Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Competing mamas

There are so many layers to older child adoption.
Well, ok, there are so many layers to ANY kind of adoption.
One of the layers that is there in any kind of adoption is "The Mama Thing."
This whole mama thing is something that is SO obvious that it's so easy to brush past it, or through it, or ignore it, or presume you know it all.
It's especially easy to do that if your adoption seems to be one of the "simple" ones: of a tiny new infant, or one that has lost, to death, both parents, and so on.
But I want to remind you, because I think we all need reminding and I was reminded ALL too clearly this past weekend, that it is never simple.
Domestic adoption or International, newborn or older, relinquished, abandoned, orphaned; it's never simple.  
I repeat: It's NEVER simple.
And in so many ways and on so many levels it comes back to this; always the mama thing.

I know, another vague lead in. Forgive me, you should know by now I do stream of consciousness typing.  This is my cheap therapy and scrapbook, and  my very lifeline some times.  So, bear with me, this is all so tangled in my head and heart. I get glimmers of full grasp of it all and then, it floats just out of reach again.

Doesn't she just look like she was crowned mom of the year?
But, I think the bottom line is that we, as adoptive parents, often, unwillingly and unwittingly either step into or are placed into a "mama competition."
{Putting on my hazmat suit now, give me a minute to zip up.....}
What I mean by that is this: it is easy to somehow, unconsciously want to be "the BEST mama" for this new child (or older child).
That's all well and good, that impulse, that natural instinct.
God help us all if we don't have it.

But, the mirror trick and the trap is that all too often, again, unconsciously and/or unwittingly, that means that we somehow either place ourselves into a sort of weird unrecognized competition with the first mom, or the child does....or both. 
Now hold on, put those blowtorches on "pause," I am in NO way saying that we all don't do our darnedest to honor and remember those first mothers.  I KNOW we do. I know only very few who don't.
But I am saying that in our efforts to connect with this child, we can forget that they have this humungous truly unfathomable primary loss of their FIRST mom.  We can easily sorta forget the immeasurable depth of that loss in the day to day fluff and dross, because it is not ours.  That loss is not our own.  And really, frankly, if it's not about me, really, it's kinda hard to keep it on the front burner.  Because yeah, I am just precisely THAT selfish.
I can read and study, I can post and write, I can pray and talk and identify.
But my child(ren's) loss is not mine.
Only in the furthest reach is it even tangentially connected to me.  It it theirs.  Not mine.
Ever.
Not this one.
I cannot, ever, fully, experience or appreciate that loss the way the child does.
Because it is theirs and I can't fix it. 

But, in bringing this child into our home, our family, and our  hearts, we naturally want to be the best we can for this child.
But you know what it is so easy to forget and that we never should?
We/I will never be the BEST mom for this child.
Our very very BEST, my very very BEST, is second best, period.
I am the second best mom for five of my kids.
Just because I'm the one in place does not, in any way, mean that I'm the best mom for them.
Because I'm not.
I lost that competition ("Who's the best?") before it ever started, and that is right and proper and bottom line truth.

This was brought home to me this weekend, with my Marta.
My very best still isn't good enough, and can't be.
She told me so herself.  After fussing between us, miscued, misread, by both of us..in the after time...She told me, "Every day mom-hard."
Ow.  I mean....OW! I was bowled over, almost literally.
My type A, defensive self started instantly charting in my mind all the effort all the work, COUNTING the cost of bringing this child into my heart.  Stung, immediately I thought to start scouring my attachment books once again, find a therapist, set up appointments.  (Yes, this is why this post has to be labeled "all about me me me".....pathetic but there it is)
It was plain to me, though: Massive Mom Fail.
I cried, hurt and overwhelmed by the bigness of it.

But she is right.
Every day IS hard.  
For her, it MUST be.

I cannot give her what she had and lost. 
I cannot give her the life she had and loved and knew and grieves, with her first mom.
I cannot be what her first mom was to her.
I cannot look smell feel touch talk soothe sing discipline feed hug gaze or even sit with her, the same as her first mom. 
I can't be a mom of an only child, her.
All of her life with her first mom wasn't a picnic.  There were some ridiculously hard unspeakable things.  Those things may not even be known, or remembered in her grief, or fully understood by my daughter. 
Even so.
That life, the loss of that relationship and life is deeply, daily, still, grieved by my daughter.
And maybe it should be.
And I can't prescribe or know when that grieving should be done or if it ever will be.
As a dear friend and social worker tells me, the "idea of forgetting is scarier than being angry and being in pain."  

