Tag: Pope Francis

Newsletter: October 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

You’ve heard the adage, “All the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

This brings to mind the question: what seeds have I planted in the course of my day? Of my words and actions, what has taken root? Will something beautiful grow?

And who will do the harvesting? Have I tilled a field for my own benefit, or have I scattered widely for the sake of others? Some people walk through life like Johnny Appleseed, dropping little seeds of goodness—smiles and kind words and helpful acts—wherever they go. These can blossom in unexpected ways and make a big difference to people we don’t even know.

Our garden patch is what we make of it. If we’re not satisfied, we can always plant something new.

Pope Francis often speaks of the importance of starting a new process, those that result in people-building and not the possession of power: “What we need is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.” (The Joy of the Gospel)

In other words, do we want more love? Plant kindness. More unity? Cultivate understanding. More peace? Propagate justice. Start a new process.

One thing is clear from the lesson of the seed: our hope for a better tomorrow begins with what we do today.

At the Joseph House, your generosity and fidelity grow into marvelous things for the poor. We’re not just talking about the bills that get paid and the food that gets served, as vital as those things are. We mean the family life that gets supported and the human dignity that is affirmed and upheld. In the busy rooms of the Crisis Center, we see a preview of heaven where the less fortunate are honored guests. And you’re a part of all this.

Not that long ago Malia came to see us and she was feeling exhausted. She and her four children were living in a car. She said her children had to wash in a gas station bathroom before going to school. Malia and her family fled to our area from another state. They had to leave because Malia’s fiancé was physically abusive. She has a restraining order against him, but she was afraid he would ignore it and come after her.

Malia was down to her last $25 in cash when she arrived at our Crisis Center. She was able to transfer her subsidized housing voucher to Maryland, but there was going to be a wait until she and her kids could move into an apartment. We paid $500 so they could stay in a motel in the meantime. We also washed three bags of laundry and gave them plenty of food they could microwave in their motel room.

Beatrice and John were also living in a car, and their situation was becoming even more desperate. They were leasing the car and had missed two weekly payments. Beatrice said they had to keep the engine running at all times because if it stopped, the car dealership would use a remote device to keep it from starting up and then repossess the vehicle. Beatrice and John had been out of work for three weeks. They were lining up new positions, but without their car those job prospects would be lost. We wrote a check for the two missed lease payments ($261) and had it delivered to the dealership.

Following open-heart surgery, Gilbert, 58, was out of work for 12 weeks. He has returned to his job, but he was so far behind in his rent that his landlord had to give him an eviction notice. We paid $300 to keep Gilbert from becoming homeless.

Kaylee, 22, works in a chicken factory. Her daughter was born prematurely and has ongoing medical issues; sometimes she needs to be hospitalized. This causes Kaylee to miss work, and it doesn’t take much for her to fall short on a rent payment. To prevent Kaylee from being evicted, we sent $200 to the landlord.

Odelle’s smile was hiding a terrible tragedy: a few months ago her husband was shot and killed in their neighborhood. She feels unsafe where she is living and is haunted by the memories of what happened. Odelle is receiving a monthly benefit of $389. That is the only income she has for herself and her two young sons.

Odelle saw a glimmer of hope when she was approved for subsidized housing. She wants to use this as an opportunity to move to a safer neighborhood. The rules require that she still pay a security deposit, however. We contributed $200 so Odelle and her family can begin to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Fifty-three years ago, on October 15, 1965, Sr. Mary Elizabeth started a new process when she opened the Joseph House. The tiny seed she planted was her love for the poor, and she cared for it with her faith in God. Over the years the Joseph House has grown and developed, even after being transplanted from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore. It has always followed the plan of “letting the work build itself through the needs that were expressed by the people in the area.”

Today, the Joseph House Crisis Center—which offers Financial Assistance for emergencies, a Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Hospitality Room for the Homeless—and the Joseph House Workshop—which provides comprehensive services 24/7 to help homeless men get back on their feet—still depend on private support to stay in operation. That’s a tall order, but we know the goodness and charity of people like you are a match for it. May God bless you in abundance.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Relying on volunteers was always part of our founder’s plan. Sr. Mary Elizabeth wanted to keep operating costs low so more of your donations could go directly to the poor. She also understood the value of getting people personally involved. She once said:

Whenever I get the least bit discouraged about the state of the world I only have to think of our volunteers and I am filled with hope. Joseph House could not exist without our volunteers. It’s that simple. The entire Joseph House organization runs almost exclusively on volunteers. That’s the way it’s always been. People need the opportunity to give back to the community and to help their fellow man.

