Live up to a name

Note: This article appeared recently in the October newsletter from the retreat house. Check out my latest reflection in The Lanterian, published on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.

One more thing: Please support St. Joseph Retreat House through the OMV Annual Fund.

What does it mean to live up to a name?

One aspect is imitating a stellar model. For example, in the 18th century, Venerable Bruno Lanteri, sought to follow his eponym, St. Bruno. This 11th-century saint had received God’s call to withdraw from academics and ecclesiastical politics and to found the Carthusians in the Alps for a more contemplative lifestyle. At age 18, Venerable Bruno joined the Carthusians. But he had to leave the monastery after eight days because of poor health.

Although a diocesan priest in northern Italy, Venerable Bruno ironically lived out the path of St. Bruno. He educated Christians against heresies and helped the pope against political forces. Suspecting Venerable Bruno of assisting the captured pope, Pius VII, Napoleon exiled him from his ministry in Turin to his country home outside the city. The three-year exile (1811-14) allowed him to delve deeply into contemplative prayer. Like St. Bruno, Venerable Bruno founded a religious congregation, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

Likewise, St. Joseph lived up to his Old Testament forebear, Joseph, son of Jacob. Both received God’s messages through dreams and acted on them with great faith. The patriarch Joseph thus stored food in Egypt to prepare for a severe famine. St. Joseph fled with Jesus and Mary into Egypt. By their quick responses, the two Josephs saved many lives: Joseph feeding multitudes and St. Joseph protecting Jesus and Mary from death by King Herod. 

Here too at St. Joseph Retreat House, the staff strives to live up to our patron. The Head of the Holy Family provided a safe, nurturing environment for Jesus to grow up. Similarly, the chefs, housekeepers, retreat directors and community contribute to the tranquil, prayerful space for people to deepen their relationship with Jesus. The retreat house thus fosters a special time with Jesus, just as St. Joseph did for the Holy Family in Nazareth.

What about you? How do you live up to your name?

We are named after saints, celebrities and places. Ask Jesus how you can live up to the best aspect of those forebears. If your eponym is a saint, ask for that saint’s intercession. Sometimes, our forebears can even help us live up to their names.

Happy All Saints Day!

God bless.

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