Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Advent-Revelation to Joseph,
Baskiyamo Dr. Ann Kadavil Special, Death and Dying

Volume 6 No. 388 December 9, 2016
II. Lectionary Reflections

Joseph: A Teenager's Dilemma

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

If you were given the opportunity to meet any person in the first Christmas story, who would you choose? I've been thinking about that this week, and it's not easy to decide. There are so many fascinating people:

Herod - That wicked old toad squatting on the throne of Israel, insanely jealous lest a baby steal his glory.

The Magi - The Wise Men from the East. Who were they? Where did they come from? Were they astrologers? How did they know about the Star?

The Innkeeper - I can see him in my mind's eye. A good man, harried, frustrated to turn away business. Did he ever discover who he turned away?

The Shepherds - Here's something you probably didn't know. Nearly all the shepherds in modern Israel are teenagers - many of them girls. There is every reason to think that the shepherds were not the old men of tradition but teenagers who were 15 or 16 years old.

There are so many others. Anna the prophetess. Simeon who took the baby Jesus in his arms and blessed his parents.

And then there is Mary. Luke wrote his story about her. Wouldn't you like to meet the mother of Jesus? I would.


But there's someone else I'd like to meet even more. He is the forgotten man of Christmas. Matthew wrote his story about him. His name is Joseph. He is the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. He's the person from the first Christmas story I would most like to meet.

When I call Joseph "the forgotten man of Christmas," that's not an exaggeration. Not much is said about him in the Bible. Not many sermons are preached about him. As a matter of fact, there's just not much written about Joseph at all.

This week I flipped through our hymnal to see how many times his name is mentioned. This is what I discovered:

- Mary is mentioned by name 7 times.
- Joseph is never mentioned - not even one time.

In the great hymn "Angels We Have Heard on High," there is a verse that mentions him - "See within a manger laid, Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth! Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, sing with us Messiah's birth." Unfortunately our hymnal omits that verse, which means that Joseph is left out completely.


Let me briefly list for you the things we know about Joseph:

  • His father was Jacob.
  • His family hometown was Bethlehem in Judea but he lived in Nazareth in Galilee. That meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel about 95 miles in the dead of winter in order to register for the census.
  • He is from the royal line of David. The genealogy in Matthew 1 makes that clear.
  • He was a carpenter by trade.
  • He was a poor man. We know that because when he and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, they brought a turtledove to sacrifice. Jews only did that when they could not afford a lamb.
  • He was a religious man, a devout keeper of the Law, a fact we will observe more closely in just a moment.
  • How old was Joseph? We don't know the answer for sure, but most writers agree that he was a young man and probably a teenager. If we said 17 years old, we would probably be about right.


Matthew tells Joseph's story this way:

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
(Matthew 1:18)

What our version calls "pledged to be married," the older versions call "betrothed." It refers to an ancient Jewish marriage custom. In those days most marriages were arranged by the parents - with or without the children's approval. The two sets of parents would meet and draw up a formal marriage contract. When the contract was signed, the man and woman were legally "pledged" to each other other. This period of betrothal would last up to a year, at the end of which period they were formally married in a public wedding ceremony.

Now that sounds like our practice of engagement, but there were some major differences. In the first place, the "pledge" was considered as sacred as marriage itself. During that year, the couple were called husband and wife but they did not live together. If the man died during that year, the woman would be considered a widow even though the wedding ceremony had never taken place. The only way to break the betrothal was through a legal divorce.

In essence, to be "pledged" to each other was the same thing as being married, except that you could not live together until the wedding ceremony took place. The whole idea was that the one-year waiting period was meant to be a time for testing commitment and faithfulness.

This is where the story gets interesting. According to Deuteronomy 22:20-21, if a woman was found to be pregnant during the betrothal, that could only mean she had been unfaithful to her husband, in which case the Law commanded that she be stoned to death.


Now Mary turns up pregnant. Joseph only knows one thing for sure. He's not the father.

