ST. JOSEPH: PATRON, PROTECTOR, GUARDIAN OF THE CHURCH 

ST. JOSEPH: PATRON, PROTECTOR, GUARDIAN OF THE CHURCH 

As they entered the Paul VI Hall today for the weekly general audience, pilgrims were given small holy cards depicting four different artistic representations of St. Joseph as found in the chapel of the relics of St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Sagrada Família church of Barcelona, ​​in the Roman church of San Marcello al Corso (that houses the crucifix linked to the prayer of Francis in time of pandemia) and a modern art depiction. Pope Francis today was, in fact, concluding his recent series of catecheses on St. Joseph, focussing on him as Patron of the Universal Church.

He began by saying the catecheses of recent weeks complemented the Apostolic Letter Patris corde that he wrote on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as Patron of the Catholic Church by Blessed Pius IX.

The Holy Father then asked: What does it mean that St. Joseph is “Patron of the Church?

“This title is based on the witness of Scripture. In the Gospels, Joseph is consistently presented as the guardian of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. At the end of every story in which Joseph is the protagonist, the Gospel notes that he takes the Child and his mother with him and does what God has ordered him to do. He always does what he must to protect them both.”

“St. Joseph cannot but be the Custodian of the Church, because the Church is the extension of the Body of Christ in history, and at the same time in the maternity of the Church the maternity of Mary is overshadowed.”

“Just as Joseph protected the Holy Family,” explained the Pope, “so too he continues to love and protect the Body of Christ, which is the Church, as well as the poor, the sick and the dying whom the Lord calls the least of his brothers and sisters. Saint Joseph teaches us that we too must love and protect the Church and Christ’s poor.”

Francis then changed his focus: “Nowadays it is common, it is an everyday occurrence, to criticise the Church, to point out its inconsistencies — there are many — to point out its sins, which in reality are our inconsistencies, our sins, because the Church has always been a people of sinners who encounter God’s mercy. Let us ask ourselves if, in our hearts, we love the Church as she is, the People of God on the journey, with many limitations, but with a great desire to serve and to love God. In fact, only love makes us capable of speaking the truth fully, in a non-partisan way; of saying what is wrong, but also of recognising all the goodness and holiness that are present in the Church, starting precisely with Jesus and Mary.” (Vatican media photo)

Again, off the cuff, he said: “Loving the Church, safeguarding the Church and walking with the Church. But the Church is not that little group that is close to the priest and commands everyone, no. The Church is everyone, everyone. On the journey. Safeguarding one another, looking out for each other. This is a good question: when I have a problem with someone, do I try to look after them, or do I immediately condemn them, speak ill of them, destroy them? We must safeguard, always safeguard!”

Concluding, Pope Francis said, “Together with so many saints throughout history, let us commend ourselves and the needs of the Church to the protection of Saint Joseph, asking him, in the words of today’s prayer, to “guide us in the path of life… and defend us from every evil. Amen”.

ST. JOSEPH, DREAMS AND DISCERNING THE VOICE OF GOD – JANUARY 26: DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE – “NEVER REPEAT THE UNSPEAKABLE CRUELTY OF THE HOLOCAUST”

JOSEPH, DREAMS AND DISCERNING THE VOICE OF GOD

Pope Francis focused the Wednesday general audience catechesis on the dreams of St Joseph, showing how the example of Jesus’ foster father can help us to discern the voice of God.

Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

The Holy Father noted that in the Bible, “dreams were considered a means by which God revealed Himself.”

Dreams, he said, symbolize “the spiritual life of each of us, that inner space that each of us is called to cultivate and guard, where God manifests Himself and often speaks to us.”

The Pope also warned of other voices within us, the voices of our own fears, experiences, hopes, as well as the voice of the Evil one, who wants to deceive and confuse. Therefore, he said, it is necessary to cultivate discernment, which allows us to recognize the voice of God among many others.

God shows us the right thing to do
Pope Francis reflected on each of the four dreams of Joseph recounted in the Gospels, beginning with the appearance of the angel in his sleep who helped Joseph resolve the conflict that arose when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy.

Joseph immediately heeded the angel’s words and took Mary as his wife.

“Life often puts us in situations that we do not understand and that seem to have no solution. Praying in those moments means letting the Lord show us the right thing to do.”

In the second dream, Joseph is warned that the life of the child Jesus is in danger; and once again, Joseph promptly obeys God’s voice, fleeing with Jesus and Mary into Egypt.

Pope Francis said that when we experience dangers that threaten ourselves or our loved ones, “praying means listening to the voice that can give us the same courage as Joseph.”

Prayer brings light to darkness

While in exile, Joseph waited patiently for a sign from God that it was safe to return to his homeland. In the third dream, he learned that those who sought the life of Jesus had died, while the fourth directed him to settle in Nazareth, for fear of Archelaus, the successor of Herod.

The Holy Father then spoke off-the-cuff and prayed for the many people today “who are crushed by the weight of life and can no longer hope or pray,” asking that St Joseph might “help them to open themselves to dialogue with God in order to find light, strength, and help.”

His thoughts also turned to parents whose children are facing difficulties, including children with illnesses, or who “see different sexual orientations in their children”, or who are injured in accidents, or who have difficulties learning. He told parents facing these situations not to be frightened or to condemn, but to think about how Joseph solved the problems he faced, and ask for his help.

Combining prayer with charity

Finally, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that, “prayer is never an abstract or purely internal gesture, but is always inextricably linked to charity.”

JANUARY 26: DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE

At the conclusion of his weekly general audience, Pope Francis asked the faithful “to pray for peace in Ukraine, now and throughout this day.” He had called for an international Day of Prayer for Peace to be held on January 26, as Russia amasses troops on along its border with Ukraine.

The Pope asked the Lord to “grant that the country may grow in the spirit of brotherhood and that all hurts, fears and divisions will be overcome.”

