Ever wonder why statues and paintings of Joseph depict his staff topped with flowers? The flowered staff is a reminder of how Mary’s spouse was chosen.
According to legend, when the time came for Mary to be betrothed, the Temple priests gathered the walking sticks of all prospective suitors. Miraculously, Joseph’s burst into flower. This was a sign that God had chosen Joseph as the earthly spouse and guardian of Our Lady.
Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870. Having died in the “arms of Jesus and Mary” according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, in other words, the patron of a happy death.
Saint Joseph is the patron saint of a number of cities, regions and countries, among them the Americas, Canada, China, Croatia, Mexico, Korea, Austria, Belgium, Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.
35 minute prayer to Saint Joseph for challenges in personal or work life.
Struggling to find the right job breakthrough? Go to St Joseph!
Today is the Feast Day of St. Agnes, a fourth-century martyr who is one of the most beloved of all female saints, because of her heroic commitment to purity. It is within the Church on January 21st, the day of Agnes’ execution, that two lambs are presented to the Pope, who blesses the lambs. The lambs suggest the name of Saint Agnes, a play on the word “agnus”, which in Latin means lamb-life. But more than this, the lambs represent the sacrifice of Saint Agnes, who offered her life as a sacrifice to Christ the Lord.
The wool from these lambs prepared on Holy Thursday and used to weave the palliums that the Pope bestows on archbishops. The pallium is a circlet of woolen cloth decorated with crosses that is worn by an archbishop as a sign of the dignity of his office, an office he exercises in communion with the Pope.
We must all be willing to give up our lives in service to Christ the Lord. We may not be asked to accept as our mission torture and death like Saint Agnes but we will be asked to make a sacrifice.
What that specific sacrifice will be will be specific to our vocation and differs from person to person, but whatever our sacrifice will be it will be an act of love, a manifestation of fidelity to Christ, and a witness of our hope that Christ the Lord offers us more than anything than the world can give.
Saint Thomas said, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).
Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
Thomas should be known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).
Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men. But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.
Authentic true power is service. Look at Saint Joseph.
“He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord’”
-St. Bernardine of Siena
132-year-old tradition—the Blessing of the Lambs and Saint Agnes
Every year on her feast day (January 21), lambs–a sign of Saint Agnes’s purity–are blessed at the basilica, and their wool is then used to create palliums, the distinctive garments given by the Pope to archbishops to show their unity with the Holy Father.