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St. Joseph

This Sunday the parish will celebrate “Festa” that enlists the services of numerous volunteers of every age, shape and form. It is a veritable parish celebration. For me it is heartwarming to see so many parishioners sharing food, conversation and fellowship with their friends and family. I am grateful to each and every one of the many volunteers who make this possible. I hate to say this, but it is true. This is our last Festa. After gloriously maintaining a parish tradition for forty-five years, this event is saying good-bye. I am grateful to all those who gave of themselves over the last four and a half decades in ways big and small to make this a truly St Paul of the Cross success. In particular I want to thank Tony and Rita Russo, and Paulette and Jim Marino who have carried the burden of leadership the last several years.

 

The month of March inspires us to think about spring and Easter. Perhaps we are unaware of the fact that March is also the month of St Joseph. True to his reputation as the forgotten saint, he is once again relegated to the background. In this column I would like to share my thoughts on this great saint, a great favorite of mine. His feast will be celebrated on Monday and I hope you can honor this saint in some way.

If anyone ever got a raw deal, it was certainly Joseph. He was called to be the father of Jesus, but he was actually the foster father. He is known as the husband of Mary, but he was more like her guardian. With regard to both Jesus and Mary, he had many obligations but very few privileges. Whereas Mary receives a direct messenger from God in the person of the Archangel Gabriel, poor Joseph receives his messages in dreams. Even though he is mentioned about six times in the gospels, not once does he say a word. Mary shared not only in Jesus’ sufferings but also in His glory. Joseph disappears from the scene by the time Jesus begins His public life.

When you travel the world you will come across all kinds of churches, shrines and basilicas dedicated to the Mother of God. You will, however, find few that bear Joseph’s name. His feast always occurs during the somber season of Lent. To sell their home, some pious Catholics bury his statue in the ground. Jokingly I tell people that they should bury his statue upside down facing their home. Otherwise he will sell their neighbor’s house.

St Joseph offers us a great lesson in humility. He is like the earth (‘humus,’ the Greek word from which the word ‘humble’ is derived) that is taken for granted and yet always gives life. St Joseph knew how to stay in the background, to be taken for granted, and yet to give and give without grumbling. He did not play the victim. In these days when so many of us want to be a celebrity, when many crave their own fifteen minutes in the limelight, his example of serving without seeking recognition and reward is a challenge to every disciple. Once the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was asked, “Which is the most difficult instrument to play?” He replied: “The second flute. Everyone wants to play the first flute. They don’t realize that without the second flute there is no harmony.” Joseph teaches us the value of being in the background, of playing a supporting role.

His humility also purified his love. Because of his humility he was able to deal wisely with a difficult situation that he did not understand. Confused by Mary’s pregnancy, he thought that he could not proceed with his wedding plans. At the same time, he could not bring himself to hurt her. He decided to send her away quietly without causing her any pain or shame. God rewarded his humility and goodness, and bestowed clarity on Joseph. He married Mary and his place in God’s history of salvation was assured. Today he is one of the greatest saints on the Church’s calendar, and he teaches us humility, the secret of holiness.

I am sure you remember the gospel reading that we heard on Ash Wednesday. Jesus told His followers that in doing good the right hand should not know what the left is doing. We should pray, give alms and fast in secret so that the Father who sees everything done in secret will reward us. If we seek the praise of people and their recognition, we will have already received our reward. St Joseph epitomizes faithful adherence to this gospel injunction. He responded fully to the evangelical call to live for God’s recognition only.

From time to time, all of us feel that we are not sufficiently appreciated or recognized. Parents can justifiably feel that way. In those moments when we are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves, let us think of St Joseph. Most of us may never write a bestseller or direct an Oscar-winning movie. We may never win an Olympic gold medal or people all over the world may never sing our praises. But if we can make a difference in the lives of some, even one person, God will reward us in the end. In the final analysis, only that matters.

I invite all of us to spend some time meditating on the example of Joseph. May we learn to be humble like this servant of the Lord so that we may learn to love as he did!

Happy feast of St Joseph! Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel