Author: caitlynnegrace

I'm a working mum with five children. I blog from the heart. This blog is cathartic in its function. For too long, I have been denied the right to be ME. Now, I am slowly learning and discovering my heart and soul. writingonmyheart allows me the anonymity to be one of the who-s that I am - REFLECTIVE.

Look At Me, Dearest

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          It has been a busy week at home, but away from work, it’s been very pleasant, the winds in a wild dance each day. As the crossing winds sang and chattered with one another above us, we tended to our dailies.

          Still, a tiny voice in my heart asked, Where is my Christmas joy? The little trickle of joy from a few months back had fallen still. All was quiet within me, the little bells of joy suddenly hidden from my spirit.

          3 days ago, before I slept off, I mentally traced a cross on each of my ears, asking God to speak to me.

          Then, I dreamed.

          On a brightly lit night in town, I was working, heading somewhere, intently pushing my new car. Turning to look back, I saw my children huddled together outside a building, worry in their eyes as they watched me leave them.

          As I pushed my car, I glanced inside at the dashboard screen. I saw the indicators for the various functions.

          And all the indicators showed that the power was dropping and dropping fast. Desperate to complete the job I had to do, I pushed harder, the distance between me and my frightened children increasing.

          Unfortunately, soon, the power in every part of the car depleted and the car came to a dead stop. I desperately tried to restart it but the battery was dead.

          For some reason, I couldn’t just backtrack and return to my kids. I needed to get my job done. Frantically, I calculated how much time I needed to get to wherever it was that I was going and to make the return trip to collect the kids, but I realised it would take far too long. The kids would be all alone and not safe.

          Sobbing, I whipped out my cellphone to call my husband but I knew he was at least 3 hours away. The car was dead. My husband couldn’t get to us in time. And I was too far away from my poor kids. The anguish was too much.

          The dream ended and I awakened, immediately alert, the dream very clear. But although I was upset and sobbing in the dream, I woke up completely calm. Nevertheless, the dream didn’t make sense. It wasn’t like me to neglect the children, to leave them alone and in danger. And why on earth was I pushing the car and not driving it?

          I wanted to dismiss the dream but guilt and fear kept it before me in my waking hours. What if it was pride in myself as a mother making me want to ignore the dream? What if I wasn’t as committed to them and as vigilant as I assumed I was? Maybe it pointed to the future. Maybe I was going to make a work related decision that would ultimately hurt my family.

          Mentally, I vowed to myself that no matter how enticing, I would not accept any promotion or new job offer that would put my family in second place.

          But a caution within me warned me against leaning against my own interpretation of the dream. It was the first Wednesday of the last month of the year, so I hurried to St. Joseph’s door. St. Joseph, I prayed, Discerner of Dreams, tell me what my dream means.

          He didn’t speak immediately but I never left him and continued to pray.

          Late in the evening, standing at my window, contentedly looking out at the bloom blessed garden and listening to the winds chuckle and sing, my dream flashed before me. Then, a quiet voice spoke,

Burnout

          Burnout!! I was stunned! It wasn’t what I expected, and yet … it made immediate sense. The signs were all there. The exhaustion. The mental fog. The slow recovery.

          St. Joseph’s answer had an unexpected effect on me where little else worked. I immediately put the brakes on myself. I slowed down a little. I listened harder to the winds in the trees, trying to make out the words to their song. To enjoy it.

          For 3 days, even as I cared for my family as any wife and mother would, I trained my heart on enjoying them. But another question soon peaked up at me. How long before I return to what I am? How long before I return to that worn road of relentless pressure? To that of guilt, guided by the accusing voices of old which continue to live somewhere near?

         So often, far too often, responsibilities overtake and overwhelm me. But even when they do not crook their finger at me, I’m never far from the workwheel, troubling what doesn’t need to be troubled with.

          Because guilt is always near when I am at rest. Seeking to remind me of who I really am – as others from my past assert over me. And it is those voices that spur me to my feet, telling me that rest is not for me, that whatever others do, I must do more, eschewing help – because I didn’t need that help; I was merely choosing the easy way out.

         That is why, as depicted in the dream, I am pushing a car which others in my place would have driven. In much of my doing, I choose the harder road – and not always because it needs to be so. I do not always accept the help I’m given. Guilt makes that choice for me.

