You Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3
St. Joseph living in glory your work is not done but is different! Now you have tremendous ability to share that glory and love and fullness of joy with us as well. And so we entrust ourselves to you as an understanding father who is also the terror of demons, the tender protector, the universal teacher and master of prayer and the Christian life. We want what you have. We want to live and work and laugh with Jesus and Mary every day. We want to die in their arms. We want to be with you and with them in Heaven. We are so happy it is your Solemnity; the Solemnity of your beautiful life, of you in your heavenly glory and you as amazing intercessor. We bless you St. Joseph and we thank God for you and so does all of Heaven. You have our love as small as our hearts are sometimes. May God make our hearts mighty to love as you did, as you continue to do. Intercede for us with your Son. Remain with us today in a special way. Amen.
Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones. (Psalm 116:15)
St. Joseph, your death was beautiful and tender. Your passing filled the room with love; your love, the love of your family, the love of God.
Joseph the dreamer, the worker, the father, the husband, the prophet, the protector, the meaning of your life settled with intense clarity on those who kept watch at your side and on everyone who ever knew you, flooding the hearts of them all. Help us when our time comes to leave this world, to have fulfilled our purpose, to have loved God and every human being he sent our way, to have lived with Jesus and Mary daily that we may also die in their arms and ultimately reach heaven in the company of the angels and saints, to be forever in the Heart of the Father, inhabiting his House filled with wonder. St. Joseph, Patron of a holy death, pray for us as we honor you. Pray for us always.
God of my fathers, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established man to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and justice, and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, and reject me not from among your children: for I am your servant, the son of your handmaid, a man weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.
Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men, if Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him, he shall be held in no esteem.
Now with you is Wisdom who knows your works and was present when you made the world; who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands.
Send her forth from your holy heavens and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is your pleasure.
For she knows and understands all things, and will guide me discreetly in my affairs and safeguard me by her glory.” (Wisdom 9:1-6, 9-11)
St. Joseph I can only imagine how overwhelming the prospect of being a father to Jesus the Son of God would have been for you. And Mary would have said, ”Joey you were made for this! God will give you everything you need!” And you believed. You were a strong good and kind man, humble and wise. Wisdom was with you, beautiful father. All the love and the example you gave Jesus made him able to do what he came to do and be what he came to be. Today we ask you also to be a father to each of us. And we thank you for every hug, every talk, every lesson, every game you played with Jesus when he was growing up, and most of all for just being there and filling his life with your love.
“Orare est Laborare, Laborare est Orare—to pray is to work, to work is to pray” – St. Benedict
St. Joseph you knew this and it was your way of life, your “skin religion” to pray by hand, to instill love into all you did. For you concentration on your work was consecration of your work as you lived continually aware of the presence of your God, and of Jesus and Mary’s physical presence with you.
You taught Jesus your trade and way of life and prayer, the dignity love and beauty of work.
Teach us your special brand of the practice of the presence of God, of the holiness of work and how it changes the world as we dedicate it to you in ways we can’t imagine. Be with us in our daily work and help us to bless our fellow human beings with our work and prayer, our ora et labora. We pray with you for all who work, especially those who do hard labor. May their burdens be lightened today. May they find joy in their prayer and work. Amen.
“12 So Jesse sent for him. He had a healthy complexion, attractive eyes, and a handsome appearance. The Lord said, “Go ahead, anoint him. He is the one.” 13 Samuel took the flask of olive oil and anointed David in the presence of his brothers. The Lord’s Spirit came over David and stayed with him from that day on. Then Samuel left for Ramah.”
St. Joseph, Son of David, I bet when you were growing up the stories from the Torah you loved best were the stories of King David your ancestor. God told the Prophet Samuel that God does not choose as we do but sees the heart. You were poor but descended from a humanly unlikely king who was nevertheless after God’s own heart. He was little and yet mighty. His greatest gifts were from within. You could relate to that. Your boyish heart must have longed for adventure. Little did you know what adventure and danger and helping to save the world you were in for, and what joy you would find in ordinary life and the work of your hands, the love that surrounded you, the privilege you alone were given. You really were royalty. 👑 Help us to keep in mind our beautiful crowns as children of God and to love this day in quiet joy.
