ABUSERS

He Will Not Refuse You

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I advise you to have recourse to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, if you want to conquer your enemies and obtain the strength and consolation you need; He will not refuse you this help, if you ask it of Him.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          Covid-19 cases continue their surge in my country and I am once again under home quarantine due to 2 close contacts testing positive.

          Last week, as I was being swabbed together with 80 plus others from my workplace, a team leader posted a message saying that our additional work assignment under her was to continue. That unnecessary assignment required us to return to work after formal hours and to work in cramped rooms with little regard for social distancing. Of course, being under mandatory home quarantine, I needn’t have worried about it. But her posting angered me. Since there were so many of us involved in this latest cluster, we were all being swabbed in the community centre in our place of work. Photos of the event were posted on our work groups. Those being swabbed were beset by frustration, anger and worry. Nobody, absolutely no one, could claim ignorance of what was happening.

          And yet, this woman chose to turn her back and her heart against our collective pain and worry, and to insist that her programme continue. I decided enough was enough.     

          There’s one thing that singles out narcissists like this particular team leader: their fear of ridicule or a public put down and the like. In any dispute, I’ve always gone one-on-one and in private. But this time called for something different. Since the woman had put her announcement out in the open, so to speak, I decided I’d meet her there. I felt I had to make a stand once and for all and I had to let others know what I was doing. So, I posted my own reply notice saying I was pulling out of her programme as long as Covid remained an issue and especially due to the fact that we were now already seeing more and more close contacts test positive for the illness.

          As far as words go, mine appeared to be like bubbles, small and ineffective. But no public slight is small enough for a narcissist. She went completely, uncharacteristically silent. Soon, 2 other voices joined in, urging her to scrap the programme. I expected more to join the chorus of protests but it stopped at 2. Of course, behind the scenes there was plenty of bitter noise but none of that mattered as it didn’t fall on the ears which needed to hear it most.

          Strangely, despite doing something so out-of-character, I was untroubled, my mind clear, my heart calm. More than that, I was glad I didn’t trouble myself to try and save others who couldn’t be bothered to help themselves.

          Close to midnight that day, a directive came from higher up, effectively cancelling the programme. I had deepened the lines of enmity between that woman and myself but at least, we had some respite now.

          Still, for how long?

          In the days since then, I’ve been reflecting. There have been times before when this woman has successfully forged ahead with her ridiculous plans. There have also been a few clear occasions when she has been unexpectedly thwarted. By and large, it has been disruptive and frustrating. This sort of turbulence is unnecessary distraction to anyone who just wants to work and especially to those who work hard and work well. During Covid uncertainty, with our daily worries about our own families, such disruptions and upsets bite deeper and harder. How much of this could I take? I wondered.

          One thing becoming more and more clear to me is that this pandemic has set into motion a massive reset. It has shown us we need to return home in deeper ways. That even as we hold down jobs and work, we need to return to some aspects of life as it was in the past – spend more time with home chores, cook more, making caring for others a priority. Create gardens, tend to vegetable plots. Watch the sun rise and set. Listen to the rains and winds, learn their songs and understand their word to us.

          Enjoy our kids. Teach our own kids. Learn how to teach our own kids.

          Learn to be silent, learn to love silence and stillness.

          In a painful way, this scourge is making us undo some of the knots we have worked into our lives.

          But some people, like my team leader, do not seem to want us to rectify the wrongs in our lives. They are resisting this reset and straining against the ropes to return to imprisonment – and insist that we too return to our prison cells. They are, in effect, willing us to believe that the prison should be our home. And there are also the many enablers who do not try to resist but instead choose the easier path of acquiescence to all that is wrong simply because it troubles them less.

          About 3 years ago, just before Covid came upon us, I had a dream of a dark, dark night. My family and I were on the darkened streets. I seemed to be leading them. Some danger was closing in on us. Then, I ran into a bamboo hut. Inside it were some of my colleagues. Desperately, I pleaded with them to leave the place, to run to safety. While they looked up and listened to me a bit, there was barely any reaction from them. Soon, they had returned to their business. 

          At that moment, we were attacked. A massive tiger was pricing and tearing apart the bamboo walls of the hut. Somehow, I managed to escape. But escaping only put me out on the dark streets again. Out in the open. In trying to go out and warn my colleagues, I had taken my family with me away from safety and now because of me, they were in danger too.