Believers attend a liturgy at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv, Ukraine – Vatican media:

He said he hoped that today’s prayers and supplications rise up to heaven and “touch the minds and hearts of world leaders, so that dialogue may prevail and the common good be placed ahead of partisan interests.”

In conclusion, the Holy Father asked that our prayer for peace be made with the words of the Our Father, explaining that “it is the prayer of sons and daughters to the one Father, the prayer that makes us brothers and sisters, the prayer of children who plead for reconciliation and concord.”

Prayers for Ukraine come as the U.S. and other world leaders continue to accuse Russia of preparing a military invasion in Ukraine, an accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin denies. (vaticannews)

“NEVER REPEAT THE UNSPEAKABLE CRUELTY OF THE HOLOCAUST”

As the world prepares to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, Pope Francis urges families to remind younger generations about the millions of people, especially Jews, killed at the hands of the Nazi regime.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

“This unspeakable cruelty must never be repeated.”

Pope Francis made that appeal at the end of the Wednesday general audience a day before the world dedicates a day to recalling the horrors of the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held on the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on January 27, 1945. (photo Auschwitz-Birkenau camp)

The Pope said the world must remember the “extermination of millions of Jews, people of various nationalities and religious faiths.”

He lamented the genocide of around 6 million of Europe’s Jews, or two-thirds of the continent’s Jewish population, at the hands of the Nazi regime: “This is a suffering people. They have suffered hunger and great cruelty, and they deserve peace.”

 

ST. JOSEPH: A LOVING FATHER, A REFLECTION OF GOD’S TENDERNESS – POPE EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO PEOPLE OF TONGA

JOSEPH: A LOVING FATHER, A REFLECTION OF GOD’S TENDERNESS

Continuing his catechetical series on Saint Joseph, Pope Francis looks at his role as a loving father and a reflection of God’s tenderness, which allows us to feel loved and welcomed in all our weaknesses.

By Vatican News staff writer

Speaking to pilgrims in the Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Francis explored the role of Saint Joseph as a “father in tenderness.”

Recognizing that the Gospels do not offer details on how he exercized his paternity, the Pope said we can be sure that Joseph being a “just” man translated into the education he gave to Jesus, and the loving care he showed Him.

God as Father

The Pope recalled how the Gospels attest that Jesus always used the word “Father” to speak of God and His love.

As an example, he said the parable of the prodigal son not only recounts the experience of sin and forgiveness, but the way the merciful father forgives his son, not through punishment but a loving embrace.

“Tenderness is something greater than the logic of the world. It is an unexpected way of doing justice. That is why we must never forget that God is not frightened by our sins, our mistakes, our falls, but he is frightened by the closure of our hearts, by our lack of faith in his love.”

The tenderness of God’s love

Recalling excerpts from his Apostolic Letter Patris corde, the Pope went on to say that “there is great tenderness in the experience of God’s love,” and it is “beautiful to think that the first person to transmit this reality to Jesus was Joseph himself.”

It would help us to reflect on our own experiences of this tenderness, and to ask ourselves if we have become witnesses to it.

The Pope encouraged us to mirror Joseph’s paternity, and allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s tender love for us.

“For tenderness is not primarily an emotional or sentimental matter: it is the experience of feeling loved and welcomed precisely in our poverty and misery, and thus transformed by God’s love.”

Redeemed weakness

God relies on our talents, but also our own fragilities to experience His grace and grow in love, the Pope said.

He also recalled the experience of Saint Paul when he wrote to the community of Corinth, when the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Pope Francis added that this experience of God’s tenderness through our weaknesses requires that we be “converted from the gaze of the Evil One who ‘makes us see and condemn our frailty,’ while the Holy Spirit ‘brings it to light with tender love.'”

“That is why it is so important to encounter God’s mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we experience his truth and tenderness…We know that God’s truth does not condemn, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us.”

We need a “revolution of tenderness,” the Pope added, calling for a justice system that does not confuse redemption with punishment.

For this reason, he called to mind those in prison, recalling that it is right they should pay for their crimes, “but it is even more right that those who have done wrong should be able to redeem themselves from their mistake.”

In conclusion, the Pope offered this prayer:

St Joseph, father in tenderness,
teach us to accept that we are loved precisely in that which is weakest in us.
Grant that we may place no obstacle
between our poverty and the greatness of God’s love.
Stir in us the desire to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation,
that we may be forgiven and also made capable of loving tenderly
our brothers and sisters in their poverty.
Be close to those who have done wrong and are paying the price for it;
Help them to find not only justice but also tenderness so that they can start again.
And teach them that the first way to begin again
is to sincerely ask for forgiveness.
Amen.

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis met the parents of Lorena and Antonella, their two daughters who died in a terrible accident on a road near Rome on December 20. (photo by EWTN/CNA Daniel Ibanez)

POPE EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO PEOPLE OF TONGA

During the general audience on Wednesday, after his catechesis on St. Joseph, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the inhabitants of the Tonga Islands, who have been hit by a devastating tsunami set off by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

Prayers and closeness

The Holy Father expressed his closeness to the people of the Pacific nation pleading with God to relieve their suffering. He then called on everyone to join in prayer for these brothers and sisters.

“My thoughts go out to the peoples of the Tonga Islands who in recent days were affected by the eruption of an underwater vulcano, which caused considerable material damage. I am spiritually close to all those who are sorely-tried, and I implore from God relief in their suffering. I invite everyone to join me in prayer for these our brothers and sisters.”

 

 

POPE FRANCIS ON ST. JOSEPH, FATHERHOOD AND SPIRITUAL PATERNITY

POPE FRANCIS ON ST. JOSEPH, FATHERHOOD AND SPIRITUAL PATERNITY

The Vatican this afternoon released Pope Francis’ interview with Vatican Media on being parents in the time of Covid and the witness of Saint Joseph, an example of strength and tenderness for today’s fathers. Parents who face challenges for the sake of their children are heroes.