The vision and example of Sr. Mary Elizabeth are the treasures of the Joseph House. We remember her and pray for her every day. She departed this earthly life 14 years ago this month, on October 27, 2004.

A PRAYER FOR VOLUNTEERS

Heavenly God,

Holy Scripture says that if my brothers and sisters have no clothes and no food, and I say to them, “Be blessed! Stay warm and well fed,” but I do nothing to meet their needs, what good is that?

Do not let my heart grow so cold that I turn to empty words. Do not let me keep saying, “Someone else will help.” Let me be the one who steps in.

I offer You everything You have given me: my abilities, my talents, and my capacity to love. Direct me to where I can be of service to someone who needs what I can offer.

With a cheerful smile and a compassionate heart, let me be the one who lends a hand. Right now someone is praying for help. Include me in the answer You give.

Amen.

The World is a Joyful Mystery

Spring is a tonic for the soul. After being cooped up inside during the winter, stepping outside to perceive the awakening land is a blessing. It feels like the flowers and grasses are not the only things coming back to life.

Sooner or later, though, we have to consider the garden chores that await us. There’s always a list of things to do: pruning, clearing, raking, planting. But perhaps not every corner of the yard needs to bear the mark of human cultivation. Pope Francis gives an example why in his encyclical, On Care For Our Common Home:

Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of His infinite beauty and goodness.

“Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “His eternal power and divinity have been made known through His works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).

For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.

Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

Here is a “before” photo of our yard. Hopefully at a later time we will have a nice “after” picture. A good portion of the yard will probably end up in its natural, untouched state 🙂

St. Francis is in our garden for inspiration.

When St. Joseph Sleeps

As Head of the Holy Family, extraordinary demands were placed on St. Joseph, and he worked hard at being the best husband and father he could be. This involved not only doing, but listening. St. Joseph was receptive to God’s will, and that set the course for the action he took. His life turned out far differently from the one he had planned. And for that we are eternally grateful!

To be strong yet pliable: the same attitude can guide us as we look after the people entrusted to our care.

During an apostolic journey to the Philippines in 2015, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of St. Joseph, what we can learn from him, and how we can trust in his prayers. His remarks were given at a meeting with families at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. Here is an excerpt:

The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams….

I am very fond of dreams in families. For nine months every mother and father dream about their baby. Am I right? [Yes!] They dream about what kind of child he or she will be… You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies.

So I ask you each evening, when you make your examination of conscience, to also ask yourselves this question: Today did I dream about my children’s future? Today did I dream about the love of my husband, my wife? Did I dream about my parents and grandparents who have gone before me? Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!

How many difficulties in married life are resolved when we leave room for dreaming, when we stop a moment to think of our spouse, and we dream about the goodness present in the good things all around us. So it is very important to reclaim love by what we do each day. Do not ever stop being newlyweds!…

Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.

Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. To make a home for Jesus! You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities….

Demonstrating the receptive pose of St. Joseph.

I would also like to tell you something very personal. I have great love for St. Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!

Dorothy Day

dorothy_day_001

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a journalist and social activist. She co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper, which carries on her dedication to peace and the works of mercy.

When Pope Francis addressed a joint session of the United States Congress on September 24, 2015, he spoke about Dorothy as an example of someone who worked to build a better future and who shaped the fundamental values of the American people:

“In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.”

Of Dorothy’s many attractive qualities, there is one that stands out: she practiced what she preached. She loved the poor, she lived with the poor, and she lived as a poor person herself. She once wrote:

“The solution proposed… in the Gospels, is that of voluntary poverty and the works of mercy. It is the little way. It is within the power of all. Everybody can begin here and now…We have the greatest weapons in the world, greater than any hydrogen or atom bomb, and they are the weapons of poverty and prayer, fasting and alms, the reckless spending of ourselves in God’s service and for His poor. Without poverty we will not have learned love, and love, at the end, is the measure by which we shall be judged.”

Sr. Mary Elizabeth, our foundress, met Dorothy in 1966 when they were both invited to speak at the Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. This is Sister’s recollection of Dorothy:

“That’s where I met her personally, but I had known about her and read about her because in my younger days as a nurse I had worked with the Catholic Worker in Baltimore when it first started. I volunteered there for a short time while I was doing my studies at Mercy Hospital. So I knew about Dorothy and read about her and admired her very much. When she came to Loyola to speak I invited her to the house and she came. But my first meeting with her was at Wernersville.