         Guilt hovers close, reminding me that if I chose otherwise, I would not be loved.

         How long before I return to what I am? Not long. For that is a snare that never needs to hide itself. Then the cycle of madness and knocking on heaven’s door seeking for help, resumes. That is life as I know it, as it will always likely be.

         The skies change their robes. The rain clouds gather once more, making their way towards us, and the sun goes into hiding.

         But the winds toss their airy heads and carry on. If anything, the winds frolic more, deep in throes of ecstatic glee. The gathering rain does nothing to hold them back. I hear the winds laugh harder amongst the evergreen boughs, in gay abandon.

         In some newfound joy!

         On this final First Friday of a fast aging year, I return to my promise of atonement and reparation. It is then that I hear the most tender of Voices.

          I hear love. Love as never before.

          And I hear the words,

Look at Me, dearest

 

 

 

 

Feed Souls

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          A strange, blurry dream yesterday showed me preparing meals for Muslim memorial gatherings. It was a fuzzy dream, but long enough for me to remember its central theme: the preparation of food for this particular reason.

          I awakened wondering if I should shrug it off; after all, it was November 30, the last day of November when Catholics remember the souls of those gone, in a deeper, special way. I reasoned that if God really wanted me to do something about it, He’d have alerted me sooner. Besides, something else about the dream didn’t make sense – the memorial gatherings – because Muslims here rarely organise memorial get-together’s for their dead. They are very quick to bury their dead, often even before family members can gather. And the grieving are hurried to healing. Memorials are not the done thing.

          But something about the dream lingered on, just like the one about boys in prison. Gentle, like a soft breath against my hours. Not forcing me to focus on it, yet quietly willing me to turn my heart towards it.

          Given what our life here is like with Muslims in this country, I had scant desire to pray or do anything as in the dream. Yet, in issues concerning the departed, my heart bends in a strange softness; the call of their souls one I cannot turn away from, no matter what their faith or creed.

          It was no different this time. Although the rest of me scowled in rebellion, my heart ignored me and went ahead.

          I tried the easy way out first.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let Thy perpetual Light shine upon them.

May their souls rest in peace.

          The prayer faded out of reach pretty quickly, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just me or something more. If it was my reluctance asserting itself, then my offering for these particular departed souls needed to be something I did not actively think about. So, I stood before my altar and offered up my day for the souls. I thought I’d make it a busy chore day, pushing myself with the Christmas cleaning, especially the bits I wasn’t too keen on – to deepen the element of sacrifice of the day for those souls.

          My hours of the 30th of November instead slid into gentle, languid ease. The heavy work day I planned simply misted away. Apart from the daily ‘usuals’, I got nothing else done. It was not due to apathy; more like my plans for the day were moved out of my reach.

          The prayer didn’t fit, the offering didn’t work out. I must have read the dream wrong, I thought ruefully to myself. It was just a dream, not a call from heaven.

          As those thoughts tread through my mind, an old dream came before me, of a coming reunion, a dark day of approaching danger, yet also a day where I saw our beloved long gone, living with us once more, in happy play with the other children, yet not too busy to give me a hug.

          Then, from behind me, in the dream, appeared a Muslim man, dressed in almost white. His hands stretched out in a gesture of heartfelt pleading, he said,

“At least you can see them. Give us some hope too.”

          So many, many times since that dream of 2015 on the eve of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I’ve pondered those strange words from the unknown man, At least you can see them. Give us some hope too.

          What hope was he referring to? Hope of seeing those gone alive once more amongst us?

          Why could he not see them?

          How did he know I could?

          And how was I to give him the hope of this seeing?

          Years later, no clear answer was forthcoming.

          But this new November dream was still here, asking me for something for Muslim souls. What it was, I didn’t know, but I suspected it was something that was not a part of Islam.

          On last night of old November, as the night rains mouthed a soft chorus outside, I read something about the Holy Souls that I have never come across before.

For the souls in Purgatory then, Holy Communion is one precious personal gift which they can receive from us. Who can tell how helpful Holy Communions are toward their liberation? One day St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi’s dead father appeared to her and said that one hundred and seven Holy Communions were necessary for him to be able to leave Purgatory. When the last of the one hundred and seven was offered for him, the Saint saw her father ascend to Heaven. ~ http://www.marys-touch.com/Eucharist/ch3.htm

          In a fall of Light, I suddenly saw and understood something I hadn’t before.

