St Joseph

Lent 20 ~ Grief to Joy


          Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.   ~  John 16: 20

          One major problem is resolved today even without the win of a court case to help us. My heart is filled with a deep peace and serenity to see the joy in other hearts. For the confirmation of the good news to come on a Wednesday, a day I dedicate to St. Joseph, means a lot to me. It says to me that St. Joseph heard a mother’s plea.

          Looking back over our journey these past few months especially, something stands out – after struggles, consolation comes, but it lasts for short time before another struggle looms bigger. I often felt as if we needed to ask for grace and strength and hope – every few days. It puzzled me why grace didn’t seem to last very long. Often I wondered if it meant that I wasn’t being grateful enough or if I was blind and deaf to what God had so kindly laid out for me.

          While it is all that as well, it came to me today that perhaps this is what it feels like when it gets closer to a summit. When the path gets steeper towards the end, consolation gets replaced by a new need ever so often, making us seek new light from heaven just as soon as we have been comforted.

          I may never know the answer to it. In some ways today, it matters not either. As the eastern skies burst into a blaze of silvery orange, I know that in this one grief of ours, the old words I heard one still dawn 14 years ago, Sorrow before joy, has come true.

          Grief has indeed become joy.

Lent 16 ~ My Silent Help


          Truly, I doubt not that the angels, wondering and adoring, came thronging in countless multitudes to that poor workshop to admire the humility of him who guarded that dear and divine child, and labored at his carpenter’s trade to support the son and the mother who were committed to his care.   ~  St. Francis de Sales on St. Joseph

          Today, I remember the man who watched over me silently, who is a mere prayer away. I came to know St. Joseph only in recent years. Slightly more than a decade ago, I rediscovered my faith and began the practice of the Catholic tradition of reciting special novenas in honour of the months of the year and in honour of special saints. It was then that I learned that March was the St. Joseph month, in honour of his feast day on March 19th. I found the novena recited in his honour and I prayed it diligently for the 9 days.

          It was then that I learned that he was called the Discerner of Dreams. And that he was also invoked for needs connected to work and jobs.

          Since then, I’ve sought his hand to make sense of dreams. I’ve prayed to him desperately when faced with work struggles. Each time, I believe he answered – though not always as I wished – because St. Joseph does the will of God, not mine.

          Several years back, before I formed an affection for this saint, an Irish member of a forum mentioned how prayer had resolved work problems involving 3 people on his team. Something about that post moved me and I reached out to that forum member. A short while later, this person contacted me and told me he had a strong feeling that I needed to seek St. Joseph’s intervention. He gave me a prayer and it has been one I’ve turned to time and again.

          That forum member has now become a dear, dear friend. He has had my back many times since and there’s nothing I would not do for him and his family. And today, I realise something I never saw before: St. Joseph had brought me a friend.

          As the sun sets in a bed of tangerines and purples, I think of that silent, humble man who worked hard for his little family, pondering and praying in silence and in peace. Who never hesitated to act in order to protect. He whose heart was always in God’s that he heard even the softest whisper of heaven.

          Earthly father of Jesus. Miracle Worker. Discerner of dreams.

          Finder of friends. Maker of friendships.

          Beloved by angels.

          My silent help.

Lent 14 ~ Destiny



You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for You are my refuge.
Into Your hands I commend my spirit;
You will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
But my trust is in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
In Your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.   ~  Psalm 31: 5 – 6; 14 – 16


          For years, Into Your hands I commend my spirit, had been the first offering of my day to God. But somewhere last year, I forgot the prayer of my rising – and didn’t even realize it. This morning, though, it was the first vine of prayer that wove its way from my heart to God’s. I smiled to see my old prayer~friend again.

          After the usual morning chores, I settled down to work from home. Yesterday had been a full day. Apart from work, optional retirement had been weighing very heavily on my mind because I found out yesterday that some changes at work will be coming into effect soon. A safeguard that has protected me so far could be dismantled. If that does happen, I would have no choice but to seek a transfer or quit my job. A transfer would mean a very long daily commute, wearing me down further; with quitting, naturally, my thoughts went to our finances. We still have some way to go and I was concerned about the impact of retiring even a year earlier. While my musings didn’t agitate me nor make me fearful, it did lodge deep within like thick mud.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit

          This morning, when I went to my daily Readings, I was mildly startled to see the same morning prayer appear before me in the Responsorial Psalm. Why was the prayer slipped into my heart today, of all the days? I  suddenly wondered. 

          Then, my eyes fell upon a verse, and it struck my heart like a light bolt.

