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.

The King’s Poverty

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          Since the tumble of hard days in weeks past, a gent~ling came to my days, a respite I was much thankful for. Things that needed to get done – did, and the tightness that bound so many hours before, loosened its grip.

          But not for long, yet again. A storm hit out of nowhere and I lost my footing once more.

          At work, in a workstation reorganization conducted by a junior co-worker not overly endowed with much commonsense, I lost the space I had had for many years. Granted, it was not the most comfortable of crannies to begin with, but it had given me some measure of privacy and I had made the most out of it, over the years, creating a workspace that worked for me.

          But within a single day, despite all precautions taken, I got pushed out into the open. If before this, I was on the sidewalk, now I was right in the middle of office traffic. Gone was my little crook of privacy, gone was the little bit of sky I had. People brushed right against my desk and happily trotted back and forth right behind me. The light behind me gifted me with its shadow as well as its glare, not to mention the heat from the open doors people can never remember to shut.

          In my younger days, I might have been able to take this in stride. But the day this happened, it was just one thing too much, and I keeled right over.

          My kids stared at me dumbfounded as I stormed and raged and then, cried into my soup at dinner that night. I couldn’t bear the look in their eyes but I couldn’t rise above my anger and frustration either.

          Later, in an ill-timed phone conversation with a friend from work who was also upset over the changes, I let my anger get ahead of me again. I spoke ill of that co-worker and my words were harsh.

          All through the journey to church for Mass the next day, I sure had God by His ear. The year was already proving to be so much harder than I felt I could bear, and here, was yet another avalanche I was ill-prepared for. I felt God was unfair and I let Him know it. Why? Why? Why? I asked Him.

          By the time I got to the church, I had a prayer~cart filled to the brim with hurt and recriminations and bewilderment. This time, there was no one else’s need in my heart; it was filled with me. I went before the Divine Mercy image and tipped my prayer~cart over.

          Then, almost as a grudging afterthought, I felt I needed to make a stab at humility. But I felt no remorse over my anger. So, I made a clean breast of it to Jesus. I want to repent but I have no remorse, Lord, I said. I’m sorry, I added.

          Sitting back in my seat, I went over my prayer to see if I had left anything out.

          Suddenly, I saw my prayers lifted away, and something new take its place. My heart was suddenly claimed by a strong desire to be punished. I stared dumbfounded at my heart. Nothing else mattered in that instant except that I receive the lash for calumny against my co-worker.

          Closing my eyes shut, I tossed aside every concern. I found myself praying that God give me what I deserved. All I wanted was that my soul be right.

          About to deepen that prayer some more, again, I sensed yet another change – even that prayer was lifted away from my reach! However hard I tried, I could no longer find that prayer, – or even any of the others – I had brought before the Divine Mercy.

          I knew something was at work. I decided to let God take charge. I sat back and opened St. Faustina’s Diary of My Soul, as I always do before Mass, to get my spirit lines in order before the Lord.

          Speak to me, Lord, even if don’t deserve to hear Your voice, I prayed. I need to understand why You allowed this to happen. St. Anthony of the Desert, one of the Desert Fathers, had made me acquaintance a few days before, and I sought his aid as well in those brief minutes before Mass began.

          Then, like so many times before, it happened. My eyes were taken to Entry 532:

          Today, penetrate into the spirit of My poverty and arrange everything in such a way that the most destitute will have no reason to envoy you. I find pleasure, not in large buildings and magnificent structures, but in a pure and humble heart.  ~ Divine Mercy In My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska.

 

          Spirit of My poverty. My own spirit quietened before those words.

          I next saw St. Faustina’s reflection on Jesus’ words to her:

          I began to reflect on the spirit of poverty. I clearly saw that Jesus, although He is Lord of all things, possessed nothing. From a borrowed manger He went through life doing good to all, but Himself having no place to lay His head. And on the Cross, I see the summit of his poverty, for He does not even have a garment on Himself. ~ Entry 533, Divine Mercy In My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska.

          Borrowed manger. Not even a garment on the Cross. And here I was, turning the world upside down over a workstation moved 3 feet in the wrong direction.

          But I was not filled with remorse as I anticipated, as I had hoped.

          Instead, my entire being was now flooded with a surge of strength at the words, Penetrate into the spirit of My Poverty. Once more, it was no longer Jesus’ words to St. Faustina. They were Jesus’ words to me. I turned back to my hurt and applied His words to the situation. I grimaced at the uncovering of the wound again. Not surprisingly, the pain still remained. I was not healed of it. But I had a calm certainty that God wanted the pain to remain in place as a misted grace to suffer for Jesus.

          No bargaining did I enter into. No backing away either. I gave my heart over to His poverty of Spirit, every crease and fold of it.

