Brother. Sister. Mother.

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For whoever does the will of My heavenly Father
is My brother, and sister, and mother.   ~   Matthew 12: 50

July 16, 2019   ~   Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

 

 

 

 

 

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I Forgive Myself

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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.

Sight

Strength

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus of My Mornings

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O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore You, I love You, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer You this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to Your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in You and for You. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, Your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.

 

          I awakened early today for my time with God. For some weeks, ever since I believe He told me to Rise early, I’ve been trying to obey Him by rising earlier than usual. Truth be told, the initial excitement over this special morning encounter had waned somewhat in the face of increasing tiredness. But I was determined to hang on. Even if I didn’t quite feel the benefits of waking up at 4:30 in the morning and trying to give God my undivided attention, I knew my God was not going to tap me on the shoulder to alert me to everything He was working within my soul.

          Secure in this awareness, I went to my morning devotions today. At the end of it, I prayed the prayer of the day, the Holy Heart of Jesus prayer. My heart fell into its lines, as if it were my angel praying my very needs. I had not lived the past few days well enough. I had need of reparation for sins of pride, I truly needed to humble myself. And here were the very words for my ill.

         The clock ticking, I settled some last chores. Momentarily overcome by weariness, I sat down and closed my eyes for a bit. It was going to be a long work day. I wished I didn’t have to go in. Heart of Jesus, I prayed.

          Eyes closed, before me appeared dark mountains, and a small, piercingly bright sliver of the dawn sun, slowly rising, but moving from the left to the right, from behind those dark ridges. 

          Not sure where that came from, I put it down to my imagination and firmly dismissed it.

          Heart of Jesus, I called once more.

          The same scene appeared again. This time, the sun slid swiftly to the middle of the sky. Suddenly, it  pulsed brightly, sending its light directly into my own heart, startling me.

          It is Him! I thought, stunned into realization. The Heart of Jesus truly! Come to show me it wasn’t my imagination at all. Coming when I least expected.

What is man that Thou should be mindful of him,

a son of man that Thou care for him?    ~ Psalm 8:5

          Who was I that He needed to give me this sign?

          And yet He had. He had come not just to comfort but to assure me of His presence, His faithful and patient wait in my mornings. Even if no breeze caressed my waiting spirit, no answer pressed to my questions, His holy Heart awaited me each time I came before Him. Tired or fresh, straight or bent mattered not to Him. What mattered was I not allow anything to hold me back from Him. No doubt, no weariness, nothing of this fallen world.

          And He would be there, each time.

          I sought Him once more, the Jesus of my mornings,

Heart of Jesus,

I place my heart in Yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierce Me, Lord

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          Thursday, after a tough meeting, I had come home tired, a little hurt, more than a little angry, but nowhere as bad as it used to be – not because the work situation has improved; but because I sense something else in control within me. So, when I asked God, Why, why, why? Why is this necessary?, I did not really ask to know the answer, and I did not ask in the anguish of old. I asked in the slow weariness that comes at the end of a long day where the winds have restlessly stirred leaves, only to retreat to hidden depths, sullen and unwilling to speak.

          The answer didn’t matter as much as the will to endure if the road ahead was long, the bend He had spoken of, yet to be. 

          Later, opening my heart to one of my children, I heard myself saying,

Often we must suffer in order to know joy;

often too we must suffer so that joy comes to others.

          It was as if something from inside me was speaking through me, reminding me of the Cross, reminding me of why the Body must be broken and piercings endured, why Blood must be shed.

          Answering my own question of Why?

          As I spoke, I knew the bite of tears in my throat, the glisten of those same tears in the eyes of my child, as we both fell to remembering the breaking and piercing we have endured as a family, what we have suffered and lost forever.

          A short while later, an old memory was stirred. A memory of my children being a hair’s breadth away from danger, the chilling memory of how close abuse had brought me to the edge of the cliff.

Broken and pierced beyond belief.

          But by a miracle, my family and I were saved by St. John of the Cross. He had rushed to pull me back from the brink, holding me till I heard and obeyed his urgent bidding,

Seek counsel.

          Now, years later, as I sat and recalled that miracle, I began to sense something else. I felt the strains of a hymn nudge my ears.

Lift up your hearts

Lift up your voice

Rejoice!

again I say, Rejoice!

