Angelus News | March 26, 2021 Vol. 6 No. 6

St. Joseph plays with the child Jesus in Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s “The Holy Family with a Bird” (circa 1650). On Page 10, art historian Elizabeth Lev explains how Jesus’ foster father made up for a slow start in Christian art by taking up his popular role as our all-powerful patron. On Page 14, Evan Holguin tells the little-known story of the St. Joseph statue that watches over the LA cathedral’s timeout area. And on Page 16, contributor Elise Ureneck opens up about how sleep problems led her to a deeper friendship with St. Joseph.

St. Joseph plays with the child Jesus in Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s “The Holy Family with a Bird” (circa 1650). On Page 10, art historian Elizabeth Lev explains how Jesus’ foster father made up for a slow start in Christian art by taking up his popular role as our all-powerful patron. On Page 14, Evan Holguin tells the little-known story of the St. Joseph statue that watches over the LA cathedral’s timeout area. And on Page 16, contributor Elise Ureneck opens up about how sleep problems led her to a deeper friendship with St. Joseph.


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A FATHER<br />


Why the pope is telling us to ‘go to Joseph’ this year<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 6 <strong>No</strong>. 6

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 6 • <strong>No</strong>. 6<br />

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St. Joseph plays with the child Jesus in Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s<br />

“The Holy Family with a Bird” (circa 1650). On Page 10, art historian<br />

Elizabeth Lev explains how Jesus’ foster father made up for a slow<br />

start in Christian art by taking up his popular role as our all-powerful<br />

patron. On Page 14, Evan Holguin tells the little-known story of the<br />

St. Joseph statue that watches over the LA cathedral’s timeout area.<br />

And on Page 16, contributor Elise Ureneck opens up about how<br />

sleep problems led her to a deeper friendship with St. Joseph.<br />



People carry a casket during the<br />

funeral procession for Rivaldo<br />

Jimenez Ramirez, Santa Cristina<br />

Garcia, and Iván Gudiel Pablo, in<br />

Comitancillo, Guatemala, <strong>March</strong> 14.<br />

The migrants were killed in January<br />

in Tamaulipas, Mexico, while trying<br />

to reach the U.S. to seek asylum.


Pope Watch................................................ 2<br />

Archbishop Gomez.................................. 3<br />

World, Nation, and Local <strong>News</strong>....... 4-6<br />

In Other Words......................................... 7<br />

Father Rolheiser........................................ 8<br />

Scott Hahn.............................................. 32<br />

LA Catholic Events................................ 33<br />

18<br />

20<br />

24<br />

<strong>26</strong><br />

28<br />

30<br />

At 99, LA’s oldest deacon doesn’t want to slow down<br />

Inés San Martín: The real triumph of Pope Francis’ Iraq visit<br />

Mike Aquilina on the psalms as an answer to our trust issues<br />

Why Dr. Grazie Christie is reading Flannery O’Connor this Lent<br />

Max Jacob, an enigmatic artist haunted by God<br />

Heather King: The Skirball tries making <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark kid-friendly<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


The blessing question<br />

The Catholic Church cannot<br />

bless same-sex unions in<br />

any form, the Vatican’s<br />

Congregation for the Doctrine of the<br />

Faith (CDF) said in response to a<br />

question, or “dubium,” that came from<br />

priests and lay faithful “who require<br />

clarification and guidance concerning<br />

a controversial issue.”<br />

The response to the question, “Does<br />

the Church have the power to give the<br />

blessing to unions of persons of the<br />

same sex?” was “Negative.”<br />

“It is not licit to impart a blessing<br />

on relationships, or partnerships,<br />

even stable, that involve sexual<br />

activity outside of marriage,” the<br />

doctrinal office said in an explanatory<br />

note accompanying the <strong>March</strong><br />

15 statement, both of which were<br />

approved by Pope Francis.<br />

The statement, signed by Cardinal<br />

Luis Ladaria, congregation prefect,<br />

stressed that the negative judgment<br />

is on the blessing of unions, not of<br />

individuals themselves.<br />

“The Christian community and its<br />

pastors are called to welcome with<br />

respect and sensitivity persons with<br />

homosexual inclinations and will<br />

know how to find the most appropriate<br />

ways, consistent with Church<br />

teaching, to proclaim to them the<br />

gospel in its fullness,” the explanatory<br />

note said.<br />

The clarification “does not preclude<br />

the blessings given to individual<br />

persons with homosexual inclinations,<br />

who manifest the will to live in<br />

fidelity to the revealed plans of God as<br />

proposed by Church teaching.”<br />

The statement comes as Catholic<br />

bishops in Germany undertake<br />

a “synodal process” in which the<br />

blessing of same-sex unions has been<br />

proposed. While neither the statement<br />

nor the explanatory note made any<br />

mention of the country’s so-called<br />

“Synodal Way,” the Catholic news<br />

site The Pillar cited one anonymous<br />

source at the CDF as affirming that<br />

“the answer was to Germany.”<br />

The doctrinal congregation did<br />

acknowledge that some unnamed<br />

church communities had promoted<br />

“plans and proposals for blessings of<br />

unions of persons of the same sex.”<br />

“Such projects are not infrequently<br />

motivated by a sincere desire to<br />

welcome and accompany homosexual<br />

persons, to whom are proposed paths<br />

of growth in faith,” it said.<br />

In fact, the question of blessing samesex<br />

unions arose from this “sincere<br />

desire to welcome and accompany<br />

homosexual persons” as indicated by<br />

Pope Francis at the conclusion of the<br />

two synodal assemblies on the family,<br />

it said.<br />

That invitation, it added, was for<br />

communities “to evaluate, with<br />

appropriate discernment, projects and<br />

pastoral proposals directed to this end,”<br />

and in some cases, those proposals<br />

included blessings given to the unions<br />

of persons of the same sex.<br />

The president of the German<br />

bishops’ conference responded to<br />

the news by acknowledging the<br />

recent “discussions” about “the way<br />

in which this teaching and doctrinal<br />

development in general can be<br />

advanced with viable arguments.”<br />

“There are no easy answers to<br />

questions of this kind,” said Bishop<br />

Georg Bätzing in a statement.<br />

Reporting courtesy of Catholic <strong>News</strong><br />

Service bureau chief Cindy Wooden<br />

and The Pillar.<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>March</strong>: Let us pray that we<br />

may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with<br />

renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.<br />

2 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>



The cross remains<br />

We have just passed the<br />

one-year mark since the<br />

lockdowns imposed by<br />

authorities to slow the spread of the<br />

coronavirus.<br />

These have been long and difficult<br />

months, filled with trauma and<br />

sorrow, and still there is much<br />

uncertainty about the future. It will<br />

take years to fully understand the<br />

damage caused by this pandemic and<br />

our society’s response.<br />

But as we enter into our second Holy<br />

Week in the time of the coronavirus,<br />

we are starting to see signs of hope.<br />

With my brother bishops and priests<br />

throughout the Archdiocese of Los<br />

Angeles, I am looking forward to<br />

welcoming many new Catholics<br />

to the Church at Eastertime, and<br />

I’m also looking forward to a busy<br />

confirmation season.<br />

Recently at the Cathedral of Our<br />

Lady of the Angels, I was glad to be<br />

able to celebrate the annual Christian<br />

Service Awards Masses, honoring<br />

our high school students. I was also<br />

privileged to celebrate a nationally<br />

livestreamed Mass for the solemnity<br />

of St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph.<br />

In the same Mass, we also marked<br />

the start of the special year that Pope<br />

Francis has dedicated to the joy of<br />

family love.<br />

Throughout this Lent, I’ve been<br />

trying to pray and reflect more on the<br />

figure of St. Joseph, as his story is told<br />

in the early pages of the Gospels of St.<br />

Matthew and St. Luke. His quiet hope<br />

and courage in the face of adversity,<br />

his trust in God’s providence, his<br />

simple dedication to doing God’s<br />

will — these are virtues I think all of<br />

us need to develop at this moment in<br />

our lives.<br />

Again I encourage you all to read<br />

Pope Francis’ beautiful and practical<br />

letter for this Year of St. Joseph. From<br />

St. Joseph’s example, the Holy Father<br />

writes, we learn that “our lives can<br />

be miraculously reborn if we find the<br />

courage to live them in accordance<br />

with the Gospel.”<br />

This is the mystery of God that we<br />

enter into during Holy Week and<br />

Easter. The way of the cross leads<br />

to the Resurrection. Our God is the<br />

God of the living, not of the dead.<br />

The promise of Easter is that we can<br />

be reborn, we can become a new<br />

creation in Jesus Christ.<br />

The Scriptures tell us that God keeps<br />

kindness toward us for a thousand<br />

generations if we love him and keep<br />

his commandments. That means<br />

that God never stops loving us, never<br />

stops caring for us and guiding us.<br />

We can live according to the Gospel,<br />

build our life on the solid rock of this<br />

foundation, because we know we can<br />

trust in his saving love.<br />

In the cross, we see the certainty of<br />

God’s saving love. One of the saints<br />

said: “While the world changes,<br />

the cross stands firm.” This is the<br />

lesson we have been learning in this<br />

pandemic, in all our disappointments<br />

and losses, in all the plans we have<br />

been forced to change or abandon.<br />

When everything is stripped away,<br />

there is still the cross — there remains<br />

Jesus Christ, who died and rose from<br />

the dead, who gave his life for each<br />

one of us and now invites us to give<br />

our lives to him and for him.<br />

And in this moment, this is the<br />

message that our neighbors need<br />

to hear. All of us in the Church,<br />

each in our own way, must simply<br />

proclaim Christ. <strong>No</strong>t as a set of ideas<br />

or teachings. <strong>No</strong>t as a figure from the<br />

distant past. But as the living God who<br />

loves us so much that he has entered<br />

into our history and become one of us<br />

— to speak to us and suffer for us and<br />

to become the way for our life.<br />

The world that will emerge out of<br />

this pandemic, we don’t know what<br />

shape it will take, but we know that it<br />

We can live according to the Gospel, build our<br />

life on the solid rock of this foundation, because<br />

we know we can trust in his saving love.<br />

will need the witness of believers. It<br />

will need each one of us, reborn and<br />

renewed in the mystery of God’s love<br />

for us in Jesus Christ.<br />

In these months and years ahead, it<br />

is absolutely essential that we make<br />

Jesus Christ the center of our lives<br />

— to live from him and for him, to<br />

think about him, talk about him, and<br />

to know that the meaning of our lives<br />

is found in being united to him and<br />

following his will for us.<br />

Pray for me this week, and I will pray<br />

for you.<br />

And in these holiest of weeks, let us<br />

ask the intercession of our Blessed<br />

Mother Mary, and let us keep vigil<br />

with her at the foot of the cross.<br />

May she help us to open our hearts<br />

to embrace the beautiful truth — that<br />

Christ died and rose from the dead!<br />

And he did that out of love for you<br />

and for me.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

Destined for bigger things — Technicians with France’s National Forestry Office measure and cube a trunk of an<br />

oak tree in Jupilles, France, <strong>March</strong> 8, to be used in the reconstruction of <strong>No</strong>tre-Dame Cathedral. A total of 1,000<br />

oaks will be hacked down by the end of <strong>March</strong> to rebuild the spire and roof of the cathedral, which was ravaged by<br />

fire in April 2019. Oaks from every region of France are being used to rebuild the cherished national monument,<br />

around half from state land and the rest from private donations. | JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP<br />

■ Nigeria: Bishop’s<br />

kidnappers arrested<br />

Authorities in Nigeria say they’ve<br />

arrested the kidnappers of Bishop<br />

Moses Chikwe, who was captured<br />

and later released over the New<br />

Year’s holiday.<br />

The suspects were arrested by<br />

police forces in different operations<br />

between the country’s Imo<br />

and Anambra States, a source told<br />

Nigerian news site Punch.<br />

Bishop Chikwe is an auxiliary<br />

bishop for the Archdiocese of<br />

Owerri in Nigeria. He spent more<br />

than 10 years in Southern California<br />

as a student priest and served<br />

in several LA-area parishes. He<br />

and his driver were abducted after<br />

a Mass Dec. 27, but were later<br />

released without ransom on New<br />

Year’s Day.<br />

■ One-third of<br />

Germans consider<br />

leaving church<br />

A recent survey out of Germany<br />

reports that one of three Catholics<br />

and one of four Protestants are<br />

considering leaving church.<br />

The study was commissioned by<br />

Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost<br />

and Protestant news agency<br />

Idea. Its findings were released<br />

on the heels of news that more<br />

than 270,000 German Catholics<br />

formally left the Church in 2019.<br />

A related study conducted by the<br />

Diocese of Osnabrück catalogued<br />

the reasons Catholics consider<br />

leaving. While older Catholics<br />

are more likely to cite ongoing<br />

sexual abuse scandals, younger<br />

Catholics are more likely to<br />

deregister as Catholic to avoid<br />

paying the 8-9% state-enforced<br />

tax, which is given to the Church,<br />

mandatory for registered members.<br />

German Catholics who officially<br />

renounce their membership revoke<br />

their rights to the sacraments<br />

or a Catholic burial.<br />

■ St. Peter’s cash crunch extends to Holy Land<br />

Palestinian Catholics pray in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday last year. | CNS/DEBBIE HILL<br />

