Month: September 2018

Songs for the Heart


          Ironically, it was my mother who first taught me the early gold of thankfulness. I don’t know if she had read about it in some Christian literature. Or if those little occasions when she gave thanks were actually spin-offs from a bigger event. Nonetheless, it was my mum who steered me towards thanksgiving for the bright sunshine, the cheery windbrooms of a sunny morn, the sedate beauty of freshly mown lawns and happy flowers in the wind. Very sadly, thankfulness for the little things in life didn’t roost long in my mother’s heart. With her, it always had to be a seismic upheaval to warrant thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, quickly, the littles lost their allure for her.

          But I will forever be grateful to my mum for being the first to sow in me the seed of thanking God for littles.

          While it is a lesson that has stayed with me for many years now, God often deepens that lesson. Some years ago, a blogger friend taught me to begin the morning with praise and thanksgiving for the beauty of Nature. His words caught my spirit and I’ve followed that advice as faithfully as I can; the mornings when I don’t, well, I can tell the difference.

          This thanksgiving for the little and great gifts God keeps hidden in the wraps of Nature is for me the seed that grows into a tree. It is this type of thanksgiving that opens my heart to be thankful for all the other blessings I would otherwise take for granted – family, work,  health, life itself – no matter how rough and rugged the terrain. But when I get so caught up in the gnarled roots of my every days and the songs of my feathered friends and the serenity of little blooms gently bestirred by soft winds barely touch me, then my day inevitably falls among weeds.

          The same happens when in impatience I toss aside the little things to be thankful for, keeping my eyes trained for bigger ships, gigantic and the earth-shattering, as Ellen Fassbender says in Saturday Smiles. When I discount the power of littles, my thanks for the earth-moving events that may come are hollow and tinny.

          They yield no life. Nothing from them live long enough.

          The other lesson I learn and re-learn is that I have to make the effort at being thankful and grateful. Life does not always put its beauty on easy display. Often, especially when the seas churn, the signposts to thankfulness go into hiding it seems. We see nothing except for the waves – unless we willfully go in search of songs for our heart. Some time back, a biologist warned to beware the time when the birds fall silent, for it will mean that a place has died.

          I have never forgotten those words and today, they sound a slightly different  caution to me. That when my heart no longer sings the notes of true thanksgiving, my spirit will cease to live.








Follow Me


          Thunder rumbles from the grey breast of a huge, roll cloud lying low in the darkening west. The day is almost at its end. With the promise of heavy rain due soon, it is a fitting close to the week, for I so love rain and a wee storm on a Friday.

          More so when it marks the closing of the 40.

Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.   1 Kings 19: 4 – 8

          It has been 40 days since it came strong that this too must be my journey, 40 days and 40 nights to the mountain of God, accompanied by St. Padre Pio, my spiritual father, and St. Michael the Archangel. If I’ve discerned the 40 correctly, then, today, I should be at the mountain. 

          At the foothills? The peak? Somewhere in between?

          I don’t know.

          Or still a long way off? I wouldn’t discount that, I’ve been wrong about a lot of things a lot of times.

          But it has been a huge journey, at least to me, marked by the ridges and canyons of struggles, old and new.

          And yet, I say this too – as much as I’ve felt the waves hit and pound at me, I’ve also felt the gentle embrace of warm sea~swirls, lovingly assuring me that I was not alone. The 40 has passed quickly, smoothly, and with a strange decidedness. As if Someone was ahead of me, turning the pages, knowing when to turn them. In many of my previous bouts of struggle, there’s always been confusion. Doing and undoing, back and forth. But not this time. No matter how deep the frustration or anger on the journey this time, it was always clear to my heart, if not to my mind, what I needed to do to put one foot forward and to move on to the next point. And for all the knots of struggles and difficulties, the peace has been undeniable. Every day, worn out and frustrated from work issues, even angry with God on some days, I’ve come home to my husband and children, and somehow, found  renewed strength and will to care for them. Not every day was great. But it all worked out each day, no matter how hard the gone hours had been.

          And I know that I had nothing to do with it.

