The Cross and St. Joseph

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe...

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe…

     What can you learn from a man who says nothing in the entire Bible?  It turns out we can learn a great deal from his silent example and the symbols of his biblical and tradition based stories handed down from the Patriarchs.  For this reason he is a patron saint of my family and our little Blue Knight Evangelization club.

    St. Joseph was a carpenter, and it is this trade he passed down to his son.  Working with wood is one of the oldest traditions of mankind.  In the Garden of Eden we began this tradition of working with wood through the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.  Working with first gave us the fruit of unity with God, and the later one’s fruit planted inside us the seeds of pride to create our fallen world.

    The Tree of Life required no pruning or sacrifice to care for it or provide for our souls.  Once the world fell though, God needed to send his son to set things aright.  The job required Jesus to use the materials, tools and symbols we humans could grasp.  As partakers of the Tree of Knowledge we humans always look for God to symbolize rewards for good behavior by showing us the “land of milk and honey.” Overturning our fall from grace could not however come without sacrifice and correcting the pride from the fruits of Knowledge.

    So enter into this story a carpenter.  A man who sizes up a tree, cuts it down, cures it, and then crafts it with man made tools to provide necessities of life.  A carpenter will build tools, homes, carts, and hundreds of other items to ease our daily burdens to give us a better life.  Yes the carpenter kills a tree to provide us a better life.  It is the way of things in a fallen world.

    It was the carpenter St. Joseph who provided Jesus with the earthly skills and tool set to make the very cross he will carry to Calgary.  In the Jewish tradition it would be St. Joseph who introduced Jesus to earthly scripture (remember Jesus was there when they wrote it in the Trinity), apprenticed Jesus, brought up in the knowledge of Jewish ritual, taught Jesus the culture of the world he lived in when they went to market or met customers, and ensured Jesus had a sound domestic church with his wife Mary .  St. Joseph was responsible for introducing Christ to the complete earthly tool set needed to communicate with the world the message of salvation. 

    Being the faithful and obedient son, Christ learned his lessons well.  This is why Christ took the dead wood of the cross, a barren man formed tree as his greatest tool.  While the Romans saw it as a tool for a public belittlement of men to keep their earthly power over a population, Jesus had other ideas.  Jesus took the dead tree and used it to pass through to eternal life.  Through his death he obtained the glorification briefly glimpsed at the Transfiguration for all eternity.  In this act he corrected the error of Adam and Eve, and showed us our personal path to redemption.

    Through the works of a child, we get a glimpse of the qualities of the parents who raised them.  Although St. Joseph never said a word to us in the Bible, the impact he had a profound impact on the life of Jesus.  Looking for guidance in his example and patronage for our families can greatly advance our spiritual lives towards the Tree of Life.

-ehw

ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Please visit The Catholic Company to see more about this prayer.

Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Size Family)

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

    Our current Western society praises itself on being rooted in control over nature through application of science and reason.  Nowhere is this more evident than through control and size of the family.  Embracing a large family is in fact the anti-thesis of control of nature.  Therefore any counter-cultural move away from strict family control sets off a firestorm of emotion, debate, and shunning to bring people back into the fold.

    The argument for a controlled size family is a logical outgrowth of the Enlightenment.  The penny sized description of this philosophy is:  If I can reason something out (logically order it through science) and I want to will it into being, the result I want to make can and should be as I want it to regardless of any historical or scientific obstacles.  While the goal of Enlightenment thinkers is good, to make the world a better place, it fails because it assumes all things are ordered according to a single person’s will.  

    In a precisely ordered world replacement level children would not be bad…it would simply ensure a stable society with Mom and Dad being replaced by their little children.  It assumes there is no war, famine, enjoyment of bountiful years, divorce, recurrence of the Spanish Flu, accidents, control of passion by all people, natural spoiling of children, or change of political order.  When in history has this ever happened?  If I apply a scientific method to the review of history against any one of these factors, much less a combination of two, I can say never with confidence.

    A view of family across all traditional cultures shows having a large nuclear family is a reward and sign of prosperity.  Large families can take a loss, as tragic as it might be, and still survive to another generation.  Families with large families embrace passion and reap the rewards with a 99% stability rate (i.e. no divorce) when using Natural Family Planning.  In large families where parents have all the children help each other natural selflessness arises.  Even economic science shows growing populations increase GDP, while stable and declining populations result in a loss of economic power despite automation.

    Yet just saying have a large family is also a poor scientific argument as well.  Many large families fail because they may be open to life, but fail in another basic component of success.  One has to look into the why behind successful families everywhere, and its origins.  These reasons come from observations in natural law, not man’s law.

    In Genesis we see man was not complete until he had a wife.  Together they were to be fruitful and multiply.  Proverbs tells us a man will have no fear to argue in the city gates when surrounded by his children.  Jesus tells men they must serve their families to the point of complete self sacrifice, and women must listen to their self sacrificing men.  (This addresses our greatest vices as men and women of power going to our heads, and sets the example for their children’s future relationships) Time and time again we also read throughout the Bible we all must look for the Lord’s direction, and build our world towards it.  Embracing these lessons points us towards successful family models.