The interview granted by Pope Francis highlights fatherhood in the light of the testimony of Saint Joseph and on the challenges that parents face today to give a future of hope to their children. The interview was conducted by L’Osservatore Romano director, Andrea Monda and by deputy editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, Alessandro Gisotti. The inteview, in Italian, was published on Vatican News in French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Following is the full English-language edition:

The Special Year dedicated to Saint Joseph ended 8 December 2021, but Pope Francis’ attention and love for this Saint have not ended and indeed are further strengthened in the Catecheses which he has been devoting to the figure of the Patron of the universal Church, since 17 November.

On our part, L’Osservatore Romano [in Italian] has published a monthly feature throughout 2021 which was also covered by the Vatican News website, on Patris Corde, focusing on each chapter of the Apostolic Letter on Saint Joseph. This feature that dealt with fathers, but also with children and mothers in an ideal dialogue with the Bridegroom of Mary, prompted in us the desire to discuss with the Pope the theme of paternity and its various aspects, challenges and complexities.

An interview thus resulted in which Francis answers our questions, showing all his love for families, his closeness to those experiencing suffering and the Church’s embrace of the fathers and mothers who today have to face thousands of difficulties in order to give their children a future. (L’Osservatore Romano photo)

Holy Father, you announced a Special Year dedicated to Saint Joseph, you wrote the letter, Patris Corde and you are carrying out a series of Catecheses dedicated to him. What does Saint Joseph mean for you?

 I have never hidden the closeness I feel towards Saint Joseph. I think that it comes from my childhood, from my formation. I have always nurtured a special devotion for Saint Joseph because I believe that his person represents what Christian faith should be for each of us, in a beautiful and simple way. In fact Joseph is a normal man and his holiness consists precisely in making himself a saint through the beautiful and ugly things he had to experience and face. We cannot, however, deny the fact that we find Saint Joseph in the Gospel, especially in the accounts of Matthew and Luke, as an important protagonist of the beginning of the story of salvation. Indeed, the events that saw the birth of Jesus were difficult events, filled with obstacles, with problems, with persecution, with darkness; and that, in order to come towards His Son who was being born into the world, God placed Mary and Joseph at his side.

If Mary is the one who gave birth to the Word- made-flesh, then Joseph is the one who defended him, who protected him, who nourished him, who made him grow. We could say that in him, there is the man of the difficult times, the concrete man, the man who knows how to take on responsibilities. In this sense two characteristics are joined in Saint Joseph. On the one hand, his marked spirituality, is translated in the Gospel through the stories of dreams; these accounts bear witness to Joseph’s ability to know how to listen to God speaking to his heart. Only someone who prays, who has an intense spiritual life, can have the capacity to know how to distinguish God’s voice in the midst of many other voices that dwell in us. Beside this aspect, there is another one: Joseph is a concrete man, that is, a man who faces problems with great practicality, who never assumes the position of being a victim when faced with difficulties and obstacles. Instead, he always places himself in the perspective of reacting, of responding, of trusting God, and finding a solution in a creative way.

Does this renewed attention to Saint Joseph in this time of great trials have a special meaning?

The time in which we are living is a difficult time, marked by the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are suffering, many families are facing difficulties, many people are hounded by the anxiety of death, of an uncertain future. I felt that precisely in this time that is so difficult, we needed someone who could encourage us, help us, inspire us, in order to understand which is the right way to know how to face these dark moments. Joseph is a bright witness in dark times. This is why it was right to make room for him at this time, in order to find our way again.

Your Petrine Ministry began on 19 March, the feast day of Saint Joseph…

I always considered it a kindness from heaven to be able to begin my Petrine Ministry on 19 March. I think that in some way Saint Joseph wanted to tell me that he would continue to help me, to be beside me, and I would be able to continue to think of him as a friend I could turn to, whom I could trust, whom I could ask to intercede and pray for me. But certainly, this relationship which comes from the communion of Saints is not reserved for me alone. I think that it can be of help to many. This is why the Year dedicated to Saint Joseph, I hope, made the heart of many Christians rediscover the profound value of the communion of Saints which is not an abstract communion, but a concrete communion that expresses itself in a concrete relationship and has concrete consequences.

In our newspaper’s feature on Patris Corde, on the Special Year dedicated to Saint Joseph, we intertwined the life of the Saint with that of fathers, but also of today’s children. What can today’s children, the fathers of tomorrow, receive from a dialogue with Saint Joseph?

One is not born a father, but we are certainly all born as children. This is the first thing we have to consider: that is, that each of us, aside from everything that life has reserved for us, is first of all a son or daughter, entrusted to someone who comes from an important relationship that made them grow and that influenced them for better or for worse. To have this relationship and to recognise its importance in one’s life means understanding that one day when we will have the responsibility over someone’s life — that is, when we will have to exercise fatherhood — we will carry with us first of all the experience that we have personally had. And it is important then to be able to reflect on this personal experience in order not to repeat the same mistakes and to treasure the beautiful things we have experienced.

I am convinced that the relationship of paternity that Joseph had with Jesus influenced his life so much, to the point that Jesus’ future preaching is filled with images and references taken precisely from paternal imagery. For example, Jesus says that God is Father and this statement cannot leave us indifferent, especially when we think about his personal human experience of paternity. This means that Joseph was such a good father that Jesus found in this man’s love and paternity the most beautiful reference he could give to God. We could say that today’s children, who will become tomorrow’s fathers, should ask themselves what fathers they had and what fathers they want to be. They should not let the role of fatherhood be a fruit of chance or simply of the consequences of a past experience, but rather they should decide with awareness how to love someone, how to take on the responsibility of someone.

The last chapter of Patris Corde speaks of Joseph as the father in the shadows. A father who knows how to be present but lets the child grow freely. Is this possible in a society that seems to reward only those who take up space and visibility?

