Month: May 2018

Fire

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          I had become aware that I had been mentally and emotionally feeling the heat of a burning for the past two weeks. The fire of loss of a (destructive) friendship I have come to cherish (unfortunately). The fire of loss of hope in the workplace environment. And a few other little  fires burning here and there on the landscape of my spirit.

          I lamented these fires, sought heaven’s help to put them out. These were almost all old fires, and I had wearied of them. Most of all, I was tired of being who I was, someone in a near constant burn, always burning up in secret over something.

          And when I finally fell at God’s feet for mercy, asking for the respite of Joy for my burning, He told me,

Rise!

          A day later, when I had quietened myself somewhat, He continued,

Arise!  Shine!

          I saw it as a call to obedience, as a call to work. So, with the help of dear~heart friends who answered the Spirit’s summons to help me understand, I tried the live the new hours differently. I did not seek joy although I burned for it; instead, I sought His will in loving and caring for my family. I sought His will at my workplace in willfully searching out silence. Because in all of these abodes of quietness and simplicity and silence, lay the call to obedience, from which joy would flow.

          If I could just hold on long enough, that is.

          So, I took myself back to the vineyard again. But instead of the inner assurance I thought would come, I sensed that my spirit doors remained open.

          Late, late at night, when the moon~scented hours seemed to have nothing more for me, unseen hands turned my eyes towards a piercing teaching about Fire.

          “A Father of the Church, Origen, in one of his Homilies on Jeremiah, cites a saying attributed to Jesus, not contained in the sacred Scriptures but perhaps authentic, which reads: “Whoever is near to me, is near to the fire” (Homily on Jeremiah, L. I [III]). In Christ, in fact, there is the fullness of God, who in the Bible is compared to fire. We just observed that the flame of the Holy Spirit blazes but does not burn. And nevertheless it enacts a transformation, and thus must also consume something in man, the waste that corrupts him and hinders his relations with God and neighbour.

          This effect of the divine fire, however, frightens us; we are afraid of being “scorched” and prefer to stay just as we are. This is because our life is often based on the logic of having, of possessing and not the logic of self-gift. Many people believe in God and admire the person of Jesus Christ, but when they are asked to lose something of themselves, then they retreat; they are afraid of the demands of faith. There is the fear of giving up something pleasant to which we are attached; the fear that following Christ deprives us of freedom, of certain experiences, of a part of ourselves.

          On the one hand, we want to be with Jesus, follow him closely, and, on the other, we are afraid of the consequences entailed.

          Dear brothers and sisters, we are always in need of hearing the Lord Jesus tell us what He often repeated to His friends: “Be not afraid”. Like Simon Peter and the others we must allow His presence and His grace to transform our heart, which is always subject to human weakness. We must know how to recognize that losing something indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and of life is actually gaining ourselves, finding ourselves more fully.

          Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus already experiences in this life the peace and joy of heart that the world cannot give, and that it cannot even take away once God has given it to us.

          So it is worthwhile to let ourselves be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit! The suffering that it causes us is necessary for our transformation. It is the reality of the Cross. It is not without reason that in the language of Jesus, “fire” is above all a representation of the mystery of the Cross, without which Christianity does not exist.

          Thus enlightened and comforted by these words of life, let us lift up our invocation: Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of Your love! We know that this is a bold prayer, with which we ask to be touched by God’s flame; but above all we know that this Flame and It alone has the power to save us.

          We do not want, in defending our life, to lose eternal life that God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems. Amen.”   ~   Pope Benedict XVI

 

          Like so many, I too wanted to be enveloped by the miracle and joy of Pentecost. Pentecost was fire, yes, but for me it meant the fire of inner light and jump and spring, the fire-power of special wisdom and vigour that I needed so badly to carry my Crosses.

          Not once did I associate it with a hidden burning away of my old self.

          In the dark of the quiet hours, I finally understood the fire I was sensing.

 

 

 

 

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Arise! Shine!

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Arise! Shine, for your light has come,

the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you.

Though darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds, the peoples,

Upon you the LORD will dawn,

and over you His glory will be seen.

Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you—

Your sons from afar,

your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

The vessels of the coastlands are gathering,

with the ships of Tarshish in the lead,

To bring your children from afar   ~   Isaiah 60: 1-2, 4, 9

 

For Ireland.

 

 

 

 

Rise

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          I’ve always wondered, if I could be pierced so deeply by the slightest hurts, why could I not be struck as deeply by the beauty of the world around me? Why am I primed to react so to woundings, but not to the loveliness gifted by a Father who Loves? How can a spirit so sensitive to nicks and cuts not rise in ecstasy to the pearling of dawn, the song of winds and the glory of blooms?

          What is holding me back? Why am I not the child I once was?

          Where has this child gone?

          On his birthday yesterday, my spiritual father, St. Pio, reached out to me through another’s words,

… so many killjoys, afraid to enjoy today for fear of what tomorrow will bring… don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us… (Anne of Windy Willows by Lucy Maud Montgomery)

          Fear. Slavery. Those were the reverberations of the past weeks. Although I’ve come a distance from my past, I’ve not forgotten the lessons of fear a child should never have been taught.

