Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In preparation for Pope Benedict's patronal feast, the Solemnity of St. Jospeh: Pt. I


When I wrote, 'Thorn, Fire and Lily' in 2003 I chose the common Ash tree to represent St. Joseph. The brief extraxt here, explains why.

"Ash wood is white....extremely strong and durable, and is still used to make oars and tool handles.....

"There is one biblical reference to the ash, in Isaiah 44:14. Many authorities believe, in spite of its availability, that this tree, used for carving idols, was not the ash at all, but one of a variety of conifers. The Syrian ash (Fraxinus syriaca) grew, and still grows, in the Holy Land. It is not as tall as its European relative, but shares its other qualities. I like to think that St. Joseph would have known, appreciated and used it in his workshop, and perhaps even had a walking staff made from it. To make an ash walking stick, treat in exactly the same way as hazel. Whereas the hazel stick will be coppery, the ash stick will have a silvery-grey patina."

Here are the instructions from p.103 of the same book.

"To make a walking stick, or shepherd's crook, cut a rod in winter, selecting one that has the appropriate shape for a handle, and of a length suitable for the eventual user. Do not peel the bark but leave to season for six months. When the process is complete the bark will come away easily. Shape the handle with a file and then sandpaper, and then likewise the rest of the surfaces. Make several applications of furniture polish, buffing between each until the patina has depth. A really good crook would be a lovely gift for a bishop, or confessor......"

Well, most dearly beloved Holy Father, you already lead us with the most important shepherd's crook in the world, and which you wield with love, gentle firmness, mercy and wisdom. God be praised you do not need a walking stick. And yet you have so often told us of your need and desire for what one could call the 'walking stick' of our prayer. This you have day and night and in unreserved abundance, from your loving and obedient flock. And for today we pray a safe flight and a happy landing in Cameroon.
May Our Lady and St. Joseph watch over you as you bring Jesus Christ to the nations..
In Christo pro Papa,
God speed Pope Benedict XVI!

Pt. 2 tomorrow: 'History and Lore of St. Joseph'
all extracts from 'Thorn, Fire and Lily' copyright Jane Mossendew 2004

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