One of the most beautiful aspects of love, and not only of fatherhood, is indeed freedom. Love always creates freedom. Love should never become a prison, a possession. Joseph shows us his ability to take care of Jesus without ever possessing him, without ever wanting to manipulate him, without ever wanting to distract him from his mission. I think that this is very important as a test of our capacity to love and also our capacity to know how to take a step backwards. A father is good when he knows how to remove himself at the right time so that his child can emerge with his beauty, with his uniqueness, with his choices, with his vocation. In this sense, in every good relationship, we have to give up wishing to impose from on high, an image, an expectation, indeed a visibility, completely filling the scene with excessive protagonism.

The wholly “Joseph-like” characteristic of knowing how to step aside, the humility that is the capacity also to slip into second place, is perhaps the most decisive aspect of the love that Joseph has for Jesus. In this sense Joseph is a very important character, I dare say an essential one, in Jesus’ biography precisely because at a certain point he knows how to step away from the scene so that Jesus can shine in all his vocation, in all his mission. Faced with the image of Joseph, we have to ask ourselves if we are capable of knowing how to take a step back, to allow the other, and especially those entrusted to us, to find in us a reference point, but never an obstacle.

Several times you said that fatherhood is facing a crisis today. What can be done, what can the Church do to strengthen again the father-son relationship that is fundamental for society?

When we think of the Church, we think of her as a Mother and this is certainly not wrong. In these years, I too have very much tried to highlight this perspective because it is a way to exercise the motherhood of the Church which is mercy, that is, that love that generates and regenerates life. Are forgiveness and reconciliation not a way by which we are put back on our feet again? Is it not a way by which we newly receive life because we receive another chance? There can be no Church of Jesus Christ if not through mercy! However, I think that we should have the courage to say that the Church should not only be maternal but also paternal. She is called to exercise a paternal, not a paternalistic ministry. And when I say that the Church has to rediscover this paternal aspect, I am referring precisely to the capacity that is wholly paternal of placing children in the condition to take on their responsibilities, to exercise their freedom, to make choices. If, on the one hand, mercy heals us, cures us, comforts us, encourages us; on the other, God’s love is not limited simply to forgiving and healing, but rather, God’s love spurs us to make decisions, to go out to sea.

Sometimes fear, even more during this time of pandemic, seems to paralyse this leap…

Yes, this time in history is a period marked by the inability to make big decisions in one’s life. Our young people are often afraid to decide, to choose, to take a risk. A Church is such not only when she says yes or no, but above all when she encourages and makes big choices possible. And every choice always has some consequences and some risks, but sometimes due to fear of consequences and risks, we are paralysed and we cannot do anything or make any choices. A true father does not tell you that everything will always go well, but rather that even if you may find yourself in a situation in which things are not going well, you will be able to face and live with dignity even those moments, those failures. A mature person can be recognized not by their victories but by the way they know how to experience a failure. It is precisely in the experience of falling and weakness that a person’s character can be recognized.

Spiritual paternity is very important for you. How can priests be fathers?

We were saying earlier that fatherhood is not to be taken for granted: we are not born fathers. At best one becomes one. Equally, a priest is not born already as father, but rather has to learn it a little at a time beginning first of all, by recognizing himself as a son of God, but then also as a son of the Church. And the Church is not an abstract concept. She is always someone’s face, a concrete situation, something to which we can give a precise name. We received our faith always through a relationship with someone. Christian faith is not something that can be learned from books or by simple reasoning. Instead, it is an existential passage that passes through our relationships. Our experience of faith thus always arises from somebody’s witness. We must therefore ask ourselves in what way do we experience gratitude towards these people; and above all, whether we keep this critical capacity to know how to distinguish what was able to pass through them that was not so good. Spiritual life is not that different from human life. If a good father, humanly speaking, is such because he helps his child to become himself, making his freedom possible, and spurring him towards the big decisions, then a spiritual father is equally such not when he substitutes himself for the conscience of people entrusted to him, not when he answers questions that these people carry in their hearts, not when he dominates over the life of those entrusted to him, but rather when in a discreet and at the same time firm way, he is able to show the way, provide different interpretations, help in discernment.

What is needed most urgently today to strengthen this spiritual dimension of paternity?

Spiritual paternity is very often a gift that arises especially from experience. A spiritual father can share not so much his theoretical skills, but above all his personal experience. Only in this way can he be useful to a child. There is a great urgency in this moment in history, of meaningful relationships that we could define as spiritual paternity, but, allow me to say, also of spiritual maternity because this role of accompanying is not a male prerogative or only that of priests. There are many good religious women, consecrated women but also many lay men and women that have a baggage of experiences that they can share with other people. In this sense, a spiritual relationship is one of those relationships that we have to rediscover with renewed effort in this historical moment without ever confusing it with other paths of a psychological or therapeutic nature.

Among the tragic consequences of Covid, there is also the loss of work of many fathers. What would you like to say to these fathers experiencing difficulty?

I feel very close to the suffering of those families, of those fathers and mothers who are experiencing particular difficulty, worsened above all due to the pandemic. I think that not being able to feed one’s children, feeling the responsibility for the life of others, is suffering that is not easy to face. In this regard, my prayers, my closeness but also all the support of the Church is for these people, for these least ones. But I also think of many fathers, many mothers and many families that flee war, who are rejected at the borders of Europe and elsewhere, who experience situations of suffering and injustice and who no one takes seriously or willingly ignores. I would like to say to these fathers, to these mothers, that for me they are heroes because I see in them the courage of those who risk their lives for love of their children, for love of their family. Mary and Joseph too experienced this exile, this trial, having to flee to a foreign land due to Herod’s violence and power. Their suffering makes them close precisely to these brothers who are suffering the same trials today.

May these fathers turn with trust to Saint Joseph, knowing that as a father, he too had the same experience, the same injustice. And I would like to say to all of them and to their families, do not feel alone! The Pope remembers them always and as far as it is possible, will continue to give them a voice and will not forget them.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: JOSEPH SHOWS FULLNESS OF ADOPTIVE FATHERHOOD

Click on the link below to see the video of the entire general audience and you will see a moment of history when two Vatican employees participate in roles usually taken by monsignors from the Secretariat of State. In fact, in a first for the Vatican, as I posted earlier this morning, Christopher Wells of Vatican radio and news services, today read the English introductory remarks, summary of the papal catechesis and papal greetings to English speakers, and Sr. Andrea Lorena Chacon, M.E.N., from the Spanish section of the Secretariat of State, read the introductory remarks in Spanish. However, Pope Francis read the catechesis summary and language greetings in his native Spanish.