    St John Paul II, in his masterful Theology of the Body, also reminds us men and women complete the other sex in marriage.  In the marital act we participate in renewing creation with God.  Acceptance and loving our resulting children then completes the family.  When viewed in its totality, this sets up an environment where family life can mimic the Biblical revelations of Natural Law.  This type of environment fosters good and minimize bad family effects we can see in the physical world around us, while moving from generation to generation.

    In the a few short words above I hope this lets you understand where I started on my journey towards embracing the title of this post: Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Sized Family) in today’s world.  This decision does not come without challenges, doubts and trials.  It is emblematic of real life, needing a constant renewal.  Nothing worth doing ever came without cost…and never will.  So be not afraid to look at the reality of the world, and use its very nature to form a better future according to the will of God revealed through nature.  I promise the experience will really ENLIGHTEN you!

-ehw

P.S. Besides where would I get my cute photos of family life from without this many kids?

Earned not Given: Lesson for the 4th

    This year the capstone challenge of my boys Blue Knight year was the annual board of review at Regina Caeli Academy.  (The full story of the event itself is here BOARD OF REVIEW) For the weeks leading up to the board I reinforced to the boys and their parents their awards were earned not given by saying:”When your friends ask about your awards you will be able to tell them in Blue Knights everything is earned not given.”

    This is a hard task we all must learn, and one fathers must teach repeatedly.  In my case I had one boy who was able to discuss each question for five minutes each in great detail.  The other son took a pretest in the kitchen as we cleaned up from dinner, and smugly thought his 80% was enough to stop studying….ah not in my house.  After a very serious discussion on how the name Wojtkun was the only thing I would ever give him, and how he was not going to drag it into the gutter he go serious.  So he was on cloud nine when he scored a 100% at the review, and earned the rank of Sergeant for next year the next week.

    So what does this have to do with the 4th of July?  Well everything.

    In 1776 our Continental Army was in the field for over a year, dying for American Independence. The men in Philadelphia used the words of Thomas Jefferson to define what we stood for as a nation, knowing by doing so they signed their own death warrant.  After years of fighting (remember the war went on past Yorktown in 1781) the Founders created a document forming a government which used checks and balances to keep the worst human failings in check.  

    Despite all the Founders did did generations ago, Benjamin Franklin responded prophetically to the question: “Well, Doctor, what have we got-a Republic or a Monarchy?” with “A Republic if you can keep it.”  Dr. Franklin knew human nature, and knew the lessons in his generation could not be passed on through our DNA.  A republic could only be passed on through teaching each generation the cold hard facts of our history, human nature, and the balancing grace of applying natural law.  Even with lessons learned, each generation must still earn a republic through application of those lessons to the events of their times.

    In today’s world we have a tendency to throw away the ideas of the past, thinking modern science can solve all problems.  The news reports today show the natural tendency for people to crave the warm security blanket of authoritarian rulers (if they agree with us).  These trends are disturbing, for they show people discarding the philosophical lessons (probably never learned and many times purposefully corrupted) of the founders.

   So today we must again decide if we want to continue earning our Republic, or throw it away and again come under authoritarian rule…from inside or outside our nation.  The threat is real, and only the willfully ignorant can’t see it.  

   Time to go pray for our nation and its people…that the light of freedom ignite in our souls once more.

-ehw 

Good Friday Quest

Kalen holds the Cross during the Blue Knight led Stations of the Cross

Kalen holds the Cross during the Blue Knight led Stations of the Cross

   On Good Friday I put together a quest for our Blue Knights group.  We visited three churches from noon to two and found short lessons at each church related to the passion of our Lord.  We completed our Quest with a boy led Stations of the Cross in our home chapel of St Micheal the Archangel at Regina Caeli Academy.  You can view a complete report on our Blue Knight website.  

   The regular group of seven had six potential recruits and our teen mentor join us for a day.  During our travels we also met with three other families and five more children.  All total it was a joy to see nine families and nineteen children participate during the day.  It was also wonderful to hear the boys sing, respond to complicated questions, and enjoy being with their fathers.  Our mother daughter team was precious as well, teaching us a lesson from the women of Jerusalem. 

   The funniest moments were at St Benedict at both the beginning and end of Stations.  When the thirteen boys marched in with capes and uniform colored shirts followed by Dads, people stopped and wondered who we were.  You could actually hear the whispers and see the heads turn.  I must admit it was a quiet but very visual spectacle.  At the end of stations I could see the pastor observing the long row of boys…I know he did not know who we were and was wondering where we came from.  I think I’ll drop him a note and thank him.

    It was awesome to have fathers on board taking time with their sons to learn lessons, and mothers who spend great amounts of time building classically formed children inside their homes.  I could see how each family was not using a cookie cutter approach to evangelization.  It was easy to see families identifying what each child in their family needed, and searching out different methods of teaching each child.  It was inspiring, and motivated  me to continue doing the same with my sons.

       The most reflective moment was after the boys completed their stations.  Two boys quickly noted as we reflected on the death of Christ, the clock struck three.  The timing was not choreographed, but perfectly summed up our day traveling with Christ to and through the cross.

    Thank you Jesus for letting us participate with your in your passion on this Good Friday.

-ehw