So, what's a mom, the SECOND mom, to do with that truth?
Well, THIS  mom, spent a hard emotional Sunday feeling like her insides  had been scraped out and feeling a bit despairing over it all. 

But, after much processing, praying, talking with Tom (Who, yeah, I was feeling kinda resentful about because he didn't have to measure up this way, or fail to, etc etc etc - why yes, I am that childish why are you surprised?), and to my dear best pal here who brought me coffee and sat sifting through my teary words of tired hurt.....I realize once again what I have known both in my head and heart for so many years:  I am not good enough.
My Type A self has to learn to live with that.  I had thought I had been learning that lesson for the last twelve years.  Oh, no, not at all.  
I will never measure up to the fantasy of the mother that wasn't known, nor will I measure up to the mother that is remembered and grieved.
Nor should I.
Each one of my kids has the inborn right to honor and revere and put that first mom on a pedestal. 

I am not competing with that first mom.
There is NO mama competition.
I am the second best mama for these kids.
I promised to love them with my whole heart, intellect, and ability, to give them safety, to raise them as best as possible to be the best person they can be. 
That's the bottom line.
It was never conditional based on their loving me back or thinking I was the bee's knee's.   
They never did promise to love me back; they weren't even asked their opinion.
So, I lost any "all that" crown before I ever started.

But in that loss, I think, I gain.
Because I learn, really, the hard painful lesson, again and again and again, to let go.
I learn to let go.
Because what is so hard to learn and really accept; is that they were never ours to begin with.
First they were their first mamas, but before that and ever, they are their own and God's.
I'm just a caretaker along the way.
An opinionated passionate fussy moody gal who stands in the kitchen, all-in, with open hands (on the good days). 
I can do that; with prayer and the help of my dear ones, and a whole lotta Grace....I will.


I'm second.
I'm so grateful for that.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I do. Again and again and again....

Twenty-four times. 
We are celebrating our wedding for the twenty-fourth time.
Can you believe it?

Don't laugh, we were like, 12, and it was the 80's. 'nuff said.

Well, I can. 
Though, as with any couple I suppose there were those years or eras where I wouldn't have.
Believed it could be at twenty-four, I mean.  
Twenty-four years speaks to a life together. 
By which I mean, it speaks to so much more than a year or a few, more than a decade and more than a really big event and terrific party.
Twenty-four is, really, a lifetime.
Hopefully it is a but a beginning of a lifetime and we have many many more years to be together, but even so, it has been a lifetime.
I mean, it's so much much more than counting. 
We have grown up together.  Really.
We are completely different people now than we were then.
And the really happy news is that we like each other better than ever, really LIKE each other instead of only put up with each other out of inertia.

But I don't think you can really get to that point, and still be happy, if you are just going through the motions and just taking the path of least resistance: inertia. 

I think it's SOOOO easy to fall into that pattern. 
But, rather than that, I think that you have to be intentional about marriage. 
Or else, sooner rather than later, it's dead in the water.
Empty.
If you're not intentional about marriage, that relationship that is snoring next to you or tapping their toes against the table, right there....then the "it" between you two is just empty, a shell. 
And that is just too hard.
We've been through our tough eras - phases where we were changing and it was so hard (because change is so hard) that it was only an extra-ordinary vow, actually said out loud long years after the wedding vows - of "Not now, this time is extraordinary, not real time, no big decisions now. period" that got us through it.  That and surely a heaping dumping truckload of Grace that we waded in,  unaware. 

Now, here we are. 

Twenty-four years of saying "I do" instead of "I don't" or "I won't."
Not always easy that.
"I do" is a tough one to choke out sometimes; it can be a sort of sacrifice almost.
But not always, sometimes it's just a gift given and taken as well. 
Twenty-four.
And we are different.
Not only older, grayer, saggier, more tired, but we are funnier, wiser, creakier, more comfortable, more forgiving, sometimes irritable, sometimes moody, sometimes quieter, more able to laugh at ourselves and each other, less serious and more.
But we are braver.  We are more determined.  We are more each other than we ever knew we could or would be. 
We have lived with each other longer than anyone else. 
Think about that...weird and yet, not. 
We are not only invested, we are part and parcel of each other at the same time that we each are more individually us than we began. 

Odd that, as we grow more together we grow even more into our own unique selves. 
Maybe that's just how it's supposed to work.

Even so.
I wouldn't change a thing.
I do.
Twenty-four times over and over and over again. 


