Month: September 2021

Replace My Blood With Yours

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Chorus
Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.


Join we now as friends, and celebrate the
Brotherhood we share, all as one.
Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.


 

          The psalmist talks about eyes being dimmed with sorrow. Mine are literally dimmed with weariness and emotional exhaustion. What a terrible test for me and for so many, many others. Sometimes, I crumble in anger, but only for scant minutes, for the squall passes over me quickly now.

          And through it all, from yesterday, an old, old hymn in my inner ear, Here We Are.

Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.

          How do I sing this song of sorrow and uncertainty – joyfully? Is such a thing even possible? As if in answer, another line from the song comes gently,

Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.

          The fire of faith must burn on. Keep the lamps trimmed and ready.    

          My loved ones on another continent, and my dear~heart blogging friends, hold me close to the Cross. From miles away, they will me on, Keep your eyes on Him, God will protect you

          During Rosary last night, I pondered Jesus’ terrible journey through Calvary, His Crucifixion, the piercing of His Heart. Precious Blood and Water all poured out for mankind. Although my suffering is very small against what my Jesus endured, for the first time, I feel a severe drying out within me, all of me. Not just of my spirit, as I’ve often come to know, but this desert has now reached deep, deep within me. I truly have nothing left. Only the love of my earthly and heavenly friends hold me bound to my crucified Jesus.

          How do you go on when everything has been poured out? 

Replace my blood with Yours.

          The old prayer I prayed in times past. I recall the day I found the prayer, and the mystery of it. When all is gone, Replace my blood with Yours, Jesus. 

          Then, I realise, the hymn, Here We Are, has stopped playing in me, the voices of the unseen choristers stilled.

          And I understand why. Because it is now time to pray the prayer of repentance. And of conversion.

Replace my blood with Yours

Until He Comes

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Without a doubt, obedience is more meritorious than any other penance. And what greater penance can there be than keeping one’s will continually submissive and obedient?   ~  St. Catherine of Bologna

 

          When in doubt, when afraid, when the ground beneath heaves and shakes and cracks, even when angered, seek to obey the Will of God, St Catherine is saying to me. In the uncertainty of today’s news, when the mists swirl so thickly that I cannot make out anything, I know one thing: that I should not be out in the open, for the air is changing. I must retreat into the cave once more and stay there till it is time to come out. 

          Still, ever the inveterate busybody and meddler, I remain outside the cave, straining and trying to discern: is the news good? If so, in what way? But even as I ponder, I know I am where I should not be.

Thy Will for me be done, I pray. 

          I think of the cave and that I must retreat into it. How do I go back in, I wonder? Through the gates of obedience, the thought pops into my head as if in answer. Through the obedience of,

Until I arrive, …
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you …
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them.

Keep your eyes on the Lord

          All the little lessons of the past weeks that make up the leaves on the tree of faith. I must return to them, that is the way back into the cave of waiting on the mountain of the Lord. And if I should imagine myself alone and without comfort nor company, I must only listen out for the wind, for, The wind is my sign, When the wind blows, know that I am with you, says the Mother of my Lord to me. I grip tighter the hand of Our Lady of Sorrows. Today, She has brought me unexpected news through a letter sent to someone in my organization. Knowing I will suffer in the uncertainty its contents bring, Mother lets me know the date of that letter – 15th of September, Her precious feast. Even if I cannot make out what lies ahead beyond this development, Mother is willing me to trust and wait through the obedience of all Her beloved Son, Jesus, has called me to.

          Till the earth stills and He comes.

 

I Will Act

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          Sometimes, even the brightest days can be troubled by ribbons of cold winds. Something just didn’t like seeing me skipping about, and so it brought me a troubling update on my job, to dampen my happiness. I stood still for a bit as I took in the news. It was as real as bad news can be and it was draining away the last vestiges of hope. Then, I made up my mind: It was the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. In honour of Her, despite the news, I decided to make that little leap of faith and willfully choose to cling to Our Lady’s hand. Mother, I prayed, help me trust in Jesus. I returned to my day, brightened again.

          Some hours later, those cold slivers made another attempt to unsettle me. Feeling their presence, I didn’t want to pretend I wasn’t a little anxious. I didn’t want to pretend to be strong. I wanted to be honest with Jesus. And so, I prayed once more. Lord, give me a sign. I am worried and afraid – but I don’t wish to be. Help to me get on with life. Then, I turned to Mother Mary once more. Keep me close to Jesus, Mother. I think I was/am tired of being afraid, of being spooked. There comes a time in every Christian’s life when we realize that the way to really live is to trust fully in Jesus, and I might have finally arrived at this point of realization and of wanting it for myself. Trusting doesn’t suddenly make merry our walk through life. There will still be valleys to traverse and tears to shed. But for me at least, to trust fully might mean a lot less of the inner wobbling I fall victim to so often.

The wavering in trust, as Jesus called it.