The Holy See will be forced to dip<br />

into its financial reserves this year to<br />

fund operating expenses and the pope’s<br />

charities.<br />

Father Antonio Guerrero, head of the<br />

Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy,<br />

said in an interview with Vatican <strong>News</strong><br />

<strong>March</strong> 12 that it may have to use 40<br />

million euros in reserves for the second<br />

straight year.<br />

The Vatican’s deficit this year of about<br />

50 million euros is in large part due to<br />

the closure of the Vatican Museums for<br />

most of 2020 due to COVID-19. The<br />

museums, as well as donations from<br />

visitors to St. Peter’s<br />

Basilica, are<br />

a crucial source<br />

of revenue for the<br />

Holy See.<br />

The Vatican<br />

also issued a<br />

special plea to<br />

Catholics about<br />

participating in<br />

the annual Good<br />

Friday collection<br />

for Christians in<br />

the Holy Land in<br />

parishes around<br />

the world.<br />

In a <strong>March</strong> 11 letter, Cardinal<br />

Leonardo Sandri, head of the Vatican’s<br />

Congregation for the Oriental Churches,<br />

said the consequences of the global<br />

shutdown and the lack of Good Friday<br />

collections last year are still being felt.<br />

“We have been without pilgrims from<br />

the end of February 2020,” his statement<br />

read.<br />

“This means grave economic difficulties<br />

for the local Christian communities,<br />

for the families of our Christian<br />

faithful, and also for the Custody [of<br />

the Holy Land] itself.”<br />

4 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

NATION<br />

■ A hero chaplain’s<br />

homecoming<br />

The remains of a Korean War Army<br />

chaplain on the path to sainthood have<br />

been recovered 70 years after his death.<br />

Father Emil Joseph Kapaun of the<br />

Diocese of Wichita died in a Chinese<br />

prison camp in 1951. He was known to<br />

risk his life on the battlefield ministering<br />

to frontline troops, and for continuing<br />

his priestly ministry following his<br />

capture in <strong>No</strong>vember 1950.<br />

His remains were among the unidentified<br />

soldiers moved from <strong>No</strong>rth Korea<br />

to the National Cemetery of the Pacific<br />

in Hawaii during the 1950s and 1990s.<br />

On <strong>March</strong> 4, the U.S. Defense POW/<br />

MIA Accounting Agency said that it<br />

had finally identified a set of remains<br />

as Father Kapaun’s.<br />

“It was a joyful and exciting surprise<br />

for the Diocese of Wichita that<br />

Father Kapaun’s mortal remains were<br />

recovered after so many years, and we<br />

continue to look forward to his process<br />

of canonization in the future,” said<br />

Wichita Bishop Carl A. Kemme.<br />

The final resting place for Father<br />

Kapaun, who was declared a Servant of<br />

God by St. Pope John Paul II in 1993,<br />

is now being planned by his family.<br />

Father Kapaun in 1943. | U.S. ARMY<br />

The Holy Land’s Healer — Comboni Sister Alicia Vacas Moro was named one of 14 women to receive the<br />

U.S. Department of State’s annual International Woman of Courage Award. The prize is a recognition of the<br />

Jerusalem-based missionary and registered nurse’s human rights work, which includes overseeing a medical clinic<br />

in Egypt, leading job training for women in the West Bank on means of earning income, and coordinating her<br />

community’s assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers. | CNS/ MARCIN MAZUR<br />

■ Humanitarian high<br />

marks for Venezuelan<br />

refugee plan<br />

Faith-based groups are applauding the<br />

Biden administration’s decision to offer<br />

legal protection for 320,000 Venezuelan<br />

immigrants fleeing political conflict and<br />

poverty in the country.<br />

The <strong>March</strong> 8 announcement means<br />

that the migrants will be eligible for the<br />

Temporary Protection Status program<br />

(TPS), which postpones deportations and<br />

grants work permits for up to 18 months<br />

to some immigrants from countries<br />

ravaged by natural disasters, conflicts, or<br />

exceptional situations.<br />

“Venezuela is experiencing one of the<br />

largest humanitarian crises in the world,”<br />

Anna Gallagher, executive director of the<br />

Catholic Legal Immigration Network,<br />

said <strong>March</strong> 8. “We are grateful that TPS,<br />

a vital humanitarian protection, will be<br />

used to safeguard Venezuelans in the<br />

United States.”<br />

The Catholic Legal Immigration<br />

Network, the Lutheran Immigration and<br />

Refugee Service, and the U.S. Conference<br />

of Catholic Bishops also expressed<br />

support for the decision.<br />

■ Texas churches<br />

to keep masking up<br />

Though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott<br />

announced <strong>March</strong> 2 the lifting of<br />

all pandemic restrictions in the<br />

state, most Catholic parishes in<br />

the state will continue to require<br />

facial coverings and social distancing<br />

guidelines.<br />

“The protocols we have established<br />

were intended to collaborate<br />

with state and local practices,<br />

but were not undertaken under<br />

the direction of these entities,”<br />

explained El Paso Bishop Mark J.<br />

Seitz, who instructed churches in<br />

his diocese to continue masking<br />

and limiting attendance to 25%<br />

capacity.<br />

Other Catholic bishops in the<br />

state issued similar statements, but<br />

one bishop, Bishop Joseph Strickland<br />

of Tyler, responded to the<br />

change by saying that mask use in<br />

church can now be “an individual<br />

choice,” while still encouraging<br />

social distancing measures and the<br />

following of CDC recommendations.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

■ Your God is too small, Vatican<br />

astronomer tells LMU students<br />

Studying the cosmos can be both an act of faith and of<br />

reason, the Vatican’s official astronomer told more than<br />

100 Loyola Marymount students, faculty, and alumni in a<br />

virtual presentation.<br />

“One doesn’t use a telescope to discover God,” said Brother<br />

Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ, the director of the Vatican<br />

Observatory, during the <strong>March</strong> 11 event. “But what one<br />

does do is to use a telescope to get to know God’s personality<br />

better.”<br />

The Detroit native and Jesuit brother discussed topics<br />

ranging from the Big Bang Theory, the newly formed U.S.<br />

“Space Force,” and the recent landing of NASA’s Perseverance<br />

rover on Mars.<br />

“What does it mean to be a fellow creature in such a huge<br />

creation?” Brother Consolmagno asked his audience while<br />

showing a photo of a cluster of galaxies. “Every swatch of<br />

light is billions of stars with tens of billions of planets and<br />

hundreds of billions of such galaxies that we can see. To<br />

Ready to go national — Students from the academic decathlon team at Christ<br />

the King School near Hancock Park participate in a Zoom meeting with their<br />

teachers. The team won first place overall this month in the decathlon’s regional<br />

competition, and is now preparing for the national competition this spring.<br />

Brother Guy J. Consolmagno during the <strong>March</strong> 11 Zoom presentation for LMU.<br />


take that all in requires religion.”<br />

Although he reports to Rome, Brother Consolmagno<br />

spoke from his office in the U.S., located at the Vatican’s<br />

observatory atop Mt. Graham in southwest Arizona.<br />

■ Carmel Mission renovation<br />

project gets a big gift<br />

The effort to restore the California mission where St.<br />

Junípero Serra is buried just got a major boost in the form of<br />

a $1.8 million donation.<br />

The grant from the Hind Foundation will go to the Carmel<br />

Mission Foundation, which is funding renovations of Mission<br />

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, located in Carmel.<br />

The restoration work includes structural reinforcements<br />

to the building’s masonry, a remodel and expansion of the<br />

mission’s museum, and a new bathroom.<br />

The mission hopes to complete the renovations in time for<br />

the 250th anniversary of its foundation this fall. The Carmel<br />

Mission Basilica and Museums draw more than 300,000<br />

visitors each year, a foundation spokesperson told Catholic<br />

<strong>News</strong> Agency.<br />

Y<br />

Catholic school employees were invited to a vaccination<br />

clinic at LMU <strong>March</strong> 8-10. | PATRICK T. FALLON/<br />


■ LA Catholic schools gear up for red tier reopening<br />

More Catholic schools are reopening for in-class instruction as COVID-19<br />

rates continue to slide and Southern California moved into the state’s “red tier”<br />

this month.<br />

As of <strong>March</strong> 15, about 70% of schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had<br />

reopened classrooms for students in grades TK-6 in some form, while the rest<br />

are making plans to do so.<br />

The move to the red tier allows schools to start preparations for grades 7-12 to<br />

return to in-person instruction.<br />

Most of the reopened schools are using a hybrid approach to accommodate<br />

students, families, and teachers, many of whom are still awaiting vaccination.<br />

“If people need more time, that’s OK,” said Paul Escala, LA Catholic schools<br />

superintendent. “The goal is working back from the upcoming Easter break to<br />

wait and see how the kids are doing in person.”<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>


V<br />

Letters to the Editor<br />

Reactions to the new <strong>Angelus</strong><br />

The <strong>Angelus</strong> looks better. I especially like the Letters to the Editor.<br />

I am glad to see that it is included in the printed version.<br />

— Carl Mossberg, Rancho Palos Verdes<br />

Thank you so much for the many improvements you have made to the appearance<br />

of the publication. I especially welcome the “In Other Words” page.<br />

The change in font throughout the rest of the magazine is a huge improvement,<br />

too. It is much easier to read for my aging eyes. I had procrastinated a long time<br />

about writing to you about the difficulty of reading the old font, so the change is<br />

indeed an answer to prayer.<br />

— Tina Garcia, Claremont<br />

“To forgive one’s enemies:<br />

This is the pure Gospel.”<br />

~ Pope Francis on meeting a mother during his<br />

<strong>March</strong> 5-8 visit to Iraq who forgave ISIS for killing<br />

her son.<br />

“We are here. We are<br />

few, but we are here.”<br />

~ Archbishop Youhanna Jihad Mtanos Battah,<br />

Syriac archbishop of Damascus on the Christian<br />

presence in Iraq.<br />

“Children have no idea<br />

that the very soil upon<br />

which we walk was<br />

drenched with the blood<br />

of people who happened<br />

to express faith in Christ.”<br />

~ Damien Richardson, a converted heroin addict<br />

who discovered a historical account of the unsung<br />

Catholic martyrs in Irish history.<br />

Y<br />

Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit <strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/Letters-To-The-Editor<br />

and use our online form or send an email to editorial@angelusnews.com. Please limit to 300 words. Letters<br />

may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.<br />

“I wonder, what<br />

have we become?”<br />

~ Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester after New<br />

Mexico’s governor repealed long-standing abortion<br />

restrictions and lawmakers advanced a bill legalizing<br />

assisted suicide.<br />

<strong>2021</strong>: A year with many first days of school<br />

Principal Aaron De Loera talks to third-grade students<br />

on the first day of in-person class at St. Bernard School in<br />

Bellflower on <strong>March</strong> 3. | DAVID AMADOR RIVERA<br />

View more photos from this gallery at<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/photos-videos<br />

Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d<br />

like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.<br />

“Some parishioners have<br />

disappeared from the radar<br />

entirely. We have lost<br />

all of them. At a certain<br />

moment, people get used<br />

to not going to church.”<br />

~ A priest in the Netherlands to “Katholiek Nieuwsblad”<br />

on fears of the Catholic Church’s permanent<br />

decline in the country after COVID-19 shutdowns.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

