Friday, October 2, 2015

Mary and Joseph, Vatican I and II, and the Family

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican II. The council began October 11, 1962, at that time the Motherhood of Mary, and ended December 8, 1965, the Immaculate Conception of Mary. At the end of the council's third period, November 21, 1964, the Presentation of Mary, Paul VI proclaimed Mary Mother of the Church, in conjunction with Lumen gentium, the main teaching of the council on the church. Indeed, Mary's title Mother of the Church can be grasped as an insight into the entire teaching of the Council. She, together with her husband and friend Joseph, is the best of us in the church of Jesus; more than anyone else, they personify, embody, proclaim, and celebrate the Church (Lumen gentium, Chapter VIII).

Pope John XXIII
Joseph is the patron of Vatican II, so named by John XXIII, who entrusted the council to his care and prayer. At the insistence of this pope, the name of Joseph was entered into the Roman Eucharistic Prayer during the council's first period.

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican I. Pius IX taught solemnly the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 1854, on the day of this celebration. Mary is redeemed by Jesus, Child of her and of our merciful Father, and sanctified by his Holy Breath more radically and fully than any other person in our created family. Before this solemn teaching, in 1830, Catherine Labouré was missioned by Mary to spread the medal, now called miraculous, with the inscription, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." After this solemn teaching, in 1858 Bernadette experienced Mary identifying herself, "I am the Immaculate Conception," and was missioned to make the Lourdes cave a special prayer place. Nearer to our time, in 1917, the three children of Fatima, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, experienced the Immaculate Heart of Mary and were missioned to make Fatima likewise a special prayer place. Holy Mary attracts us her sinful children to pray with her to her and our Jesus for our needs and concerns. Pius IX on December 8, 1870, at the end of Vatican I, named Joseph patron of the universal Church. So Mary and Joseph were prominent at the time of this conciliar teaching.

Pope Pius IX
Our Catholic Church of Jesus for his world develops like this acorn into this oak tree, like this boy into this man, like this girl into this woman. She does not atrophy nor fluctuate, but develops always the same, yet differently, for people of each time and place and enslavement and culture and originality. Vatican I (1869-1870) develops into Vatican II (1962-1965). The solemn teaching of Pius IX about the immaculate graced conception of Mary in 1854 develops into the solemn teaching of Pius XII about the bodily glorious assumption of Mary in 1950. Teaching about and devotion to Mary and Joseph develops into that of  today during that same time stretch. The family of Joseph and Mary and Jesus is light and fire for our family of creatures, our human and angelic family of persons, our human family, our Catholic Church family, our immediate family of husband and wife and their children brothers and sisters, ultimately the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and his Child, our Jesus, and His Holy Breath, that we are to image and be like, we people and angels with our earth and universe during our time and eternity.

Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz at Holy Family Church, Whitefish Bay, WI. 
As a created family of friends, we are to offer self for the others playfully, passionately, happily, to the image and likeness of the Trinity.

These reflections were inspired by the Gospel of John and St. Thomas Aquinas on grace and love. We are not to use the others for self as the isolation of enemies. For this, we need to be graced now and then glorified forever. We need to be mercied and familied and friended and fathered and mothered and brothered and sistered. We are to mercy and family and friend and father and mother and brother and sister. We need to be the family of friends of Mary and Joseph and Jesus to the image and likeness of the Family of Friends of our merciful Father and his Child our Jesus and his Breath, of our merciful Lover and his Beloved, our Jesus, and his Love.

Father Don


  1. Thank you Fr. Don.
    A beautiful reflection on the family.

  2. God bless you Father Don! I am blessed to have had you as my professor and friend.
    Rev. Dr. John Arthur Orr (Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Knoxville, TN)

  3. Father Don: Thank you for bringing Joseph and Mary to people's minds. I have a question: Focusing on the Truth that everything Jesus did while on earth with His human will combined with His truly infinite graces he had by His nature as God was perfectly conformed to the eternal, changeless, always in the present tense Divine Will of each Person of the Blessed Trinity; Can we not conclude with a certitude of Faith that Jesus eternally Wills to love, honor and be subject to Joseph and Mary exactly as He did 2000 years ago (for close to thirty years), as the only other conclusion would be that the Will of God is different "now" than it was "then" and this transient will cannot be the will of God who creates all space and time from nothing? Thank you
    The reason I believe this is important is because if God eternally sees Joseph as the head of the family, with all the rights and obligations of the Jewish old-testament fathers, then that is how Mary in heaven, all the saints and angels in heaven see and honor Joseph and we should also do the same (the devils say "we will not serve). Thank you again