In Your hands is my destiny




Lent 13 ~ The Saint to Call On


“Jude is my favorite of all the saints,” he says. “Patron saint of lost causes. The saint to call on when all hope is gone. The one in charge of miracles.”   ~  Jandy Nelson


          My country needs a miracle. As my heart scans the undulating sand dunes stretched out before me, I see no hope for my land. We have seen the government we voted in shockingly stolen from us. The sordid past once again occupies the seats of power and authority. Everything we fought for is gone. And yet, each day, we seem to lose more and more. And more. Corruption is rife. Money buys loyalty.

          I know the importance of hope, but there is none left in me to summon.

          Heart aching for my country, I consecrate her to St. Joseph. Please save my land, St. Joseph, I pray. Every fibre of my being wants to give up and to leave this country and start a new life somewhere else, but I’ve never run away and won’t start now.

          I call out to the night for hope. I seek and call, over and over. Please give me hope, I beg of heaven.

          Then, someone strikes a match in the dark.

Patron saint of lost causes.

The saint to call on when all hope is gone.

The one in charge of miracles.

St Jude









Flock of God


Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.   ~   1 Peter 5: 2 – 4


          The past ten days or so have been an eye opener. Taken into inner sanctums – both mine and of others – they were journeys I’d rather not have gone on, canyons and caves I’d rather not have seen. Because there’s nothing nice in discovering you have far less patience and tolerance than you previously imagined. That despite the uncountable afflictions of so many years and the multitude of lessons learned from them, your capacity for suffering is still pea-sized.

          That your first response when the fire hits is a fire far worse – never mind all the things the Lord has taught you about fleeing to His Holy Wounds for cover.

           Yet, if I am to be completely honest with myself, I have to admit that the struggle this time fell into a light different from old before’s. I was so tired from the nonstop running around, from the plotting and planning, from navigating difficult people whose sole focus in life is to muddy and rut up the path even more for others. I thought I would break from being stretched so taut and thin.

          I thought there’d never be an end to the ground breaking and rising up before me.


every time I thought I needed a quiet moment to sob and weep out the hurt and frustrations,

every time I wanted to just lie down and forget it all for wee minutes,

every time I tried to shut the world out to gather myself back to form,

a hidden being held my shoulders and bade me rise. Each time, he told me, Come, we have to move.

          Each time, rage geyser-ed within me over the immaturity and irresponsibility of my subordinates, the strong presence put up his hand and stayed my pyroclastic flow of emotional ash and lava, saying,

Come, we have to move

         Ferocious headache. Equally ferocious tic in my eyelid like never before.

Come, we have to move

          No rest. No respite.

          Yet, each time someone stuck out a foot and I tripped, this being was always there to keep me from falling. Each time the ground opened up beneath me, a bridge of wisdom would spring up a solution out of nowhere.

          No delusions were allowed me, for my spirit knew him. It was my St. Joseph. All this while the Discerner of my dreams. Now, the Saint of my journey through Egypt. Firm, calm, wise. Come, we have to move.

          Today, the winds outside my home rise in an urgent chorus. My avian friends scatter their melodies through the spaces in the wind~notes. Only a single kingfisher braves the thrashing boughs, staying long enough to firm his message to me, Listen! The winds speak!

          For once, my spirit is quiet and attentive, guided to this Saturday of Mary by Her Gentle Spouse, Joseph. Arriving here, the words of heaven find their way to me.

Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.

          Each line is heaven’s silver arrow, piercing the resolutions formed in the waters of hurt and fear, in response to the wounds suffered this week, hidden within the folds of my heart. As I finally lay my ears against the call of the winds, John Greenleaf Whittier’s words return to me,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing…
I watch the shaken elm boughs…

Between the passing and the coming season,
This stormy interlude
Gives to our winter-wearied hearts a reason
For trustful gratitude


          A reason for trustful gratitude. Only then, does my heart open to receive the closing verse,

And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.










Wild Winds of March

Dave Sandford, Lake Erie

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.   John Greenleaf Whittier


          This has been a truly severe few weeks. If I thought 2019 was a tough year, it is nowhere near the incredible stress that has manacled almost every day since January.

          I came to Wednesday this week, worn to the bone. Incredibly, it is only February. An unbelievable number of deadlines to be met in the coming days, so much work already done, yet seemingly not a dent in that towering mountain before me.

          Late last year, heaven had sent me a belated Christmas gift in the sudden transfer of my boss. Life had become increasingly difficult under him. Job change or early retirement not being an option for me, I was glad indeed to see him go. Still, there was no remedy for the anxiety I felt about who would replace my old boss. I couldn’t help but be anxious that it’d be someone worse – based on past experience.

