Month: February 2016

LENT 17 -Novena of the Holy Spirit

Novena Of The Holy Spirit
by St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother’s hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!

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Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son’s heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!

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Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge’s throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
Mercifully relentlessly
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
Your action,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!

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Are you the spirit’s fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God’s eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgment ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!

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Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God’s molding hand!

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Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty’s throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!

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Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
The harmony,
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!

 

LENT 16 ~ Manna for the Soul

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          During my years in the cell, I was told by the keeper of the keys that spiritual reading was important – to know the mind of God.

          But to know the mind of God – in order to gain the respect and admiration of all.

          That motivation didn’t go very far with me because I hated the attention that came with being on any pedestal. But to resist and question would have been to invite trouble, so I acquiesced when asked to read.

          Being young and having no access to money, I read whatever was chosen for me. Reading should have brought a knife of illumination for me, but it didn’t – because, not only was I denied a say in the choice of reading material, I was also never given the books to be read from cover to cover; important bits from selected books were excerpted by my keeper, typed out with personal clarification notes, and added to other excerpts, from other books, to form a collage of truths on a given topic.

          So, I never really read a book in its entirety. I was given a heavily excerpted and edited version under the excuse that I lacked the intelligence to understand matters of the Lord unaided. It should have worked out just fine to read a summarized and simplified version better suited to my limited cognitive abilities, but it didn’t. I remained in that dank cell. Heaven was not opened to me because what I read was distorted  through manipulation.

          The work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten and edify was pre-empted through the controlling and censoring of reading material. By the barring of the Spirit, I was jailed too.

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          Today, I am no longer where I once was. I am free to read, to question and to ponder. I am encouraged by a strong and loving husband to seek the truth through spiritual reading. But he has never once endeavored to take the place of the Spirit – to force my enlightenment towards a path that leads back to him. He has steered clear of being the gatekeeper to my own soul.

          It is this freedom that I now know, that allows me to seek God through the means denied to me before. It is a seeking blessed and nourished by the Spirit. I do not always understand all I read. Often, I have doubted and prematurely rejected goldpearls of truth. But all this makes up the essence of any true journey undertaken in absolute spiritual freedom.

When you immerse your mind and heart in spiritual books, you will always be filled, for spiritual reading gives you a foundation in God ~ St John Chrysostom

 

Read some chapter of a devout book….It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read. ~ St. Vincent de Paul

 

          And read, we must, in order to be free. To never be jailed by human will. Spiritual reading directed by the Spirit always leads to a true knowing of God and His ways. Read in joy, certainly, but read when in sorrow and fear too, because it is what keeps the Light shining in our spirits even in the midst of storms.

          As we feed our bodies, so must we, with greater diligence, feed our souls with Manna from our Saviour’s hands.

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LENT 15 ~ STAY THE COURSE

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          Years of toil that have yielded little. The giving of almost entire lives only to receive indifference and contempt. Praying all the right prayers, thinking  we’ve obeyed all the Spirit’s prompts.

          And yet, it’s the endless expanse of sunburnt sands that stretches before us.

          Our spirits falter, and we sink defeated. It becomes a struggle to set one foot in front of the other to continue a journey suddenly emptied of meaning and purpose.

          And yet go on we must, with a courage we might not have, in possession of a hope rendered more and more barren by the day, by the casting out of a net that repeatedly returns empty. And why must we persevere? Because…

There is no such thing as an empty net but sometimes God puts the fish on hold for a good reason…~ Carlos Caso-Rosendi, The Call

Fish on hold.

          Some hold that our why?  to that is, perhaps, our greatest undoing, because our questioning of delays sometimes leads to a darker despair. But true faith does not come from a slumbering obedience either; it comes from an active pondering, a sincere and earnest seeking to know His will. Questioning to understand the Divine Will is not wrong; seeking to undermine it, is.

          Hence, when hopes are long in coming true, when every good comes undone, and the desert of despair looms closer, may we seek His counsel, plead for it, even. And if His answer is silence, may we continue to beseech heaven, but for the armour of hope and strength to keep the faith, even as we are buffeted by confusion, distraction and delusion.

Tribulation is a gift from God – one that he especially gives His special friends – St. Thomas More

          Every hill and valley along our journey must be traversed, for each has its place in the journey towards His Coming. We must stay the course, all through the barren wilderness, pressed upon by doubt and fear, because the harbor of respite is just beyond the bend.

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LENT 14 ~ The Press of Water

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Photo credit ~ James Fahy

          The week before Lent began, I had a dream about a coming water. A violent rush of taint and filth. People in another part of the town heard of its impending arrival, and they made haste to flee. Flee , they told me too. But I refused.

          For hours later, I pondered the dream. Dismiss or delve deeper? I sought the counsel of the Discerner of Dreams, St Joseph.

Then, it came :

PREPARE

 A week later, after night Rosary, a deepening of meaning :

A coming cleansing to pave the way for a Promised Land on earth.

          Some days into Lent, came the call to immerse lost and dying souls into the waters of Lourdes, and later I was given to understand that the waters of Lourdes were the Tears of the Holy Mother.

