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.

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In the Presence

     We Catholics witness today a sad turning point in out church history.  We are looking at a demographic cliff of dying churches, and a youth which overwhelmingly not staying home in the church.  The ability I had to swing into a local church for a Rosary, in a town not my own, in the presence of the Lord in Adoration may not be available to my children.  I saw today a glimpse of hope I  the church I visited today…one sixty plus parishioner, one 50 something, a 19-20 year old young man, and me Mr. Middle Aged man all sat together in the chapel.  This was an encouraging mix to be part of for a Rosary.

    On this trip I did find hope, as I met men living lives full of charitable work (done in God’s name not theirs) all searching for better understanding of God’s law.  It reminded me, even though in the course of human events matters may appear bleak…if we pray for and believe in the supernatural power of God we may yet be surprised in how the world can turn to hear his word again.  I know this does not avail me of my duties to evangelize, but it gives me faith to redouble my devotion and duty to live the word I deed.

-ehw

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?

Dose of Happiness

John Paul

John Paul

    Things going a little crazy right now?  Election got you in a funk?  Well how about a dose of happiness?  This is John Paul’s version of a pick you up smile!

    Catching babies and children is a hard task, but a little flash and quick thinking help.  In this case John Paul was happy since he was on a swing, and making it go very very fast.  The flash caught the action in freeze frame where it counted most: the eyes.  The flash also put a sparkle in the eyes which gives you a sense of life in a frozen frame.  His natural smile completes the moment without the typical childhood squint and cheese.

    This is what great family portraits are all about…making art where the going is rough!