Thursday, March 19th, 2009
At last evening’s celebration of First Vespers for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Pope Benedict exhorted the faithful gathered at Yaoundé’s Basilica of Mary, Queen of Apostles, to seek refuge in the paternity of Christ’s holy protector.
HOMILY AT FIRST VESPERS FOR SAINT JOSEPH
March 18, 2009
Dear Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Priests and Deacons,
Consecrated Brothers and Sisters,
Friends from other Christian Confessions,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
It is a great joy to meet here to give thanks to God in this Basilica of Marie Reine des Apôtres in Mvolyé, raised on the site of the first church built by the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit who came to bring the Good News to Cameroon. Reflecting the apostolic fervour of those men whose hearts embraced the whole of your country, this place symbolically contains every portion of your land. And so, dear brothers and sisters, in deep spiritual closeness to all the Christian communities where you render service, we raise our prayer of praise this evening to the Father of lights.
In the presence of the representatives of other Christian confessions, to whom I extend my respectful and fraternal greetings, I wish to reflect on the figure of Saint Joseph, setting out from the words of Scripture offered to us in this evening’s liturgy.
Speaking to the crowd and to his disciples, Jesus declared: “You have only one Father” (Mt 23:9). There is but one fatherhood, that of God the Father, the one Creator of the world, “of all that is seen and unseen”. Yet man, created in the image of God, has been granted a share in this one paternity of God (cf. Eph 3:15). Saint Joseph is a striking case of this, since he is a father, without fatherhood according to the flesh. He is not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely. To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth. Saint Joseph, in this sense, gave proof of great devotion. For the sake of Christ he experienced persecution, exile and the poverty which this entails. He had to settle far from his native town. His only reward was to be with Christ. His readiness to do all these things illustrates the words of Saint Paul: “It is Christ the Lord whom you serve” (Col 3:24).
On Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI departed Rome for a seven-day apostolic journey to Cameroon and Angola. As is now well known, controversy attached itself to the trip even before the Holy Father touched down in Yaoundé, his first stop. More on that below.
To keep up with the Pope’s speeches and homilies, bookmark the trip’s homepage on the Vatican website. For quick reference, I’ll post the links to Benedict’s texts as they become available in English.
Welcome Ceremony at Yaoundé Airport (March 17)
Meeting with Bishops of Cameroon (March 18)
Homily at First Vespers for Saint Joseph (March 18)
Meeting with Members of Muslim Community (March 18)
Homily at Mass in Amadou Ahidjo Stadium (March 19)
Meeting with the Sick (March 19)
Farewell Ceremony at Yaoundé Airport (March 20)
Welcome Ceremony at Luanda Airport (March 20)
Meeting with Bishops of Angola and São Tomé (March 20)
Meeting with Youth (March 21)
Sunday Mass in Cimangola Square (March 22)
Sunday Angelus (March 22)
Farewell Ceremony at Luanda Airport (March 23)
CONTROVERSY: The press has lodged a considerable protest against comments Pope Benedict made while en route to Africa regarding the continent’s HIV/Aids crisis. Opening his remarks, Benedict repeated what many others have been saying, that “safe-sex” education alone, primarily through the widespread distribution of condoms, will not stem the tide of the disease. In fact, the Holy Father added, reliance on condom-use might increase the problem. The secular reaction to this latter comment has been swift and fierce.
Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
to fulfill what the prophets had foretold of Christ:
He will be called a Nazarean.
Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!
As the husband of Mary, St. Joseph holds a special place in God’s providence for the world’s salvation. His guidance and protection of the Holy Family, especially during its sojourn in Egypt, continues even now as St. Joseph exercises his fatherly care over the Church, Christ’s bride, as she sojourns through history toward its final fulfillment. Like Christ and Our Lady, we place ourselves and our families under his gentle protection.
As members of the Province of St. Joseph, we Dominicans here in the Eastern US celebrate today the feast of our great patron. Join us in prayer as we place our priestly and religious lives again into his firm and just hands. May he build up this province dedicated to him into a bulwark of faith, hope, and charity, a strong city of fraternal love and zeal for the Word.
And remember . . . just like Tuesday, when we remembered St. Patrick, today is a day of feasting.
Click here for more on the life of St. Joseph.
you entrusted our Savior to the care of Saint Joseph.
By the help of his prayers
may your Church continue to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.