Happy Labor Day Weekend My Friends!
How is it possible that it is September? New beginnings once again, excitement in the air as children of all ages head back to school. The cooler weather already appearing, infusing a sense of cleansing, new found hope and visions of limitless possibilities everywhere, giving us the faith that in all we do we are hearing God’s Voice.
Joseph’s House is brimming with new possibilities as some new staff members will be lending us their expertise enabling us to improve our ministry. Our Miracle Mom Monica, after attaining her permit last week, began driving lessons this week and has been invited to train with Nascentia Health Care. Our youngest mom, expecting her child in January, is volunteering in our home helping with everything from daycare to filing to cleaning out hidden corners of clutter, and has told us her dream for the future is to one day be employed at Joseph’s House. Our other moms are working, saving their money and preparing their children for back to school and outside daycare. More than ten phone calls and interview requests in this past week have shown us our work is imperative, very well respected and received, and the need for what we offer is ongoing.
Each and every day we are called to ask difficult questions. “Are we able take this mom into our home? Does she pose a threat to herself or anyone else? Do we have the capacity and the resources to assist her and help her solve problems?” And then we think about her words to us, which most times include something to the effect of “I am homeless, pregnant and have nowhere to go.”
There is no black and white in these dilemmas. Moms call us and tell us they are thinking of aborting their babies. They call and tell us they are living on the street or have been sleeping on different couches every night for months. When we know we can’t take them because they are violent, we direct them to someone else who is able to assist. However, many times we wrestle with other dilemmas because we are called to give shelter to those who are pregnant, homeless or have small children. Where is the black and white in these situations? The discernment is constant not only with the moms we take in and their kids, but in the direction we lead our mission, and in the people assisting us in numberless ways as well. We are called to discern……. constantly discern.
How does one discern? How does one know if the voice they hear in their heart, mind and soul is of God? There are many voices out there my friends, many spirits. They are not all of God and they are not all holy, so how does one know the direction they are taking is correct, or to whom they are speaking and hearing from in prayer?
If we take the advice of the saints, the way to discerning God’s voice is through humility and constant reception of the sacraments. This means at least monthly confession and for some of us, confession every other week. It means very frequent reception of the Eucharist, optimally each and every day at mass. The constant reception of these two sacraments are the way to true humility, and a humble heart is needed when discerning God’s Voice. Speaking to God with an agenda of our own is an invitation to hearing a voice other than His, simply because there is no humility in a self-serving agenda.
The saints also tell us it is imperative to have extended periods of quiet time, extended periods of total silence without distraction, where we are simply still and listen. Persistent prayer and an immersion into holy scripture are also needed in order to understand what is being whispered in one’s heart, mind and soul. In addition to this, one should fast regularly and have a holy, well-trained spiritual director who is not a “yes man” or women. This director must be someone who is able to point out one’s shortcomings, provide constructive criticism and be able to humble us in a gentle way as well as flat out tell us when we are 100% wrong. He or she is someone who knows the difference between the Voice of God and voices coming from other places. This director is also someone who’s advice one is called to listen to and follow, no matter how difficult the advice may be.
This formula led to the founding of Joseph’s House and because of the success it has provided, it is the formula that has been followed day in and day out for more than nine years. That being said, we are far from perfect and all need to be open to new ideas, correct mistakes, seek forgiveness and move forward in faith, knowing our mentor St. Joseph will lead us where Our Father in Heaven wants us to go, no matter the detours we take along the way. This is a most exhilarating ride and many times leaves us all with upset stomachs and headaches. However those temporary problems seem to always be resolved in the smile of a child, an unexpected compliment from a volunteer, the loving, consoling words of a departing employee, or a sincere thank you from a mom knowing she is being given a once in a life-time opportunity to change her life.
God is good my friends, and His Voice is the voice we follow in leading this mission. His demands are sometimes unpopular and difficult, and the Cross He shares with us heavy, and yet every day we say to Him, “I come to do Your Holy Will.” May you find His loving direction in your lives and hear His Voice in your hearts, as Joseph’s House has found Him and heard Him in our mission of life and love. God Bless You Abundantly.
Love & Prayers,