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Monday, January 13, 2014

JPII and St. Joseph







It is significant that Karol Józef Wjotyla's father was Captain Karol Józef Wojtyla senior. Both men's middle names were Józef! And they both reflect, in marriage and in celibacy, aspects of St. Joseph that make them worthy of the name.


Here are a number of events through which Captain Wojtyla lived (1879-1941):

1) WWI

2) Deaths of his daughter, spouse, and oldest son

3) Nazi takeover of Poland

Meanwhile, Karol Wojtyla Jr. learned from his father’s steadfastness in the midst of so much trial. He also learned from his father the incessant war that was being waged beyond WWI and II, the daily battle of prayer and seeking for God amidst suffering and hardship.

In JPII’s “Redemptoris Custos”, he finds a universal fatherliness in St. Joseph, ultimately rooted in God the Father:

The Church has commended to Joseph all of her cares, including those dangers which threaten the human family[1]

And,

Besides fatherly authority over Jesus, God also gave Joseph a share in the corresponding love, the love that has its origin in the Father "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3:15)[2].

That same love was first experienced by Karol Wojtyla Jr. in his filial relationship with his own father. Unfortunately, that bond was cut short by Captain Wojtyla’s heart failure in 1941. But, the tragedy of his father's death is believed to have been the impetus of discernment for young Karol Wojtyla to decide for the clandestine seminary. JPII quotes Paul VI in regard to St. Joseph’s decision-making process:

The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah's coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that "very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.

This very testing of men’s responses and decisions to the influence of God’s prompting is what set apart heroes of the faith from those who compromised with, or excused Nazi takeover of Europe. We see it in our own day as well, with the global economy’s instability at times, a kind of compromise in favor of leaders who will promise prosperity, etc. Or, in the Old Testament, in the differences between the patriarchs and priests: particularly, Aaron, who compromised with idolatry.

But St. Joseph is a kind of new Aaron of the New Testament. In my parish, and in many others, Joseph is depicted with a sprouting almond branch, identical to the one Aaron used to determine his access to the holy of holies (Num. 17). Because his branch sprouted with almond flowers, he alone was permitted to care for and attend the Ark of the Covenant. So too, St. Joseph alone was worthy to attend and care for the Ark of the New Covenant! But Joseph did not compromise with idolatry as Aaron did, he stayed faithful to that which had been housed inside the Ark, the very Word of God Incarnate.

Captain Wojtyla too, did not compromise. Nor did he teach his son to resist the Nazis with futility. The wisdom with which the son of the Polish military captain resisted evil was truly from God. With culture, with faith, with education, with work, and with sacrifice! These things are the same weapons of righteousness that St. Joseph used in dealing with Herod and with the Romans. JPII writes of Jesus’ upbringing in the Holy Family:

This bond of charity was the core of the Holy Family's life, first in the poverty of Bethlehem, then in their exile in Egypt, and later in the house of Nazareth. The Church deeply venerates this Family, and proposes it as the model of all families. Inserted directly in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Family of Nazareth has its own special mystery. And in this mystery, as in the Incarnation, one finds a true fatherhood: the human form of the family of the Son of God, a true human family, formed by the divine mystery[3].

Many of Jesus’ peers were wiped out by Herod’s decree to slaughter the male children of Israel. St. Joseph took action against such violence, out of protection for his family. St. Joseph proved himself for the Holy Family: protector, shepherd, and priest.

No doubt St. Joseph watched over and guarded those who were his namesake in the men of the Wojtyla family. As Patron of the Universal Church and model of human fatherhood, may St. Jospeh watch over and guard all who invoke his intercession!



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] John Paul II. “Redemptoris Custos: Patron of the Church in our Day” paragraph 31, 08/15/89, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_15081989_redemptoris-custos_en.html

[2] Ibid, # 8.

[3] Ibid, # 21.

2 comments:

Elijahfan said...

Here the link to writers such as Tolkein is clear: against the forces of a monolithic, environmentally destructive, and sinister Mordor, Tolkien gave us Sam Gamgee, a beer-quaffing villager of humble attributes who defends the importance of small things and ultimately defeats evil through the virtues of courage, perseverance, and reliance on Providence.
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2879/michael_obriens_literary_icons.aspx

Elijahfan said...

Here the link to writers such as Tolkein is clear: against the forces of a monolithic, environmentally destructive, and sinister Mordor, Tolkien gave us Sam Gamgee, a beer-quaffing villager of humble attributes who defends the importance of small things and ultimately defeats evil through the virtues of courage, perseverance, and reliance on Providence.
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2879/michael_obriens_literary_icons.aspx