Sleeping St. Joseph: Weekly Message for 3-14-17

Dear Friends in Christ,

This past Christmas I became familiar with an intriguing and beautiful image of St. Joseph. During our New Year gathering, the community of Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi from the Philippines gifted each community with an unusual statute of St. Joseph laying down on his side, resting…sleeping.

While we can imagine he was a hard working and devoted man, we also know from Sacred Scripture that St. Joseph had some of his best moments while sleeping! During Lent as our increased practices of prayer and penance aid in helping us ‘retire’ from the world it is good to distinguish the need for two types of rest: physical sleep and spiritual abandonment to God. Both are critical for our holiness. While sleep renews us for another day of work and love, abandonment increases our hope in God’s loving providence, strengthening our faith in times of trials and creating room for love
to grow.

By both sleep and abandonment, we recognize our limits: we need rest and we
need God.

Saint Joseph in his ‘sleeping posture’ teaches us how to rest through the value of silence, of silent contemplation, an essential aspect of prayer to listen for the voice of God. There are no recorded words of Saint Joseph in the Gospel. This is not to say the he never spoke! No, instead we get a profound sense of how the husband of Mary, who “pondered all these things in her heart,” also spent time in prayer and silent contemplation.

I can imagine Saint Joseph spending time gazing upon Jesus as He “grew in grace and wisdom,” pondering the meeting of the human and divine. Likewise, we too should take time in these days of Lent to observe Jesus by prayerfully reading the Gospels and studying the way in which He spoke and lived. Or perhaps we can meditate upon a crucifix, contemplating the Lord Jesus’ wounds and the broken body He offered up for our salvation. Or ponder His gaze upon you.

Pope Francis said of St. Joseph and his rest that “I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church!…Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.”

As the liturgical solemnity of the St. Joseph approaches, it’s a good time to ‘rest in the Lord’, knowing that everything is in God’s hands despite the chaos of the world around us. Just as many people have adopted the habit of putting prayers, bills, or any concerns underneath ‘Sleeping St. Joseph’ let this be a good Lenten midway point to ask for St. Joseph’s aid in helping with our particular requests and finding God’s will in our lives.

A good way to reflect upon all this is to use or to share The Faithful Steward: A Retreat Guide on St. Joseph. It is my hope and my prayer that, it will help each of us grow in creating space for silence.

Wishing you a very blessed feast day on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband
of Mary.

Thank you for your ongoing support and be assured of our daily prayers for you.

God bless!

Lucy Honner

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