          At work the next day, the pain and anger lay in wait, their traps set in readiness. My triumphant co-worker did not make my adjustment any easier. All through the day, I had to fight myself and bite back words that begged release. I clung to my promise to penetrate into the Poverty of Jesus and I clung with all my might.

          Because all the King had was a borrowed manger and no garment even on the Cross.

 

 

 

 

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Battle

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          When the old year went to its end, I had a feeling I was off to a tough start in 2018 – and how right I was! But nothing could have prepared me for the way the new year unfurled itself. My husband came down with a very severe sinus attack. Out-of-sorts and in pain, the cold evenings and nights were hard on him. I tried to help by taking on his load so he could relax after work each day. That pushed my own load to the brim. Every day was tough. Every day brought new demands. Every day I struggled to clear my to-do list.

          And every single day, although I was cheery and working with a skip in my step, it felt like I was falling behind more and more in my schedule.

          By the second week, the home schedule had begun to unravel as well. I forgot to get us fresh vegetables one day, dinner got more and more delayed, and I struggled to put together even simple meals. But as a family, we laughed it off and pushed on.

          I got to the end of the days very exhausted, barely able to keep my eyes open and to think straight. Naturally, I couldn’t make my usual 4.30 a.m. wake up time for Holy Hour and prayed as much for God’s forgiveness as I did for strength just to get through the day, the week.

          Soon, we got to 5 straight days of no night Rosary. I’ve been at this point many times before and I knew I had to dig in deep and halt the slide. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Every time, exhaustion won.

          Then, the dreams began. Messy, troubling dreams. Dreams that took me on draining and confusing journeys I could not afford to go on. I awakened even more tired and spent. But there was a new, unsettling, side to those dreams as well. It came with a negative kind of forcefulness that increased incrementally with each dream, trying to tug me towards a disturbed state of mind.

          In the midst of it all, was a flash of a dream one day. A quick one that softly planted itself in my consciousness, setting itself apart from the others.

          It was of my son, in a state of deep fear and panic, wanting to quit his studies.

          I honestly wasn’t sure what I was to do. I believe my husband and I have a great relationship with all our kids. Despite the crazy schedules we both keep, the kids are always near us and we know every story of their hearts – especially of this son I had dreamed about.

          After the dream, I began to keep an even closer eye on him and his activities, in case I was reading things wrong. But his joy and exuberance, his sincere commitment to his studies and athletics  remained undimmed. The dream might be something for the distant future, I told myself.

          It was mid-week then, and I waited to get to Friday when I could draw in breath and put things in order and get us all back on track, Rosary and all. A few more days, I placated myself.

          But the dark never waits for when you’re prepared and ready, to strike.

          In a matter of a few brief hours, my sunny and cheery son went from light and bright to morose and subdued. The change was extreme. Sudden. Obvious even to the blind, it seemed.

          I thought he was coming down with the flu or something and so, I made him soups and health drinks and insisted on early bed time. Oddly, he remained alert and responsible in his home chores and school assignments.

          Yet, it seemed like in an instant, something had reached in and turned off my child’s inner light. I tried everything but I could not reach him.

          I banged on heaven’s door. My vigilance went into overdrive. But despite my deep concern for my son, I was also aware that I felt no panic. Yet the situation was not something I could turn away from. Some force other than my mother-heart was keeping the eyes in my head and heart riveted on my son and this mysterious shift in temperament.

          And this force was allowing me no panic, but insisting that I keep my eyes on the ball.

          By the second day, and no change for the better, even as I got a better grip on my work and home schedules, concern furrowed deeper. Then, late in the evening, my son got into a minor argument with his siblings, forcing me to step in to rear him back. He went off quietly into his room and I went back to the kitchen to get on with dinner preparations. I was undisturbed and thought the matter was over. Nonetheless, suddenly remembering how St. John Bosco had once helped me to discern an approaching danger  concerning my son, I sent up a quick prayer to him for help.

          It was then that a dewdrop fell on my spirit. I recalled a dream this same son had had just before Christmas this year when we were having some family struggles. He had dreamed that we were going to be under severe and unexpected spiritual attack. He had dreamt that he was being attacked by an entity and that my husband had come to his aid and as he was trying to help my son, he was attacked by the same entity.

          My son had dreamed that it was he who was going to release to freedom something that shouldn’t be free.

          In all the busyness that was Christmas, we had forgotten about that dream. Till now. In that moment, I knew what it was that my boy was facing. A demonic attack of some sort.

          Dropping everything, I traced the sign of the Cross on my forehead and lips, and went swiftly to him. I made him look at me and told him the sudden change that had come about now was unusual and wrong and insisted he tell me what was going on.