          My prayers and whatever obedience I could squeeze out of my willfulness, took me some distance, but the serenity I experienced despite the hurts, the bursts of life, courage and exuberance to work and work and work – none of it was mine.

          It came from somewhere else. A power from a Love and a Wisdom so deep and firm, that no human can ever lay claim to.

          A power that guided me to the seas of deeper freedom.

          Where do I go from here? I had wondered aloud to beautiful soul who had journeyed the 40 with me.

          That very night, someone passed by my window of waiting. He stepped quietly, his movements quick, economical. He left me a little package and swiftly took leave. He didn’t wait for me to recognize him.

          He was St. John of the Cross, Father of the Carmelites, to whom five years ago, Our Lady of La Salette had passed the mantle of responsibility to lead me to the Light of freedom, away from the shadows of a narcissist’s abuse. I learned of his enduring love for me, as he stayed by my ear for weeks and weeks, untiringly calling out, Seek counsel, Seek counsel, Seek counsel.

          When I finally bent my ear to him, he led me to a priest – incidentally, one promised to the Carmelites. And my children were saved. My marriage was saved. 

          My very life was saved. St. John had snatched me away from the jaws of death and lifelong sorrow and anguish.

          He has returned now, on this final day of the 40, in his customary quietness, to invite me to follow him for the 9 remaining days of September. When I first read his note, even more so when I looked at the contents of the package he had left at the doorstep of discernment, I wasn’t sure. The Novena to St. John of the Cross is a hard novena to pray from the heart, for it will take me into the deepest silence of amare nesciri – to love to be unknown. To eschew all and everything for the Heart of God.

          But St. John didn’t tug me to him as he did before. He didn’t linger to hear my answer.

          He didn’t have to, I guess. He knew what it would be. 

Anthem of La Salette


          About two weeks ago, an old bell began to chime. It was the bell of La Salette. It chimed so often that I went back to the 1846 apparition. Once more, I read the messages of a weeping Our Lady to the little shepherds. I read of the later controversies too.

          But for some reason, Her messages did not sink into my heart as deeply as I expected them too. I was looking for a sign, maybe a prayer direction through them since the apparition had returned so insistently to me, but the bloom  seemed to close up on itself.

          Yet, La Salette took up vigil in my mind. I finally felt that what was standing out more for me was the date of the feast – 19th of September.

          And I was right.

          The 19th of this month brought some news for my country.

          This same day, if I discerned rightly, I think a whisper was also laid on my heart regarding someone else in my working life – of a possible coming development. It is also a test if I will merely sit back and wait for it happen. Or will I pray in charity for that soul – in order to be freed myself.

          The chord that links all is – Freedom. Because that is the significance of La Salette to me. Our Lady of La Salette first came to me in 2013. She brought the key to my jail and She released me to a life I had never before known.

          Seven years later, the 19th hears the anthem of freedom resound once more.












Divine Impressions


I do not tell you to pray in my way, but in that of God. Leave your soul at liberty to receive the divine impressions according to God’s pleasure. We should pray according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit.   ~   St. Paul of the Cross


          A grey veil has settled over the shy sun, promising rain for the later hours. Above me, the windchimes sullenly stir in the elfin breezes. Close by, too close, someone is mowing his lawn with a very noisy machine, shattering the morning peace into a hundred pieces.

         This is not a day when my heart can see a prayer.

          St. Paul of the Cross must have known, which is why he came early to tell me,

Leave your soul at liberty to receive the divine impressions according to God’s pleasure. We should pray according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit.

          I am not happy with his words, but there’s nothing to be done. I am not the author of this day. And so I trundle off to my usual grottos.

          It is at the Daily Readings that with a start I realise it’s the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Reading the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, my mind pauses at,

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

          My heart is shaking its head vigorously. I don’t wish to be pierced today. I don’t feel like it. Today, I am immature and selfish. I am petulant, wanting the day to be more giving. But there’s an uncertain irritability to today. A weather that cannot decide if it wants to rain or be humid. The jarring of life roughly parts the air. It seems as if today everyone around is banging metal of some kind. Even the birds call out to one another in a rudeness that vexes the morn.

