St. Joseph, with a Father's Heart
Reflections on the Retreat
By: Louela Manankil-Rankin
The retreat was another day of deep spiritual awakening. The words of our spirited priests make the inner core of our souls’ tremble with joy as they glorify our Lord, Jesus Christ through the life of St. Joseph. It is such a blessing to have dedicated and loving priests within our midst. They keep us focused on what matters in life. They keep our hearts alive with enthusiasm and gratitude to our Lord. They help us to hear the words spoken on that Mountain of Beatitudes as if we are there with Jesus on that day. Praise God for loving us so much to give us such caring, thoughtful and spirit provoking priests.
There were many moments in the retreat worth unpacking but one stood out to me with vigorous shaking that it moved me to continue reflecting on the message. While many took notes on that day, I listened instead. The spirit stirred my heart as Father Pierre spoke about the mustard seed and St. Joseph. In his talk, he spoke of two major points, referring to a comment by Cardinal Ratzinger in the interview “Salt of the Earth”.
First, he shared that we are on the precipice of something new as he called us to be aware of our fight against evil. Second, he mentioned that we are living in a different era; a time when the work of Christianizing has been done. We are in a time where the call to live as Christians and witnesses of Jesus Christ ought to be prominent. These two points kept taking space in my mind throughout the whole retreat.
How Do I Live the Good Fight?
The themes of living as witnesses to Jesus Christ and fighting evil kept reverberating into questions for pondering. How do I live the good fight? How do I as a Regnum Christi family member do this? How do I enact this based on my state of life? What is the critical conversation to have?
Not long after the retreat, I realized that the message also stirred the hearts of others. Shortly after the retreat ended, I received a text from one of my Sisters-in-Christ about the question I asked regarding Father Pierre’s point during the “question and answer” period of the retreat. She wanted to move the conversation forward. Another sign came shortly that day, as another Sister in Christ arrived at my door for a surprise visit. She raised the same points as we chatted outside.
At our Encounter with Christ team discussion on Tuesday night, everyone dug deeper into the theme of being witnesses and fighting evil. We pondered deeply about our awareness of what mattered in life. Clearly, it became evident that the call was not just for me, but also for our whole Regnum Christi family.
I wonder if we are profoundly conscious of what matters in life and ready to enact change in the world because of what we believe. Are we precisely using our energy to create a spirit-filled experience with all those we meet? As one of my Sisters-in-Christ reflected at our Encounter meeting, are we living like the early Christians full of excitement, vigour, passion, and joy in the Truth of Jesus Christ?
Bishop Barron’s discussion on Real and Notional Assents
My ruminations take me to Bishop Barron’s (2020) discussion of Cardinal Newman’s masterpiece of Grammar of Assent where he discussed two concepts: real and notional assents. Bishop Barron makes the distinction between these two assents. Notional assent refers to the activities of analysis and refers to this assent to religious propositions by means of theological deductions; while the real assent refers to contemplation and analysis on things in life, on concrete matters that leave impressions in one’s imaginations (Barron, 2020). According to Cardinal Newman, “real assent has the power than notional assent to move persons and actions to engagement…and that there is a ‘real’ path to God and that comes through the deep sense of moral obligation grounded in the conscience” (Barron, 2020, p. 117).
In other words, the new evangelization is pointing Christians towards a deep reflection of our lives that reveal our moral obligation, illuminate conscience, and highlight the responsibility to live according to what we believe. I wonder whether the early Christians fueled by the Truth, lived within this reality.
I suppose Father Pierre left me with more questions than answers. As a pilgrim on a journey, I see myself sojourning with my family-in-Christ, who help me see my path. Together with my family and the love and support that I experience, I know that I will get to the promised land. I see myself moving to the pulse of what we create. The reverberating question in my heart remains: What was the mustard seed that was planted at the retreat? What I know is that I am awakened.
I pray only of good things for our family-in-Christ. We are definitely blessed. As we experience the gifts of each other within our midst, I can see how we are building a New Jerusalem in Oakville, with God at the Centre. The retreat was full of blessings and grace received. As I close this reflection, my heart quivers with excitement as I listen to the Regnum Christi Music Collective’s (2021) new song “Movement Rising”. Are we entering the next phase of our movement?
Shout from the rooftops let it out
He’s the one our life’s about
From the prison walls of fear and death
He’s come to break us out!!!
Learning from St. Joseph’s Silence
“Several years ago, I memorized a prayer to St. Joseph, which I still say most days. Yet this retreat refreshed my memory on how important St. Joseph was as a father and how essential he is as a role model today as this is lacking in so many homes.
Someone brought up the fact that St. Joseph never uttered one word in the Bible, yet his actions spoke louder than words. He obediently responded to every request that he heard in a dream. One of the questions at the end of the retreat was, which mystery in the life of Jesus does this experience of fatherhood suggest? In St. John’s gospel, I read, “my food is to do the will of the one who sent me” (John 4:34) and “a son cannot do anything on his own, only what he sees the father doing” (John 5:19)
I recently heard a priest say, “your children will not do as you say, but they will do as you do”. It gave me something to think about. We have much to learn as parents, especially in St. Joseph’s silence, perhaps in saying less and being more aware of the example we are setting for our children.” - Helen Powers
The Virtues of St. Joseph
“I recently completed the “Consecration to St. Joseph” together with the men’s team in Milton. It enriched my appreciation of the importance of the “spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph” especially within the culture today.
I also learned and was fascinated by the many Saints and Popes who were devoted to St. Joseph including the Canadian St. Andre Bessette and Pope John the 23rd. In addition to the many fascinating stories such as the Holy House of Loreto, the Holy wedding ring called Santo Anello and the Miraculous Staircase built in a church in New Mexico.
I found many inspirations that helped me to see in a new positive light. We can overcome the attacks on marriage and family we face in the media today, by focusing on the many virtues of St. Joseph.” - Jim Powers