We celebrate today the father of the Mother of God, Saint Joachim, whose feast today was placed as a feast of the rank of Double on the universal calendar of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.
Today's feast had moved around quite a bit before Pope Leo, whose given name was Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, fixed it permanently as August 16. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's grandfather had had his feast day observed over the centuries on December 9 (the day after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and March 20 (the day after the Feast of Saint Joseph) and September 16 (the day after the Feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady).
Jacobus de Voragine provided some very interesting stories in The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints concerning Our Lady's parents and the importance of this blessed day:
Blessed Jerome says in the Prologue to his History of the Birth of the Virgin that in his early youth he had read the story in some book, and many years later was asked to put it in writing, so he wrote it down as he remembered it from his early reading. Joachim, a Galilean from the town of Nazareth, took Saint Anna, a native of Bethlehem, as his wife. They were both righteous and walked without reproach in all the commandments of the Lord. They divided all their goods into three parts, one part being reserved for the Temple and its ministers, one for transient strangers and the poor, and the third for their own needs and those of their household. They lived for twenty years without offspring and made a vow to the Lord that if he granted them a child, they would dedicate it to the service of God. With this in mind they went up to Jerusalem for the three principal feasts. Once, when Joachim and his kinsmen traveled to Jerusalem for the feat of the Dedication, he went with the others to the altar to make his offering. When the priest saw him, he angrily ordered him away and unbraided him for presuming to approach the altar of God, declaring that it was not proper for one who was subject to the Lord's curse to offer sacrifice to the Lord of the Law, nor for a sterile man, who made no increase to the people of God, to stand among men who begot sons.
Joachim, seeing himself, thus rejected, was ashamed to go home and face the contempt of his kinsmen, who had heard the priest's denunciation. Instead he went and lived with his shepherds. Then one day an angel appeared with great brilliance to him when he was alone. He was disturbed by the apparition, but the angel told him not to be afraid and said: "I am an angel of the Lord, sent to announce to you that your prayers have been heard and your alms have ascended in the sight of the Lord. I have seen how you were put to same, and heard the reproach of childlessness wrongly put upon you. God punishes not nature but sin, and therefore, when he closes a woman's womb, he does this in order to open it miraculously later on, and to make it known that what is born is not the fruit of carnal desire but of the divine generosity. Did not the first mother of your race suffer the shame of childlessness until she was ninety years old, and yet bore Isaac, to whom was promised the blessing of all nations? Was not Rachel barren for a long time and yet bore Joseph, who had power over all Egypt? Who was stronger than Samson or holier than Samuel? Yet they both had sterile mothers. Believe these reasons and examples, which show that delayed conceptions and infertile childbearing are usually all the more wonderful! So then, your wife will bear you a daughter and you will call her Mary. As you have vowed, she will be consecrated to the Lord from infancy and filled with the Holy Spirit from her mother's womb. She will not live outside the common people but will abide in the Temple at all times, lest any sinister suspicion be aroused about her. And, as she will be born of an unfruitful mother, so, miraculously, the Son of the Most High will be born of her. His name will be Jesus, and through him all nations will be saved. And let this be a sign to you: when you arrive at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem, Anna your wife will be there waiting for you. She has been worried because you were so late and will be glad at the sight of you." With these words the angel left him.
Meanwhile Anna was weeping bitterly, not knowing where her husband had gone, when the same angel appeared to her, revealed to her the same things he had told Joachim, and added that, for a sign, she should go to Jerusalem's Golden Gate, where she would meet her husband as he returned. So they met as the angel had predicted, and were happy to see each other and to be sure they were to have a child. They adored God and went to their home, joyfully awaiting the fulfillment of the divine promise. Anna conceived and brought forth a daughter, and they called her name Mary. When she was weaned at the age of three, the parents brought her to the Lord's Temple with offerings. Around the Temple there were fifteen steps, corresponding to the fifteen Gradual Psalms, and because the Temple was built on a hill, there was no way to go to the altar of the holocaust, which stood in the open, except by climbing the steps. The virgin child was set down at the lowest step and mounted to the top without help from anyone, as if she were already fully grown up.
Having made their offering, Joachim and Anna left their daughter in the Temple with the other virgins and went home. Mary advanced steadily in all holiness. Angels visited her every day, and she enjoyed the vision of God daily. In a latter to Chromatius and Heliodorus, Jerome says that the Blessed Virgin had made a rule for herself: the time from dawn to the third hour she devoted to prayer, from the third to the ninth hour she worked at weaving, and from the ninth hour on she prayed without stopping until and angel appeared and brought her food. (Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend.)