          My beloved child broke down and wept. He told me he was struggling with his studies. He told me he didn’t know how he was going to cope.

          My mind went to that flash of a dream. It had indeed been a warning.

          Yet, my spirit turned away from his words. My son wasn’t lying to cover-up something else but this kind of a studies-related panic is gradual; it doesn’t happen over a space of two hours. And not to a boy who had just begun the new academic term, who practically hopped and skipped to classes and who was coping well. This belief didn’t stem from my unwillingness to read the handwriting on the wall, wanting to conveniently blame this on the spiritual. It came because just when I had prayed to St. John Bosco, I had been reminded about the dark dream of a coming attack – incidentally one that would target both my son and his father.

          With an insight even I didn’t know I had, I began to talk to my boy. I took him back to his own dream, walked him through the discernment. I opened up and shared about some struggles my husband and I had been having, which the children had not been aware of.

          Without even thinking about it, I found myself telling him about times we had turned the eyes of our hearts towards work, consequently, neglecting family, not loving the family as we should, as was willed by God.

          Something took hold of my tongue. When we love our family, I told my son, when we stay close to their hearts and be a part of their daily lives, it is like building a wall around our home. A wall that keeps us safe within. But when we stray away, even for a while, it is like making a gaping hole in our fences, and evil will steal in.

          As my son stared at me, I said to him, That was what happened with you in the space of a few hours. You turned away from the family to focus on your studies – even though it seemed like a good thing – that was the hole that let the dark in.

          I didn’t know where that had come from. I hadn’t even thought of it.

          Long minutes later, I left him with a kiss and a hug.

          He did lighten up slightly after that, but it was clear to my eyes that he still remained in the iron grip of that darkness.

          I finally told my husband and insisted he battle with me for our boy. Together we fought. We went into the next day, but the hours did not herald the change we were praying for. Still, my heart lifted when I saw that my son too was battling this dark hold. Even though he clearly didn’t feel like it, I saw him try and be a part of his siblings’ hearts. He listened as we shared about our days and plans and failures. He listened despite what it must have been costing him to. There was still no light in his eyes. Fear still ruled.

          So much prayers and all for naught, came a voice close to my ear. But we ploughed on undeterred. We returned to the Rosary.

          Later, stopping by my prayer nook for the prayer for the day, I found an unknown saint waiting for me:

Do not grieve if you do not at once receive from God that which you ask. He wishes to benefit you still more by making you persist longer in your patient prayer before Him. For what can be higher than to address one’s converse to God and be in communion with Him? ~ St. Nilus of Sinai

          I chiseled the words to my heart, new strength flooding me.

          Later, about to doze off in the afternoon, I latched my spirit to prayer. I called upon the saints who had come to help me with my son in the past, St. John Bosco, St. Francis of Assisi.

          Then, a vague image of Our Lady with a scepter in hand passed through my mind. I lightly sensed the words,

She will lead in battle.

          Mother, St. John Bosco, St. Francis, fight for my son. Save him, I prayed with calm and faith.

          I awakened about an hour later and immediately went in search of my son. He had been reading. When he saw me, he jumped up and bouncily announced that the rains that day seemed to have eased up.

          My spirit saw it even before my eyes perceived. The old joy was back! He had come out of it. It had lifted. Still, I put the hours that followed to the test.

          No trace of the dark remained, not even the vaguest stain of it.

          It was clear: we had indeed won.

          This time.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Of This World

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          I’ve asked God for a special grace for the new year: the stillness of soul that was Mother Mary’s, where every whisper of heaven found ready anchor. No matter what my struggles may be, I want this grace of an inner cloister so attuned to even the softest breath of an angel. I have asked for similar graces before, but never this special, extraordinary attribute of the Mother of God. And I ask for it because if there was anything the last week before Christmas had taught me, it was that there were forces that did not want me to be still of soul.

          When I understood that, I knew that I had to have it.

          That last week. I must have begged and begged for Christmas silence to pervade my spirit. An unexpected quietening did come when I finally stepped away from myself and sank my heart into the joy and enjoyment of my children.

          Yet, that didn’t satisfy me enough. Something was still missing. There was still noise, even if it was much reduced.

          It bothered me. I didn’t want less; I wanted none.

          Practically speaking, to live in this world means I cannot always let go and relax. The beginning of the new work year would bring with it its own storm of demands and deadlines that must be met if I am to earn my paycheck, and waves will ride high.

         But I don’t want to be so caught up in the gales so as to miss the silent flutter of angels’ wings when they come to bid me listen. I want the world’s hold on me to be nothing I cannot turn my back on whenever heaven summons my spirit. Something tells me that the madness of the last week of Christmas is a harbinger of that which is to come for me, where the world will shout and attempt to shake me to distraction, and heaven’s calls fall unheeded perhaps, among swirling rushes.