IN EXILE<br />


Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father<br />

Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual<br />

writer; ronaldrolheiser.com.<br />

An honest prayer<br />

Recently I received a letter from<br />

a woman whose life, in effect,<br />

had imploded. Within the<br />

course of a few months, her husband<br />

divorced her, she lost her job, was<br />

forced to move from the house she<br />

had lived in for many years, was<br />

locked down in her new place by<br />

COVID-19 restrictions, and was diagnosed<br />

with a cancer which might be<br />

untreatable. It was all too much.<br />

At a point, she broke down in anger<br />

and resignation. She turned to Jesus<br />

and with bitterness, said, “If you’re<br />

there, and I doubt it, what do you<br />

know about any of this? You were<br />

never this alone!” I suspect that we<br />

all have moments like this. What did<br />

Jesus know of any of this?<br />

Well, if we can believe the Gospels,<br />

Jesus did know all of this, not because<br />

he had a divine consciousness,<br />

but because like the woman in the<br />

story he knew right from the beginning<br />

what it meant to be the one<br />

standing alone, outside the normal<br />

human circle.<br />

This is evident right from his birth.<br />

The Gospels tell us that Mary was<br />

forced to give birth to Jesus in a<br />

stable because there was no room<br />

for them at the inn. That heartless<br />

innkeeper! The poor man has had to<br />

endure centuries of censure. However,<br />

that thought misses the point<br />

of the story and misconstrues its<br />

meaning.<br />

The moral of this story is not that<br />

some heartless cruelty took place or<br />

that the world was too preoccupied<br />

with itself to take notice of Jesus’<br />

birth, though this latter implication<br />

is true. Rather, the real point is that<br />

Jesus, the Christ, was born an outsider,<br />

as one of the poor, as someone<br />

who, right from the beginning, was<br />

not given a place in the mainstream.<br />

As the author Gil Bailie puts it, Jesus<br />

was “unanimity-minus-one.” How<br />

could it be otherwise?<br />

Given who Jesus was, given that his<br />

central message was good news for<br />

the poor, and given that he entered<br />

into human life precisely to experience<br />

all it contains, including its<br />

pains and humiliations, he could<br />

hardly have been born in a palace,<br />

enjoyed every kind of support, and<br />

been the center of love and attention.<br />

To be in real solidarity with the<br />

poor, as Thomas Merton once put it,<br />

he had to be born “outside the city”;<br />

and whether that was the case historically<br />

or not, it is a rich, far-reaching<br />

metaphor. Right from the beginning,<br />

Jesus knew both the pain and the<br />

shame of one who is excluded, who<br />

has no place in the mainstream.<br />

When we look closely at the Gospels,<br />

we see that there was no human<br />

pain, emotional or physical, from<br />

which Jesus was spared. It is safe to<br />

say, I submit, that no one, irrespective<br />

of his or her pain, can say to<br />

Jesus, “You didn’t have to undergo<br />

what I had to undergo!” He underwent<br />

it all.<br />

During his ministry, he faced constant<br />

rejection, ridicule, and threat,<br />

sometimes having to hide away like<br />

a criminal on the run. He was also<br />

a celibate, one who slept alone, one<br />

deprived of normal human intimacy,<br />

one with no family of his own.<br />

Then in his passion and death, he<br />

experienced the extremes of both<br />

emotional and physical pain. Emotionally,<br />

he literally “sweated blood,”<br />

and physically, in his crucifixion, he<br />

endured the most extreme and humiliating<br />

pain possible for a human<br />

being to undergo.<br />

As we know, crucifixion was designed<br />

by the Romans with more<br />

than only capital punishment in<br />

mind. It was designed as well to<br />

inflict the maximum amount of pain<br />

and humiliation possible for a person<br />

to endure. That was one of the reasons<br />

they sometimes gave morphine<br />

to the one being crucified, not to<br />

ease his pain, but to keep him from<br />

passing out and escaping the pain.<br />

Crucifixion was also designed to<br />

utterly humiliate the one being put<br />

to death. Hence, they stripped the<br />

person naked, and the loosening of<br />

his bowels would be his final shame.<br />

Truly there was not a pain or humiliation<br />

he did not endure.<br />

An old, classic definition of prayer<br />

tells us this: “Prayer is lifting mind<br />

and heart to God.” Well, there will<br />

be low points in our lives when our<br />

circumstances will force us to lift our<br />

minds and hearts to God in a way<br />

that seems antithetical to prayer.<br />

Sometimes we will be brought to a<br />

breaking point where in brokenness,<br />

anger, shame, and in the despairing<br />

thought that nobody, including God,<br />

cares and that we are all alone in<br />

this, consciously or otherwise, we will<br />

confront Jesus with the words, “And<br />

what do you know about that!”<br />

And Jesus will hear those words as a<br />

prayer, as a sincere sigh of the heart,<br />

rather than as some kind of irreverence.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 9

A statue of St.<br />

Joseph and the<br />

Christ Child at<br />

Sacred Heart<br />

Church in Island<br />

Park, New York.<br />


A. SHEMITZ<br />

The many faces of<br />

ST. JOSEPH<br />

Long underrepresented in church art,<br />

Christianity’s strong, silent saint has<br />

come out of the shadows in the times<br />

he’s been needed the most<br />


In modern churches, the statues of<br />

the steady, silent St. Joseph rarely<br />

get a second glance for their artistic<br />

merit. The faithful may gaze upon<br />

his pleasant, placid face, and bury his<br />

feet in drifts of penciled petitions, but<br />

they probably don’t swoon in aesthetic<br />

bliss.<br />

These resin figurines, however,<br />

are just the latest (and arguably the<br />

laziest) incarnation of a saint who has<br />

undergone exceptionally dramatic<br />

transformations over the centuries.<br />

Geniuses such as Giotto di Bondone,<br />

Raphael Sanzio, and Bartolomé<br />

Esteban Murillo applied their fertile<br />

imaginations to creating the many<br />

personas of St. Joseph: dreamer, suitor,<br />

protector, worker, just to name a<br />

few. In honor of Pope Francis’ dedication<br />

of <strong>2021</strong> as the Year of St. Joseph,<br />

the following is a tour of a few of St.<br />

Joseph’s many-colored looks.<br />

10 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

St. Joseph got a late start in Christian<br />

iconography, perhaps a case of<br />

art imitating life. Early Christians emphasized<br />

the virgin birth and Christ’s<br />

divine fatherhood, so St. Joseph —<br />

ever the gentleman — stood aside,<br />

never appearing in catacomb frescoes<br />

or sarcophagi reliefs of the Nativity or<br />

the Epiphany.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t until the fifth century and the<br />

glorious age of church construction<br />

did St. Joseph make his first appearance<br />

in the triumphal arch mosaics of<br />

St. Mary Major. This was no tentative<br />

introduction, however: He appears<br />

five times in the arch, more than any<br />

other character, including Mary and<br />

Jesus.<br />

Despite this dramatic debut, Josephine<br />

imagery did not come into<br />

its full splendor until the dawn of<br />

the Renaissance. A seismic spiritual<br />

shift, led by St. Francis of Assisi, paid<br />

increasing attention to Jesus’ human<br />

experience, which resulted in more<br />

scenes of Christ’s infancy and consequently<br />

more of St. Joseph.<br />

One artistic trailblazer, Giotto, crafted<br />

a stately St. Joseph, pioneering the<br />

“chiaroscuro” (“light-dark”) technique<br />

to give him greater gravitas. In<br />

the Lower Basilica of Assisi, Giotto<br />

revolutionized the Nativity scene<br />

in an image later chosen by Pope<br />

Francis for his official 2016 Christmas<br />

card.<br />

Christ appears twice in this fresco:<br />

once in the center surrounded by angels<br />

while gazing at his mother, with<br />

beams of heavenly light leading to his<br />

head, bringing a flash of the divine<br />

into the little wooden shed.<br />

Beneath this scene, however, along<br />

the lower edge of the work, Giotto<br />

painted a second baby Jesus. Here,<br />

midwives tend to his human needs<br />

— washing and feeding — while St.<br />

Joseph gazes at him in quiet contemplation.<br />

A notable detail is that St. Joseph’s<br />

blue and yellow robes, and his short<br />

white hair and beard borrow from the<br />

iconography used for St. Peter, the<br />

first pope. This resemblance evoked<br />

St. Joseph’s loving guardianship of<br />

Christ as a model for the pope’s care<br />

for the Church.<br />

St. Joseph first appeared in Christian art<br />

four centuries after his death, but kept<br />

a low profile until the Renaissance.<br />

The Renaissance valued versatile,<br />

dynamic men, the alpha males of art<br />

history, and St. Joseph was quick to<br />

get with the times. The sacrament of<br />

marriage was on the rocks, as bigamy,<br />

cohabitation, and prostitution were<br />

on the rise due to lax mores, so St.<br />

Joseph — formerly the contemplative<br />

dreamer — stepped forward to claim<br />

his bride.<br />

“The Marriage of the Virgin,” executed<br />

by Raphael for the Church of<br />

St. Francis in Città di Castello, united<br />

sacramental doctrine with the narrative<br />

charm that was the trademark of<br />

the 21-year-old painter.<br />

The altarpiece, inspired by an earlier<br />

work by his master, Pietro Perugino,<br />

displays the exchange of rings<br />

front and center. The viewer stands<br />

in a privileged position (nowadays<br />

reserved for wedding photographers)<br />

directly in front<br />

“Nativity,” by Giotto<br />

di Bondone, circa<br />

1311-1320. | WIKIART/<br />


of the bride,<br />

groom, and high<br />

priest. Raphael<br />

even arranges<br />

the figures in a<br />

semicircle, inviting<br />

viewers to<br />

take their place<br />

as witnesses to this sacred event.<br />

Mary and Joseph (younger than in<br />

Giotto’s version) extend their hands<br />

toward each other, underscoring the<br />

necessity of consent in marriage,<br />

while the priest brings their two<br />

hands together conferring sacramental<br />

grace. The slight tilt of his head<br />

adds emphasis to the words of the<br />

marriage vows: “What therefore God<br />

hath joined together, let not man put<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

asunder” (Mark 10:9).<br />

Witnesses gather on either side of<br />

the couple, the young men breaking<br />

rods over their knees in accordance<br />

with an apocryphal story where<br />

Mary’s many suitors were each given<br />

barren branches, but Joseph’s miraculously<br />

blossomed, a sign of divine<br />

selection.<br />

Three delicate lilies can be seen<br />

blooming from Joseph’s rod. Behind<br />

them the pavement converges in perfect<br />

perspective toward an open door<br />

in the temple, where one looks out<br />

on an endless horizon. Here Raphael<br />

highlights the perpetual nature of the<br />

sacrament, as does the round temple,<br />

symbol of unity, indissolubility, and<br />

eternity.<br />

Post-Reformation Europe looked to<br />

St. Joseph as a model of balancing the<br />

active and contemplative life, with<br />

St. Teresa of Ávila spearheading this<br />

renewed devotion by dedicating 12<br />

of her 17 new monasteries to him.<br />

Father Jerónimo Gracián, Teresa’s<br />

spiritual director, wrote a new hagiography<br />

for the saint in 1597, propos-<br />

ing that St. Joseph was like Jesus in<br />

“countenance, speech, and physical<br />

constitution.”<br />

In this era, a young, vigorous St.<br />

Joseph emerged from the brushes of<br />

Francisco de Zurbaran, Doménikos<br />

Theotokópoulos, most widely known<br />

as El Greco, and especially Murillo,<br />

who dedicated almost as many easels<br />

to Jesus’ father as he did to the Immaculate<br />

Conception of his mother.<br />

His “St. Joseph and the Christ Child,”<br />

painted for the high altar of the Capuchin<br />

Church of Seville, is one of<br />

the more striking versions.<br />

In the 6-foot-6 canvas, St. Joseph<br />

towers over the viewer, while Jesus<br />

stands at the center, robed in a mauve<br />

tunic, the color choice meant to<br />

evoke his human nature. Perched on<br />

a battered stone slab, reminiscent of a<br />

pagan altar with a broken column of<br />

an ancient temple protruding beside<br />

him, Jesus rests his luminous head<br />

against St. Joseph’s shoulder.<br />

The strong,<br />

handsome<br />

“The Marriage of the Virgin,”<br />

by Raphael Sanzio, 1504.<br />


St. Joseph,<br />

resembling the<br />

adult Christ,<br />

cradles the boy<br />

protectively as<br />

he looks into<br />

the distance to<br />

ward off potential threats. This virile<br />

iconography soon crossed the Atlantic<br />

to introduce St. Joseph as the patron<br />

of Mexico.<br />

St. Joseph’s patronages grew exponentially:<br />

He watched over the<br />

moribund, the Chinese missions, and<br />

the universal Church, and painters<br />

reveled in the new artistic challenges<br />

that each title brought, leading to the<br />

last great spate of Josephine iconography:<br />

Patron of Workers.<br />

Pope Leo XIII, alarmed at the<br />

global spread of socialism, held up St.<br />

Joseph, who “passed his life in labor,<br />

and won by the toil of the artisan the<br />

needful support of his family,” and<br />

pleaded with Catholics to “trust not<br />

to the promises of seditious men, but<br />

rather to the example and patronage<br />

of the Blessed Joseph.” (“Quamquam<br />

Pluries,” 4-5).<br />

As Pope Leo was penning those<br />

words, artists were already at work re-<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

imaging St. Joseph as a worker. James<br />

Tissot’s lovely watercolors captured<br />

the artisan in his shop, and François<br />

Lafond depicted young Jesus learning<br />

his father’s trade, while Modesto<br />

Faustini was frescoing a chapel in<br />

St. Joseph’s honor in the renowned<br />

sanctuary of the Holy House of<br />

Loreto. Faustini’s<br />

“Holy Family”<br />

from 1890<br />

dazzles with this<br />

neo-Gothic gilding,<br />

but beyond<br />

the glitter lies<br />

the real gold.<br />

A simple space<br />

with a high, vaulted ceiling and<br />

“St. Joseph and the Christ<br />

Child,” by Bartolomé<br />

Esteban Murillo, 1665-<br />

1666. | PUBLIC DOMAIN<br />

terracotta floors shows signs of age in<br />

the scratched plaster, iron tie bars and<br />

vegetation sprouting in cracks. The<br />

one opulent touch is the throne of<br />

the virgin, backed by a green tapestry,<br />

carved, and inlaid with the finest marquetry<br />

of the woodworker’s art.<br />

She leans forward, book in hand,<br />

speaking to the Christ Child, who<br />

stands on a woven rug praying with<br />

his mother. St. Joseph’s worktable<br />

occupies the bulk of the space, with<br />

tools, planks, and spartan furnishings<br />

festooned with shavings from the<br />

carpenter’s lathe.<br />

St. Joseph is hard at work, barefoot<br />

on the brick floor, his whole body engaged<br />

in planing wood, yet his face,<br />

absorbed as he watches his wife and<br />

son, reveals peaceful adoration. He<br />

gives himself over to toil, so his little<br />

family can glorify God, and in doing<br />

so confers dignity upon human labor<br />

and sacrifice.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, in this age of pandemic, where<br />

unemployment and lockdowns have<br />

shattered so many families, closed<br />

churches have tested the faith of the<br />

faithful, and gender ideology undermines<br />

the meaning of male and<br />

female, Pope Francis has told us to<br />

“Go to Joseph.”<br />

It’s a timely message and an invitation<br />

to explore the many facets of<br />

Scripture’s most precious diamond in<br />

the rough: St. Joseph.<br />

Elizabeth Lev is an American-born<br />

art historian who lives and works in<br />

Rome.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 13

Part of the<br />

FAMILY<br />

The cathedral’s tribute to adoptive<br />

fatherhood is marking both its<br />

10th anniversary and a special<br />

year dedicated to St. Joseph<br />


By virtue of its own name, the<br />

Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels is perhaps LA’s most conspicuous<br />

