Our world needs the quiet approach of St. Joseph


St. Joseph does not speak a single word in the Gospels as he conveys a powerful message of faith, hope and love. His silent, quiet witness speaks volumes in a noisy world that needs more of us to listen to one another and to respond through acts of love and service. We honor his role in the history of salvation on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, by setting aside time in prayer to reflect on this humble, servant leader and his quiet approach to spreading our faith.

On Dec. 8, 2020, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter on the “150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as patron of the universal church.” Concurrently, the pope launched the Year of St. Joseph, to be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2020, to Dec. 8, 2021.

“I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience,” the Holy Father said in his apostolic letter (https://tinyurl.com/tmh4fkr9). “For, as Jesus says, ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Mt 12:34). My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility.

How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer.’”

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’’ — a phrase to commit to memory, to write down on a post-it note to attach to our laptops or to affix to the bathroom mirror. It can serve as a vaccine to stop the spread of our own knee-jerk reactions and responses to social media posts, pundits, and others with whom we disagree.

St. Joseph is “quiet, he’s silent but we really need his mentorship, his example, his strength, his faith, his obedience,” observes Father Nicholas Akindele, a priest who serves in our diocese. He will conclude a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph with Mass at 6 p.m. March 19 at St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport (in person and virtual). The priest appreciates St. Joseph’s “silent way of working. That’s the beauty of his spirituality.”

“Everyone’s Way of the Cross” by the late Clarence Enzler, includes this prayer by the assembly reflecting on the eighth station of the cross: “Lord teach me, help me learn. When I would snap at those who hurt me with their ridicule, those who misunderstand, or hinder me with some misguided helpfulness, those who intrude upon my privacy — then help me curb my tongue. May gentleness become my cloak. Lord, make me kind like you.”

“Help me curb my tongue” … what if we prayed this simple petition every time we felt the urge to use hot-button words in a discussion or debate with someone whose viewpoint differs from our viewpoint? Our passion for our faith and our desire to pass it on to the next generation will convince no one when we use accusatory language to make our point.

St. Joseph’s “actions were powerful and he did not use words to convey his faith and willingness to serve God,” Bill Doucette, a member of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, said in a reflection he wrote. “This silence of St. Joseph points to his strong interior life of prayer. We can learn from him that we should have both a life of prayer and a life of service. The Year of Saint Joseph brings us a time to attend to improving our prayer life and our service to others.”

“The silence of St. Joseph points to his strong interior life of prayer. We should have both a life of prayer and a life of service.” More excellent advice for our approach to honoring, emulating and living out the faith demonstrated — not spoken — by St. Joseph.

Our diocesan website offers a page dedicated to the Year of St. Joseph, which includes prayers and other resources on which to reflect:(www.davenportdiocese.org/year-of-saint-joseph).

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor
arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org

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St. Joseph teaches me about my vocation as husband and father

Editor’s note: Isla Josephine Narvasa was born on March 15. 

By Mitchell Narvasa

I hope by the time you read this, I’ll be holding my newborn daughter, Isla, in my arms. It still boggles my mind to know that God has blessed Rebecca and me with four children to love, to protect and to raise in all his ways. God is so good.

Narvasa

As a husband, witnessing the pregnancy of the woman I love is humbling, but all four times, it’s left me more in awe of her and how God has made her and every woman’s body. Think about it. From the moment of conception, the woman’s body is giving everything the little person needs to grow. So much so that the mother experiences morning sickness and daily fatigue and exhaustion. She’s literally giving her physical self to create another “self.” God made the mother’s body a beautiful image of self-giving love!

What fascinates me even more is something I realized just a few weeks ago. The number “40” is a significant number in the Bible, from Noah and the number of days/nights it rained, to the number of years Israel wandered in the desert, all the way to Jesus who fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights. For 40 weeks, a woman “fasts” a normal life to help prepare for and give life to another. Jesus, for 40 days and nights, fasts food and water, physical sustenance for life, to prepare for his journey to the Cross where he ushered in new life for the world. A priest friend of mine always says, “it’s not coincidence; it is God-incidence.” So, God created the woman’s body to reflect Jesus’s total self-giving and creative love that delivered us from sin and into new life. How amazing and wonderful is our God!

So where do I, as a father, come in once that beautiful, new life has entered the picture? This Year of St. Joseph has taught me so much about my vocation as husband and father. I learned that I’m called to be obedient to God, to guard and protect my family and to teach and lead them towards the ways of God, among many other things. Then, as they mature into the saints that God is calling them to be, they become Christ’s hands and feet to build his kingdom here on earth. It doesn’t end there. If my children’s vocation is to have a family, they will repeat the cycle of laying down their lives in order to bring new lives, new saints, into the world, “blessing the nations” like God promised Abraham.

I’m the Director for Evan­gelization and Discipleship for St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, but part of my vocation as a husband and father is to be the “Director of Evangelization and Discipleship” to my family, the domestic church. Evangelization, justice, peace, joy and worship all begin in the home, in the family. I’m overjoyed and truly blessed to be married to my supportive and holy wife, and to be the father of the craziest, most imaginative and loving kids I know. To God be all the Glory.

“Lord, I thank you for setting my path straight, for giving me purpose, for my children who show me your pure and beautiful love, and for my wife who reveals to me your strength and compassion, your creativity and mercy, your wisdom and your fidelity. I offer my family up to your Divine Will for their sanctification, protection and salvation. All of this I pray in the power of your holy name, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

(Mitchell Narvasa serves as Pastoral Associate and Director of Discipleship & Evangelization for St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf.)