What words describe a man at a time like this? Anger … Confusion … Frustration … Embarrassment … Shame … Rage … Disappointment.

What did he say to her? What did she say to him? Did she tell him about the angel Gabriel? If she did, can you blame him for not believing her?

Did he say to her, "Mary, how could you? You were pledged to me. We were going to get married. I was going to build a little house for us in Nazareth. Mary, Mary, how could you do this? Why, Mary, why? I kept myself for you. Why couldn't you keep yourself for me?"

I think Joseph cried harder that day than he had ever cried in his life.


Put yourself in Joseph's shoes. You're a teenager in love and suddenly your girl friend turns up pregnant. You aren't the father but you don't know who is. What do you do? If you're a typical American teenager, you give her $200 to go get an abortion. It's easy, it's quick, it's cheap, and just like that, you can make the problem go away. A half-million teenage girls take that option every year. It's the preferred solution for what people call an "unwanted pregnancy."

Thankfully, Joseph and Mary didn't have that option. Abortion was very rare in ancient Israel and Planned Parenthood hadn't opened up a clinic in Nazareth yet.

Joseph's dilemma was of a different variety. He was an observant Jew and under the Law he had the right to divorce Mary for unfaithfulness. In fact, the Law forbade him to marry her under those circumstances.


This is how verse 19 puts it:

Because Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man (that means he wanted to do what was right in the eyes of God) and did not want to expose her to public disgrace (that means that he although he thought she had been unfaithful, he still didn't want to humiliate her) , he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

In those days, a man could get a divorce in two ways:

First, he could get a public divorce by going before a judge at the gate of the city. That would mean that the whole town would know about Mary's shame.

Second, he could get a private divorce by giving her the papers in the presence of two witnesses.

It is entirely to Joseph's credit that he chose to do it privately and thus spare Mary the humiliation of a public divorce.


Having made his decision … he didn't do it. He had every legal and moral right to divorce Mary but he just couldn't do it. As one writer put it, there was a "short but tragic struggle between his legal conscience and his love." He hesitated, waited, thought long and hard. Day after day he pondered the matter. Time was running out. With each passing day, it became more obvious that Mary was pregnant. Late at night he lay in bed staring into the blackness, wondering what to do.

Then one night, it happened. He had a dream and in the dream God spoke to him.

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." (20)

To us, this seems strange. But not to Joseph. God often spoke to people through dreams in the Bible. It was one way he used in those ancient days of communicating to his people.

It worked. Joseph needed assurance. He couldn't marry Mary until he was sure it was all right. He had to know the truth. God met him at the point of his need at exactly the right moment. He told Joseph the one thing he most wanted to hear: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife."


The angel is not finished yet:

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (21)

The angel explains just enough and nothing more. The baby is "from the Holy Spirit" and thus not of man. Nothing more is said. We are not told precisely how the virginal conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary took place. It remains one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. After 2000 years of debate, we know nothing more about it than Joseph did.

The angel added a detail about who this baby will be. His name is Jesus, which means "Savior." His mission is to save his people from their sins.

That's all. It's not a long message. But it is enough.


Verses 24-25 are insufficiently celebrated as great Christmas verses. They reveal Joseph's finest qualities:

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she had given birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Every step he takes testifies to his greatness:

1. By marrying her quickly he broke all Jewish custom, but he protected Mary's reputation. She was pregnant and he wasn't the father but he married her anyway.

2. By keeping her a virgin until Jesus was born, he protected the miracle of Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit against slander by unbelievers.

3. By naming the baby he exercised a father's prerogative and thus officially took him into his family as his own legal son.

The only other comment I would make is that the story is told exactly as a man would tell it. I like Joseph. I wish I could meet him. He strikes me as a very good man.


We give more attention to Mary and rightly so. But Joseph deserves his credit, too. He is a model of the man of faith, struggling with his doubts, persuaded to believe what God has said and ultimately acting upon his persuasion.

