Saint John Joseph of the Cross (San Giovan Giuseppe della Croce, 1654-1739) is celebrated today, March 5. Saint John Joseph was a man of quiet contemplation and penance, known for obedience above all else, and so it is especially fitting that we reflect on his life during Lent.
Born on the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother, on the beautiful Italian island of Ischia, near Naples in 1654, John Joseph demonstrated a love of the Lord and piety beyond his years from an early age. As a young adolescent, John Joseph was drawn to the ascetic life, embraced poverty, and began his lifelong pattern of fasting and penance. So drawn to the plight of the poor was he, that despite his noble upbringing, he chose to dress in rags. At age 16 entered the Franciscan Order in Naples. While not his intention, John Joseph made an immediate impression, recognized for his holiness and commitment to the rules of the order. He was the first Italian to follow the reform movement of Spanish Saint Peter Alcantara, a movement which re-dedicated the Franciscans to an increasingly austere way of life. He, himself, fasted constantly, abstained from meat and wine, and slept only three hours each night, the remainder of his time spent in prayer.
Saint John Joseph is regarded as a moral theologian, himself having been graced with inspired knowledge of moral teachings, from years of prayer and contemplation. He was called upon to heal rifts in the Church, factions in the order, and the wanderings of the hearts of those he served, all of which he did without complaint. Those who came to him for confession reported that he could “read their hearts,” was a miracle-worker, and often tried to tear off bits of his garments as holy relics.
"Were there neither heaven nor hell, still would I ever wish to love God, who is a father so deserving of our love." How best can we show our love of God to Him, who is all deserving, and to each other?
Father, You raised Your servant Saint John Joseph of the Cross through the rugged way of poverty, humility and patience to heavenly glory. Grant us the grace to follow his example so as to share in eternal joy. Amen.
Year 2: Day 64 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Love for the Lord
Requested Intentions: Freedom from medical difficulties, employment, successful relationship (D); End to suffering for sick brother; reconciliation of estranged family (E); End to husband’s addiction; Improved relationship; strength (M); Successful God-centered marriage; Sacramental life (M); Healing, successful relationship (S); For successful marriage (A); For a husband’s freedom from addiction (C); Freedom from pain and illness for a friend (M); Financial freedom (J); Successful passing of occupational examination (S); Healing and conversion, sale of house (L); Occupational success for employee and colleagues (J); Employment for a son (C); Successful attainment of an important appointed position (J); Recovery from cancer for a friend (Z); For a family’s freedom from sin (M); For a daughter with Diabetes (A); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."