Month: July 2017

When There Are No Words

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          I came to the morning, to the news of two deaths – a colleague’s young husband, and baby Charlie Gard of the UK. One was expected, the other not, but both hurt.  And the passings hurt for different reasons.

          Yet, my sadness is nothing compared to the pain of the young Muslim widow who lost her husband and her best friend whom she thought was on his way to recovery after a stroke and surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. There is nothing I am feeling that can compare to the sorrow of baby Charlie’s parents who fought so hard to try to heal their baby and keep him alive. I can only stand useless by the door of grief as they henceforth carry their beloveds in their hearts and begin a painful, twisting journey far removed from the lit highway so many of us stand on.

          This is the night when prayers sit only a wee while on my heart and lips like rainpearls before they slip off the tree boughs. I cannot hold on to a single prayer rope tonight when I want so much to offer prayers for those left to mourn departed loves that had once snuggled deep in hearts. This is the night when the words to comfort a widow of 30 sound tinny and forced and empty because although I too have known the searing bitterness of loss, I have not known my colleague’s grief. I cannot even tell her I love her as one who wants to carry her Cross with her, because there are no words that recognize such a love in her faith and in the language she speaks.

          This is the night when words fail me, when nothing is worthy enough to staunch the bleeding of wounds that go far deeper than most understand, and which will soon go unseen as grief transitions from visible to hidden, yet raw.

          So, I press grief and the grieving into a heart that once knew a depth of pain beyond words, beyond anything we have ever known. In the absence of words, I press pain and love and memories into the maternal heart that saw Her only Son give up His life to a death that led to Life eternal, so that through suffering, God’s Love might live on.

          The past, the present and the future have its place in the heart the world knows as the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And it is here, in the Heart of Mary, that grief will be purified and sanctified.

          Till it is free of earthly shadows.

 

 

 

No Die

         Everybody is against us. I rejoice in this, for God will be more favorable to us. . . If we be faithful, God will not fail us.     ~     St. Paul of the Cross

 

          We are walking on fire, my family and I. It has been a bloody month, woundings that draw blood. One after another, the hits are stronger than before, relentless. If we have one happy day where the breezes twirl in joy~dance about us, then come more days when a dark wind stirs up stones against us.

          Not everybody is against us, but our camp is dwindling.

          I rejoice in this? No, I don’t. Not a bit. No part of me understands that prayer line. Who rejoices when your innocent, hardworking children are hit and torn apart by teachers for no real reason? Who rejoices when the boss who has bullied for more than twenty years, drives into us yet another dagger to tear us away from God and family? Who rejoices when our work is rent to nothing?

          I cannot rejoice. Not even for God. Because I don’t know how.

          But I do know how to bind up my loved ones’ wounds with the bandages God has provided. As I pray them not to depart the Cross, I will them to believe that even if the world sneers and discards the work of their hands, honest toil never falls unheeded to the ground, to be trampled by those who do not know better.

          No. Work from the heart, work done for Jesus is never forgotten. Wherever pure love and sacrifice is cast aside in derision, angels tread softly among the broken and the torn, picking up every little bruised head and crushed stalk, bloom after bloom. They are saved for the gardens of heavens, where they will live on.

          Ten years ago, grief winds brought the words, “…. no die.” They come before me yet again as my family pick themselves up from the ground and turn their faces to the sun once more.

          To remind me that nothing for God ever dies.

 

 

 

Jesus, Forget and Forgive

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          Right after I received the prayer, Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying, and began saying it, intermittently, I have felt this bubble up in me, unbidden, Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned. I thought it could be to warn me against spiritual pride. And to seek His mercy for my own sinfulness. Or to remind me that I have not done all I should and could for lost and dying souls.

          So, whenever the breezes brushed past my heart, I whispered, Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned. And then, I tried to go back to the prayer, Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.

          But I faintly sensed that prayer being lifted away, out of my spirit’s reach. I thought it was perhaps due to my being under the weather recently. But this morning, when I stopped by my daily prayer nook, it became clear, very clear, that I needed to pray the cleansing prayer for myself, because this was what the angel held out to my spirit:

 

Act of Contrition

Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins;

the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul,

the sins of my body, my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins,

the sins I know, the sins I do not know;

the sins I have concealed so long, and which are now hidden from my memory.

