Month: February 2019

When Every Bird Sings

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          Today was a golden, sunny Sunday when it seemed like every bird on our little property was singing. It was lovely to be able to sleep in a bit and then wake up to a chirpy morn, complete with dancing sunbeams and the bluest of skies painted over in white~windbroom  clouds. We had come from a very exhausting week, capped by 2 consecutive days of long distance travelling on Friday as well as Saturday. This was the new normal for the year of 2019. It took a lot out of us and I feared we’d all get crabby and start carping at one another as we so often do.

          But it didn’t happen this time.

          Because Someone was ahead of us before we arrived at any one point.

          He filled us up with patience and wisdom and gentleness for every situation. He gave us the remedy for every challenge we faced. He gave us the energy we didn’t have, and a larger-than-usual capacity for laughs and jokes.

          He smoothed our tiredness and helped us to take the Mass Readings and the Gospel to heart and to find gentle direction in the priest’s sermon. He cleared so much of our hearts of ourselves, allowing us to savour and enjoy dew~pearl moments that might otherwise have slid off us – the priest’s serene and solemn blessing of water in the Holy Water receptacle in the corner of church just before Mass, the blessing of a couple and their 5 children on the occasion of their 15th wedding anniversary. The red and pink roses from an earlier wedding, adorning the bases of the altar and the Divine Mercy image, fulfilling my Saturday longing for Guadalupe roses that day. The brief joining of hearts as we shared in parish happenings, under twilight orange skies wreathed in aging winds calling their goodbyes.

          He pressed His finger to my lips when I would have made unfair demands on my family, when I would have given in to my tiredness and snapped at them, forgetting they too were as tired as I was – if not more. He cleared our hearts of every angry twig and leaf of inconsequential-s, things that took on a shadow of importance only because tiredness distorted them to appear so.

          This Unseen Light brought us safely through dangerous roads and difficult night time driving, right to our front door. Then, He closed all our eyes to sleep and watched over our dreams till the sun rose to its throne today.

          On a day when every bird sings, you know you have been  blessed, and blessed in abundance. With that knowing, comes a chagrin too, that there’s so little you’ve done to deserve any of this.

          And when your heart is pierced this way, you want nothing but to give God everything you have in your offering basket. I had nothing of value in mine except a heart humbled and quietened for once by the abundance of blessings He had gifted us unasked.

          So, as every bird sang, I entwined into that sweet avian garland my own notes of praise,

Blessed be God,

Blessed be God,

Blessed be God.

 

 

 

 

But Pray

Mouro Island Lighthouse (Built In 1860), Spain, by Jokin Romero

But pray, my children. God will hear you in a little while. My Son allows Himself to be moved.   ~   Apparition of Our Lady of Pontmain, 17 January 1871

          Something came up at work today. These past weeks, my husband and I have been putting in extremely long hours at work, day after day, coming home worn to the bone, to another round of work and cares. Some of our children are facing the same as well and the effects were evident. Despite our almost manic schedules, we have tried to do our best, especially for the younger ones; yet, there’s no hiding the fact that we aren’t giving them as much as they need from us. Still, I was deeply grateful  for the hidden stream that has been flowing though us, quietly and gently, giving us the strength and endurance for each day, taking us from hour to hour.

          So with that, I felt I might just make it; that endure just might be possible until God answered our fervent prayers for change.

          That was how I felt until today. Today, everything came crashing down over my ears – an even more severe schedule was assigned to us. I wanted to put my head on my desk and weep in exhaustion. I could manage a few weeks of such scheduling but not months and months of it. Months and months of grueling hours at work, then going home, staggering around, trying to see to meals and laundry and homework and everything else. Trying to stay calm and cheery. Trying to stay faithful to prayers.

          I stood at the edge. Mother of Lourdes, I cried in my heart, help me. Help me to endure. I have to but I don’t know how. The office was crowded and busy and there was no privacy to let some of the hurt out. In desperation to keep my tears inside, I reached for the site I had bookmarked for February, the Month of Lourdes. It was the live feed to the actual Grotto of Lourdes in France, where Our Lady stood high amongst rocks,  solemnly illuminated. I ran before Her, and fell at Her feet, begging for help. Please save us, I prayed, over and over.