Saint Joachim thus demonstrated a wonderful love for God by giving back to Him the long awaited daughter whose birth took away his curse in the eyes of his fellow men. Saint Joachim's daughter, the fairest flower of our race, our own Most Blessed Mother, Mary of Nazareth, had been chosen by God from all eternity to be the Singular Vessel of Honor in whose Virginal and Immaculate Womb He would be enfleshed in order to redeem us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood. Saint Joachim's willingness to give his most fair, most pure, most sweet, most lovable daughter back to God when leaving her in the Temple whe she was three years of age should teach us that we must recognize that our children do not belong to us. We are merely the custodians whom God has chosen from all eternity to help to form their souls as we attempt to cooperate with the graces He won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of His Most Blessed Mother, the Mediatrix of All Graces, to foster, at least as far as we are able, a religious vocation in their immortal souls.
Saint Joachim was content to attend to the affairs of his wife and daughter, not seeking earthly recognition for the faithful fulfillment of his daily duties. As was the case with his son-in-law, Saint Joseph. Saint Joachim simply did what a father is supposed do in all simplicity and humility: see to it that his family gets home to Heaven safely. One can only imagine how Saints Joachim and Anne basked in the glow of the beauty and perfection of their daughter for the three years of her life that she spent with them after all of the shame that he had suffered for many years as his dear wife, Good Saint Anne, was childless.
This feast day of Saint Joachim gives us an opportunity to reflect once again on the terrible responsibilities that are imposed upon the souls of those us who are fathers.
Fathers are called by God to love their wives and their children with a view to getting them home to Heaven as members of the Catholic Church. While we must surround them with kindness and compassion in the midst of our daily lives, we must also pray to Saint Joseph and to Saint Joachim each day so that we will make the right decisions concerning our family's spiritual welfare, about which it is a sin to be slothful or negligent. In the end, you see, a father is going to be judged by God largely on the basis of how well he helped his wife and children climb the heights of personal sanctity, not on how much money he made or how successful or popular he was in the eyes of the world.
To this end, therefore, fathers have a solemn obligation to orient everything in their family's lives in the direction of Heaven. This means that they are to embrace the spirit of Holy Poverty of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the spirit of Holy Poverty that was rediscovered by Saint Francis of Assisi and by Saint Clare of Assisi, who received papal reaffirmation from Pope Innocent IV for her sisters, soon to be known as the Poor Clares, to live in absolute poverty on August 9, 1253, just two days before she died. The Papal Bull issued by Pope Innocent was a reaffirmation of one that had been issued by Pope Gregory IX on July 16, 1228:
Gregory Bishop Servant of the Servants of God. To our beloved daughters in Christ Clare and the other handmaids of Christ dwelling together at the Church of San Damiano in the Diocese of Assisi. Health and Apostolic benediction. It is evident that the desire of consecrating yourselves to God alone has led you to abandon every wish for temporal things. Wherefore, after having sold all your goods and having distributed them among the poor, you propose to have absolutely no possessions, in order to follow in all things the example of Him Who became poor and Who is the way, the truth, and the life. Neither does the want of necessary things deter you from such a proposal, for the left arm of your Celestial Spouse is beneath your head to sustain the infirmity of your body, which, according to the order of charity, you have subjected to the law of the spirit. Finally, He who feeds the birds of the air and who gives the lilies of the field their raiment and their nourishment, will not leave you in want of clothing or of food until He shall come Himself to minister to you in eternity when, namely, the right hand of His consolations shall embrace you in the plenitude of the Beatific Vision. Since, therefore, you have asked for it, we confirm by Apostolic favour your resolution of the loftiest poverty and by the authority of these present letters grant that you may not be constrained by anyone to receive possessions. To no one, therefore, be it allowed to infringe upon this page of our concession or to oppose it with rash temerity. But if anyone shall presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he shall incur the wrath of Almighty God and his Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul. Given at Perugia on the fifteenth of the Kalends of October in the second year of our Pontificate." (Pope Gregory IX, Mira Circa Nos, July 16, 1228.)
Obviously, a husband and a father has an obligation to support his family. Granted. He is, though, expected to be detached from the things of this world and to teach his family that we do not live for the things of this passing world. A father, imitating the example of the father of the Mother of God and of the foster-father of the Son of God made Man, must seek to store up treasure in Heaven for himself and his family, eschewing the ways of the world and taking flight from anything and everything that could divert us from our path to sanctity (see In Full Communion with the Golden Calf from ten years ago now). In other words, a father is to see to it that his family lives simply on modest means without participating one little bit in any part of the acquisitive, consumerist mindset that is the legacy of Calvinist capitalism in the post-Catholic word of Modernity.
