Manifestations of God's Love

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It’s been a busy few weeks at Joseph’s House with many Baby Bottle drives last weekend in celebration of Mother’s Day and Good Shepherd’s Sunday.

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What a beautiful combination of blessed days they were. Mother’s Day and Good Shepherd’s Sunday. To many, their moms are their best friends, their biggest influence, their loving guides and guiding stars. Mom’s are the first loves of their adoring children and the best shepherds in their lives. Our Lord most certainly sent us our mothers as a symbol of His love for us and many do a superb job shepherding their children according to God’s plan.

This is exactly what happens at Joseph’s House as well. We are shepherds to Our Lord’s lost sheep. To His precious, vulnerable children who may not have mothers or fathers to lead them. Our Lord leads us and we lead all the children He sends our way and In that way we emulate the love of God each day and are symbols of love to others.

Manifestations of God’s love have been made apparent throughout the readings this week in the Gospels of St. John. In the words of Christ and in the actions of Christ we witness examples of how we are to love others.. From His declaration in last Sunday’s Gospel “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish”, to this week’s gospel command to love one another. “As I have loved you, so you should also love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples.”  The readings are overflowing with the profession of the love of Our Father in Heaven for each and everyone of us.

Manifestations of love have also been apparent everyday this past week in our home and with our staff. Little notes of thanks appearing in inboxes on Mother’s Day from moms successfully living on their own began the downpour of grace. The sighting of an Exodus mom in the mall where she ran to me when she saw me from across the way. A Mother’s Day luncheon donated by our friend Marie Cullen for all the moms in our home and the volunteers who cared for the little ones giving up their Saturday morning so our moms could have “adult time” with one another. Love has been made apparent through the generosity and donations of nurses from Crouse Hospital, the large turnout and unending support of our prayer group and in our most recent mass celebration, and will be made apparent again today as students from Cazenovia High School sacrifice their Sunday afternoon in service to our mission. Each and every day at Joseph’s House prayers are answered; new relationships are built and Our Lord opens unforeseen doors of opportunity to us as we work to show Him, we love Him and His children above all things.

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We are blessed at Joseph’s House to see the presence of God and His love in all we are called to do for our moms and children. It has been undeniably perceptible since Easter, through Mother’s Day and through this weekend. What is especially uplifting to all who serve this mission and are overworked, underpaid and exhausted most of the time, is we are allowed to catch glimpses of God’s love reflected back to us from young women who never knew Him until they encountered Joseph’s House.

We observed this phenomenon on Friday as a young mom who is leaving us too soon with a newborn, hugged all the other moms and staff with tears in her eyes and let us know she still wants to be a part of our family. She will come back to visit often and wants to be included in our Exodus program. This is a young woman with much trauma in her past who is articulate, feisty and a survivor. She is willing to work hard for herself and her little one and believes she will be able to take on all the challenges before her. She has support from her mom making the transition a bit easier and the fact that her mom embraces us as well as her daughter, is another manifestation of God’s love and appreciation for the work of Joseph’s House.

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These encounters with young moms with little or no belief in the existence of God make us understand more clearly how seeds of a future relationship with Him are planted in the hearts and souls of all who come to call Joseph’s House home. This young mom in just two months’ time, has begun to participate in the Alpha program. At first, she was complacent and seemed prejudiced in her attitude towards any godly discussions, but through the leadership of our HM Karen and the compassion and assistance of our CM Rebecca, much has changed in the heart and soul of this young lady.

Stories like this make all realize we are able to do this inspired work because we are a mission founded to be the hands and feet of Christ for others. To be the soft shoulder of compassion and understanding when needed while instilling the positive effects of a firm, structured environment. To always be the calm in the storm of turbulence that is the life of all the young women we serve. To always be an expression of Christ’s love to everyone who comes to us leading them to a better future through God’s omnipotent direction. That is the manifestation of the love of Jesus Christ through His ministry of Joseph’s House and by His Grace we will continue to serve many lost sheep with unending love for years to come.

God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Hope of Joseph's House

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As a mother delights in taking her child on her knees, in caressing & feeding him, so does our God delight in treating with love & tenderness those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, and place all their hope in His goodness & bounty.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Happy Spring my friends! Happy Month of May, the month Our Most Blessed Mother, Mary. Happy Hope is another way we could begin the sharing of the most recent good news of Joseph’s House.

Our 53rd newborn baby recently came into the world, a lovely little girl whose mom is filled with anticipation and joy as she begins the journey of nurturing her most precious gift from God. Hope seems to be brimming over in our home, spilling out the doors and windows with the giggles of our 7 toddlers, the anticipation of our 8 moms and the murmurings of our 4 infants as spring fills the air, trees bud and flowers bloom.

Hope shines at Joseph’s House as a mom who has been struggling with health issues makes great strides to total healing and wellness. It is evident in the eyes of the moms in our home who have prayed for her recovery and have come to truly believe God hears and answers their prayers. Hope radiates as a young mom patiently deals with attending to her 2 little ones, taking one to school, one to daycare and getting herself off to a full-time job while taking a full course load at OCC. She is ready for finals with an average in the high 90’s and filled with the expectation she will pass her road test giving her the ability and the hope to graduate our program and live on her own. She readily admits, this would never have happened without Joseph’s House.