          Many times since then, I have gone back to that dream, pondering it. The message was clear: it is not my mission to save my colleagues. If I save my family and if my colleagues wish to learn from it, they are most welcome to.

          But my workmates are not my mission. My family is. This week, I learned that lesson anew.

          And as long as one chooses family, there will be forces against it. Like the woman at work who will not allow us to choose family because she won’t. She will trouble us until we admit defeat and resign ourselves to her will.

          In a moment of quiet yesterday afternoon, I sensed a tiny movement in my spirit.

         I advise you to have recourse to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, if you want to conquer your enemies and obtain the strength and consolation you need; He will not refuse you this help, if you ask it of Him. 

          I think of the many things that have happened this week. Incidents, realizations, choices and decisions. Each invisibly linked to the other, creating a little bridge across this Jordan of my life. The other side still some way off, I need a way to win this battle and reach it.

Have recourse to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He will not refuse you this help, if you ask it of Him. 

          And so I do. And I ask big. I ask for all the miracles possible to end this battle.

 

 

When the Rainbow Meets the Earth

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          A few days ago, in an unexpected answer to weariness over yet another spate of work shenanigans, God showed me the reason why He willed some forms of suffering for me. He did this through an account of suffering endured by St. Faustina Kowalska due to bullying by another nun.

As I was taking leave of the sisters and was about to depart, one of them apologized much to me for having helped me so little in my duties, and not only for having neglected to help me, but also for having tried to make things more difficult for me. However, in my own heart, I regarded her as a great benefactress, because she had exercised me in patience to such an extent that one of the elder sisters had once said, “Sister Faustina must be either a fool or a saint, for truly, an ordinary person would not tolerate having someone constantly do such things out of spite.” However, I had always approached her with good will. That particular sister had tried to make my work more difficult to the point that, despite my efforts, she had sometimes succeeded in spoiling what had been well done, as she herself admitted to me at our parting, and for which she begged my pardon. I had not wanted to probe her intentions, but took it as a trial from God…

I am greatly surprised at how one can be so jealous. When I see someone else’s good, I rejoice at it as if it were mine. The joy of others is my joy, and the suffering of others is my suffering, for otherwise I would not dare to commune with the Lord Jesus. The spirit of Jesus is always simple, meek, sincere; all malice, envy, and unkindness disguised under a smile of good will are clever little devils.   ~   St. Faustina Kowalska, Entries 632-633, Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. 

          The minute I read that entry, I knew it was for me, there was no dodging it. And yet, I resolutely closed my door to it. I simply could not see myself acknowledging, much less thanking in my heart, the woman at work who’s making life so difficult for me. I could forgive, but to offer thanks for every piercing she had subjected me to, even in the hiddenness of my discernment, was asking too much of me. 

          That was for saints.

          It was beyond me and beyond God to expect that of me!

          But God being God, He is never encumbered by the many fences I erect against Him, neither does He allow Himself to be  confined within the paddocks of my pride and fear.

          God doesn’t give up either.  He would have me face His teaching squarely and bravely.

          After Mass by a visiting priest, I sought Father for Confession. And Jesus spoke through him.

          Father’s sermon that day had been about St. Bernadette Soubirous, the Lourdes seer. And now, he returned to it, beginning where the Lourdes apparitions  had come to an end, and Bernadette had sought the silence and hiddenness of convent life. There, she suffered under a Novice Mistress who could not see what God Himself had seen in His little Bernadette. As a result, Bernadette, more than any other novice, suffered deep humiliations and cruelty at her hands.

          And then, Fr gently pointed out:

          St. Bernadette did not become a saint because she saw  Mother Mary – but because she endured all her sufferings.

          Falling into quiet for a few seconds, the priest looked at me in an odd yet deeply gentle way, as if he was seeing me… and yet, as if he was looking through my eyes, into something else.

          Patience, he nodded presently, as if the answer had just been given him. You must be patient, he spoke again, telling me I needed to suffer what my colleague was doing to me, in order to attain heaven.

          Everything within me went still. Because I hadn’t said a word about my colleague to him. Fr was an outstation priest from another distant parish, filling in for our parish priest. There was no way he could have known.