          But in Mother Mary’s stillness of soul lies the remedy I seek against this drowning.

          To live in this world and yet, be not of it.

 

 

 

Touching Bethlehem

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Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give Your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ, rest Your weary ones, bless Your dying ones, soothe Your suffering ones, shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love’s sake.   ~   St. Augustine

 

Touching Bethlehem this night

Hearts and spirits stilled and waiting

Seeking the miracle of old still bright

Wishing one and all holy joy and blessings

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

 

It Begins

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          As far as last weeks before Christmas go, this year’s must rank as one of the more unpleasant ones. Something seemed to have caught my by the hair and was flinging and yanking at me almost every day. My mood was all over the place. I could put in two good days of solid work and collapse for the next three. Struggling to keep Christ in our Christmas preparations, I didn’t feel my efforts had worked out well. I was heading to Christmas ragged and tired and there were heavy days ahead yet.

          And then, my Christmas card project with the kids got held up and I found myself highly stressed, trying to get our cards done in time for the morning mail pick-up. Trying desperately not to forget God, I must have said the most distracted prayers. All around me wild gusts of grey~blue winds tore around the house and through the trees. Whenever I slowed down and allowed my gaze to fall upon the words the winds were writing on the tightly-fleeced skies, I had the feeling the angels were trying to get me to slow down and listen!

          But I couldn’t. Despite paring down Christmas chores and tasks to the barest minimum, there was still so much to do and each one had to be done. I flitted from one end of the mood spectrum to the other. I was living this last week before Christmas in exactly the way I didn’t want to and there was nothing I could do to reverse it. I prayed tattered prayers for help and quiet.

          And I felt each one of those prayers get lost in the wild, mad swirling of those tempestuous storm winds.

          By nightfall, when everyone else must have been winding down, our household was in typical high gear. My husband had returned late from work and after dinner, was busily baking his Christmas specialities. The younger children were in a madness-induced state from sheer excitement of Christmas and from what else was going to come out of the kitchen.

          It was then that I gathered them all to prepare their Christmas cards. I had kept it simple. The children went online and chose the images they wanted for their cards which we then set onto cards and printed out. Then they sat down and wrote their messages.

          I didn’t bargain on the level of excitement even that would generate. There were squeals and awe over the pictures, and giggles and good-natured teasing. Youngest to the oldest fell about laughing over something or another. Someone forgot how to spell her name. One of the older ones wrote to his godmother asking her how her Christmas was going to be – when she was, in fact, going to be spending it with us. Another wrote to the Parish Priest, Since you pray for me, I will pray for you too – thank goodness for the good pastor’s sense of humour – he was going to need it!

          Deep in drill commander mode, I was so anxious to have the cards done well and minimally smudged – that my children’s joy hovered at the periphery of my senses.

          Slowly, slowly though, an Unseen hand turned my heart towards those bursts of light. Slowly, the demands of the task melted away. I began to get caught up in my children’s ebullience, their pure~silver laughter catching my own spirit up in a dance only children’s laughter has the power to create.

          As I fell backwards into my children’s glee, a quiet silver began to pool its tendrils into my spirit, filling rough and hollow pockets with a fresh dew, spilling light into tired shadows. It had been a very long and tiring day, we had a house that had been cleaned and tidied from top to bottom and yet looked like it had been turned upside down.

          But a deep languid peace continued its conquest of my heart, and fort after frazzled fort fell before its quiet, serene power as I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into my children’s joy.

          That night, I prayed our Rosary with a difference. My heart found the words. Gone was the tetchy seeking for Heaven’s listening ear. Even when the gusts picked up outside, my heart rested in serenity.

          Hours into a deep, contented sleep, I was suddenly awakened by the sharp light of a voice, Mama! It alerted me that the youngest needed some comforting. It sounded exactly like one of my children but even without turning over, I knew it was not that child, for the voice sliced cleanly through my sleep and yet it didn’t startle me.

          Playing that voice over and over in my sleep, I recalled the strange prayer that had found my heart recently ~

Jesus, speak to me. Let me hear You.

I recalled the dream of the stone house and the reunion of loves. I went back even further, to the aged words of the priest that old day so long ago, when the skies sang but my heart was learning a sonnet of biting sorrow.

          He will grow up, said the priest, but I had recoiled because I could not understand. Because I could not accept it.

          Mama! A voice stilled for years upon years. Till today. Till I turned towards the angels’ Light and sank my heart into my children. I finally heard the voice I love with all my heart, and never once stopped loving nor seeking.

          This sign given to me is an angel’s whisper. Telling me it is the beginning of the Miracle.