You will also be able to see members of the Ron Roller circus perform for Pope Francis (starts at minute 53). There were acrobats, musicians and jugglers and some flame throwers! I am sure that Vatican firemen with extinguishers were somewhere close by, though unseen!

Pope at Audience: Joseph shows fullness of adoptive fatherhood – Vatican News

POPE AT AUDIENCE: JOSEPH SHOWS FULLNESS OF ADOPTIVE FATHERHOOD

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the fatherhood of St. Joseph, and prays that all children might enjoy the bond of paternal love, even if through the praiseworthy practice of adoption.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis continued his catechesis series on St. Joseph at the Wednesday General Audience, focusing his remarks on his role as the father of Jesus.

The Pope noted that the Gospels of Luke and Matthew present Joseph as the “foster-father of Jesus” and not as his biological one.

The evangelist Matthew avoids the term “father of” in his genealogy, while Luke said he was the father of Jesus, “as was supposed””

Venerable practice of adoption

Pope Francis recalled that the practice of adoption was much more common in ancient times in the East than it is in our own societies.

He gave the example of the requirement in ancient Israel for a man to marry the widowed wife of his deceased brother, if he died without a male heir. In this case, the legal father of the firstborn son from such a union would be the deceased man, ensuring both an heir for the deceased and the preservation of his estate.

Instilling an identity

The institution of fatherhood also included the right to name a son, as Joseph named Jesus, thereby legally recognizing Him.

“In ancient times, the name was the compendium of a persons identity. Changing ones name meant changing oneself.”

The Pope offered the examples of God changing Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob’s to Israel, both of which involved a change to the patriarchs’ identity.

In choosing Jesus’ name, he added, Joseph already knew God had prepared a name for His Son, one meaning “the Lord saves.”

Becoming parents

Pope Francis went on to reflect on fatherhood and motherhood, saying people become parents by taking up their responsibility for their children.

“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person. (Apostolic Letter Patris Corde)”

Adoption a ‘risk’ worth taking

The Pope then turned his thoughts to the institution of adoption. He said Joseph shows that adoption is not based on a secondary type of bond with a child, but rather exemplifies a high form of love.

“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them!” said the Pope. “And how many spouses wish to be fathers and mothers but are unable to do so for biological reasons; or, although they already have children, they want to share their family’s affection with those who have been left without.”

Pope Francis encouraged willing families to choose the path of adoption, and to “take the risk of welcoming children.”

Speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope lamented the “demographic winter” facing parts of the world, and urged married couples to welcome children – through natural birth or adoption – rather than buying more dogs and cats in place of children.

“Having a child is always a risk, whether naturally or by adoption. But it is more risky not to have them, to negate fatherhood or motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”

And he urged civil institutions to promote legal adoption, “by seriously monitoring but also simplifying the necessary procedure to fulfill the dream of so many children who need a family.”

Bond of paternal love

Finally, the Pope prayed that no child may be “deprived of a bond of paternal love.”

“May Saint Joseph exercise his protection over and give his help to orphans,” he prayed, “and may he intercede for couples who wish to have a child.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis with a prayer to St. Joseph:

Saint Joseph,
you who loved Jesus with fatherly love,
be close to the many children who have no family
and who wish for a father and a mother.
Support the couples who are unable to have children,
Help them to discover, through this suffering, a greater plan.
Make sure that no one lacks a home, a bond,
a person to take care of him or her;
and heal the selfishness of those who close themselves off from life,
that they may open their hearts to love. Amen.

POPE: ST. JOSEPH WAS A “PERSECUTED AND COURAGEOUS MIGRANT” – QR CODE INSTALLED ON “ANGELS UNAWARES” SCULPTURE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE

POPE: ST. JOSEPH WAS A “PERSECUTED AND COURAGEOUS MIGRANT”

In his final general audience of 2021, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on St. Joseph, presenting him to the faithful in the Paul VI Hall as a persecuted and courageous migrant, focusing on the Holy Family’s journey known as “the flight into Egypt. (vatican photo)

The Holy Father underscored how “the family of Nazareth suffered such humiliation and experienced first-hand the precariousness, fear and pain of having to leave their homeland. Today so many of our brothers and sisters are still forced to experience the same injustice and suffering. The cause is almost always the arrogance and violence of the powerful. This was also the case for Jesus.”

“King Herod learns from the Magi of the birth of the “King of the Jews”, and the news shocks him,” said Francis. Feeling insecure and threatened, “he conceived a wicked plan: to kill all the children in Bethlehem under the age of two years, which was the period of time, according to the calculations of the Magi, in which Jesus was born.”

Once again, however, an angel appears to Joseph and orders him “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

So many today, noted the Pope, feel this impulse within: “Let’s flee, let’s flee, because there is danger here.”

The Holy Father explained that “the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt saves Jesus, but unfortunately it does not prevent Herod from carrying out his massacre. We are thus faced with two opposing personalities: on the one hand, Herod with his ferocity, and on the other hand, Joseph with his care and courage.

Herod was a ruthlessly cruel man, “the symbol of many tyrants of yesteryear and of today. And for them, for these tyrants, people do not count; power is what counts, and if they need space for power, they do away with people. And this happens today: we do not need to look at ancient history, it happens today.”

Living according to Herod’s outlook makes us tyrants, said the Pope. This “is an attitude to which we can all fall prey, every time we try to dispel our fears with arrogance, even if only verbal, or made up of small abuses intended to mortify those close to us. We too have in our heart the possibility of becoming little Herods.”