The Church does not condemn the wealthy. Not at all. She does condemned the desire to be wealthy as the first end of human existence. Men must not work to desire to be wealthy. They must work to seek to be able to support their families sufficiently without being immersed in the acquisitiveness of the world. Those men who have been able to acquire material wealth as a result of the honest use of the talents God has given them for His greater honor and glory and for the advancement of His Social Reign over men and their nations have some very special obligations. They must take heed of the following words of Pope Leo XIII, contained in Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891:
But the Church, with Jesus Christ as her Master and Guide, aims higher still. She lays down precepts yet more perfect, and tries to bind class to class in friendliness and good feeling. The things of earth cannot be understood or valued aright without taking into consideration the life to come, the life that will know no death. Exclude the idea of futurity, and forthwith the very notion of what is good and right would perish; nay, the whole scheme of the universe would become a dark and unfathomable mystery. The great truth which we learn from nature herself is also the grand Christian dogma on which religion rests as on its foundation -- that, when we have given up this present life, then shall we really begin to live. God has not created us for the perishable and transitory things of earth, but for things heavenly and everlasting; He has given us this world as a place of exile, and not as our abiding place. As for riches and the other things which men call good and desirable, whether we have them in abundance, or are lacking in them -- so far as eternal happiness is concerned -- it makes no difference; the only important thing is to use them aright. Jesus Christ, when He redeemed us with plentiful redemption, took not away the pains and sorrows which in such large proportion are woven together in the web of our mortal life. He transformed them into motives of virtue and occasions of merit; and no man can hope for eternal reward unless he follow in the blood-stained footprints of his Savior. "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." Christ's labors and sufferings, accepted of His own free will, have marvelously sweetened all suffering and all labor. And not only by His example, but by His grace and by the hope held forth of everlasting recompense, has He made pain and grief more easy to endure; "for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory."
Therefore, those whom fortune favors are warned that riches do not bring freedom from sorrow and are of no avail for eternal happiness, but rather are obstacles; that the rich should tremble at the threatenings of Jesus Christ -- threatenings so unwonted in the mouth of our Lord -- and that a most strict account must be given to the Supreme Judge for all we possess. The chief and most excellent rule for the right use of money is one the heathen philosophers hinted at, but which the Church has traced out clearly, and has not only made known to men's minds, but has impressed upon their lives. It rests on the principle that it is one thing to have a right to the possession of money and another to have a right to use money as one ills. Private ownership, as we have seen, is the natural right of man, and to exercise that right, especially as members of society, is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary. "It is lawful," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "for a man to hold private property; and it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.'' But if the question be asked: How must one's possessions be used? -- the Church replies without hesitation in he words of the same holy Doctor: "Man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need. Whence the apostle saith, 'Command the rich of this world . . to offer with no stint, to apportion largely'." True, no one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs and those of his household; nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, "for no one ought to live other than becomingly." But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one's standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. "Of that which remaineth, give alms." It is duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity -- a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield place to the laws and judgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving -- "It is more blessed to give than to receive"; and who will count a kindness done or refused to the poor as done or refused to Himself -- "As long as you did it to one of My least brethren you did it to Me." To sum up, then, what has been said: Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others. "He that hath a talent," said St. Gregory the Great, "let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility hereof with his neighbor." (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891.)
Pope Leo XIII went on to state that those who do not possess much in the way of the things of this world must indeed take heart from the example of the Holy Family itself, teaching men that they are not to be consumed with making more and more money but on teaching their family to be wealthy in the eyes of God:
As for those who possess not the gifts of fortune, they are taught by the Church that in God's sight poverty is no disgrace, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in earning their bread by labor. This is enforced by what we see in Christ Himself, who, "whereas He was rich, for our sakes became poor''; and who, being the Son of God, and God Himself, chose to seem and to be considered the son of a carpenter -- nay, did not disdain to spend a great part of His life as a carpenter Himself. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?"
From contemplation of this divine Model, it is more easy to understand that the true worth and nobility of man lie in his moral qualities, that is, in virtue; that virtue is, moreover, the common inheritance of men, equally within the reach of high and low, rich and poor; and that virtue, and virtue alone, wherever found, will be followed by the rewards of everlasting happiness. Nay, God Himself seems to incline rather to those who suffer misfortune; for Jesus Christ calls the poor "blessed" He lovingly invites those in labor and grief to come to Him for solace; and He displays the tenderest charity toward the lowly and the oppressed. These reflections cannot fail to keep down the pride of the well-to-do, and to give heart to the unfortunate; to move the former to be generous and the latter to be moderate in their desires. Thus, the separation which pride would set up tends to disappear, nor will it be difficult to make rich and poor join hands in friendly concord. (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891.)
The eternal orientation of a family depends upon the father, assuming, that is, that he is alive and in possession of his faculties to lead his family. The father must orient his family away from the world and its false attractions. He must orient his family completely in the direction of Heaven, making good use of the legitimate pleasures of this world in moderation and always--and I mean absolutely always--in conjunction with the feast days on the Church's liturgical calendar. A father must help his family live the liturgical life of the Church, teaching his children to look forward to feast days with joy in that they are little foretastes of the joys that await us in eternity if we die in a state of Sanctifying Grace and can bask in the glory of the Beatific Vision in the company of the very saints whose virtues we commemorate each year on their particular feast days. We are not in this passing world to have a "good time" every day of the week. We are in this passing world to get home to Heaven, which requires us to use everything in the world around us with that eternal goal uppermost in our minds.
