Tag Archives: Saint Joseph

The Sacrifices of Fatherhood

24 Sep Saint Joseph with Infant Jesus - Guido Reni

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   Today, I am a lucky man. Not because I have a lovely wife, a son, and enough work to support them. Those are all blessings, but last night I slept for seven straight hours. I closed my eyes at 11:00 PM and did not open them until 6:00 AM. I have not enjoyed such a peaceful slumber since June 1st of this year, the day my son was born. Parenthood requires a lot more sacrifice than a few hours of sleep, though, but it is all worth it for numerous reasons. For one thing, being a parent makes you a better person by promoting Christ-like humility, for it requires a constant emptying of one’s self (Philippians 2:5-8).

The son that keeps me up at night is not actually my first child, only my first-born child. In February of 2012, my wife miscarried. We did nothing to cause this child’s death, but it happened anyway. We wanted control, but had none. We were excited to welcome this new child by losing sleep, spending less money on luxury, and diminishing our social lives, but we never got the chance to empty ourselves in such a manner. Rather, we faced the difficult task of accepting our loss. Like so many couples, we know now that we are not immune to tragedy, and that what happens is not entirely up to us.

This time, we got what we wanted. We have a beautiful, healthy little boy with blue eyes, lots of hair, and a propensity to give people the stink eye. We also have a new lifestyle as parents that requires a lot of sacrifice. The usual sacrifices a parent must make are conducive to the family’s material welfare, but there is more to parenting than raising a healthy child. As a father, it is my duty to be a spiritual guide to my son. Every sane father would admit to being horribly under qualified for this job, but we have to do it anyway. We must empty ourselves to Christ through obedience, thus becoming “children of God” so that our children may know Him (Phil 2:15).

It is worth noting that parenting is not all about the child. People often forget that parents need attention, too. Mothers must help fathers, and fathers must help mothers. If the parents don’t take care of each other’s material and spiritual needs, the family will suffer. I want my family to be healthy and safe, but I also want everyone to know and love Christ. In order to help them along, I need to know, love, and serve Christ. As a boy, Karol Wojtyla learned to pray by watching his father. Something as simple as witnessing his father in prayer helped young Karol grow up to be a child of God in a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15). My greatest joy would be knowing that I helped bring my family to Christ.

 

– Ian Skemp

Saints: Even More Reasons to Celebrate

28 Jul

Minnesota loves to party. As soon as the our frigid winters disappear, we look for any reason to be out of doors. Even the palest Scandinavian will risk sunburn to enjoy all the beautiful things our state offers. Perhaps it’s the length of the cold which drives us to have a good time like there’s no tomorrow. (Honestly, who really knows what the weather forecast will bring?) From Grand Old Day to the Minnesota State Fair, from the Basilica Block party to weekends at the cabin, each weekend has something unique and something to celebrate. We get together with friends, drink great beer, listen to extraordinary music, and do that which brings us out of ourselves and into the beauty of whatever we may be celebrating. We celebrate what means the most. We honor what has been sacrificed. We recognize accomplishments and we, through the sacramental and physical world, begin to meditate and experience what the Heavenly vision of God, our true home and ultimate goal, will be like.

Saint Norbert by Martin Pepijn

Saint Norbert by Martin Pepijn

Earlier this month, I was able to create my own celebration for what I value deeply in my life. The Catholic Church, in her diversity, recognizes those whom she elevates to sainthood with recognition on a particular day of the year. If a parish or ethnic group holds the values of a saint or feast in high honor, they are permitted to celebrate the saint’s day with greater festivity than other members of the Church. They host a celebration proudly showing what makes their community special and how God speaks to them while still coming together to create the whole Church on the highest festivals like Easter or Christmas. For instance, in Catholic Mexico, May 1 is the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker and is celebrated widely. The Irish celebrate St. Patrick on March 17. Native Americans may celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha on July 14. Individually, people celebrate their namesake’s feast day, or their confirmation saint’s feast.

I have a particular devotion to St. Norbert. When I celebrated my saint’s day it felt to me like a great holiday! I was able to mark the day not only with special prayer but also shared my joy with friends who celebrated with me (whether they expected to or not) at the Muddy Pig. God spoke to me. He knew the day meant a lot to me and He showed me His love in a very deep and personal way. This love must be tried and experienced. No description could ever do skydiving justice: how much greater the experience of the love of God!

All God created is good and it ought to be celebrated! Explore the great festivals of the Church and learn all the reasons to raise a glass and party! There are many ways to become holy. You may find a saint or two who resonates with your spirituality. If so, toast to them!

Link to learn more about St. Norbert: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots181.htm