O Saint Joseph

I’ve always felt drawn to Saint Joseph the earthly father of Jesus. And yet, throughout scripture, he isn’t quoted once. He plays a very humble role, but my heart just knows that he is an extraordinary man. Goodness, God chose Him to look after His son, so there’s that. Also, He chose him to live this life with the Virgin Mary, the mother of God. But there’s more, in his silent leadership, he draws me and many others to contemplate the Mystery that God is and what a mystery it must have been to help the toddling Messiah learn to walk!

One of my favorite prayers goes like this:
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong,
so prompt before the Throne of God,
I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son
all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;
so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power
I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage
to the most Loving of fathers.
Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms.
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me,
and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls,
pray for us.

-Prayer to St. Joseph, 1st Century-

A huge lump wells up in my throat and I can barely get through the final words of this beautiful prayer. Imagine witnessing a human being… holding, embracing, kissing God Himself. Imagine a love so strong and pure that God could fall asleep and know that He was safe to trust the loving arms of a man. This picture screams heaven to me! And it takes me back to a place in my life that would’ve been hell without God… the moment I kiss my son’s incomplete head, held his lifeless body and contemplated his soul.

My silent, Clark Job. God’s silent little saint! I can only imagine the great place God has for you and the other beautiful souls, created, but so quickly chosen for heaven! I can only imagine sitting in a room with you, watching you and Jesus holding one another with this complete and constant kind of love! Today I ask Saint Joseph to kiss you as well and to press you in my name; the loving embrace that I didn’t get to give you while you were alive. I ask that these moments in heaven are felt, as much as they can be, in the hearts of all of God’s wounded children on earth.

I have learned so much this year, one lesson being that words are not necessary for expressing Love. Our actions, example, sacrifice, mercy,fortitude, compassion… these things don’t need words to be shown and often with words these actions are still lacking. Saint Joseph is considered a Saint for a reason, he is one. We don’t know much about him, but we know that he lived out these virtues, remained with our Lord, and our Lord with him, until he died. That is as much as anyone could hope for and no doubt his example is something we should all try to follow. Dear Saint Joseph, pray for us and kiss our sweet babies today!

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Saint Josephine Bakhita

This is what the saints mean by joy and hope in affliction and Saint Josephine is no exception – born in Sudan and taken as a slave at age 7. Her joy, humility and forgiveness for her abusive captors shows how strong she truly was. God is the “Good Master” who frees us and loves us infinitely. We have His love to be thankful for and heaven to anticipate!

“I am definitely loved and whatever happens to me-I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.”-St. Josephine Bakhita

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HE COMES TO RESTORE – Reflection by Sister Vassa

'HE COMES TO RESTORE (Saturday, December 19) “Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! / Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! / Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: / If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. / Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of the Forefeast of the Nativity) Christ comes, indeed, to “restore,” to “make right” what goes “wrong” in our paradise. In our paradise, we tend to seek out “food” that isn’t good for us; to nurture ourselves in unhealthy ways. Today our unhealthy “nourishment” is commonly useless information that we might choose to imbibe on a daily basis, through various news outlets and social media. This kind of information, if we immerse ourselves in it outside God’s word and grace, commonly brings us painful self-awareness, either through fear (of calamities in the world, like terrorist attacks), or delusional comparison with other people’s lives and fortunes, like the lives and fortunes of celebrities. In reading up on the news I may have a good intention, because I want to better myself by knowing things. But if I constantly choose to seek this betterment outside God, with disregard for His word, I obscure His image in me, “the image He made in the beginning.” I am left in burdensome communion with the self, with the merely human, as Eve did when she trusted the serpent’s promise, that “your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3: 5) Christ brings me new vision and a new communion, with Himself, the Divine Fruit. He liberates me from the bondage of the merely-human through His light, that “blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave.” Today as I continue my journey to that cave in Bethlehem, let me take some time to sit in His light, in a bit of prayer and reading of His word. Let Him restore in me what I tend to lose when left to my own devices. “Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning.” (Visit our website, where you can SUBSCRIBE to get these pre-Christmas reflections daily via EMAIL: www.coffeewithsistervassa.com)'

HE COMES TO RESTORE
(Saturday, December 19)

“Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! / Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! / Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: / If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. / Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of the Forefeast of the Nativity)

Christ comes, indeed, to “restore,” to “make right” what goes “wrong” in our paradise. In our paradise, we tend to seek out “food” that isn’t good for us; to nurture ourselves in unhealthy ways. Today our unhealthy “nourishment” is commonly useless information that we might choose to imbibe on a daily basis, through various news outlets and social media. This kind of information, if we immerse ourselves in it outside God’s word and grace, commonly brings us painful self-awareness, either through fear (of calamities in the world, like terrorist attacks), or delusional comparison with other people’s lives and fortunes, like the lives and fortunes of celebrities.

In reading up on the news I may have a good intention, because I want to better myself by knowing things. But if I constantly choose to seek this betterment outside God, with disregard for His word, I obscure His image in me, “the image He made in the beginning.” I am left in burdensome communion with the self, with the merely human, as Eve did when she trusted the serpent’s promise, that “your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3: 5)

Christ brings me new vision and a new communion, with Himself, the Divine Fruit. He liberates me from the bondage of the merely-human through His light, that “blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave.” Today as I continue my journey to that cave in Bethlehem, let me take some time to sit in His light, in a bit of prayer and reading of His word. Let Him restore in me what I tend to lose when left to my own devices. “Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning.”