 

 

Hard~Flowers

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May Christ support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in His mercy
may He give us a safe lodging,
and holy rest.
and peace at the last. Amen.

          This is the world and life I long for. This living where hard work and faith are entwined, and honest fulfilment of the day’s duties is met with holy rest and night’s peace when the sun goes to its crimson rest. This is what life should be, pure, sweet and simple, tenderly nourishing the listening soul, beauty lived in the heart of God.

          But as I learned anew yet again yesterday, this is not the life sought by enough people. All through the hours of yesterday’s Sunday, there was an unsettledness in spirits that even the clouds in the skies reflected, shifting from dense to wispy to rain~bellied. There were smiles which didn’t touch the eyes, and eyes that refused to meet. There were hearts that refused to care and still more that supported this wrong. While people didn’t quite rush about in the madness they were usually addicted to, there was something else in the air, in hearts, in Christian spirits mostly, that troubled my own spirit. What is it? I asked God.

          But I just couldn’t reach the heart of this troubling to understand it. I couldn’t touch it in order to pray about it. I couldn’t even pray! As soon as I began my attempt, the airs swirled even faster around me, clouding and blinding. Little things riled me and I slid into traps of petty annoyances. The more I justified my irritation, the redder I got, and the less I was able to be thankful for the little purses of beauty God had embroidered into my hours.

          Finally, fed up with myself, I hauled myself out of the cages I had willingly trotted into. I still couldn’t pray properly but I held on to my Rosary beads for the Christmas Wreath for as long as I could. I forced myself to sink my spirit into gratitude, for the merry laughter of my children as they helped with baking, for the shared stove as my husband and I cooked together.

          There was no miracle lifting of the cloak of thorns that had formed from my early Sunday hours. Yet, slowly and surely, the pricking dissipated, taking with it any happiness I had within me but also leaving my spirit in an undisturbed stillness.

          It was then that an old question welled up in me again, What is the sin that can never be forgiven, that which is called Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

          And with it, formed a sobering reply:

The hardened conscience.

A hardening that is neither sudden nor forced, but which begins with a personal, willful deafening and blindness to the Call of God to love and to obey. One turning away followed by the next. Slowly, stealthily, relentlessly.

          I looked back over the old, gone hours of the day, this time seeing what I had not comprehended. I saw the people I had met. The old woman who always had compliments for my husband and I, but whose sugared tongue and carved smile served as a front for a begging to feed a hidden habit. The relative with the cheerful words and hard eyes who now hastened to get away from us because we once chose our marriage and family over him. The woman who sneered at her husband’s simplicity, honesty and gentle love over the years and who refused to care for him in his declining years because she believed he had no right to be ill and to visit that suffering upon her. Who led her daughter by silent example to do the same to her own husband decades later.

          I thought of parents who chose their children over Jesus. And of children, now adults, returning that teaching by choosing loves over Jesus.

          I saw what was not obvious before. Every one of it was the hardening of the conscience. The killing of the Light.

          And God had allowed me to be touched by air stained by that hardening.

          As a warning to me that all sin begins with a single No, and that neither I nor anybody is exempt from the danger of losing our souls. And through this warning and personal repentance, that I would be pierced with His sorrow and seek to console Him.

          The Christmas Rosary~Wreath beckons for its next bloom. Gone are the schmaltzy ideas for it that I had entertained, for the antidote for the hardening of the conscience is not pretty or whimsical. The Wreath calls for blooms of perseverance, humility and obedience. To suffer loving when it is hardest.

          Hard~flowers as a gift for the King.

 

 

 

Christmas Rosary~Wreath

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         Early this morning, as I watched and listened to a lyric video of Give This Christmas Away, sung by Matthew West and Amy Grant, I wondered if this just might be the answer to my musings in recent days. I’ve had this sudden, quiet urge to observe the final week before Christmas in a way different from years past. As we journey closer to the final week, I feel myself digging in my heels to stop the inevitable slide into the extreme busyness of house cleaning, baking, decorating, shopping and all other -ings of Christmas. I want to be able to manage all of that yet not lose my inner peace and quiet.

          I don’t want to take my sights off what really matters in Christmas.

          And Give This Christmas Away gave me an idea. A Christmas Rosary~wreath. A different Christmas intention for each day’s morning Rosary in the remaining ten days till Christmas. I could pray the Dominican Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or even my Holy Tears Rosary. A different intention each day for the sorrowing of this world. I will pray as the wind leads.

          The moment I come to this decision, I see the word, Joy. That will be the first bloom for my Rosary~wreath. For the world.

          For those most in need, comes the next still whisper. My spirit bends in acquiescence.

          My mind made up, I come across a story about a ‘miracle’ sampler. I read the words, God Bless Our Home, and I pray the same for us. 