Hope is unmistakable in the demeanor and smile of a mom in recovery from addiction. She has a wealth of talents in the kitchen (to the delight of many!) plus musical talents with a voice to accompany the instruments. We are working on getting her a guitar so she can share with all of us her gifts from God. When I mentioned this to her she was simply elated and a conversation began about hope. Here is what she said to me:

Hope for me means the hard things that are thrown at us make us appreciate the small things in life. It’s not what we have or what we can get that others will remember; they will remember our spirit. My Higher Power, (God) is something that has carried me, not pushed me. Isn’t it ironic that is what Joseph’s House is too? It is truly a blessing to have a family here I never had before.
— JH Resident Mom

Hope is a virtue of the Holy Spirit that springs and blossoms according to one’s trust, faith and love of God. For many it comes from living through and graduating from the school of hard knocks as we realize our total ignorance and incompetence in choosing the correct path for our lives. It may be born of pain and yet somehow burgeons into a kind of euphoria as one comes to understand the wisdom in following God’s rules. Hope is born in the remembrance of God’s unending mercy for us who have caused Him much suffering through our sin. It is born as one takes inventory of the coincidences in their lives that have detoured them from a path of destruction to a path where one is led by Holy Spirit. Hope becomes apparent as we analyze and audit the miracles of our past that have bolstered us to the place where we are now blessed to reside. It transports us to a destiny where we are eternally efficacious and pragmatic as we step out in faith into the unknown future Our Heavenly Father has reserved only for us. Hope gives us the confidence to step out into the unknown, disconcerting days ahead, understanding every difficulty is an implement used by God to build our strength and fortitude. It makes problems disappear and gives one the resilience to welcome the uphill climb of daily life. Hope is sheer bliss, total ecstasy and what one looks forward to the most each morning allowing us to bound out of bed even after a sleepless night.

The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

All of you, our friends of Joseph’s House are a huge component of our hope. Through your unending support and prayers, it is made evident to all of us God hears and answers your prayers. Because of you, all of our dreams, aspirations and yearnings for the future are possible. We thank you from the depths of our hearts for all you do for us and we ask you to continue as our hope for the future is bigger than many believe possible. We can’t do what we do without you, so please storm heaven for Joseph’s House my friends, knowing we will always storm heaven for all of you. Enjoy a hope-filled spring and may God abundantly Bless You!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Saying “Yes” to Our Heavenly Father

Jesus saying “Yes” to His Heavenly Father as He accepts and receives His Cross

Jesus saying “Yes” to His Heavenly Father as He accepts and receives His Cross

It’s Holy Week and as always, the meditations on Christ’s Passion run deep. A favorite meditation of mine are the Stations of the Cross and this week especially they are at the forefront of my thoughts. They are remembered while praying the Rosary no matter what mysteries are meditated upon. They are pondered while praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. They are recalled and contemplated when unforeseen difficulties present themselves at home, in the health of loved ones, in the hurts suffered through the words and actions of others, and in the day to day difficulties confronted by our moms at Joseph’s House.

Life is hard my friends as I’m sure you all know, but as one looks at a Crucifix the question of why do we suffer is answered as we identify Perfection thoroughly desecrated before us. How is it possible for one to comprehend the depth of His pain or the depth of despair of His Most Impeccable Mother?  How is it possible for man to perpetrate such unfathomable cruelty towards his fellow man?  How is it even conceivable one human could torture another to this extent? And yet it happened to the Faultless One, the Flawless One, as He said ‘yes’ to God the Father because He loves us so abundantly He wants nothing more than to spend eternity with us in Heaven.  Jesus said “yes” and Mary said “yes” to what They knew would be the most excruciating suffering because They conformed themselves to the Will of God the Father for love of us. Could you do what Jesus did? Could you sacrifice your child to crucifixion as Our Lady did and watch him die for the love of others?

No matter the blackness of our souls, the hardness of our hearts, or the callous indifference of our spirits, Jesus is here to die for us all over again each and every day. He dies and is resurrected each time we share in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass. We partake of His Divinity in our worthy reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. We carry His perfection within our imperfection as His Divinity pumps through our veins making our hearts skip a beat as we are immersed and flooded by His Presence within us.

This may be a way of beginning to say “yes” to Jesus and to Consecrate ourselves to Him daily through the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother. It may be the way we come to understand what God is asking of us in this life. And so if you are searching for knowledge, understanding and wisdom in saying ”yes” to God, perhaps a good place to begin is by meditating on The Passion of Jesus, meditating on The Stations of the Cross, meditating on the physical sufferings of  the wounds to His Body and meditating on His emotional suffering caused by the loneliness and despair endured as He was abandoned by His best friends, His Apostles and His disciples.

As one goes deeper into these meditations, it is nearly impossible not to understand why we imperfect ones have sufferings and difficulties in our own lives. As one’s eyes are opened and we are able to grasp the logic of the sufferings in our lives, it is easier to unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord’s and to the sufferings of His Mother, Our Blessed Mother.