testament to the motherhood<br />

of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But tucked<br />

to the side of the cathedral is a more<br />

discrete tribute to divine parenthood,<br />

a statue honoring Mary’s partner and<br />

help-mate, St. Joseph.<br />

Commissioned as a retirement gift to<br />

Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Roger<br />

Mahony, the bronze statue of the saint<br />

created by local sculptor Christopher<br />

Slatoff has been a fixture at the cathedral<br />

since 2011.<br />

The statue depicts the patron of<br />

fathers at his workbench placing down<br />

his hammer and picking up the Christ<br />

Child. In doing so, it strays from most<br />

traditional depictions of St. Joseph the<br />

Worker. It shows St. Joseph not in the<br />

act of working, but in the moment of<br />

setting aside his labor to attend to his<br />

young son.<br />

Ten years later,<br />

Christopher Slatoff’s<br />

sculpture “Adoption” in<br />

the north ambulatory<br />

of the Cathedral of Our<br />

Lady of the Angels. |<br />


the significance of<br />

the statue, named<br />

“Adoption,” is still<br />

fresh for Slatoff.<br />

“There’s the<br />

baby Jesus being<br />

presented right<br />

there, and there’s<br />

Joseph putting his<br />

hammer down<br />

and picking up the body of Christ,”<br />

Slatoff said. “There’s almost this St.<br />

Michael-like weighing of souls in this<br />

— which is better? Of course, you’re<br />

going to pick up the body of Christ.”<br />

More than just a decision between<br />

stopping work to be with family, Slatoff<br />

said “Adoption” is an attempt to show<br />

the beauty of the bond between adopted<br />

father and adopted son. It’s a bond<br />

Slatoff can relate to: Four of his five<br />

children are adopted.<br />

His oldest, Michael, was nine at the<br />

time of his adoption. His older age<br />

meant that adoption was more than<br />

just a legal proceeding, Slatoff explained,<br />

but rather a choice between<br />

the two: “I will be your son, you will be<br />

my father. He had to be OK with that.”<br />

From that moment on, Slatoff’s<br />

relationship with St. Joseph changed,<br />

too: <strong>No</strong> longer was he just the adoptive<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

father of Jesus, but an exemplar for his<br />

own fatherhood.<br />

“There’s no other saint that you could<br />

point to that more substantially dealt<br />

with the idea of somebody raising a<br />

child who is not genetically theirs,”<br />

Slatoff said.<br />

“Undoubtedly, Joseph reacted to it<br />

better than I. But that’s why we have<br />

saints, isn’t it? Isn’t it so we can say,<br />

‘This is my experience. I’ve got somebody<br />

who did it better that I can relate<br />

to.’ ”<br />

In his bronze work he crafted<br />

representations of communion, from<br />

the hand wrapping around the Christ<br />

Child, to the intricately sculpted knot<br />

of St. Joseph’s apron and the binding<br />

around his hammer.<br />

Even St. Joseph’s workbench speaks<br />

to the viewer about the family bond, a<br />

symbol of how Christ, through his life,<br />

death and resurrection, has extended<br />

the bonds of his family to include all<br />

humanity.<br />

“Anybody who sits on that bench is<br />

part of the Holy Family,” Slatoff said.<br />

“You want a family picture with God?<br />

You sit on the bench!”<br />

Sitting and taking a “family picture<br />

with God” is no mere hypothetical.<br />

According to Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik,<br />

the cathedral’s founding pastor, the<br />

piece was intended to have an interactive<br />

dimension.<br />

“That was the concept that we carried<br />

through from Father Richard Vosko,”<br />

explained Msgr. Kostelnik, referencing<br />

a priest from the Diocese of Albany<br />

who once served as art consultant for<br />

the cathedral. “It was his idea that<br />

the art should not just be something<br />

that should be placed eight feet up on<br />

the wall and lifted up high so people<br />

can gaze at it, but that it needed to be<br />

interactive.”<br />

Msgr. Kostelnik likes to note that<br />

even the statue’s location within the<br />

expansive cathedral serves a practical<br />

function for parents: The northern ambulatory<br />

where the statue is placed is<br />

often where parents leave their strollers<br />

or bring fussy children to calm down<br />

during Mass.<br />

“The ambulatory became the timeout<br />

space,” said Msgr. Kostelnik, who<br />

Christopher Slatoff in his<br />

studio sculpting “Adoption” in<br />

2011. | COURTESY CHRISTO-<br />


today is pastor of,<br />

incidentally, St.<br />

Joseph Church<br />

in Long Beach.<br />

“And in that<br />

timeout space,<br />

children became<br />

very familiar with<br />

that statue. They<br />

loved to climb<br />

up on the bench,<br />

they loved to hug<br />

the child Jesus.”<br />

In other words,<br />

a timeout space<br />

turned into a<br />

devotional space.<br />

Slatoff admitted<br />

that the opportunity<br />

to make a<br />

religious sculpture like “Adoption” has<br />

spoiled so-called “regular” art for him.<br />

“If my work was in a museum, a really<br />

great art-centric person would probably<br />

see it three times a year,” Slattoff said.<br />

“But if it’s in a church, if it’s in a public<br />

square? I’m talking about people who<br />

see that sculpture again and again and<br />

again and again.”<br />

“And if the work is good,” he added,<br />

“the sculpture continues to meet them<br />

at that level that they are at that time.”<br />

Experience would argue that the work<br />

of “Adoption” is good. From the first<br />

moment the statue was named, it bore<br />

fruit in the lives of adopted children<br />

and parents alike. Slatoff recalled that<br />

when he first told his oldest son the<br />

statue’s name, the boy was brought to<br />

tears.<br />

For others, like one student who<br />

Slatoff taught in his role as artist-in-residence<br />

at Fuller Theological Seminary,<br />

the statue works more quietly.<br />

The student wanted to talk about her<br />

adoption with her parents, who were<br />

hesitant to broach the topic. So instead<br />

of trying to initiate a difficult conversation,<br />

she invited her parents to see a<br />

certain statue at the cathedral.<br />

“It was an opportunity to not have<br />

to use the words,” Slatoff explained.<br />

“That’s the great thing about the<br />

artwork; it just pushes and prods you<br />

without having to go through the<br />

very crude methods of using words to<br />

speak.”<br />

Like a parent who laments how fast<br />

their young children have grown up,<br />

the fact that “Adoption” is already 10<br />

years old seems shocking to Slatoff. But<br />

he sees the fact that the anniversary<br />

coincides with the newly proclaimed<br />

“Year of St. Joseph” as an invitation to<br />

revisit his relationship with the popular<br />

patron.<br />

“The idea that Joseph is the patron<br />

saint of a good death, as I’m hitting my<br />

late 60s, was like ‘Oh, oh my!’ ” Slatoff<br />

said. “And I’m thinking about how my<br />

children are going to have to deal with<br />

a senile, old, hardheaded sculptor.”<br />

Evan Holguin is a graduate of the<br />

University of <strong>No</strong>tre Dame. Originally<br />

from Santa Clarita, he now lives in<br />

New Haven, Connecticut.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 15

The “Sleeping St. Joseph” statue<br />

on the author’s nightstand.<br />


Asleep with<br />

ST. JOSEPH<br />

How an anxious disposition<br />

and sleep problems brought<br />

me to discover Jesus’ foster<br />

father as a trusty intercessor<br />


It was the fall of 1993, some 28<br />

years ago. I can still hear my mother<br />

and father report back to me<br />

from the parent-teacher conference<br />

they attended at my new elementary<br />

school.<br />

“She’s excelling academically and<br />

has made a number of new friends,”<br />

my new teacher told them. “But she’s<br />

been nicknamed ‘Worry Wart’ by<br />

some of the kids in the class. Elise<br />

seems to worry about everything.”<br />

The nearly three decades since that<br />

conference have involved a tiresome<br />

effort to overcome (or at times ignore)<br />

a mind plagued by anxiety.<br />

By this point in adulthood, I’ve accepted<br />

that I am disposed to worry and<br />

“what-if.” Surmountable obstacles,<br />

moments of change — any number<br />

of scenarios, really — can send me<br />

into a panic or a cycle of compulsive<br />

rumination and doubt.<br />

A cocktail of genetics and life’s<br />

circumstances are at the root of my<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

situation; good counsel and a supportive<br />

network have made it possible to<br />

manage.<br />

Humor helps. When I’m having a<br />

particularly difficult spout of worrying,<br />

I turn to “The Worst Case Scenario<br />

Survival Handbook” (Chronicle<br />

Books, 1999), a humorous gift from<br />

my father that I keep on my nightstand.<br />

This gem provides step-bystep<br />

instructions for how to survive<br />

extreme, adverse conditions, such as<br />

“How to Escape from a Bear” and<br />

“How to Land a Plane.” It’s a surefire<br />

way to get some perspective.<br />

As a woman of faith, I struggle with<br />

how to reconcile the tension between<br />

my sincere belief in the word of God<br />

and my habit of worrying.<br />

I don’t find Gospel passages in which<br />

Jesus counsels his disciples not to let<br />

their hearts be troubled to be comforting.<br />

<strong>No</strong>r do I respond well to the<br />

oft-quoted advice, “Pray, hope, and<br />

don’t worry,” attributed to St. Padre<br />

Pio.<br />

That kind of counsel makes me<br />

worry about worrying. It would be<br />

humorous, if it weren’t so hard.<br />

I find more comfort in Jesus’ admonition<br />

of his disciples for sleeping<br />

while he was in agony. “You get it,” I<br />

murmur in prayer when reading the<br />

accounts of that night in the Garden<br />

of Gethsemane.<br />

Lately, my anxiety has manifested<br />

itself in insomnia, that cruel condition<br />

in which one either cannot fall or stay<br />

asleep. After my mother received a<br />

devastating medical diagnosis a few<br />

years ago, I found myself in a vicious<br />

pattern of lying awake for hours,<br />

unable to calm my mind or slow the<br />

beating of my heart. It’s hard to discipline<br />

my imagination as it wanders<br />

through the course of her disease and<br />

our family life without her physically<br />

present in it.<br />

Objectively, I know that worrying<br />

will not ease her burden, nor will<br />

it help me to be a more supportive<br />

daughter. <strong>No</strong>netheless, I’ve watched<br />

countless hours tick by in the darkness<br />

and stillness of the night.<br />

Sometimes praying the rosary<br />

provides comfort. Other times I read<br />

a novel to find respite in a fictional<br />

world. But more often than not,<br />

there’s just a feeling of anguish and<br />

restlessness. Sleep is pretty important<br />

to the functioning of the mind and<br />

body; going without it for long periods<br />

Pope Francis shows the<br />

sleeping posture of the<br />

statue of St. Joseph he keeps<br />

on his desk while giving<br />

a talk during a meeting<br />

with families in Manila,<br />

Philippines, in 2015.<br />


of time is definitely<br />

not recommended.<br />

About two years<br />

after my insomnia<br />

began, I stumbled<br />

upon a statue of St.<br />

Joseph in the foyer<br />

outside my spiritual<br />

director’s office. St.<br />

Joseph was lying<br />

down on his right<br />

side, fast asleep. I<br />

was struck by the<br />

image. He looked so<br />

serene.<br />

He had what I<br />

desperately wanted: REM sleep. More<br />

importantly, he had a look of rest that<br />

had reached down into his bones and<br />

soul.<br />

The image stayed with me. The<br />

Gospels recount that the Holy Family<br />

found themselves in some pretty<br />

terrifying situations at their outset: an<br />

arduous journey before Mary was to<br />

give birth; a delivery in a stable; and a<br />

flight into Egypt to escape a malevolent<br />

tyrant all colored their first years<br />

together.<br />

Yet St. Joseph was able to sleep.<br />

And it was during that sleep that God<br />

communicated to him how he was to<br />

protect and care for his family. Sleep<br />

was where St. Joseph’s fear became no<br />

match for his faith.<br />

I did some investigating and learned<br />

that Pope Francis has this image of St.<br />

Joseph on his desk. It was one of the<br />

items he brought from Argentina to<br />

Rome when he was elected pope.<br />

Speaking to families during his 2015<br />

visit to Manila, Pope Francis said of<br />

St. Joseph: “Even when he is asleep,<br />

he is taking care of the church! Yes!<br />

We know that he can do that. So<br />

when I have a problem, a difficulty, I<br />

write a little note and I put it underneath<br />

St. Joseph, so that he can dream<br />

about it! In other words I tell him:<br />

Pray for this problem!”<br />

I bought a statue of “Sleeping St.<br />

Joseph” to put on my nightstand. In<br />

a belief bordering on sacrilege, I half<br />

expected it to function like a talisman<br />

that would cure me of my insomnia.<br />

Instead, it’s served as a great comfort<br />

to me when I find myself awake.<br />

As the minutes on the clock tick<br />

forward, I look over to St. Joseph with<br />

gratitude that one of us is sleeping.<br />

I glance at the notes I’ve placed<br />

beneath his heart and remember that<br />

like any good father, he’s bringing my<br />

worries before Jesus.<br />

Life is filled with countless things<br />

about which we have legitimate reason<br />

to fret. Maybe in this Year of St.<br />

Joseph, we can follow his example of<br />

handing our problems over to God to<br />

hold until the sun rises.<br />

After all, the Son does rise, making<br />

even the most worrisome things new.<br />

Elise Italiano Ureneck is a communications<br />

consultant writing from Boston.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 17