          A huge storm cloud rises in the east. It rolls up upon us and breaks its grey breast in a wild torrent. Gone is the blue~gold glory the dawn sun promised. In its place queens rich greens, freshened by the weeping rains. Yet, no mourning dirge sounds for what has passed. No mourning is needed – for this is what life is. Each hour brings us its own surprises. In staying my glance too long on the years that have passed and fearing what the coming may bring, I risk losing the present hour’s gifts. 

          Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring us. Could I learn to be this way once more – like a child again? Is this what God wants of me? I want to be sure, I want God to tell me. I ask Him again, I want to hear Him speak to me.

          Softly, a mist forms and breathes its word upon my spirit.

Rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bride’s Ring

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          The hour of sacrifice has struck.

          You already feel that it is not a small thing to aspire to the dignity of being the bride of the Crucified. Already He is associating you with His sufferings and ignominies. Herod treated Him, Eternal Wisdom, as a fool; Pilate treated Him as a seducer, the people preferred Barabbas to Him.

          And you, who aspire to very close union with Him, are beginning to be scorned and misunderstood by this world which would have surrounded you with adulation if you had chosen to smile upon it.

          Take courage, my child, these are certain signs that our Lord wishes to unite you very closely to Himself and to associate you with the works which He does for His Father’s glory.    ~   Blessed Columba Marmion

 

          It is a gentle comfort to read these words today. It has been days and hours of burning struggle to do what is right, what is so hard to do – to not lie in order to appease a bully. And when the struggle to obey is overcome, the reward is not peace, but yet another layer of suffering. 

          This is not the reward I long for. Having suffered through a battle, I do not wish for the reward of more suffering. My mortal woundedness only anticipates the reward of tangible good things. In my sinful state, even the Crown of Glory pales in comparison to the lure of immediate relief from pain.

          And yet, often, this is God’s way – suffering upon suffering. It may not be what we want, certainly not what anyone wishes for.

          But suffering is the ring the bride of the Crucified must wear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Not

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Make it your rule never knowingly to say what is not strictly true.   ~   St. Francis de Sales

 

          A struggle from yesterday. And yet it is not a new one. It is a struggle I’ve known since my earliest memory. It is not the struggle against deceitful lying. It is the struggle of every adult survivor of narcissistic personality disorder abuse.

          It is the struggle against saying words and offering gestures that do not come from the heart, but uttered and done only to placate and appease.

          Words and gestures rooted in fear of an oppressor.

          Although this old fear has not made a captive of me yet, I can already sense its shadows inching closer. This time, it’s changed tactics. It is attacking me through one of my children. My child is being bullied by the daughter of a bully at my workplace.

          It is indeed no joke when they say the apple does not fall far from its tree!

          I gently but firmly counsel my daughter to put her heart in Christ’s. To resist fear and to step away from the shadows of a narcissist. As she obeys and struggles, as a mother, I want to further protect her.

          I want to appease the bully-mother – in the hopes that my child would be left alone. But knowing it is wrong, that it in itself will be the beginning of another hell, I resist.

          And yet, I struggle against this, because I see my child hurting and I want it to stop.

          Late in the evening yesterday, as the moans of the winds crested the hills, a blue kingfisher perched awhile on a fir branch. I’ve seen kingfishers everywhere around our property, but never on the firs. This one stayed there long enough for me to note its presence and to know in my heart that it was a sign.

          To ask a silent, Why? because whenever the kingfisher catches my heart, I know it is St. Francis of Assisi’s call to me to Quieten Down, Listen Up.

           I have my answer today – from another St. Francis.

Make it your rule never knowingly to say what is not strictly true.

          I understand his words. Do not lie to put the Beast at ease.

 

 

 

 

Time for Silence

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          I’ve lived a lifetime this week. Of worry, agitation, jittery hopes. A world where the winds changed course every hour. Of journeying through successive portals of hope, despair, jubilance. Every soul on this same journey traced similar routes of uncertainty as the angels fought for Freedom for us.

         Then, through a weave of unexpected twists and turns, guided by the Light of Prayer and Miracles, the sun finally broke through the clouds.

          And joy raised its gold swell in hearts. Suddenly, everyone had news and thoughts and analyses and jokes. In this massive cavalry of citizens long suppressed and oppressed, we were brothers and brothers shared everything.

          Every happening. Every video. Every thought, tale and snigger.

          We were brothers and brothers supported each other in everything. No one turned off their phones nor their tv’s. We gave ear and eye to every morsel that spoke of hope and freedom. 

          Never mind that it took our rest, our sleep;  no one turned their faces away from the other. When I finally went to bed in the wee hours, it was with jubilance and excitement at further developments in this newly won freedom.

          Yet, awakening scant hours later, it was the refrain, The sound of silence, that garlanded my hearing.

          But the hours I had risen to were those of deeper excitement, intrigue and giddy happiness. They were definitely not of stillness and silence. And so, I sailed on, buoyed by those rejoicing waves.

          The sound of silence played on undeterred.

          It was after one in the morning the next day that the angel held my face and turned it away from the noise till I gazed into his eyes.

Flee to the hills.

Seek silence, he wrote on my heart.