          But Fr wasn’t done reading my heart. He went on to lift the veil on the reason for the attacks at work.

It is due to jealousy, he said.

          At his words, I saw before me, St. Faustina’s words in her diary entries about the attacks from the other nun. This time, they did not rebuff me. No barrier did I erect against the Voice that spoke through them, for the Shepherd’s staff is crooked for a purpose – to guide sheep bent on going elsewhere, through a gate, to the next pasture.

          God was now using His staff to tug me towards this new pasture, this world that Bernadette had come to know. To live in it in joy. In obedience.

In patience.

          God is telling me that the way forward is by keeping my eyes on the pasture, the here and now, not on the roads that lead from it. The here and now for me was to carry my Crosses the Bernadette Way, to give of myself to others – the Bernadette Way, and the Bernadette~patience I needed, to suffer in order to unfurl the mercy of the Eucharist, as far as God wants to send it out through me.

          Many years before, Jesus gave me my mission.

Wipe My Blood,

He had told me. Wipe My Blood. It had taken me many more years before I finally understood that it was a mission of reparation, to atone for the transgressions of others, even as I atoned for my many sins.

          And today, St. Bernadette, the humble, holy, hidden saint of Lourdes to whom the Mother of God appeared, has come to show me how to live in this new pasture:

          To live in the joy and freedom – of the Cross – not escape it.

          To live by keeping my eyes on the here and now. To perfect my suffering – in order to save souls.

          Someday, someday when I’ve finally reached the rainbow’s end, I will look back at the Crosses I’ve been given and my understanding will be complete. The day will come when I will no longer see those Crosses as hard, cruel and unbearable. Something to run away from, to be freed of.

          I will finally come to see each Cross of mine as the very Heart of Jesus that I’ve searched the world over for. The Heart of the Good Shepherd, for whom no suffering is too much to save even one soul.

          When that day comes, the rainbow will finally meet the earth.

          I will see.

          And I will rejoice.

 

 

 

 

 

Waters of Grace

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          Yesterday, I came across a prayer by Pope Francis:

Lord, roll back the stone in my heart

          It’s Easter now. The time of fasting and sorrowing over our sins is supposedly over. The Lord has risen, and by right we are to be all light and joy.

          But here I was, stuck in an unbeliever’s world – not because I do not believe – but because something was holding me outside the circle of Light.

          The Lord has risen but I was still in the tomb.

          I went ahead and (unenthusiastically) said the prayer, Lord, roll back the stone in my heart. Frankly, I was unhappy to pray the prayer. I didn’t like to admit that stones might still be stacked up God knows how high in my heart. It’s as if Lent didn’t work out for me. Everyone else has done their spiritual cleaning and de-stoning during Lent; here I was, wondering if I was only just beginning!!

          Maybe it’s because of the Roll back the stone prayer, but last night, my thoughts returned to the hymn, He, and the refrain,

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live,

He will always say, I forgive.

          In the last week of Lent, seeing no hope of change in my place of work, I opened my heart and asked God if it were not possible for just a little kindness. I wasn’t asking for much, I reasoned, because before, I had asked for much more. Before this, I had asked to be allowed to leave this town due to its rejection of me and my family for our Christian values. I asked to leave because it’s been 20 plus years of trying to live out our witness to our faith. More than 2 decades of welcoming the people of this town into our hearts. Of suffering with them. Of journeying with them, respectfully, in the ecumenism of different faiths.

          Yet, the long and bitter years to love as Jesus asked have not  changed this place nor its people for the better. If anything, this town and its inhabitants are becoming increasingly radicalized. They have begun turning on us for refusing to cross over to their side, for steadfastly choosing Jesus. Exhausted from navigating upheaval after upheaval, I asked to leave.

          But this year, God made His voice heard on that petition. He told me that if we left, this town would never know Jesus again.

          It broke my heart to hear that. It was not what I wanted. But I never prayed that prayer again because disappointed or not, some part of me bowed in obedience to God’s will.

          Suddenly, last night, hours after the prayer of Roll back the stone in my heart, I decided that the next new day, every time someone hurt me, every time a situation made me want to run and hide, I would face it in silence and allow it to pierce me instead.

          And I would pray, Jesus, forgive me. Even if I had done no discernible wrong, that would be my prayer for the next day.