“I admired her ability to live completely with the poor, and to share with them absolutely anything and everything she had. She never kept anything for herself alone. She was the poorest person I think I’ve ever met. Wherever they have a Catholic Worker house around Washington or Baltimore they always had a room for Dorothy, but Dorothy insisted that her room be used for the poor when she was not there. So many times when she would arrive from somewhere – if they didn’t know ahead of time – there was already a poor person sleeping in her room and she slept in somebody else’s bed. And if you knew Dorothy’s houses at that point in history, that was not like ‘I’ll sleep in your bed tonight,’ because a lot of those beds were wet in over and over again, and they smelled of urine terribly, and Dorothy would just go lay in one as if it were her own.

“She was the most selfless person I think I’ve ever heard of, and I really admired that tremendously. She was so detached. A very detached person. Except from her opinions, which she had a right to stand up for. But she was extremely detached. And very humble. But she did have a temper. I saw her one night put a priest in his place because he was speaking against the teachings of the Church. She really put him right where he belonged. She could handle any argument, anyone. But as I say she was simply, totally unattached to herself.

“The same thing came up when she spoke at Loyola. She was a controversial figure so they did have bouncers, so to speak, for her talk. And they almost had to use them because one man stood up. I think these people were sent by her enemies to talk out loud and heckle her.

“And so this guy stood up and said was it true that she had been arrested on a morals charge at one time. And she said ‘Yes, it’s true.’ But she said, ‘Worse than that.’

“And he said, ‘What?’

“And she said ‘I just remembered I have two coats in my closet at home and I can only use one.’ Which really carried a big message with it.

“And I thought, ‘God, isn’t she admirable?’ To say a thing like that in public, and not to defend herself on the morals charge whatsoever, but just simply to say yes, that she just remembered that she had two winter coats at home in the closet and she could only wear one. She just was a woman of principle, at any expense to herself whatsoever. Never did she come first, she was always last in whatever God’s cause was. So that’s why I admired her. I certainly don’t have her virtues, but I admire them.”

On Dorothy’s visit to the Joseph House in May 1966:

“She came, and knowing how poor she lived, and knowing that certainly I was not rich in any way shape or form, but knowing also that she lived in this total disorder and total untidiness, and I at that point in life was very tidy, because I had the energy to be tidy, I was worried because my place looked nice even though it was very poor. And I thought, ‘Is she going to think that I don’t care about poverty?’ I was really concerned that maybe she would be offended by that. And when she walked in the front door I had a little classroom on the side in what would be the living room, and they had desks and chairs and a little library, and that’s of course what she saw first. So I thought, ‘Well, I wonder what she’s going to think?’

“And she looked at it and looked at it and she looked around and she said, ‘I would give my right arm to have a place like this.’ [laughter] So I breathed easy. Yes, she was really a wonderful woman.

The classroom in question. From an article in the Baltimore Evening Sun, May 17, 1966.

The classroom in question. From an article in the Baltimore Evening Sun, May 17, 1966.

“So she gave us a talk that night in one of the classrooms. We had a classroom upstairs. And she went to Mass. And when it was over, I had put her in one of the back bedrooms where she would be quiet. All my things were very poor, and she had a little poor rocking chair with no arms on it. And so I went back to see if she wanted anything before she retired, and she was sitting in the little rocking chair in her night gown, and rocking back and forth and preparing for the Mass in the morning. She was reading the prayers of the Mass for the next morning and was preparing for that.

“She really was a very holy person. Extremely holy, very prayerful and just. Justice was a big thing with her. And justice was a big thing with me and I think that’s another reason I liked her so much. I didn’t fear poverty as much as I feared injustice for the poor.”

———————————

For more information about Dorothy Day, please visit http://www.catholicworker.org

Below you can see two cards Dorothy sent to Sr. Mary Elizabeth, who was a lay person at the time and known as Mae Gintling:

Front of postcard.

Front of postcard.

Back of postcard.

Back of postcard.

Envelope for greeting card.

Envelope for greeting card.

Front of greeting card.

Front of greeting card.

Inside of greeting card. The accident refers to a car accident that involved Sister.

Inside of greeting card. The accident refers to a car accident that involved Sister.

Praying With Five Fingers

pope_francis_sept_2015

Through his ministry as shepherd and teacher, Pope Francis is presenting the Gospel with simplicity without sacrificing its depth. His words let the truth shine. His actions also speak clearly about the importance of humility.

While serving as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he taught a “simple” method of prayer to children. It’s easy to remember since it uses the five fingers of the hand. It’s also not just for children.

Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:

1.) The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”

2.) The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3.) The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4.) The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5.) And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

The text for this prayer comes from the Catholic University of America website: www.cua.edu

© 2019 The Joseph House

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