          It is not a day when prayer slips into your heart, not a day when prayers can be felt and lived. It is a day when I too want to take a pot and bang it around in solidarity with the nettled symphony that seems to be the hymn of the day.

         Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

          Something not mine suddenly takes over my heart, and silkenly thrusts it into the prayer,

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

          That very second, the sun pierces the clouds, the breezes cool and lift their song. The human ruckus around me dies, even my feathered friends gentle their calls.  Peace silvers into the bends and hollows of the waiting earth.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

          And then I understand. The Divine has impressed upon my heart.






Song of the Lark


May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.


          The road is dark indeed, and getting darker for many. We have days of joy-filled moments embroidered into them. Hours laced with funnies and laughter where the sun spills its warm blessings upon the dimpled land and the green~gold breezes tug leaves  and boughs into a timeless dance.

          Yet, paradoxically, I sense the light outside going out. One by one, lights which line the streets of life and living, the lights we have come to depend on, are dying. I’m only getting by because of a strange, invisible light from within. A light fed by family, thanksgiving and prayer, knit together by obedience – the oil that will feed the light.

          Some days, the walk comes easy. Some days, obedience is hard to find. But I must trudge on. If obedience dies, so will the light – for me.

          And for others too.

          For tonight, another’s sorrow weighs heavily on my heart. A young man I know has fought many battles to live to love his God. Gentle soul, he burdens none with his bitter load. But the Cross bites deep now, deeper than before. Like it is with many the world over, I sense his lights too are dying out, one by one.

          My heart aches for him, this son of Ireland. He is tiring, it comes strong this still night, where the wee leaves lie unstirred in the dead of winds.  I’ve been there before, that same shore where hopes go to die.

          Only love pulled me back, away to the secret nooks where hope sings and lives.

          Now, this love must be returned for this young soul, as once was done for me. In every way the Spirit moves me to, in an obedience that doesn’t always come easy, I press this son loved by a Mother, into the Divine Heart, praying,

May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.







The Heartbeat Prayer


Heartbeat Reparation Prayer

Eternal Father, I desire to rest in Your heart this night.
I make the intention of offering You every beat of my heart, joining to them as many acts of love and desire.
I pray that even while I’m asleep, I will bring back to You souls that offend You.
I ask forgiveness for the whole world,
especially for those who know You and yet sin.
I offer to You my every breath and heartbeat,
as a prayer of reparation.







          So often, what besmirches life is worthless yearning. It comes in and takes over our hours in God’s vineyards. What should be shunned and abandoned is allowed to cross the border between death and life. As each new day pearls with the awakening sun, we vacillate between the world and God. Our march towards life stalls because we fasten our hope to barren fig trees that will never yield life.

          Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.   ~  Ernest Hemingway

          When God shot that arrow into my heart, it signaled the time to make a decision –  to choose between traps that precipitate death and faith which births life. 

          He wanted me to stop and decide which way to fly from this point on.

          About a week ago, I began to sense the word, Word, light up. It was some time before it occurred to me that the Voice I sought, silent for so long, was going to be heard through the daily Readings.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   ~   James 1:27

And He said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. ~ Luke 4:24

Now the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in His holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.   ~   Psalm 24: 3 – 4

And finally,

It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.   ~   1 Corinthians 4: 3 – 4

         God is calling me to escape from the fetters of wanting to be valued and appreciated at work, for the eyes of my superiors and colleagues will always be strained towards what lies beyond their field. Their esteem wasted not on the labourers of the slums of the voiceless and defenseless, they will value only what (and who) does not trouble their conscience. By allowing myself to hope for their respect, I place value on the fool’s gold that they prize, gold that has blinded and deafened them.

          I abase the spirit He has put into me. 

          Instead, God wants me to seal my heart to the poor He has brought into my life. And to work for the poor, free from the fear of the judgement of fools. Because there is only one sun that points the way forward: it is the judgement of God.

          Ten years ago today, on the feast of Her Nativity, Mother Mary told me, Sorrow before Joy. Will I tarry in the mould of the world’s foolishness? Or will I turn towards the rose of the rising sun?

          It is now time to decide.