Her Doctrine and Morals

The Feast of St. Joachim

16 August 2015


The Sunday


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Dear Friend,

In 1879, Pope Leo XIII, transferred today's feast from March 20 to August 16. His desire in doing this, was that we should associate St. Joachim with the triumph of his blessed daughter Mary's, Assumption into Heaven. The feasts of St. Anne and St. Joachim were also raised to the rank of double of the second class by the Pope.

The honor and glory that belong to Mary as the Mother of God, are her's simply because God has given them to her to make her the worthy vessel of His Son. The Divine Son, desires and deserves a worthy human mother. Not only does the Divine Son deserve and desire a worthy mother; He likewise wills to have a worthy foster father and therefore a worthy family. The Catholic Church has long been a promoter of devotions to this Most Holy Family.

In order for Mary to be who she is, we see the necessity of her being a holy child, brought forth in a previous holy family. Her parent's (St. Anne and St. Joachim), therefore should be honored because God has made them the worthy parents of the Blessed Mother. Just as children inherit the graces and virtues from their parents; so parents are rewarded for the graces and merits of their children.

The birth of Our Lord and the Holy Family were possible because Mary and Joseph were virtuous in cooperating with the graces of God. The virtuous cooperation of Mary with God's will, was made possible because she had virtuous parents. It is in this manner that we honor St. Joachim as the grandfather of the Son of God. While he was not directly associated with the Incarnation, he was indirectly connected as the father of the Blessed Virgin.

This lends itself to the honor that is due to our own parents. God has commanded us in the Fourth Commandment to love, honor, respect, and obey our parents. He has given us an example of how we are to do this by becoming one with us. In the Holy Family, we see how Jesus acted towards His human parents. We surmise how Mary must have acted toward her parents. We are instructed to follow their example.

Some, however, will argue that they had good and virtuous parents; but our parents are not good and virtuous. Perhaps, some have evil and wicked parents. How does God want us to behave towards such parents as these? Our Catechism teaches us that we must obey in all things that are not sinful. So, we have no reason to be disobedient to our parents. We can and must also love them. This in no way implies that we love evil or wickedness. We must condemn the evil, yet have enough love for them to desire that they turn away from the evil and embrace virtue. We are obliged to pray for our parents and even to embrace penances or mortifications so that God may show His mercy and compassion upon them.

We were not given perfect parents, but we were given the parents that God has chosen for us. God intends our eternal happiness and it is with these parents that we are to progress in love and virtue. Just as we can say that we were not given perfect parents; likewise, our parents can say they were not given perfect children. It is easy to see the faults in others, but much more difficult to see them in ourselves. Our sanctity does not depend upon our ability to discern the faults of others, but rather in our ability to discern our own faults and amend them. We are not holy simply because our parents were holy; nor are we bad simply because our parents were bad.

Scripture does tell us that children will inherit the sins of their parents for several generations; and in a similar manner we can expect to inherit some of the goodness of our parents. Ultimately, however, our sanctification depends upon our cooperating with the graces that God gives us. Our parents — good or bad — are graces and opportunities for us to grow in grace and virtue.

With good parents we have the example and encouragement of their good example. With bad parents we have the opportunity to follow Christ more perfectly in practicing patience, long suffering, as well as all the other virtues. In either case we are given exactly what we need. The logic is rather simple: God knows what we need; He desires our salvation; He therefore gives us the best opportunity or situation that will lend itself to us reaching that goal. To those who are weak He will give stronger support, perhaps through kinder and gentler parents. To those who are stronger He may give harsher parents to enable them to follow Him more closely in carrying a daily cross, and thus grow stronger in virtue and gain greater merit in eternity.

When we are given a bitter cross, we should not grow faint or weary; but, rather, we should thank God and muster up within ourselves the courage and fortitude to move forward and grow in grace and virtue. St. Joachim was truly blessed to be the grandfather of Our Lord. He merited this honor and privilege by practicing the virtues and growing in grace. We are offered the opportunity to welcome Jesus into our families and our lives through the same manner. We must invite Him through the practice of the virtues and an ever increasing of grace in our souls.

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