          A Christmas hymn. A Christmas hymn in the middle of June. I looked curiously at the word, Rejoice! What did it mean? I couldn’t just jump up and pretend a jubilance. So, what did Rejoice! mean, coming as it did now?

          Two days later, we happily welcomed to our home two friends – one a beloved priest. It meant a lot to me to have Father with us on the weekend of the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Twelve years ago, I had deliberately gone past church on that very feast day. On that day, we had arrived way too late and it seemed silly to make a spectacle of ourselves and go to a Mass that was almost ending. So, we drove on.

          We drove on into the biggest sorrow of our lives.

          For the next twelve years, haunted by what I had done, I made reparation, over and over, for piercing the Heart of my Jesus that day.

          Suddenly, now, here was Father, this particular priest, the one we ran to twelve years ago when the light began to go out, sitting and having lunch with us! I was so happy!

          We sat and laughed and chatted about so many things. It was beautiful, so beautiful being blessed by the presence of Jesus within this joyful and loving priest. I have always been a Martha, fussing over things that didn’t need fussing over. But not this day. This time, I was Mary, sitting by Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.

          And then he uttered the word, Promise. He said it three times.

          My mind went to the verse in Jeremiah.

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise   ~   Jeremiah 33: 14

          To the stunning June rainbow. To the painting of The Fool and His Gold. The steady stream of signs. We must endure the piercing, I had told my child. Our Friday of 10s.

          I sense someone is waiting before me, waiting for something from me.

          I shrink back. I am afraid of more suffering. I don’t want any more of it. But I know that’s not the way to go. If I want to be a part of what is to come, I must endure the piercings too.

          What do You ask of me, Lord? I ask timorously.

          And then I dive. Pierce me, Lord.

          The winds pick up suddenly. The change is instant. From gentle sun~warmed breaths threaded through clouds and tree tops, the winds jump in jubilance and exultation. Through the trees and leaves, the winds rush as if to spread the news. The robin’s song pierces through the gold of Corpus Christ morn.

          As this excitement reaches for the highest ever notes, a soft breath writes upon my heart,

Something is about to end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River

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          The past week, I had been trying to prepare myself for the feast of Pentecost. Yet, everything I tried didn’t quite click. Finally, I turned to God and asked Him to lay upon my heart that which I should focus on.

          I went on to spend a happy Pentecost Vigil day touching the soul of God through an assortment of household chores which kept me busy and happy, yet undistracted.

          Through them all, in my heart I prayed St. Augustine’s prayer,

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

          Later that day, still confident that God would speak, as I read on a multitude of topics, I continued to ask Him to lay His word on my heart.

          I felt a shifting in the air. Many things did pass before my eyes, but my spirit could hold on to nothing.

          As I waited for sleep to claim me on the Vigil night, I sang in my heart an old Holy Spirit hymn that an Irish nun had taught me as a child.

Come, Holy Spirit, we need you,

Come Sweet Spirit, we pray,

Come with Your strength and Your power,

Come in Your own gentle way.

          On the morning of Pentecost, an unexpected word was waiting for me.

River

And with it, an old post from Good Friday last year, They Have Returned.

          I slept well but was awakened close to six in the morning by a dream.

          I was outside a building. I had the feeling that there was water nearby, that it was a waterfront building. There were cars. I saw one, a humble, old car, a muslim father and kids inside. The kids were slightly impatient. I heard the father calmly tell the children to be patient a while longer. I sensed he and others were waiting for something or someone. I interiorly knew that the mother, a muslim too,  had gone inside that waterfront building

          Then, I too was inside that building. A priest was just ending the celebration of Mass. For some reason, I went up to the altar, to the right of it. Behind the altar,  the doors of the building opened out to a huge, huge, flowing river. A golden river. The waters seemed to be even higher than the building I was in. 

          Suddenly, the moment the Mass ended, a great mist rose from the golden river and began to swirl around. There was something so deeply beautiful in that mist that the congregation collectively gasped at its beauty.

          But I didn’t have time to immerse myself in its beauty – for I saw something the others had not seen yet.

That it was not mist.

It was children! Little children! Hundreds of them!

          These children were alighting from a sort of river bus. Each one had a photo. I knew immediately that the little ones had come from heaven. And that they were going to be ‘matched’ to the person in the photo that each clutched.