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Year of ‘Amoris Laetitia Family’ will begin on the Solemnity of St. Joseph

Contributed
Dan Teets speaks at a meeting of the Fathers of St. Joseph at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City in this file photo.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

March 19 will mark the beginning of Year “Amoris Laetitia Family.” This date marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a nine-chapter papal document reflecting on challenges to marriage and family life. March 19 also marks the Solemnity of St. Joseph, a patron saint of families, fathers and expectant mothers.

Pope Francis made the announcement Dec. 27, following his proclamation of a year dedicated to St. Joseph. “I invite everyone to take part in the initiatives that will be promoted during the Year and that will be coordinated by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father.”

The Vatican identifies three main objectives for the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family:”

• Spread the message of Amoris Laetitia more widely.

• Emphasize the “precious value of the sacrament of marriage.”

• Broaden the vision and action of pastoral care for the family so that it can become more transversal and include all family members, including married couples, children and young people, the elderly, and people in difficult family situations.

During the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family,” The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life will share resources on family spirituality, formation and pastoral activity for marriage preparation, effective education for young people, and on the holiness of married couples and families who live out the grace of the sacrament in their daily life. International academic symposia also will examine the contents and implications of the papal document (apostolic exhortation) in relation to topical issues that affect families around the world. For resources, go to www.amorislaetitia.va.

Diocese celebrates St. Joseph and the family

Marianne Agnoli, diocesan marriage and family life coordinator, said the diocese looks forward to helping Catholics to celebrate the “overlapping” Year of St. Joseph and the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” and discovering ways to embrace these two celebrations.

The diocese created a webpage for the Year of St. Joseph (https://www.davenportdiocese.org/year-of-saint-joseph) where parishes, families and individuals can access links to resources to help them draw closer to St. Joseph. Many of the resources are also available in Spanish. Creation of a webpage for the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” is underway. Agnoli encourages Catholics to access the Vatican’s resources in the meantime.

In addition, The Catholic Messenger will run monthly features, like this one, connecting an attribute of St. Joseph to a featured church or a national or worldwide awareness effort.

The Messenger also plans to feature short profiles on each of the 10 diocesan churches dedicated to St. Joseph. Parishes may also create a video highlighting their community’s story.

Local Fathers of St. Joseph celebrate special year

For several years, men in the Iowa City area have been celebrating St. Joseph in a special way.

This year, with the overlapping celebrations of St. Joseph and Amoris Laetitita, will be will be no exception.

The Fathers of St. Joseph, modeled after the original Rock Island, Illinois, group, formed in 2015. They meet twice monthly to pray the Little Office of St. Joseph, participate in talks and discussions and enjoy fellowship with other Catholic men.

“The Fathers of St. Joseph format is very encouraging for husbands, fathers and mentors. We are encouraged to take St. Joseph as our role model in our spiritual, work and family life,” said Dan Teets, director of Adult Spiritual Formation at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Iowa City. He also serves as director of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. Members may participate in person (with social distancing) or online because of the pandemic.

Fellow parishioner and group member Bill Doucette said St. Joseph “joined his faith with Mary’s in trusting God and being a parent of Jesus. Together they created a home in which Jesus grew from a baby to an adult ready to live out his mission of salvation. St. Joseph is an example for us to trust God in difficult times, choosing to follow his way rather than the ways promoted in this world. Also, we can join Mary and Jesus in trusting St. Joseph to be our spiritual father and intercessor.”

Deacon Joe Welter of St. Mary Parish said, “Through Fathers of St. Joseph, God speaks directly to me and challenges me to be a better husband and father. God challenges me through the carefully crafted and beautiful course materials and topics. God speaks through sharing with the group, in prayer, and the everyday struggles of being a husband and father.”

For David Drake, also of St. Mary’s, Fathers of St. Joseph “is a portal for community and faith sharing — and building. The secular world with all of its deadlines, responsibilities, etc., beats us all down over time.” Connecting with his brothers in the group “raises my spirit and faith each and every meeting. I am reminded that we all walk down the path together in the light and that we need each other to stay on that path.”

Another St. Mary parishioner, Tim Blake, said, “Being part of the brotherhood of the Fathers of St. Joseph has helped my faith journey grow immeasurably, as a man and a husband. We look to our patron St. Joseph as a timeless example of a man who took care of the Holy Family with great courage, strength, devotion and complete trust in God.” Blake said his participation in the group is helping him to “lead my family to God our Father.”

Deacon Chris Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City appreciates how the Fathers of St. Joseph “has been that opportunity to pull myself out from the day to day (routine) and really get into how his role in the church overlays my role as husband and father.”

Isaac Doucette, a seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport, has participated in the group alongside his father, Bill. “Fathers of St. Joseph helps us grow in love of God, love of family and love of neighbor by fostering a deeper relationship with all of them through the powerful intercession of St. Joseph.”

During the Year of St. Joseph, the men encourage all people to consider consecrating themselves to St. Joseph. They also encourage everyone to pray the Little Office of St. Joseph; the group has a recording on Youtube at https://bit.ly/2OBsenz. On March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Morning Prayer, including the Litany of St. Joseph, will take place at St. Mary Church at 9 a.m.

Teets says, “Why not take a few moments out of your busy life to honor St. Joseph during The Year of St. Joseph?”

(Dan Teets contributed to this story.)

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