This is a way of saying “yes’ to Jesus my friends, and once one begins, one may never go back because the union consummated in an alliance and one on one relationship with Jesus is the most glorious experience ever realized. It is a path to holiness and joy making one fearless in pursuit of perfection, no matter what others may think. It is the beginning of detachment from material needs and the taming of one’s passions. It is quite simply the beginning of an extraordinary journey culminating in the understanding of the depths and profound transcendence of the love of God for us, His most prodigal children. God Bless you my friends.

Wishing you a Most Blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Beauty of Joseph's House

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Joseph’s House is an avenue of hope given by God through beauty, to open the hearts of His most precious children to His goodness and truth. Thus giving them the understanding, He knows who they are.

We most certainly see the beauty of Joseph’s House every day in its structure. In its’ shape, color and form as it is a visual delight. From its grand porches and pillars and expansive yard, to the curved, swirled ceiling in our dining room and over-sized double-hung transom windows in bowed sets of three, it is truly aesthetically pleasing to the all the senses. As one traces the length of silken wood on the 120-year-old banister and witnesses the gleam of sunlit stained-glass and the elegant simplicity of our magnificent chapel, we are taken aback, as it does not seem possible this majestic home is ours, even after 5 years. Delectable aromas wafting from the kitchen and the scents of sleeping newborn babies’ breath fill the air daily. Then there is the beauty of the moms and the children. The laughter, the excitement, the joy that is expressed in a multitude of ways through the ups and downs of life in community.

All of this physical beauty along with the care taken and the cleanliness insisted upon in maintaining our home is something that has many times brought tears to the eyes of young women entering our doors. So many times, moms tell us they have never had their own bed or their own pillow. They have slept on a couch or in a chair for most of their young lives. They have always shared a room with other siblings and were accustomed to cramped spaces many times overridden with clutter and junk. For them there is an abundance of beauty in the order of our home, in the rules & expectations. There is beauty in bread on the counter, milk in the fridge, a stocked freezer and pantry because many times they come to us hungry as they have been starving themselves to hide their pregnancies or have sacrificed their food for younger siblings.

“Caring for persons, beginning with the smallest and most vulnerable, and their day-to-day bonds, necessarily means caring also for the environment in which they live. Small gestures, simple actions, little sparks of beauty and charity can heal and ‘mend’ human fabric, ….. by presenting a concrete alternative to indifference and cynicism.”
— Pope Francis

The beauty of Joseph’s House is one hundred-fold as it shines through the eyes of our moms and kids and is expressed to us through their kind words, their heart-felt thanks and their reliance on what they come to learn while with us. It comes in their special surprise birthday cakes and celebrations for staff and one another. Beauty is evident as you see an anxious mom deliberately but excitingly pull out of the driveway for the first time ever, taking her first driving lesson and then observe the fear, eagerness and anticipation as she makes the appointment for her road test. It is evident when the entire home rallies around a mom who is ill for an extended period and they bow their heads in prayer, many times not believing in it and then astounded as they see first-hand their prayers being answered. The wonder in their eyes brims over as they come to understand God hears THEM, God knows THEM, God has love for THEM.

The beauty of Joseph’s House will be evident today as our home overflows with moms and kids from our past joining us to take part in our annual Easter Egg Hunt along with the 8 moms and 7 little ones with us now. (We are also anticipating the arrival of 3 more newborns in the next few months.) We will hear the squeals of delight from children from infants to 9 years of age as they race around searching for plastic eggs and cover themselves in frosting and sprinkles while icing their bunny cookies. We will see the gratification in their eyes as they become giddy with the sweetness of candy and the curiosity exhibited as they cautiously greet the Easter Bunny.

Today we will witness a kind of beauty we only encounter when doing something for others that is totally unexpected by them, something that may have never been done for them before, something catching them so off guard that the action physically manifests the love of Jesus Christ. The love He holds in His Heart for each and every one of them and for each and every one of us, whether we know it or not. I have witnessed this kind of manifestation of God’s love and I can tell you emphatically it is the most tender, warm and genuinely intoxicating emotion I can ever recall. The greatest gift God has given me is to be able to witness Joseph’s House manifesting His love for others, manifesting His love for His most precious, His most vulnerable children.

Our story began with the beauty that comes from tragedy and has grown into a mission that is good because it is founded in God and teaches truth. Our Lord has penetrated our very being with His most generous mercy and love allowing us to pay the same mercy & love forward. Because Joseph’s House is of God, it raises the hearts, minds and souls of everyone coming to us from visitors to staff, to volunteers as well as our moms and little ones, to Heaven. It gives everyone the hope and understanding Jesus Christ is there for them, as He has been and is for all of us. Joseph’s House is an avenue of hope given by God through beauty, to open the hearts of His most precious children to His goodness and truth. Thus giving them the understanding, He knows who they are.