          And then, the words, Jesus Loves Me, fall upon my eyes.

          Electricity ribbons through me. My heart catches and I weep.

 

 

 

Words for the Red

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          From the joyful red~shine of Advent days here, rose a red of a different kind, one far removed from joy and hope. It is an insidious thorn that rears its head at the end of almost every year since my husband and I started a family life moons ago. I had assumed that with the deep, illuminating spiritual journey that this year was, my husband and I would be in a better place in this largely lively and joyful marriage. Then came the morning and a thoughtless, dismissive statement and we were right back where I thought we had left for good. Granted, my grievance is nothing in comparison to what many people  are facing. Many would even consider it laughably trivial and so might I some distant day, but that reasoning fails to stamp out the red flames today.

          I try to turn away from the hurt. I try to shrug it off and fill the sun~dappled morning hours with home chores and yard work. But the red follows in waves and dips. As soon as I have crested one, as soon as I dare to think the hurt has gone, the next rise comes.

          But there’s a difference to my anger. It is not rage. There is no wild slant to it. The sadness it evokes in my heart burrows deep. It brings to life old disappointments and frustrations that I had assumed were in our past.

          As hour spills into hour, I struggle with myself. I struggle to not return to twisted ruts of old. Nonetheless, numerous retorts, rebuttals and accusations march steadily and stormily though my mind.  Snatches of speeches and choice words I conjure.

          The very second they form, I force myself fight them off, to turn my back on them. And then I realize, they need to come out. They are all reactions to my hurt that must have some place to go. So, I give them to Jesus, saying, I chose You, Jesus.

          On and on I battle until I am overwhelmed. I tell God I cannot do it anymore. I cannot pretend, neither can I overlook. I place my husband in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You take over, Lord. I can’t.

          Hours later, the flames have died. In their place an odd quietness – which I put to the test immediately. No, it is not of wanting to forget and make up. Yet, the stillness within me tells me that I am no longer in control of my spirit. I am no longer in control of anything or anyone.

          Someone else is now in charge. I am content to let that be. For once, I do not want to lead. I am tired. I can barely make out the path in front of me.

          My chores for the day done, I cautiously open my door to God. Although my injury is real, in my struggle to overcome my hurt and in my inability to pray in humility for my husband, I am not sure that I am walking in the will of God.

          Timidly, yet with a strange certitude, I ask my God, Lord, give me my prayer. 

          The Almighty’s response is swift, as if He has been waiting for me to ask. His prayer for me is unexpected.

          Prayer of St. Anthony of Padua

          O Light of the world, Infinite God, Father of eternity, giver of wisdom and knowledge, and ineffable Dispenser of every spiritual grace; who knowest all things before they are made, who makest the darkness and the light: put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words. Make my tongue, O Lord, as a chosen arrow, to declare faithfully Thy wonders. 

          Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate.

          Do thou lovingly, holily, mercifully, clemently and gently inspire me with Thy grace. 

          Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts. And let Thy discipline instruct me even to the end, and the counsel of the Most High help me through Thine infinite wisdom and mercy.

 

          Oh no, I groan. The last thing I want is to speak. Words have had no effect on this situation that arises without fail every year end holidays. Same fight. Different words. Same failure. Year after year. And now God asks me to pray, put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words?

          I begin to think that I may have been mistaken about the prayer being for me. That’s when St Anthony, a saint close to my heart, steps in swiftly and takes my eyes directly to the line,

Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts.

          That closes the door on my doubts. That prayer line directly addressed my struggles with my emotions since the morning. It told me God saw the back-and-forth, the tug-and-push, and that He was with me. He understood my hurt. He saw my struggle to contain it and cope.

          I was not alone. That realization suffices.

          I raise my eyes to heaven. Give me Thy words, I pray.

          Not mine but Yours. 

 

 

 

         

Little One

rosary

          I am one of those who strongly believes in the power of the Rosary and yet struggle mightily to recite it daily. It is the simple issue of lack of discipline. But I know my family and I are intrinsically  bound to the Rosary.

          Reciting the Rosary as a family has been a struggle since years and years before, perhaps worse back then because the kids were younger and a lot harder to handle and I myself wasn’t in a good place –  emotionally,  mentally and spiritually.

          But if I thought those were hard times, worse was yet to come. One day, a knife cut through my soul. I knew I was going to fall but I no longer really cared. If I lived at all, it was only for my husband and children. A lot of life didn’t matter much anymore.