Happy Anniversary my Tom. 
I love you so. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Via Crucis, week 2

Every Friday in Lent I'm putting up the Stations of the Cross.
It's an uber Catholic thing....but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer...and has it's own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined:

These are from the UCSSB site, and typically these are prayed with others.  But I tend to pray them alone...because I send Tom and the bigs to the church to pray them and I stay with the  littles and pray them on my own.  Either way, it works for me. 
Some tips: Yes, we pray all fourteen stations, every time.  Yes, it's long but if you meditate on the station/image it's very powerful. Yes, I do get distracted, always, it's a given.  I just redirect, again and again. 
"The following stations of the cross are based on those celebrated by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. They are presented here as an alternative to the traditional stations1 and as a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion."
So, let's begin:
Michele Mahan, Stations

Before each station:

Minister (or family leader, or you):
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

All:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

After each station:

All:
Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.


Opening Prayer:

Minister:
God of power and mercy,
in love your sent your Son
that we might be cleansed of sin
and live with you forever.
Bless us as we gather to reflect
on his suffering and death
that we may learn from his example
the way we should go.

We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord.

All:
Amen.

Stabat Mater, sung:
*At the cross her station keeping
Stood the mournful Mother weeping
Close to Jesus to the last


First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Reader:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 25:36-41

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your strength and wisdom,
that we may seek to follow your will in all things


*Through her heart, His sorrow sharing
All His bitter anguish bearing
Now at length the sword has passed


Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested

Reader: Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
Mark 14: 43-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the courage of our convictions
that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring.

* O, how sad and sore depressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole Begotten One


Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Reader: When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."
Luke 22: 66-71

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your sense of righteousness
that we may never cease to work
to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised.

* Christ above in torment hangs
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son


Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter

Reader: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.
Matthew 26: 69-75

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the gift of honesty
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

* Is there one who would not weep,
'whelmed in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold.


Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

Reader: The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.
Mark 15: 1-5, 15

Minister:
Lord,
grant us discernment
that we may see as you see, not as the world sees.

*Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain
In that Mother's pain untold?

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

Reader:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.
John 19: 1-3

Minister:
Lord,
grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.

*Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled
She beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent.
El Greco

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross

Reader: When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
John 19: 6, 15-17

Minister:
Lord,
grant us strength of purpose
that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.

*For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent

Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

Reader: They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Mark 15: 21

Minister:
Lord,
grant us willing spirits
that we may be your instruments on earth.

*O sweet Mother! Fount of Love,
Touch my spirit from above
Make my heart with yours accord.

Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Reader: A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23: 27-31

Minister:
Lord,
grant us gentle spirits
that we may comfort those who mourn.

*Make me feel as You have felt
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified

Reader: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."]
Luke 23: 33-34

Minister:
Lord,
grant us merciful hearts
that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

*Holy Mother, pierce me through
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Reader: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Luke 23: 39-43

Minister:
Lord,
grant us perseverance
that we may never stop seeking you.

*Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

Reader: Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
John 19: 25-27

Minister:
Lord,
grant us constancy
that we may be willing to stand by those in need.

*Let me mingle tears with thee
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Reader: It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23: 44-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us trust in you
that when our time on earth is ended
our spirits may come to you without delay.

*By the cross with you to stay
There with you to weep and pray
Is all I ask of you to give.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Reader:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.
Matthew 27: 57-60

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your compassion
that we may always provide for those in need.

*Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine

Closing Prayer:

Minister:
Lord Jesus Christ,
your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven
and reconciles all people to you.
May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries
follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven
where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

All:
Amen.

Scripture excerpts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament Copyright © 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce these excerpts in free distribution of these stations.

Announcing.

 Painting by John Collier.

 Announcing: Putting out a message: Annunciation: Hey there, listen up....
See, it's all the same thing, essentially.
Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
Now you all know that this feast just resonates with me.  For me.
I wrote about some of the obvious reasons, here, last year.  
{I'm working a little bit from last year here as well....adding my current thoughts to the ones that still hold.}
Really, I could and probably should, meditate on this feast, these images for a long time, oh...for the rest of my days.  Maybe I'd be a better person.  Surely, I'd be a better mom. Surely my faith would grow.