An essential part of the eternal orientation that a father must foster in his household is accessibility to the daily offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition without any concessions at all to conciliarism if this is at all possible, which, of course, it ma not be in these times of apostasy and betrayal. Nothing matters more to a family's eternal well-being than having access to the daily offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition by a true bishop or by a true priest. It more important to be close to the daily offering of the Mass of Tradition than it is to be physically "close" to one's family members who are hostile to the Mass and/or a detriment to the salvation of the souls of our children.
Remember, we are always close in prayer to all of the members of the Church (Militant, Suffering, Triumphant) as time and space do not matter. So what if we are not in the area we "like." We must remember that we have not here any permanent home. There is nothing that matters more to family's eternal well-being than the Mass of all ages in which the Holy Faith is best expressed and protected.
Saint Paul reminded us of the importance of the Sacrifice of the Mass in comparison to the nothingness of temporality in his Epistle to the Hebrews:\
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name. (Hebrews 13: 12-15)
The sacrifices we make, however, will bear much fruit in this life in the souls of our children and for ourselves in eternity if we give them freely to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as the consecrated slaves of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. her consecrated slaves.
"Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mt. 6: 33) A family that wants to spend all eternity in Heaven together ought to make the effort to spend time in this life at the foot of Mount Calvary in the Mass.
I will go in unto the altar of God. R. To God who giveth joy to my youth. (From the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Ordinary of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.)
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. For thou art God my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me? Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles. And I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth. To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.(Psalm 42: 1-6)
One of the great joys in a father's life should be watching his children learn to love the Holy Faith and Holy Mass on a daily basis. Even families who may not have access to daily Mass can still be "at" Mass spiritually by reading their missals together with their children and make spiritual communions.
You see, children learn by immersion. If we immerse them in the things of Heaven then it is more possible, admitting that fallen human nature and the wiles of the devil will make it difficult from time to time, for them to aspire to a religious vocation in the priesthood or consecrated religious life.
This is why it is important to be able to unite oneself to Holy Mass, whether in person, which may be difficult in this time of apostasy and betrayal, or virtually (by means of the internet) on a daily basis. Even those who read their hand missals in those parts of the world where true offerings of the Holy Mass are not readily available profit tremendously by their spiritual communions and from their desire to be at the ineffable Sacrifice of the Mass when circumstances prevent them from doing so.
The Mass teaches us to love the Cross, which is ever present in our own lives.
Children must learn to love the Cross, learning how their own fathers, the heads of their households, carry the cross with perfect equanimity as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. "All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls" is more than a slogan. It is a way of life that could as naturally to a child as asking for food when he is hungry or drink when he is thirsty. Assisting at the daily offering of the Mass of all ages will indeed help our children to love the Cross and to lift it high at every moment of their lives, coming to realize that all men and all nations are meant to live in Its holy shadow, the shadow of the Holy Cross.
We must show forth, both at home and in public, our love for Our Lady as we are detached from the world in order to ascend to Heaven in our thoughts at all times. A father must take the initiative to lead the family Rosary every day. He must see to it that his children wear the Miraculous Medal and are enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He must teach his children the importance of Our Lady's Fatima Message. He must teach his children to be Apostles of Mary Immaculate, training them to be solicitous for the salvation of the souls of others, giving them Miraculous Medals and Green Scapulars to hand out to people whom they may encounter with us in our travels or while we are doing errands.
Believe me, my fellow Catholics, there is nothing so disarming as for a person who has given no thought to God or to the salvation of his immortal soul being given a Miraculous Medal and a Green Scapular by a child, whose innocence is hard, although not impossible for some, I suppose, to resist. A father must teach his children to plant seeds in the souls of others so that they will realize that they are children of Mary, who wants to see her children line up at the confessional each week and to keep her company both in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and during times of quiet mental prayer before her Divine Son's Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. And all of this starts in their souls, which should be consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in our homes, which should be enthroned formally to these twin, matchless Hearts of Love.
Our Lady was filled with grace from the first moment of her conception in Saint Anne's womb. Saints Joachim and Anne were thus blessed to have the very Flower of our race in their midst as their daughter. We, too, have this Flower of our race in our midst, and for this we must thank Saints Joachim and Anne for the parental love they gave to their daughter as a model for how we must foster a true love for our children, a love that seeks the salvation of their immortal souls and that seeks to keep them entirely unspotted by the ways and the fashions of this passing world. My fellow fathers, nothing other than our own salvation depends upon orienting our own families in the direction in which Joachim and Anne and Joseph and Mary oriented theirs at all times without any compromise with the world at all: Heaven itself.