A deacon in demand<br />

At 99, St. Bernadette<br />

Church’s Emile Adams<br />

Jr. is still finding new<br />

ways to serve<br />


Emile Adams and<br />

his wife, Anona,<br />

at his diaconate<br />

ordination in 1979.<br />

Though he has a century’s<br />

worth of memories to choose<br />

from, one that will always get<br />

a chuckle out of 99-year-old Emile<br />

Adams Jr. starts with him receiving<br />

a rather frantic phone call from his<br />

daughter, Lillian.<br />

“The power had gone out in my<br />

house,” she said. “I had six children,<br />

three boys in the bath, a baby down<br />

in the crib, two girls running around<br />

and [husband] Frank was at work. I<br />

couldn’t figure out the fuse box, so<br />

I called my dad and he was over in<br />

minutes.<br />

“The moment he walks in the house,<br />

he puts his arms over his head and<br />

says, ‘Let there be light!’ And the<br />

lights went on! We all just stared<br />

at him for a moment and then my<br />

daughter Robyn said to her sister Renee,<br />

‘See Renee, I told you Papa was<br />

God.’ ” (We assume Renee nodded<br />

knowingly.)<br />

While one can forgive<br />

a granddaughter’s<br />

pride, the truth<br />

is that people seem<br />

to recognize something<br />

different about<br />

Adams. Just ask<br />

parishioners at St.<br />

Bernadette Church in Baldwin Hills,<br />

where Adams has attended since 1972<br />

and began his ministry as a deacon in<br />

1979.<br />

“Emile is one of those people you<br />

meet that simply embodies goodness,”<br />

said Deacon Jim Carper, the parish<br />

life director at St. Bernadette.<br />

The call to the diaconate came when<br />

Adams was already in his 50s.<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

“There was a deacon position open<br />

and the pastor at St. Bernadette<br />

recommended me for it,” Adams said.<br />

“He told me I was the first person who<br />

came to mind.”<br />

That was more than 40 years ago.<br />

He’s 99 now, and reputed to be the<br />

oldest active deacon in the country<br />

— not that the title is anything he<br />

really cares about. What is important<br />

to Adams is that he can be counted on<br />

by his parish community.<br />

It’s who he is — not as a deacon,<br />

but as a man — and the reason the<br />

“Let there be light!” story is not only<br />

amusing, but instructive. First, for<br />

the record, Adams said he was only<br />

kidding when he commanded the<br />

lights and was “as shocked as everyone<br />

else when they came on,” attributing<br />

matters to a bizarre coincidence.<br />

What is not coincidental is that he<br />

showed up to help, and did it quickly.<br />

Adams believes it is through acts of<br />

service that he best shows his, and<br />

Christ’s, love. Reading that, you may<br />

assume that Adams lives his life by the<br />

passage in James that encourages us to<br />

“be doers of the word, and not hearers<br />

only.” But those who know Adams<br />

well know there is another phrase that<br />

guides him.<br />

“His motto is, ‘If someone asks me<br />

to do it, then it must need doing,’ ”<br />

Carper said.<br />

The “doing” can take the form of<br />

serving Mass to making sandwiches<br />

for the homeless five days a week,<br />

from celebrating funerals and weddings,<br />

to heading the parish’s bereavement<br />

ministry.<br />

Lillian likes to tell the story of how<br />

her dad was asked to volunteer at the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Metropolitan<br />

Tribunal for a few weeks. He<br />

ended up volunteering there three<br />

days a week for the next 28 years,<br />

helping handle “lack of form” cases.<br />

“I always want to be there to help<br />

out,” Adams said.<br />

Even when no one would expect<br />

him to. Two weeks after Anona, his<br />

wife of 58 years, died, he told Lillian<br />

he would attend the funeral of a<br />

deacon friend. When Lillian told him<br />

that no one would expect him to go,<br />

given his age and his recent loss, he<br />

told her he had to go, to be there for<br />

his friend’s wife.<br />

“Even though he was hurting because<br />

of just having lost his wife, he<br />

wanted to be there because he knew<br />

his friend’s wife would be hurting,”<br />

Lillian said.<br />

Emile and Anona started St. Bernadette’s<br />

Christian Service and Bereavement<br />

programs together. When she<br />

died, Lillian stepped in to minister to<br />

dying patients and their families. It<br />

was important to Adams that “no one<br />

dies alone,” but that has been made<br />

impossible in many cases due to regulations<br />

concerning the COVID-19<br />

pandemic.<br />

“It changed things, not being able<br />

to have a [funeral] service and people<br />

having to go directly to the cemetery,”<br />

Emile said. “Yes, it’s been very hard<br />

on people, they’ve told me they’d like<br />

to have the service, to have closure.<br />

It’s made it very difficult.”<br />

So difficult that at one point, Lillian<br />

had to tell her father that she would<br />

need a break.<br />

“I told him, ‘Daddy, this is too<br />

much,’ ” Lillian said. “He said, ‘But<br />

Lillian, people need us.’ ”<br />

And they have continued to be there<br />

for people. Until COVID-19 closed<br />

the doors of his church a year ago,<br />

Adams was still assisting at Mass every<br />

Sunday. Since then, he’s been leading<br />

rosary sessions and Stations of the<br />

Cross (during<br />

An LAFD firefighter<br />

greets Adams at his<br />

drive-by birthday parade<br />

on Feb. 28. | DAVID<br />


Lent) for parishioners<br />

via Zoom.<br />

Adams intends<br />

on continuing<br />

to “be there”<br />

for quite some<br />

time. Ask him for<br />

the secret to his<br />

longevity and he says he really doesn’t<br />

do anything special.<br />

“I don’t live in the past,” he said. “I<br />

learn from it. I keep going.”<br />

Of course, we probably have a lot<br />

more to learn from him. As Carper<br />

put it, “There is an aura about that<br />

man. A building could be falling<br />

down and he would remain calm.”<br />

And then he’d likely volunteer to<br />

pick up the pieces.<br />

“Yes, absolutely,” Carper laughed.<br />

“Deacons are called ‘men of service.’<br />

Emile embodies that.”<br />

Steve Lowery is the arts and culture<br />

editor for the Long Beach Post and<br />

a parishioner at American Martyrs<br />

Church in Manhattan Beach.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 19

The triumph of<br />

a pilgrim of<br />

peace<br />

ISIS never conquered<br />

Rome, but this month<br />

a Roman pontiff<br />

conquered Iraq<br />


Back in 2014, the terrorist organization<br />

known as the Islamic<br />

State, or ISIS, threatened a violent<br />

conquest of Rome from the Iraqi<br />

city of Mosul. Seven years later, however,<br />

the bishop of Rome has achieved<br />

the reverse, visiting the war-devastated<br />

city of Mosul and conquering it, not<br />

through force but as a pilgrim of peace.<br />

Standing amid the city’s ruins on a<br />

Sunday afternoon, the pontiff reaffirmed<br />

the conviction that “fraternity<br />

is more durable than fratricide, hope is<br />

more powerful than hate, peace more<br />

powerful than war.”<br />

Pope Francis’ <strong>March</strong> 5-8 trip to Iraq<br />

was perhaps the most complicated<br />

of his pontificate, threatened by fears<br />

ranging from COVID-19 risks to the<br />

possibility of suicide bombings by<br />

dormant terrorist cells, to the ongoing<br />

reality of regular attacks by pro-Iranian<br />

militias on both civil and military<br />

targets in the country.<br />

Pope Francis releases a white dove during a<br />

memorial prayer for the victims of the war at Hosh<br />

al-Bieaa (church square) in Mosul on <strong>March</strong> 7.<br />


On his way back to Rome, Pope Francis<br />

told reporters during an in-flight<br />

press conference that he had prayed<br />

about the COVID-19-related risks<br />

of the visit and had asked for advice<br />

before ultimately making up his mind<br />

to go.<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

“I made the decision freely, but<br />

it came from inside,” Pope Francis<br />

said. “And I said, ‘May he who makes<br />

me decide this way, take care of the<br />

people.’ ”<br />

The trip, the first for Pope Francis<br />

outside of Italy since <strong>No</strong>vember 2019,<br />

included five cities: Baghdad, Najaf,<br />

Mosul, Qaraqosh, and Erbil — and<br />

seven speeches, including a homily at<br />

a Mass attended by more than 10,000<br />

people.<br />

Throughout the visit, in both words<br />

and gestures, the pope appealed for a<br />

simple goal: peace. He made a point<br />

of doing so in the presence of leaders<br />

from various religious traditions during<br />

a stop in Ur, the birthplace of Abraham,<br />

considered a prophet by Jews,<br />

Christians, and Muslims.<br />

On Sunday, <strong>March</strong> 7, he visited<br />

Qaraqosh, a village that before<br />

the rise of ISIS in 2014 boasted<br />

the largest Christian community in<br />

Iraq with some 50,000 inhabitants.<br />

While there, Pope Francis heard the<br />

story of an Iraqi Christian woman<br />

named Doha Sabah Abdallah.<br />

Abdallah described to the pope how<br />

her family had fled Qaraqosh after the<br />

first attempts from ISIS to invade it.<br />

Three days later, everyone returned,<br />

because “being Christians, we are<br />

ready for martyrdom.”<br />

On the morning of Aug. 6, 2014,<br />

days before ISIS conquered the city, a<br />

mortar shell killed her small son and<br />

his cousin, as well as a young neighbor<br />

who was preparing for marriage.<br />

“The martyrdom of these three angels<br />

was a clear warning. Were it not for<br />

that, the people of Qaraqosh would<br />

have remained and would inevitably<br />

have fallen into the hands of ISIS,” she<br />

said. “The death of the three saved the<br />

entire city.”<br />

Abdallah’s witness of forgiveness clearly<br />

left a mark on Pope Francis.<br />

“Forgiveness — that’s a key word,”<br />

he reflected during the in-flight press<br />

conference. “Forgiveness is necessary<br />

to remain in love, to remain Christian.<br />

The road to a full recovery may still be<br />

long, but I ask you, please, not to grow<br />

discouraged. What is needed is the<br />

ability to forgive, but also the courage<br />

not to give up.”<br />

“We trust in [God] and, together<br />

with all people of goodwill, we say ‘no<br />

to terrorism and the manipulation of<br />

religion,’ ” he said, repeating a request<br />

that became the mantra of the trip.<br />

In Qaraqosh, the pontiff encountered<br />

Iraq’s Christian community in a<br />

church that, between 2014 and 2017,<br />

served as a shooting range for ISIS.<br />

Today, thanks to Catholic charities<br />

such as Aid to the Church in Need and<br />

the Knights of Columbus, close to half<br />

of those who fled have been able to go<br />

back, though their future in the land<br />

of their ancestors continues to hang on<br />

a thread. Without jobs and still under<br />

the threat of rogue militias, a cloud of<br />

danger looms.<br />

Earlier that day, Pope Francis was<br />

shocked by the man-caused devastation<br />

of Mosul, once a thriving city.<br />

“I had seen things, I had read a book,<br />

but [seeing the destruction] touches<br />

Children are seen during<br />

the pope’s visit with<br />

the community at the<br />

Church of the Immaculate<br />

Conception in Qaraqosh,<br />

Iraq, on <strong>March</strong> 7.<br />


<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

you,” he told reporters on Monday.<br />

“When I stopped at the destroyed<br />

church, I had no words. It’s unbelievable.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t only that church, but others<br />

