It is little-known that St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, appeared At Fatima, Portugal. On October 13, 1917, the day that the sun danced – – the miracle of the sun, spinning out of its place, hurtling down towards the rain-soaked earth, returning after the awestruck spectators–an estimated 70,000 of them– found themselves completely dry. This was the miracle, the sign promised by the Blessed Virgin Mary, “so that all may believe.” In the course of next few moments, the children of Fatima saw a vision of the. St. Joseph was holding the baby Jesus and both of them extended their arms, and with right hands raised, blessed the world in the sign of the cross.
According to Sr. Lucia, the special significance of this particular apparition of the Holy Family is the call to the sanctification of the family. Holiness of life begins in the home, with mother and father as the primary teachers of prayer and devotion towards God. If the stability of family life was in jeopardy back in the early 20th century, how much more unstable it is . Divorce is rampant and marriage itself is looked down upon. Is there any wonder that there would be a crisis of faith, with many young people identifying as “none,” when it comes to religious belief and practice. Children are the ones who suffer the most because of attacks on the family. Divorce breaks them up inside with divided loyalties, same sex unions do injustice to them by purposely denying them a mother or father, and unmarried couples present an uncommitted, unstable environment for them. The Holy Family is the example of what a family is/should be.
Jesus received love and attention from Mother Mary and St. Joseph. He learned how to pray and how to worship from their instruction, guidance and devotion towards God. Every year, he and his parents made pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover as it is recorded in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. Jesus was obedient to his parents, keeping perfectly the fourth commandment to honor one’s mother and father. It was within the context of his family life that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
As head of the Holy Family, SExtt. Joseph did everything he was supposed to do to support his family. He was a working man – – but work was a participation in the creative work of God and a means of benefiting his family and the common good. For St. Joseph, work was not – – to use a word I’m really beginning to abhor – – a “hustle,” to make ends meet while barely surviving, running the “Rat race” that goes nowhere. The Holy Family knew how to live with whatever they had and to be happy with that. St. Joseph definitely wasn’t a workaholic who spent all of his time working. He was there for his family, with his family, enjoying life with them. He didn’t bring his work home so to speak.
This year dedicated to St. Joseph, it’s good to consider the message of Fatima with him. St. Joseph can teach us how to really live the message. What is the heart of the message? One of the first things that Our Lady said was that we should not offend God because he is already so offended. According to Sr. Lucia, at the heart of the message is the call to obey the Divine Law, childlike faith, that is, trust, in God and how he would have us live as revealed by Christ and his Church. We can ask for this faith through the intercession of St. Joseph who was deeply a man of faith, who trusted even when he was sorely afflicted. Also, Our Lady of Fatima requested that people pray and to do penance for the conversion, of Russia and of the whole world. And to make reparations for the sins and blasphemies made against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We had better believe that St. Joseph takes seriously any kind of offense or attack against his pure and immaculate wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary. How are we to pray, to do penance, and make reparation? St. Joseph teaches us how to do these things
Offering yourself as a living sacrifice.
Before the Marian apparitions of May 13 to October 13, 1917, the Guardian Angel of Portugal, the Angel of Peace appeared to the three children of Fatima during the spring of 1916, to prepare the children to see Our Lady (whom they did not immediately identify as such). During the Angel’s second apparition, he told the children to, “[m]ake everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. […] Above all accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.” Later on, during the course of the apparitions of 1917, Our Lady echoes these words when she makes the following request of children:
“Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”
Our Lady specifies this further when she says:
“Sacrifice yourself for sinners, and say many times especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary”.
So, in accepting the sufferings that God allows, and in making voluntary sacrifices, with love, one can offer them for the conversion of sinners and as reparation for sin. Daily life presents us with many difficulties and opportunities for making sacrifices. Everyone can do this. It is the offering of suffering, united to the cross of Jesus Christ. But they must Not be done resentfully; they must be offered in a spirit of willing the good, which is what love is, and with generosity. St. Joseph can help us, by his example and intercession, to do this. He faced many involuntary and voluntary sufferings, for the love of God and the good of his family. So many times, we can imagine him saying by his actions, “O Jesus, this is for love of you.” We may also imagine him working and offering his actions for the Blessed Virgin by reminding himself to “do it for her.”
Whatever we do, offered to Jesus and Mary, becomes a prayer for the conversion of souls and of reparation for sins, especially those committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady requested us to make everything we do a sacrifice. Absolutely nothing should be wasted; everything made profitable. Our very existence can be offered up to God in this way, “for the praise and glory of his name.” And in this way, we become the living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, that St. Paul exhorts us to be.
Men and women of prayer.
Yes, we should offer everything we go through to God (God being the final end of our prayer), but that doesn’t somehow exclude the necessity for committed times of prayer, especially silent prayer. St. Joseph made his work a prayer but it is practically impossible to do so without devoting time for encountering God. As the catechism reminds us, “we cannot pray ‘at all times’ if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.”
St. Joseph was a man of prayer who prayed the vocal prayers of the Psalms. And beyond that, St. Joseph was a man of silence, of that silence which leads to meditation and contemplation. We can imagine him losing himself in wonder and contemplation gazing upon the Child Jesus, on Mother Mary’s lap. Why not ask the earthly father of Jesus to help us enter into meditative prayer, to teach us how to pray as he did, and to invite him to pray with us?
A very simple way to enter into meditation or mental prayer would be through the holy Rosary, devoutly prayed. It is recollecting Gospel passages to ponder over – –Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,” without having to pick up a book. It is praying Jesus with his mother, who knew him best, and we can add, with St. Joseph, the man who was closest to him, and who, indeed, knew him as his own. St. Joseph lived the joyful mysteries, experiencing them before his very eyes, to he can help to take us into the prayer. Anyone can pray the rosary, a powerful prayer that is so simple. At Fatima, Our Lady this recommended this all to pray the rosary, especially for peace and the end to war. It is a prayer to be prayed together as a family, in imitation of the way that the Holy Family must have this prayed. And, as Venerable Father Patrick Peyton would remind us, “the family that prays together, stays together.”
The presence of St. Joseph at Fatima tells us of the importance of fatherhood and family. “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of satan will be over the family,” Sr. Lucia had stated in a letter. We see this being played out it all around us in a society that so undervalues and undermines the family as God intended it. More than ever, we need the example and intercession of St. Joseph. He can help us keep the message of Fatima, of penance and prayer for the conversion of souls and reparation for sin, and to keep the Five First Saturdays. “In the end,” we are promised, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph, and the head of satan will be definitively crushed under her foot. We can make it happen and participate in it – – St. Joseph, pray for us!
Sources: coming soon