A pretty deep press of water into my soul this Lent thus far. Then, they knitted together:

Prepare for a coming cleansing by immersing lost and dying souls in the Tears of the Heavenly Mother.

LENT 13 ~ Be Patient In Humiliations

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          Yesterday was the day for me to burn in someone’s fire. I was asked to bow before someone and to submit to a will not mine and certainly not the Lord’s. Having lived most of my life in that exact same position, and only recently finding the courage not to, I wasn’t about to make another huge knot  that Mother Mary would have to undo all over again.

          So, I silently refused to step into the circle of human homage. And that unleashed the flames on me.

          I suffered in the tirade of thwarted intentions. Over and over, the flames leapt for me. I sat in the heart of it, unable to escape the line of fire. Any prayer thought was snatched away by the relentless flames.

          But by the waning rays of sunset, another, more unfortunate, fire had started in my beleaguered heart. I began to be consumed by fury at the injustice meted out to me. I made some weak stabs at prayer, but a more concerted effort went into planning fire darts to avenge this wrong to me.

          By nightfall, however, I had begun to weary. The anger raged as strong as ever, but this time, my soul fought back, refusing to bend in submission to this sin on my part. It raised a different tempest within me – the tempest of awareness. That tempest took away peace to teach me the consequences of my sin.

          I found that I could bear the searing pain of someone’s fire, but not the loss of peace in my soul. 

          So, I turned my heart determinedly to prayer. One after another, I called at all the harbours I knew, every prayer and bible verse, begging for respite from the storm. I know that no prayer is ever wasted, but I didn’t feel the soothing balm of comfort I sought. Restless and anxious, I learned anew then, the lesson learned over and over by wilful souls – everything in His time, not  ours.

          I ploughed on, nevertheless.

          It was then that I recalled my father, Padre Pio. I thought of his anger, how different it had been from mine. But he had known anger, understood the familiarity of struggling against it. He would know what help I needed to extinguish its wounding flames.

St Pio, help me, St Pio help me, St Pio help me.

          By the closing of the night’s Rosary, the winds died down. But in unfortunate possession of a nature that can seethe on demand, I remained suspicious of the calm.

          Awakening in the morning, these words came, brought on the dew wet breath of dawn ~

Be  patient  in  humiliations.

          Not trials. Not challenges. Not difficulties. But – humiliations. That alone pointed to the heavenly origins of the counsel, because the seed of the firestorm of which I was a victim was the very humiliating  public scourging I was receiving for daring to break ranks, and to stand apart and alone for my faith and principles.

Be  patient  in  humiliations.  Love from the heart of heaven for the storm in mine.

          I pick up my cross again, but this time, with a gentled spirit and a renewed strength.

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LENT 12 ~ When Grace Is Misted

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          For many long grey years, I played to the bidding of a person who loved herself to the point of excluding God. I lived in troubled compliance in her world, and she lived gleefully in mine. Marionette and puppeteer.

          My mistress stood sentry between God and I. She proclaimed herself the doorway to Christ, except that a walk through her portal never led to God. Through a serpentine meandering in endless false lights and upheavals, it always led back to her.

          One day, an angel came to my soul, bearing a gift ribboned in the purple of sorrow. Opening my door to the angel’s weeping, I learned a grief known to many others. My jealous mistress tugged hard on the strings, to jerk my gaze back to her. But my mourning became a powerful grace. It was the sword which the angel wielded to keep her beyond the gate, where her shadow fell too far to mark me. 

          And by grace too, my tears were transformed into dew lights and vessels, which illuminated and carried me along the waters of seeking to make sense of this sorrow. Had grace been absent from my grieving, I would have rapidly been lost in the pit of self-pity.

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          It was the first of journeys I navigated unfettered. For the very first time, I was journeying on my own, towards the true God, through the portal of grace that did not seem at all like graces should – all bright and iridescent with shimmering hope.

          All who knew of my pain, even I, only saw my Cross, not the grace, for the sorrow given to me was a veiled grace. The pain was the gift of heavenly luminescence meant to guide my soul to God. But the luminescence was hidden from curious minds to protect me from confusion that can arise from too many onlooker-interpretations.

          This grace did not come with the expected joy-glitter of a thousand diamonds. Hence it was long years before my spirit was ready to see it for what it was.

          And that is how grace often is. Seldom clearly discernible. Often misted over. Veiled. Hidden within the Cross.

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LENT 11 ~ Befriending the Wolf

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          There is a path that has been carved out for me by angels who do the bidding of our Heavenly Father. It is a wind of road set into the weave of my life. It is not an easy one, but it is the only path for me.

          Sadly, there are a number of things that take me off the set course. Pride is one of them.

          In my life, pride is simply when I think God got it all wrong, and it’s my place to point out to Him alternative, easier, road for me.

It should have been this way, Lord…

          Pride is also when I seek to assume I know the mind of God although I’ve done little or nothing to understand God in the first place. When He has told me to forgive, and I cannot, instead of going back to Him to understand the whys and the hows, I surmise that if it’s so tough to forgive, then it’s got to be the wrong path to take. God, You don’t understand….

