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What do we know about Saint Joseph?

What do we know about Saint Joseph?

Saint Joseph is the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sacred Scripture tells us that Saint Joseph worked as a carpenter. as we know from Matthew 13:55, when the Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?“.  Although Joseph was a descendant of the House of David, he was not a rich man.  We can assume that not only from his occupation but also from the fact that when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised, he and the Blessed Virgin Mary offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons….something that was only allowed for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

We know that he was an honorable man, because he could have easily avoided marrying the Blessed Virgin Mary when he found out that she was pregnant:

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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.  He did as the angel told him and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:19-25)

Scripture does not tell us much more about Saint Joseph.  We know he fled to Egypt with Mary until it was safe to return. Saint Joseph is last mentioned when Scripture describes Mary and Joseph not being able to find Jesus for three days before discovering Him in the Temple (Luke 3:41-52).

Sacred Scripture does not record Saint Joseph’s presence during Jesus’ public life, death, or resurrection. Therefore, many historians believe that Saint Joseph likely died before Jesus entered public ministry, although that is just supposition.

Saint Joseph as Patron Saint:

Saint Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life as mentioned above, it is likely that he died with Jesus and Mary close to him.  Saint Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and all working people.

We celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19. 

In many of the churches named in his honor, there is a Saint Joseph’s Table displayed on his feast day.

Apparitions of Saint Joseph:

Although not as numerous as the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph has appeared to others over the course of history.  Among these approved apparitions are the following:

1519-1660:  Cotignac, France

1879:  Knock, Ireland 

1917:  Fatima Portugal

1994-1998:  Itapiranga, Brazil

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Those Monks knew a lot about business practices! Just check these out

The following is Courtesy of “The Catholic CEO”

Many think that western business leaders invented business concepts…..This is not correct.

Followers may guess my views on the monastic life.

Monasteries invented data storage and retrieval systems. They were called libraries. They also didn’t need photocopiers – they had their own copiers.

Monasteries invented business governance practices. What is a chapter but a town hall meeting? What is an abbot’s council but an executive committee?

Abbeys invented fund-raising. How do you think they built the great abbeys of Europe? Very little of the money was “borrowed”. Abbots had to work the room long before corporate America thought of it.

Conservation? Green practices? Circular economy? The monks were doing this 1500 years ago. There’s nobody in ag-tech that can build a water recirculation system like the monks. There’s nobody that can get that extra inch of hair on a sheep like monks can.

Crop science? Crop yield? Hah. They still run circles around people who can’t even grow crops on the same land for more than about 50 years. They do centuries of crop yields from the same fields – naturally.

Business management systems. The monks were doing it long before the invention of double entry bookkeeping.

Staying out of bank debt. The monks were doing it long before anyone else realized the debt trap of usury.

Five star hospitality? Well, I don’t mean rooms like in luxury hotels. But for care of the pilgrim traveler, even at great inconvenience to them, they still have short term rental accommodations beat.

Ride sharing? Hah. They had a network of wagons and watercraft to take goods to market before some business guy thought of it.

The long view? Abbeys are built for a thousand years. They are beautiful, unlike the glitzy towers of today’s utilitarian monstrosities.

Radio and electronic communications networks. Okay, maybe not as fast – but they could get a message across Europe before anyone or any current tech, at the time.

The knowledge economy? They didn’t need Chat GPT or AI. They had “real I”.

Corporate structure? CEO. CTO. CFO. CMO. Treasurer. Hah. They had those 1500 years ago!

Investigations into employee theft, missing inventory, and other misdeeds. No need for such things. The monks have a process called “Chapter of Faults”. Check it out.

Company security. Nope. They’ve had 1500 years of knights and templars. Way before the idea of a police force came into being.

Finally, remember that the monks invented the university system, the hospital system, and the welfare system. They kept the culture alive in tough times, and will do so again in our era when it all collapses. Or when the asteroid hits!

I could go on.

You can learn more about “The Catholic CEO” here.

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Are we done with ugly churches?

Those modern ugly churches:

It is impossible not to notice that many Catholic churches built in the last 50 years lack the beauty and majesty of the churches in the years and centuries of the past.  Many lay the blame on Vatican II, which seemed to want to throw tradition out the window.  We are not here to debate the good and bad of the Second Vatican Council, but certainly no one can deny that many of the changes relating to church architecture were not inspirational.  Suddenly churches were built somewhat resembling bomb shelters, and the interiors were devoid of many of the things that made the church a Catholic church.

