Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Go to Big Joe!

St Joseph is a model and powerful intercessor for men who are discerning God’s will.  Like many of us, he had his own plans, desires and dreams.  Work hard.  Build a career.  Settle down with the woman he loved and raise a family.  Sound familiar?  Sounds great.  And then God stepped in!  Mary’s news that she was pregnant turned his world upside down.   He didn’t know what to do.  Confused. Disoriented.  Afraid.  How could this be?  What did it mean?  We cannot really know what Joseph went through at this moment and there is much speculation amongst the Church Fathers that is beautiful and helpful for our meditation[1].  But essentially it was too much for him, so broken hearted, he decided to divorce her and move on with his life (Mt 1:18-19).  

Then suddenly he received his own annunciation!  God broke through again and (somewhat) explained the mystery he was involved in and how He was asking him to respond (Mt 1:20-24).  Joseph was like us. A human being, a real man, struggling to understand and do the will of the Father, wrestling with God’s will and God’s ways!  I wonder if he asked himself, and asked God “why me?” as so many of us have done when faced with the call to live for Christ with an undivided heart, when asked to live consecrated chastity?  Joseph, I imagine, struggled to do the Father’s will.  It must have sounded crazy to him.  He had no idea what it could mean and God only gives us enough light for the next step!  But he listened and he obeyed (Mt 1:24; 2:14).  His was the obedience of faith (Heb 11).  He acted manfully.  He made a decision.  Even though he didn’t have the whole picture!  From then on, his life was marked by this “special grace of intimacy” with Jesus and Mary.

 “Ite Ad Joseph” is a wise spiritual maxim.  Go to Joseph.  He knows.  He understands.  He will help you struggle with the will of God and move forward.  He will strengthen you in your struggles with chastity.  He will help you make a decision to follow the Lord.  He is the heavenly patron of all consecrated men and women.  He is a model of manliness for all priests, called to chaste, spousal love for the Church and entrusted as guardians of the Holy Eucharist.  He is the guardian of virgins and spouse most chaste and he is a real man!  He is the terror of demons!    Ite ad Joseph!   

God Bless,

Fr. Emmanuel Mansford
Vocations Director      

[1] “Saint Joseph, Our Father in Faith”, pp 15-21, Fr. Frederick Miller (Catholic Information Service, 2008).   

Monday, March 2, 2015

He is Trustworthy

           Recently, three of our postulant brothers from New York came to visit St. Pio Friary in Bradford.  We were all curious to hear their story of discernment.  As the vocation director in Europe, I was particularly interested in knowing what they found most helpful during the process of discernment.  I was surprised by the simplicity of what they said.  For many of them it wasn’t the web-site or an interesting blog—except maybe for this one—it was something more basic.  While one of them was discerning they got a phone call from the New York vocation office…but it wasn’t the familiar voice of Fr. John Paul, the vocation director at the time.  It was Fr. Isaac. Noticing that the visitor was from Minnesota he wanted to be the one to call him.  Fr. Isaac was also from the great state of Minnesota (“great” of course for its relative proximity to Canada).  When the postulant was discerning the “idea” of religious life and making inquiries, what helped him along the journey to take the next step was the awareness that Fr. Isaac took a personal interest in him. 
           Brothers, I don’t say this to compliment the work of the vocation team but to highlight something very important in discerning your call.  As simple and as basic as it may sound, discerning your religious vocation is about the Lord’s personal interest in you.  It is not about trying to “figure it out”—although that can be part of it at an earlier stage.  Discernment is not like solving a math equation.  Discernment is about a relationship.  One makes progress through the stages of discernment as one becomes more and more convinced and heartened by the Lord’s love and providential care for them.  When the postulant sensed that the one who was guiding him was personally interested and invested in them, he was encouraged because the one guiding him proved more trustworthy.  This is the same way brothers that the Lord wants to relate to us.  He wants us to experience more and more that he is trustworthy.

Brothers, may this Lent be a time for more prayer so that you can let the Lord reveal to you more and more that he is indeed trustworthy.  May there be many signs of his personal interest in you as you ask him for guidance and so come to trust him more.  Brothers, he cares about you and is personally invested in your discernment.  As you approach Easter may you know the joy, more and more, of following someone who is indeed trustworthy: Jesus the risen Lord!

With a pledge of prayers brothers for a blessed Lent,
Fr.Gabriel Joseph

Vocation Director, Europe.