In these days of confusion, Joseph is a wonderful model of what a godly man looks like:

  • He was tough when he could have been weak.
  • He was tender when he could have been harsh.
  • He was thoughtful when he could have been hasty.
  • He was trusting when he could have doubted.
  • He was temperate when he could have indulged himself.

I pause to ask this question. Men, could we use those same words to describe your life?

  • Are you tough-minded, determined to do what is right no matter what it costs?
  • Are you tender with your wife and with your children?
  • Are you thoughtful, taking your time to make important decisions, or are you quick to jump to conclusions and quick to say things you later regret?
  • Are you you trusting even when you think you could figure out a better way to do things?
  • Are you temperate and considerate of your wife and her special needs, or do you pressure your wife and your children to perform up to your standard of perfection?

There is one other line of proof about the kind of man Joseph was. When Jesus grew up and began his ministry, he chose one word above all others to describe what God is like. He called him Father.

Where did Jesus learn about fathers? From Joseph. I speak again to the men. The way your children respond to God depends largely on the kind of father you are. You teach them something about God every day - just by the way you live in front of them.


The angel said, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." The very next verse says that he will be called Immanuel, which means God With Us.

Jesus means Savior.
Immanuel means God With Us.

We need both. We need a Savior for we are sinners. But the only way God could save us was to leave heaven and to live among us. That's what Christmas is all about.

It's about the truth that God actually came down to earth in the person of a little baby. It's about the truth that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary in a village called Bethlehem. It's about the truth that Jesus was fully God and fully man, the God-man.

As the familiar carol puts it,

See Him in the manger laid
Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth!
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
Sing with us our Savior's birth.

May that be your experience during this Christmas season!

© Keep Believing Ministries

St. Joseph's Humility

By St. Francis de Sales

Humility and Virginity

Just as St. Joseph took care to guard his virtues under cover of very holy humility, he was also diligent in hiding the precious pearl of his virginity. If he agreed to be married, it was so that, without anyone knowing it, he could hide his virtue under the veil of a holy marriage.

On this subject, virgins and those who wish to live in chastity, are taught that it is not sufficient to be celibate. If they are not humble and do not guard their purity in the precious vase of humility, they will be like the foolish virgins (see Matthew 25: 1-13), who, on account of their lack of humility and merciful charity, were turned down from the bridegroom's wedding feast and forced into the wedding feast of the world where the advice of our Divine Lord is not taken seriously. He says that you must be humble to have a share in the celebration, which means that it is necessary to practice humility, for He is the one who said: When thou are invited to a wedding.... go and sit down in the lowest place (Luke 14: 8, 10).

Consequently we realize how necessary humility is in order to preserve virginity. It is well known that no one shall take part in the celestial banquet and the nuptial feast God prepares for virgins in His heavenly home, unless the person practices it. Precious things such as sweet-smelling ointments are not exposed to the open air, as the fragrance would gradually be lost in the environment and spoiled by insects. Likewise, holy souls, fearing to lose the value and merit of their good deeds, should place them for safe-keeping in a vessel, not in a common one, but in a precious alabaster vessel, like the one used by Mary Magdalene as she poured out the ointment over the sacred head of Our Lord (see Mark 14: 3).

This alabaster vessel is the humility in which we must, in imitation of Our Lady and St. Joseph, keep our virtues and all that would draw admiration from the world, being happy to please the Lord and dwell under the sacred veil of self-abjection. We wait for God to come and take us to a safe place filled with His glory, and where He will Himself display our virtues for His honor and esteem.

To what extent to we think St. Joseph possessed virginity, the virtue which renders us like angels, if the Most Blessed Virgin was not only completely pure and innocent, but virginity itself? How much do we think that the one who was called to be the guardian of her virginity, or better still, her companion (since she herself did not need to be protected by anyone) must have possessed this virtue!