          But I couldn’t stay long. As I hurried back to work, I remembered that I hadn’t had time to do my daily Bible reading that morning, nor pick up my prayer for the day. Later, when I had a few free minutes, quickly, I turned to the readings.

God said: This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I set My bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. I will remember my covenant between Me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being   Genesis 9: 12 – 13, 15

It was the very same reading as the day of the December rainbow. The day when it seemed as if the iron had bitten deep into my soul. To see Genesis 9 once again, at such a difficult hour, it could only be Mother Mary’s arms around me. She had come swiftly in response to my cry, bidding me remember God’s old promise to me,

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise.

          I didn’t feel joy or relief flood me. But I immediately straightened up. Repeating my prayer for the day, I humbly place my heart between the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I returned to my day and its calls. And once more, I made it through.

          Hours later, God’s grace of strength for the day gratefully used for love, Mother Mary quietly came once more. I read of an old, old apparition, in Pontmain, France. One wintry night, to a tiny hamlet shaking in fear of an inevitable, impending enemy invasion, Our Lady of Hope had come, bearing the message,

But pray, My children.

God will hear you in a little while.

My Son allows Himself to be moved.  

          But pray. The prayer will be answered. A strange fire caught and lit my soul at the words of the Mother of God. I hastened to share the good news with my husband and children.

          In the final hour of this Thursday night of the Luminous Mysteries, I stopped by our altar to anoint myself in prayer for the priests, the shepherds and the Pope. By our statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, sat little green Cross, gifted to us by a priest. At the moment I anointed myself, the Cross with the emblem of praying hands at its heart, glowed brightly, yet gently, in a pulse of light, like never before.

          On this night of the snow moon, Mother Mary’s final words were,

But pray

 

 

 

Straying Beyond the Sheepfold

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          Yesterday, a lady shared about an awful family situation spanning many years. Listening, it seemed to me to bear all the hallmarks of Narcissistic  Personality Disorder. The woman was at her wits’ end, didn’t know what else to do with her husband and how to go on. Being intimately acquainted with that same disorder, I felt sorry for her. Even if it wasn’t NPD, it was clearly emotional and mental abuse that she was enduring on a daily basis. And decades of it was, well, a long time to suffer the way she had. In my case, I received church counselling to create a firm boundary. It saved my sanity as well as the sanity of my husband and children. However, I didn’t know how a boundary was going to help this woman’s situation without destroying what was left of her marriage.

          Nevertheless, I felt I needed to do something before this poor soul crossed the line of no return. So, without giving her any details about my situation so as not to unduly influence her, I told her I’d pray for her to receive a special enlightenment – because what she needed was a very special light for her extremely difficult journey.

          I’m now on a small prayer mission using my newly received St. Raphael’s healing oil. I first prayed using the blessed oil for a friend suffering from addictions and other attacks but never told her exactly how I was praying for her. This friend’s subsequent communication to me bore strong indications that the prayers were having effect on her. That strengthened my faith in Archangel Raphael as well as I’ve never really invoked him in this way.

          A short time later, speaking to a priest, I heard about his immense struggles with his family as well as with the parish he was assigned to. There was also his acrimonious relationship with a fellow priest and its spillover effects. That troubled me more than anything. If our priests were falling out with each other, what hope did we have for ourselves? Nonetheless, it wasn’t something I dared advise him about, mainly because of the distinct possibility that it was above my paygrade.

          Nonetheless, a strong urge took hold of my heart. So, I began the same prayer I had said for my friend with the addictions, for the 2 priests, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil, so kindly and generously sent to me by the Healing Oil Ministry of South Grafton, MA. I have no idea how long I am supposed to pray for this intention but I’m confident the Archangel will let me know.

          And now, I fully intended to invoke Archangel Raphael’s intercession for the lady struggling with her Cross.

