Lent 14 ~ Sigh of the Prisoner

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You,

with Your great power free those doomed to death. ~ Psalm 79:11

          Last year, I wrote of one of my superiors at work who has the unfortunate disposition of crushing hearts and spirits. He doesn’t do it unknowingly; he does it with cruel and calculated intent.

          I’ve been his target for the past 12 years. One day last year, he broke me finally.

          Deeply hurt, I turned to God.

          And the God I turned to turned me decidedly towards praying in mercy for this man. No retribution plea He allowed. No arm about me, no flooding of heavenly comfort into my heart either.

          The balm for my pain lay in the mercy prayer for this man’s soul.

          And so, I prayed. Of course, it didn’t come easy. Revenge can be as strong a manacle of my heart as it is for this man who hurt me. The only difference is I seldom act on it. But revenge maintained a malevolent vigil even as I forced myself to pray that this man be saved.

          I was taken through several prayers as I went from one level of healing to the next. When I first began, it was a simple yet powerful, Blood of Christ on him, Blood of Christ on me. The angels tinkled the prayer chimes every time I saw him at work. Every time he entered my thoughts. I said the prayer when my heart softened from time to time. I said it when my heart hardened in anger every time bitter memories won out.

          And after a time, I was led to the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. By this time, there was no more inner struggle to pray for him. I didn’t have to be dragged to the prayer. I said it with some dedication too.

          And whenever I slipped in my routine, God sent me dreams of the man and his power to hurt, He allowed little nips at work too – to take me scurrying back to the Cradle of Grace, seeking life for the man.

          I have read to some extent of the immense power of prayer. It can work in ways we least expect.

          Great imagination that I have, it failed me with regards to this man. Despite all my reading and experiences on the miracles prayers can obtain, I couldn’t fathom how my puny prayers this time were going to save his soul – because he barely changed. I finally reached the point where I stopped caring about where my prayers for this man were headed, and how they were going to be answered. I was called to say them, and I did.

          I placed whatever disappointment I had in the lack of signs of conversion, in Mother Mary’s heart. And while I continued to pray for him, in this way, I moved on too.

          Then, one day at Mass, through one of the readings, I heard a voice tell me that this man could not change because the dark pride in him went back a long way; his bloodlines had been contaminated from a long time before.

          I was stupefied. What did it mean? After all my effort, this??!! God let me puzzle over this for many long weeks.

          And then, a tiny bud began to bloom. An Unseen Heart gently drew me to the Prayer of the Holy Wounds. For a reason I have no explanation for, two weeks ago, I began to determinedly place this man in Jesus’ Holy Wounds. I put him and four others in Christ’s sacred Wounds, I imagined them there, deep within, and prayed for the Blood of Christ to flood them all, cleansing every bloodline, helping each one to love God more than themselves.

          Every day, I offered that same Prayer of the Holy Wounds at the start of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Each time I prayed it, the prayer became a little less about me, and more about saving him.

          Then, at the beginning of the new week, these lines of the Responsorial Psalm caught my heart ~

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.

          At any other time, reading those words would have made me immediately see myself as that Prisoner, because I have too much of mercy for myself.

          But this time, this time was different.

          The moment I saw the words, I saw my superior’s face.

          I knew then that while I only saw him as a sneak and a bully and all things negative and unpleasant before this, in God’s compassionate gaze, this man was a prisoner.

          And by extension of that, if I held on to my negative perception of my superior – however justified it was, but without the compassion of mercy and forgiveness, – then, I was being his jailer.

          Slowly, ever so slowly, the flower of comprehension began to bloom more petals. The Prayer of the Holy Wounds was as much for me as it was for that unfortunate man.  Christ’s Sacred Wounds had freed me from being the jailer of this soul. 

          And I now know with a deep certainty that my Jesus’ Wounds will now free this man’s soul.

          As often, as deeply  and as selflessly as I continue to place this man into the Holy Wounds, this prisoner will be freed to begin to seek the only God there is.

          And the conversion will begin.

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