          From where I was, looking over the landscape of the coming months, despite my resolve to be brave and not cave in to despair, all I saw then were the endless weave of sand dunes beneath an unrelenting sun.

           Then, remembering the sign from the end of January, before daybreak of this 1st Wednesday of February, I went to St. Joseph and laid down my heart before him. I was so tired but there was still so much to do. I wanted to hope for good things, and if it wasn’t the good that I was imagining, I wanted to be brave and strong.

          Late that evening, with the primrose yellow evening sun peering determinedly over my shoulder, I received news of our new boss. What little we knew of him offered scant hope. With that last rung broken, I was completely emptied of myself. So, I gave myself up to St Joseph. Please help, I whispered. Boss. Deadlines. The rest of this year. The years left till my retirement. Please help, St. Joseph, I whispered as I rested all my burdens at his feet.

          It was night when St Joseph gently slipped my weary heart an unexpected gift. Some weeks before, I had received a beautiful gift from a dear friend, Sue Shanahan, of 2 precious and gorgeously illustrated books written by Susan Branch. I had been slowly working my way through the first book, The Fairy Tale Girl, and I had come to the final few pages. It was winter and in the book, the author had left her home in California for some months of respite from pain and sorrow, on Martha’s Vineyard. She was exchanging grief for uncertainty, yet looking also for hope and peace. I felt my heart go with her on that plane ride from California, knowing what I know now what she hadn’t known then: that her life was about to change forever. That awaiting her was truly the peace and hope she yearned for.

          What I hadn’t known was that something was waiting for me too.

          At the end of the book, on that final page, were the stirring lines from a poem,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.  

          The words the wind of March sheared through my heart with a suddenness that took my breath away, tumbling a brook of silver~joy into the wearied gullies. The wind of March. My tired spirit was thrust high into the skies of sudden hope. March! The month of spring. Of the Feast of the Annunciation. Of news we tremulously await as a family.

Of St Joseph!

          Winds! The one element vested with certain power to still my spirit. No matter how I am feeling, the call of the winds possesses a power only heaven can bestow, to quieten the squalls in my spirit, to raise it in freeing joy. True to form, just the mere sight of the words wind of March, roused my spirit to an anthem of joyful hope.

Something in March

Something in March

Something’s coming in March

my spirit pranced about in giddy glee.

          Nothing definitive was revealed to me that Wednesday night. Nothing about my new boss nor his leadership. Nothing of how the months ahead, the years even, are going to be.

         And yet,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March

spoke a secret to my heart.

          And then the folds of my heart closed tight upon that secret, resolutely sealing its knowledge from me, until the time of illumination.

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling, I watch the shaken elm-boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.

Between the passing and the coming season,
This stormy interlude
Gives to our winter-wearied hearts a reason
For trustful gratitude.

Blow, then, wild wind! thy roar shall end in singing,
Thy chill in blossoming;
Come, like Bethesda’s troubling angel, bringing
The healing of the Spring.









Look At Me, Dearest


          It has been a busy week at home, but away from work, it’s been very pleasant, the winds in a wild dance each day. As the crossing winds sang and chattered with one another above us, we tended to our dailies.

          Still, a tiny voice in my heart asked, Where is my Christmas joy? The little trickle of joy from a few months back had fallen still. All was quiet within me, the little bells of joy suddenly hidden from my spirit.

          3 days ago, before I slept off, I mentally traced a cross on each of my ears, asking God to speak to me.

          Then, I dreamed.

          On a brightly lit night in town, I was working, heading somewhere, intently pushing my new car. Turning to look back, I saw my children huddled together outside a building, worry in their eyes as they watched me leave them.

          As I pushed my car, I glanced inside at the dashboard screen. I saw the indicators for the various functions.

          And all the indicators showed that the power was dropping and dropping fast. Desperate to complete the job I had to do, I pushed harder, the distance between me and my frightened children increasing.

          Unfortunately, soon, the power in every part of the car depleted and the car came to a dead stop. I desperately tried to restart it but the battery was dead.

          For some reason, I couldn’t just backtrack and return to my kids. I needed to get my job done. Frantically, I calculated how much time I needed to get to wherever it was that I was going and to make the return trip to collect the kids, but I realised it would take far too long. The kids would be all alone and not safe.

          Sobbing, I whipped out my cellphone to call my husband but I knew he was at least 3 hours away. The car was dead. My husband couldn’t get to us in time. And I was too far away from my poor kids. The anguish was too much.

          The dream ended and I awakened, immediately alert, the dream very clear. But although I was upset and sobbing in the dream, I woke up completely calm. Nevertheless, the dream didn’t make sense. It wasn’t like me to neglect the children, to leave them alone and in danger. And why on earth was I pushing the car and not driving it?