Begin with the beautiful, which leads you to the good, which leads you to the truth.
— Father Robert Barron

This bountiful beauty of God is given to us to cultivate through goodness and truth and foster into a font of light, mercy and hope that will, with His grace, exceed our longevity so that it’s exquisite nature and richness can encourage moms and children for generations to come. We couldn’t be more blessed to be a small part of the beauty Our Lord has planned for the future of all He sends our way and we will forever strive to instill within them goodness and truth through an encounter with the beauty and love of Jesus Christ in our home. We invite you to come visit us to learn more and we wish you a most blessed Passion Sunday & Holy Week. God bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Holy Ground of Joseph's House

John & Teresa Brusa, receiving the Pillars of Faith Award with Kitty Spinelli and Bronson Kopp of Joseph’s House

John & Teresa Brusa, receiving the Pillars of Faith Award with Kitty Spinelli and Bronson Kopp of Joseph’s House

The Holy Ground of Joseph’s House was created, nurtured and birthed through the power of prayer. The prayers of all of those pro-life warriors who have sacrificed and fasted for the right to life for all unborn children since Roe v. Wade became the law of our land in 1973. On Tuesday March 19th, 2019, Joseph’s House celebrated five years of life, five years of love, and the birth of 51 newborn babies and honored two of these pro-life heroes and prayer warriors, Teresa and John Brusa. Thanks to all of you able to attend and or support our mass and breakfast at this most special celebration. It was a stellar event beginning with a prelude of music from Ms. Althea Chaplin from True Vine Church, a most inspiring mass and homily from Rev. Matthew Lyons of Holy Family Church and the music of one of our founders and past Board President, Barry Vaughn. Many friends from our past and many new faces as well, joined us as we celebrated the most remarkable achievement of saving more than 50 newborn children, their mothers, and their siblings, from homelessness, hunger and abandonment. More than 50 new born babies whose lives were saved and preserved because of the blessing of Joseph’s House.

Tuesday morning, before our event, I went to pp to say a Rosary as I have every St. Joseph’s Day since 2009. It was eerily quiet and still dark so I stayed in the car. I thought about all the people who work in that building and how when I was there praying more regularly the employees recognized me. My “Good Mornings and God Bless yous” to them for 4 years were never acknowledged until they heard about Joseph’s House. I prayed for them again on Tuesday, although I did not see them or anyone else there. I realized the people working there now would no longer recognize me, making me understand I need to be there more often. I also realized they not only would not recognize me, they do not recognize what they are doing. Meaning, to paraphrase the words of Jesus from the Cross, we are to pray for them. We are “to forgive them for they know not what they do.” We must always remember we may easily misjudge their motives, easily misjudge their intentions and easily misjudge their beliefs and be sure to reach out to them in love, with respect, and with the hope they will someday see the light.

I’m often asked how to best describe the mission of Joseph’s House and what we believe as Catholics. I always begin with our belief in the sanctity of human life. We also believe in the dignity of all men, women and children from all walks of life. We believe we are called to assist the most vulnerable of God’s children, most especially pregnant, homeless women and their children who have been abandoned by those they love the most through our work at Joseph’s House.

Do justice for the weak and the orphan, defend the afflicted and the needy.* Rescue the weak and the poor; set them free from the hand of the wicked.
— Ps 82:3-4; Jm 2:5

We believe no woman should have to choose between a roof over her head and life for her unborn child and yet everyday we hear the words, “I have nowhere to go because I want to have my baby.” How does a young woman choose between a safe place to live and bringing a new life into the world at what is probably the most difficult and the most pivotal moment of her life?

At Joseph’s House we believe one abortion is a tragedy. We believe the 3,000 abortions taking place in our country each and every day is an absolute travesty and the 60 million abortions that have taken place since 1973 in this country are an abomination. And so, Joseph’s House exists to put what may seem to be an almost invisible dent in those numbers, albeit a dent that has resulted in the saving and blessings of 51 innocent children in the past 5 years. It only takes one person to change the world my friends, and in those terms, 51 seems like a much more impressive dent.

In the end, the precious blood of the innocent son and heir becomes the vineyard’s produce. God will not be outdone.
— From Friday March 22 Magnificat Mass Prologue

Joseph’s House is the fruitful vineyard built on the Holy Ground of the precious blood of the 60 million innocents lost to abortion. Our moms have referred to Joseph’s House as a safe-haven, an oasis of peace, a hidden gem where one learns the love of family and the love of God, many times, for the first time in their life. We are a family sharing and supporting all moms courageous enough to work hard towards leaving behind the victim hood of their pasts to become survivors for their futures. Joseph’s House was established through the abundance of God’s Mercy for His prodigal daughters and sons. It is Holy Ground Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary under the patronage of St. Joseph. Our most frequent prayer is we will forever be gallant foot soldiers and unfailing warriors for God striving to do His most challenging and joyful work of saving and changing the lives of His most precious children, two generations at a time.

God Bless you my friends,

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Five Years of Joseph's House

Our First Joseph’s House Mom and Baby

Our First Joseph’s House Mom and Baby

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St Patrick’s Day always means three things, many celebrations, green everywhere including the beer and St. Joseph’s Day is right around the corner. As we approach this St. Joseph’s Day, we are also approaching the 5th anniversary of Joseph’s House. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since we welcomed our first Joseph’s House baby in April of 2014 while this month of March of 2019, we welcomed our 51st newborn baby. God is good my friends and His works are most stunningly apparent to all of us every day through the trials, tribulations, joys and celebrations of the lost souls He sends our way.