The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19)
St. Joseph your level of trust is astonishing. Your humility and simplicity of heart kept you always open to God’s voice in your life. You were continually seeking it no matter the strange and frightening turns life took for you at times, and even when God’s law appeared to be taking you from the person you loved most. You stayed open and you prayed and discerned and paid attention, maybe asking for clarification. Once you understood the plans of God you did not seem to hesitate further but acted with confidence no matter what anyone else may have thought about your decision to change course and take Mary as your wife. Your one aim was God. Let us say with you, “God is it.”
And May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to him who makes our way clear before us.
“Our most important task consists in remaining silent before this great God, silent with our desires as well as with our tongue. For the language he hears best is silent love.”
– St. John of the Cross in a letter to a Carmelite nun
St. Joseph we have no recorded words from you. What we do see in the Gospel is you hearing and responding to God. Maybe this is why St. Teresa of Avila called you a “Master of Prayer.” Teach us to let silence descend on all the scurrying and scratching at worries in our minds, all the ways we fill our lives with pointless noise and distracting information we don’t need. Be at our sides before this great God and help us to connect to his presence; not to clamber for our wants and needs but to notice him, to look at him, to be with him, to let him engage with us in silent love. ♥️
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. (From Psalm 1)
St. Joseph you would have heard and read and studied this Scripture. How beautifully you embodied it as you went about your daily work, took part in your community, served and loved Mary and Jesus. And to this day you are a beautiful tree planted by streams of water, shading and protecting us, giving us the fruit of your meditations and your labors and your love. Do us the honor of walking with us during this novena, giving us your blessing, teaching us your way. Pray with us the prayer you prayed daily all of your life.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Dt. 6) Amen
This novena is intended for the nine days leading up to the memorial of the Presentation of the Child Mary in the temple, celebrated November 21. Of course you can pray this any time you like or leading to any of the feasts of Mary’s girlhood.
We don’t usually think of Mary as a little girl in our country though devotion to little Mary is more common in Mexico, Italy and Spain.
To me she represents the way of spiritual childhood, or as St. Therese coined it, The Little Way. We can also consider this Little Way of St. Therese as simply the way Mary lived, with a pure and open heart free for God, a boldness of trust and childlike faith, a spirit of offering and the practice of the presence of God, all rooted in the most free and generous love ever known before that of her Son. Following the Little Way in Mary’s footsteps could be called the Marian Little Way.
So let us spend these nine days with little Mary and let us pray.
Day One: Mary in the Mind of God
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you.” Jeremiah 1:5a
Before God made Adam, he held Eve hidden in his heart where she lay curled in hidden beauty until the time came for her to be part of life, the mother of life on his beautiful garden planet newly created. After the fall of Adam and Eve God already knew he would bring us the New Eve and Mother of Life. She would be the dawn of our salvation. Until that future sunrise she remained in the depths of the Divine Consciousness like a hidden jewel.
Let us spend some time in her quiet radiance there.
Little Mary, deep in God’s Heart, invite us into those silent depths of Divine Love where we can rest with you.
Pray with Mary a slow, reflective Our Father imagining yourself with her in God.
Day Two: Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Immaculate Heart
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
A fond memory of mine is of teaching my children to meditate. They sat quietly on the floor, little legs crossed, eyes closed. Closing my own eyes I told them to imagine their hearts opening to God’s love like a flower opening to the sun petal by petal. They were silent for a surprising amount of time. I opened my eyes and they were sitting very still in prayer concentrating with peaceful faces. My two little girls were also holding their shirts up. It was hilarious!
As we ponder the child Mary’s profound innocence of heart we can remember too, the simplicity of childhood, it’s freedom and clarity. A pure heart is a simple heart. A simple heart is clear enough for God to shine right into. A heart full of the sunshine of God’s face is also open to God’s light everywhere and in everyone. Mary’s pure and open, simple heart really sees us and she sees us with joy.
