A Lenten Mini-Retreat with Mary
Do you think of the Catholic season of Lent as a time of struggling through austere practices like giving up coffee, chocolate, or wine for 40 days? Perhaps sleeping on a bed of nails?
How wonderful it is for the Church to give her people a feast day – a solemnity, no less – to celebrate in the middle of Lent! The Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary, falls on March 19th. Because Easter is dated each year on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, March 19th always occurs during Lent, never during Ordinary Time, Holy Week or the Easter Season. It remains a respite from our Lenten striving.
If you need a reason to honor Saint Joseph, you will find many. He is the patron of the universal church, of the dying, and of workers, fathers, travelers, immigrants, and unborn children. He is known as a protector. Many churches, schools, towns, and organizations are named after Saint Joseph. Countries dedicated to him include the Americas, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam. At Dunrovin, we live under the banner of Saint Joseph as the patron of the De Lasalle Christian Brothers and the Institute of the Christian Schools.
The devotion of our Founder to Saint Joseph is well known. Days before his death, John Baptist de La Salle urged his Brothers to have a special devotion to this Guardian of Jesus and the Patron of our Institute. Saint Joseph is our model: Joseph, the man of confidence and faith in God; Joseph, the just and humble man. With Mary he raised and educated Jesus.Lasalle Christian Brothers Midwest District
Saint Joseph is well known for incredible powers of intercession for those who ask with devotion. I do not remember how my confidence in Saint Joseph began. My first novena to him was an ardent prayer to get married – and I received Jerome Meeds as a gift from God! During another time of fervent prayer, I begged Saint Joseph to help Jerome and me purchase an old-but-stately-falling-apart farmhouse, a prayer to which Saint Joseph clearly answered, “No.” Now I see how impossible life would have been, as much as I desired the farm. Saint Joseph looked out for my wellbeing then, and he continues to inspire my life today.
A significant time of prayer recently changed my image of Saint Joseph. In my imagination, Saint Joseph was a powerful, influential diplomat allowed to go before the King on my behalf. However, I heard a whisper in my heart, “I am but a humble beggar before the throne of my Lord. He allows me to approach because He taught me to imitate His tender heart. I look like Him, although I am only a humble beggar.”
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Yours.
Why is Saint Joseph beloved by many people? Part of the answer lies in his deep humility. The Bible attributes no spoken words to this strong man given the charge to protect Baby Jesus and Mother Mary. It only mentions Saint Joseph’s faithful actions and virtuous character. Although I have the gift of gab, jabbering on and on, I hope my actions and character influence people as much or more than my words.
Example makes a much greater impression than words.St. John Baptist De LaSalle
Another admirable Joseph is newly ordained Bishop Joseph Williams, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He brought his Latino flock to Dunrovin Retreat Center many times. Bishop Williams fluently speaks at least four languages. He also speaks to people’s hearts.
Take a look at Bishop Williams’ coat of arms. He chose the motto “Misericordiam volo,” meaning “I desire mercy,” from the call of Matthew when Jesus reveals himself to be a physician who came to care for sinners. Bishop Williams also included symbolic pictures, significant colors, and flowers.
Bishop Williams’ coat of arms offers us beautiful signs of Lent. The season of mercy. The season of new life. According to catholiceducation.org, The word “Lent” itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning “Spring” and lenctentid, which literally means not only “Springtide” but also was the word for “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls. (History of Lent accessed 3-21-22)
During this springtime, ponder on those who witness mercy or humility to you. Reflect on those who bring life to you. Everyone has a past (Saint Joseph) or present (Bishop Williams) someone who exemplifies a life lived well. Who encourages you? Is it someone big and bold, a world shaker such as Mozart or Mother Teresa? Perhaps your encourager is unknown to the world but changed yours – your mom or dad, a beloved aunt or uncle, a favorite teacher, or an ordinary next-door neighbor.
- Who gives you hope and encouragement?
- Who is a person you enjoy being with?
- Who is someone you wish to emulate? What characteristics in that person offer you life?
- How do you offer life and hope to those around you?
God created people as social beings, meant to live in pleasant community with others. Allow the gift of friendship to balance your Lenten meagerness and nails.
Lectio Divina – Colossians 3:12-14
- Lectio (read): Read the Scripture slowly. Listen to the words and allow them to sink into your mind.
- Meditatio (reflection): Read through the Scripture slowly a second time. Reflect on one word or phrase that catches your heart and meditate on it with your imagination.
- Oratio (response): Read through the Scripture slowly a third time. Respond to God’s Word with your own prayer of thanksgiving, confession, praise, or simply talking to God.
- Contemplatio (rest): There is no right or wrong way to allow God’s Word to capture you; simply let it capture you.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
At Dunrovin, we believe hospitality in every small or big encounter offers mercy, encouragement, and refreshment. Our staff strives to create external space for people’s internal growth.