I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial,

for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.

I know my sins have wounded Thy Tender Heart, O my Savior.

Let me be freed from the bonds of evil through Thy most bitter Passion, O my Redeemer.

O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.

         

          I want to press this close, till it marks my spirit, to pray it as often as I breathe,

O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Souls at the Shore

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          It’s rare these days that I have the quiet of the morning to myself, but that is what I received today. Awakening to a still and peaceful day, I thought only of my hot morning coffee and some hours to my thoughts. When I went to greet the day, a slightly chilly breeze twirled around me and the skies were shrouded by the fleece of grey.

          Yet, deep in the eastern bosom, orange determinedly burnt the sky as the sun rose to its call.

          I understood at once that God was calling me to my garden under the awakening skies, to rest my spirit in praise.

          When I returned, I asked for my prayer that day. I sensed that the call to pray intensively for the souls of the departed was receding to make way for another, so I needed to know where my heart was to set anchor.

          In a breath, it came:

Prayer for the Faithful in their Agony
O most merciful Jesus, Lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the Sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine own blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and about to die this day.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying. 

~‘With God’ by Fr. F.X. Lasance

          I think of those suffering in unimaginable physical pain. Those in agonies hidden from the sight of the world. Those in a skip of happiness, unaware that the next hour will not be theirs.

          Who will all this day cross the shore.

 Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying. 

 

 

 

Fatima 3 ~ July 13

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          As the July date approached Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions. Finally, she confided to Jacinta that she intended not to go. When the day finally dawned, however, her fears and anxieties disappeared, so that the noon hour found her in the Cova with Jacinta and Francisco, awaiting the arrival of the beautiful Lady.

          The apparition of July 13th would prove to be in many ways the most controversial aspect of the message of Fátima, providing a secret in three parts which the children guarded zealously. The first two parts, the vision of hell and the prophecy of the future role of Russia and how to prevent it, would not be revealed until Sr. Lucia wrote them down in her third memoir, at the request of the bishop, in 1941. The third part, usually called the Third Secret, was only later communicated to the bishop, who sent it unread to Pope Pius XII.

          A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

          “Lucia,” Jacinta said, “speak. Our Lady is talking to you.”

          “Yes?” said Lucia. She spoke humbly, asking pardon for her doubts with every gesture, and to the Lady: “What do You want of me?”

          “I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”

          “Yes, yes.”

          “I would like to ask who You are, and if You will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that You have appeared to us.”

         “You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          Thus assured, Lucia began to place before the Lady the petitions for help that so many had entrusted to her. The Lady said gently that she would cure some, but others she would not cure.

          “And the crippled son of Maria da Capelinha?”

          “No, neither of his infirmity nor of his poverty would he be cured, and he must be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day.”

          Another case recommended by Lucia to the Lady’s assistance was a sick woman from Atougia who asked to be taken to heaven.

          “Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her. Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

 

First Part of the Secret – The Vision of Hell

          As Our Lady spoke these words She opened her hands once more, as had during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

 

Second Part of the Secret

          “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

          This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.

          To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins-of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal the faith will always be preserved…”

 

Third Part of the Secret – Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, “The Message of Fátima

          After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from Her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’.

          And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in white; ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.}

          “Remember, you must not tell this to anyone except Francisco.”

          “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

          “Is there anything more that You want of me?”

          “No, I do not want anything more of you today.”

          Then as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until She finally disappeared in the immense darkness of the firmament.

          The possession of the Secret proved to be very great trial for the three young ones. Family, neighbors, followers of the apparitions, even the clergy, tried unsuccessfully to get them to reveal it. Finally, as the day of the August apparition approached even the civil government, which was secular and virulently anti-clerical, alarmed by the numbers of people taking an interest in the Fátima events, attempted to wrest it from them and in the process expose the Church as a collaborator in a fraud.

 

(Taken from https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/third-apparition-of-our-lady.asp)

 

Reunion

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          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…