We are well past my birthday. As a kid I was teased a lot for Phil sticking his nose out of his burrow and commenting on the weather. So Mom and I went to mass for my day, which was a feast day, The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Forty days after Christmas, it is also called Candlemas.
I always liked feast days, although the only ones I remember are mine, of course, and my dad’s. Or, what Mom always referred to as Dad’s feast day, St. Joseph’s Feast Day, although Dad’s name was not Joseph.
Joseph was husband to Mary and father to Jesus, a protector, a supporter, a provider. I believe it was Mom’s way of reminding us to honor what our Dad did day in and day out, the constant he was in our lives, his faith and devotion not only to the Catholic Church but to us, his children.
I remember the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano mission. It was a glorious sight. We saw it once when I was about ten or so. The swallows returning on St. Joseph’s Day empitomized the steadfast love, support and care that Joseph took of his family. I know that my Dad was like that…cheering us on, supporting us, cautioning us, counseling us to be the best we culd be.
I always liked the missions. I had favorites; Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcaláone, the oldest, the one near Solvang, Mission Santa Inéz, the Santa Barbara Mission. They were, churches, wonderful places of worship. And, in the summer, long before churches were air conditioned, we would go to Mision San Fernando Rey, not far from our house, for Sunday Mass. I always, always brought a jacket or sweater. Outside it could be 95 degrees, inside it would be 60. I remember the quiet of the space and the simplicity of the building.
After mass we would walk in the enclosed gardens.
‘Stand tall, walk tall,’ was the way Dad signed every note he sent to me while I was away at college. It is a reminder I hold fast to, advice I cherish and remember this St. Joseph’s Feast Day.