          I wanted to dismiss the dream but guilt and fear kept it before me in my waking hours. What if it was pride in myself as a mother making me want to ignore the dream? What if I wasn’t as committed to them and as vigilant as I assumed I was? Maybe it pointed to the future. Maybe I was going to make a work related decision that would ultimately hurt my family.

          Mentally, I vowed to myself that no matter how enticing, I would not accept any promotion or new job offer that would put my family in second place.

          But a caution within me warned me against leaning against my own interpretation of the dream. It was the first Wednesday of the last month of the year, so I hurried to St. Joseph’s door. St. Joseph, I prayed, Discerner of Dreams, tell me what my dream means.

          He didn’t speak immediately but I never left him and continued to pray.

          Late in the evening, standing at my window, contentedly looking out at the bloom blessed garden and listening to the winds chuckle and sing, my dream flashed before me. Then, a quiet voice spoke,


          Burnout!! I was stunned! It wasn’t what I expected, and yet … it made immediate sense. The signs were all there. The exhaustion. The mental fog. The slow recovery.

          St. Joseph’s answer had an unexpected effect on me where little else worked. I immediately put the brakes on myself. I slowed down a little. I listened harder to the winds in the trees, trying to make out the words to their song. To enjoy it.

          For 3 days, even as I cared for my family as any wife and mother would, I trained my heart on enjoying them. But another question soon peeked up at me. How long before I return to what I am? How long before I return to that worn road of relentless pressure? To that of guilt, guided by the accusing voices of old which continue to live somewhere near?

         So often, far too often, responsibilities overtake and overwhelm me. But even when they do not crook their finger at me, I’m never far from the workwheel, troubling what doesn’t need to be troubled with.

          Because guilt is always near when I am at rest. Seeking to remind me of who I really am – as others from my past assert over me. And it is those voices that spur me to my feet, telling me that rest is not for me, that whatever others do, I must do more, eschewing help – because I didn’t need that help; I was merely choosing the easy way out.

         That is why, as depicted in the dream, I am pushing a car which others in my place would have driven. In much of my doing, I choose the harder road – and not always because it needs to be so. I do not always accept the help I’m given. Guilt makes that choice for me.

         Guilt hovers close, reminding me that if I chose otherwise, I would not be loved.

         How long before I return to what I am? Not long. For that is a snare that never needs to hide itself. Then the cycle of madness and knocking on heaven’s door seeking for help, resumes. That is life as I know it, as it will always likely be.

         The skies change their robes. The rain clouds gather once more, making their way towards us, and the sun goes into hiding.

         But the winds toss their airy heads and carry on. If anything, the winds frolic more, deep in throes of ecstatic glee. The gathering rain does nothing to hold them back. I hear the winds laugh harder amongst the evergreen boughs, in gay abandon.

         In some newfound joy!

         On this final First Friday of a fast aging year, I return to my promise of atonement and reparation. It is then that I hear the most tender of Voices.

          I hear love. Love as never before.

          And I hear the words,

Look at Me, dearest





I Forgive Myself


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. O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach you 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.


          3 years ago, I opened up about my work troubles, about 3 specific people, to a stranger. He had posted something on a forum earlier and when I read it, I had found strength to go on. So, I wrote to let him know and to thank him.

          Some months later, he wrote to me once more and told me about a St. Joseph novena he had said for workplace woes. It had brought amazing results for him. He had a feeling I would have need of it too.

          I certainly did. St Joseph had been coming to me in the days before so when I saw the prayer, I knew it was for me. I was in deep suffering then due to the 3 vicious bullies. So, I plunged myself into the St. Joseph prayer.

          At the end of the 9 day novena of it, I too received ‘results’. However, it was not the sunny outcome I had hoped for. Instead, something akin to satan’s whip lashed me and I suffered for it.

          But I experienced 3 miracles as a direct result of that novena. I saw my own sin and for the first time and acknowledged it. God gave me His strength to carry my cross of hurt and humiliation. Mother Mary came silently one morning and gave me hope.




          It’s been 3 years since that day. One of the three has been spectacularly removed from our company. It left behind 2 wound-ers – a superior and the other, a female colleague. For a while, despite the neverending woundings, life went on.

          But yesterday, I responded to a minor situation with the female colleague, in a way I’m not proud of. It was a small thing and yet, I wish I could have done things differently.

          I was upset with that person. I was now also upset with myself for my reaction. Worse, the incident brought back memories of rusted knives and forced me to face the towering mountain of old hurts caused by this woman. This is something I try not to revisit because the pain is bad and it makes my cross that much harder to bear.