However, said Francis, “Joseph is the opposite of Herod: first of all, he is “a just man”, and Herod is a dictator. Furthermore, he proves he is courageous in following the Angel’s command. One can imagine the vicissitudes he had to face during the long and dangerous journey and the difficulties involved in staying in a foreign country, with another language: many difficulties.

“Joseph’s courage emerges also at the moment of his return, when, reassured by the Angel, he overcomes his understandable fears and settles with Mary and Jesus in Nazareth.

Francis then explained that, “it is a common misconception to consider courage as the exclusive virtue of the hero. In reality, the daily life of every person requires courage. Our way of living – yours, mine, everyone’s: one cannot live without courage, the courage to face each days’ difficulties.”

He said, “Courage is synonymous with fortitude, which together with justice, prudence and temperance is part of the group of human virtues known as ‘cardinal virtues’,”

The Holy Father concluding by stating that “the lesson Joseph leaves us with today is this: life always holds adversities in store for us, this is true, in the face of which we may also feel threatened and afraid. But it is not by bringing out the worst in ourselves, as Herod does, that we can overcome certain moments, but rather by acting like Joseph, who reacts to fear with the courage to trust in God’s Providence.”

He had special words for migrants and all the persecuted, for victims of adverse circumstances, for the many people who are victims of wars or want to flee from their homeland but cannot, for those seek freedom and “end up on the street or in the sea.”

“Migration today is a reality to which we cannot close our eyes. It is a social scandal of humanity.”

QR CODE INSTALLED ON “ANGELS UNAWARES” SCULPTURE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE

A press release today from the section that deals with migrants and refugees of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development announced that a QR code has been installed on the “Angels Unawares” sculpture in St. Peter’s Square to inform people about the sculpture and Pope Francis’ teaching on migrants and refugees.

“Dear pilgrims and tourists: the Vatican invites you not just to pass by…”

This sculpture was inaugurated by Pope Francis in September 2019 during the celebration of the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Now, people can learn more about this massive sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz thanks to a small plaque with a QR code that directs visitors to angelsunawares.org, the site that explains the sculpture.

Scanned by a mobile phone, the QR code brings you to the website, available in six languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Italian).

Cardinal Michael Czerny, interim prefect of the dicastery upon Cardinal Turkson’s resignation being accepted by the Pope on December 23, said in the press release “We have decided to incorporate cultural information and Church teachings from recent years to help all tourists and visitors at the Vatican to become pilgrims, too.”

“Angels Unawares,” explains the note, “depicts a very diverse crowd of people, from the Holy Family to victims of modern day slavery. From the center arise a pair of angel wings, illustrating the presence of the sacred. The sculpture is inspired by a biblical passage: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

 

DECEMBER 8, END OF YEAR OF ST. JOSEPH

I had read the following story by a CNA colleague on Tuesday and realized that I only had that day, December 7th and the next day to see these relics before they ended their Roman pilgrimage. I got a taxi and went to San Giuseppe Lavoratore parish and, alas, after looking all over the church for the relics, discovered in a conversation with a parishioner that the relics had departed on December 5th. I did, however, take time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament with several other people, thus, my trip to the church was more than blessed.

The relics have now returned to Sant’Anastasia and the lady with whom I spoke seemed to know how to get to see them and gave me some advice I hope to follow very soon.

The year of St. Joseph might have ended as an earthly celebration but I can tell you that, from what I learned and read this past year about him, St. Joseph occupies a much bigger place in my heart and I don’t need a special Year to think of or pray to him.

Here’s Hannah’s story: For the Year of St. Joseph, a look at the relic of his holy cloak in Rome | Catholic News Agency

DECEMBER 8, END OF YEAR OF ST. JOSEPH

A Jubilee or Holy Year or a Year dedicated to a person such as St. Paul or this past year, St. Joseph, usually starts off with a bang, a special papal Mass, for example, and is followed by a multitude of events over a period of 12 months. And usually, such Jubilees or Holy Years close ceremoniously with another remarkable papal event or solemn Mass.

Such was the case one year ago, December 8, 2020 with Pope Francis inaugurating the Year of St. Joseph, as well as the publication of Patris Corde, the Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father Francis on the 150th Anniversary Of The Proclamation Of Saint Joseph As Patron Of The Universal Church. The Year of St. Francis began December 8, 2020.

Yesterday, December 8, the Year of St. Joseph ended without fanfare or trumpets. However, Pope Francis did mark it, in a special way, with his visit yesterday afternoon to the Rome comunità cenacolo, about which I wrote yesterday in this column.

In its story, Vaticannews wrote the following: “Pope Francis then moved to the Chapel dedicated to the Good Samaritan for a blessing and to conclude the Year of St Joseph. A symbolic gesture in an even more symbolic place: the Chapel, made of wood and white marble, was in fact built entirely by the children, ‘with their creativity and their hands’. They picked up pieces of travertine, oak beams and other waste material from rubbish tips and rubbish bins: ‘This is a concrete example of what we do here: we take waste to make wonderful works,’ says Don Stefano. ‘These young people, if before in the life of evil they gave the worst of themselves, now in the life of good they rediscover the love of God.’

“Pope Francis blessed the chapel and prayed together with all those present, whom he then greeted one by one. Each person was offered a leaflet so that the prayer to Mary’s spouse, contained in the last pages of the Patris Corde, could be recited together.

“Hail, guardian of the Redeemer and husband of the Virgin Mary / To you God entrusted his Son; in you, Mary placed her trust / with you Christ became man / O Blessed Joseph, show yourself to be a father also for us, and guide us on the path of life / Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from all evil / Amen.”

Here is the link to the full vaticannews story: Pope to Cenacolo Community: Let us not be afraid of our miseries – Vatican News

(On Wednesday, at the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke of St. Joseph, noting the end of the year dedicated to him, and he also noted that December 10th marks the end of the Lauretan Year, a year dedicated to the Holy House of Loreto.)