Both had taken a vow of virginity for a lifetime when suddenly God asked them to be united in a holy wedding, not contrary to their wishes or retracting their vows, but rather reconfirming and strengthening them in their holy enterprise. Moreover, they vowed then to live their lives together in a virginal way. St. Joseph was not given to Our Lady in order to make her break her vow of virginity, but to be her companion, so that the chastity of Mary might be preserved in its entirety in a more wonderful way under the veil and the shade of their blessed marriage and of the holy union of life which they shared.

If the Blessed Virgin is a gate, said the Eternal Father, we wish it to remain shut because it is the east gate of the sanctuary that no one can enter or exit (see Ez. 44: 1-2); on the contrary, it has to be reinforced with incorruptible wood, meaning a companion who is pure and bears the name of St. Joseph, and who, therefore, has to surpass all the saints, even the angels and Cherubims, in this commendable virtue called virginity (St. Francis de Sales).

Source: 'The Glories of St Joseph' - published by Traditions Monastiques, 1998 | between 1567 and 1622 | St. Francis de Sales

Why I Love Saint Joseph

by Fr. Mark

Saint Joseph, Model of Monks

Saint Joseph, espoused to the Virgin Mother of God and charged with the guardianship of the living Bread come down from heaven, is the model of monks, and of all who aspire to the monastic life. He is the living image of what it means to live by the three vows of the Benedictine profession: obedience, conversatio morum (conversion of the way one goes about living), and stability.


First, with regard to obedience: Was there ever a man who so listened to the will of God and so allowed it to shape his life and destiny? “Joseph, Son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Mt 21:20); and again, “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee” (Mt 2:13); and a third time, “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child” (Mt 2:20). When Jesus at the age of twelve, coming face to face with His Virgin Mother and with Saint Joseph in the temple, uttered the mysterious words, “Did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?” (Lk 2:49), Joseph bowed to the mystery of the Father from whom all fatherhood takes its name, and adoring His Will, accepted to be the earthly shadow of the invisible God, the Deus absconditus, whom no man has seen. The obedience of Saint Joseph lay in his readiness to embrace not only the mysteries revealed by Angels visiting him by night, but also the events willed and permitted by God: disconcerting events, events revealing the power of God in weakness, and the wisdom of God in folly. Such is the obedience of a monk.

Conversatio Morum

Then, with regard to conversatio morum: Was there ever a man who so readily accepted change, and humbly submitted to a strange and wonderful way of life? God called Saint Joseph to an ongoing change of manners: a change of expectations, a change of certainties, a change of plans. It is an unsettling thing to be asked by anyone to change, but when God asks one to change, the perspective can be terrifying.

Meeting Mary's Gaze

Where did Saint Joseph find the courage to change? I believe that he found it by gazing into the eyes of his bride full of grace. Would it have been at supper in the evening light, while partaking of the bread she had baked? Would it have been in the first light of morning, when she appeared to him lovelier than the dawn? Would it have been when she returned from the village well carrying a jar of water, with their little Jesus at her side? Of one thing I am certain: the courage to change comes sweetly and quickly to the man who, like Saint Joseph, meets the gaze of Mary.

By making the vow of conversatio morum, usually translated as conversion of manners, Benedictine monks promise to change the very things that, for the old creature wedded to sin, have become habitual. The Immaculate, she who looks upon us with eyes of mercy, gives one the courage to change, to forsake old ways and to forswear the comfortable compromises that, in the end, bring nothing but unhappiness, in this life and in the next.


Finally, with regard to stability; the Introit (Justus ut palma) describes Saint Joseph as a flourishing palm tree and as a Lebanon cedar. That is to say that Saint Joseph was a man with deep roots. If there is anything that wreaks havoc in families and in society today, it is, I think, the instability of men: the inability or unwillingness to put down roots before presuming to spread one's branches.