Our moms and babies have been busy this past few weeks sledding, celebrating birthdays, and going out to high school plays while continually working on improving their lives in many different ways. We have moms working full time and going to school full time while juggling multiple children. Moms working hard to overcome addiction, eating disorders and abusive relationships with family and with the fathers of their children. Exodus moms who continue to reach new goals giving them the inspiration to keep trudging along even when the going is tough. These are difficult courses for all to navigate, but most difficult when one is all alone. Most of these moms are truly alone except for the family they have come to know in and through Joseph’s House.

This past Tuesday we were visited by some of the students from Holy Cross Academy. They are so touched by the work we do and the women and children in the house, they have held a Baby Bottle drive for us and are coming back to assist with some child care and spring cleanup.

As these young people were finishing lunch on Tuesday, I ran up-stairs to get my phone for a photo and when I arrived downstairs again, the dining room was all cleaned up and empty and everything was quiet. I walked through the front hall into the chapel and there they were, 23 kids and their 4 chaperones down on their knees, Rosaries in hand in silence before Our Lord Jesus Christ. This scene had a profound impact, taking my breath away as in all the years we have been in our home I have never witnessed anything like this before. When I offered chairs I was told, “We are Franciscan, our knees are fine.” Talk about humility and having hearts, minds and souls directed to heaven. As I knelt down with my Rosary the gratefulness in my heart for being allowed to be a part of all of this was immense as I knew what I was partaking in was a gift from God. It was also confirmation our mission will continue into the future. This is the future we want for the children of Joseph’s House and for their mothers. We want them to have what these young people have been blessed to come to know. We want them to understand the Love God has for them as well as our love for them and it is the reason why each and every day we strive to show everyone living in our home, the same love we show to our own children, simply because these lost children of God have no knowledge love of this kind exists.

As Peter, John, and James look up to the mountaintop
and see the transfigured Jesus radiating like a star,
God makes a promise: “This is my chosen Son.”
The Father asks us to put our faith in Christ: “Listen to him.”  
—  From March 17th Magnificat and today’s Holy Gospel according to Luke

This work is our passion, it is our joy, it is our strength and it is our salvation for as long as Our Lord in Heaven shows us the way. It has transfigured us so we are keenly aware of the promptings of Christ. We have become adept at following every single, tiny inspiration given to us. We have found as we continue to step out in search of ways to fulfill these promptings and these inspirations, miracles appear a thousand-fold in unimaginable ways. Each day we are astounded how our thoughts that sometimes are not even really prayers, are answered and confirmed in the most unexpected and unassuming ways making them almost invisible to some, but beacons of light and assurance to those gifted with eyes to see. These truths make our work on behalf of Our Lord always exciting, ever evolving, and forever extending our comfort zones.  

Over the last few months as I have reflected on the miracles that are the foundation of this mission, I am more in awe of the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than ever. He gives us precisely what we need when we need it and the courage and perseverance to handle the difficulties, the humiliations and the impatience of many who doubt we are of God. As God chose St. Joseph to be our mentor and our guardian, He also send us people hand-picked by Jesus to lead us into the future. We are forever grateful to all of those who have helped in the founding of this mission, many of whom still serve us in a multitude of ways. We are dazzled and amazed by the depths of their devotion, and the devotion of all who have served us in our past and those serving us today in so many diverse ways, to the unborn and to our mission of Joseph’s House.

Please pray for us as we head into another year of being the hands and feet of Jesus for His mission of Joseph’s House. Our never-ending hope is to transform the lives and transfigure the depths of love in the hearts of all those we serve so they might put their faith and futures into the hands of Jesus Christ and radiate His grace like a shining star. We also hope and pray for all the same transformations and graces for each and everyone of you and your families. God Bless you my friends!

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Taming Our Passions

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I was blessed to travel south and catch some sunshine over the last couple of weeks. I went down to rest, regain my health, do absolutely nothing and clear my head. It was glorious in many ways and one of the best things occurring was my ability to prepare mentally and physically for Lent. This occurrence was made possible through fasting, walking, spending time in prayer and going much slower than my normal pace. The hardest part has been returning home where it will be more difficult to continue making progress.  

 Each walk on the beach was an opportunity to meditate, and contemplate the beauty of the surroundings and the awesomeness of God’s creation. On Ash Wednesday my thoughts led to the understanding that in our humanity we are all a bit divine as at the moment of our conception we were kissed by The Divine One as Our Creator breathed life into our souls. God in His great wisdom in creating us as Temples of the Holy Spirit and in His likeness and image has gifted us with the opportunity to create life biologically, to carry burgeoning life within our bodies, and instill life in others through our words, works and actions making us all living Trees of Life.  