Inside, the Eucharist was placed out of sight, or at least not in a prominent place.  Stained glass windows and statues were minimalized.  Altar rails quickly disappeared.  Statues?  Not too many and often not prominent.  Often times, it was the Diocesan building committees that wanted this…not the individual pastors or their congregations.  Want to put the tabernacle front and center?  You were lucky it was (literally, in some cases) in a closet somewhere.

Side Altar is Chartres Cathedra
Side Altar in Chartres Cathedral

For example, when we look at the magnificent Chartres Cathedral in France, built between 1134 and 1260, during the  “Dark Ages” (they weren’t really all that dark if you look at church architecture….some of the most beautiful churches were built during this time.)

Cathedrals and churches were meant to be inspiring….and many of them still are today.  We doubt the same will be said about some of these modern buildings 100 years from now .

To the left is just one of the many side altars in Chartres Cathedral.


One of the colors used in the windows is unique…..dubbed “Chartres Blue”. In future centuries, will these new churches be equally inspiring?  We doubt it.

Of course, some of the construction revolves on making the buildings less expensive to build and more efficient so far as heating and cooling costs are concerned.  And while it is true that the Eucharist is the same no matter what the church looks like, we do like to enter a place that evokes a certain feeling that this is no ordinary space.

Is the pendulum starting to swing back?

Like any idea that is taken to excess, we are starting to see a renewed interest in Catholic churches that look like…..Catholic churches.

We list several of these churches on our site, most recently Saint Mary’s Church in Fennimore, Wisconsin as shown on the left.

The restoration work was done by Conrad Schmitt Studios.  We have no relationship with them, but they appear to do outstanding restoration work for churches.

Another beautiful church…not a restoration, but a brand new construction, is Saint Francis Xavier Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Another source we note is that of FyndersKeepers.  They offer a large range of used and restored altars, altar rails, stations of the cross, candle holders….just about everything you can think of.

Again, we do not have a business relationship with them, but they appear to have an excellent reputation.

Have any suggestions for newly remodeled churches?

Please leave a comment….we would love to know about it.

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Online event: What is Happening to the Christians in Gaza

Program to help Christians in GazaIf you want to know the truth of what is happening to Christians in Gaza, we invite you to join this presentation by Select International Tours on March 14th at 8:00 PM Eastern time. Jeff Cavins and Fr. Leo Patalinghug will host a live online event Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

If you have traveled with Select International Tours, you may know that in addition to running a pilgrimage company, they also run a charitable foundation called Select to Give, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2014.

What you may not know is the purpose and the scope of their foundation. You may not know that their primary focus is to help the suffering Christians who live in Bethlehem and Gaza. Select to Give is a large part of their mission, and they are grateful to each of you who has taken the time to learn about the foundation and support their work in the past.

The online event will be hosted by Jeff Cavins and Fr. Leo Patalinghug, with guests including Gus Lloyd, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Fr. David Michael Moses, as well as Christians from the Holy Land who share their personal experience of the current situation in the Holy Land.

You will hear from a Select to Give American volunteer who has chosen to live in Bethlehem during the last six months to help those in need the most. A very special guest will be the Pastor of Holy Family Church, the only Catholic Parish in Gaza. You can hear a first-hand testimonial from someone we can trust who lives in Gaza.

Click here to view the Live Presentation on March 14

The event will hosted on the Apostle website and will begin promptly at 8:00 PM. Please be sure to click the link above  and create a Free Login with your email beforehand.

Donations: If you would like to support this effort, they will be accepting tax-deductible donations via credit card during the event. If you wish to donate by mail, please make your check payable to Select to Give, Inc. and mail it to:

Select to Give, Inc.
c/o Select International Tours
85 Park Ave.
Flemington, NJ 08822

A tax letter confirming your donation will be sent via email within 10 business days of the event.

Please help us promote this exceptional chance to learn from Christians currently residing in the Holy Land. Utilize the image and links above on your social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or via emails and texts. By broadening this campaign’s reach, they can connect with more Christians concerned about the struggles of our brethren in the Holy Land.