          No prizes for guessing how the day worked out.

          I tripped the very minute I stepped into my work place. I came face to face with the colleague who’s made my life a misery for years. I don’t normally see her so early in the day but there she was, bright and early, primed for malice.

          The second I saw her, I didn’t remember anything about rolling back any stone. I didn’t remember the purposing of my day for atonement. Instead, I distinctly felt my heart inflame and harden remembering the injustices she has meted out.

          Scant minutes later, I belatedly remembered the response I had planned. Fed up with myself, I honestly wanted to bin the intention of the previous night. What was the point anyway, I never seemed to move beyond the biggest rocks in my life.

          But a promise to God was a promise. So, I bowed my heart and listlessly prayed,

Jesus, forgive me

          Although I knew I had done this colleague no wrong, although I had loved her with all my heart for more than 20 years and didn’t deserve this bulling and abuse of our friendship, once more I forced myself, as self-inflicted penance, to repeat,

Jesus, forgive me

          Then something strange began to happen.

          Kindness began to trickle my way – not from this colleague, but from others. It may not have seemed like much, but it was a lot to me. I had prayed for kindness the week before, just enough to be able to go on. Then, I had shushed myself, fearing that prayer was a rejection of my Cross.

          But strangely, unexpectedly, a pure spring now gently silvered into my day and my burdens lifted. Although almost every day before this had been difficult, now it seemed as if the walls of the day no longer bore nails to hurt.

          For some moments, I struggle to understand what I did to deserve this reprieve. And then, I realise that it’s not about what I’ve done. This is grace. Jesus was pierced as He hung on the Cross. Blood and water had flowed from that pierced side.

          The miracle of kindness I experienced today was that water of grace that came from the piercing of my Jesus’ body. As often as I pray with heart and soul, Jesus, forgive me, not the easy prayer in idle moments free of pain and hurt, BUT praying each time I face piercing, the stone in my heart rolls back further and further.

          2 years ago, at Christmas, I had dreamt of water filling a room in my home right to the ceiling. I had opened my door and the powerful rush of that clear water had knocked me down. I had then felt the words,

Momentarily overwhelmed

          I now know what it means. Opening the door means to roll back the stone in my heart. And I will be knocked down by the in-rushing waters of grace when my spirit bends in humility as I pray,

Jesus, forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 34 ~ Two Roses

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          This morning, I returned to an old garden, hidden from the busy walkways of life. There, I plucked two blooms and carried them back with me in my heart ~ my two children returned to Heaven through miscarriage.

          Later, a struggle with anger against oppressors attacking my kids, anger worsening with every mile to church. All through Mass. Wanting to protect my children. Planning. Then, not sure if anything I do will work. Twenty years of this, worse now because of the kids and the danger they face.

          I tried saying the Rosary during our drive to church but I couldn’t focus on a single Mystery then. So, I resorted to simple Hail Marys, little roses for my Mother. I couldn’t seem to offer anything else.

          I just wished She would say just one word to me.

          Just before Mass began, I was with my Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul. Speak to me, please, I begged. The entries I read were to do with Confession. I read them carefully, searching for His voice. I couldn’t hear anything clearly. So, I moved on.

          Then, I remembered that we were planning for Confession. I went back to the Confession entries.

Concerning Holy Confession.

We should derive two kinds of profit from Holy Confession:
1. We come to confession to be healed;
2. We come to be educated-like a small child, our soul has constant need of education.   ~   #Entry 376

          I understood the words. But I still could not access the direction and comfort I was desperate for. Then, somehow, I lost my place in the book. Searching, I stumbled upon something else – O Blessed Host… Despite my inner turmoil, I was drawn to those words.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the toil and monotony of everyday life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope amid the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.

The efforts of hell. Yes. That aptly described what I was facing, what the kids and my husband were facing.

          As the Host was raised, I cried out with heart and soul,

Save us, Jesus!

Save us, Jesus!

          Later, during Confession, listening intently to my pastor’s words, quiet and gentle, unhesitating in his counsel, my soul was educated, and directed towards hope.

And towards the seeking of angels.

          Just before his final prayer, this gentle priest who has known much suffering, told me to offer Heaven a gift. Two Hail Marys. Roses for my Mother. A softness stole into my heart.