          And the minute I made this decision to trust, Jesus answered my prayer for a sign for the way ahead, but in His way. He sent me His beloved emissary, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque,

          I must no longer concern myself about anything it may please my Sovereign Master to do with me and in me; He has told me He will cease to take care of me only when I am preoccupied with self. I have experienced this many times through my infidelity, the outcome of which was the thwarting of my wishes. But I no longer have any desire but to do what He has told me many a time: “Leave it to Me to act.” 

          When I heard Jesus’ words in my spirit, I was infused with a soft yet strong desire to not be a hindrance to my Lord’s work in any way. Jesus wanted me to stop looking over my shoulder and He had shown me the way to do it:

 

Beloved:
Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for those who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word
with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them,
so that your progress may be evident to everyone.
Attend to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in both tasks,
for by doing so you will save 
both yourself and those who listen to you.   ~   1 Timothy 4: 12 – 16

 

          My fears about our future were being fed by the attention I was giving them. And every time I fed my fear, even a little, I took my eyes off Jesus. But the Jesus who knew me so well also understood that I could not simply force myself to stop fearing; I needed to be focused on something instead. So, He exhorted me to be absorbed in my job and in my studies.

          I immersed myself immediately in both calls. Soon, I could feel the shadows retreat and joy bubbled within me once more.

          As I worked and rested in the deeps of joy, the angels came by to gently lay His promise upon my heart once more.

I will act.

To Accept

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          Who knew it is possible to be gently happy and at peace even in sadness and uncertainty? With each passing day taking me closer to the day when I might lose my job, I expected the pain within me to intensify to the point of bitter grief. Instead, here I am, filled to the brim with a strange sweetness, a pink and white nectar I’ve never known before. And not only am I sustained through the hours, I can even sense a silver brook tumble elfin bells within me.

          Even as one life seems to be winding to its end, another has already begun. Towards the end of May this year, I finally admitted to myself that I was experiencing a deep burnout over work. Despite the changes I had made and the improved quality of life, it still wasn’t enough to shore up what was inevitably crumbling. Even though I could still handle work and do it well, something was clearly dying inside me. All the years of struggle and tyranny had taken its toll. I only wanted to stay on for financial reasons, nothing else mattered any more. Even then I wondered how long I’d hold out, because although money is important, it has never been a major motivation for me. When I reached breaking point, would money be enough to convince me to stay on?

          At that point, everything that held me in place fast fraying, one Sunday in May found me musing about trying something, something different that would offer a respite from the intensity of life as it was then. If I couldn’t escape from my job, could I then build another world within it, a new world that would nourish and sustain me even as the old one drained me dry?

          The minute I began to give it serious consideration, something was set in motion. Despite being filled with trepidation and doubt in myself, I applied to go back to school, fulfilling a dream I’ve long had. Even as fear and shame over my lack of abilities and past failures held me back many times, the moment I opened one door, it seemed as if unseen hands were gently pushing me from behind and tugging me forwards. 

          On and on, those unseen souls led me down one rutted path after another. Sometimes, overcome by fear, I would question my sanity in attempting something like this. If I could barely manage my job, how was I to study and work? Was this not the height of lunacy?

          In response, yet another door would open. Keep your eyes on the Lord and move forward, St Margaret Mary said.

          Just as the storms whipped around me more violently, the acceptance notification came on the Feast of St Teresa of Calcutta, to shine a light through the gathering darkness. And it was significant because 11 years ago, St Teresa had taken me on a journey through the book on her life, Come Be My Light. At the end of that journey 11 years ago, I understood what carrying our cross and following Jesus meant. While I fell many, many times since then, I know that those lessons St Teresa taught me have brought me to this point in time when light is somehow piercing this darkness. There are some days when I still I cry and rage at the world for the unfair hand it is dealing me and my family – but I cannot remain in the pit for long, for there are books to read and words to write, meetings to attend and thoughts to think.

          Today, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, little bells are stirring in my spirit. Their light chimes lead me to forgive all who are hurting us. To ask for the grace of silence as I carry my cross as Jesus did.

          And finally, to accept with humility and with generosity of giving, the will of my Jesus that sometimes we must suffer so that someone else is saved.

 

 

 

Do Not Waver

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Jesus said to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.   ~  Matthew 21: 21

 

          Like so many others, I too began to keep a journal to track my spiritual journey, starting it just after a horrific dream on the night of the 5th of July 2015 when I dreamt of something hitting and destroying the bright moon in the dark night sky. After the dream, I felt compelled to note down thoughts and messages and dates – and so I did, diligently, for a couple of years. Then, life got too much and writing in the journal slowed down. Still, there were entries for every year.

          Recently though, a beloved family member who has been journeying with me but who did not know of my journal, advised me to keep a record of all the things God has said to me. It gave me pause since my own thoughts had fallen along those same lines these recent weeks: that the journal needed to be re-started. So much is happening that I often feel as if our family is walking treacherous paths, blind, save for the light of our faith. Just when I think we are safe, the ground gives way beneath us, rocks are aimed at us. At such times, I often forget how my husband and I were led to do this, mist clouding the memory of the weave of events experienced and words heard in our spirits that have led us to these moments in where in the dark we must walk.