Deeply rooted in the portion chosen for him by God, Saint Joseph was able to stretch heavenward, and to extend his branches rich in foliage and laden with fruits. The Son of God found protection and security in his shadow. Saint Joseph was sturdy, but supple. He was strong, but flexible. He was rooted, but able to bend. Thus was he able to weather the storms of adversity and the winds of temptation without breaking.

Any monk with experience of the "hard and arduous things by which one goes to God" (Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 58) knows that stability goes hand in hand with enclosure. They are, if you will, two sides of the same coin. The monk who wants to be deeply rooted will love the observance of enclosure; and the monk who loves the observance of enclosure will put down roots, and he will flourish.

Saint Joseph accepted to live within the enclosure of an ordinary existence with Mary, his virgin bride, and with Jesus, the Son of the Eternal Father. His was an apparently confining life. It was within the enclosure of his marriage and family that Saint Joseph put down roots reaching hidden streams of living water, and grew, stretching upward, to lay hold of the promises of God.

Not Just for Monks

What I am saying concerning Saint Joseph and the monk can be applied to other states of life as well. The monastic vocation is nothing other than an intensification of the ordinary Christian life. The priest labouring in the vineyard is called, no less than the monk in his cloister, to obedience, conversatio morum, and stability. Married couples, too, are called to obedience, to conversatio morum, and to stability. These are, in fact, necessary components in any happy and holy marriage.

There are, in every state in life, days and hours when one wants to cast aside the yoke of obedience, halt the process of conversion, and run off in search of a change of scenery. More than one monk of the ancient desert monasteries of Egypt escaped to Alexandria for a wild week-end, and returned repentant and humbled, begging to start over again. That being said, in the companionship of Saint Joseph, and under his protection, there is courage for the asking and comfort in abundance. And should one fall out of obedience, or regress in the path of conversion, or give in to the temptation to move out and move on, Saint Joseph's strong hand is but a prayer away. He will always be there to set things aright. That is why I love Saint Joseph.

Source: Vultus Christi
© 2013-2019 The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. All Rights Reserved.

Family Special: The Role and Responsibility of Fatherhood - St. Joseph as Model

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

If there was one fact of our Christian faith which needs to be stressed today it is the need for a father in the family. At the center of the social revolution today is the attack on men, as husbands and fathers of families. Behind this revolution is the philosophy of Karl Marx. According to Marx, families are the invention of dictating males who created, what we call the family, in order to dominate women in human society.

The result has been disastrous. Most of the laboring force in America is women. Feminism is an epidemic that our popes tell us will destroy family life. Abortions are only the most tragic consequence of this plague.

I thought this introduction was worth making before we begin our conference on, "The Role and Responsibility of Fatherhood, St. Joseph as Model."

Men, as Husbands and Fathers Within the family community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.

In his wife, he is to see the fulfillment of God's intention, as expressed in the first book of the Bible, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." The Lord makes His own the cry of Adam, the first husband; "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."

At the dawn of creation, God made the human race as two genders, men and women. He told them to increase and multiply. He promised them a Redeemer after they had sinned. He assured them of His blessings, provided they responded to His divine will.

With the coming of Christ, marriage was elevated beyond anything known before in human history. He restored marriage to its condition before the fall of our first parents. He told the Pharisees that a man may not put away his wife. Even if she is unfaithful, he cannot remarry.

Pope John Paul II could not be clearer on the quality of love that a husband should have for his wife.

Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: "You are not her master," writes St. Ambrose, "But her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife … reciprocate your attentiveness to you, and be grateful to her for her love." With his wife, a man should live, "A very special form of personal friendship." As a Christian, he is called upon to develop a higher form of love, showing his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church" (Familiaris Consortio, 25).

But that is only the beginning. The husband is to love his wife as mother of their children and love the children themselves. This love belongs to the very essence of fatherhood.

In countries like our own, fathers are encouraged to be less concerned with their family and less involved in the education of the children. Here the Church's highest authority tells us that fathers must restore what is God's revealed command: the role of the father in the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance. In this context, I think it is important to quote the exact words of Pope John Paul II.