Because this feast is all about the letting go. 
It's about the letting go, in blind faith...the kind of faith I can only dream of, reach toward, and pray for a glimmer.
That kind of faith, that kind of willingness to "let go" and accept challenging-don't-know-the-road-ahead-but-I'll-keep-on-and-do-my-best-without-whining-endlessly-and-relentlessly-nagging-questioning sort of faith just astounds me.  
Humbles me.  
Blows my mind.  Still.  Ever. 

But she did. 
Mary was a girl, a mere girl.  Not old, with decades of life to measure the probability of it turning out ok in the end, or to compare to another girl she heard of in the same spot.  She had no measuring stick but faith.  And she was able to hold her breath, think about it for a moment (Because she was not programmed like a robot, she could have said 'no,'....Indeed, we are taught that all of creation held it's breath.)...and say, "fiat."
Fiat.
Ok.
I'll do it.  "Thy will be done, not mine."

 Painting by Henry Tanner.

Ok, right there, there it is again.  That hard stone to trip over; the one that lands me flat on my face, every time.  "Your will be done, not mine." "Your will."  "I'll go with it."
Simple, right?
Seems so.
Should be.
But no.  Oh my, no. Not at all.

And she was surely scared, and unsure, and didn't understand, and thought it's impossible, c'mon.  But, somehow, her heart of hearts, her very soul twinged and twanged and she knew.  She KNEW, that this was the real deal - the realest deal.  And so she bowed her head.  She said "ok." "Yes." Maybe one of the most beautiful words in language, top ranks for sure:
"Fiat."



And so, ever still, I look to her as an example of  how to do it right.
I look to her for inspiration that it can really be ok even when it seems impossible and  you just don't know how to move ahead and you're stepping into the dark without a light to read this new map you've been given.

 One of our referral pics, he was so small!

I look to this feast as a reminder and connection to my own Gabriel, my Gabriel Tariku... and how scary that was and how amazing that unknown can be.

I look to this feast, that fiat, and remember that we all get the chance, again and again, to say "Fiat."

I see another young girl who has done that, again and again.
And who does so, every day as she navigates a new huge world, full of wonders and hard confusing things both, struggles to learn and adapt and grieve and heal and grow and reclaim joy all at the same time.
And I know she says "fiat."
I think she whispers it, but oh, I know she does say it, again and again.
And she is a little mini annunciation for me, every day.
Will I carry her? Will I love her? Will I teach her? Will I let her teach me?
I know she says "Fiat."
And so, so do I.  

I watch my son as he works through big decisions and changes.
He desires to say "fiat," indeed,  he is saying so but it is so big that it takes prayer and a heart ready to be cracked open to the unknown.


He will navigate a whole new world and yet one that is already so much home to him, perhaps.
And so on this special feast day, I whisper ever more prayers for him as well.
This process, his process and his changes, bring about my own, new and daily fiat too.  Stupidly so, as this one is not mine to whisper and yet, it is.   Because if I do so too, then it helps him in whatever way he is to go.  To know that I am giving him to his yes too, no holding back.



This"fiat stuff"...it's a big blind breathtaking step.  Every time.
And THAT is why we celebrate it with a big feast.
Because it's a celebration of faith and love.
And deep breaths: fear into faith into joy. 
Every time.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed
is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When rain is just wet

Rain clouds, Lalibella, Ethiopia
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Gob smacked in Lalibella

 I have written before about "marking the good," especially when you are parenting a kid from hard places and with attachment issues; heck anytime, really.  If you are parenting teens or tweens or many or special ones, ya better try to remember to mark the good.

One of my heroes and blog friend Lisa has recently had a few posts about what has worked and the positive changes.  Go there and be encouraged!  It got me thinking, and reminded me to look again (Yes, we moms have to remind ourselves to do that some days.  Ok, me.) for those positive changes instead of merely looking at the crowded to-do list.   Therefore, as spring is upon us (hooray!), I want to mark a good that is ever so timely:

Rain.

Yup, it's raining again.  Not snow, anymore, thank goodness.  Spring is upon us. Which means we have entered the rainy season; which in my neck of the woods means downpours and crashing storms, tornadoes, hail, straight line winds, and just a whole lotta water.
It's been awhile since we've had a bunch of rain, and I kinda....forgot.
I forgot about how Marta reacts to rain.
I think I mighta just boxed the whole thing up and set it away in denial.
Because for this particular girl, rain is a big trigger.
It is a trigger to a whole trauma cascade reaction.

Rain in Addis. Rachel Landman, Under African Skies blog

Last rainy season, Marti had only been home a little over six months, ok, eight to be precise (yes, I was counting....).  We had experienced a few rainstorms the first few months she was home, and they always put her into a sad mood and she became very out of sorts and anxious, often angry.
But last spring, as we entered the rainy season, we hit a whole new level.  Marta has loss from cars in the rain, her father.  This is a loss, huge of course, that perhaps wasn't fully grieved, I don't know.  But the onset of rain here made it all come gushing forth in it's own short-looped torrent.
Every time it rained last spring, without fail, it also rained a talking loop that continued for the duration of the storm.  This was a very hard downward spiral for her, and all we/I could do was listen.  Again. And again.  And say small comforting words or sounds, be there, and listen some more.  The need seems to be to say it, out loud, to be heard. I don't know how many times, or how many times were or are needed.  But, the need was relentless and unleashed with the rain. Much the same way as the rain fell, so did this torrent of words and sad. 
We had rainstorms and sad storms.

And now it is raining again.
But, and this is huge: it seems her clouds are clearing.
She has spoken of "Ethiopia, rain, very bad, hard, car die."
But, she also has spoken, more, of "Rain nice. No snow. Flowers good. School ok."

It seems her sad storms are healing a bit.
Because, so far, this spring, rain is just wet.
Rain is not a trigger to spiral cascade of unbearable grief.
The memories surely arise, how can they not?
But I rejoice to see this and pause to give her a big grin and hug.
Because this year, now, she can laugh that her puppy HATES to go out in the rain and shivers and shakes and balks.  She scolds her pup and rubs her off with a towel, laughing.
We can talk about hair and rain and oh my goodness crazy mess.
She mentioned cars and the rain, once so far.  But then moved on after a hug.
Because now, maybe my girl can see too, progress.
Rain doesn't have to be scary or freezing sadness. 
Maybe it is now ok for her to feel it: rain is just wet.


So I'm finding the galoshes, and marking the good.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dear St. Joseph

Sculpture by Dony McManus
It's the feast of St. Joseph!
I'm so excited.
I love a feast, everything about it..food, fest, fete, remembering, commemorating, celebrating...it's all the good stuff wrapped up into that one word, isn't it? FEAST.  Yay.  We Catholics, we love a feast!
It's also of course, the end of the novena, which is always good.
I'm reposting some of this from last year because I am just not good enough to redo my words and thoughts, no room in my brain to rephrase my ideas just for novelty's sake.
But I will point out one shift, for me, with regard to this particular saint: I'm working hard this  year on getting closer to dear St. Joseph.
I feel the need to cling to him, in particular, in prayer and my heart and I've entrusted our family to his prayers and intercession this year.  This year, in particular, and perhaps all years ahead, we need, I need, to lean on and go to St. Joseph. Not trying to be cryptic, but just so you know I have a particular need to grow closer to St Joseph, and fast, and this year is the year our relationship takes a turn for the closer.  It must. I need him. 

Anyhow, more on all that later.  A year before I also did a post on this great saint, on his feast day.  And since I can't redo my words or thoughts, and still don't really want to, please go here to get a bit on dear St. Joseph.  As my mind continues to decline and muddle, best to return to my older posts that might be a bit more um, clear.....always!  

Anyhow, the year before I wrote all about my adoption links and issues with St. Joseph.  Not HIM actually, but rather others perception of him.  I mean, give the guy some cred! He's the dad!  Ok...I begin to digress. Go read my post if you have a spark of curiosity about him and all this from an adoptive perspective.  

This year, again, I just want and need to think about dear St. Joseph.  As a faithful humble man, who served his God, his family, his child and community.  He didn't get a lot of attention for it, except for some seriously negative opinions and sniping in the beginning of it all regarding his bride.....  So he didn't get the kudos, he didn't get the understanding.  He was and is still misunderstood.  But, and here is the key for me: he didn't stand up and correct everyone and make sure they understood just what he was doing.  He didn't.  
He just went ahead and did the next thing, lived and loved deeply as the dad.  
Every day.  
In his little town, doing his regular job, no status, no notice, no blog.  
Just, day to day, keeping on.  

So, I wonder.  He was  human.  Did he ever want to stand up on one of those tables he made (sturdy, no doubt) and holler at his little townspeople or neighbors, "Hey, I know you have all sorts of ideas about what is going on, but you're wrong.  I love her.  I love him.  He's special.  Yeah, God told me it's ok, it's right even.  So. Stop judging.  It's SO much more than you know."  Ya think???? Ok, probably not.  But, I wonder sometimes.  He's a saint, but he was human.  He's a saint not because God made him extra perfect and different than us.  He's a saint because he was faithful, even when he didn't understand.  

Michael O'Brien, St. Joseph
And that, that is like a whack in the head to me.
He was faithful, even when he didn't - couldn't - understand.  Because it all didn't make sense.  But he still accepted.  And gave in to this plan.  And did what he was called to do.  And he didn't whine and whinge on about it all.  He just did it.  Every day.  Every night.  As long as he was called to do it.  And that, I struggle with that.  Every day lately.  Because I always fall into the narcissistic trap of "it's all about me."  I don't think St. Joseph did that.  Which blows my mind.  

So yeah,  he's one of my heroes.  He's still misunderstood.  But, he has much to teach me. Especially now.  

St. Joseph, pray for us!
Happy Feast Day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Via Crucis, week 1

Every Friday in Lent I'm putting up the Stations of the Cross.
It's an uber Catholic thing....but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer...and has it's own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined:

These are from the UCSSB site, and typically these are prayed with others.  But I tend to pray them alone...because I send Tom and the bigs to the church to pray them and I stay with the  littles and pray them on my own.  Either way, it works for me. 
Some tips: Yes, we pray all fourteen stations, every time.  Yes, it's long but if you meditate on the station/image it's very powerful. Yes, I do get distracted, always, it's a given.  I just redirect, again and again. 
"The following stations of the cross are based on those celebrated by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. They are presented here as an alternative to the traditional stations1 and as a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion."
So, let's begin:
Michele Mahan, Stations

Before each station:

Minister (or family leader, or you):
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

All:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

After each station:

All:
Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.


Opening Prayer:

Minister:
God of power and mercy,
in love your sent your Son
that we might be cleansed of sin
and live with you forever.
Bless us as we gather to reflect
on his suffering and death
that we may learn from his example
the way we should go.

We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord.

All:
Amen.

Stabat Mater, sung:
*At the cross her station keeping
Stood the mournful Mother weeping
Close to Jesus to the last


First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Reader:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 25:36-41

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your strength and wisdom,
that we may seek to follow your will in all things


*Through her heart, His sorrow sharing
All His bitter anguish bearing
Now at length the sword has passed


Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested

Reader: Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
Mark 14: 43-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the courage of our convictions
that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring.

* O, how sad and sore depressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole Begotten One


Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Reader: When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."
Luke 22: 66-71

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your sense of righteousness
that we may never cease to work
to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised.

* Christ above in torment hangs
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son


Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter

Reader: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.
Matthew 26: 69-75

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the gift of honesty
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

* Is there one who would not weep,
'whelmed in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold.


Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

Reader: The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.
Mark 15: 1-5, 15

Minister:
Lord,
grant us discernment
that we may see as you see, not as the world sees.

*Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain
In that Mother's pain untold?

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

Reader:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.
John 19: 1-3

Minister:
Lord,
grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.

*Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled
She beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent.
El Greco

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross

Reader: When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
John 19: 6, 15-17

Minister:
Lord,
grant us strength of purpose
that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.

*For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent

Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

Reader: They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Mark 15: 21

Minister:
Lord,
grant us willing spirits
that we may be your instruments on earth.

*O sweet Mother! Fount of Love,
Touch my spirit from above
Make my heart with yours accord.

Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Reader: A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23: 27-31

Minister:
Lord,
grant us gentle spirits
that we may comfort those who mourn.

*Make me feel as You have felt
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified

Reader: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."]
Luke 23: 33-34

Minister:
Lord,
grant us merciful hearts
that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

*Holy Mother, pierce me through
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Reader: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Luke 23: 39-43

Minister:
Lord,
grant us perseverance
that we may never stop seeking you.

*Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

Reader: Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
John 19: 25-27

Minister:
Lord,
grant us constancy
that we may be willing to stand by those in need.

*Let me mingle tears with thee
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Reader: It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23: 44-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us trust in you
that when our time on earth is ended
our spirits may come to you without delay.

*By the cross with you to stay
There with you to weep and pray
Is all I ask of you to give.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Reader:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.
Matthew 27: 57-60

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your compassion
that we may always provide for those in need.

*Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine

Closing Prayer:

Minister:
Lord Jesus Christ,
your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven
and reconciles all people to you.
May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries
follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven
where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

All:
Amen.

Scripture excerpts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament Copyright © 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce these excerpts in free distribution of these stations.

