Monday, March 23, 2015

Blessing of St. Joseph's Altar held at St. Bernard Middle School

Cullman, AL.   Students at St. Bernard Middle School held their annual Blessing of the St. Joseph’s Table recently.  The blessing was given by School President, Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., who described St. Joseph as a righteous man.

Fr. Joel asked the students to learn from St. Joseph who lovingly accepted Mary as his wife after Mary said “yes” to God, making possible the birth of Jesus, God among us.  By accepting and loving Mary, St. Joseph welcomed God to this world.

By imitating Joseph and Mary, the students responded to God with their own generosity by donating food items for those in need, showing God’s love.   Fr. Joel blessed the food offered for the poor, and also blessed the students who make God present in the lives of others.

The St. Joseph Altar or St. Joseph Table is an old tradition that began in Sicily.  During the Middle Ages a draught threatened to bring about a severe famine.  Only a sea of dust and withered vines remained from what had once been row upon row of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

And so the people prayed.  They especially called on St. Joseph, considered their patron, to intercede for them, pleading for relief from the famine that gripped the island. At last the rains came and the people rejoiced.  Sometime later, to show their gratitude, they prepared a table in honor of St. Joseph; it held a special assortment of foods they had harvested, which were then distributed to those less fortunate.  The ancient custom is still celebrated, and though Sicilian immigrants introduced the tradition to America, the celebration is not confined to any nationality, but has become a popular custom for many Catholics in America.

Religion instructor, Miss Martha Ann Warnke heads  the celebration as a service project for students at the Middle School during second semester as well as a issues a grade as part  of religion class.   A thermometer hangs in the foyer of the school and keeps a mark for each 10 food items contributed by students.

St. Bernard students contributed 400 canned food items which was donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Cullman.   Teachers at the school contributed another 70 cans.

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