Father Andrew Doze

Now I lay me down to sleep

In order to give a perfectly concrete turn to the process of learning to which we must subject ourselves, nothing is more instructive than to meditate on the first and the most elementary of these three forms of death, the art of lending ourselves to sleep.

…“to sleep is to let things go”.  Man let’s go his usual mental experience for the sake of an interest of prime importance: that of recuperating in depth, of allowing God to restore him.

….  Like Jesus sleeping in the middle of the storm, sleep expresses a perfect trust in God who “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121) and who takes care of us all the more sense we let him do so.  That is why the Lord makes the harvest of the just man grow, instructs Joseph about his secret wishes during his sleep, suggests a totally dedramatized image of death for the death of the just (“the girl is not dead but sleeping”—Matthew 9:24, the same for Lazarus).  But one must go further.  The effort which the one seeking sleep must make when he does not easily drop off to sleep, in contrast with the happy mortal of the psalm who “lies down and sleeps” right away, is a typical example.  It is, as it were, the model of full spiritual effort. –Father Andrew Doze “Saint Joseph Shadow of the Father”

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Reinvigoration

There are two limits to human attention: that of the man who falls asleep, yielding himself to the biological wisdom hidden in the innermost recesses of his being and which alone can restore him in depth; and that of the man who touches the edges of ‘ecstasy’ because he has caught a glimpse of beauty, of love, of true prayer.  When man forgets himself to become attention, this other mysterious being, “the Holy Spirit, intercedes with sights too deep for words, praying for what man does not know how to ask” as the Apostle says. –Andrew Doze “Saint Joseph Shadow of the Father”

St Joseph, dally greeter

St Joseph, dally greeter

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Breathing out Joseph breathing in Mary

…Joseph is in charge of making known to all humans: the art of eliminating—eliminating idle thoughts, not by fighting them off but by gently slipping out of their hold, of their implacable logic, as Joseph slipped away from the clutch of Herod’s soldiers.  To fight against evil thoughts, when teaching in the temple, is the best way of making them still more obsessive, more dangerous.  Let us leave the task of facing up to the forces of evil to St Michael; with Joseph who is but a human being as we are, let us learn the precious art of evasion.  It is the art practiced by Jesus at the time of his first confrontation with Satan.

How can one escape the evidence of pride which underscores the superiority of this one, the insignificance of that one, going exactly from one to the other to arrive in both cases to the same inflexibility?  How can one escape from the morbid suggestions of the senses, from attraction for alcohol, drugs or very simply, from the fatal return of fixed ideas?  How can one escape this obsessive past when the Devil easily finds ways of accusing his unfortunate victims, by night and by day, before the throne of God?  Too often, this victim in question agrees with these accusations and thinks that no one else but God could stir up so many truths.

If we learned to practice interior silence with the one who does not speak and who is in charge of teaching it to us, we will be amazed to see mountain’s slide away and disappear…..

What does not come from God, as all masters of spirituality have noted, from Saint Catherine of Siena to St John of the Cross, is often brilliant, inspiring at first, then becomes a source of uneasiness, sadness, perturbation.  What comes from God is often quite bitter, exercises little attraction at first but quickly becomes a source of profound peace…..

We must find the ways of silence in ourselves beginning as we have said in passing, with breathing: to breathe calmly while becoming aware of the symbolic aspects of the operation is, so to speak, the spiritual initiative, the first form of intelligent obedience of the creature to its Creator.  To breathe out with Joseph, (the patron saint of the art of expiring, of eliminating, of dying) in order to breathe in the same way with Mary (the woman inhabited by the Spirit, source of all “inspiration,” divine breath).  Breathing thus experienced becomes like the balancing pole of the tightrope walker, which allows him to move forward on his rope without falling.  Breathing is the only psychic reality on which we have a direct hold to help us cross certain difficult passage where we run the risk of panicking, getting lost, and allowing ourselves to be alienated (with the complicity of the powers of darkness to which one must not give the slightest importance, but whose harmful effects it would be predicted list to ignore).  —Father Andrew Doze ‘Saint Joseph Shadow of the Father’

Joseph

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Ode to Joseph / Joseph and Lent

To learn to live in Nazareth means to discover again the secrets that the prophets of Israel like Isiah, for instance, suggested: “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused” (Is 30:15).