          In such a crowd of busy, silent children, it should have been impossible, but I immediately saw the one I sought. I rushed towards him and hugged him tightly as I sobbed and sobbed. All around me, the rest of the congregation at Mass, all of them parents too, surged forwards towards their children in tearful joy.

          In that piercing dream, I was shown the two children I had lost through miscarriage long years ago. I had always strongly suspected that I had miscarried our first baby but because it had happened so soon, before I even had time to test myself, I could never be sure.

          Yet, my heart mourned and I mourned for a boy, though I didn’t know why.

          Then, after our eldest was born, a year later, I had a miscarriage at 2 months, but came to know only at the fourth month mark. We grieved very deeply over that loss and somehow, I always sensed it had been a girl.

          That Good Friday dream of 2018, years and years after these wounds to our hearts, confirmed what I had sensed all these years.

          Now with the word river laid on my heart, I realized something about little children was being shown to me. It was like a hidden bell tinkling in the mist, signaling that something lies ahead.

          Something to do with children. A miracle.

          Something not just for Christians but for all.

          The following day, on the Feast day of Mary, Mother of the Church, God placed on my heart a sick baby and his brave mother. Too far away to offer any physical help, I decided to pray a special anointing prayer for them for the rest of June, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil I had. I asked for a miracle.

          As I traced the sign of the Cross on my forehead in proxy for the mother and wee son, I sensed my spirit quieten even more.

          Later, tuckered out from a busy day of home chores, I went to lie down for a short nap. I had been on a short break and it was my last day of respite from work. I would be returning to work the next day, returning to all the old and mottled lanes.

          But something had changed. I no longer resented the call of work. While I wasn’t looking forwards to it, I did not fear it as I had before. My impending return didn’t dry out my spirit or rent my heart. Instead, a strange ray of hope had begun to shine through.

          My heart plunged into thanksgiving for the beautiful break. Over and over and over, I gave God my grateful heart, humbled at how happy He had made me with little gifts tucked into each day. As each passing hour took me closer and closer to a world I still wished I was not a part of, suddenly nothing mattered now except my song of thanksgiving.

           A short while later, I awakened. Going to my window, I looked up at the sky.

          And I gasped.

          Before me was a massive, massive rainbow, stunning beyond words, its colours so vibrant and vivid. Only once before, broken and in near despair, had I seen a rainbow as beautiful as this. That day, God had strongly spoken His word of hope to me. Upon hearing it, my weakened spirit had immediately revived.

         Now, seeing this gorgeous gift from heaven, right outside my window, unbelievably huge, majestic in its presence, its colours pulsing with life, I rushed out of the house, into my garden to gaze at the bow in the sky, unhindered.

          Standing in stunned, joyful silence, I breathed in its luminous beauty.

          Golden river. Returning children. Feast of Mary the Mother of the Church.

          The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise   ~   Jeremiah 33: 14

 

 

 

 

Empower Me

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Nobody knows how weak I am, better than You
Nobody sees all of my needs, better than You
And nobody has the power to change me, from what I was born to be
Jesus be strong in my weakness
Empower me

Chorus:
Empower me, like a rushing river flowing to the sea
Lord, send Your Holy Spirit flowing now through me
Till I’m living as Your child, victorious and free
Send the power of Your love
Empower me

Nobody’s eyes see through my soul, better than Yours
Nobody’s love can make me whole, no one but Yours
And nobody has the power to lift me, to reach for eternity
Jesus break through all my defences
Empower me

 

          I hadn’t heard a hymn in my inner ear for so long. Then, this morning, before I awoke, a voice I did not recognize sang the opening lines of the chorus to this hymn, before trailing off and leaving me to follow, unfurling line after line.

          Empower me, like a rushing river flowing to the sea
Lord, send Your Holy Spirit flowing now through me
Till I’m living as Your child, victorious and free
Send the power of Your love
Empower me

 

 

 

Bring Your Ear

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Bring your ear close to My Heart, forget everything else, and meditate upon My wondrous mercy.   ~   Entry 229, Divine Mercy in My Soul

          I have some quiet time this coming week. It may well be the last bit of real quiet I have before the frenetic work pace hits in the coming months, and I intend to use it well.

          But I’m not exactly sure how. I decide to ask St. Juan Diego to help me.