          This year, I’ve been moved to do something odd- to ask God permission each time I went to receive Holy Communion, to bring along Poor Souls. I had not read about this practice anywhere before, nor heard of it done by someone. In fact, every time I prayed to “bring along” a Poor Soul, I thought I was bone mad. But in the depths of my heart, I also wondered if coming with me to receive Holy Communion placed the departed souls as close to Jesus as possible, at least for a few moments, thus momentarily appeasing their flaming sorrows at the separation of atonement.

          I wasn’t even sure if this act was theologically sound but I was confident that if it wasn’t, God would right it Himself.

          Yesterday, upon reading the above passage, it became very clear that taking the souls for Holy Communion was not an act of madness. It was an asking of God.

To enable the expiation of sins through the power of the Holy Eucharist

          There are many written accounts of Saints like Padre Pio who tell of souls serving their Purgatory by expiating in very specific ways, of sins committed during their time on earth. I personally know this to be true, although I do not know if what I saw was Purgatory or Hell itself.

          But until last night, I had not known that we on earth can help to expiate for sins against the Holy Eucharist by the receiving It on behalf of the Poor Souls of Purgatory. And now, it appears that even in death, we can give Jesus to souls – including Muslims, for whom Jesus is a prophet, not the Messiah.

          Every year, I seek to know what Advent my Lord asks of me. This year was no different. Today, on this first day of Advent, an answer begins to take form. The memorial meals I saw myself preparing in yesterday’s dream was significant. I’m being asked to feed souls – but with the Eucharist.

          But it is what a priest does.

          I’m no priest and I’m not about to ordain myself.

         But as a sinner who was long ago taught to love and care for the souls of the departed, I am now being asked to feed them through my faith and belief in the presence and power of Jesus alive in the Holy Eucharist. As I receive my Jesus in Holy Communion,  carrying with me the departed in my heart, in a supernatural way, in a way I do not understand yet believe, they too will receive Jesus.

          Even Muslims.

          And by this open that final window to eternal freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys in Prison

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          I had a strange dream this morning. In it, my immediate family and I spent 3 different days visiting boy inmates of a prison. The other visitors to this prison comprised strangers and even members of my extended family. This dream was like a reel of snapshot moments, focus sharpening on certain scenes, on certain individuals. The dream raised no alarm of distress within me. It was even a little vague, as details I remembered during the dream immediately faded out when I awakened. For me, that is always a sign – those details were not to be focused on.

          The dream showed roughly 4 main groups of visitors –

my family and I,

a cousin, her sibling and his wife,

an aunt and her family, and

another unknown woman, somewhat wealthy, and her brood of many kids.

It appeared that we were all visiting different inmates. Except for the cousin’s family, I was either told or shown who the other inmates were but I was not detained there.

          In the dream, on the first day, it appeared as if I was visiting my son. This was not clear – I never actually saw him in the prison cell, just that it was vaguely alluded to. Visiting there too were all the others as mentioned above. In reality, I am extremely close to those members from my extended family. But in the dream, while they were aware of my presence and scooted over to make place for me on the visitors’ benches in front of the cells, and despite the fact I could sense their compassion, their focus was totally upon whoever it was that they had come to visit. That told me that each group was there for only one person.

          The next thing I was very clearly shown on that first day was that other wealthy mother. She was visiting an incarcerated son who didn’t seem to much appreciate the visit. He wore that bored, disinterested look so many kids have, totally impervious to his mother’s busy efforts to secure his release. And busy she certainly was, moving swiftly here and there to get his papers in order, yet oddly at ease with the system.

          Interiorly, I knew that she was used to the drill. That it wasn’t her or her son’s first time in jail.

          She was also the only one there at this stage of seeing to the release documents. So, her son’s time in jail was coming to an end. Yet, looking at his insouciance, I thought to myself,

The kid doesn’t care. He’s taking his mum’s efforts for granted.

          The dream then folded into the second day. We were all there again, each group sitting on those benches in front of a specific cell. There was a lot going on for that other woman again. This time, I could see the assortment of release documents she held. They were ready. Her boy was walking out of his cell when suddenly, his release hit a snag. A commotion  ensued – although the mother remained unperturbed. She took it on her chin and moved on quickly to undo the knots.

