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St. Joseph: A Reflection of the Fatherhood of God

Facing the growing trend of Cancel Culture, our Faith stands to show us the importance of history and tradition for the present and the future. As I walked along the hills of Callas in France, I discussed the value of simply taking care of the cemetery with Bishop Dominique Rey. His Excellency stated that seeing how people lack the care of their family tombs shows a detachment from their roots which ultimately brings about their own demise. This diocese is engaged in such culture wars by promoting life and family. Among the practical works which the Bishop promotes is the weekly celebration of votive Requiem Masses on Wednesdays, along with a blessing of the cemetery. Respect for our dead is paradoxically respect for life, and this is so because Christian cemeteries are not necropoli (“cities of the dead”) but “resting places” where bodies await the final reunion with their souls.

The value of life is further understood through the value of the family and the role of the father and the mother in transmitting life. After all, the transmission of life and culture is the meaning of tradition, as we consider how the word tradition is linked to the Latin verb “tradere,” to transmit. In the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, the mystical-like sanctuary of Saint Joseph of Bessillon in Cotignac stands among the rolling hills of Provence, almost like a bird’s nest in the woods, a reminder to us of the importance of fatherhood.

This place of prayer and recollection was created because of an important apparition of the Patron of the Universal Church. On June 7, 1660, Gaspard Ricard, a young shepherd, was thirsty while praying on Mount Bessillon, and “a man of imposing stature” appeared to him. Using the Provencal dialect, he said: “I am Joseph. Lift this boulder, and you can drink.” Immediately Gaspard obeyed. Moving a heavy boulder that was close to him, he discovered a spring that quenched his thirst. Later, eight men could barely be able to move the same boulder easily raised by the pious shepherd boy.

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