In our humanness we are also capable of exactly the opposite. Many fail at their calling to be living Trees of Life as at some time or other we have eaten the forbidden fruits of convenience, self-centeredness and materialism. This fact is made widely evident today as the culture of death overtakes the hearts, minds and souls of many, including influential people in all walks of life impacting the laws enacted in New York state and all over our country. We, like our original parents Adam and Eve have the tendency to rebel against our innate goodness and fall into bad habits leading us toward sin and far away from God’s original plan for our lives. So how do we tame our tendencies toward concupiscence? How do we tame our passions? How do we tame the passions of others?

“In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would ‘loose the bonds of wickedness ... undo the thongs of the yoke ... let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6) ... In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan, who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2) ... If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened. It’s the spiritual muscle that, when exercised regularly, strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”
— Paul Thigpen, pg. 42, Manual for Spiritual Warfare

Fasting from food for extended periods of time is something not everyone is physically able to do, so please do not try this unless you have the permission of your physician and spiritual director. There are many other things we can fast from that are just as rewarding and there is a big difference between eating 3 balanced meals a day and gluttony, which is spoken of below.


“ St. John Cassian, a Church Father and monk of the late 4th and early 5th centuries, wrote that monks (and all Christians) need to overcome eight vices: gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, acedia, vainglory, and pride. The order given for these vices was not arbitrary: he found that conquering one vice was often dependent upon defeating preceding vices in the list, and so gluttony’s place at the head of the list is significant. Cassian writes if one does not overcome gluttony, he cannot even engage in battle against the other vices.”
— From To Love Fasting Eric Sammons for One Peter 5

Fasting is something I have done off and on over the last few years and began again in earnest this past Advent. I simply decided to not eat after 6 PM. Gradually 6 PM became 4 PM and sometimes 3 PM and almost by accident, I found I wasn’t eating for 18 or 19 hours at a time because breakfast was never eaten until after 8:15 mass. There are times when this is especially hard as there is always the preparing of another dinner in our home at 7:30 PM for my son.  If, however, I meditate on Our Lord’s Passion or Our Lady’s “Fiat” and offer up my temptation to sneak a bite, it is always easier to stay on the straight and narrow. It was the same while on vacation. There was a light breakfast of fruit and coffee, lots of water and a very late lunch or early dinner filled with fiber, vegetables and protein.  I wasn’t hungry, increased my energy and found a mental clarity and endurance I am unfamiliar with.

“It is by endurance that you will secure possession of your souls (Luke 21:18). The possession of a soul means the undisturbed mastery of oneself, which is the secret of inner peace, as distinguished from a thousand agitations which make it fearful, unhappy, and disappointed.”

 
—  Fulton J. Sheen, pg.322, Life of Christ

This type of fasting has tamed my obsession with shopping. It has helped tame the mindless habits of social media and television. It has helped tame the once uncontrollable muttering under my breath and being overly judgmental and critical. It has increased my patience and my time for prayer. It has given me the endurance to do the right things when it would be easier to do something else and has brought a quiet peace to my soul.  

Most importantly fasting has brought me closer to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and hopefully somehow made me worthy of the little bit of divinity within me making me a living Tree of Life. If I can just keep going for another 35 days, maybe I can tame my passions forever always remembering, everything is possible with God. May God Bless you my friends with the endurance needed to tame whatever passions He should ask of you, this Lenten season and forevermore.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

 

EXODUS RULES!

Exodus

The excitement and joy of Joseph’s House cannot be contained within our home. We often have experiences where our moms travel to outside destinations to share dinner and stories with others. These excursions are always fun and educational. This happened this past Friday when all our moms and little ones including some Exodus moms traveled to Lemoyne College to share a night with Father Dolan and his students. Yesterday they travelled to the MOST for a day of  learning and adventure.

This past week however, the joys and difficulties of Joseph’s House were made evident in our Exodus program. Exodus is our continuing program for moms and little ones who have graduated from the house but still need the support of “family” because they have no support from fathers or relatives to help them with problems that might occur unexpectedly. This support has become such an integral part of Joseph’s House and our Exodus moms’ continued success, we have an Assistant Director for Exodus in charge of assisting them as needed while planning special events and on-going life skills in areas such as budgeting, driving instruction and educational opportunities.

Sue has been running Exodus for nearly a year and has had some great success stories. Below are a couple of the stories she shared with us this week.

This was a busy week in Exodus. There have been peaks and valleys all week.  It has been joyful, exhausting and everything in-between. Shifting gears between celebrating and holding back tears has been a constant. Celebrations first.

Jess has been a shining star this week. She is officially full time at the hospital. With her own hard work and the financial help of JH she received her drivers’ license this week.  She also received her tax refund and we sat down to budget paying off all her debt and prepaying some upcoming bills. She has agreed to set aside an emergency fund!  I am over the moon. I preach emergency funds all day long to our mom's. (finally, someone listened!)  Now that Jess was able to pay off student loan debt, she will go back to OCC in the fall. She was planning to go into nursing but is feeling pulled towards human services where she can help young people in a way that she has experienced. 

After attending life skills on Tuesday, Cassie delivered a healthy baby girl early Wednesday morning. Thankfully and with lots of prayer she didn't experience any of the complications the doctor was concerned about.”

There are also stories of some of the ups and downs we all experience at times, made easier for moms to handle because sometimes Exodus support is simply a soft shoulder and reassuring voice.