          Pride is when little time has been invested in humble prayer and devotions because I have failed to realize that the fundamental purpose of prayer and devotion is to learn the mind of God. Not bully heaven into obeying my will.

          Pride controls me when I’ve been tardy in my religious practices, cutting myself too much slack, being overly gentle on myself, and not seeing this weakness as symptomatic of an insidious underlying lack of faith in God.

          Pride is my master when I have arrived at moral conclusions without the right religious basis to back them – because I simply don’t know what God’s Commandments are, I don’t understand them or what they call me to.

          Pride is when I seek to play God, although my own respect for Godly authority is suspect. Or worse – in tatters.

          It turns deadly when I direct the spiritual journey of others despite being spiritually malnourished myself. If I think I can feed others when I myself do not know which are the streams of Living Water.

          Directed and blinded by pride, I might stray into the wolf’s lair unaided by heavenly insight. Emboldened by pride in myself, I might seek, ostensibly, to secure the enemy, fully confident of my own wisdom, but slowly, unknowingly, gentle towards the wolf, and ultimately, lose myself in its embrace.

         

 

 

 

LENT 10 ~ COME HOME

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COME HOME! COME HOME!

By Ellen M. H. Gates

Come home! come home!
You are weary at heart,
For the way has been dark,
And so lonely and wild.
O prodigal child!
Come home! oh come home!

2. Come home! come home!
For we watch and we wait,
And we stand at the gate,
While the shadows are piled.
O prodigal child!
Come home! oh come home!

3. Come home! come home!
From the sorrow and blame,
From the sin and the shame,
And the tempter that smiled,
O prodigal child!
Come home! oh come home!

4. Come home! come home!
There is bread and to spare,
And a warm welcome there,
Then, to friends reconciled,
O prodigal child!
Come home! oh come home!

LENT 9 ~ HE

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He can turn the tides
And calm the angry sea.
He alone decides
Who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star
That makes our darkness bright.
He keeps watch all through
Each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time
To hear a child’s first prayer.
Saint or sinner call
And always find Him there.

Refrain:
Though it makes him sad
To see the way we live,
He’ll always say, “I forgive.”

2. He can grant a wish
Or make a dream come true.
He can paint the clouds
And turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where
To find the rainbow’s end.
He alone can see
What lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree
And turn the leaves to gold.
He knows every lie
That you and I have told.

LENT 8 ~ Repose In Me

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12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  (Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14)

 

NOVENA OF SURRENDER

Day 1

Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to Me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to Me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 2
 
Surrender to Me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to Me a worried prayer asking Me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in My care, so that only I act, saying “You take care of it”.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 3

How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and material need, turns to me, looks at Me and says to Me; “You take care of it”, then closes its eyes and rests. In pain you pray for Me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to Me, instead, you want Me to adapt your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to.

So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the our Father:

“Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in My need. “Thy kingdom come”, that is, let all that is in us and in the world be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”, that is, in our need, decide as you see fit for our temporal and eternal life. If you say to Me truly: “Thy will be done”, which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”, I will intervene with all My omnipotence, and I will resolve the most difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 4

You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry. Close your eyes and say to Me with faith: “Thy will be done, You take care of it”. I say to you that I will take care of it, and that I will intervene as does a doctor and I will accomplish miracles when they are needed. Do you see that the sick person is getting worse? Do not be upset, but close your eyes and say “You take care of it”. I say to you that I will take care of it, and that there is no medicine more powerful than My loving intervention. By My love, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 5

And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in My arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 6

You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, direct everything and see to everything and you surrender to human strength, or worse – to men themselves, trusting in their intervention, – this is what hinders My words and My views. Oh how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you; and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you from my protection and to throw you into the jaws of human initiative. So, trust only in Me, rest in Me, surrender to Me in everything.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 7

I perform miracles in proportion to your full surrender to Me and to your not thinking of yourselves. I sow treasure troves of graces when you are in the deepest poverty. No person of reason, no thinker, has ever performed miracles, not even among the saints. He does divine works whosoever surrenders to God. So don’t think about it any more, because your mind is acute and for you it is very hard to see evil and to trust in Me and to not think of yourself. Do this for all your needs, do this all of you and you will see great continual silent miracles. I will take care of things, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 8

Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of My grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would from temptation. Repose in Me, believing in My goodness, and I promise you by My love that if you say “You take care of it” I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and guide you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 9

Pray always in readiness to surrender, and you will receive from it great peace and great rewards, even when I confer on you the grace of immolation, of repentance and of love. Then what does suffering matter? It seems impossible to you? Close your eyes and say with all your soul, “Jesus, you take care of it”. Do not be afraid, I will take care of things and you will bless My name by humbling yourself. A thousand prayers cannot equal one single act of surrender, remember this well. There is no novena more effective than this.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Mother, I am Yours now and forever.
Through You and with You
I always want to belong
completely to Jesus.