Consider this reflection from Father W. Cramer's The Christian Father: What He Should be and What He Should Do (Holy Cross Publications, Post Office Box 84. Thompsons, Texas, 77481, Holy Cross Publications):
Let us now complete the picture of such a Christian father in its individual traits as they appear to the eyes of the children.
From his conversation, actions, and conduct it is evident that he is a true son of the holy Catholic Church; that all her teachings, precepts, and customs are holy in his eyes, that he is firm in the Catholic faith, and read, when occasion requires, to declare it without reserve.
The children see the days of fasting and abstinence observed by their father; they see him make with reverence the Sign of the Cross; they seem him revere things blessed by the Church; he disdains not to adorn his house with religious pictures. He is--they see it daily--given to prayer. He offers prayer before and after meals; there is prayer morning and evening and on many other occasions. The Sundays and feast-days are observed with reverence; there is no work except what is necessary. He loves to spend some time in church, not merely at a low Mass, but at high Mass, preaching, and vespers. He takes pleasure in conversing at home, to speak of the solemnities of the Church and what has been said in the sermon. He takes an interest in the Church and her fortunes, in her head, the holy father, in in everything that concerns her, and likes to speak of all these things; the children hear them from his lips and are edified; he explains to them the affairs and occurrences of the day and gives them salutary instructions, explanations, and suggestions. They see him going more than once a year to confession and Communion, and with what earnestness he performs these duties.
In his house the priests receive due honor and respect; the children see and remark that the father treats them according to their dignity and holds their office in honor. The same is the case with the teachers ; the same with the civil authorities, according to the maxim "Honor to whom honor is due."
The family has its history; events take place, happy or otherwise, and they receive the consecration of the Church. Everything is begun with God--according to its importance with greater or less solicitude--with prayer, devotion, solemnity.
Thus everything in the life of the family receives in the consecration of the Church a religious coloring, not in an ostentatious, pharisaical way, but in a simple manner and according to the Catholic spirit.
With this religious forming and Catholic coloring of the family's life goes hand in hand the corresponding moral tendency. The whole life is Catholic in thought, word, and work.
Before all there is the relation of the father to the mother, to the children, and to the other members of the household. A Christian relationship of love, concord and peace produces gentleness, tranquility, and composure, savored by mutual service and complaisance. And if now and then, through human weakness, misunderstandings occur, they are but light clouds which momentarily overshadow the clear rays of the sun of peace. All this is beautifully expressed in the words of the Psalmist: "Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell in one. As ointment on the head, which ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron; which ran down unto the hem of his garment. As the dew of Hermon, which runneth down upon Mount Sion."
Charity, that distinguishing mark of the true Christian, is here domestic; no one is exempt from it. The father has--the children constantly see new proofs of it--he has a heart for all; therefore no uncharitable talk about others, no fault-finding, no calumny, no detraction or slander; away with jealousy and envy, dislike, hatred, and revenge; away with mortifying or injuring neighbors. As far as in him lies such a father realizes the words of the Apostle: "To man rendering evil for evil...having peace with all men."
Again, it belongs to the order of the house to be obliging and render service to our neighbors and fellow-men; the poor and needy find an attentive ear and a heart willing to afford all possible assistance. Need it be added that in this house offences against Christian propriety, intemperance and gluttony are unknown--not tolerated.
To conclude: the father--such was our supposition--is a good Catholic Christian, and for that reason a good father. The mother is a truly Christian mother. What follows? The spirit which animates the father and mother by degrees pervades the whole house; this spirit nourishes in both parents and children those precious fruits which the Apostle calls the fruits of the Holy Ghost. "They are," he says, "charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, chastity."
They fill the whole house with their sweet fragrance and rejoice the heart with their grateful savor; they promote the increase of the Christian spirit and the growth of every virtue in the hearts and lives of the children; they are a sweet savor before the Lord, and His grace rules over such a house and its inmates.
Happy children who grow up in such a house! Happy children who have such a father! Father W. Cramer's The Christian Father: What He Should be and What He Should Do (Holy Cross Publications, Post Office Box 84. Thompsons, Texas, 77481, Holy Cross Publications).
Well, my fellow fathers, we fall short of the mark in many ways don't we, that is, each and every single one of us. How good it is, therefore, to have feasts honoring Saint Joseph twice a year and Saint Joachim once a year to remind us that God Himself had a foster-father and a biological grandfather on His Blessed Mother's side of the family.
We must rely upon the patronage of Saints Joseph and Joachim to be the best Catholic fathers in the world, combining our own natural affections with our supernatural love for them in light of their eternal destiny to be co-sharers with us in the gift of eternal life in Heaven, please God we each die in a state of Sanctifying Grace. And there is no better way, after Holy Mass itself, that is, to foster in our children a profound love of First and Last Things than by teaching to love and to pray with fervor the mysteries contained in Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary.