"As experience teaches, the absence of the father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships. In contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, where there still prevails the phenomenon of machismo, or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships (Familiaris Consortio, 25).

Christ tells his married followers that they are to reveal and relive on earth the very fatherhood of God. On these premises, a man is called to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of his family. He will perform this responsibility by exercising generous, even heroic charity, for the life conceived under the heart of the mother. He must be deeply concerned for the education of his children. He must share with his wife the duty of training these children in the knowledge of their faith and their love for God. With God's grace, he must do everything possible to avoid division, and foster unity and stability in the family. With his wife, he is to be a channel of grace to his children, whom they have brought into this world in order to reach their heavenly destiny.

St. Joseph, Model of Fathers In the litany of St. Joseph, we say, "St. Joseph, Head of the Holy Family, pray for us." There is more hidden behind this invocation than meets the eye.

We know, of course, that Mary is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. We know that the Savior was not conceived of a human father. Yet the Church has never tired insisting on the fatherhood of St. Joseph in the Holy Family.

It is crucially important to understand that there are two levels to fatherhood. There is the physical level of providing for the conception of a human body. In this sense, Christ did not have a human father.

But a father is not only to cooperate with his wife in generating a child. He is also to cooperate with her in rearing the offspring which his spouse brings into the world.

From all eternity, Joseph was destined to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin. They were truly married. Joseph was Mary's husband, and she was his wife.

Marriage is the most intimate of all unions between two human beings. It imparts a community of gifts between those joined together in matrimony. Consequently, in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as his spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life's companion, but also the witness of her virginity, the protector of her honor. No, by reason of his conjugal tie to Mary, he participated in her sublime dignity.

We cannot exaggerate the importance of seeing St. Joseph as the true spouse of Mary. Under God, he was to share in her unique role as Mother of the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.

St. Luke tells us that, on returning to Nazareth after Mary and Joseph found the young Christ in the temple, "Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men (Luke 2:52)".

What are we being told? We are being told that the Christ child constantly manifested greater wisdom as he grew in age. In God's mysterious providence, both Mary and Joseph contributed to this manifestation of greater wisdom in Jesus.

We return to our main theme: that St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood. We know only too well that a man can father a child in body without even being married to the mother of his offspring.

  • True fatherhood begins with a lifetime commitment of the husband to his wife.
  • True fatherhood builds on the selfless love of the husband for his wife.
  • True fatherhood depends on the generous love of the husband for the offspring of his wife.
  • True fatherhood means that the husband cooperates with his wife in the spiritual upbringing of the children.
  • True fatherhood therefore, is not only or even mainly generating a human body in this world. It is also and mainly collaborating with the mother in developing the human soul for everlasting life in eternity. How, then, is St. Joseph the exemplar of fatherhood? He is, to coin a word, the prototype of what all human fathers should be. They should reflect, in their families the seven virtues which the Church specially honors in St. Joseph's relationship to Jesus and Mary.

Like Joseph, fathers should be:

  • most just, without partiality or human respect.
  • most chaste, according to their married state of life.
  • most prudent, in knowing God's will through constant prayer.
  • most valiant in courageously accepting the cross every moment of the day.
  • most obedient in seeing every event as part of divine Providence and responding with, "Here I am Lord. I am ready to do Your will."
  • most faithful in loving their wives with perfect fidelity, and their children with tireless generosity.
  • the strength of the home by their exercise of manly courage. They are to protect their wives and children from the plots of the modern Herods who are inspired by the evil spirit to destroy the Christian family in the modern world.


"St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of the Son of God, obtain from Jesus the grace we fathers need to raise our families according to the will of God. We need light to recognize our grave responsibility as husbands and fathers. Above all we need the courage to persevere in the fatherly care of our families through time into the endless reaches of eternity. Amen."


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