Tag: Christmas

Newsletter: December 2017

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

In depicting the birth of Christ, Byzantine icons sometimes show St. Joseph sitting away from the manger, either resting with his eyes closed (symbolizing his dreams) or facing the devil (symbolizing the temptation to disbelief).

Art in Western culture places St. Joseph inside the stable, usually holding a lantern or leaning on his staff. The focus, of course, is on the baby Jesus and His mother Mary: classical artists enveloped them in a heavenly radiance. In some paintings, you have to look twice to find Joseph. But despite being in the background, he is not a “background” character in the story.

Quite the contrary. Although our patron saint probably liked to avoid the limelight, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved in our Savior’s birth. St. Joseph had to protect and care for Mary on the journey to Bethlehem, he had to find shelter for her, come up with a plan ‘B’ when the inns were full, keep her warm and comfortable in the stable, and when the time came for her to have her baby, he had to attend to all of her immediate needs. And then came the flight into Egypt, a perilous crossing that is glossed over in Scripture. St. Joseph had to be the hero for Mother and Child.

There was a lot to be done behind the scenes — and St. Joseph did it all with love. That was his specialty. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.” That was true for Mary and Jesus, and it is true for us through the power of his heavenly intercession.

The world needs St. Joseph. The world needs his dedication to family life and his fidelity to God, even when that requires facing adversity. As we contemplate the manger this Christmas, we must remember his strong, fatherly presence. . . a presence that made Mary and Jesus — who were so vulnerable — feel so safe.

Today, if you want to see the spirit of St. Joseph at work, come visit the Joseph House Crisis Center. Our volunteers embody his selfless and generous service. They also do the hidden work that goes unnoticed but is essential for our ministry.

You, with your prayers, donations, and financial support, make it all possible. For families in need, there is food on the table and a roof over their heads — because of you.

Joni, 31, is the mother of six. She works as a housekeeper in a resort hotel to support her family. When her mother had a stroke, Joni had to take a short, unpaid leave of absence to help care for her. Joni could not afford to lose the income, but her mother needed her. When the rent was due, Joni couldn’t pay it and received an eviction notice. That was the price she paid for helping her mother.

We sent $200 to the landlord to keep Joni and her children from becoming homeless. There are legions of people like Joni, women and men who work thankless jobs. They might as well be invisible. How often do we stop and consider their struggles?

Cheryl, 51, is another family caregiver. Her daughter has a late-stage cancer. The water was shut off in Cheryl’s home because she was beset by so many bills and so little money to pay for them. She has started a new job in a chicken processing plant, but climbing out of debt can be very hard. We paid the outstanding water bill of $217.

Rosie, 80, lives in a small house by the side of the road in a rural area. Her home is heated by propane and the tank was completely empty. She traveled 30 miles and crossed a state line to the Joseph House, looking for help. We paid $200 to the gas company.

Brianna, 32, lost her job at a hotel when business slowed down after the summer. The only other work she could find was a part-time job at a supermarket. Her husband Mike is in poor health. He was recently approved for disability but has not yet received any benefits.

It didn’t take long for Brianna and Mike to slide into the despair of poverty. Little things like soap and household supplies became unaffordable, not to mention the rent. Worries about money were eating away at the couple: Brianna experienced respiratory distress and had to be hospitalized for a few days. We sent $230 to their landlord, buying time to help Brianna and Mike make it through their hardships.

Phoebe, 56, lives in a one-room apartment, surrounded by concrete in a commercial zone. There is no greenery, no shade. Phoebe’s room is home for her and has been for seven years. She is disabled and it’s the only affordable place she can find. Even so, she lives on a pittance and is chronically late with the rent. She hadn’t realized that most of what she was paying was going to the late fees. Phoebe was worried and confused when she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services paid the back rent that was due. We paid $259 to cover the remaining costs and cancel the eviction.

Thank you once again for the many ways you show your love for the poor. You bring the Christmas spirit to them year-round. Food, shelter, heat, electricity, medicine. . . these are the gifts they receive because of you.

Your financial support keeps the Joseph House going, not any government funding. Just you and your concern for those in need. You can donate online here. It’s easy to do. Make a one-time or recurring donation. You can also donate in memory of someone.

The birth of Jesus can be a new birth for us. Knowing that you have helped someone in need will add special meaning to your celebration of Christmas.

You are close to us in prayer. Please use the Contact Form and send us your special intentions so we can pray for you during this holy season.

From all of us at the convent, the Joseph House Crisis Center, and the Joseph House Workshop, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Baby Jesus is Still Hidden

baby_Jesus_crib_dec2015

Christmas today has something in common with the very first one: the baby Jesus is still hidden.

We all know why the “reason for the season” gets forgotten in our day and age: the birth of Christ has become, if you’ll excuse us, a God-send for fourth quarter profits. The modern situation is so odd; we celebrate a birthday where the guest of honor is kept out of sight and we drive ourselves silly with the preparation. Yet underneath the hustle and bustle, the stress and fatigue, the crowded stores, gift wrap, and credit card bills, Jesus is there, waiting.

If Jesus is hidden today because of our blindness, two thousand years ago it was by God’s design. In the dead of night when Christ was born, no one in Bethlehem knew that the most important event in human history was occurring, except for Mary and Joseph. After the angels broke the silence, the shepherds found the Infant in a stable, but Jesus remained hidden — hidden in the ordinary — for the next thirty years of His life.

How many people in Nazareth saw Jesus, spoke with Him, heard His voice, ate with Him, laughed with Him, and never knew they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Son of God?

The mystery of His hiddenness continues to the present day. Our Lord gives us His assurance in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew:

I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me. . . . Whatever you did for those who count for little, you did for Me.

This is truly a mystery and cannot be explained fully, but in the hiddenness of Jesus we see the intimate love He has for the human family. We also learn about humility and trust, how to be generous in living for others, and the inherent dignity of every human being. Not least of all, we learn how to love God. It isn’t something we do from afar.

Bethlehem reveals the special love Jesus has for the poor. The abode of the King of Kings was a stable, His bed was a manger filled with straw. The hardships of poverty were not foreign to Him.

Is there a better way to honor the importance of Christmas than to reach out to those in need?

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