Saturday, June 29, 2013

Redepemptoris Custos IV and V

Again, I am commenting on Blessed John Paul II's apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos, on blessed St. Joseph's guardianship of Our Lord during his infancy. My emphases and my comments.
22. Work was the daily expression of love in the life of the Family of Nazareth. The Gospel specifies the kind of work Joseph did in order to support his family: he was a carpenter [Jesus worked with wood, the material used for the Cross. So, does this sanctify or in some way prefigure His Passion?]. This simple word sums up Joseph's entire life. For Jesus, these were hidden years, the years to which Luke refers after recounting the episode that occurred in the Temple: "And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them" (Lk 2:51). This "submission" or obedience of Jesus in the house of Nazareth should be understood as a sharing in the work of Joseph. Having learned the work of his presumed father, he was known as "the carpenter's son." [This being Jewish tradition.] If the Family of Nazareth is an example and model for human families, in the order of salvation and holiness, so too, by analogy, is Jesus' work at the side of Joseph the carpenter. In our own day, the Church has emphasized this by instituting the liturgical memorial of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 [this is a very new feast but an important meditation for our times of technology and mechanized industry.]. Human work, and especially manual labor, receive special prominence in the Gospel. Along with the humanity of the Son of God, work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has also been redeemed in a special way. At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption. [Manual work is a clear manifestation of action. English has a whole category of verbs dedicated to this. Love is an action, of the will more specifically, and is expressed to our neighbors most clearly through our work for their benefit.] 
23. In the human growth of Jesus "in wisdom, age and grace," the virtue of industriousness played a notable role, since "work is a human good" which "transforms nature" and makes man "in a sense, more human."(34) [John Paul might specifically be reflecting on 'Solidarity' in the encyclical referenced...which is hugely important for the times we have been in.]
The importance of work in human life demands that its meaning be known and assimilated in order to "help all people to come closer to God, the Creator and Redeemer, to participate in his salvific plan for man and the world, and to deepen...friendship with Christ in their lives, by accepting, through faith, a living participation in his threefold mission as Priest, Prophet and King."(35)
24. What is crucially important here is the sanctification of daily life, a sanctification which each person must acquire according to his or her own state [Universal Call to Holiness. Five years or so earlier John Paul gave Opus Dei a personal prelature; St. Josemaria's feast was the other day...], and one which can be promoted according to a model accessible to all people: "St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies;...he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things-it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic."(36) [Great has a variety of meanings. Here I think of Pope Benedict's words that, "You were made for greatness!" We are not all going to be mystics and thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas, or convert entire nations. But each act of love and faith, rooted in the charity of Christ (what he means by "true and authentic"), is important. And, we are all made to be saints. So let's act like it!]
25. The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph "did." Still, they allow us to discover in his "actions" - shrouded in silence as they are - an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery "hidden from ages past," and which "dwelt" under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity. [If Joseph silently works around his son, then how should we approach Jesus in Holy Communion? Cardinal Heenan's quote on Low Mass comes to mind, which I shall reproduces below. Also, the Spanish Carmelite mystics St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross lived at a time where theological attention specifically to the interior life, and not as an extension of doctrine, was dire, else the Church be overrun all across Europe. That time is now for us across the whole globe] 
26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah's coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that "very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.(37) ["Jesus (well, Lord) I trust in You!" is clearly something Joseph would have proclaimed a lot. It's all about perfection!! And, one will come out of the Dark Night of the Soul, and then be very close to Our Lord. That simplicity perhaps comes on the cusp of death, for those like Mother Teresa. For others, it is more obvious earlier in life.]
This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion.(38) [Clearly from St. Thomas, the Angelic Doctor. He points out that there is more than one way to skin a cat. But, you can't go wrong with this one.]
27. The communion of life between Joseph and Jesus leads us to consider once again the mystery of the Incarnation, precisely in reference to the humanity of Jesus as the efficacious instrument of his divinity for the purpose of sanctifying man: "By virtue of his divinity, Christ's human actions were salvific for us, causing grace within us, either by merit or by a certain efficacy."(39) [Again, Thomistic.]
Among those actions, the gospel writers highlight those which have to do with the Paschal Mystery [Really underscores inseparability of the Passion and Incarnation], but they also underscore the importance of physical contact with Jesus for healing (cf. for example, Mk 1:41), and the influence Jesus exercised upon John the Baptist when they were both in their mothers' wombs (cf. Lk 1:41-44).[Our approach for Holy Communion should also mirror the approach towards Our Lord of St. John the Baptist-yes, even though he was 'only' in the womb- and his mother, St. Elizabeth.]
As we have seen, the apostolic witness did not neglect the story of Jesus' birth, his circumcision, his presentation in the Temple, his flight into Egypt and his hidden life in Nazareth. [But most especially, they focus on those concrete actions that confer grace] It recognized the "mystery" of grace present in each of these saving "acts," inasmuch as they all share the same source of love: the divinity of Christ. If through Christ's humanity this love shone on all mankind, the first beneficiaries were undoubtedly those whom the divine will had most intimately associated with itself: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Joseph, his presumed father.(40) [Also, the Gospels allow us to ponder the significance and meaning of his hidden life.]
Why should the "fatherly" love of Joseph not have had an influence upon the "filial" love of Jesus? And vice versa why should the "filial" love of Jesus not have had an influence upon the "fatherly" love of Joseph, thus leading to a further deepening of their unique relationship? Those souls most sensitive to the impulses of divine love have rightly seen in Joseph a brilliant example of the interior life.
[Personally, out of the religious orders I think the Benedictines and the mendicants get the tension balanced in the best way, each according to their charism, e.g. work with the poor, students, or in the monastery]  
Furthermore, in Joseph, the apparent tension between the active and the contemplative life finds an ideal harmony that is only possible for those who possess the perfection of charity. Following St. Augustine's well-known distinction between the love of the truth (caritas veritatis) and the practical demands of love (necessitas caritatis),(41) we can say that Joseph experienced both love of the truth-that pure contemplative love of the divine Truth which radiated from the humanity of Christ-and the demands of love-that equally pure and selfless love required for his vocation to safeguard and develop the humanity of Jesus, which was inseparably linked to his divinity. [I really missed the first time what he said on perfection. But yep, it's there again. Perfection. Not acquiring every material award, and not a six or seven-figure salary. I mean, Joseph was poor. Joseph truly is a saint for us to look to in these times.]

And here is Cardinal Heenan, specifically on the devotion of the English people to Low Mass. It is in the context of his intervention given to the Consilium in 1967, after the demonstration Mass was given (this being a trial of the Novus Ordo). Now, the English have beautiful liturgical music, and the Oratorians celebrate spendid Solemn Mass, the most glorious thing this side of Heaven. But Low Mass is usually celebrated during the week, and so we can 'dig in' to the silence more frequently which then allows us to come back on Sunday with full heart and voice for the chanted Mass.
At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children. Our people love the Mass, but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached. 

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