FROM ‘FALLING IN LOVE’ TO MATURE LOVE: POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE FOR ENGAGED COUPLES – FRANCIS SPEAKS OF WORLD AIDS DAY, HIS TRIP TO CYPRUS AND GREECE

What a great catechesis today on St. Joseph in this series that Pope Francis is dedicating to the father of Our Savior at this end of the Year of St. Joseph! I have been touched by every weekly audience catechesis on St. Joseph but perhaps this is my favorite so far. I’m sure you know that this year dedicated to Joseph ends on December 8 but for many, I am also sure, like myself, St. Joseph will continue to be a focus of our prayers and petitions.

In this last year, I read what I could and learned a lot about St. Joseph that I had not known. I feel closer to him than ever before and have turned to him very frequently this past year, as I will continue to do, especially every time I look at my Sleeping St. Joseph figurine, just inches from my laptop!

FROM ‘FALLING IN LOVE’ TO MATURE LOVE: POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE FOR ENGAGED COUPLES

Continuing his catechesis on St Joseph, Pope Francis offered engaged couples a reflection on moving beyond the ‘enchantment’ that comes with falling in love, toward a mature love that can stand the test of time.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis offered his catechesis at Wednesday’s General Audience as a message for all engaged couples, as he reflected on St Joseph as a “just man” and “Mary’s betrothed spouse.”

St Joseph, a just man

Turning to the Gospel of St Matthew, the Pope noted that in ancient Israel, the official betrothal, or engagement, was an integral part of the marriage customs. The woman, although continuing to live in her parents’ home, was considered the “wife” of the betrothed spouse.

So “when Mary was found with child,” she was exposed to the accusation of adultery; Joseph was “just” precisely because, while following the letter of the law, he chose – out of love for Mary – not to expose her to the rigour of the law, but to send her away quietly.

The voice of God in discernment

At that moment, however, an angel appeared to Joseph; as Pope Francis explained, “God’s voice intervenes in Joseph’s discernment.” The Pope emphasized the importance for each of us, too, to cultivate a just life, and at the same time to recognise the need for God’s help “to consider the circumstances of life” from a broader perspective.

Being engaged, Mary and Joseph “probably cultivated dreams and expectations for their future,” the Pope said. When God intervened “unexpectedly” in their lives, He also opened their hearts.

Where true love begins

Pope Francis recognised that life is often not what we imagine it to be, that it can be difficult to move from “falling in love” to “the logic of mature love.” The former is often marked by a kind of “enchantment,” that fades with time. But it is precisely when that first excitement of love ends, that “true love begins.”

Love, he said, does not mean that the other person, or our life, should correspond to our imagination, but that we choose “in complete freedom to take responsibility for one’s life as it comes,” as Joseph did when he chose, at God’s command, to take Mary as his wife.

From falling in love to mature love

Pope Francis continued, “Christian engaged couples are called to bear witness to a love like this that has the courage to move from the logic of falling in love to that of mature love.” A couple’s love, he said, “advances in life and matures every day.”

And he repeated to engaged couples the advice he had given before: Never let the day end without making peace with your spouse.

A prayer to St Joseph

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis once again with a prayer to St Joseph:

Saint Joseph,
you who loved Mary with freedom,
and chose to renounce your fantasies to give way to reality,
help each of us to allow ourselves to be surprised by God
and to accept life not as something unforeseen from which to defend ourselves,
but as a mystery that hides the secret of true joy.

Obtain joy and radicality for all engaged Christians,
while always being aware

that only mercy and forgiveness make love possible. Amen.

FRANCIS SPEAKS OF WORLD AIDS DAY, HIS TRIP TO CYPRUS AND GREECE

At the end of the general audience catechesis on St. Joseph, Pope Francis highlighted World AIDS Day and also spoke of his trip, starting tomorrow, to Cyprus and Greece, He asked people to accompany him with and through prayer. He said he will make this journey “to visit the beloved peoples of those countries, rich in history, spirituality and civilization,” where there are sources of apostolic faith and fraternity among Christians of diverse denominations.

He also noted that meetings with migrants and refugees will be among the highlights of the trip, including another visit to the Greek island of Lesbos where many wait in camps for documentation allowing them to go to other countries. Of Lesbos, he said, “I will also have the opportunity to approach a humanity wounded in the flesh of so many migrants in search of hope. …I ask you, please, to accompany me with your prayers.”

 

ST. JOSEPH TEACHES US TO TRUST IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE

This was the day of two Josephs – St. Joseph as the focus of Pope Francis’ new series of catecheses and Servant of God Joseph Dutton whose cause for canonization today got a red light from the US bishops meeting in Baltimore.  I love the image of Sleeping St. Joseph and have this on my desk. Indeed, how much of what Joseph learned about his betrothed Mary and about their eventual flight into Egypt with little Jesus came in dreams while asleep!

Joseph Dutton will be the subject of my second post today.

ST. JOSEPH TEACHES US TO TRUST IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Pope Francis began his weekly general audience by stating, “in this year of Saint Joseph, today we begin a new series of catecheses on the humble carpenter of Nazareth, the foster-father of the child Jesus and the patron of the Universal Church. In Hebrew, the name Joseph evokes God’s power to bring about growth and new life. Joseph teaches us to trust in God’s providence quietly at work in our world.”

“The name Joseph,” the Pope explained, “is Hebrew for “may God increase, may God give growth”. It is a wish, a blessing based on trust in providence and referring especially to fertility and to raising children. Indeed, this very name reveals to us an essential aspect of Joseph of Nazareth’s personality. He is a man full of faith, in providence: he believes in God’s providence, he has faith in God’s providence. His every action, as recounted in the Gospel, is dictated by the certainty that God ‘gives growth’, that God ‘increases’, that God ‘adds’: that is, that God provides for the continuation of his plan of salvation.”

Francis noted that Joseph’s “life is principally associated with two small towns, Bethlehem and Nazareth, reminding us that God’s preferential love is for the poor and those on the margins of life. God chose Bethlehem, the city of David, as the place where his Son was to be born under the watchful care of Joseph, who was himself of the house of David.”