          At that point in time, I had in my possession, a rosary made from small sandalwood beads. It was a child’s rosary, gifted to me by someone  I didn’t particularly like, who couldn’t differentiate between a child’s rosary and an adult’s. I had received that sandalwood rosary during a Christmas visit – which meant shutting my mouth and swallowing any remarks I would have made otherwise.  As I already had a pretty, gold rosary which I had received when I was a child, this little new rosary was made into my ‘spare rosary’ – its smallness made it handy to have around when I was travelling.

          Years later, I faced the worst test of my life. I struggled with a dark I have never before been seared by. Oftentimes, it felt as if I would drown and never live again. I was far from home, facing a severe darkness and all I had with me was the little brown rosary. I held it tight and prayed incoherent prayers and hoped God had heard me.

          One day, I had to travel even further away. In the rush and worry and fear at that time, I misplaced the little rosary. I went to my Gethsamane without my beads. Although my relatives visited me at that time, I didn’t mention this, so no one knew. I didn’t feel like asking any one of them to get me another rosary either. I just didn’t want to receive a rosary in this way.

          It was at this time that an old aunt, very close to God, visited me and placed a white~bead rosary in my palm. It was the heaviest Rosary beads I have ever held, yet there was a strange comfort in the polished smooth heaviness of it. She told me she had bought it on a pilgrimage to India when she herself had been close to death a long time before. But she had come back to life. I knew she devoutly said the Rosary every day. Through joy, illness, heartbreak or even worry, this simple woman with a heart of gold recited the Rosary every single day.

          Yet, my aunt never told me to pray. She didn’t blithely tell me to say the Rosary and that all would be well. She just placed the rosary in my palm and with her eyes, willed me to hope on.

          That lonely night, when my aunt and everyone had returned home leaving me to face my sorrows and fears alone, I gripped my old aunt’s rose~beads and went in weeping search of Mother Mary. For many weeks after that, through highs of hopes and lows of shatterings and piercings, I held on to those smooth, white beads for life. Some days I could pray the Rosary. Often I couldn’t. But every day, often more than once a day, I tightly gripped those beads as I screamed and wept and that was the only prayer I could muster.

          Then, one night, my family and I were in the car. For a brief moment, a strength out of nowhere surged through me, and I began to speak about how great and good God was. I had just faced the worst test of my life and more was to come. The waters were still churning around me. I was by no means healed and safe. Yet, with that strange power coursing though me in the dark car, I began to speak about the greatness of a God who had just given me the worst Cross ever.

          I cannot recall what exactly I said but I know these were my ending words in the dark:

We had to go through all of this in order to return to the Rosary again.

          No sooner had the words left my mouth when my toddler son exclaimed that he had found something. He placed it in my open palm.

          I didn’t need any light to tell me what he had found. Even in the dark confines of the car, the minute I felt it, I knew he had found the small sandalwood Rosary given to me five Christmases ago. The very same one I had left in the car that hurried, harried day and forgotten about. Left it in a car I had cleaned thoroughly many, many times, and yet, never came across.

          The moment the eyes of my heart saw how we had to be taken through flood and fire to return to the refuge of the Rosary, the moment I proclaimed this truth to the others with us that night, an Unseen hand had brought back the small beads. I barely thought of the person who had given me the rosary; that was not important.

          What shone through was that a child had given me the rosaryThe child was now pointing me towards something in the Rosary.

          And so began another chapter of our lives. Through the valley of death we walked, my husband, my children and I. We held each other up. We leaned against each other. In joy and in tears, we walked through the weave of years upon years. We didn’t always know what we were doing. We didn’t always do the right things. But we tried to recite the Rosary every day. Sometimes we could, sometimes, we failed. But again and again and again, we got up and went to it.

          Since the sandalwood rosary returned to me, all my rosaries for years since then were recited using it. Yet, I always kept my old aunt’s gift of white beads with me, in memory of her steadfast love for God and for me.

          But close to decade later, more than a year back, the small sandalwood rosary began to ‘slip away’ from me. Every time I reached for it, I’d see the white beads and I’d feel a longing for them mist over my heart instead. If I ignored this and took up the brown beads, I’d sense something amiss but I could never understand it. After several times, sensing something was at work, I stopped fighting it, and switched rosaries. But I kept the ‘little one’ beside me each time.

          One day, little one went missing. I was not perturbed, though. I just knew it would come back. For some reason, my Rosary had to be said with the white beads now. And again, I could not understand beyond that.

          More than a year passed. Two months back, I suddenly began to search for the sandalwood rosary again but to no avail. I still remained undisturbed but every time we recited the prayers, I now wondered where the little one had gone to.

          And I wondered why. Deep down, something was beginning to stir in me that the rosary had been taken away. Taken away by the same Unseen hand that had brought it to me that day in the car when I had given praise to God in a time of deep sorrow. I didn’t get the feeling that it was due to some wrongdoing or failure to fulfil some responsibility.