          I tried to pray Hail Marys for the woman all Saturday morning. It was a very busy morning, and rushing to and from errands and duties, I couldn’t manage more than a few Hail Marys, recited distractedly. But I was undeterred. We had to travel long distance to Mass later, so there’d be lots of time for prayers.

          I planned to pray using the oil before the drive. I remembered – about 15 minutes into the drive, it didn’t make sense to turn back.

          Then, I tried to pray Hail Marys again for the lady. Again, I got distracted after the first few.

          Arriving at church, I hurried inside to lay down my prayer cart before the Divine Mercy image. Fixing my gaze upon the image, I offered every prayer – except the one for the lady. Clean forgot.

          I had a few minutes before Mass began so I opened my battered copy of St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy in My Soul. Jesus speaks very clearly to me through lines in this book, different lines in each reading. I needed to hear God’s voice and I prayed to hear it through the book, if it was willed.

          It came. But it was not what I expected.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul.   ~   Entry 74, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska

          I stared at the line for a good few seconds. What?

          It was just before Holy Communion that I suddenly remembered my intention to pray for the woman. So, I did but it was harried and hurried. It had been that way the whole day – but it didn’t affect other prayers; only the prayer for this lady. 

          Something began to disturb me lightly. Don’t you want me to pray for her, for her enlightenment? I grumbled to Jesus. What do I pray for? I directed my exasperated asking towards St. Faustina, assuming there was some other prayer needed for this lady.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul, came the calm, quiet reply.

          I decided to stop my prayers or rather, my attempt at prayer, for the troubled lady. I was learning again the lesson I have learned many times before: that just because I had sympathy for someone, it didn’t mean that I could get ahead of God, even in prayer. What prayer, how we are to pray, if we are called to it – is all governed by God. We get nothing done by straying ahead of Him. To pray outside of His Will, never mind whatever good intentions, was to leave the sheepfold. I had tried enough. It was clear that this was not the prayer – for now or perhaps, ever. I knew God would let me know if and when anything was needed. If I said I loved God, then it was His will that I had obey, even in something like what to pray for, who to pray for or when to pray.

          And so, I retreated from that prayer, but focused on the prayer for peace in priests.

          This morning, I met this lady once more. Imagine my utter surprise when she made it clear that she wasn’t looking for enlightenment for herself. If anyone needed it, it was her husband, she said. She was grateful for support, for comfort. For listening, for the prayers for her husband even. But she didn’t need God’s direction because her husband was the problem, not her. God needed to speak to her husband and her husband needed to listen to Him.

          That was the kind of prayer she was looking for.

          I suddenly understood why the wind had stolen my every prayer for her.

 

 

 

By Faith

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1   Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

2   Because of it (faith) the ancients were well attested.

3   By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.

4   By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks.

5   By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.” Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.

6   But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

7   By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

8   By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.

9   By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;

10   for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.

11   By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.

12   So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

13   All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth.

14   for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.

15   If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.

16   But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

17   By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son,

18   of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”

19   He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

20   By faith regarding things still to come Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.

21   By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and “bowed in worship, leaning on the top of his staff.”

22   By faith Joseph, near the end of his life, spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his bones.

23   By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24   By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25   chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin.

26   He considered the reproach of the Anointed greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the recompense.

27   By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s fury, for he persevered as if seeing the one who is invisible.

28   By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29   By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.

30   By faith the walls of Jericho fell after being encircled for seven days.

31   By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient, for she had received the spies in peace.

32   What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,

33   who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions,

34   put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders.

35   Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection.

36   Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment.

37   They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented.

38   The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth.

39   Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised.

40   God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.

 

 

 

 

Fruit of My Lips

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          What is praise? Probably the last question expected from a cradle Catholic. I had already learned the important lesson of when to praise, as beautifully illustrated by Rebekah Durham’s robin in Praise in Winter. But suddenly, it seemed as if the understanding of what praise of God really is, was taken away from me, leaving me in the waters of asking yet again.