Novena to St. Joseph, day 9

Novena to St. Joseph, Day 9
Final Day!

Crespi, "Death of St. Joseph"
Ninth Day
PATRON OF A HAPPY DEATH

Saint Joseph, how fitting it was that at the hour of your death Jesus should stand at your bedside with Mary, the sweetness and hope of all mankind. You gave your entire life to the service of Jesus and Mary; at death you enjoyed the consolation of dying in Their loving arms. You accepted death in the spirit of loving submission to the Will of God, and this acceptance crowned your hidden life of virtue. Yours was a merciful judgment, for your foster-Son, for whom you had cared so lovingly, was your Judge, and Mary was your advocate. The verdict of the Judge was a word of encouragement to wait for His coming to Limbo, where He would shower you with the choicest fruits of the Redemption, and an embrace of grateful affection before you breathed forth your soul into eternity.

You looked into eternity and to your everlasting reward with confidence. If our Savior blessed the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon, John the Baptist, and others, because they greeted His presence with devoted hearts for a brief passing hour, how much more did He bless you who have sanctified yourself for so many years in His company and that of His Mother? If Jesus regards every corporal and spiritual work of mercy, performed in behalf of our fellow men out of love for Him, as done to Himself, and promises heaven as a reward, what must have been the extent of His gratitude to you who in the truest sense of the word have received Him, given Him shelter, clothed, nourished, and consoled Him at the sacrifice of your strength and rest, and even your life, with a love which surpassed the love of all fathers.

God really and personally made Himself your debtor. Our Divine Savior paid that debt of gratitude by granting you many graces in your lifetime, especially the grace of growing in love, which is the best and most perfect of all gifts. Thus at the end of your life your heart became filled with love, the fervor and longing of which your frail body could not resist. Your soul followed the triumphant impulse of your love and winged its flight from earth to bear the prophets and patriarchs in Limbo the glad tidings of the advent of the Redeemer.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being able to die in the arms of Jesus and Mary. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Help me to spend each day in preparation for death. May I, too, accept death in the spirit of resignation to God's Holy Will, and die, as you did, in the arms of Jesus, strengthened by Holy Viaticum, and in the arms of Mary, with her rosary in my hand and her name on my lips!


*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day's devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.
MEMORARE 
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Baby Bro, Happy Bday!

The quintessential John as a boy
 Happy Happy Birthday and St. Patrick's Day to my dearest baby brother!
John is 45 today, which means I'm getting old.
But so is he and for the record, he is grayer than I am!
But even so, he is still cuter and has those eyes that sparkle and laugh, to go along with his crooked goofy grin and his razor sharp wit.

I miss him so, but I know he's having a great day surrounded by his gorgeous wonderful wife and two beautiful brilliant daughters, not to mention sparkling blue water, tropical palms and no doubt some great breaks as he heads out to surf this morning.
He's in Micronesia, still.  But to our great familial joy, and my parents relief and giddy exhales, he is coming home.  His family returns for good in only a few days and we are all counting down to the moment they get to go hug on them at the airport.

John and I were always partners in crime, play, you name it.  We were "the little kids," which we now lord over our older siblings with relentless pleasure.
I was terribly jealous of him while I was young, because he was the baby and ridiculously cute and was terribly spoiled and I couldn't stand it.
 I was spoiled too, as the  youngest girl, but I didn't understand that then.  Now, having many kids of my own, I get it.  It's the baby thing.
And John was and is the baby and favorite in the family.
 It can't be helped, we all accept it now..and admit it's just true.
Even though I was terribly jealous and imagined great suffering because of him, he could and still can make me laugh harder than anyone I know.  He makes me laugh until I cry and one of my favorite things is when all of us kids can get together and reminisce around the kitchen table, start telling stories which get bigger and more um, vivid, with every telling.  Soon enough we are hooting and wiping tears.  Great stuff.

So, today he's on my mind and in  my prayers and I wish him a last tropical blast of a birthday.
I love you so much John, I miss you and wish you safe swift travels home.
Catch some great waves and I can't wait to see  you soon.
My new favorite pic of him, ever.
 Happy Happy Birthday Little Bro!
I love you!