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Want to help the Christians in the Holy Land?

Wondering how you might be able to help Christians living in the Holy Land?

It is strange to realize that the area where Jesus was born, lived and died is now an area Christians are a minority.  Those do live there face discrimination and worse.  And, of course, the ongoing war in Gaza has made things even more difficult.  But there is a way to help these Christians when you book a tour with Select International Tours.

Select to Give is a not-for-profit foundation, founded by Select International Tours.

Select International Tours is an award winning, thirty year old, faith based tour operator specializing in group trips to Europe, the Holy Land, Canada, Mexico, South America and the USA.

The Faith Travel Association awarded the “Impact Award” to Select International Tours for innovation and quality in travel.

Local Catholic residents in the Holy LandSelect to Give Foundation exists to help the Christians of the Holy Land and the Middle East!

Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, they support innovative community efforts to help Christians achieve a safer and more prosperous existence. They work on several projects to assist Christians with education, medical care, financial support, and meeting basic human needs.

Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land
Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land The goal is to recognize and maximize human potential in Christian communities by establishing programs that provide opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, social justice and community building.

Select to Give sends Every Dollar to the Holy Land:

Select to Give is 100% volunteer-administered. They have zero overhead, which allows them to spend every dollar to directly support Christian Families living in the Holy Land.

An added bonus when you sign up to travel with Select International Tours, regardless of destination….. a percentage of your registration fee is donated to Select to Give, with no additional cost to you.

Click here to learn more about the Select to Give Foundation.

And here is a video from 2020 that describes Select to Give and its founder, Edita Krunic.

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You can receive a plenary indulgence by praying in front of a nativity scene located in a Franciscan church from Dec 8, 2023 to Feb 2, 2024

A Plenary Indulgence for the 800th Anniversary of the Approval of the Rule of St. Francis

This Christmas season, Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence by praying in front of a nativity scene located in a Franciscan church which includes our very own, St. Francis of Assisi. The indulgence will be available from December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, through February 2, 2024, the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those wishing to receive the indulgence must pray in front of a nativity scene at a Franciscan church.

A plenary indulgence is a grace granted by the Catholic Church that removes the temporal punishment due to sin. In order to receive this indulgence, one must have a detachment from all sin, including venial; receive the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of confession within 20 days of praying in front of a nativity scene. In addition, those attempting to receive the indulgence must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

“We ask you to share this “privilege” in all our locations, which fits in well with the special relationship that was established between Saint Francis and the Church when he asked the Pope for the indulgence of those who visited the Porziuncola, and we hope that it will be an opportunity for communion and spiritual renewal for every brother and sister. in the entire Franciscan family,” said the conference in a statement.

In 1223, St. Francis created the first nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, to marvel at the mystery of the incarnation.

Here is a list of Franciscan churches throughout the world.

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Do you know the tradition of the “Christmas Nail”?

One of the best things about Advent and Christmas is discovering the many varied traditions that families have passed down through the generations.  When you travel….whether locally or abroad….you will often find traditions that have endured for centuries.

SAtory of the Christmas NailOne of these traditions is the “Christmas nail”.   Supposedly resembling the nails used to attach Jesus to the cross, it is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas….that the birth of Christ was subsequently followed by His crucifixion and then His resurrection.

It is fitting that the nail is placed on a tree….since He was crucified by hanging Him on a tree.

Many families put the Christmas nail near the center of the tree, to remind them that Christ should be at the center of their lives.  It is a great way to bring Christ back in to Christmas.

Get one for your family and start a new tradition.

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Help Christians Living in the Holy Land

Although “Giving Tuesday” in the USA has passed, we urge you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to Select to Give, a charity founded by Select International Tours.

Sadly, Christians are a minority in the land where Jesus was born and preached.  They need our help.

Every penny of your donation will go directly to the aid of Christians living in Gaza, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Ukraine.

You can find more information about Select-to-Give here.



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Forget the Pilgrims…..the first Thanksgivings Were Catholic

The image of the puritans, a decidedly non-Catholic bunch, sitting down with the Indians for the first Thanksgiving in 1622 is fairly well-documented in most U.S. history books.  However, there were at least two Catholic Thanksgivings that pre-dated this event by at least 20 years.

