“My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him . . . kindness to a father will not be forgo Image from Littten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins – a house raised in justice to you.” Sirach
“Give Us This Day” is a booklet that like “The Magnificat” provides an abridged version of daily Morning and Evening Prayers and the Mass readings of the day over the period of a month. Depicted on the December 2023 issue’s cover is a modern form of iconography of the Holy Family. The fact that the child Jesus is peering into the eyes of a distant looking St. Joseph distinguishes this image from the traditional icons that align Mary more closely with her son. The artist Ivanka Demchuk (www.ivankademchuk.com) uses red, gold and off-white colors in depicting the Holy Family; the seemingly misplaced colors of a green and blue halo that encase a lily draw one’s attention to that white flower which both the child and Joseph hold.
The editor of “Give Us This Day”, Benedictine monk Aelred Senna, shares in this same edition the legend of how a lily was associated with St. Joseph. The probable source came from the mid-13th century story that recounts that a high priest of the Temple was given the insight that Mary was to wed a man from the house of David. Brother Senna states: “The high priest then heard the voice of God command that all marriageable men of the house of David should bring a branch or rod and present themselves in the Temple. The one whose branch would blossom, and on whom the Holy Spirit would rest in the form of a dove, would be chosen as Mary’s worthy husband. Even as he was laying his branch on the altar, a blossom appeared on Joseph’s branch and a dove descended to rest upon it.” [December 2023 Issue, page 380]
Of course, this is just a legend, but a lily, symbolizing purity and sanctity, has for centuries been associated with good St. Joseph; may he be a model of purity, humility and resilience for us all. As we reflect upon the role of the Holy Family, may we ask the Lord to bless each of our own families. May children respect and honor their mothers and fathers and parents encourage and guide their children in pathways of faith and love.