Oh, what a wonderful thing it will be for is, please God each of us dies in states of Sanctifying Grace, to be in Heaven when our children arrive. The scene described by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori on the day of Our Lady's Assumption body and soul into Heaven teaches us what joy we will have when we salute the Mother of God in the glory of the Beatific Vision when our families are reunited for all eternity:
But how must her holy parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, have spoken when they came to salute her! O God, with what tenderness must they have blessed her, saying: "All beloved daughter, what a favor it was for us to have such a child! Be thou now our Queen; for thou art the Mother of our God, and as such we salute and adore thee." (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary, p. 52.)
The readings for Matins in the Divine Office for the Feast of Saint Joachim explain the great place that Saint Joachim has in the economy of salvation:
From the Root of Jesse sprang King David, and from the stock of King David, the Holy Virgin. Holy I call her, and the daughter of holy men. Her father and mother were Joachim and Anne, who pleased God in their lives, and brought forth an offspring well pleasing to Him, even the Holy Virgin Mary, at once the Temple and the Mother of God. These three, Joachim, Anne, and Mary, clearly offered up unto the Trinity a sacrifice of praise. For the name Joachim being interpreted, signifieth "the preparation of the Lord", and out of him was prepared the Temple of the Lord, namely, the Virgin. The name Anne signifieth grace, and she and Joachim did indeed receive a grace when, in answer to their prayers, they generated such an offspring, compassing the Holy Virgin. Joachim prayed upon the mountain and Anne in her garden. (From a Sermon by Saint Epiphanius, Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint Joachim.)
Since it was to be that the Virgin Mother of God should be born of Anne, nature dared not to produce any other child before this child of grace, but humbly waited until grace should have produced her's. It behoved that she should come into the world as a first-born, who was to bear the First-born of every creature, even Him by Whom all things were made. O blessed couple, Joachim and Anne unto you is all creation laid under debt, since through you creation hath offered to the Creator this noblest of gifts, namely, that chaste mother, who alone was worthy of the Creator.
Rejoice, O Joachim, from whose daughter a Child hath unto us been born, and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel, that is, of the salvation of the whole world. Let Nestorius be ashamed, and put his hand upon his mouth. Her Child is God. How then can His Mother be other than Mother of God? Whosoever acknowledgeth not the Holy Mother of God is far from God. This saying is not mine, although it is mine in all other senses than that of authority. I have received it as a most godly legacy from Father Gregory the Divine. O blessed couple, Joachim and Anne. Christ saith in a certain place By their fruits ye shall know them Matth. iii. 20 and ye are known by the fruit of your chaste loins. That that which should be born of you might be worthy and wellpleasing in the sight of God, ye ordered your own lives by rule. In the chaste and holy exercise of your natural gift, ye produced the treasure of virginity. (From a Sermon by Saint John of Damascus on the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
That Joseph sprang from the lineage of David, the most holy Evangelists Matthew and Luke have clearly shown. There is this difference between them, that Matthew traceth the pedigree from David through Solomon, and Luke through Nathan. But both of them pass in silence over the descent of the Holy Virgin. In explanation of this we shall find on investigation that among the Jews, and in the Holy Scriptures, it hath never been in use to chronicle the pedigrees of women. But the Law containeth a warning against the tribes intermarrying one with another. Joseph was of the same tribe as David, namely, Judah, and since he was a just man (this is the praise which the Gospel of God giveth him,) he would not have espoused the Holy Virgin, unless she had been of the same race, as such an union would not have been in accordance with the commandment of the law. For this reason the Evangelist held it enough to have shown the descent of Joseph.
Therefore, from the stock of Nathan the son of David, Levi begat Melchi and Panther and Panther begat Bar-Panther (for so was he called) and Bar-Panther begat Joachim and Joachim begat the Holy Mother of God. Again, from the stock of Solomon the son of David, Mathan of his wife begat Jacob. And after Mathan was dead, Melchi, of the family of Nathan, son to Levi and brother to Panther, took to him in marriage her that had been the wife of Mathan, and was mother of Jacob, and begat of her Heli. So that Jacob and Heli were half-brothers, sons of the same mother, but one of the stock of Solomon and the other of the stock of Nathan. (From Book IV on the Orthodox Faith, Saint John of Damascaus, Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint Joachim.)
A reflection on the history of today’s feast is found in The Liturgical Year, although at least the concluding two paragraphs of this particular selection were not authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., as he had died four years before Pope Leo XIII had elevated the feasts of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim to the rank of doubles of the second class:
From time immemorial the Greeks have celebrated the feast of St. Joachim on the day following our Lady’s birthday. The Maronites kept it on the day after the Presentation in November, and the Armenians on the Tuesday after the Octave of the Assumption of the Mother of God. The Latins at first did not keep his feast. Later on it was admitted and celebrated sometimes on the day after the Octave of the Nativity, September 16, sometimes on the day following the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, December 9. Thus both East and West agreed in associating St. Joachim with his illustrious daughter when they wished to do him honour.