too, and a mosque, that evidently was<br />

not aligned with these people.<br />

“Human cruelty, our cruelty, is impossible<br />

to believe,” he remarked.<br />

Then came what was arguably the<br />

most politically charged comment<br />

of his visit: “Something that came to<br />

mind in the church is this: Who sells<br />

these weapons to these destructors? Because<br />

they don’t build these weapons at<br />

home. Who sells these weapons? Who<br />

is responsible? I would ask these who<br />

sell the weapons to at least have the<br />

sincerity to say, ‘We sell the weapons.’ ”<br />

Saturday saw one of the many<br />

“firsts” on this papal visit to Iraq,<br />

when Pope Francis went to the<br />

city of Najaf to visit Grand Ayatollah<br />

Ali al-Sistani, one of the most revered<br />

leaders of Shia Islam.<br />

Some 70% of the country favors<br />

a separation of religion and state,<br />

though the remaining Iraqi Muslims<br />

veer toward an interpretation of Shia<br />

Islam closer to that of theocratic Iran.<br />

Pro-Iranian militias in many parts of<br />

the country are trying to accomplish<br />

what ISIS couldn’t: to rid Iraq of its<br />

many minorities, including Christians<br />

and Yazidis.<br />

Al-Sistani plays a key role in Iraq’s<br />

peace and stability, and though he’s<br />

usually a quiet figure, he’s not afraid of<br />

raising his voice to combat violence,<br />

as he did with a 2014 “fatwa,” a ruling<br />

on a point of Islamic law given by a<br />

recognized authority, urging Iraqis of<br />

all faiths to come together to combat<br />

ISIS.<br />

Though some might perceive it as a<br />

symbolic gesture, for Pope Francis the<br />

50-minute conversation with the Shia<br />

leader represented a second step on a<br />

path toward understanding after the<br />

Declaration on Human Fraternity that<br />

he co-signed with the Grand Imam of<br />

al-Azhar, the most influential leader of<br />

Sunni Islam, in 2019.<br />

Top Vatican diplomat Archbishop<br />

Pope Francis celebrates Mass for an overflow<br />

crowd outdoors at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic<br />

Cathedral in Baghdad on <strong>March</strong> 6.<br />


Paul Gallagher believes that with his<br />

trip, and the overall diplomatic efforts<br />

of the Holy See, Pope Francis is trying<br />

to stop the “hemorrhaging of Christians<br />

in the Middle East: Iraq, Lebanon,<br />

also Syria,” but conceded it’s “very<br />

difficult.”<br />

Christians cannot be forced to stay in<br />

a land that holds their past but offers<br />

them little future, Archbishop Gallagher<br />

noted. Hence the urgency the<br />

pontiff felt in making this pilgrimage:<br />

Time is of the essence when it comes<br />

to the survival of minorities in the<br />

region.<br />

This, Archbishop Gallagher said, “is<br />

a significant challenge to the future<br />

of Christianity, and it is a geopolitical<br />

problem, because Christians have always<br />

been there, they have always had<br />

a role amidst the other communities,<br />

the larger, more powerful communi-<br />

22 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

ties,” the archbishop said.<br />

While he was in Mosul, the former<br />

capital of the ISIS-proclaimed Islamic<br />

caliphate, Pope Francis said that the<br />

“tragic diminution<br />

of Jesus’<br />

disciples here<br />

and across the<br />

Middle East does<br />

incalculable<br />

harm, not just to<br />

the individuals<br />

and communities<br />

concerned, but<br />

Pope Francis met<br />

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,<br />

one of Shiite Islam’s<br />

most authoritative<br />

figures, on <strong>March</strong> 6.<br />


also to the society they leave behind.”<br />

The stage set up at the “Hosh al-<br />

Bieaa” (“church square”) in Mosul for<br />

a prayer service for war victims was a<br />

stark contrast with the dilapidated ruins<br />

of the city surrounding it. Though efforts<br />

are being made to rebuild the city,<br />

removing the tons of rubble has proven<br />

to be a painstakingly slow process.<br />

Pope Francis had the opportunity to<br />

see the devastation from the sky during<br />

his helicopter ride from the nearby city<br />

of Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, where he<br />

said an open-air Mass later in the day.<br />

Mosul is the administrative capital of<br />

Nineveh, and for the past 2,500 years it<br />

has represented the pluralistic identity<br />

of Iraq.<br />

The rise of ISIS, and the war that followed,<br />

caused vast damage to the city’s<br />

skyline, destroying landmarks such as<br />

the al-Hadba Minaret of the al-<strong>No</strong>uri<br />

Mosque and the clock tower of the<br />

Church of Our Lady of the Hour, the<br />

first of its kind in the Middle East.<br />

During his visit, Pope Francis defined<br />

the damaged structures as reminders of<br />

the “perennial human desire for closeness”<br />

to God. The clock, he added,<br />

“for more than a century has reminded<br />

passersby that life is short and time is<br />

precious.”<br />

Despite the many unforgettable<br />

snapshots of the visit, there was one<br />

arguably understated moment that<br />

best captured the importance of the<br />

trip: Pope Francis’ encounter with the<br />

priests, religious, and bishops in the<br />

Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady<br />

of Salvation, where on Oct. 31, 2010,<br />

48 Iraqis were martyred, murdered by<br />

Islamic terrorists during Mass.<br />

The deaths of those modern-day<br />

martyrs, who number in the thousands<br />

in the Middle East, “are a powerful<br />

reminder that inciting war, hateful<br />

attitudes, violence, or the shedding of<br />

blood are incompatible with authentic<br />

religious teachings.”<br />

“This evening I want to thank you for<br />

your efforts to be peacemakers, within<br />

your communities and with believers<br />

of other religious traditions, sowing<br />

seeds of reconciliation and fraternal<br />

coexistence that can lead to a rebirth<br />

of hope for<br />

Pope Francis participates<br />

in a memorial<br />

prayer for the victims of<br />

the war at Hosh al-Bieaa<br />

(church square) in<br />

Mosul on <strong>March</strong> 7.<br />


everyone,” Pope<br />

Francis said.<br />

Peace, hope,<br />

and forgiveness:<br />

three themes<br />

at the center<br />

of Christianity,<br />

taken for granted<br />

by some<br />

and dismissed<br />

as considered utopian by others. But<br />

here, during a historic visit to the land<br />

of Abraham, they were at the center of<br />

the pope’s message.<br />

Inés San Martín is an Argentinian<br />

journalist and Rome bureau chief for<br />

Crux. She is a frequent contributor to<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 23

Solving our<br />

trust problem<br />

Tough times make trusting anyone,<br />

even God, seem too risky. But the<br />

psalms help us see otherwise<br />


City people are notoriously suspicious. Urban populations<br />

shift, people come and go. When every arrangement<br />

is temporary, it’s difficult to form bonds<br />

of friendship and trust.<br />

And over the last few centuries we in the West have become<br />

increasingly urbanized.<br />

In societies that never settle, we lose the skills and habits<br />

required for trust. We do not trust our neighbors, our<br />

leaders, our institutions. We can extend our wariness even<br />

to God, treating him as just another transient living next<br />

door.<br />

In the first year he was pope, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI<br />

began a series of Wednesday Audience talks on the psalms,<br />

the Hebrew poems and songs that constitute the largest<br />

book of the Bible.<br />

Pope Benedict was actually resuming a series St. Pope<br />

John Paul II had left unfinished at the time of his death.<br />

But Pope Benedict’s interpretations are distinctively his<br />

own. As he read deeply in the Book of Psalms, he found<br />

trust to be a dominant theme.<br />

The psalms are an effective remedy, he said, to modern<br />

world-weariness and cynicism. He described our situation<br />

in bracing terms as a twofold crisis. There is “the external<br />

crisis of loneliness, irony and contempt of believers” along<br />

with “the interior crisis that consists of discouragement,<br />

mediocrity and weariness.”<br />

The psalms, and Psalm 125 in particular, tell us “that if<br />

we have trust, we are stronger than these evils.”<br />

But trust is not something we can simply choose. Trust<br />

must be earned; the objects of our trust must prove themselves<br />

to be trustworthy.<br />

The psalms themselves bear witness to the moral failure<br />

of earthly institutions. Psalm 146 famously counsels: “Put<br />

not your trust in princes.” And the authorship of half the<br />

psalms is attributed to King David, a ruler chosen by God<br />

who nonetheless fell into the grave sins of adultery, murder,<br />

and the prideful accounting of a census — incited by<br />

Satan himself (1 Chronicles 21:1).<br />

In doing evil in these ways,<br />

David violated the trust of his<br />

people. He weakened his office<br />

and left the nation vulnerable<br />

to its enemies. He was hardly a<br />

credible spokesman for the value of trust.<br />

He himself admitted as much. Psalm 51, addressed<br />

Fresco of King David, by<br />

Eduard Engerth, 1857.<br />


directly to God, is an abject apology for his wrongdoing.<br />

And Psalm 118 (though not explicitly attributed to David)<br />

makes an important distinction: “It is better to take refuge<br />

in the LORD than to trust in princes.”<br />

Only God, it seems, is worthy of trust. Everything else in<br />

the universe is flux and change. The skies and seas are impressive,<br />

but they are unreliable and unpredictable. Only<br />

God is unchanging. Only God simply is.<br />

Pope Benedict noted that, from the very first sentence,<br />

Psalm 125 “proclaims the stability of ‘those who put their<br />

trust in the Lord.’ ” The psalmist compares their strength<br />

to the firmness of Mount Zion, which “cannot be shaken.”<br />

Pope Benedict observed: “This is obviously due to the<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

presence of God,” who, according to Psalm 18, is “rock,<br />

fortress, savior ... refuge, shield, mighty help, stronghold.”<br />

God alone is trustworthy, it seems. Thus, the psalms exhort<br />

their hearers to “Remember the wonderful works that<br />

[the LORD] has done, his miracles” (105:5). They invoke<br />

the call of Abraham, the liberation of Israel from slavery,<br />

and the conquest of Canaan. These were manifestations<br />

of divine power, enabling the faithful not merely to escape<br />

death, but to emerge triumphant against all earthly odds.<br />

Toward those who are faithful, God is kind and generous:<br />

“O how abundant is your goodness, which you have laid<br />

up for those who fear you, and wrought for those who take<br />

refuge in you” (31:19). “Surely his salvation is at hand for<br />

those who fear him” (85:9).<br />

The proof of this is in the opening line of the psalm that<br />

Jesus quotes upon the cross: “My God, my God, why have<br />

you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). That psalm expresses the<br />

most desperate condition of a human<br />

being: “I am a worm, and no man;<br />

scorned by men, and despised by the<br />

people. All who see me mock at me”<br />

(6–7).<br />

And yet<br />

that man of<br />

sorrows — at<br />

the limit of<br />

human endurance<br />

— rouses<br />

a memory of<br />

God’s victories<br />

in the past. As<br />

Pope Benedict<br />

People pray during Ash<br />

Wednesday Mass at the<br />

cathedral in San Salvador,<br />

El Salvador, Feb. 17. | CNS/<br />


noted, “This initial cry of supplication<br />

… is followed in sorrowful contrast by<br />

the memory of the past, ‘In you our<br />

fathers trusted; they trusted, and you<br />

did deliver them. To you they cried,<br />

and were saved; in you they trusted and<br />

were not disappointed.’ ”<br />

Psalm 22, which began with a cry of<br />

dereliction, ends with thanksgiving,<br />

confidently offered in advance for<br />

the Lord’s deliverance. For the psalmist and for Jesus, the<br />

ending is never in doubt.<br />

The psalms, as Jesus knew, do not ask anyone to trust<br />

blindly. They propose a reasonable trust, an inner certainty<br />

based on God’s consistent performance in the past.<br />

God is trustworthy, say the psalms, even though every<br />

earthly power is capable of corruption.<br />

Nevertheless, the message of the psalms is not a counsel<br />

to abandon the world and scorn every institution.<br />

It is to David’s shame that he betrayed his office, which<br />

was both sacred and secular. It is to David’s shame that<br />

he earned the suspicion of his people. The consequences<br />

of David’s sins were horrific: rebellion, division, apostasy,<br />

destitution, depravity, weakness, invasion, and exile.<br />

For generations, the people of Israel suffered because of<br />

their king’s moments of infidelity. Because he was their<br />

leader, he was responsible for their well-being. Because he<br />

had sinned, he brought disaster not only upon himself and<br />

his heirs, but also upon his subjects.<br />

Because he occupied a sacred office, moreover, he<br />

brought scorn upon God.<br />

David’s sin made rebellion inevitable. But God did not<br />

bless those who rebelled against the House of David. Their<br />

guilt was as plain as his. Though many of the kings were<br />

unfaithful, their office remained holy and guaranteed by<br />

divine institution. Those who rejected David’s authority —<br />

compromised as it was — placed themselves in opposition<br />

not only to David, but to God.<br />

Salvation could be found only in Israel, even when the<br />

kings of Israel were derelict.<br />

The God revealed in Israel — the God we know through<br />

the Church — has established his presence in human<br />

history, not because of our earthly heroes and leaders, but<br />

in spite of them.<br />

We show our trust in God by our steadfastness among his<br />

people, acknowledging his anointed leaders, even when it<br />

is very difficult to do so.<br />

Pope Benedict noted that Psalm 119 moves through the<br />

Hebrew alphabet, and its unifying theme is trust. Everywhere<br />

there is acknowledgment of darkness, grief, and<br />

lamentation; and yet also “the certainty of divine grace and<br />

of the power of the word of God.”<br />

The psalms teach us how to trust not only in good times,<br />

but at any moment in history. God does not abandon his<br />

people — his assembly, his Church — even when kings<br />

and priests abandon God.<br />

Mike Aquilina is a contributing editor to <strong>Angelus</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