          What is praise? I pressed.

         The Angel stirred the waters.

Through Jesus let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His Name. ~   Hebrews 13: 15

Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in His pity has done for you.   ~   Mark 5: 19

 

          Swiftly, this understanding was laid before my eyes,

A sacrifice of praise

Fruit of lips that confess His Name

Announce to them all that the Lord in His pity has done for you.  

 

 

 

Discover St. Paul

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          In early February, I came across a Word for the Year as well as a Saint generator. I did use the Saint generator a couple of years before and it gave me St. John Cantius, a saint I had never heard of. I wasn’t much impressed, to be honest. I mean I was expecting one of the greats – St. Padre Pio, maybe. Or St. Faustina. St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, that ilk.

          Anyway, St. John Cantius wasn’t interested in being a great in my eyes. He had business with me and he set about it briskly. He spoke to me about my tendency to anger. It was a firm rap on my knuckles and I sat up all the straighter for it. I gained an important lesson in anger management as well as a timely humbling to never roll my eyes at another saint.

          This year, right from the gentle opening of New Year buds, seeking the Word for the Year has been crossing the eyes of my heart rather often. I put it down to a trend and refused to succumb to it. Nevertheless, a silent singer continued to hum its ditty with  the budding and folding of every week. Yesterday, a week into February, on a lazy night, with none of the spiritual tugs that confirm an urge, I thought I’d try it, no harm done.

My word was, Discover

My saint was St. Paul the Apostle

          Sheesh, I thought. St. Paul, a no nonsense saint. Not a saint that endeared to me – an inveterate, incorrigible tumble-r-off faith wagons. And ‘discover’? I was looking for a quiet month, not another round of climbing and hauling myself up rocks.

          I decided to back out the door stealthily. I went to bed.

          Awakening to a golden, merry day with silver~bell bird hymns woven through dappled hollows, carried along by jolly green breezes, I saw that 2 steps had become one.

Discover St. Paul

          A good night’s sleep, a still, quiet house and the greensilver song of breezes muted out every objection. With it came a memory, of a time more than a year ago, when I was down and bruised. St. Paul had come to me then, a Paul so different to what I had known him to be. A gentle, fatherly St. Paul. He had come to where I was lying weary on the ground, clucking in concern like a brown red hen. He had bent down and gently lifted me to my feet. He dusted my clothes, wiped away my tears.

          And then, opened my ears a while to the words of a heavenly assembly.

          That day, for the 2nd time in a long while, I heard what those on the other side of life thought of me. The kindness and charity of those secret thoughts contrasted negatively with my own self-evaluation as well as that of the people around me; the sliver of heavenly conversation that St. Paul allowed to fall upon my ears gave me the strength to return to my journey. Even after that, I continued to make missteps, I continued to fall. But like a light from behind, the words of heaven’s assembly of saints buoyed me on.

          This morning, a day baptized by happy sunshine and mirthful baby breezes, I remembered once more the Paul who had come to me and helped me up. Then, I remembered too his first words to me 12 years ago,

I am returning him to you

          Word Generator or a Saint Generator, when the time is right, becomes a heavenly chest, to be opened by our Guardian Angel, releasing to us the lights we need, Word or Saint, for the times we are in.

          And so it is for me. My Angel has sealed my heart once more to St. Paul’s, to allow the Word of the Hebrews to light my way ahead.

 

 

 

Go Home To Your Family

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Jesus and His disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When He got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met Him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before Him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure You by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”

He replied, “Legion is my name.  There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with Him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with Him,
“Send us into the swine.  Let us enter them.”
And He let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg Him to leave their district.
As He was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with Him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in His pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.   ~   Mark 5: 1 – 20

 

          The Parable of the Pigs as I call it is an enigma to me. No matter how many interpretations and explanations I read on it, the initial intellectual satisfaction is always temporary. After a time, I always get the sense that the real meaning of the parable for me  – eludes me. It’s akin to travelling on a road and coming to an inn by the wayside. Once inside the inn, with the nourishment of food and drink inside me, I assume that my journey has come to an end and that I should just stay the night or return to where I came from; that there is nothing more to journey on for any more.