About the year 1510, Julius II placed the feast of the grandfather of the Messias upon the Roman Calendar with the rank of double major; and remember that family, in which the ties of nature and grace were in such perfect harmony, he fixed the solemnity on March 20, the day after that of his son-in-law, St. Joseph. The life of the glorious patriarch resemble those of the first fathers of the Hebrew people; and it seemed as though he was destined to imitate their wanderings also, by continually changing his place upon the sacred cycle.
Hardly fifty years after the pontificate of Julius II the critical spirit of the day cast doubts upon the history of St. Joachim, and his name was erased from the Roman breviary. Gregory XV, however, re-established his feast in 1622 as a double, and the Church has continued to celebrate it. Devotion to our Lady’s father continuing to increase much, the Holy See was petitioned to make his feast a holiday of obligation, as it had already made that of his spouse, St. Anne. In order to satisfy the devotion of the people without increasing the number of days of obligation, Clement XII in 1738 transferred the feast of St. Joachim to the Sunday after the Assumption of his daughter, the Blessed Virgin, and restored it to the rank of double major.
On August 1, 1879, the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo XIII, who received the name of Joachim in baptism, raised both the feast of his glorious patron and of that St. Anne to the rank of doubles of the second class.
The following is an extract from the decree Urbi et Orbi, announcing the decision with regard to said feasts: ‘Ecclesiasticus teaches us that we ought to praise our fathers in their generation; what great honour and veneration ought we to render to St. Joachim and St. Anne, who begot the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and are on that account more glorious than all others.’
‘By your fruits are you known,’ says St. John Damascene, ‘you have given birth to a daughter who is greater than the angels and has become their Queen.’ Now since, through the divine mercy, in our unhappy times the honor the worship paid to the Blessed Virgin is increasing in proportion to the increasing needs of the Christian people, it is only right that the new glory which surrounds their daughter should redound upon her happy parents. May this increase of devotion towards them cause the Church to experience still more powerful protection. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume 13, Time after Penteocost, Book IV, pp. 393-394.)
After providing the text of the Epistle read at Holy Mass today, Dom Prosper Gueranger then offered a reflection on how it applies to the life of Saint Joachim:
Joachim’s wealth, like that of the first patriarchs, consisted chiefly in flocks and herds. The holy use he made of it drew down God’s blessing upon it. But the greatest of all his desires heaven seemed to refuge him, His holy spouse Anne was barren. Amongst all the daughters of Israel expecting the Messias, there was no hope for her. One day the victims Joachim presented in the Temple were contemptuously rejected. Those were not the gifts of the Lord of the Temple desired of him; later on, instead of lambs from his pastures, he was to present the mother of the Lamb of God, and His offering would not be rejected.
This day, however, he was filled with sorrow and fled away without returning to his wife. He hastened to the mountains where his flock were at pasture; and living in a tent, he fasted continually, for he said, ‘I will take no food till the Lord my God look mercifully upon me; prayer shall be my nourishment.’
Meanwhile Anne was mourning her widowhood and her barrenness. She prayer in her garden as Joachim was praying on the mountain. Their prayers ascended at the same time to the Most High, and He granted them their request. An angel of the Lord appeared to each of them and bade them meet at the Golden Gate; and soon Anne could say: “Now I know that the Lord hat greatly blessed me. For I was a widow and I am one no longer, and I was barren, and lo! I have conceived!” (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume 13, Time after Penteocost, Book IV, pp. 396-397.)
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., concluded his own reflection on Saint Joachim in The Liturgical Year with the following prayer:
Father of Mary, we thank thee All creation owes thee a debt of gratitude, since the Creator was pleased that thou shouldst give Him the Mother He had chosen for Himself.
Husband of holy Anne, thou showest us what would have been in paradise; thou seemest to have been reinstated in primeval innocence, in order to give birth to the Immaculate Virgin; sanctify Christian life, and elevate the standard of morals. Thou art the Grandfather of Jesus: let thy paternal love embrace all Christians who are His brethren. Holy Church honours thee more than ever in these days of trial; she knows how powerful thou art with the Eternal and Almighty Father, who made thee instrumental, through thy blessed daughter, in the temporal generation of his Eternal Son. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume 13, Time after Penteocost, Book IV, p. 404.)
As noted at the beginning of this reflection, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne brought their daughter to the Temple when she was three years ago, giving their long-awaited child back to the good God Who had given them to her so that she could be the Mother of their own Saviour, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This should teach us to do everything possible to foster vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated religious life among our children, so that we can give them back to God so as to yield a spiritual bounty of souls in His service, especially in this time of apostasy and betrayal.
