We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with You.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in Your presence today… ~ Daniel 3: 38 – 40
I had been praying with blessed oil for physical and mental healing of a few people. Then, I missed the prayers two days in a row. Today, I went back to the blessed oil – but with an odd knowing – I am to pray differently. As if the missed days were some sort of marker, a break to indicate a transition of intention. So, I trace the Cross on my forehead today and pray a special Protection Prayer for all I carry in my heart – beloved family and friends, – and well, for the not so beloved by me too.
Restricted Movement Order issued. A few steps removed from complete lockdown. From being cheery and carefree yesterday – despite knowing about the order – today – a strange urgency and uneasiness descends upon me late this morning.
On business in the city, far from home. I’ve got to get home, I’ve got to get home. No panic. Just urgent.
In the face of the pandemic, I had asked my husband a few days ago if we needed to stock up on essentials, in case we went into lockdown. No, we’re fine, he replied confidently. I left it, trusting him.
Today, I’m away from home in the morning, and he calls me and tells me he’s gone and bought us enough supplies.
This wasn’t what we discussed yesterday. My stomach tightens at what made him change his mind.
I’m driving back in the afternoon. Uneasiness increasing. I probe it, trying to discern the reason. I tell myself it’s to do with the Restricted Movement Order, but deep inside I’m not so sure. I pray for the safety of all in my heart. Anxiety increases.
Jesus, place Thy hand upon my heart, I pray. If it’s from You, tell me what to do. If not, take it away.
In a slice, the tension vanishes.
I reach home. Life goes on. I’m my old self again.
Hours later, returning home with my husband late at night after a quick trip to the town, I think of the empty church in the city and in many places the world over. Masses and prayer services cancelled. This was prophesied centuries ago, I tell my husband as I alight from the car.
Looking up at the dark night sky, the Southern Cross constellation catches my eye. Nothing new. Every time we get home at night, I see it when I get out of the car. I pause and gaze awhile at it. As I always do.
But as I shut the car door behind me, I catch sight of a second Southern Cross. My husband has busied himself with his roses. I turn back to the sky, trying to puzzle out what I’m seeing. A mirror image of the first constellation. I must be mad.
I call for my calm and practical husband and he comes. And he sees it too.
Then, he raises his finger towards the dark sky, dotted by a million diamonds. There’s a third Cross, he points out.
And he is right. Out of all the stars, yet another set of 4 especially bright ones, unmistakably positioned as a Cross.
I am calm. No fear nor excitement. Fully alert.
Look, says my husband again. There’s a fourth.
Four Crosses in the southern night sky.