“Kelly was in a car accident and totaled her car. Thankfully no one was hurt but it has definitely caused some stress. Here is a mom never asking for anything, who consistently keeps in touch and attends many Exodus events.”

You should also know this Exodus mom is doing well in her new management position at work and her little one is thriving.

And then there are stories breaking our hearts and highlighting the difficulties moms experience, especially those who have had problems with addiction.

“Stacy had a difficult week. After being sanctioned last Friday she spent a week in custody and appeared in court on Tuesday and we were there to support her. Today we received good news, she will be released from jail into a treatment facility. Another answer to prayer. Hoping and praying this needed treatment will be a healing and restorative experience for her. We are also in contact with the father of her child and assisting him with some needed items.”

The above examples give you a glimpse into some of the joys and difficulties our moms as well as our staff deal with weekly. These young women and their children have endeared themselves to us and it is very difficult not to be touched emotionally in their victories and in their tragedies because they are loved. This love is a love most of them are unfamiliar with and is a love we as staff has found through walking daily with Jesus Christ. Our Lord has taught all of us it is our duty to forgive the mistakes made by these young people 70 X 7 always being sure in our forgiveness, we do not enable. These are tough boundaries to straddle however we are learning through experience and through the attitudes displayed by moms in need, the ways in which to best negotiate them. Joseph’s House is an ever-evolving mission where we will always go to the depths of our being to forgive and assist those moms and little ones, we consider family. That is what we are called to do as Christians, as Catholics and as people steeped in the truth of Jesus Christ.

Be sure to check out our upcoming events. Our 5th Anniversary is fast approaching next month and we’re celebrating with Mass and Breakfast. Our Golf Tournament is coming up around the corner on June 10 as well and registration is now open. We would love to have you join us!

God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Impact of Joseph's House

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Finally, there is the most important component in building our fortitude and instilling us with the ability to impact so many, the place where dynamism is received through Heaven propelling us forward.....
— HS

There are weeks in this mission where quite honestly, we wonder why we do what we do. Moms and kids are not always appreciative or happy. Staff and volunteers get overwhelmed and exhausted and pleadings to Our Lord seem to be unheard. Thank God there are also MORE weeks like this one where we see, hear and feel first-hand the impact of this mission on those inside as well as outside our home.

This past week there were many accomplishments some might consider small however in the lives of the young women calling Joseph’s House home, they are milestones. When we see our moms learning and then executing new ways to handle bumps in the road, anxiety issues, and make solid efforts at being consistent in parenting their children, we know we are on the right path to helping them truly change the ways of their past.

Then there are visits to other life-saving programs where we hear from people we admire, people whose work we consider heroic and most imperative, where we are told they love our program and want to partner with us. These meetings, while pumping us with enthusiasm and making us realize God IS hearing and answering our pleadings, also confirm the knowledge our work is most important, the need for it is always increasing, and we must continue to pursue new avenues of assistance for all those encountering unplanned pregnancy, homelessness, impossible circumstances and child rearing on their own.

As if all of this isn’t enough, there are ever increasing visits and notes from students and young people where we see the beauty of pro-life belief blossoming profusely making us understand there is a bright future for missions like ours. We recently heard a story about a 16 year-old preparing for Confirmation and the letter he wrote to Bishop Cunningham explaining to the Bishop how his mom’s involvement with Joseph’s House has changed his life and given him a new perspective. This young man seems to have an improved attitude and more appreciation for his mom and his family because of the eye-opening effects of this ministry. There is also the enthusiasm of the students pictured above from Holy Cross Academy in Oneida, their warm reception, impressive Baby Bottle Drive and most heart-warming notes of thanks, allowing us to see the impact of Joseph’s House has no bounds and will carry on for years to come.

Finally, there is the most important component in building our fortitude and instilling us with the ability to impact so many, the place where dynamism is received through Heaven propelling us forward. Our monthly mass gatherings where our union with Jesus, Mary and Joseph through the reception of the Eucharist followed by an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, are our most empowering driving forces . In those moments where we bow our heads to Christ, offer all we are and all we have to Him and where we receive His Divinity within our own bodies, Heaven comes to earth to penetrate us and fills us to overflowing. This time in prayer instills us with a faith so deep, so pure, so viable, we bound out of our beautiful chapel like little children inebriated with staggering amounts of hope and joy. A hope and joy fueling our determination, perseverance and commitment to Jesus and His mission of Joseph’s House. We do not exist without Jesus, without the mass, without the Eucharist, without prayer and without Adoration in thanks and praise of Our Lord Almighty.

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No moment spent in My presence is without value. Every moment given Me is precious in My sight and becomes fruitful for the whole Church. It is not a question of quantity, of spending long hours in My presence when the duties of one’s state in life require something else. What I ask instead is the moment of pure adoration and of love offered to Me from a simple, childlike heart. Just as a mother takes as much delight in a single wildflower offered by her child as in a great bouquet of flowers, so too do I take delight in the moment offered Me out of love.