May Saint Joachim pray for all fathers, that their children may give thanks to God for having given them fathers and mothers who cared about orienting them while they were yet in their mothers' wombs to the things of Heaven so that the new life they received in the Baptismal font always quickens their desires to return from whence they came, to the bosom of the Mother of God herself.
Also observed in some places is the Feast of Saint Roch, perhaps better known to Americans as Saint Rocco because of the love that many Italian-Americans have for him. To wit, there are two parishes on Long Island, Saint Rocco’s in Glen Cove, New York, and Saint Dominic’s in my beloved Oyster Bay, New York, that hold annual processions and feasts in honor of Saint Rocco to whom I pray the two prayers found in the appendix every night without fail.
Dom Prosper Gueranger offered a brief reflection about the life of Saint Roch:
Three years of famine, three months of defeats, three days of pestilence: the choice given to the guilty David between these three measures of expiation shows them to be equivalent before the justice of God. The terrible scourge, which makes more havoc in three days than would famine or a disastrous war in months and years, showed in the fourteenth century that it kept its sad pre-eminence; the Black Death covered the world with a mantle of mourning, and robbed it of a third of its inhabitants. Doubtless the world had never so well merited the terrible warning: the graces of sanctity poured in profusion on the preceding century had but checked for a while the defection of the nations; every embankment being now broken down, entrance was given to the irresistible tide of schism, reform, and revolution by which the world must die. Nevertheless God has mercy so long as life lasts; and while striking sinful mankind, He gave them at the same time the saint predestined to appease His vengeance.
At his birth he appeared marked with the cross. When a young man he distributed his goods to the poor and, leaving his family and country, became a pilgrim for Christ’s sake. Going to Italy to visit the sanctuaries, he there found the cities devastated by a terrible plague. Roch took up his abode among the dead and dying, burying the former, and healing the latter with the sign of the cross. Himself stricken with the evil, he hid himself so as to suffer alone; and a dog brought him food. When cured by God, he returned to Montpelier, his native town, it was only to be there seized as a spy and thrown into prison, where he died after five years. Such are Thy dealings with Thy elect, O Wisdom of God! But no sooner was dead than prodigies burst forth, making known his origin and history, revealing the power he still enjoyed of delivering from pestilence those who had recourse to him.
The reputation of his influence, increased by fresh benefits at each visitation of the plague, caused his cultus to become popular; hence, although the feast of St. Roch is not universal, this short notice was due to him. I will be completed by the following legend and prayer borrowed from the proper office for certain places in the supplement of the Roman Breviary:
Roch was born at Montpelier. He showed his great love for his neighbour when a cruel pestilence ravaged the length and the breadth of Italy; leaving his native country he undertook a journey through Italy, and passing through the towns and villages, devoted himself to the service of the sick, not hesitating to lay down his life for his brethren. Miraculous cures bore witness how pleasing to God was the zeal of the holy man. For by the sign of the Cross he saved many who were in danger of death through the plague, and restored them to perfect health. He returned to his own native country, and, rich in virtues and merits, died a most holy death. He was honoured by the veneration of the faithful immediately after his death. It is said their devotion was greatly increased at the Council of Constance, when n order to avert the pestilence that threatened them, the image of St. Roch was, with the approbation of the bishops, carried solemnly through that town followed by the whole people. Thus devotion to him has spread in a wonderful way through the whole world, and he has been piously declared the universal protector against contagious diseases. Having carefully considered all this, Pope Urban VIII allowed his feast to be celebrated as an ecclesiastical office in those places where there are churches dedicated to God under the invocation of St. Roch.
We beseech thee, O lord, protect Thy people in Thy unceasing goodness; and through the merits of blessed Roch, preserve them from every contagion of soul and body. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume 13, Time after Penteocost, Book IV, pp. 405-407.)
It is interesting to note that Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., explained that the Black Death had been sent as a punishment for the tide of schism, reform, and revolution that had enveloped Catholic Europe in the Fourteenth Century after the glories of the Thirteenth Century. Only the willfully blind or those who are intellectually dishonest can refuse to see we are living in the midst of the same three-fold pestilences that afflict the world and describe the very agenda of the false conciliar sect, that is, the counterfeit church of conciliarism. All the more reason to be personally devoted to Saint Roch as the punishments coming our way must be terrible indeed.
May our prayerful recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary during this Octave of her Assumption into Heaven help us to realize the powerful protection God has afforded us in the person of her own father, Saint Joachim, and of the saint who shares her father's feast day with him in those places that are devoted to his patronage, Saint Roch.
A blessed feast of Saint Joachim--and of Saint Roch--to you all.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady, Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior, pray for us.
Saint Roch, pray for us.