It was a night of patchy sleep due to an irritating cough, but it was well worth the morning I awakened to. Happy sunshine rays warmed and dappled the lawn and teased the windows with its allure. Frisky breezes danced through boughs and leaves, teasing and tickling. It felt like a morning party of the most joyful kind. Even the skies were in a dance, windbrooms sweeping cloud puff after cloud puff to one harbor of joy after another.
I paused my morning sweeping to sit awhile and to rest my spirit in the blue~gold beauty of that happy morning. I thought I should pray a bit, but sensed the prayer called for was not of words, but of the spirit. So, I let go of the words, and sank my spirit into the spill of gold and green before me.
However, my thoughts immediately returned to those who might not be able to partake of this spiritual feast – the Holy Souls of Purgatory.
Last week, my confessor had hurriedly informed me that he was about to depart on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montligeon, France – the centre of prayer for the departed. I had never in my life heard of it, but I thrilled to it, as praying for the Poor Souls is a personal calling. The priest then said he needed all the prayers he could get, and I was determined to give him all I could. I figured a St Joseph prayer – for strength, protection, wisdom and discernment.
Just then, a little prayer invoking the aid of the Holy Souls popped up on my laptop screen. It was a tender, little prayer – again, one I had never heard of – and it fell straight into my heart like a tiny rosebud. I wanted to write it out in the little prayer book I have, but I tarried, and unfortunately, the screen closed. Try as I did, I failed to retrieve the little gem. Not a single word of it had lodged in my memory either.
I was very disappointed in myself. How could I have done this? Then, I reasoned: if it was meant to be, it’d come back.
It never came back. That prayer was like the smallest bud. It had caught the sight of my heart, but when I reached out for it, it misted over. Yet, its essence stayed with me – seek the aid of the departed.
The next day brought grey news that we had lost a loved one.
Suddenly, the Holy Souls was no longer a wan, little light seeking my heart in my busyness. With Father’s pilgrimage and the death in the family, they were very much before me now.
All through the wake and the funeral Mass, we family members prayed together and raised incense of heart~offerings. Everything proceeded smoothly. I did not get the sense that our prayers were blocked.
Yet, there remained a distinctive mist over the prayers. It was as if I could ‘see’ the prayers going on their journey, and then, for some reason, a mist rose up to block my view of the rest of its journey. I wasn’t too sure what was going on, but I sensed something was about to change or to be revealed.
Yesterday, in the quiet hours of night peace, a little door opened, and an unseen heart placed before me a novena I have never before heard of: The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory by St Margaret Mary Alacoque. The minute I heard its name, I knew it was no random passing prayer.
It was willed for me and it was willed for the now. The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory encapsulated both entreaty for heavenly mercy upon the departed, as well as invocation of their assistance. It would work for Father on his pilgrimage, as well as for all the departed.
Then, I thought of that little rose of a prayer. The one that came and disappeared. The little pink light that fell upon my heart to awaken it from its slumber; its work done, slipped past my reach.
And suddenly, I knew who had brought it: Love. Love had come, asking me to love the departed with a deeper intensity. Reminding me that every prayer we pray for those precious Souls reduces the separation between them and the Joy of Heaven; that every time we forget ourselves for them, we take the Souls closer to heavenly Reunion – the yearning of each one of us.
Why have they come now, and as strongly, I wonder? Why the ‘confluence of events’ ? Three bright stars ~ the pilgrimage, the passing and the prayer – coming together and appearing in the skies of my spirit now.
Almost two years ago, on the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi’s death, October 3rd, I had dreamt of a time that is coming. A time of two overlapping contrasts. One of raucous, prideful and sneering celebration of emptiness – a sprawler’s revelry – juxtaposed against another – a time of gathering darkness, of deepening silence.
And of a seeing. It was the time of a miracle enabled by the lifting of veils. The miracle of seeing clearly and in the flesh – some who have passed on before us.
In the dream, there was a marker – a significant event – personal to me, indicative of the time. Almost two years ago, it didn’t make much sense.
But just recently, that personal event came to pass. What I had deemed inconceivable before actually became a (sad) reality. Wholly unexpected. Triggering a revelry like never before – exactly as in my dream.
In the dream too, the celebration continued into the gathering veils of the night, its light of glitz and pomp mocking some of my family and some strangers too, who had gathered together. The revelry taunted us for being in the shadows, for being left out of the ‘light’.
There we stood, family and strangers, banded together in the dark, in a stone house filled with light, yet, awaiting a further darkness. There was no fear in the hearts of the gathered. There was compassion for one another, and a distinct absence of self-seeking. Even as we cared for one another, our eyes remained trained on what lay beyond the hills, the approaching darkness. It came to me that as we cared for one another with no self-seeking, we seemed to have an alertness to a shifting in the distance.
But it was an awareness lost on the revelers. Because they were too full of themselves, and there was little space for anything else.
When the dark got closer, I went out to call in the children, in the deeps of happy, innocent play, unperturbed by anything.
It was then that I saw those who had long ago left this earthly life. They were not standing apart, in the watchful silence I would expect from past experiences with the Holy Souls.
In that dream, I saw the departed very much a part of our life and joys. They were alive! There was no chasm between me and them. I could touch them, hug them, even speak to them! They were as warm and as alive as before. Likewise, they could converse with me, live in my home. They were one of us – just as before!
All my life, I understood that a reunion with the departed could only take place on our last day, when we had unloosed the final moorings that held us to this early life – through death.
But the dream showed something else. A totally unexpected reality that may come to pass. I am no prophet. My dream is not a biblical truth that must be written on hearts and looked out for.
But without ascribing my interpretations to it, this dream, brought by St Francis of Assisi, a saint who only appears to me when he wants me to quieten down, listen up, is a dream I know I need to pay attention to.
Because the dream points to a reunion promised to me ten sad years ago through the words, I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you…. he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever…