Month: November 2019

Crucial Moments

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The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the thieves hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”   Luke 23: 35 – 43

 

          No prizes for guessing which thief I was at Christ the King feast day Mass. The day had begun well enough and I thought I had it all under control. Yet, just before Mass, someone sneaked in and tweaked the script, and my participation at Mass evolved into a litany of anger, frustration and weakening hope, one bitter cup after another offered up to the King of the Universe.

          But God worked an almost immediate miracle. Within seconds of my offering, He healed me of my anger towards 2 members of my family. The storm in my spirit quietened considerably, I continued to offer up the rest of my struggles – with hope especially.

          Soon, I became aware of the words on the back of a top won by an unfamiliar young lady in the pew in front of me,

MY GOD, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee!
I ask pardon for those who do not believe,
do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.   ~   The Pardon Prayer, Fatima Angel

          My heart turned away from that prayer. I was having trust issues, so how on earth could I pray the line – I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee – with any sincerity? Furthermore, I wasn’t in the mood to ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love GodNo, I had enough with obedient waiting and I wanted God to storm right in and work an earth-shaking miracle with the family members who had kept me in knots for much of the year.

          The day at church ended with my priest’s gentle advice to not borrow trouble from the unseen future, but to keep my eyes on the present, believing that Christ the King is already in every situation of my life.

          I wish the good priest’s counsel could have put out the last of the flames within me. It didn’t. Intent on not ruining the day for my family with my inner struggles, I sailed into the next act of disobedience: I chose to lie to myself.

          I pretended all was well. That the earlier storm had passed and the sun had come out.

          By lying to myself and pretending, I didn’t wait for God’s timing but went ahead of Him. There’s always a price for streaking ahead of Him, of course, and I paid it pretty soon. In a short amount of time, the flames within snaked to life again, and giving in to my frustrations, I spoke words the Almighty had not placed on my tongue.

          My words didn’t edify anyone in my family; they likely hardened hearts even further.

          Hours later, reading Rev. John Henry Hanson’s sermon for the Solemnity of Christ the King,

It is tempting for people, like the impenitent thief, to struggle, shout, and curse when they suffer. But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King. Those are moments when the Lord can conquer us, because we see how weak and vulnerable we are, how incapable we are of saving ourselves.  

– I suddenly saw something.

But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King

          It is easy to affirm trust in God when all is well, when our sight is opened to seeing the miracles which the Lord weaves into our days. But when the road of the present is rutted and broken and navigating it has taken almost everything out of us, when the bend ahead hides all hope in the coming – trust is very difficult indeed. When hopes are long in coming true, it is the first thief’s voice that rises high, because it comes from the depths of frustrations rooted in faltering faith.

But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King.

          Fifteen years ago today, God blessed me with double rainbows as the sign of His abiding presence in my life. Today, as I remember that Christ is the Sinner’s King, God wills me to understand that the prayer He bequeathed us through the Fatima Angel – to believe, adore, trust and love – is not merely the prayer for when the spring breezes blow and flowers dot the fields – but especially when the walls around hearts remain unyielding and the sprawlers’ revelry unending.

          For those are the crucial moments when unseen to us, Light pierces through to illuminate the darkness.

Christ the King,

Christ the King,

Christ the King,

Make me love Thee more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sword of the August Queen

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In 1864, a soul, Father Louis Cestac, saw a vision of demons spread out over the earth, causing unbelievable ravage. And then, the Mother of God told him that the time had come to pray to the Queen of the angels, and to ask Her to send the holy legions to combat and overthrow the powers of hell.

“My Mother,” said this soul, “you who are so good, could You not send them without our having to ask?”

“No,” replied the Holy Virgin. “Prayer is a condition set by God Himself in order to obtain graces.”

Upon asking for a prayer, Fr Cestac received from the most Holy Virgin, the prayer, August Queen.

 

          Over the weekend, an unseen hand gently and lightly took me to the 40-day St. Michael’s Lent Novena. It was a set of prayers I had been led to more than a year ago in August when a colleague had hurt me very deeply. Through the 40 days of prayers at that time, I found strength and consolation to rise each day and to go to face this strange and unexplained hate towards me. With the love of Jesus, Mother Mary and St. Michael, I made it through those bitter days of humiliations and hurts.

          Last weekend, I realised that it was 40 days to Christmas. The yearned for end of year break was approaching in a week’s time. I was very tired. All I could think about and anticipate was the end of a work year and the beginning of some weeks of rest – and not forgetting, the joy of preparing for Christmas!

          But out of nowhere, Someone reached out and caught my heart, leading me instead to the St. Michael’s novena. With little deliberation, I promised to say it.

          Nonetheless, the leading this time was so gentle that as soon as I said the first day prayers, I wondered if I had misread the summons – because it felt like the prayer did not fit the season. I wondered if I had jumped into this with the spiritual impetuousness so typical of me. Yet, having sealed my will to saying the prayers, I balked against bailing out.

          Today, I discovered that my committing to the prayer had nothing to do with impulsivity. For today brought a very minor brush against that same colleague’s hatred and anger. After long weeks of peace away from her, she had returned briefly this morning, and in those minutes contrived to let me know how deeply the rivers of hate still flowed within her. Slightly singed this time from the fire in her hidden depths, I had no intention of returning to the poisonous wellsprings I had swum in before. So, as often as it rose within me, I placed this new hurt in the hands of St. Anne, the mother of Mary, for St. Anne is the keeper of my tears.

          As the last of the waterbirds sang their farewells to the setting sun, and the smoke-coasted winds bowed their heads to the coming night, a new emissary came before my heart, bearing the prayer, August Queen. Something brushed against my spirit as I read the lines of the prayer.

