Friday, March 19, 2010

SAINT JOSEPH - Patron of the Church, Canada, Ottawa Archdiocese - Last of Barrhaven School Visits

St. Joseph with Christ Child, Michael D. O’Brien

At the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, a bishop from Yugoslavia, prompted by the Spirit, rose up to say that St. Joseph was too neglected in the church’s teaching. And what response did he get? General laughter! Was this why the Ecumenical Council had been convened?

And yet the bishop did not have to wait long for his answer. On the following day, November 12, 1962, Cardinal Cicognani, speaking for Pope John XXIII, declared that the Holy Father had decided to introduce St. Joseph’s name into the Canon of the Mass.

It was a bold move to change the Eucharistic Prayer that had not been touched since the 16th century. But Good Pope John was giving expression to his own inmost thought, as he had earlier placed the Council in the hands of St. Joseph on March 19, 1961 and had made sure that the altar dedicated to St. Joseph in St. Peter’s Basilica was resplendent so as to be attractive to Catholics. Above all, the Pope was fulfilling the wish of a Dominican priest who died a saintly death in 1869 at the age of 37, offering his life that Joseph might be given his rightful place in the Church and especially that his name might be inscribed in the Canon of the Mass.

As I have read up on St. Joseph in recent years, I have discovered that, while he got off to a slow start, the Foster Father of Jesus began to come into his own in the devotional life of the Church especially during the era when our country Canada was being founded. In my reading I have found that, almost without exception, the great religious figures of our nation were deeply attached to Joseph: the Jesuits, Marie de l’Incarnation, Madeleine de la Peltrie; indeed, at Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons the Canadian Martyrs dedicated their chapel to St. Joseph.

The early settlers’ reverence for the Spouse of the Blessed Mother and the Foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ were not without effect. St. Joseph is the Patron of the Universal Church, declared so by Pius IX around the very time Blessed (soon to be Saint) Alfred Bessette—better known as Brother Andre—was entering the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal; his lifelong attachment to St. Joseph would little by little become manifest in what would become St. Joseph’s Oratory, the largest church in the world dedicated to Joseph, now also designated a basilica.

St. Joseph is also the Principal Patron of Canada and, I would suggest, as the Shadow of the Heavenly Father, a saint modest and hidden, one to whom deep respect and reverence are owed. It is not without reason, then, that the present-day bishops some five years ago invited Canada’s Catholics “to go to Joseph”, making intercession for the preservation of the traditional definition of marriage in this critical hour of need in our history.

The first glimpse of Joseph in the New Testament appears in one of the passages appointed for today's Mass. It is taken from Matthew's gospel; there we find Joseph struggling to know what to do when he discovers that Mary, his betrothed, is with child (Matt 1:18-25). Like the patriarch Joseph, his namesake in the book of Genesis, he dreams and thereby opens himself to God's revelation.

We are told that Joseph was a man of honour (the Greek word means just or righteous). Joseph wanted to please God by following the prescriptions of the Law as closely as possible. But this desire to observe the Torah put Joseph into a dilemma, for he knew the child Mary was carrying was not his own. In such cases, the Scriptures ordained that Joseph renounce his betrothal to Mary (Deut 22:23-24).

Enter the Lord's messenger in a dream. The angel informed Joseph that Mary's child was conceived through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Now God's will asks that Joseph abide by a higher righteousness than observing the Law's prescriptions. Jesus would later proclaim such a higher righteousness for all his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17-48).

The angel summoned Joseph in obedience to God's command to take Mary into his home as his wife. He was also told to accept this child as his own by agreeing to name him Jesus. In this way, Joseph conferred on Jesus his own membership in the Davidic line, making Jesus a son of David and a son of Abraham. Thus, Joseph was asked to take on the role of the earthly father so needed for Jesus to become an integrated and whole person. This speaks to our own day when we are called to provide for our children’s well-being not two mothers or two fathers, but a mother and father who, in their complementarity can help the child or children to grow into holistic persons. In this line of thought, John's gospel contains only two references to Joseph, both of which refer to Jesus as the son of Joseph (John 1:45; 6:42).

Joseph's openness to divine guidance recurs several other times during the narrative accounts of Jesus' infancy. During the persecution by Herod, the angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee with the Child Jesus and his mother to Egypt, remaining there until the death of Herod (Matt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Luc-Olivier Merson (May 21, 1846–November 13, 1920): Rest on the flight into Egypt

One should not conclude from these texts that Joseph is merely an automaton going through the motions demanded by angelic command. When the holy family is told it is safe to return from exile upon Herod's death in 4 B.C., Joseph learned that the ruthless Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler in Judea, Samaria and Idumea—the southern part of Israel. Joseph decided to settle in the northern reaches of the realm, which were presided over by a more benign tetrarch, Herod Antipas. Joseph's prudential decision, then, explains for St. Matthew how Jesus came to be associated with Nazareth in Galilee.

The New Testament depicts Joseph as a resourceful individual, who earned his living as a tradesman, as a carpenter or stone-mason; he was someone who worked shaping materials. He was a person who struggled as he sought to know God's will. And once he learned God's will, Joseph did it promptly and completely, even when this disturbed his own plans. He is shown as a parent who cared deeply about Jesus, both rejoicing in awe at the marvels attending his birth and sorrowing when Jesus was lost (the other gospel reading permitted on today's feast [Luke 2:41-51a]).

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St. JOSEPH Secondary School

St. Joseph High School opened its doors for students in October 2002, heir to the continuing tradition of an earlier St. Joseph's School on Broadview in Ottawa, staffed by Basilian Fathers and Sisters of the Holy Cross. The various stages of the pre-history (and there are gaps) are represented in artwork in the main lobby.

There is even the great wooden statue of St. Joseph that had been in the earlier school, complemented by this modern expression of the dream of Joseph.

From the SJHS website: This facility offers our staff and students a number of unique curriculum and program advantages. Our grade seven and eight students are housed on the third floor, as a separate group within the school. They make use of the specialty areas, such as the music, art and technology rooms, as well as the gyms.

The welcome committee

And its mission statement reads: At St. Joseph Catholic High School, faith, dedication, respect and justice are the cornerstones of our community. We stand to uphold Christian values and promote a positive and progressive learning environment. Through dedication and perseverance, we hope to achieve excellence within ourselves and the community.

Dialogue during the assembly

Staff and students pose with visitors before a mural of the young Joseph's dream

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St. EMILY (Rodat) Elementary School

Opened in September 2006, St. Emily Catholic School is the 6th Catholic elementary school to be opened in Barrhaven. It is located on Chapman Mills Drive in South Nepean. St. Emily means “to excel” and members are proud of their school spirit where together with home and church they aim for high achievement in all areas of growth (

The entry to this new school is colourful...

At this school the Q&A session was done "interview-style"

They're not all trying to ask a question or give an answer: this is a song gesture

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The Holy Father's Name Day

Today, many Josephs and Josephines [e.g. my Episcopal Vicar, Father Joseph Muldoon] celebrate their name day, an occasion in some cultures and countries of greater or equal importance to a person's birthday.

One of those celebrating his name day today is Joseph RATZINGER (Pope Benedict XVI). Given the occasion and the current circumstances when he and his ministry are under fierce criticism, even attack, let us remember him particularly in our prayers today.