Novena to St. Joseph, day 8

Novena to St. Joseph, Day 8

Eighth Day
FRIEND IN SUFFERING
Saint Joseph, your share of suffering was very great because of your close union with the Divine Savior. All the mysteries of His life were more or less mysteries of suffering. Poverty pressed upon you, and the cross of labor followed you everywhere. Nor were you spared domestic crosses, owing to misunderstandings in regard to the holiest and most cherished of all beings, Jesus and Mary, who were all to you. Keen must have been the suffering caused by the uncertainty regarding Mary's virginity; by the bestowal of the name of Jesus, which pointed to future misfortune. Deeply painful must have been the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the disappearance of Jesus at the Paschal feast. To these sufferings were surely added interior sorrow at the sight of the sins of your own people.

You bore all this suffering in a truly Christ-like manner, and in this you are our example. No sound of complaint or impatience escaped you -- you were, indeed, the silent saint! You submitted to all in the spirit of faith, humility, confidence, and love. You cheerfully bore all in union with and for the Savior and His Mother, knowing well that true love is a crucified love. But God never forsook you in your trials. The trials, too, disappeared and were changed at last into consolation and joy.

It seems that God had purposely intended your life to be filled with suffering as well as consolation to keep before my eyes the truth that my life on earth is but a succession of joys and sorrows, and that I must gratefully accept whatever God sends me, and during the time of consolation prepare for suffering. Teach me to bear my cross in the spirit of faith, of confidence, and of gratitude toward God. In a happy eternity, I shall thank God fervently for the sufferings which He deigned to send me during my pilgrimage on earth, and which after your example I endured with patience and heartfelt love for Jesus and Mary.

You were truly the martyr of the hidden life. This was God's Will, for the holier a person is, the more he is tried for the love and glory of God. If suffering is the flowering of God's grace in a soul and the triumph of the soul's love for God, being the greatest of saints after Mary, you suffered more than any of the martyrs.

Because you have experienced the sufferings of this valley of tears, you are most kind and sympathetic toward those in need. Down through the ages souls have turned to you in distress and have always found you a faithful friend in suffering. You have graciously heard their prayers in their needs even though it demanded a miracle. Having been so intimately united with Jesus and Mary in life, your intercession with Them is most powerful.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being able to suffer for Jesus and Mary. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to bear my suffering patiently for love of Jesus and Mary. Grant that I may unite the sufferings, works and disappointments of life with the sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass, and share like you in Mary's spirit of sacrifice.

*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day's devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.

MEMORARE 
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Novena to St. Joseph, day 7

John Collier, St. Joseph the Worker

Seventh Day
PATRON OF WORKERS
Saint Joseph, you devoted your time at Nazareth to the work of a carpenter. It was the Will of God that you and your foster-Son should spend your days together in manual labor. What a beautiful example you set for the working classes!

It was especially for the poor, who compose the greater part of mankind, that Jesus came upon earth, for in the synagogue of Nazareth, He read the words of Isaiah and referred them to Himself:  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor..." (Luke 4:18). It was God's Will that you should be occupied with work common to poor people, that in this way Jesus Himself might ennoble it by inheriting it from you, His foster-father, and by freely embracing it. Thus our Lord teaches us that for the humbler class of workmen, He has in store His richest graces, provided they live content in the place God's Providence has assigned them, and remain poor in spirit for He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3).

The kind of work to which you devoted your time in the workshop of Nazareth offered you many occasions of practicing humility. You were privileged to see each day the example of humility which Jesus practiced -- a virtue most pleasing to Him. He chose for His earthly surroundings not the courts of princes nor the halls of the learned, but a little workshop of Nazareth. Here you shared for many years the humble and hidden toiling of the God-Man. What a touching example for the worker of today!

While your hands were occupied with manual work, your mind was turned to God in prayer. From the Divine Master, who worked along with you, you learned to work in the presence of God in the spirit of prayer, for as He worked He adored His Father and recommended the welfare of the world to Him, Jesus also instructed you in the wonderful truths of grace and virtue, for you were in close contact with Him who said of Himself, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life."

As you were working at your trade, you were reminded of the greatness and majesty of God, who, as a most wise Architect, formed this vast universe with wonderful skill and limitless power.

The light of divine faith that filled your mind, did not grow dim when you saw Jesus working as a carpenter. You firmly believed that the saintly Youth working beside you was truly God's own Son.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being able to work side by side with Jesus in the carpenter shop of Nazareth. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to respect the dignity of labor and ever to be content with the position in life, however lowly, in which it may please Divine Providence to place me. Teach me to work for God and with God in the spirit of humility and prayer, as you did, so that I may offer my toil in union with the sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass as a reparation for my sins, and gain rich merit for heaven.
 


*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day's devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.
MEMORARE 
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.