          But soon, I realise this inn is not the last stop for me; its nourishment not as filling and as lasting as I first presumed.

          The road stretches on further.

          Today, seeing the parable again, it suddenly came to me that the Parable of the Pigs is meant to be a journey, different parts meaning different things as I journey though life, and meanings constantly evolving. In an odd way, this comforted me considerably, it made sense why my heart cannot seem to settle for any discernment.

          And so I returned to the parable, but this time, with different eyes.

          Always confounded by why the demons had to be sent into the poor pigs, resulting in them rushing down the cliffs into the water and drowning, why Jesus allowed this mass death of animals to occur, this time, notwithstanding the same questions, my heart was steered towards something else.

          For the first time, I didn’t see the pigs. I saw the possessed man.

          I saw his sorrowful home, his life of horrifying, endless grief among the rocks and tombs, confined to dying but never death itself, by the hold Legion had upon him. Often, he was driven to mad despair, dashing himself with stones, his self-harm a plea for real death, that the torments end.

          For the first time, in that poor man, I saw myself, from childhood till marriage and even after the joy of children, banging my head against walls, hitting myself with my bare fists, with books, pulling violently at my own hair, slapping myself, screaming and screaming for release from the madness and cruelty of an entity whose name was not known to me back then.

the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned…
And people came out to see what had happened…
…they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.

clothed and in his right mind

          Tiny pearls began to line up. The dream 11 years ago. My husband and I are dressed in our wedding finery, entering the church through the left side, with our children as ring bearers and flower girl. Entering church to be married once more, it seemed. Followed by deep joy in bathing one of my children, the seemingly mundane tasks of family life. Then, a sudden swerve. I am alone, in our present parish, dressed in a dark, dull red blouse. In the empty church, taking up an offering of preserved flowers. Alone. Empty church. Dried flowers. And the dream ends there.

          Dried flowers, red blouse. For some reason, immediately and long years after, those two details stay with me like a burr. Why dried flowers? Why red? I have probed a thousand times.

          Then, one night, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, less than a year after the dream, sorrow biting deep, yet happy that I could care for my family, my in-laws. Awakening in the dark dawn, seeing the shadows of tree branches dance against the walls, the play of tiny lights. Deep serenity.

          Suddenly, a flash and a return to memory of the 2 dreams – the Second Wedding and the Offertory.

          And in a silvery breath, a soft, clear, feminine voice saying to me,

The dreams will be reversed in reality.

Sorrow before joy.

          Taking the Offertory. Dull red blouse. From last year, starting from the anniversary of our marriage registration, inexplicably, each and every time I wore red, my husband and I have been asked to carry the Bread and Wine during the Offertory at Mass. In a church of more than 1 000 parishioners, red is common enough and I have nothing to me to make me stand out for any reason.

          And yet, each time without fail, since our last marriage anniversary, every time I was in red, the usher would quietly come to our pew with the request.

          Solitary offertory in an empty church. I’ve always wondered if it was God’s reminder to me offer up my efforts, at home and at work. To make it my firstfruit offering each and every time.

          Today, Someone gently settles understanding on my heart:

Offertory in an empty church

Console Me

          Suddenly I see what I’ve never seen before – last year, as never before in our lives, each time we were in the city, no matter how rushed we were, I’d try to take the family with me into the empty church, to spend some quiet time with Jesus, trying to heed little St. Francisco Marto’s call to Console Jesus. It never seemed like much. Not with a ticking clock, restless children, miles upon miles to travel before we got home. I recalled too the recent night awakenings, and the immediate turn of mind and heart, to console Jesus.

          Now I understand that, that was the Offertory God had asked of us.

the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in His pity has done for you.”