(Visit our website, where you can SUBSCRIBE to get these pre-Christmas reflections daily via EMAIL:www.coffeewithsistervassa.com)

Marks of the Kingdom within Us

Marks of the Kingdom within Us

In spite of sufferings of body and soul, life brings unspeakable joys, fleeting glimpses of the ultimate joy to come. But these loving glimpses cannot be life itself. Life is effort, firm and persevering action, and duty accepted and accomplished, the heroic conquest of the body by the soul, the serenity nothing can disturb, and eyes fixed on God. It is charity taking possession of us little by little, banishing everything that is not love.

Not to accept everything, but to understand everything; not to approve of everything, but to forgive everything; not to adopt everything, but to search for the grain of truth that is contained in everything.

To reject no idea and no good intention, however awkward or feeble.

To love others as Jesus Christ loved them, including suffering and death.

The first responsibility now for every one of good will is constantly preaching, by word and by example: the divine law of charity. Every Christian should be a voice crying in the desert, “Let us love!” Perhaps some heavenly breeze will carry these words farther than we imagine.

In arid times, when duty seems difficult and daily responsibilities have no attraction, when all spiritual consolation is denied us and the beautiful light that illumines life is veiled, in these times humble prayer alone can steady us and give us hour by hour and day by day the determination to act “against our will.”

-Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur (a French married laywoman whose cause for canonization is underway)

John Chapter 17 – The Prayer of Jesus

John Chapter 17
The Prayer of Jesus.

“When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
. . . . .
I can’t… There Christ was about to die for our sake and at the hands of His creation. Meanwhile He’s praising God and wanting unity and heaven for humanity. We are His “gift”?! Absolutely incredible.

Unity Prayer

IN UNION OF PRAYER

God our Father,
Source of all love,
we beseech you, hear us.

Remember all those who are dear to us,
those whom we name in the silence of our hearts,
those who have requested the help of our prayers,
those who do not know how to pray,
those who have no one to pray for them.

Take care of those who suffer;
strengthen the wounded and dying in their trials;
welcome into your presence those who have died.

Console and comfort
those who have been bruised, terrified;
and deliver them from all their anxieties.

Bless those men and women who dedicate their lives
to the service of their neighbors,
providing to all protection, relief, and care.

Defend all persecuted Christians,
who suffer for the sake of your name.

Dispel the madness of those who terrorize their fellow men.

Show the strength of your arm to those
who use the suffering of others to build up their own power.

Put an end to the power of those who violate your commandments.

Grant us the grace to love one another,
as your Son our Lord Jesus Christ loved us.

Give us the strength to bless those who curse us
and to do good to those who hate us.

Grant us to hasten the coming of your Kingdom,
always preserving unity among ourselves
in peace, through the bond of love.
Amen.

Pierre-Marie Dumont

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk

  • “The soul of man, left to its own natural level, is a potentially lucid crystal left in darkness. It is perfect in its own nature, but it lacks something that it can only receive from outside and above itself. But when the light shines in it, it becomes in a manner transformed into light and seems to lose its nature in the splendor of a higher nature, the nature of the light that is in it.”
    Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
  • “But I think St. Peter and the twelve Apostles would have been rather surprised at the concept that Christ had been scourged and beaten by soldiers, cursed and crowned with thorns and subjected to unutterable contempt and finally nailed to the Cross and left to bleed to death in order that we might all become gentlemen.”
    Thomas Merton

We are called to the most beautiful love affair…. Trying to be a good person (which has 100% failure rate) is the smallest dutiful sliver of the relationship with the divine. Christ did the unutterable because He loves us far more than our actions could ever merit. He asks that we love Him in return; our challenge and purpose for all of eternity!

  • “My opinion is that it is a very extraordinary thing for anyone to be upset by such a topic [death]. Why should anyone be shattered by the thought of hell? It is not compulsory for anyone to go there. Those who do, do so by their own choice, and against the will of God, and they can only get into hell by defying and resisting all the work of Providence and grace. It is their own will that takes them there, not God’s. In damning them He is only ratifying their own decision–a decision which He has left entirely to their own choice. Nor will He ever hold our weakness alone responsible for our damnation. Our weakness should not terrify us: it is the source of our strength. Libenter gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi. Power is made perfect in infirmity, and our very helplessness is all the more potent a claim on that Divine Mercy Who calls to Himself the poor, the little ones, the heavily burdened.”
    Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

Comforting! See 2 Corinthians 12:9

Romans 8:18-28

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope
that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.
God’s Indomitable Love in Christ.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:18-28

Naked Faith – Peter Kreeft Quote

“Only faith can sustain us then, as only faith sustained Christ on the Cross when for the first time he no longer felt his Father’s presence and cried out in hellish horror: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46)

Only naked faith sustained him then. What kept him on the cross was not the nails, for he could have called on twelve legions of angels to take him down. His people said “Come down from the Cross and we will believe in you.” But if he had come down from the Cross, he would have made it impossible for them to believe in him, for he would have substituted sight for faith. That is why he does not take us down from our crosses: so that we do not substitute feelings and experiences for faith. He wants the very best for us, the strongest and most precious gift, and that is faith. Therefore he hides his presence from us so that we can practice his presence by faith. This hiding is one of his most precious gifts, and one for which he is hardly ever thanked.”

Peter Kreeft, Prayer for Beginners, Ch. 7, p. 46-47

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