Growing in Courage and Tenderness – Weekly Message 3-10-2015

Dear Friends in Christ,

Many of us need a little encouragement as we enter the third week of Lent. We often start with great enthusiasm and good intentions for drawing closer to Christ. We aspire to deepen our prayer life and generously resolve to offer penance, desiring to accompany Christ on his 40-day fast. By this point, however, we have most likely encountered our own weaknesses and limitations, and find that our initial fervor has waned. I encourage you to start anew, as today we begin the novena for the Feast of Saint Joseph. 

Let us turn to Saint Joseph and be encouraged by his example of courage and tenderness, just as Pope Francis did two years ago on March 19, 2013, when he started his ministry as bishop of Rome with the inauguration Mass (his election date was March 13, 2013). Calling upon the patronage of St Joseph, Pope Francis pledged to protect the Catholic Church, the dignity of each person, and the beauty of creation, just as St. Joseph protected Mary and Jesus.

In his homily, Pope Francis referred to St. Joseph as “a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak, but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”  

The standard that Pope Francis set before us, he also set before himself: “Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important . . .Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”

In preparing for the Feast of St. Joseph, I hope you will find our latest Study Circle Guide a perfect way to encourage the men in your life to follow the example of St. Joseph. Black-belt Dad on Fatherhood and Leadership is a ready-to-go resource designed to help men rise to the challenge of applying gospel principles in their role as fathers, husbands, parishioners, and professionals. Men will be encouraged to serve as protector, in the words of Pope Francis, “by being constantly attentive to God, . . . receptive to God’s plans, and not simply [their] own.”

May the heartening words of Pope Francis give us the courage to persevere in our Lenten efforts, with great tenderness of heart to protect the most precious gift of God’s presence in our lives. As we draw closer to Holy Week, I pray that Saint Joseph will accompany us as we commit again to follow Christ to the Cross, doing all things motivated by love for Our Lord and one another.

God Bless in Christ, 
Lucy Honner

Director, RC Spirituality Center

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