Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St Joseph, pray for us




Buona festa di San Giuseppe. The archetype for fathers, an ordinary guy called to stand in for the big papa in the sky, making him the greatest stepfather ever. The holiday here’s sort of the Italian-Americans’ me-too, coming infelicitously so soon after the big blowout celebration of Catholic immigration to America, which the English-speaking Irish own much as naturally they’ve run the church here. But Italians make up for it in the summer, which is much like their Mediterranean climate naturally making people happy: St Anthony, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Assumption (which they’ve made their own), St Rocco (the day after!), and, moving into fall, San Gennaro (St Januarius of Naples where many Italian-Americans came from) and, almost an afterthought and not holding a candle to St Patrick’s Day, the secular holiday, Columbus Day (the pious, brave man who started Spanish America, and yes, people already knew the world is round). Sorry I didn’t make it to South Philly’s parade last year; Frankie Valli was the grand marshal.

There are so many parallels between the Roman and Orthodox rites; same Catholic faith. This isn’t one of them. St Joseph’s biblical but in Byzantium he’s almost forgotten. A saint but no devotion to him. Just different.

The late, great Fr Serge (Keleher — he was a monk in the Russian Catholic Church so last name in parentheses) pointed out the pitfall of painting icons when you don’t know enough about them, namely, the well-meant ones of St Joseph and Jesus or of the Holy Family that, in iconography’s code (posture and who’s touching or holding whom), inadvertently say St Joseph was Jesus’ physical father. I’m sure though that born Orthodox around the world have a few such or purely Western Catholic images (like the one here) and don’t give it a second thought, and they’re right too.

After Mass the other day for our monthly coffee hour we had green paper tablecloths and St Joseph’s zeppoli. (The order who run our parish are Spanish-founded and Italian-based.) My first conversation, in a group, with Fr Matthew, our usual celebrant (not that day; that was Fr Brannan from before the council), younger than me and a good strict constructionist about the council. Of course I don’t buy the line ‘we needed the council’ (I’m guessing still the official church’s opinion on that); like Modestinus and others I agree that what good it tried to do could have been done better with a couple of papal pronouncements, not a council. No damage that way. You know my line: the vernacular and religious liberty are fine (although they’ve done a world of good, the SSPX’s wrong on religious liberty, one of their sticking points with the official church; Latin isn’t one of them), but 86 the council because of all the harm it’s done. God willing, in 100 years Vatican II will be as forgotten as Lateran III. Think about it: the Modernists are old and dying, not getting followers in the church anymore; those who lose their faith leave instead. The remnant of trads and conservatives having four or more children per family (they were crawling all over my pew getting in my face the other day) will be the church.

Locally St Madeline’s in Ridley Park (110 Park Street) is having a traditional High Mass (7pm; refreshments after) but I’m working. I’m sure St Joseph the Worker (May 1, Pope Pius XII of happy memory’s way of raining on the Commies’ parade) understands.

1 comment:

  1. Re: St. Joseph as "step" father or "foster" father. I have seen both adjectives used.

    I do not like the terms "step" and "foster." Suggests that Jesus was from a broken family by divorce or death which he wasn't. Jesus always had a Father having been begotten before all ages . . . . "Earthly" is a better term IMHO.

    Also St. Joseph is a model for humility who perhaps has only been equaled in humility by one other Saint IMHO, St. Bernadette Soubirous. St. Bernadette should be a Doctor of the Church, more so than the Little Flower, although I do not fault St. Therese of Liseux in any way.

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