As I was growing up in San Antonio, Texas, our Thanksgiving dinners were always prefaced by a prayer that had been passed down over generations. I never paid much attention to the origin of that prayer, having other things on my mind.  But as I look back on it I realize this prayer came from what was probably one of the first Thanksgivings on the newly-discovered continent.

My family on my mother’s side came from Spain, landed in Mexico (then called Zacatecas, Nueva Espana).   My ancestor, Pedro Gomez Duran y Chavez, joined a group, led by Don Juan de Onate, northward on a quest to claim New Mexico for the King of Spain in 1598.  Such journeys were undertaken with the purpose of both gaining territory and spreading Christianity.

Mission Concepcion in San Antonio Texas
Mission Cencepcion in San Antonio, Texas

The expedition traveled over 800 miles through unknown territory and  finally came to the banks of El Rio Bravo (the Rio Grande River) almost exhausted. Onate  nailed a cross to a tree and took formal possession of the new land, called New Mexico, “in the name of the Heavenly Lord, God Almighty, and the earthly lord King Philip II”.  On April 30, 1598, Father Alfonso Martínez, the Commissary Apostolic, led the members of the expedition in a Mass of Thanksgiving.

After the Mass that day, the Franciscan priests blessed the tables laden with fish, ducks, geese and items from the expeditions’ stores.  No mention of Turkey though, as it was not likely a local staple.  As they feasted, a play was performed recounting the conversion and baptism of the local Indians.

The prayer of Thanksgiving that I heard growing up goes like this:

“Open the door to these heathens, establish the church altars where the Body and Blood of the Son of God may be offered, open to us the way to security and peace for their preservation and ours, and give to our king and to me in his royal name, peaceful possession of these kingdoms and provinces for His blessed Glory.  Amen“.

There are still some descendants of the Chavez clan in New Mexico that celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving on April 30th each year…. not necessarily with feasting but at least with a remembrance.

Although often disputed among some members of our clan, there is another claim to the first Thanksgiving, and that is Saint Augustine, Florida.  Again, it was a Catholic event: a celebration between the Spanish and the local Timucuan Indians on September 8, 1565. Sadly, my ancestors and I will have to settle for second billing, as St Augustine would appear to be the real first Thanksgiving in the New World.  

So….as Paul Harvey used to say….now you know the rest of the story!


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Want to do your Christmas shopping in Italy?

How about combining a great pilgrimage to Italy with a chance to do some Christmas shopping?

With all the online shopping available, Christmas shopping does not have the same hustle and bustle and excitement that many of us remember from the past.  No crowded department stores (if you can even find one), no looking at the window displays (remember the movie “Christmas Story” that has been so popular?).

A special advantage of traveling in Italy just before Christmas is that the huge crowds of tourists are gone.  You will find yourself visiting shrines and churches in a much less hurried and crowded environment.  Also, daytime temperatures, averaging in the upper 50’s, are pleasantly brisk, but quite comfortable.

Taking a trip to Italy at this time of year also presents the opportunity to purchase some really unique gifts for Christmas giving, as you visit many of the holy places with their own special charm. They will have an extra special meaning to the recipient, since you brought them back from Italy.

We found one pilgrimage that we think will fit the bill. It is offered by Select International Tours from December 4-15, 2023.  It is a beautiful pilgrimage and there is far more than the opportunity to shop, of course.

They will take you to some of the holiest places in Italy:  Rome (of course) plus Padre Pio’s Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, the Holy House of Loreto, Assisi, Saint Michael’s Cave and more.  You will have a priest to accompany you, with daily Mass, and excellent group leaders and guides that Select International is known for.

Although the European-style Christmas markets are not prevalent here in the southern half of Italy, there are two that will be on the route:  Assisi and Rome.  Your daily schedule may allow you to head out to one or both of them during the free time that this pilgrimage offers.

Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome, with famous fountains such as the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Fountain of Neptune.  A visit to the Christmas market in Piazza Navona (perfect timing, it opens on December 8, when you have a free evening with dinner on your own) or perhaps the one in Assisi (from the itinerary, it looks like you have the afternoon free in Assisi on December 10). You have the chance of mixing with locals and really immersing yourself in their culture.

You can find all the information about this pilgrimage to the Shrines of Italy here.  Time is short, so don’t wait too long!