          Yet, here it was again. And I wept at the seeming futility of it all. 20 years of suffering, almost a year of enduring this specific type of cruelty. And no end in sight. At the same time, so much learning on how to endure in Christian faith, so many prayers and yet I didn’t seem to be spiritually progressing. I wasn’t scaling the mountains before me. I was still stumbling over roots.

          Friday yesterday was supposed to be my Friday of atonement and reparation. God gave me one chance and I flubbed it spectacularly.

          I alternated between crying out to heaven and clubbing myself. I asked for the woman to be consoled. But I asked that no consolation be given me.

          Late at night, before turning in for the day, I went to my prayer nook.

          The grinning Angel was waiting with a prayer for me. It was the old St. Joseph prayer of 3 years ago.

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, …

          I was more than a little taken aback. What a time for this prayer to reappear, when  work is becoming a problem again.

          This morning, another Mother Mary Saturday, I beseeched Her aid but I didn’t know what I should be asking for. Reading the Readings of the day, I begged Her to speak to me through them. At the end, no breeze swept by my waiting heart.

          Undeterred, I went to my prayer nook for the prayer of the day.

          Imagine just how I felt to see the same St. Joseph prayer peeking back at me! In all my years of visiting this nook, I have never drawn the same prayer on consecutive days.

          Suddenly, I was alert. Something was up. To come on Friday and then Saturday, it was a sign for me that both Jesus and Mother Mary were asking for this prayer to be said. From the chest of millions of prayers, They were asking for this one.

          So, I recited it once more, sealing my heart to each line, yet not expecting anything beyond that I should be obedient to the call.

          And this time, this second time, my heart saw a line I did not quite see yesterday.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

          I didn’t know what to do, what to think.

          So, I rose and left the house to run some errands. It was a beautiful golden blue day, the gentle,  sun~blessed breezes bringing sweet notes of birdsong to my heart. As I drove, happily watching the green trees run past, it became very clear just what I needed of Mary.

          Mother, take my sin of yesterday.

Take this garment of mine, the how’s and why’s of it.

Take it to Jesus.

Plead not on my behalf but let Jesus judge me fully and completely.

Then, bring me back His judgement.

Let it pierce me, really pierce me.

Let nothing stand between His Word and this piercing.

          I stood and waited.

          A tiny vine uncurled itself.

I forgive her.

          I did not even pause to think. Neither did I have to tie myself to it. Immediately, I said the prayer, the words coming straight from my heart.

I forgive her

          I discerned no change in me. No light, no sunburst, no burden lightened. But like the passing green trees, I let it go, not pausing to seek a reward for praying. I forgive her, I said once more, ready to say it over and over.

          But before I could repeat it, the tiniest of roses, a pink one, misted before me.

I forgive myself








Lent 16 ~ Form Their Hearts


For any parent who intimately knows the struggle to raise our children right

O glorious St. Joseph, to you God committed the care of His only begotten Son amid the many dangers of this world. We come to you and ask you to take under your special protection the children God has given us. Through holy baptism they became children of God and members of His holy Church. We consecrate them to you today, that through this consecration they may become your foster children. Guard them, guide their steps in life, and form their hearts after the hearts of Jesus and Mary.

St. Joseph, who felt the tribulation and worry of a parent when the child Jesus was lost, protect our dear children for time and eternity. May you be their father and counselor. Let them, like Jesus, grow in age as well as in wisdom and grace before God and men. Preserve them from the corruption of his world, and give us the grace one day to be united with them in Heaven forever.





Lent 15 ~ A Shifting


          A year ago, in the week before Lent 2016, I dreamt of a coming flood. A terrible, terrible rush of angry, filthy, muddy water. And the word given to me later by St Joseph, the Discerner of Dreams, was – Prepare. This call was repeated a few short months later.

          Since then, though I’ve often pondered it, I’ve not been told about a flood again. No more dreams of such a thing, either. Still, that didn’t keep me from wondering, What kind of a flood was it? From a terrible rain? A sea surge? An earthquake leading to a tsunami?

Or a spiritual flood of some sort, as many are speculating as well?

          Yesterday, I received an email from a humble, loving and deeply devout lady. She had reason to recall my old dream – she had been recently hearing of people once more having premonitions of a tsunami.

          I had nothing much to offer in my reply to her; there had been no recent stirring of my spirit in this regard.

          But as I ended my reply, I told her,

We must stay close to prayer. I am sensing a shifting.

          I don’t know where that came from. And I didn’t think much of it either as I sent off the email.

          Only today has it come to me that a tsunami is caused by a displacement of a large amount of water.


          A shifting?



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