          Just before entering the church, I spot a book sale outside. I wonder if there’ll be a book for me, just like how I found my copy of Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul, a few years ago, at a sale run by the same nuns.

          As I browse the rather limited selection, I try to lean against my spirit for some help in choosing a book, but there is no response. Then, my husband holds up a book.

The Life of Faustina Kowalska – The Authorized Biography

         And I know it is the book for me.

         Before Mass, Jesus’ words to St. Faustina reach my heart,

Bring your ear close to My Heart, forget everything else, and meditate upon My wondrous mercy. 

          Contemplation. And the material to meditate on Jesus’ mercy might be found in my new book. I think of the way I have arrived at this point, led by a man, St. Juan Diego, who never lived for himself. I think of his humbleness and his obedience to heaven’s call. Humility and obedience are special graces. But to avail myself to them, I have to first empty myself. 

Forget everything else

          And it begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise Early

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He walked every Saturday and Sunday many miles to church, departing early in the morning, before dawn, to be on time for Mass and religious-instruction classes. He walked on naked feet, like all the people of his class, the Macehualli… During one of this walks to Tenochtitlan, which used to take about three-and-a-half hours between villages and mountains, the first Apparition occurred, on December 9, 1531. He was 57 years old, certainly an old age in a time and place where the male-life expectancy was barely above 40.   ~   St. Juan Diego, Guadalupe, http://www.michaeljournal.org

 

         He walked every Saturday. And every Sunday. Every trip, 7 hours. Barefoot. In the morning, before dawn. And this was after a hard work week in the fields.

          I think of the various saints who have come suddenly, quietly. Rise early, they are telling me. Some years ago, exhausted from work and lack of sleep, rising at 5.30 a.m daily for my morning devotions, God asked me to rise at 4.30 for Adoration. I couldn’t believe He was asking that of me!

          But God insisted and I obeyed grumpily. The difference it made to my days was immediate. And I kept to it. Until this year. With the stress and my health issues, even 5.30 a.m. was a struggle, I couldn’t do 4.30. God will understand, I comforted myself.

          Yet, here it is again. Through St. Juan Diego, God is telling me the climb up the mountain to meet Him is not easy.

7 hour walk

Two days of it

Barefoot

          Cactus. Stones. Thorns. The weather. It wasn’t easy for St. Juan Diego, it wouldn’t be for me too.

          But he did it. And so must I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Wee Child

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On December 9, 1531, a Saturday, just before dawn, Juan Diego was on his way to pursue divine worship and to engage in his own errands. As he reached the base of the hill known as Tepeyac, the break of day came, and he heard singing atop the hill, resembling the singing of varied beautiful birds. Occasionally the voices of the songsters would cease, and it appeared as if the mount responded.   ~  The first Apparition, http://www.michaeljournal.org

 

          Since Thursday, the song of birds. Little birds, young ones. Sometimes, in a lilting, bell~chime chorus. Sometimes, the lone song of one intent on speaking her heart. Each one reminded me of children. Children lost to death. Abortion. Murder by parents, both sane and not, for whatever reason.

          We are horrified when children are killed by parents. We call for penalties and punishments. Someone must pay, this must be stopped, such is our heartfelt anguish that a life was ended. In our own ways, we fight for that child who can no longer speak.

          And yet, we support abortion. The deformed baby. The child of incest. The child of rape.

          Even the inconvenient baby.

          Have they no right to our impassioned defense of life?

 

 

 

 

Eagle of Mexico

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          Last Friday, when warm joy began to flow through me once more, thawing the ice of old winter, my daughter pointed out two eagles perched atop a swaying fir branch. They were so far away and we were in the car, moving fast. Yet, my girl saw those beautiful creatures and was able to point them out to me. And I had enough time to gaze in awe at their beauty.

          They were indeed very far away and I don’t have that great eyesight. But something about those twin eagles stirred the depths of my spirit. I felt a silence fall into my heart. A peaceful silence.

          The next morning, deep in the breast of a golden~blue sky, a single eagle soared and called out from the heavens. I watched him for a while, enjoying him, for eagles are a rare sight here. The following day, again, an eagle soared and called out once more in the eastern skies readying for night’s welcome slumber. It could have been the same eagle. Or not.