and author of many books, including “A Joyful <strong>No</strong>ise:<br />

Praying the Psalms with the Early Church” (Emmaus Road<br />

Publishing, $19.95).<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 25



Discovering our inner ‘Misfit’<br />

Flannery O’Connor in 1962. | CNS/AP/ATLANTA<br />


Every Lenten season for the past<br />

few years I’ve made a point of<br />

reading a book that I know I<br />

ought to read but have been avoiding.<br />

This year I’m reading the work of<br />

Flannery O’Connor in “A Good Man<br />

is Hard to Find and Other Stories.”<br />

I first read one of her novels when I<br />

was in college and found it too bleak.<br />

But now, my more mature mind and<br />

more experienced heart are finding the<br />

20th-century Catholic author’s fiction<br />

illuminating in ways I never imagined<br />

possible.<br />

Don’t get me wrong. Traveling with<br />

her characters through their dark days<br />

and wrenching internal conflicts is no<br />

walk in the park. It is tough work, actually.<br />

They are stories of violence, ignorance,<br />

abuse, despair — all burnished<br />

with a carnival freak-show overlay<br />

which conveys a sense of horror.<br />

Her tales are set in the Deep South<br />

during the Jim Crow era, and all the<br />

pathologies and dysfunctions of that<br />

time and place are not just present<br />

but magnified. Perhaps the grotesque<br />

reputation that much of the American<br />

South still suffers from to this day (even<br />

when so many know it as a delightful<br />

part of the country to live, work,<br />

and raise a family) may be partially<br />

O’Connor’s fault, who used the world<br />

she knew to write stories dusted with<br />

the macabre.<br />

Part of the author’s aim, I think, was<br />

to graphically plumb the depths of<br />

the caverns of sin in the human soul<br />

for the reader. In this there is nothing<br />

special, as there are countless books<br />

of psychological horror, crime, and<br />

violence that do the same.<br />

Rather, it is her purposes for doing<br />

so that are special. She didn’t mean<br />

to simply titillate and horrify as many<br />

of her fellow novelists did and still<br />

do. <strong>No</strong>, she measured out the depths<br />

of human wretchedness so that we<br />

could stand amazed, with her, at the<br />

“appalling strangeness of the mercy<br />

of God,” to borrow that perfect phrase<br />

from Graham Greene, another great<br />

Catholic author.<br />

We are meant to experience that no<br />

matter how deep the ancient fault<br />

lines of original sin may lie, they can<br />

overflow with the torrent of grace that<br />

gushes from the Savior’s side. The<br />

magnanimity of God flashes upon us,<br />

her readers, as she forces us to come<br />

to a stop and think: thousands upon<br />

thousands of human years of vile acts,<br />

casual cruelties, and stony indifference<br />

to our brother’s suffering have not begun<br />

to exhaust God’s tender clemency.<br />

In her short story “A Good Man is<br />

Hard to Find,” one of her characters,<br />

the Misfit, a murderer on a random<br />

killing spree, expresses the vast implications<br />

of our redemption.<br />

“If He did what He said, then it’s<br />

nothing for you to do but throw away<br />

everything and follow Him, and if He<br />

didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do<br />

but enjoy the few minutes you got<br />

left the best way you can — by killing<br />

somebody or burning down his house<br />

or doing some other meanness to him.<br />

<strong>No</strong> pleasure but meanness.”<br />

This is the conclusion that all of<br />

O’Connor’s works point toward. All of<br />

us — man, woman, child — have but<br />

one way out of our natural condition of<br />

“no pleasure but meanness”: coming<br />

face-to-face with our sinfulness, discovering<br />

we cannot conquer it on our<br />

own, and throwing away everything to<br />

follow the One who can and for some<br />

inexplicable reason does.<br />

Send __<br />

Name __<br />

Address _<br />

<strong>26</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong><br />

City ____

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a<br />

mother of five who practices<br />

radiology in the Miami area.<br />

For O’Connor’s characters, that first<br />

step is the hardest one. Almost all of<br />

them seem to stumble around in a tragic<br />

blindness of spirit, entirely unaware<br />

of the cruelty of their acts and the<br />

pitilessness of their treatment of others.<br />

When they do feel compunction and<br />

aim higher, they are quickly defeated<br />

by habits of thought, the smallness of<br />

their minds, and the narrowness of<br />

their vision. They remain trapped by<br />

conceit and self-satisfaction.<br />

This brings me to another purpose of<br />

O’Connor’s — the one which I found<br />

particularly fitting in this time of Lent:<br />

to show us that we are just like them!<br />

We do not begin to see the wounds<br />

we inflict on others, or the edifices<br />

and habits we build to daily soothe<br />

our complacent consciences. Can<br />

we really claim to be superior to her<br />

characters, who were largely supine in<br />

the face of the grave societal injustices<br />

of the Jim Crow era?<br />

We have our own modern day systemic<br />

cruelty that we’ve become accustomed<br />

to, but it does not seem to stop<br />

us in our tracks. The sexual liberation<br />

that our culture prizes above all goods<br />

is built on the backs of abased women<br />

and the deaths of untold numbers of<br />

unborn children.<br />

We live in a society that values personal<br />

satisfaction and comfort, usually at<br />

the expense of the poorest and most<br />

vulnerable. Do we stand and protest<br />

against today’s grave sin and refuse to<br />

be a part of it?<br />

So far, it has been a spectacular Lent<br />

for me, thanks to O’Connor. I’m dragging<br />

a very humble heart up the hill<br />

to Calvary. <strong>No</strong>t humble enough, I’m<br />

sure. But I can thank her for showing<br />

me there’s enough “appalling mercy”<br />

at the foot of the cross to make up the<br />

difference.<br />


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<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 27

A saint for sinners?<br />

The messy life of French poet and Holocaust victim<br />

Max Jacob is not your typical conversion story<br />


There are some historical figures whose lives read like<br />

novels because their lives cross paths with so much<br />

history and the biographies of the famous.<br />

It almost takes a “willing suspension of disbelief,” to borrow<br />

a phrase from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to believe the<br />

details of their lives.<br />

One such character is Max Jacob, a French poet who is<br />

the subject of a new biography by American writer and literary<br />

scholar Rosanna Warren of the University of Chicago.<br />

A New York Times review of Warren’s book describes<br />

Jacob as “a marginal figure three times over — gay, ethnically<br />

Jewish, and hailing from the provinces.” But there’s<br />

plenty more in Jacob’s life that qualifies as extraordinary,<br />

from his devout Catholicism to his death at the hands of<br />

the Nazis while waiting to be sent to a concentration camp.<br />

Born to an ethnically Jewish family that did not practice<br />

the Jewish religion, he converted to Catholicism as a young<br />

man in 1915.<br />

“Portrait of Max Jacob,” 1934, by Carl<br />

Van Vechten. | LIBRARY OF CONGRESS<br />

His onetime<br />

roommate, Pablo<br />

Picasso, was his<br />

godfather at baptism<br />

and gave him a copy of “The Imitation of Christ” as<br />

a christening gift. In her book, Warren makes much of the<br />

intersection of the disparate groups and cultural movements<br />

in Jacob’s life and work. The Frenchman moved<br />

in avant-garde artistic circles typical of the first half of the<br />

20th century, mingling with Cubist painters and writers<br />

like Guillaume Apollinaire, André Gide and Jean Cocteau.<br />

But he also was closely connected to Catholic philosopher<br />

(also a convert) Jacques Maritain.<br />

His conversion was thanks to a mystical experience that<br />

involved seeing Christ’s image appear, “the Divine Body<br />

… on the wall of a shabby room,” and later on the screen<br />

of a cinema. His friends did not know what to make of his<br />

religion, and he covered much of the puzzling aspects of<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

his personal faith with comedic exaggeration.<br />

For instance, he was disappointed in seeing the streets of<br />

souvenir shops at Lourdes and joked that he also had seen<br />

the Blessed Virgin Mary, who looked very good, “for her<br />

age.” A French intellectual said of Jacob that he was a harlequin<br />

who never could get all the grease paint off his face.<br />

Warren makes the case that his stature as a cultural figure<br />

is important. He was both a painter<br />

and a poet, and was awarded the Legion<br />

of Honor of France for his artistic<br />

achievements. Nevertheless, he never<br />

knew success or recognition outside of<br />

a small circle, and spent periods of his<br />

life as a lay associate at a monastery<br />

outside of Paris from 1921 to 1928 and<br />

then 1936 to 1944.<br />

“La Visitation,” 1938,<br />

by Max Jacob.<br />


One of his remarks, preserved in a book called “The Aesthetics<br />

of Max Jacob,” talks about a saint who is expelled<br />

from a monastery and asks God why that would be. He said<br />

God replied, “So that you could found your own monastery.”<br />

He never founded his own monastery, but Jacob<br />

certainly had some spiritual charisms, albeit mixed with<br />

contradictions. When people were skeptical of his religion<br />

because of his lifestyle, Jacob liked to quip that he believed<br />

in confession, which wipes away sins.<br />

He wrote an essay called “The Defense of Tartufe,” in<br />

which he consciously accepted the charge of being like<br />

Moliere’s famous religious hypocrite. He was a “Tartufe,”<br />

spelled differently than the French playwright’s character,<br />

but a “sincere” one. He argued that belief does not make<br />

one immune from temptation and weakness. One contradicts<br />

one’s own principles and voila: a sincere hypocrite.<br />

In his writings, mysticism jostles with the quotidian and<br />

fantasy. Watching pedestrians walking down the Rue Ravignan,<br />

he identifies the rag picker as Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He<br />

says that he progressed in life, “praying in God and believing<br />

in beauty.” Poverty, adverse conventional “opinion” and<br />

what he called the “stupidity of others” had shaped him<br />

and hardened him.<br />

To this day, he continues to confuse the opinion makers.<br />

The Washington Post review of Warren’s biography states<br />

that Jacob “regarded the Host as a kind of aspirin for every<br />

spiritual malaise” — which tells us something about the<br />

poet but more about the man writing the review (who pairs<br />

“aspirin” with “malaise”?).<br />

Religious imagery is common in Jacob’s poems, especially<br />

those he wrote near the end of his life. In one poem he<br />

says he is absorbed in God, “the beautiful, the One who<br />

conceived this world, the Lord, the Gentleman-Genius,”<br />

and that his blood and Christ’s are mingled and enter a<br />

single heart.<br />

Because of his sins, Jacob had a real fear of hell. A<br />

self-confessed sinner, the poet had a mystic sensibility.<br />

“The river of my life has become a lake,” he writes in one<br />

poem. “What it reflects is nothing but Love. Love of God,<br />

Love in God.”<br />

Jacob was arrested by the Gestapo at a private home after<br />

leaving the monastery. Like Edith Stein and her sister, conversion<br />

from Judaism was not enough to spare him from<br />

the Holocaust. It is said that he continued to joke even in<br />

Drancy, France, a camp where the Nazis held Jews before<br />

sending them east to the concentration camps. He died<br />

there of pneumonia on <strong>March</strong> 4, 1944, before he could be<br />

sent on to Auschwitz.<br />

Some of his friends drew up a petition to have him<br />

released. Picasso, who owed much to him, refused to sign,<br />

saying, “Max is an angel and will fly over the walls.”<br />

Jacob was a man of inconsistencies and contradictions: a<br />

poet who lived in poverty despite his famous friends, and<br />

who earned more selling his gouache watercolors in cafes<br />

than from his writings; a mystic who had a vision of Christ<br />

at the movies; a man unhappy with himself but intoxicated<br />

with God.<br />

It is those contradictions that make the life of Jacob worth<br />

a look from Catholics. St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith<br />

Stein) told her sister, “Let us go and die for our people,”<br />

on the way to Auschwitz. Jacob, a prisoner doomed to die,<br />

wrote a poem in which he said, “I thank you for having<br />

caused me to be born to the suffering Jewish race, for he<br />

alone is saved who suffers and who knows he suffers and<br />

offers his suffering to God.”<br />

He is a sinner-saint for our complicated times. The<br />

concept of the divided self was not invented in our times,<br />

but has never been more generalized in culture. Jacob’s<br />

contradictions resonate with contemporary problems with<br />

identity.<br />

“I don’t agree with myself,” he said, “I struggle against<br />

myself, against my heart, against everything.” What doesn’t<br />

match modern sensibility — his firm faith and his mystic<br />

grasp of “love of God and love in God” — is the most valuable<br />

thing he can teach us today.<br />

Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of Holy Name Church in<br />

Cleveland, Ohio, and author of “The Wedding” (Lambing<br />

Press, $16.95).<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 29



<strong>No</strong>ah’s<br />

Ark meets<br />

distance<br />

learning at<br />

the Skirball<br />

The Skirball Cultural Center, a<br />

bit north of the Getty Center on<br />

the east side of the 405, is an LA<br />

educational institution “devoted to sustaining<br />

Jewish heritage and American<br />

democratic ideals.” And they’ve just<br />

launched “<strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark at the Skirball:<br />

The Art of Imagination.”<br />

The digital program comprises a suite<br />

of virtual programs and educational resources,<br />

all absolutely free, developed<br />

for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade<br />

distance learning.<br />

The brick-and-mortar <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark<br />

installation has been open since 2007,<br />

drawing approximately a million<br />

visitors from around the world. The<br />

challenges of remote instruction<br />

spurred the pivot to digital, making the<br />

message and meaning of <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark<br />

now available nationwide and even<br />

abroad.<br />

Features include streaming videos<br />

and interactive lesson plans, virtual<br />

field trips facilitated by <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark<br />

educators, and online professional<br />

development courses focused on arts<br />

integration.<br />

I was eager to learn just how deeply<br />

into the Genesis story the Skirball goes.<br />

Do they let the little tykes know that<br />

God was so frustrated with mankind<br />

that he was sorry he’d created us? And<br />

that <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark was actually a grudging<br />

alternative to wiping animals and<br />

the human race out entirely?<br />

I actually think such bracing truth is<br />

good for children, an approach that<br />

perhaps explains why I never became<br />

a mother.<br />

Turns out, at any rate, that the idea is<br />

more to use <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark as an archetypal<br />

flood story upon which to hang the<br />

idea of the disasters that come upon<br />

The “<strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark at the Skirball: The Art of Imagination”<br />

installation includes a gigantic wooden ark and<br />

features more than 300 life-sized animal puppets and<br />


every human being. Storms, arks, and<br />

rainbows are the watchwords. The<br />

curriculum begins with a “Welcome<br />

to <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark” video (available on<br />

the Skirball’s YouTube channel) that<br />

introduces the core flood tale message:<br />

“That everyone, including the youngest<br />

members of the community, can<br />

make a difference in the world.”<br />

Flood stories occur across cultures<br />

and traditions. The children can watch<br />

versions told, for example, by the<br />

Maasai, a group of people from Kenya<br />

and Tanzania; and by the Lenape, an<br />

indigenous people of the northeastern<br />

woodlands of Canada and the U.S.<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