“By his life and example,” said the Holy Father, “Saint Joseph reminds us that, in our own day, the Church is called to proclaim the good news of Christ’s coming, beginning with the existential peripheries of our world. The poor and forgotten in our midst can look to him as a sure guide and protector in their lives. Let us ask Saint Joseph to intercede for the Church, that we may always set forth anew from Bethlehem, in order to see and appreciate what is essential in God’s eyes.”

He went on to say, “Today I would like to send a message to all the men and women who live in the most forgotten geographical peripheries of the world, or who experience situations of existential marginalization. May you find in Saint Joseph the witness and protector to look to. We can turn to him with this prayer, a “home-made” prayer, but one that comes from the heart:

Saint Joseph,
you who have always trusted God,
and have made your choices
guided by his providence
teach us not to count so much on our own plans
but on his plan of love.
You who come from the peripheries
help us to convert our gaze
and to prefer what the world discards and marginalizes.
Comfort those who feel alone
and support those who work silently
to defend life and human dignity. Amen.

 

HAPPY FEAST DAY, ST. JOSEPH! BUON ONOMASTICO, POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POPE FRANCIS! – A PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH – POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF TUNIS ATTACK, CONDEMNS “ACT AGAINST PEACE”

HAPPY FEAST DAY, ST. JOSEPH! BUON ONOMASTICO, POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POPE FRANCIS!

Today, Thursday March 19 is a big day at the Vatican with many reasons for celebrating, and it is also a holiday, a day off for staff!

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, declared patron of the Universal Church in 1870 by Pope Pius IX, it is the onomastico or “name day” of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, né Joseph Ratzinger, it is Father’s Day in Italy and today in particular marks the second anniversary of the official start, the inaugural Mass, of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

At that inaugural Mass, Pope Francis focused his homily on St. Joseph on his feast day: “How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? Pope Francis asked. “By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. nJoseph is a ‘protector’ because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by His will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.”

Pope Francis, as he has done in the past, called his predecessor to wish him a happy feast day. (Osservatore Romano)

Popes Francis and benedict

I have been blessed to have met both Francis and Benedict XVI on a number of occasions and even, on one special day 17 months ago, a day that perhaps only a handful of human beings have ever experienced, I met both of them within hours of each other – a story I shall tell some day!

This was in the early years of Benedict XVI’s papacy, in the library of the Apostolic Palace after the Pope received a head of State. I was in the pool of journalists covering the event. (Osservatore Romano photographger)

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And this was taken on September 5, 2014 when I joined 22 parishioners from Santa Susanna, our rector and vice rector at morning Mass with Pope Francis in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. (Osservatore Romano photographer)

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A PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

In the presence of Joseph, it is easy to engage in confident prayer. The following words, among the many that are possible, are those of a father about this righteous man, Mary’s spouse, who was able to hear the voice of angels and incline to God’s will.

FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH

Lord,

This time a father is speaking out in prayer to You, on the feast day of Joseph, the righteous father, the solid beam of the house in Nazareth, Mary’s husband, the virgin father of Jesus, Your Son. How difficult is the prayer of fathers! It is rare, poor and hardly visible. For fathers, just a glance up to heaven, a restrained sigh or an accentuated wrinkle are often enough. However, fathers also pray, asking and waiting; and my prayer is for others: for the children, first of all, for the loved ones at home, and for my own wife who is not only a mother.

Before saying what a father may ask, Lord, I place myself next to Joseph. Like him, I—as a father—would like to learn to recognize the faint traces of the angels; to believe the Word brought by the announcement; to keep it close, simply to obey. Like Joseph, marital love is enough to make me believe in the mystery of life entrusted to weak flesh and toilsome hands; it is enough to make me resist against Herod’s threats, to protect life, in active silence.

Lord, even the fathers experience desolation, like Joseph, when he thought of sending Mary away and yet supported her like a rock, because he trusted You and You came to comfort him as he slept. Lord, give me Joseph’s faith, and come to visit me too visit in my nights; give me the courage not to be afraid of life and to accept all that comes from You.

Saint Joseph, may you be blessed; stay close to me. And, with you, may the Virgin Mother and the Son of the Most High also be at my side. AMEN

This is from the website of the Pontifical Council for the Family: http://www.familiam.org/famiglia_eng/church/00010377_March_19th___Feast_of_St__Joseph__Mt_1_16_18–21_24a_.html

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF TUNIS ATTACK, CONDEMNS “ACT AGAINST PEACE”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a telegram offering prayers for the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack in Tunis, in which at least 23 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded, many among them foreign tourists. In the telegram, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and addressed to Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis, the Holy Father decries the attack as, “[An act] against peace and the sacredness of human life.” He goes on to assure the families of the victims, all those affected by the incident, and the whole Tunisian people, of his continued prayers.

The Pope’s condemnation and condolences came after remarks from Cardinal Parolin who told Vatican Radio, “[The attack was] something most cruel and inhuman, truly unthinkable: to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.” Cardinal Parolin went on to say, “We must hope that, in the name of God, no more violence is committed.”

Tunisia has suffered violence at the hands of Islamic militants in the past, and a disproportionately large number of Tunisians have joined the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. Tunisian security forces are currently battling Islamic militants belonging to several groups, including Ansar al Sharia, which the U.S. lists as a terrorist group, and an al Qaeda affiliate with fighters operating along the Algerian border.

Speaking on national television in the wake of the attack, Tunisia’s President, Beji Caid Essebsi, said his country would not be intimidated. “These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said.

Tour operators have already begun to react to the incident, with Italian cruise company Costa announcing it will be suspending calls to Tunisian ports. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the Tunisian economy, which is still struggling to steady itself along with the whole of Tunisian society, in the wake of a democratic reform movement that led to the ouster of the country’s long-time ruler at the start of what came to be known as the Arab Spring.