Take a moment now and join little Mary in opening your heart petal by petal to let the sunshine of God’s love in to light up every part of it. Then take some time to look at the child Mary and let her look at you.
Little Mary, pure and simple of heart, help us to see the smile of God in all things.
Say to her, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
Day Three Birth of Mary
“Who is she who comes forth like the dawn; radiant as the sun, as awe inspiring as an army in battle array?- Song of Songs 6:10
She will crush your head alleluia – Little Office of the Blessed Virgin
A baby girl is born just before sunrise. She comes at the thinnest edge of dawn when stars retain their glitter for a few brief moments and the moon begins its transition to translucence. She is washed by the women of the family helping at the birth, rubbed with salt to protect her from infection, and wrapped snugly. She is handed to her mother and breast fed in flickering lamp light. The women neighbors take up bedding to be cleaned and straighten the house. Every room is full of the love and wonder that attends the birth of a new life. Everyone goes home. The father of the baby meets his child he never thought he would be able to have. He crawls onto the sleeping mat next to his wife and the family sleeps. But God can’t stop smiling about his secret surprise for the world and every soul he created, past present and future a surprise unfurling in and through the baby now lying between her parents, rooting sleepily for her mother’s breast. Heaven holds it breath. Rose petals drop gently down over the family even as the new father begins to snore.
And God said, “It is good, “ as a ribbon of brightness graced the horizon and the sun began to rise for everyone.
Take a moment now to love and be grateful for the gift of Mary in your life and to everyone everywhere. Feel her baby breath on your face. Smile with Heaven.
Little Mary, you are our life, our sweetness and our hope. I hold you close in my heart.
Day Four: Holy Name of Mary
Your name is ointment poured forth Song of Songs 1:3
I’ve read that in Jewish culture the name of a person is the key to their souls. The naming of a child is prophetic and represents their destiny. We know the Name of Jesus means “Yahweh saves,” which makes perfect sense. We know saying his Name or doing something in His Name has the effect of making him more present. We pray in the Name of Jesus. His is the only Name by which we may be saved. (Acts 4:12)
As Mary is not divine but 100% human, her name is given gracious power is relation to her Son’s. There are several interpretations of Mary’s holy name. “Bitter” is most common which makes sense because of her bitter suffering during the torture and death of Jesus, and her three days of desolate sorrow. “Star of the Sea” is a popular interpretation. It seems to be based on the Latin word for sea which is “mar. ” Mary spoke Aramaic so she would have been called Maryam. This name in Egyptian of the time meant “love,” which is how I have experienced Mary the most so that one is my favorite. What meaning of the name of Mary do you like best?
A spiritual practice of mine that is profoundly helpful to me is repetition of the Names of Jesus and Mary. I do believe saying Mary’s name brings her closer to me and keeps me connected to her. I mentally repeat it during the day, when I wake up and as I am going to sleep; any time I think of it. When I am upset it has a great effect on my state of mind. It helps me come into deeper prayer when I am distracted.
Your name, O Mary, is a precious ointment, which breathes forth the odor of Divine grace. Let this ointment of salvation enter the inmost recesses of our souls. [St. Ambrose +397]
Mary would have been named quietly at home and most likely without ceremony although I’m sure with love. She was most likely named after a relative as was customary. I like to think though that she was named after the prophetess Miriam, sister of Moses. This would have made sense since names are prophetic and Jewish parents are seen as cooperating with God in bestowing names on their children. Jesus was the new Moses, leading and freeing his people, and Mary was a new Miriam at his side as his support, raising her voice in praise of God after their deliverance from Egypt much as Mary did in her Magnificat, her song of praise in Luke 1:46-45.
Little Mary, we honor your holy name. Inspire us to pray it many times today with love, staying close to you. May your name be a precious ointment poured into the hidden recesses of our souls. Ave Ave Ave little Maria.
Day Five: As a child has rest
Truly I have set my soul in silence and in peace as a child has rest in [her] mother's arms, even so my soul. - Psalm 131:2
You have been invited to dinner at Joachim and Anne’s house. When you come in, you see their little girl playing in the courtyard where her mother says she has been all afternoon with the other kids. She runs into the house with a gaggle of them screaming and laughing and you can’t help but smile. Mary is filthy and her dress is frayed. Mother Anne dismisses the other children, washes her little girl’s face, hands and feet carefully and has her help to serve dinner.
