May 1, 2020

Painting of Saint Joseph the Worker

Saint Joseph the Worker

Pope Pius XII emphasized both Catholic devotion to Saint Joseph and the dignity of human labor when he created the celebration of Saint Joseph the Worker. Work, as our Church teaches, should always be for the good and benefit of humanity. Saint Joseph is our model and patron in our work endeavors.

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Compassion in Times of Transition

Living in a transitional age is scary: It’s falling apart, it’s unknowable, it doesn’t cohere, it doesn’t make sense, it’s all mystery again, and we can’t put order in it. Yet there is little in the biblical revelation that ever promised us an ordered universe. The whole Bible is about meeting God in the actual, in the incarnate moment, in the scandal of particularity, and not in educated theories—so much so that it is rather amazing that we ever tried to codify and control the whole thing.

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Faith Builds on Love

Faith builds on a totally positive place within, however small. It needs an interior “Yes” to begin, just as the “Yes” of Mary began the entire process of salvation. God needs just a mustard seed-sized place that is in love, that is open to grace, that is thrilled, that has found something wonderful. We’ve got to go back and build from that “Yes” place—or faith is not faith. That’s why real faith is always rare. But God uses all of us, with our mixed motives. We have been given, not only the conclusion, but also the way to get there.

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Breathing Forgiveness

Vengeance seems so logical, but it doesn’t really work: It doesn’t advance human history. The wonder of the resurrection stories in the Gospels is that Jesus has no punitive attitude toward the authorities or his cowardly followers, and that the followers themselves never call for any kind of holy war against those who killed their leader. Something new has clearly transpired in history. This is not the common and expected story line. All Jesus does is breathe forgiveness.

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Winning through the Cross

The gospel is not about winners over losers; the gospel really is about win/win—but very few get the message! I have to admit, ashamedly, that some people in the business and education worlds are better at this than some people in the church. They are beginning to understand that life cannot simply continue to be posited in terms of winners and losers. There has to be a way that we both can advance together. Mothers tend to have a head start in understanding this as a result of negotiating and compromising with their own children—whom they want to love equally and fully.

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Breaking the Cycle of Pain

When we know we’re not really transforming culture, we’re not really changing the world, we’re not really having a great deal of influence at the higher levels, we move to the level of micromanagement. We find some little tiny world where we can be in control and right, where we can be pure and clean. We might as well be saying, “I can’t clean up the world, so at least I’m going to clean up my living room,” or “I cannot really change and influence people, so I am going to demand total conformity from the pulpit.” Many of us act out some version of this. I empty all my wastebaskets.

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