The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #12
March 13, 2018
“I quickly went upstairs to my room. I knelt at the feet of Saint Joseph and asked him for mercy, that the little one be cured, resigning myself completely to the will of God if He wanted to take her. I don’t cry often, but I cried while I was praying.” Saint Zelie, CF 89, to her sister-in-law, March 1873
Dear Friends of the “Family of Louis and Zelie,”
The month of March is dedicated to Saint Joseph. It is an opportunity for us to deepen our devotion to him.
The life of the Holy Family in Nazareth was a hidden life, unimportant, insignificant. In their home, they did not give any importance to the recognition that comes from man, since all three knew that it is not the brilliant works that give us value before the eyes of God. The purity of intention and the love that we place daily in our encounters and in our work are determining factors, for that is what pleases God. That is also what counts in our Christian life. For 30 years, Jesus shared an unpretentious life with his parents.
More and more, He became their Master. And what an unbelievable first lesson that He gave them when at 12 years of age, Jesus remained in the Temple of Jerusalem without having warned them. This event highlights the favorite virtue of Joseph: his capacity to humbly suffer in silence. As the father, it was his job to ask at least one question in such a painful situation for clarification, but rather, he remains quiet, full of respect, and leaves it to the Mother the task of speaking: ““Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.” (Lk 2:48b-50) “and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Lk 2:51b).
As for Joseph, he probably also pondered in his heart on the way home, in silence and in prayer, the response of Jesus. And so he had to understand ever more deeply that the life of Jesus was a life entirely for the Father.
What a joy must Mary and Joseph have experienced of having Jesus, their God, with them! Since Bethlehem – where nothing belonged to them, not even the stable – they had God always present personally with them and, with Him, they had everything! In this sense, one cannot take Joseph enough as a model of adoration. He adored for thirty years, since the real temple was not in Jerusalem, but in Nazareth. And Joseph lived in this temple! However, he did not have before his eyes a king’s son resplendent with glory, but a little boy, a young man who helped him in his carpenter’s workbench, who served him in silence and obedience. One can understand the words of Venerable Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, a Carmelite of Beaune: “Joseph needed more faith to believe that the Child Jesus was God than we need to believe when we hold the Holy Eucharist in our hands.”
Joseph’s modest carpenter’s workbench is the only place in the world where God Himself worked with his hands, with care and out of Love. In seeing his Son, Joseph also learned to do everything for love of God, for Him and from His strength. This is where the eminent value of work lies! And only in this way does work become prayer. This is the fundamental reason that made Joseph the patron of workers.
What a lesson to draw from his example for our stressed-out society that bases itself on competition and profitability! Advanced technologies, computer-assisted machines, development, advertising, rational work, large contracts …: it’s good and it’s even necessary. But in the end, it is not decisive. All should be done only for the love of God! Oh how much this fundamental truth has fallen into oblivion, even for us Christians! Aware of this state of affairs, the great German Jesuit missionary, Father Jean-Baptiste Reuss, taught children from an early age to often interrupt the class with this short ejaculatory prayer to reorient their gaze towards God: “All out of love for you, Jesus! All for you!”
Let us pray to St. Joseph as Saints Louis and Zelie did.
I wish you a beautiful climb towards Easter.
I assure you of our prayers for your intentions.
May the Lord bless you!
Father Jean-Marie Simar,
Rector of the Shrine of Alençon
Prayer to St. Joseph
you who are my spiritual father, keep watch over us in your love.
Teach me to live like you, for Jesus and Mary.
Obtain for me the grace of a continual growth in Love.
Obtain for me your openness of spirit,
and lead me by your hand
to the greatest day of my life,
to my entrance into Heaven.