Saturday, 16 June 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (13)

This is the thirteenth and final meditation on the theme of St Joseph, the patron of this year's Chartres pilgrimage.

St Joseph, Guardian of the Mission


"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of sobriety."

Dear pilgrims, 

These words of Saint Paul... are an 'exact portrait' of Saint Joseph!

He is: a perfect spouse, a model father, and an exemplary humble servant. He is a shining example for us to follow!

He is not: insignificant, uncertain, mediocre, cowardly, weak. That is a caricature of Saint Joseph and we should steer well clear of it.

Main Points
Saint Joseph is the protector and guardian of all missionaries.
Saint Joseph is quick and generous in his response to God’s will. 
Saint Joseph is the guardian of our mission in our everyday lives.


Saint Joseph, protector and guardian of all missionaries.

Which mission are we talking about? The quintessential mission: to show others the way to Christ. It was Our Lady who gave the Incarnate Word to the world; but Saint Joseph brought it about, he ‘organised’ God’s entrance into the world by dealing efficiently with all the necessary practical arrangements and by being present to protect and care for Our Lady.

Let us remember the thousands of ways in which Saint Joseph took care of Our Lady, during her pregnancy, at the birth of Our Lord and throughout Our Lord’s childhood! These are the type of things that a missionary is called to do whether in an orphanage in Africa... a steppe in Mongolia... or a Muslim suburb in France! Allow divine grace to work in souls, cut a path for them to God’s word in order to help them to believe. Why? So that this divine grace, this salvific word of God brings the fruit of conversion. Are we concerned with this in our apostolates and in our spiritual lives?

Saint Joseph, hero of realism and of good sense. This brings us to some thought-provoking questions as we reach the end of our pilgrimage; "am I an activist who is disconnected from God? Am I sentimental and full of false illusions about the spiritual life?" Consider when Jesus was lost in the temple; there was no panic and there was no hesitation! There was just an immediate about-turn, to go and look for the child... And he was found at the time, and in the place where God wanted him to be found.

Saint Joseph, hero of silence, of prayer, of Christian nobility Pilgrim... Priest, religious, father, mother, spouse, single person, student, child...

  • Do you want to be 'men of God?'... Really? Then guard your heart from the agitation of feelings and emotions. This will allow the light of your faith to shine more brightly, and will let others perceive in you the dignity of a child of God that you received at your baptism.
  • Dear pilgrims, do you want to be 'the light of the world?' 
  • Will you pray?... tirelessly, endlessly.... Even when it appears that human stupidity, cruelty and spitefulness have the upper hand?
  • Do you know how to hold on to the joy that God gives us, how to be a missionary of truth as well as of charity? Do you follow the advice of little Saint Teresa of Lisieux: 'always have a smile ready, even on joyless days'?
  • Do you know how to carve out a period of silence for God each day? When, how much time... In place of what? (screen, computer, mobile phone, online chat, films, getting up late...) The Gospels recount for us seven of Our Lady’s sayings, but there are none from Saint Joseph. May their charity inspire our words and our silence
Saint Joseph, always ready to do the will of God

God gave Saint Joseph his instructions in a dream... But Saint Joseph wasn’t a dreamer! He responded to God’s call without question. And he responded immediately and generously.

  • Are we going to recognise and accept 'God’s unexpected requests' with such willingness and generosity? Even when they go against our plans both small and large?
  • Let’s think about this... an accident, an illness, a professional setback, a disappointment in love, a hurricane...Would we accept these with the conviction that God never asks of us anything 'that we do not have the strength to bear?'
  • Saint Joseph takes up challenges, without rush or delay. It is the golden rule of apostolic work; generosity and prudence. Confidence in God does not leave room for stupidity, weirdness or absurdity !
  • In our apostolate do we know how to keep the right balance of availability and detachment with souls, in order to truly serve Christ and his work of redemption ?
  • Through Saint Joseph... perseverance ! When he was put to the test he accepted God’s will to the very end, even though he did not fully understand it.
  • What do we do in the face of a cross, a temptation, a repetitive spiritual fall that seems to never end? We would like to go 'elsewhere'.... However, we need to remain with God in the discomfort we find ourselves in ! And to become more like the living image of his mercy and love....
Saint Joseph, our protector in our daily mission.
What are our daily calls to mission? Because we are all called to mission! A student who has to correct firmly and respectfully a teacher who denigrates the faith in front of a class... A young girl who defends purity in the face of the crass vulgarity of her colleagues... A doctor who with professionalism and kindness dissuades someone from having recourse to surrogacy. A mother of a family who protects her child from evil influences by removing them from occasions where they are likely to be encountered....

There have been and there will continue to be heroic missionaries in our day!

For these situations, Saint Joseph is our model and our ally, he watches over us just as he watched over the Infant Jesus. Yes, just as closely and just as well!

Great Saint Joseph, make us missionaries with strong and steadfast hearts: for the world has great need of such missionaries!

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