Dear Friends of Joseph House:
No matter how old we get, September always means “back to school” in some way. Summer is over and now it’s time to get a little more serious. There are some things we miss about our school days, like getting new school supplies and the anticipation of new classes and teachers. What we don’t miss are homework and tests. But let’s take a minute anyway and consider these questions, courtesy of Pope Francis. Call it a pop quiz on life:
“Thinking about the people we are today, what do we want to do with ourselves? The grandparents who went before, the elderly who had dreams and hopes for us, and made great sacrifices for us, ask us an essential question: what kind of a society do we want to build? We received so much from the hands of those who preceded us. What do we, in turn, want to bequeath to those who come after us? ‘Rose water,’ that is, a diluted faith, or a living faith? A society founded on personal profit or on fraternity? A world at war or a world at peace? A devastated creation or a home that continues to be welcoming? . . .
“As part of the history of salvation, in the light of those who went before me and loved me, what is it that I must now do? I have a unique and irreplaceable role in history, but what mark will I leave behind me? What am I passing on to those who will come after me? What am I giving of myself? Often we measure our lives on the basis of our income, our type of career, our degree of success and how others perceive us. Yet these are not life-giving criteria. The real question is: am I giving life? Am I ushering into history a new and renewed love that was not there before? Am I proclaiming the Gospel in my neighborhood? Am I freely serving others, the way those who preceded me did for me? What am I doing for our Church, our city, our society? Brothers and sisters, it is easy to criticize, but the Lord does not want us to be mere critics of the system, or to be closed and ‘backwards-looking,’ as says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. 10:39). Rather, he wants us to be artisans of a new history, weavers of hope, builders of the future, peacemakers.” [Homily, July 26, 2022, Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne.]
These are some serious questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Maybe we can answer some of them easily and others we’re not sure about. The good news is the final bell hasn’t rung yet and so we have time. Only with our best efforts will we leave the world a little better than we found it. And never forget that the Holy Spirit is always ready to nudge us in the right direction.
The call to love our neighbors gets drowned out in our noisy world. But we know you listen and respond without fail. Thanks to your faithful support, the Joseph House continues to care for people during their times of need.
Jacob, 73, has spent two months in the hospital and rehab because of a foot injury he sustained while working. He is self-employed as a handyman, doing any kind of job he can. With no car, he bikes from place to place. Jacob was evicted from his apartment while he was in the hospital. He contacted our Crisis Center before he was discharged from rehab. Moving into an apartment was going to require a security deposit of $500 plus the first month’s rent, also $500. $1000! What an outrageous burden for the working poor, especially those in their senior years. The Joseph House was able to assist Jacob with $425. We also called his landlord, who agreed to allow Jacob to pay the remaining balance over time once he starts working.
Carol is 70 and lives alone. She is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for herself is becoming a challenge, in more ways than one. Her modest apartment is costing half of her Social Security check of $1,196. She is trying to find a studio apartment that will be less expensive and easier for her to manage. We contributed $450 to help with her current rent (she was behind) and contacted a local agency that helps the elderly. A case worker will now be assisting Carol with her additional health care needs.
Ariana is a young single mother with two small children. The house they are living in was going to be condemned because the water had been shut off and Ariana had no money to pay the bill. We immediately called the water department and gave our promise that we would pay the outstanding balance of $178. We also gave Ariana some cash to buy the special diapers her youngest child needs.
Janis is also a single mother with two children. They were living with relatives until a house fire left them homeless. Janis and her children have been staying in motels since then, and even though she works two jobs it is simply not affordable. A ray of sunshine appeared when Janis was finally approved for subsidized housing. She needed to pay a security deposit, however, and she had nothing to spare from her paychecks. The Joseph House was able to contribute $350.
Leo, 68, has many health problems and lives on a monthly disability check of $800. He was in no condition to come to our Crisis Center so a nurse from a local agency came to represent him. Leo needs to have a heart catheterization, but the hospital was concerned about the level of hygiene in his residence. The main problem was a bed bug infestation. The nurse showed us pictures. Oh my! We sent $300 to an exterminator so sanitary conditions can be maintained in Leo’s home.
Mario, 52, had a fearful accident at home and broke several bones in his back and shoulder. He is recovering, but his strength and mobility are impaired. Mario believes he will never find a job again as a construction worker, his usual occupation. He has worked before as a waiter, and he is trying his hand at that, but the physical demands may be too much for him. With no family to support him, Mario is struggling to pay his bills. We sent $350 to the electric company to prevent a cut-off.
September also heralds the coming of autumn and relief from hot, muggy days. Nature, the peerless teacher, has a lesson we need to learn again and again: to live is to change. Our habits and routines may serve us well, but one day we might have to let them go. Something new is waiting for us. We are never too old to adapt and grow.
Our Golf Tournament is returning! This fun event to raise money for the Joseph House will be held October 7 at Green Hill Country Club in Quantico, MD. For more information, please call 410-543-8171 or email nazareth411[at]comcast[dot]net.
With our gratitude,
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
We pray for our friends and donors every day. Please send us your special prayer requests: Contact Form.
The Joseph House depends on your support. Information about making a donation can be found here: Donate.
What if instead of calling it ageing, we named it ripening?
Seeing in each passing stage of life the beauty we ascribe to
Seed, Shoot, Leaf, Flower, Fruit.
Never asking one of them to be, or remain as, another; but delighting in their present presence as a gift from each season. Each perfect and apt in their own time.
What if instead of calling them wrinkles we saw in them only the evidence of experience? Counting them the way children count the rings of trees; delighting in them as signs of stories to be told; wisdom lines to be wondered at, whether born of tears, or laughter, or even, pain.
What if we taught the young to see the old as we, standing back in awe, gaze upon the ancient being of trees? Traveling to simply see them, touch them, to be in their canopied company. Resting our frantic minds in their deep green slowness, while imagining with awe all that has passed beneath their crooked branches; the seasons they have seen, the storms survived, and the myriad lives they have sheltered in their long growing.
So then, go out, go out my friend and let yourself ripen beneath the sun and moon, breathe freely of your present season letting the regrets of lost time fall from you and fly like leaves upon the air. Fear no longer Autumn’s harvest or even the seeming sleep of Winter for, when ripened, fruit’s earthward drop frees seed and begets always, a new Spring.
Br. Richard Hendrick, OFM Cap