As we near the pivotal third millennium, it is time to return to the values and virtues exemplified by the foster father of Jesus and chaste protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Too often, in our daily hustle and bustle coupled with the streamlined liturgy of today, we have lost the concept of the saints and their importance in our daily lives. No saint is more misunderstood yet more effective than St. Joseph. With his feast always falling inside of Lent and lost amidst the fasting of that season, it is fitting that Holy Mother Church has given him another feast day to celebrate his attributes. It's surprising how many don't realize that St. Joseph is the "Patron of the Universal Roman Catholic Church," "Safeguard of Families," "Patron of a Happy Death," "Hope of the Sick," "Consolation of the Poor," "Rescuer of Sinners," "Model of Righteousness," "Solace of the Afflicted," "Patron of Priests and Seminarians," "Model of Single Men and Married Men," "Guardian of Virgins," "Protector of Children," and, of course, "Model of Christian Workers." In the Litany to St. Joseph there are even more titles, but those are the main ones. Many have attested to his intercession in selling their homes by praying to him and burying a statue of this treasured saint upsidedown in their yard. Sellers claim within days, even hours and minutes, they have sold their real estate. Others might consider this superstitious, but when you combine all the miraculous phenomena associated with this holy saint, it makes perfect sense. And the work ethics he instilled in his young foster Son are the same we should emulate today if we truly hope to attain Heavenly retirement. No gold watches, rather a goldmine of graces. But those graces are harder to attain if we succumb to the slothful ways of the 90's where walking to the corner store is a chore and if something doesn't cook in 30 seconds why bother. Service, the watchword of so many companies in the forties and fifties, has become a dinosaur. For young people, getting a job such as a grocery clerk, lawn mower, paper carrier, or fast-food server during the summer or after school used to be a rite of initiation into adulthood. Today these jobs are looked upon begrudgingly. "Why do I have to work?" and "What's in it for me?" have become the watchword. "Gimme, gimme, gimme" is the cry with nary a thought to giving to others. Slackards posing as sloven, wretched homeless, covet busy intersections holding up hand-scribbled signs depicting their plight. Yet, investigators have revealed that so many pass half-a-dozen Help Wanted signs in walking from their out-of-sight parked car without once applying for a job. Why? Because reliable estimates have set their daily take at $100. to $200. a day tax-free for maybe three to four hours of prime-time rush-hour begging. Christ said in Mark 14: 7, "For the poor you have always with you" but the manner in which so many have misrepresented those truly unfortunate and the way they have bilked the government and generous passers-by are truly ridiculous and shameful. Teaching young people to work is a task in itself as those who teach and mold the youth have been supplanted by the more-than ever arrogant movie, rock and sports idols who seldom do anything to contribute positively to society. Yet it is their example and lifestyles that are glorified by the false prophets of today, giving the past few generations a totally wrong impression of values, common sense, decency and priorities.
Only through prayer, hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and fortitude can we reinstate these values of human life to our own life, our family, our society and our world. Maybe we all need to take a lesson from the primitive Amish who are among the happiest group of people in the world. Very few work harder or have fewer conveniences than these Quaker hermits. Their lifestyle parallels the endurance and peace of mind of the friars of Saint Francis of Assisi's time when they worked, prayed and traveled from sunrise to sunset striving to spread the faith and fulfill God's Will. It is a lifestyle similar to what Joseph provided for the Holy Family. In Jesus' time and Francis' era there were no cars, planes, or trains...only rough hewn paths trodded upon by barefeet and sandals; no telephones, computers, modems, e-mail, faxes, cell phones or wall-to-wall 24 hour media...only the quill and parchment; no microwaves, refrigerators, air-conditioning or central heating...only gathered wood and kilns to prepare their meals; no king-size beds or lazy-boy soft chairs...only hard-wooden benches and straw to lay on; no fluorescent lights or portable flash lights...only the dripping hot wax of hand-made candles; no molded Nikes or reversable rain-repellant jackets with a modern gladiator logo from the professional teams of today...only course woolen garments that held little protection from the cold and stifled the body in the summer heat; no Bud Light or Pepsi or iced tea...only a ladle or goatskin pouch of warm, tepid water and fermented wine to quench their thirst. Yet they were happy! The answer lies not in riches and conveniences, but in peace of mind and contentment with all that God grants. If we could but return to this mentality, the Tabernacle of Our Lord would have many, many more frequent visitors and the tabernacle of satan would be properly turned away in a corner collecting cobwebs. This then is the answer to true happiness. But it is an utopia few can fathom or long for after they have experienced the times we currently live in - the era of the Seven Deadly Sins. Only through prayer and a dedication to emulate St. Joseph can we entertain any hope of reversing the trend toward self-destruction and revive the pulse of hard work, common sense and decency.
Speaking of work ethics, this editor has been fighting the flu-bug that has been going around for the last several days and it has been difficult getting each issue out between runs to the throne-room and the sniffles. But, in the spirit of the old veteran, the show must go on. Because of this temporary malady we will not have a SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK this weekend. We missed the Squires Circle Installation last night with myself and one son down with the crud, and the other son wasn't feeling so hot either. Mom continues to ply us with chicken soup and lots of love and medicine as she bravely pulls double-time watching over all of us day and night with nary a care to her own health. That's work ethics of the highest degree and so many moms have it. In ten days we get to honor them. Sad it's only one day a year when they give so much during the 364 other days. So pray that the whole family gets well and we can return to our regular schedule. Pray also that we can all learn from Saint Joseph and pass on the work ethic he fostered, imparting these values in our children and the young today. Only through the proper work ethic and prayer life can we hope to emulate the Holy Family. Maybe, just maybe with a renewed work-ethic and heartfelt prayer vocations will once again flourish. It is no coincidence that this weekend we mark both the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and World Day of Prayer for Vocations for Joseph is the Patron of Priests and Seminarians. As vocations go, there is no better role-model than the man who molded Jesus.