August Queen of the Heavens, heavenly sovereign of the Angels, Thou who from the beginning received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech Thee to send Your holy Legions, so that under Thy command and through Thy power, they may pursue the demons and combat them everywhere, suppress their boldness, and drive them back into the abyss. Who is like God? O good and tender Mother, Thou will always be our love and hope! O Divine Mother, send Thy Holy Angels to defend me and to drive far away from me the cruel enemy. Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us, guard us. Amen.

Defend me. Cruel enemy. A battle cryAm I being asked to say the prayer? I wondered. Putting the call to the test, I received my answer: I recalled the vicious, senseless anger of my colleague earlier in the day.

          It was not mere frustration with the vagaries of life. It was the breath of hell.

          And the August Queen prayer was to be prayed against it.

          Overruling the last remnant of doubt, I firmly decided to make it my morning prayer for as long as I needed to. But Someone wanted no shadow of uncertainty to fall across my prayer, no matter how slight.

          At that moment, one of my children, named after St. Michael, casually told me about a sudden gust of wind earlier in the morning. Among the many little beads of events from a busy day, this stood out and it was laughingly shared it with me.

          It took me back to a day a few years ago, when I had been in prayer to St. Michael and hours later, had sought a sign.

A sudden gust of wind had sprung out of nowhere.

It came straight for my heart and then it was gone.

I understood then that it was the sign for me of St. Michael’s presence. And now, upon hearing what my child had said, I immediately recognised it – it was St. Michael’s sign.

          August Queen. The title of the prayer tugged at me. And then, I saw what I had not seen before.

The August Queen prayer was the closing prayer of the St. Michael’s novena.

          The last petal uncurled. In the final days of the year, even as the bells Christmas joyously tinkle ever closer, another wind is rising unseen, determined to come between us and the Light to Come. The shadow that hides within the confines of many hearts is the odour of that feral entity.

          It must be fought – but now with The August Queen prayer.

          That was St. Michael’s sword to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust All to Him

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Trust that I will bring about all that I have promised you.  

This is the year during which I will begin to fulfil all that I have prepared for you…   ~  In Sinu Jesu

 

This is the year…

          These past weeks, the waters of work and home have filled every deep and crevice of my life. They have reached the uppermost beams of my living, no inch of space left to be wet. So many days, chancing upon an air pocket, I’ve raised my head to look back over the distance covered. And surprise catches me each time – surprise that we’ve gotten by, somehow sidestepping major upheavals and tumults.

          I, who have always lurched headlong into the eyewall of every storm, taking everyone else with me.

          But pride finds no address within me on this; I just know that it’s not my doing and I do not have to convince myself of this knowing.

This is the year…

          The softest press of my heart. Something is a-stir at work, the lightest of breezes. Unexpected, joyful news. Not for me – but for my colleagues – yet, to be rejoiced over together. As if God is saying, You thought it would never happen but see now

Trust, whispers Heaven

          I nod and rise in obedience. Still, there are points where I falter, falter as much as I ever did.

I say Yes to all the Sacred Heart desireth for me. I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me. I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.   – prayer by the unknown In Sinu Jesu author

My heart and spirit recoil from that prayer. Holy people fear God’s judgement; I fear the will of God. Because I fear that He would ask of me once more what He did 12 years ago. Even now, my answer is an anguished No, because I cannot bear that journey of searing sorrow once more.

          No, no, no, Lord, I thrust myself away from Him, despite not in the least knowing what the future Asking may be.

          …my precious children stick to me like little burrs…   ~   St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in a letter, describing her beloved toddlers. Three would die, two in their mother’s arms.

          No, no, no, Lord.

          And yet, the angels planted more and more seeds of faith into St. Elizabeth’s grief worn heart.

…trust all to Him who fed the fowls of the air and made the lilies grow.   ~  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Tears burn their presence in my eyes. Loss of a young husband St. Elizabeth loved and adored beyond words. Loss of her precious children. Loss of other loved ones, one by one, pillar after pillar of support and strength taken away from her. Beaten and buffeted by the tempests. And still the saint found the will to affirm,

…trust all to Him who fed the fowls of the air and made the lilies grow

          I’m afraid of You, Lord, I admit. Afraid of what You’d ask.

          My heart traces once more His words, Trust that I will bring about all that I have promised you.

          What have You promised me, Lord? I grope wildly. No dream, no word of a job change, no promise of a sudden heaven in my workplace, an easier home life. He has told me nothing, save for I alone know what lies beyond the bend. In all these months since His word, I’ve not been shown anything of the future to give me hope, no glimpse of what lies beyond the Jordan of life. Have I missed something? I wonder. Did He whisper His promise and did I not hear?

          The monk’s prayer edges towards me again.

I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me.

I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.

          In a slice, the revolt stills within me, and I plunge off the cliff.

I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me.

I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.

And then I flee as far as I can from the prayer, afraid of what I’ve unleashed.

          As the soft pink evening clouds settle to welcome the night’s rain, Jesus gently turns me towards His Heart. I ask you to be grateful and full of confidence. I have given you every reason to hope that I will carry out all that I have promised and that I will fulfil all that I have made you desire.

          I will fulfil all that I have made you desire.

          One by one they come to me, little vessels on the sea of hope. Suddenly, I realise – they were not the product of my fanciful imaginings! They were from my Jesus!!!

Family

Conversion

Peace

Freedom from fear

Joy of work

The sound of church bells

Now rest in My presence and be at peace. ~  In Sinu Jesu