“Live storytelling lies at the heart<br />

of the on-site experience,” explains<br />

Rachel Stark, the Skirball’s director of<br />

education.<br />

Language arts and visual arts lessons<br />

emphasize the key values of <strong>No</strong>ah’s<br />

Ark: welcoming the stranger, taking<br />

care of the world and one another, and<br />

learning how to serve the community.<br />

Virtual field trips, led by <strong>No</strong>ah’s<br />

Ark educators, take place in Zoom<br />

classrooms in which children are<br />

encouraged to participate in storytelling,<br />

closely observe their surroundings,<br />

and engage in art-making and creative<br />

storytelling.<br />

Free lesson plans are available to<br />

download, and the Skirball even offers<br />

a series of virtual teacher-training<br />

workshops.<br />

Says Stark, “The idea is that each of<br />

us is <strong>No</strong>ah. Each of us is responsible<br />

for building a better world. We all want<br />

to draw on the strength of community,<br />

find our way to safe shelter, and orient<br />

towards hope.”<br />

Designed by Olson Kundig Architects,<br />

with contributions by Brooklyn-based<br />

puppeteer Chris Green,<br />

the actual installation occupies an<br />

8,000-square-foot gallery, includes a gigantic<br />

wooden ark, and features more<br />

than 300 life-sized animal puppets<br />

and sculptures, all handcrafted from<br />

recycled materials and found objects.<br />

A red cowboy boot becomes a rooster.<br />

A yellow croquet ball transforms into a<br />

<strong>No</strong>rway rat. Cotton curtain fringe and<br />

a bicycle seat are fashioned into a ram.<br />

Children and adults alike are invited<br />

to imaginatively interact. People can<br />

spin the wind-turbine zebra and touch<br />

the elephant and immerse themselves<br />

in the storm gallery.<br />

Some calamities consist of real-life<br />

storms. Then there are metaphorical<br />

storms in our lives. Where do we seek<br />

shelter, find home, seek the helpers?<br />

The Skirball has served mostly public<br />

schools, but Catholic schools have<br />

always been a regular audience as<br />

well, especially for <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark. “The<br />

message is that everyone’s story is<br />

valued, so we can look for the areas of<br />

commonality and also celebrate the<br />

differences. Everyone is useful and<br />

needed in some important way.”<br />

In the Lenape video, for example,<br />

“the message is that even though you<br />

may be small, you can make a difference.<br />

It features a muskrat who says,<br />

‘I can do it!’ Young people, who are<br />

A screenshot from the “Welcome to <strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark”<br />


suffering right now from isolation and<br />

uncertainty, can be the change-makers.<br />

We’re trying to offer them the tools to<br />

express themselves. Interview a family<br />

member, we invite them. Record your<br />

story. Reflect on your process.”<br />

The children have responded strongly<br />

and with excitement. Many have been<br />

mesmerized by the animals, choosing<br />

their own favorite. They’ve spoken<br />

about the sounds they heard and how<br />

the storytellers took them on a journey.<br />

Some have turned on the video feature<br />

and allowed themselves to be seen on<br />

Zoom for the first time.<br />

So check out “<strong>No</strong>ah’s Ark at the Skirball:<br />

The Art of Imagination.”<br />

Because we’re all <strong>No</strong>ah. And what’s<br />

maybe more important: We’re all that<br />

little muskrat.<br />

GET<br />

GET<br />

UP<br />

GET<br />

UP<br />

TO<br />

UP<br />

TO<br />


TO<br />

THE<br />

THE<br />

MINUTE<br />

MINUTE<br />


& EVENTS<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 31<br />

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Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

Lent be not proud<br />

I<br />

love Lent. So do most Catholics, I<br />

suspect, even though we grumble<br />

about it. We complain because<br />

we want the chocolate (or coffee or<br />

TV or whatever), but we’re secretly<br />

pleased when we resist the temptation<br />

to indulge.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, I have friends who rush to<br />

judgment right there. They say that all<br />

asceticism is futile (or worse) because<br />

it leads to pride in personal achievement,<br />

and pride is chief among the<br />

deadly sins.<br />

I grant that pride is always a real<br />

danger. We can indeed become proud<br />

of our fasting. But we can just as easily<br />

take pride in our refusal to fast. Pride<br />

is like the anvil in an old Warner<br />

Brothers cartoon. It’s somehow always<br />

just above us, ready to fall the remaining<br />

distance.<br />

But I’ll go a little further here. I’ll say<br />

that our affection for Lent, most of the<br />

time, comes not from pride, but rather<br />

from satisfaction. When we make our<br />

Lenten sacrifices, we’re doing something<br />

for the sake of love. And doesn’t<br />

love demand that we do something?<br />

Think of young couples, newly in<br />

love. (I’ll speak only for men, because<br />

that’s what I know.) Young men stay<br />

up late doing things they ordinarily<br />

wouldn’t be caught dead doing. They<br />

write poems. They bare their hearts.<br />

They talk about their feelings. They<br />

even miss meals so they can be near<br />

their beloved. As difficult as these<br />

things are, they leave us with a sense<br />

of fulfillment.<br />

Lent satisfies us in a similar way. It’s<br />

designed to be a time of growth, and<br />

we grow through our Lenten exercises.<br />

Growth is a sign of life, and in<br />

Lent we know we’re alive.<br />

Yes, we grow through the pains of<br />

fasting and self-denial. But we should<br />

also grow through positive action. As<br />

we loosen our grip on worldly things,<br />

we should also make the most of our<br />

freedom. We should take positive<br />

steps toward the Lord Jesus.<br />

The things we do for Lent are certainly<br />

pleasing to Our Lord. When he<br />

preached his great manifesto, the Sermon<br />

on the Mount, he told us to pray,<br />

fast, and give alms; and he even told<br />

us how to do these things and how not<br />

to do them. He said, “When you fast.<br />

… When you give alms. …” <strong>No</strong>t “If<br />

you fast” or “If you give alms.”<br />

He assumed<br />

“The Sermon of Jesus<br />

on the Mount,” fresco by<br />

Franz Xaver Kirchebner<br />

in the parish church of<br />

St. Ulrich in Gröden,<br />

South Tyrol, Italy, late<br />

18th century.<br />


we would do as<br />

he said — and<br />

as he did. He<br />

would not deny<br />

us the chance to<br />

be godlike in our<br />

self-denial.<br />

It’s nothing<br />

to be proud of.<br />

It’s all a grace<br />

from God. But<br />

it’s OK to be<br />

pleased with it. When you feel that<br />

way, you’re experiencing a satisfaction<br />

that’s both natural and supernatural.<br />

It goes well with love.<br />

Lent is almost over. <strong>No</strong>w make the<br />

most of what remains. You’ll love<br />

these days even more than the days<br />

just passed.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong>


“Walking with Jesus in Difficult Times” SCRC virtual event. Available to view online 24/7 for free.<br />

Event includes teachings by Father Bill Delaney, SJ, Sister Regina Marie Gorman, OCD, and Patti Mansfield,<br />

with a special video tribute to the late Father John H. Hampsch, CMF. Register for free at events.scrc.org.<br />

■ FRIDAY, MARCH 19<br />

Fish Fry. Nativity Church Annex, 1415 Engracia Ave.,<br />

Torrance, 5-7 p.m. Hosted by the Knights of Columbus<br />

Council #4919. Takeout only. Dinner includes baked or<br />

deep fried fish, baked potato or french fries, coleslaw,<br />

roll, and cake. Adults: $10, seniors: $8, children under<br />

12: $5. Masks and temperature screening required for<br />

entry.<br />

St. Joseph Mass. Archbishop José H. Gomez will<br />

celebrate a Mass at 8 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our<br />

Lady of the Angels to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph,<br />

which also marks the start of a special “Amoris Laetitia<br />

Family” year declared by Pope Francis. Mass livestream<br />

can be accessed from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, LA Catholics, and United States Conference<br />

of Catholic Bishops social media channels. For more<br />

information, visit lacatholics.org/st-joseph.<br />

Lenten Lectio Divina: A Journey of Listening to<br />

Scripture. The Mary & Joseph Retreat Center is<br />

hosting a remote retreat with Christine Sanchirico via<br />

Zoom from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Lectio Divina is a<br />

slow contemplative reading of Scripture. Each week,<br />

Scripture is read four times, with time for reflection<br />

after each reading, and time for gentle sharing.<br />

Cost: $15/session. Visit https://maryjoseph.org/<br />

event/lenten-lectio-divina-a-journey-of-listening-toscripture/all/.<br />

■ SATURDAY, MARCH 20<br />

Cards of Hope for Easter Workshop for Children.<br />

Cards of Hope for Easter is a hands-on workshop for<br />

children 6-11 years old. Children will learn to make<br />

a pop-up Easter card to be given to elderly people<br />

isolated due to the pandemic. Register children 6-8<br />

for 1-2 p.m. session, 9-11 for 3-4 p.m. session. Each<br />

workshop features a different card design. Register<br />

at http://store.la-archdiocese.org/cards-of-hope-foreaster.<br />

Putting the Pieces Together: The Art of Collage.<br />

The Mary & Joseph Retreat Center is hosting a collage<br />

workshop, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., with Sue Ballotti. All<br />

supplies provided, no experience (or skill) needed.<br />

Register early; class size is limited due to current health<br />

guidelines and safe distance requirements. Workshop<br />

may take place outdoors. Cost: $25/person. Register<br />

at https://maryjoseph.org/event/putting-the-piecestogether-the-art-of-collage/.<br />

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. St. John the Baptist<br />

Church, 3883 Baldwin Park Blvd., Baldwin Park, 8<br />

a.m.-5 p.m., while supplies last. Requirements: Age 65<br />

or older, must provide ID and insurance information, if<br />

available.<br />

Easter Triduum workshop. The Office of Divine<br />

Worship invites you to a Zoom workshop presented<br />

by Father Pedro Lopez, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Topics of<br />

discussion will include what the elect needs to know<br />

about the Easter Triduum and how to better prepare to<br />

celebrate the Easter Triduum. Participants will reflect<br />

on each of the elements, signs, and symbols used<br />

in the liturgies of Holy Week. Cost is $10. For more<br />

information contact Lety Perez at lperez@la-archdiocese.org<br />

or call 213-637-7595.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 21<br />

Zoom Sunday Lenten Series: Mother of God, Undoer of<br />

the Knots. St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care Education<br />

Fundraiser, 4-8 p.m. This six-week series features a new<br />

speaker and topic each week, a music reflection, and a<br />

post-election discussion. <strong>March</strong> 21: Megan McKenna, “The<br />

Poor Saves Us.” Cost: $25/session or $100/series. Religious:<br />

$20/session, $80/series. For scholarships, call St. Camillus<br />

office at 323-225-4461. Visit stcamilluscenter.org for more<br />

information.<br />

“Pueblo Amante de Maria” Virtual Procession, Rosary,<br />

and Tagalog Mass. Incarnation Church of Glendale will<br />

host a virtual procession and rosary at 1:15 p.m. to celebrate<br />

500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. Tagalog Mass<br />

to follow. To join on livestream, visit the Incarnation Church<br />

Facebook page. For details, call 818-242-2579.<br />

■ TUESDAY, MARCH 23<br />

Holy Week in the Time of Pandemic. The Office for<br />

Worship will be hosting a free workshop via Zoom at 10<br />

a.m. for liturgical ministers and those who help prepare the<br />

liturgy for their parish. The workshop will go over the new<br />

liturgical guidelines on how to celebrate Holy Week in time<br />

of the pandemic. For more information, contact Leticia<br />

Perez at Lperez@la-archdiocese.org.<br />

LA Council of Catholic Woman Rosary Conference Call.<br />

Starts at 8 p.m. Call 424-436-6200, code 410510#. Prayer<br />

requests open. For more information, call Carol Westlake at<br />

661-<strong>26</strong>3-0435. Held every Tuesday and Thursday through<br />

April 29.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 28<br />

Palm Sunday at the Cathedral. English Masses at 7:30<br />

a.m. and 10 a.m. Spanish at 12:30 p.m. All are open for<br />

in-person attendance. The 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Masses<br />

will be livestreamed via Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’<br />

website and social media channels.<br />

■ MONDAY, MARCH 29<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles Chrism Mass. Starts at 7<br />

p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Mass will<br />

likely be closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.<br />

Livestream available on LACatholics.org and cathedral<br />

Facebook page.<br />

■ SATURDAY, APRIL 17<br />

Called and Gifted. The Office of New Evangelization invites<br />

you to join a three-step process of discernment to discern<br />

God’s call through the charisms that God has given you.<br />

Process starts with an Online Self-Study Program that you<br />

will have a month to complete starting April 17. Cost is $39/<br />

person. To register or learn more, visit LACatholics.org/<br />

called-and-gifted.<br />

■ SUNDAY, APRIL 18<br />

Diaconate Virtual Information Day. The Office of<br />

Diaconate Formation invites all interested in joining the<br />

diaconate program to learn more, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Send<br />

your name, parish, and pastor’s name to Deacon Melecio<br />

Zamora at dmz2011@la-archdiocese.org. Presentations will<br />

be in English and Spanish.<br />

Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to calendar@angelusnews.com.<br />

All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>26</strong>, <strong>2021</strong> • ANGELUS • 33



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