          It didn’t matter, because by then, I was aware of something: every time I saw eagles, everything in me and around me stilled. And I was filled with the deepest peace, even as my spirit straightened in awe.

         Who are you? I asked the soaring magnificence.

          That night, I set about to find out about the symbolism of eagles. At a Christian website, its author, himself intrigued by eagles, had written about this great bird’s characteristics.

          One characteristic which reached out and caught me was the eagle perching for days even, awaiting the right wind conditions for it to soar in the sky. Because of the heaviness of their wings, it is imperative for an eagle to soar – to fly without flapping its wings, as much as it can, in order to preserve energy. To soar, the bird requires wind thermals – a big gust of wind – and so, the eagle sometimes has to wait a long time for them.

          They are patient, I learned. I had always thought of eagles as business-like, focused but I’ve never equated them with patience.

          After that revelation, I never saw another eagle in the sky.

          But soon something else caught my heart. Mexico. When that name was laid upon my heart, I felt gentle arrows of joy once more embed themselves into me. Why this joy over Mexico? I wondered. It didn’t make sense to me as anytime Mexico made the news, it was rarely positive. Earthquakes, drug cartels, gangs, corruption, drug wars, murders – all those were associated with Mexico for me. Yet Mexico for me was also about the warmth and love of family, the strength of old and tested faith.

          On a whim, I looked up pictures of Mexico, to get a deeper feel of that country. I was taken aback when I pulled up an image of the Mexican flag.

 At the centre of it was an eagle.

          It became clear then that someone was trying to tell me something.

          I decided I’d let it rest, and that I’d rest myself too. God would make things clear in His time. No sooner had my head touched the pillow when I suddenly recalled why Mexico is special.

          It was the home of the Guadalupe Marian apparitions. I myself have a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe because whenever I’ve struggled with Islamism, She has been close by.

          Her presence has always indicated that particular battle.

         Guadalupe, I breathed. Guadalupe and its personal significance, coming when my family and I are praying the special Muslim fasting month Rosary. It was no coincidence. My thoughts went to Jesus’ words that touched me some weeks back, I alone know what lies beyond the bend. I thought about the way I knew those words were meant to mean something to me, and yet, I could not feel it when I first heard them. But this very day, I recalled those words once more, and this time, they stirred the depths of me.

Something lies beyond the bend, my spirit intoned.

          And a strange, quiet excitement took hold of me, even as I sensed there would be trouble of some form ahead.

          What does this mean? I pondered.

The eagle

Mexico, Guadalupe

Something lies beyond the bend

          I decided to write to a friend strong in the faith. She replied, telling me eagles were often associated with contemplation. Yet another thing I hadn’t known. I pondered that too.

Eagle. Guadalupe.

So … contemplate Guadalupe?

          Although I felt I knew pretty much all there was to know about the Guadalupe apparitions, I looked them up anyway. Imagine my utter surprise, when I came across something I didn’t remember reading before. That the native name of the poor, humble man who saw the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 1531 apparitions was Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Which meant talking eagle.

          I could sense my spirit still inside me once more. This was the path I needed to take. St Juan Diego.

          So, I went to learn about St Juan Diego, the name the humble Aztec native took upon his conversion to the faith.

          And the second surprise of the day awaited me.

          During the apparitions, when Mother Mary asked Juan Diego to take a message to the Bishop, asking for a temple to be built on the Tepeyac Hill, the simple man had hurried to obey. However, after listening to the message, he was turned away by the Bishop. Returning to the Lady, he told Her all that had happened. Reluctant to return to the bishop’s residence, he pleaded,

“I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf.”

          I must have read about those apparitions many, many times. And yet, only today, did I learn of that anguished utterance from a heart so humble.

I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf.

          Again, I turned all this over in my heart. I could sense a door open all through this discernment and that door had not yet shut, indicating I was to go on deeper. Then, I came across something.

Juan Diego had died on May 30.

          Was this Diego journey, begun yesterday, to be a 9-day novena, ending on the 30th?

          And then, I saw what else was to be celebrated on the 30th of May.

Ascension of our Lord.

          For some reason, the Eagle of Mexico has come to take my hand. I have none of his humility, none of his steadfastness of faith. I crumble easily. Although I can love deeply, patience is a virtue very much in want in me.

          But he has come. His hand I will take, his voice I will listen to.

And the message of his heart I will learn.