Her son didn’t do a thing to help.

He was indifferent to her buzzing around, with all his much younger siblings following her like little ducklings. He had no interest in them either, no interaction whatsoever.

He was a kid who clearly lived for himself. And it looked like he was going back in.

          Then, came the third day. This time, my husband and I were driving up to the jail and parking in its tiny porch. As we alighted from our car, our son got out too. So, it meant he was no longer incarcerated. There was another family in their car beside us and they were leaving, their car in reverse, when all of a sudden, their car battery died. The husband tried to get the car started but each attempt failed. My son, normally shy and reluctant in social settings, suddenly went up to this car, then turned towards me to indicate I should help that family to jumpstart their battery.

Oh no, I groaned. Trust him to get us into this.

Interiorly, I communicated to my son, I can’t help them. We would miss visiting hours.

          I know how it sounds but that response is uncharacteristic of me. If anything, I’m impulsively compassionate, often being where I shouldn’t be. And yet, this time, it was clear that I was not called to this need, that it was more important to me that we not miss the prison visit time. As if to confirm the correctness of my decision, yet another car leaving after a visit came into view, indicating that those occupants would offer the help needed now. And so, we hurried inside the prison.

          This time, in the first cell previously occupied by my son, was a new, unknown occupant. It was told to me that he had been anxiously waiting for me. This desperation was conveyed by the fact that he had used a thick, long  wire to snag the prison drop-down door and forcibly keep it open. He wasn’t trying to squeeze out from under it and escape, though.

          Instead, as I moved to go past this cell, this unseen occupant reached out from beneath the metal doors and caught my feet – in an abjectly pitiful gesture – of begging. In an instant, I understood that he was begging for prayers. That he had no visitor, no mother or father or relative keeping vigil on the bench before his prison cell, thus no one who’d pray for him – unless I did.

          Then, I woke up, a grey morning misted in rain, peering in.

          Immediately, my thoughts went back to the dream. It didn’t leave behind any residual emotion which I could use as an indicator of how to move forwards. Must have been last night’s movie, I shrugged, and dismissed the dream.

          But it wouldn’t go away. Like a gentle wraith, it stood close, quietly and firmly.

          I went to my morning prayers. At my home altar, I looked up at the Crucifix. At that moment, I recalled that 3rd day and the unseen boy begging for prayers. Movie-induced dream or not, at the very least, I was dutybound to pray for this soul. And so, I offered him up to the Heart of Jesus.

          And continued to offer him up several times more through the morning grocery shopping as I puzzled the dream out. At one point, waiting for my husband to return to our car from a quick errand, I opened my copy of In Sinu Jesu and began to read. The words gently floated by, evading my spirit’s open window. All except this,

I have saved you, through a particular intervention of My Most Holy Mother, from the fate the Evil one was preparing for you   ~  In Sinu Jesu, pg. 53

          But since my heart did not discernibly react to this, I shrugged off the words.

          For someone who shares everything with her husband, this time I had no urge to tell my husband about the dream. And I definitely wasn’t going to tell my son who was facing important exams and already so stressed out over them, that I had dreamt of him in a prison cell.

          But in the afternoon, a strange nudge pushed me towards my son and I found myself telling him what I had been shown. Far from being upset, he listened alertly and intently. I confessed that I wasn’t at all sure what he was to do.

          Then, recalling that wealthy woman and her ungrateful son, an answer from heaven came. I gently suggested to my son that perhaps he needed to work on his gratitude and thankfulness. Facing such an important exam, it was easy to lose yourself in them and shut out the rest of the world. It was easy to be so focused on yourself and on your academic struggles and to think little of the burdens others carried.

          And it was possible that he hadn’t given God the thanksgiving he needed to offer for the depth of support we and his siblings were giving to help him prepare for his exams.

          The minute I got that out, it was like a key which unlocked the next door of discernment. I suddenly knew who that unnamed, unseen occupant of the cell was: it was an acquaintance of my son, a boy who had made me very angry over the weekend by lying and trying to cheat me. Honestly, I had always disliked the boy. He was sly, honesty and sincerity not part of him. Since the weekend, I had been praying for guidance on how to deal with the situation involving him – whether to tell the boy what he had done was plain wrong or shut my mouth about it. I was veering towards letting it go because seeing how angry I still was about the incident with him, I’d likely say way more than I should. Like my son, this kid too was facing exams and I didn’t want to upset him in any way. Besides, after the exams, they’d go different ways, that would be that. He’d be someone else’s problem.