All of you smile at Mary’s childish patter and even more as she grows sleepy, speaking more and more hapharzardly and slowly until she crawls into her mother’s lap, almost asleep.
As Joachim recites a Psalm, Little Mary gazes at you contentedly from her mother’s arms. Maybe you were worried about something or burdened with some sorrow. Somehow you can’t remember what it was and are happy just to sit peacefully and look back at Mary.
Let’s settle in and listen to Joachim’s voice as we smile at his little girl.
O Lord, my heart is not proud,
Nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
Nor marvels beyond me.
Truly I have set my soul
In silence and in peace,
As a child has rest in [her] mother’s arms,
Even so my soul.
O Israel, hope in the Lord forever.
In the prayerful silence that follows, Mary’s eyes gently close. You feel her little hand in yours and close your eyes too, to pray.
Day 6 Learning to Pray with Little Mary
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6
She wants you to hold her and when you do, she messes up your hair. “You need to pray,” she says. She waits. “Go ahead. Pray.” Maybe you ask her, “What do you want me to pray?” To this she asks to be put down. “Stand like this by me.” When you do, she pulls your head down to her level, making you crouch. She becomes very solemn and and you can’t help but smile. Mary puts your hands over your eyes, telling you, “Don’t look on the outside, look on the inside.”
She says, in her sweet child’s voice, “Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad.” She gives you a shove. “You’re not looking in!”
So now try, really try to turn within yourself where the Lord truly lives and try again.
Say with her,
Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
She goes over the rest with you, nudging you any time you start to open your eyes. She tells you she prays this daily with her family, that everyone does. “But you have to be quiet in your heart and look inside.” Once she knows you have paid close attention to the words you are saying and to Whom you are saying them, she throws her arms around you, kissing your face.
Day 7: Being Little
Let the children come to me for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14
We forget to be little before God. Remembering brings a joyful peace because it really is that simple. We complicate things and create obstacles for ourselves that aren’t true. Spending time with the child Mary and adopting her approach to life and the love of God gives us a clarity we lacked before. When the archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary she needed only to understand what was being asked of her to embrace it. God was everything to her and all she wanted. She trusted completely, bold and brave and sweet before God as the Holy Spirit ruffled her hair and Jesus stole her heart. She was glad to be small and humble; seeing herself as God’s littlest. She didn’t change at the Annunciation. She had always been this way from childhood.
Let’s remember that we are God’s littlest children so we can find the clearest sweetest peace by living in his heart letting ourselves be loved.
Child Mary help me to understand myself as little and dear that I may love God with bold trust and complete freedom.
Day 8 The Way of Spiritual Childhood with Mary
Day 9 Consecration
At this writing today we celebrate the memorial of the Presentation of the Child Mary in the Temple. This was Mary’s consecration.
Let’s consecrate ourselves to God through and with her.
Find some quiet time you can spend with the child Mary. Let her throw her arms around you. Say to her, “O Mary I give you my heart, my hands, all of me, my whole life is yours. Do with me and build with me what you will, that I may run up the steps of the Temple with you into the arms of God.
Have you ever wanted to witness a living miracle? The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in Mexico City and is one of the most-visited holy sites in the world. This is an opportunity to visit with others from the Diocese of Austin and led by clergy that knows the story and culture… [Read More]
JOIN US FOR A 9-DAY PILGRIMAGE (SEPT. 12-20,2021) TO THE SHRINES OF MEXICO! The pilgrimage will be led by Fr Juan Carlos López and Deacon Guadalupe Rodriguez Lady of Guadalupe also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City…. [Read More]
Excerpts on St. Michael the Archangel, Conductor of Souls were taken from the messages from a Soul in Purgatory [Sister M.G.] to Sister M. de L. C. who was under the care of a spiritual director (priest) when receiving the messages. The messages were published in a book called: AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT ON PURGATORY The… [Read More]
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