Conversion, tearing away from the falsified world of evil and deceit is Joseph’s specialty, Joseph who makes us “die” to the folly of sin. The calm state of the obedient and inhabited heart is that of Mary subjected to her husband. The perfect trust in the love of the Father is what Jesus lived for us. –Father Andrew Doze “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”

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Two doors: Joseph and Mary

All is said here: this world of God, the antithesis of hell, is Joseph’s world.  It has two doors: the first, the entrance door, the one on the street, is entrusted to Joseph.  It allows one to leave a complicated, confused, hostile and dangerous world behind.  The other is the mysterious door, Mary’s door, the ancient devotion called the “Gate of Heaven,” through which Jesus enters into the world, in a very special way.  Everything happens as if the Lord were presenting himself between these two doors (Joseph and Mary) in the same way that the eternal Father presents himself, according to St Irenaeus, between “his two hands which are the Son and the Spirit.”  The Son imitates the Father; he also has two hands: Joseph by whom he pulls us away from the ambiguous world, this Babylon where people think they all speak the same language while no one understands his brother and Mary, by whom the Son inaugurates the new world, that of Pentecost, where each one speaks his own language, where each one is respected in his own uniqueness, yet everyone understands everyone else!  We must go through the first door so that the Spirit of the Father who comes through the second door might reveal the Son to us (cf Luke 10:22).  “No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11).  Andrew Doze “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”

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Fathers

Hospice inspires with heart wrenching love. I spent a subtle Christmas evening with a patient and his daughter. Arriving in the room, I was surprised to find two beds, one occupied by a young man and my obvious patient, a large African- American man. I would learn the man stood over six foot five inches tall, a Cleveland high school basketball star from the 50s. It turns out that what I assumed was a young man sharing the room was the patient’s daughter, asleep in the bed, choosing to spend her Christmas break from graduate studies with her father. She woke suddenly introducing herself, apologizing for falling asleep. The young lady overwhelmed me with a display of love and tender care that had to be witnessed. I was stunned, silently praying, providing a presence and witness as the daughter poured forth everything she could to bring comfort to her dying father. She held his hands, stroked, his forehead, rested her hands upon his heaving chest, talking softly yet with strength and determination to him, absorbing her entire being into bring peace to her father. The patient was aware, eyes open, fixated upon his daughter with a depth of love that only declares glory upon God. To be so close to such immense love imprints a lasting impression. The time I spent with the patient, I talked softly, reassuring him, imploring the fruits of his life were good for his daughter was amazing. He smiled with his eyes, tears coming forth. I will spend Sunday afternoon with the patient and his daughter.

Enlightened minds know that silence will be the language of heaven. Already on earth it is the condition for essential communication: “One word spoke the Father, which word was His Son, and this word he speaks ever in eternal silence, and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”

That is why the Psalm points out that language of heaven, both day and night, is a silent language, “there is no speech….heard” (Psalm 19:3)

To find again something of this hidden language, to communicate beyond words, is to find again the secret of the Holy Family; it is to escape from a multitude of misunderstandings, of complications, even of illnesses. It is open to oneself to unknown possibilities of intellectual, poetic, expressions of love. That is why St John of the Cross points out: “That which we most need in order to make progress is to be silent before the great God, with the desire and with the tongue, for the language that He best hears is that of silent love.” Andrew Doze, “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”

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Mystical nurturer: rooted in the Holy Family

….Joseph disappears at the same time as Jesus and Mary or, rather, Jesus and Mary disappear thanks to him.  He is hidden and he hides.  His name is the present participle of the Hebrew verb meaning “to increase” and “to cut off”.  The two meanings of the word fully interplay: Jesus will “increase” in Joseph’s safekeeping, he will increase astonishingly; “Jesus increased in wisdom, and in years, and in divine and human favor” (Luke 25:2).  Joseph has the authority to do that (we know that the root of the word “authority” is precisely “to grow”).  But truly, what first strikes us about Joseph is a certain way of “cutting back”, of taking away.  He takes away the incarnation from our view….“The apostles are lights to show Jesus Christ to the world; Joseph is a veil to cover him and, behind this veil, are hidden Mary’s virginity and the greatness of the Savior of souls”.

To hide, to cover, to take away, by removing the child entrusted to him by the Father from a hostile and immature world: that is the first strong impression the gospel makes on us when we are searching for Joseph.  But let us not forget the essential.  Surprised by the events, Joseph was ready to separate, and how painfully so, from his young fiancée, unique of her kind, whom he undoubtedly had known for a long time and who must have inspired in him the kind of love we can imagine.  But how could he, the poor man, be involved in circumstances which were totally beyond him, where he felt the finger of God?  Without that, since he was “a righteous man”, as Scripture tells us, his duty was to denounce Mary. 

This tragedy and the agonizing pain accompanying it, no doubt, provide the angel with the opportunity to make an astonishing revelation: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20)…..The fact that Joseph was preparing to say “no” to a mystery which was beyond him and of what he felt himself unworthy, is significant.  God invites him to pronounce, with his whole being, a silent “yes” which echoes throughout eternity….  Andrew Doze “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”

El Greco

El Greco

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