          Go home to your family. With the deepening strife at work, each time I cried and begged to be released from my work chains, God took more and more out of me, more and more away from me. And over and over, I heard the same,

Go home to your family

          To my children’s needs. To my husband’s sufferings and struggles. To my in-laws’ tribulations with marriage, ill health, old age and increasing distance from the faith. Every time something or someone at work hurt me, the Angel led me to bury my wounds in caring for family – the Heart of Jesus.

          Go home to your family. I saw the child of my dream, the one I had been bathing, soap suds all over. I heard the tinkle of joyful laughter, baby mirth so, so deeply treasured. The voice I’d give anything to hear once more. I can no longer bathe this child. That time has long passed, never to be mine. But Love Unseen has led me to care for my family and even for those not family but who live in my heart, in ways I could never have imagined during the long years of my parents’ NPD torment.

The dreams will be reversed in reality. Sorrow before joy.

          Go home to your family is the bridge that links the Sorrow of the Offertory to the Joy of the Second Wedding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Endure

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Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened,
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction;
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what He has promised.   ~   Hebrews 10: 32 – 36

 

          More than a week ago at Mass, after the miracle of the birdsong, I went eager to hear what more Mother Mary wanted of me – in addition to the praise even in winter – that She asked of me. I had a strong feeling there was something more. All through the journey, later at Mass, I listened and listened.

          A sudden light beamed out of a side I never expected – the response to the Responsorial Psalm,

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

          I sat mute before them. I thought there was something I needed to do in response to that pulse of light but I couldn’t imagine what. In retrospect, I should have prayed those words, over and over, till I got my answer, or until the Angel pressed his hand over my spirit. But I didn’t. I just sat and stared at the words. Because I was waiting for something more specific to my seeking, What do You ask of me at my place of work?

          Mass ended and I felt the clouds continue to swirl in my heart. No clear and direct answer did I receive.

          Still, I wasn’t disappointed nor frustrated. The robin~miracle of the morning as well as the January work weeks of unusual inner quiet and immense strength, were before me. Something had begun for me in the fresh year. Something unexpected, not of my doing.

A stirring of a spring, an underground spring.

          Yet, I needed to be really sure. When we’ve been hit and hurt so much, sometimes, all we do is wait for the next blow to fall, even as we hope it will never come. We make the mistake of limiting hope to the smallness of that. Or that we escape. Or somehow survive. Sometimes, the kind of hope we’re capable of just cannot stretch beyond that.

          But I couldn’t turn a blind eye to January either. This strange January where an Unseen Hand had lit a tiny flame, hidden beneath the winter’s freeze. A flame of pure, quiet strength. Of a state of recollection I have seldom experienced before. A flame tiny yet strong, burning steadily, yet hidden deep within the cold breast of winter.

          I didn’t dare hope – but this was a clear call to hope. And no matter how afraid I was that this was merely a temporary reprieve, that the blows and rocks would rain down again soon enough, this strange secret flame, thawing the ice quietly, producing a clear, pure hidden spring that each day filled me with  wisdom, vigour and strength, was a whisper, yet paradoxically loud, strong and clear – that something has begun to stir in my life, even if all around me was the ice of old.

          It was this that filled me with a powerful certainty that even as I was beseeching  heaven for hope for my call, something was being asked of me as well. Praise – and something else. Just what, I didn’t know, my inner seas swelling in a restlessness that refused to be quelled by anything except an answer from heaven.

          Hours later, unable to go any further, I released my hold on my seeking. I had asked all I could. So, I finally rested my will and retreated to wait.

          At that moment of relinquishment, I heard a whisper. An almost inaudible breath against my heart.

Endure.

          Endure. A word, heard at any other time, would have produced waves of frustration, that after all the promise and allurement, it was to the old that I had to return to, not something new and vibrant; but back to all that was worn, rusting, dying – yet possessed with an infernal power to kill slowly.

          But no despair touched me as endure alighted gently upon my heart. Because endure was God’s reply to me. It was Spirit, Life itself, come to tell me to

Endure to do the will of God,

Endure till the rainbow dawns,

Endure till the Promise comes.

 

 

 

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.