          Still, my conscience didn’t quite rest.

          The very next moment, my prayer was answered. In a 180º turn from what I intended to do, I saw another way to deal with that situation – and it was the best! Gentle yet calling sin exactly what it was – a sin – and then, giving the boy hope by showing him the way forward.

          It was then that I recalled the morning’s In Sinu Jesu reading. And I understood it. I had narrowly avoided falling into satan’s traps of indifference and of biting anger. Who knows what both actions would have led to –  for the boy, for myself?

          From the moment I spoke of my dream to my child, I understood all the other aspects of the dream as well. Never before has discernment of a dream come as swiftly and as clearly.

          The dead car batteries of the dream referred to dying faith. This is different to faltering faith or faith struggles. For some reason, while God has called me many times to be there for others who are struggling, He somehow holds me back when it involves faith that is dying. Even when He has shown me those whose faith is dying, it is never about me undertaking intense intercessory rescue efforts; all He has asked is that I call others to minister to this need.

          And that I resist feeling guilty about walking away. Because it is never about indiscriminate compassion, spreading ourselves thin running to jumpstart every dead or dying battery. It is never about occupying every visitor bench outside every prison cell. Working in God’s vineyard is always about obedience to Him – not to the dictates of others, not to the impulses of the heart.

          As I write this, the date of the dream, October 28, tugs at me. It takes some time before I realise it is the Feast of St. Jude – the very saint who told me exactly 3 years ago, to Pray for Others. In that dream, he had shown me that all those I had been praying for at that time, family mostly, had been prayed safely into the Church. It didn’t mean the job was done; just that they had been passed into the next pair of hands. And that it was time for me to move on, to pray for others.

          Today, on his feast day, he came once more bearing this call. St Jude had slipped into my morning, to bring me a boy from prison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About to Unfold

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I will not abandon or forsake you. I am faithful. I have chosen you and you are Mine. My blessing is upon you and the designs of My heart are about to unfold for you. You have only to trust Me. Believe that I will keep you as the apple of My eye. You are safe under My Mother’s mantle. I will hold you close to My wounded Heart. Trust that I will bring about all that I have promised you.   ~  In Sinu Jesu, page 42

 

          A week ago, in the happy silence of a still church, I felt Jesus speak those words to me. It was not my imagination, nor was it desperate hope. Just a quiet confidence that my Lord was addressing me.

          Work has been tremendous, the ante upped as it usually is towards the ending of a year. The only difference is that this year, we are being led by cruelty. Masked by the outward appearance of dedication and concern, cruelty is running the show at work. Stooped backs are being further bent by force of work. Weary minds in a chokehold, forced to remain in pursuit of someone else’s goals.

          And yet, a secret flame burns somewhere within the folds of my spirit. Most days, I am so tired that I think I cannot walk another step. But from its hiding place, a mysterious energy flows into the dry gullies of my being. Somehow, I can go on – and go on well!

          And I am quietly happy, mirth in easy bubbling at the slightest tickle.

          On this grey morning, as robins sweet~note from rain~pearled boughs, my mind returns to the recent days. Days of rainbow after unexpected rainbow, willing me to recall God’s Word to my heart,

The designs of My heart are about to unfold for you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching

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MAKER of all, eternal King,

who day and night about dost bring:

who weary mortals to relieve,

dost in their times the seasons give:

Now the shrill cock proclaims the day,

and calls the sun’s awakening ray,

the wandering pilgrim’ guiding light,

that marks the watches night by night.

Roused at the note, the morning star

heaven’s dusky veil uplifts afar:

night’s vagrant bands no longer roam,

but from their dark ways hie them home.

The encouraged sailor’s fears are o’er,

the foaming billows rage no more:

Lo! e’en the very Church’s Rock

melts at the crowing of the cock.

O let us then like men arise;

the cock rebukes our slumbering eyes,

bestirs who still in sleep would lie,

and shames who would their Lord deny.

New hope his clarion note awakes,

sickness the feeble frame forsakes,

the robber sheathes his lawless sword,

faith to fallen is restored.