Begin, then, by offering Me what you can. You will see that I will move you to add moment to moment, until you are giving Me all the time of adoration and of love that I desire from you. Too many souls are discouraged when they attempt to pray. They think, wrongly, that unless they undertake much, they should undertake nothing. And so they abandon prayer and leave Me alone, leave Me waiting for their little moment of presence, a consolation to My Heart.

Give Me the little moment of adoration and of love and I will multiply it, making it possible for you to give Me an hour of adoration and of love, as they become available in your life, and as I ask them of you. Too many souls try to do too much, and end up doing nothing. It is better to begin by doing what is very little, and by entrusting that little offering to Me, confident that I will receive it and turn it to My glory and to the glory of the Father.
— In Senu Jesu

I would ask you all who are far away from God at this moment to recommit yourselves to His Divine assistance. If you are Catholic and not attending mass, please go to Reconciliation and find your way back to peace, where the emptiness felt in your life, in your heart, mind and soul will be filled with the friendship and consolations of Jesus Christ. If someone like me is able to muster the courage for this grace from God and has been truly forgiven, I know you are able as well. And should you feel the need to speak about this and I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me through our website at www.jhfw.org.

My promise to God for all the ways He has blessed my life is to let as many people as possible know about His longing to call all of us home to share in His love, His mercy and the Glory of His Presence impacting as many souls as He wishes to send my way. I am here to help you and Joseph’s House is here as well. God Bless you my friends!

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Put Out into Deep Water

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My family went to Mass this weekend, it was a real treat for me as I got to listen to the readings and homily without distraction! Of course that means my wife was wrangling our 17 month old son in the crying room and my 4 year old was at the children’s liturgy. Since I didn’t have to juggle Cheerios and quietly answer each question or shush each giggle or whine, I was able to spend a good bit of time immersing myself in the Word of God. Since it had been another busy week at Joseph’s House- as most of them are- and once again seemed particularly draining- as many of them are, this was a much needed blessing.

This weekend’s Gospel reading is one of my favorites. There are a few reasons this particular reading has always appealed to me. First, you have the beautiful image of the crowd.

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God

This quote brings to mind the concerts I’ve been to where the crowd becomes so entrenched in the performance they continually try to get closer, to push further, so they can more fully get the most from the experience. I imagine the crowds listening to Jesus teaching had a similar experience. Hanging on each of his words and being so fully consumed by his teaching, those gathered kept pressing closer and closer. They pressed so very close, Jesus had to get into a boat and “put out a short distance” and began teaching from the boat. One can easily imagine His voice radiating across the water in symphonic ripples reaching the hearts and souls of all who continued to gather in the growing crowd. Such a beautiful image to contemplate.

‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’
Simon said in reply,
Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing

When Jesus tells Simon to go into the deep water and lower his nets, Simon’s first instinct is to almost say “We’ve tried that, we’ve worked hard all night and have caught nothing.” You can almost imagine the thought was accompanied by an eye roll or a shoulder shrug. But Simon acquiesces. I’m reminded of this story often in my daily life as well as at Joseph’s House when I find myself getting caught in the pattern of “we’ve tried that” or “I already attempted that” or “that won’t work.” It’s a dangerous pattern in which to fall.

The first part of this verse “Put out in deep water” is a call for something more. A call to go the extra mile, to go where it’s uncomfortable, to push the limits and go out on a limb. The deep waters are where it’s rough. The waves are bigger and more dangerous. It undoubtedly takes longer and requires more patience to navigate the deep rather than the shallow. Going into the deep water makes one stretch the boundaries of their solace, beliefs and talents so it always feels easier and safer to stay where the waters are peaceful, calm and shallow, to stay within the cocoon of familiarity where one always knows exactly what to think, to do and to say.

‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.’
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.

Simon agrees and says “at your command I will lower the nets.” To his utter surprise and amazement the catch fills their boats, along with their partners, to the point where they were in danger of sinking. The abundance of the catch is symbolic of the blessing of those who acquiesce and follow Jesus. I imagine that as the boats got precariously full they may have thought to themselves, “Oh no what have we gotten ourselves into?” Isn’t this a common feeling when carrying out God’s work? When you step out in faith you’re almost always surprised- amazed even- and perhaps a little scared at the blessings provided. One might even think at times, “Oh no, what have we gotten ourselves into?”

I know our work at Joseph’s House requires us to often step out in faith always with cautious trepidation. We do so only when we are sure we are following His call for something bigger. Generally whatever it is we’ve imagined, we find Jesus works in exponents and are our expectations are minuscule compared to his plans. But this is only found when one has the faith to “Put out into the deep water.”

When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

The end of this passage could easily be over looked, but remember the Apostles were so overcome with what had happened, they went on to follow Jesus. They not only went to follow Jesus but they “left everything.” They had just finished probably the most successful fishing trip of their lives and they left it all behind for Jesus. How many would have thought “Great! Now we know where we can get more fish and grow our business! Now we know how we can be more successful!” Instead, the Apostles left it all behind to follow Jesus. Perhaps this is another way we can “put out into the deep water” or answer the call to step out in faith. Abandoning ourselves and our personal fulfillment and surrendering ourselves to the greater glory of God.

Have a Blessed Week!

Bronson