          Today was one such day. Although I am firm in the massive decision my husband and I have made together, suddenly, I could not recall defining moments that have led to this resolve – and that worried me. Were we wrong? So, from the still and silent hours of late last night when the terrain dipped to another level of tension, I have been seeking God’s voice and His alone. I am doing this for you, Lord, I whispered. But help me remember why. Tell me if I’ve read the signs wrong.

          In the early hours of this sombre and still, grey morning, I went to place my seeking into the Heart of Jesus. Going to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland via livestream, I pleaded once more, Tell me if I am wrong, Lord. Let me hear Thy voice.

          A short while later, the opening lines of a much loved song, prophetic for us in the past, were seemingly cupped in small hands and placed in my inner ears. From the song, Well Done, by the Afters, the lines given to me were,

Well done, well done
My good and faithful one

          Tears sprang to my eyes. I remembered the night I had first heard this song 3 years ago. It had been a time of deep anxiety and of looking up to the sky for signs. Shortly after, dawn had broken for us and the joy was indescribable. Now, hearing those lines once more, suddenly, I felt a gentle urge to look up all the lyrics to this song.

          As I searched, I came across the verse that birthed the song,

 

His master said to him, ‘Well done, My good and faithful servant.   ~  Matthew 25: 21
          
          Wanting to look up the context of the verse, I was instead led to Matthew 21. Realising my slip, I made to return to Matthew 25, but it felt as if Someone had reached out and held my arm to keep me from going back. So, I went back to Matthew 21, a quiet certainty within me that I was meant to be there.
 
          And so it was. Before me appeared,
 

Jesus said to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.   ~  Matthew 21: 21

 
          As I read it, 3 words from the verse lit up with a strong yet quiet light.
 
          I realised it was God speaking to me. And He said,
 
Do not waver

 

 

 

Go Forward On Your Way

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Place over the eyes of your soul the bandage of holy and loving submission to God. . . Thus without reasoning or swerving from your path, go forward on your way.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          St Margaret Mary is a saint I’ve become acquainted with only in recent years. I cannot recall exactly when, but I suspect it was since I began a sincere devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – for St Margaret Mary is the saint of the Sacred Heart.

          Since God sent her to be my friend, I’ve found that she comes just when I’m about to reach a fork in some road. And so it was this time too. She had come last week, on a very happy Friday, after I had an hours long call with my beloved godmother, talking, sharing and laughing over so many things. I had come out of that call suddenly aware that the deep drying out of my spirit had lifted and that I could feel and touch the sun~joys once more. Happy to be back to my old self, I was nevertheless visited by disquiet when I saw St Margaret Mary’s words,

Place over the eyes of your soul the bandage of holy and loving submission to God. . . Thus without reasoning or swerving from your path, go forward on your way.

 

          Oh, what could she mean? I agonized. Incidentally, there had been a number of things we had been discussing as a family. Decisions were being made and we were weighing everything. But suddenly comes this,

Thus without reasoning or swerving…

          I was so very troubled. Were we wrong about the working decisions we had made? How could we have gone so wrong in discerning? What had we missed? Every time I pondered that together with St. Margaret Mary’s words, my anxiety deepened. Even as tickles and laughter found me, I remained afraid and troubled deep inside.

          Today, just after receiving some sweet news about work, just as I was about to celebrate it, the ground beneath me cracked open slightly with a shocking turn of events. I was cut to the core by what my government had done, by its cruel deceit. Once again, just as it had been with the defenseless old man’s death, anger and hurt found easy entry into my heart. I knew I had every right to be angry.

          But deep down, I also knew it wasn’t God’s way.

          So, I went before the Blessed Sacrament, and deep into Jesus’ Heart, I placed every thorn and wound, every fear and weight. I had barely begun when I sensed an unmistakable lightness. Where there had been a painful heaviness before, it was now light and quiet, swept clean. Greatly surprised at this, I instinctively sought out St. Margaret Mary’s words once more.

Place over the eyes of your soul the bandage of holy and loving submission to God. . . Thus without reasoning or swerving from your path, go forward on your way.

          Suddenly, her words filled me with a deep peace! Where there was tension and anxiety before, now there was only relief and gentle quiet within me. I was stunned by the change. Over and over, I read the saint’s words. And then, I understood. Her words were meant for now, not last week.

 

Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.

They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.   ~  Luke 4: 24 – 30

 

          The mob will take us to the brow of the hill, they will move to hurl us down headlong. 

Place over the eyes of your soul the bandage of holy and loving submission to God. . . Thus without reasoning or swerving from your path, go forward on your way.

          But by fixing our gaze upon God, in trust and in loving obedience to Him and only Him, without giving in to the mob, without attempting to engage with them, we will pass through the very midst of them.

          And we will go forward on our way.

 

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