The holy Patriarch Joachim was the husband of St. Anne, and the father of Our Lady. This feast, originally kept on March 20, was transferred to the day following the Assumption, in order to associate the Blessed Daughter and her holy father in triumph.
On July 26, we celebrated the Feast of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. Today, we continue to celebrate Our Mother’s parents with the Feast of St. Joachim. As I mentioned in my post regarding St. Anne, these are two people I knew nothing about as a young Protestant. Mary’s parents are not mentioned in the Bible at all. In fact, everything we know about her parents, Joachim and Anne, come to us through tradition and apocryphal texts. Since my life is so much more than the diary I kept as a child, the letters I wrote to my friends, and the few times I have been mentioned or remembered by others, I am understanding and grateful for the Traditions handed onto us through the Apostles and the Church.
St. Joachim, whose name in Hebrew means preparation for the Lord, was from a long line of Patriarchs as mentioned in the Old Testament. He was quite wealthy, with many herds and flocks, but the Lord had not blessed he and his wife, St. Anne, with a child. St. Anne was barren. This was particularly scandalous in their time, as all the Jews knew God’s blessing would come through a Messiah, a child who would be born among the Jews.
St. Joachim was very pious and went, as required by the Law, to offer his sacrifices in the Temple. But because he and his wife had remained childless for so long, St. Joachim was, on more than one occasion, viewed with scorn and not received. On one such trip to the temple, St. Joachim left dejected and ashamed. After being ridiculed and mocked for nearly 20 years, this burden became unbearable. Instead of returning home, he fled into the mountains to pray to the Lord.
Once into the mountains, St. Joachim began to plead earnestly with the Lord to relieve this burden he and his wife had born for so long. He began to fast and offered this prayer to God. “I will not take any food until the Lord looks at me with mercy. My prayer will be my fast.” With this simple yet strong prayer, St. Joachim assaulted God in heaven with his fasting. He approached the Lord with confidence and resolve, believing that God would indeed have mercy on him and answer his prayers.
It would indeed be so. After spending a long time in the mountains, St. Anne had become convinced her husband was dead. She stormed heaven with her own prayers. Just as the Angels were appearing to her in the desert, so were they showing themselves to St. Joachim. They promised him that God had indeed heard his prayers and a child would come. St. Joachim returned home with confidence to greet his wife who also shared in the same joy. Later, of course, St. Anne was to conceive through grace, Our Lady, who was filled with Grace!
Sts. Joachim and Anne, though burdened and abandoned, never lost faith and confidence in the Lord. In fact, it was after so much suffering that they turned to the Lord for mercy. They offer for us an example. Sometimes, when it seems the Lord has left us, He has not. He is often preparing us for something that can be brought about only through our suffering. It is in these times that Our Lord desires us to cry out to him and wait for His Divine Plan to bear fruit. And what glorious fruit it often is.
St. Joachim, pray for us, that we have the confidence and resolve to seek the Lord to answer our prayers.
St. Joachim, pray for us, that we have the graces to bear with grace our burdens, even with they seem unbearable.