Martyrdom has been a reality for Christians since the very beginnings of the Church. For two millennia, with varying levels of intensity depending on the time period, large numbers of Christians have shed blood in witness of the faith. We honor these individuals as martyrs and saints.
Many years ago, I used to play pickup basketball with a group of people I had met over the years. We would get together every Friday during lunch break and play at a local YMCA. The players were of all different talent levels, different ages, and from various backgrounds. I always looked forward to playing not only for the game, but also because of the relationships I had formed with the other players.
Since God created the earth, marriage has been a part of His divine plan. Though the relationship between man and woman (and, therefore, marriage) was damaged by original sin, Jesus repaired this relationship and raised marriage to a sacrament. The Church recognizes marriage as a sacred institution that is not merely a personal decision, but a vocation.
St. Joseph has long been seen as a role model for husbands and fathers. This is surprising for some people to learn. After all, Jesus’ true father is God the Father, and Joseph served as His foster father during His earthly ministry. Yet, despite Joseph’s unconventional fatherhood, this holy man proved to be the best role model that husbands and fathers could ask for.
There is a common misconception among both Catholics and non-Catholics that Ordinary Time is the “boring” part of the Church’s liturgical year. We are not in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter, and so there is no readily apparent sense or object of anticipation or joy. It can be easy to celebrate during Easter, or to look forward with determination toward Christmas during Advent.