping hand when needed; or praying for a sick friend or a neighbor’s child, and asking that they pray for us; or helping someone go to Confession.  And always living a cheerful, honest life.  Everybody should be discreetly, quietly, and daringly apostolic.  This can be so if we remain united to God, if we reject a comfort-loving existence, if we overcome lukewarmness and discouragement.  The time in which we are called to live demand especially that we feel deeply obligated to be always zealous and enthusiastic.  We will be so only if we struggle.  Only the person who makes a strenuous effort is suitable to bringing the world peace, the peace of Christ.

From the first Christians we must learn not to be inhibited by human respect, not to be afraid of what others will say.  Rather must we be concerned to make Christ known no matter where we find ourselves, very much aware of the treasure we have found, of the precious pearl we have located after much searching…. These times will be excellent moments to show Christ our love, forgetting about what others think, and not being swayed by public opinion. God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.  Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, St. Paul said to Timothy. (2 Tim 2:7-8)….this is the way it has always been in the things of God, from the beginning of the Church to our day… We will not lack God’s help.  He will turn the little we can do into a great power for good.


[1] Fernandez, Francis, In Conversation with God, London, Scepter Pub., 2005, Vol. III, 89.2-3.

Christian Citizenship

January 26, 2012

Sadly, citizens across our nation just commemorated the tragic Supreme Court decision that sanctioned the killing of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society, the unborn. In the 39 years since this decision, over 50 million infant people have been killed and their families’ lives changed forever.

This decision, and the subsequent acts flowing from it, has divided a nation that only half a century ago stood united in the protection and defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not only here but around the globe. Now we have a festering, gaping wound in our country, oozing pus throughout society as seen in the growing national policies that question the value of the lives of the elderly and the handicapped. Our government poured salt into that wound on January 20, when the Department of health and Human Services announced that nearly all employers will be forced to cover drugs and procedures that violate their conscience in their health plans. These include contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients. (More info: see http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/respectlife.htm). This is a direct assault on respect for conscience and religious liberty. As our government sanctions the killing of innocents, it now attacks the very core of the person and the heart of our nation.

St. Peter, in writing to the Gentiles in Asia Minor, called them to be good citizens and thus show themselves to be Christians by the witness of their lives.

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. (1Pet 2:13-17)

At the time of St. Peter’s writing, the leaders and authorities were appointed or usurped authority by military power. But in our country, the authorities and their policies are by our choosing – we elect them, from the White House to city hall. Therefore, our responsibility and duty as Christians is greater than what Peter asked of the Gentiles in the early church. We are all called and will answer for our participation in the political process that defines this nation. This is part of our response in love to Christ’s sending us forth into the world to proclaim His good news.

This duty is not simple or easy; it requires study, discipline, diligence and prayer. It is hard work, but work worthy of the dignity of the human person. We are called to act in conformity with our conscience, to put leaders in place that will uphold the laws of God, the giver of all authority, which our fore fathers acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them..” (Opening paragraph of the Declaration)

To undertake this sacred duty, we have first the responsibility of forming our own moral conscience.

Conscience is the voice inside the heart of every person that calls us to do good and to avoid evil. It is the law of truth present in each heart that aids each person to make prudent decisions congruent with the moral good. A person has integrity when he or she acts in accordance with his or her conscience. Within the conscience, a person judges an action to be good or evil; then, entrusting in hope and the promise of forgiveness, sets about to right their course toward the good. Conscience is the inner core, the seat of truth in each person. Therefore, man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”(Dignitatis Humane, The Declaration on Religious Liberty, 3)

Forming our conscience is a life-long endeavor of studying sacred scripture and the teaching of the Church, of participating in sacred liturgy, of seeking guidance from the wise and learned and of being aware of the church’s collective wisdom on current issues. As Christ sent his disciples out into the world to proclaim the kingdom, so we are sent forth. In our country, this calls us to engage in the political process, to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square and into the political, economic and social policies that define our nation. In doing this, we have an obligation to take into account the moral stance of politicians and other authorities. What is the foundation of the character of the person? What do they allow, what do they promote and encourage, and what do they stand for? Within the judgment of our well-formed conscience, can we support this particular person?

To fulfill this Christian duty, we need to be informed. What are the major issues that call us to take action and to take a stand? Our bishops, in their role of shepherds, have identified some: health care, education, immigration, just economy, debt, jobs (See http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/ and http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/) Most of us would identify the same issues as ones demanding our involvement.

Our voice is critical for the future of our nation and is our mandate from Christ to bring his message into the world. We are a people of Hope, and that Hope is much needed to overcome the discouragement, despair and apathy that takes root when a government sanctions the killing of the most vulnerable and infringes on the right of conscience and religious liberty of each person. Deep in the soul of each person, is the desire to know the face of Truth. With this desire is the freedom and right given by God, not by man, to the life and liberty necessary to seek, to know and to live in Truth. We are called to be people of Truth; loving God and living in his joy; proclaiming life and bringing his hope. By his grace and armed with knowledge, may we boldly undertake our responsibility as Christian citizens.

Our fore fathers had a profound sense of the rights given by God and the citizen’s responsibility in relationship to these rights. They captured that sense in the beginning of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

May the teaching of St. Basil the Great (+379) help us call to mind our sacred dignity and our response to this great goodness: ”

There is one gift that no thoughtful man can pass over in silence. God fashioned man in his own image and likeness: he gave him knowledge of himself; he endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures; he permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth…Nor was he content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination. How, then, shall we repay the Lord for his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires.” (Office of Readings, Tuesday, 3rd week Ordinary Time)

In Christ our Hope,

Sr. Susan Catherine, DDH

25 January 2012

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Bishop plans novitiate

November 7, 2010

Bishop Corrada in the Diocese of Tyler is scheduled to receive the private vows of Judge Sue Kennedy on the Feast of Christ the King, November 21, 2010.  He is also planning to officially establish the Daughters of Divine Hope as an institution in the Church.  As such it will subject to Church law and the oversight of the Bishop.

Judge Sue Kennedy is busy with finalizing the statutes and the Rule for the Daughters of Divine Hope.  The Judge has the prototype habit in hand and a couple more being completed before the 21st.  The Judge is also busy meeting and discussing the DDH with women that have potential interest in joining the budding community.

We Begin

October 28, 2010

Judge Sue Kennedy is expected to enter novitiate for the Daughters of Divine Hope on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov 21, 2010.  This site will be used to post some of her reflections and to provide occassional updates on the progress thru the novitiate.