Look in us, Jesu, when we fall,

and with Thy look our souls recall:

if Thou but look, our sins are gone,

and with due tears our pardon won.

Shed through our hearts Thy piercing ray,

our soul’s dull slumber drive away:

Thy Name be first on every tongue,

to Thee our earliest praises sung.

All laud to God the Father be;

all praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;

all glory, as is ever meet,

to God the Holy Paraclete. Amen.

 

          Exactly 2 months ago, I came across this beautiful hymn written by St. Ambrose. Its rousing verses lit a sudden rush of hope inside me, especially the lines

Now the shrill cock proclaims the day

The encouraged sailor’s fears are o’er

New hope his clarion note awakes

          In the weeks that followed, many a time I returned to those verses. Each time, they silvered life into weary gullies.

          As October began to bloom, St. Francis of Assisi came twice through the sign of the Blue King to tell me to reduce my busyness, to quieten myself.  But those early days were wound tight around endless work and responsibilities. I went gasping from one assignment to the next, with little rest and sleep.

          Still, St. Francis’ sign was before me and in brief moments, I tried hard to slow down, even if for a few minutes. It was then that I began to sense something.

A strange, secret prickling of joy. A tiny silver trickle within me, yet hidden from me.

          It came and went, this sudden shard of joy. It was playful, teasing. It never came at my bidding. It never showed itself whenever I watched for it. Like some shy, mythical wood~nymph, it always came from behind, lancing my heart when I least expected it.

          But always and only in moments of quiet and recollection.

          What joy is this? I pondered in curious puzzlement. The more I turned it over, it didn’t seem like the random pulses I feel at times. It’s somewhat human, I suddenly realised.

This joy is like Someone approaching.

          This morning, a dipping into my prayer nook brought forth the St Ambrose hymn once more. Happily, I went to it, eager to rest in its hope once again.

          Instead, new lines sliced my heart.

Shed through our hearts Thy piercing ray,
our soul’s dull slumber drive away:
Thy Name be first on every tongue,
to Thee our earliest praises sung.

          I return to the thoughts of recent hours. This unknown joy. This approaching of something, someone, I know not what nor who.

Shed through our hearts Thy piercing ray,
our soul’s dull slumber drive away:
Thy Name be first on every tongue,
to Thee our earliest praises sung.

          Are the verses pointing to the Illumination of Conscience? And the mysterious joy – the herald of the Light to come?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Comes Early

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          Looking out of my window very early today, I was taken aback to see the hidden sun already at work, quietly rose~ing the velvet skies. Never in my life have I known the dawn to come so early, defying even the science of forecast.

          And yet it had, this Rosary Sunday, eve of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

          Pink and gold spilling across the skies, I hurried outside to rest my soul among the smiling blooms in the garden, the zinnias growing impossible tall and luxuriantly, wet from the blessings of dew the night before, the roses sweetly unpearling their petals to greet the new day.

          Pondering the surprise of the early sunrise, I thought of God’s promise to me during Lent, 6 months ago,

God will help it at the break of dawn.   ~   Psalm 46: 6

          Is this it? Is this never before early hour of dawn the silent herald of help coming from heaven?

Then the LORD answered me and said:
 Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
 so that one can read it readily.
 For the vision still has its time,
 presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
 if it delays, wait for it,
 it will surely come, it will not be late.   ~  Habakkuk 2: 2 – 3

 

 

 

 

 

Proclaim on Distant Isles

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Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.   ~  Jeremiah 31: 10, 13

 

          It has been three very intense workdays, like a whole week crammed into them. Long hours, the feeling that you can’t do one thing more.

          And yet, amazing strength. Laughter and cheer. Calmness.

          As calm as a saint.

          From yesterday, her feast day of October 1st, my thoughts skip over ever so often to St Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, because the St Thérèse roses, as I have named them, by my window, have put out gentle, pink blooms. Ever since the sign of some years back, when I see roses come forth from the plant, I think of her and I know that she’s thinking of me too. And this calmness since yesterday is not mine, I can assure you.

          Today, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, the other rose plants clamour to rise their blooms too. Suddenly, the garden is blooming and laughing like never before.

From heaven I will send down a shower of roses   ~  St Thérèse of Lisieux

          Oh joy, she certainly has kept her word!