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I. All my life, even in childhood, I was a stranger to Jesus. I didn’t understand who He was. I confess I didn’t even know that Jesus was God until the question was raised in the fictional book “The DaVinci Code”, which I read in 2003. Growing up, all through my catechism years it was never taught to me that Jesus was indeed God. I knew that He was the Son of God, a holy man, who worked miracles on Earth. I tried reading the Bible several times to get to know Jesus, but I found it boring, so I stopped. I wasn’t ready to learn that way. I knew that He died for my sins and so I felt obligated to love and worship Him (though I didn’t know how to love or worship Him.) Jesus eluded me and I didn’t know how to treat Him. Enter Mary.

II.  “WHAT HAVE THE SAINTS EVER DONE FOR YOU??!!!” he thundered from above; his wild, piercing black eyes daring me to answer his sarcasm, as to provoke an even greater rage. “Why can’t you be normal like other guys your age??!!”

I sat silently. I fought with all I had in me to not let him see me shake. Too afraid to cry, I bit down on my lower lip to keep it from trembling in the slightest, my body tense and rigid to the point where I thought my neck would snap, my adolescent eyes were locked on his. He continued his tirade.

Though the moment may have only lasted no more than two minutes, it felt to me as though time were suspended. I will never forget it. The booming voice was my father’s. My mom was at work. I was sitting at my desk drawing an image of the Virgin Mary.


As a child, adolescent, and young man, I was always attracted to the Blessed Virgin. I was a lover of art, and what first drew me to Mary was a statue depiction of her as Nossa Senhora de Fatima. I was captivated by her beauty. I was mesmerized by her.

Becoming familiar with the Virgin of Fatima, Portugal, and not being supported spiritually by my mother, who had an aversion to the Virgin Mary, I felt spiritually loved by our heavenly mother whose eyes looked down at me with such tenderness, and I in turn loved her. I began to relearn my Catholic faith through her apparitions of 1917 (which summarize much of the Catechism), and I placed my heavenly mother both on a pedestal, and cornerstone of my Faith.  In relearning my Faith, I began to understand who Jesus was. Mary taught me so much about Jesus that I didn’t know before: Her son, Jesus, is God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God in three persons. The bread and wine at Mass become the real presence of the body, blood, soul and divinity of her Son. Heaven, Hell, and even Purgatory, are all real. The Pope is indeed the Vicar of Christ and must be supported by our prayers. Sinners can convert through the penance of the faithful. I learned all of this from the Virgin Mary. I learned more about her Son through the Rosary she kept urging me to pray. While learning all that I did, I still preferred the comfort and familiarity of Mary, loving her more than Jesus. But she planted a seed in me that would grow with love for her Son and give me a new appreciation of Who He is. 


The time eventually came for her to cut the apron strings and she pushed me forward, a little closer to her Son. But I still could not approach Him on my own – I wasn’t ready. Enter St. Joseph.


III.  Growing up, I’ve looked back and I’ve realized that I didn’t have a close relationship with my father. Like some men, I didn’t feel loved by my father in my boyhood, nor did I feel guided by a paternal hand into manhood. I didn’t have the close father-son bond that a lot of other guys had growing up. Of course, God was and is ultimately everyone’s father, but when I was young, I couldn’t figure out who God the Father was, I couldn’t establish that connection that I felt I needed. I saw Him as a distant parental figure, unapproachable. But as I grew, I discovered another heavenly father, though he was not equal to God: St. Joseph.


Here was a man who loved, nurtured, taught, and moulded his son from boyhood into manhood – as every father should. And not just any son, but the very Son of God, Jesus, who I was trying to reach. I needed St. Joseph for a father because what I longed for in my life was the close father-son relationship that I could not have. I also felt I could relate to him in a way as he always seemed to be ignored by people, left unnoticed. And so, I felt a bit of a connection there for I never fit in either and was easily dismissed by others, just as I felt Joseph was.


I remember I would sometimes go to Mass at Ste. Amelie church, in Manitoba, and on either side of the altar were two niches: one had a beautiful statue of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus – there were flowers and banners around her. But on the other side of the altar was a niche with St. Joseph which looked to be almost desolate – there was nothing there to adorn it. The saint looked forgotten. I was an ignored son in my own life and so I wanted to reach out to the “ignored father” and become a “Son of St. Joseph”. As I did with the Blessed Virgin of Fatima, I felt a familial connection, I felt loved by Joseph. As a son who loves his father, I was all too eager to talk about him – non-stop at times. He was my hero-Dad whom I looked up to.

Joseph taught me that though Jesus was God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, He willed to be fragile like us. Jesus, though all powerful, allowed Himself to be under the authority of one of His own creatures! Joseph taught me that Jesus was not just some “know it all”, adolescent-God-child, aloof from the rest of us, but a boy who grew into a man appreciating affection and friendship just like anyone else.


Again, the question: Did I love St. Joseph more than Jesus? Yes. But, reminiscent of my time with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph knew when to push me forward, to his Son. Just as a father introduces his son to another boy, in hopes that they will become good friends, Joseph did this for me. Enter (finally) Jesus.

IV.  Through the guidance and teachings of Mary and Joseph, my heavenly parents (and yours’ too I hope), I have come to the point in my journey where I am finally comfortable with Jesus. I see Him as my friend and companion who looks out for me, listens to me, gives me a hard time while at the same time being a shoulder for me to lean on. I now see Him not as an unapproachable figure, but as an older brother who would do anything for me – even give His life to spare mine.


I am now closer and more familiar with Jesus than I ever have been before, and I feel a sense of pride in my Lord whom I dare to call “brother.” I am comfortable with Jesus, yet my soul is still learning how to love and worship Him as much as the saints did. For the most part, I can balance my relationship with Him: the informality of friendship and brotherly love, with the reverence and holy fear deserving of God.


My heart is still trying to discern the unfathomable love He truly has for me. I know I will never fully understand His love and mercy for me, at least not while I walk this earth. Now, do I love Mary more than Jesus? No. But I still love her above all women. Do I love Joseph more than Jesus? No. But I still love him above any man. Do I love Jesus above His blessed parents? Finally, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Do I fully understand it? Not yet, but that’s okay. 

I sometimes think of how my heart would yearn for someone I loved and how it seemed to beat in union with theirs’, as though ours’ was one, shared heart. Then I think to myself “why don’t I love Jesus that way? Why doesn’t my heart yearn for Him, why doesn’t it hurt when I am distanced from Him?” When I am in love I don’t have to “try” to feel this way. I am simply in love, and love comes from God. I didn’t choose love, it just is – just as God is (the “I am”).


I am greedy. I love Jesus, yes, but now I want to fall deeply in love with Him, as though each beat of my heart relied on His to sustain it. I’ve read the writings of the saints and learned that many of them were blessed to attain this union with Christ while still on earth. But, more than likely, I will have to wait until Heaven for this intimacy with my Lord, if He permits me, but even so I won’t stop striving for it.

- joe 

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