          But just as before, the humble brown beads had made way for the queenly white one.

          This morning, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I awakened to a blue mist binding my heart. I wasn’t sad or depressed or in a fit over something. But there wasn’t any joy in me either. I was feeling dead and empty and this morning, I just wished it weren’t so. Christmas was coming and I wanted to feel that special joy and to quiver a bit in anticipation.

          As I was musing over this, I recalled a line from a prayer I had just read:

A Cross is a perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect.

Then, someone passed a thought through my mind. What if this touch of blue in my soul was this perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect? If so, to pray it away was not in the will of God, never mind my yearning.

          I didn’t try to bargain with God this time. I got off the ground and dusted myself. If He had willed that I should not feel joy, then I would embrace this Cross for the sake of others – for those contemplating suicide and for those struggling with grief and other unhappiness. I had been in those valleys before. I knew what they were like. So, I asked the Holy Mother of God that these sufferers instead be given the joy I had prayed for.

          Then I quickly got busy before I regretted the prayer.

          Dressing to go out for the day’s errands, I caught sight of a backpack I normally take on holidays. I had just used it and I knew it was now empty. Yet, for no apparent reason, I picked it up and absently ran my fingers down its inner compartments.

          I touched something. I didn’t need light nor sight to tell me what it was.

          Little one had been returned.

          I must have asked why. No answer did I receive, no reason did I get. Yet, a soft mist passed over my heart.

          And then I knew. A door has shut behind me, a page has now been turned.

 

 

 

 

I Choose Jesus

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On awaking, enter in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrate to It your body, your soul, your heart and your whole being, so as to live but for Its love and glory alone.   ~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          This was set before me on this First Friday of the last month of this old year. And with it, my journey from yesterday became very clear. Upset over my niece’s choice of life partner and her increasing distance from the Church and Catholic values, upset that novenas for her and others haven’t yielded positive results yet, upset that I had given till I had nothing left to give and the journey was not over yet, an odd thought had come to me yesterday ~

Choose Jesus for those who won’t

          It came and it took root and it wouldn’t go away. I didn’t for the life of me understand what it meant or how I was to go about choosing Jesus for those who had not the slightest inclination to. Forcing someone to align their beliefs with mine was distasteful to me. I don’t even do it with my own children. But here I was, hearing it loud and strong in my heart, my spirit in waiting readiness to obey the call.

          So, I got started. When I saw dishes in the sink that needed washing, although I honestly wanted to leave them right there, I thought of my niece who couldn’t keep a small room clean and I fought my wee bit of tiredness and got the dishes done, saying, I choose Jesus for… When Rosary for the day seemed much harder than usual, when I didn’t feel like that extra prayer for the Holy Souls, I dragged myself to them for the sake of everyone else with the same struggles, saying, I choose Jesus.

          Throughout the remaining hours of the waning, wet day when the skies took to sobs in fits and bursts, I tried to do what I least felt like doing, each time with a resigned sigh and the prayer, I choose Jesus… Even then, I didn’t know if this was actually what I was meant to do. But I figured I had to start somewhere and this was my wobbly, Yes to God. He would take it from there.

          And He did.

          This morning, when I saw the words from St Margaret Mary’s quote that meant to consecrate my living for the glory of the Sacred Heart and to live for that glory alone, I suddenly saw before me:

Reparation

          It was then that the bean slid into its pod. Choosing Jesus for someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t, through my daily, mundane life choices or through tough decisions made solely for the glory of God – was REPARATION.

Reparation is the repairing or making up for the offenses against God. This covers a wide variety of areas from the fact of Original Sin to our own personal sins and even to the sins of others no matter how large or small the offense might be. (What is Reparation, Fr Robert Altier, http://www.courageouspriest.com)

          For the first time, I understood with my heart what reparation was. I saw that it went beyond selfless sacrifice, itself great and honourable,  because it meant ‘marrying’ my own struggles to those of others. It was not made from the lofty, snooty perch of superciliousness that saw and judged only the failings and weaknesses of other people. It was certainly not about the hidden smugness that might be present when we sacrifice for others.

          I finally realized that reparation was to atone for both my failings and those of my brethren pilgrims.

          Something else tugged at me once I reached this point. Apart from a few searing occasions, it is never easy for me to atone for my own sins. But yesterday, in joining my sins with those of others, I remember being infused with a subtle strength to atone. Strength that had not quite been there before. A strength born from acknowledgement  and purpose. Acknowledgement of my own sins. Purpose that came from wanting to make amends  – for myself and on behalf of others.

          The skies slowly part their cloak of white and grey fleece for the sun as he moves slowly across his court. The hours of the day tendril out before me. Hidden in its tucks and joints lie moments that await I choose Jesus.