Appleton, WI

Dec 20: In Joy & Hope with Father Bill

Enjoy this poem titled “Last Night as I Was Sleeping” by Antonio Machado.

Last night as I was sleeping
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.
Last night as I slept,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

While I don’t often remember the specifics of my dreams, I sometimes am calmed and, at other times, worked up by my dreams.  I believe the Lord ministers to me through the gift of my dreaming.

In the Advent and Christmas Seasons, Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary and Foster Father of Jesus plays an important role, even though sometimes, and maybe most often, Joseph seems to be in the background. He was a just man whose heart was close to God, his Father. Joseph often received encouragement and direction from the Lord through the gift of his dreams. Mary, however, received this encouragement and direction through the voice of an angel. 

Without Joseph’s “Yes!” to the plan of God, the story of God’s incredible love for us in Jesus would not have transpired. Joseph had to trust with every ounce within him that Mary conceived their Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is a tall order as her pregnancy before they lived together was a huge scandal in their community and a crime deserving of death by stoning for Mary.  But Joseph put his fear and hurt aside and trusted.  How often it would be helpful if we were able to put our fear and hurt to the side to just trust more! 

Joseph was a faithful Jew and a law-abiding citizen of his land, so he, packing up a few things, and with Mary, right on top of her due date, traveled to Bethlehem in obedience to the Roman Emperor who demanded a count of his subjects. Probably a trip Joseph and Mary did not relish taking. Really bad timing!

The birth of Jesus had its challenges, too, as the residents of Bethlehem were not too hospitable. And shortly after Jesus’ coming among us, Joseph, the dreamer, finds himself packing again and fleeing from the wrath of King Herod, who was addicted to his power and would step aside for no one, especially a newborn King of the Jews!

So as we recall the Christmas Story let us not forget Joseph.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary,  December 8, the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Joseph as the patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis published a beautiful Apostolic Letter on Saint Joseph. It is not too long so I would encourage you to include it in your prayer on these holy days.  Here is the link for you to copy and paste into your browser:

Pope Francis concludes his letter with this prayer:

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
to you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man [human].
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.

Father Bill +