          I knelt to pray. Heart and soul, I offered up the Hail Marys. I begged Mother Mary to keep my children safe.

          Then, I remembered my two wee babies returned to Heaven through miscarriage.

Two children

Two Hail Marys

          Two roses. One for each child, for our Mother. Gift of angels.

 

 

 

Lent 31 ~ I Will Not

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King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may He save us!
But even if He will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”   ~   Daniel 3: 14 – 18

 

          Today, this brings me strength. This story ends with a miraculous  vindication and not fiery death. King Nebuchadnezzar realizes that God sent His angel to protect the 3 Jewish boys who refused to bow down to the king’s false god. But this is not the part that makes me strong; I receive hidden strength from the heartfelt witness of

But even if He will not (save us), know, O king,
that we will not serve your god

          Despite how far I’ve come on this journey of Christian discovery, when I suffer at the hands of others, I always want to be vindicated. When God prefers not to answer my prayer in the way I seek, naturally, it hurts. But as Jesus has shown me this Lent, my hurt is always over the unfulfillment of my plans, not God’s.

          Today, 3 young boys teach me what true faith looks like. True faith does not hold God hostage to earthly desires and tainted hopes. True faith allows God to be God and focuses on what I need to do to live my faith in my God.

          So, in my hours of today, my heart’s response to those who delight in hurting me, is simply,

I will not serve your god.

 

 

 

 

Lent 6 ~ Replace With Yours

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          Just before sunset Mass last week, God called me to console Him for victims of oppression as well as for oppressors. Then, He placed in my heart a light longing for a Blood of Christ prayer. Later that night, He showed me a specific oppressor to focus on, one of my bosses at work.

          The next morning, the yearning for a Blood of Christ prayer deepened and going in search of one, I was returned to an old blog post from 3 years back, Heeding the Confessor. I had forgotten all about it, so I was slightly surprised to see that the post was about that specific boss. Reading it, I recalled that the tug of spirit at that time, 3 years ago, was to pray the Blood of Christ upon that man.

          More chilling was the bible reference given to me about him. It was the parable of the Rich Fool.

Then the Lord Jesus spoke this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”   ~   Luke 12:16 – 21

          Every line that described the fool described my boss.

          At the time of the post, I had just been severely torn down by him. I was fighting anger. I didn’t want to pray for him. But St. Maximos Confessor had come and urgently told me I had to channel my anger into prayer for the man; I couldn’t allow my anger and hatred for him to steer me away from the prayer he needed so much.

To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.   ~   St. Maximos Confessor

          And so, I fought myself and prayed for him with the simple Blood of Christ prayer Jesus had slipped into my heart.

Blood of Christ upon me, Blood of Christ upon him.

          That was 3 years ago. Now, yet again, this man was brought before my eyes so firmly that I knew God was not about to tolerate any excuses from me not to pray for him. So, once more, I tried to pray that same prayer, Blood of Christ upon me, Blood of Christ upon him.

          I didn’t feel a hand stop that prayer. Neither was it lifted away from me. Yet, it felt different this time. It didn’t quite… fit. I spent the rest of that day and today gently seeking the prayer for this man and every superior that he represented. Nothing came. Instead, today was tough. The sullen weather. Work that progressed slowly. A technical breakdown. Long, long work hours. Signs of a bad flu attack. Left without a prayer yet knowing I had to pray, I offered up this arid, angry day and all its knots and gnarls for the conversion of this man.

          I finally drove home tiredly, nothing much left in me. I put my heart out once more, wanly searching for the prayer.

          A small hand pushed a memory across my heart. A memory of the post that was written just before Heeding the Confessor.

          It was Replace my blood with Yours – ‘Yours’ as in the Precious Blood of my Christ. The second my heart  uttered the line, I knew I had found the prayer of conversion for my superior.

Replace his blood with Yours

 

 

 

Boundaries

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          It’s strange, the journeys we go on when we step back and let God take charge. After months of trying to quiet myself, of trying to discern, of being as obedient as I could, I had hopes of a new Advent journey into some unknown. I longed for something new and refreshing – because I was tired out from the work year. Tired of the same ruts and trenches. The same struggles.

          I wanted a change and I hoped for this Advent to give me that. I tried to direct God a bit too – by asking to be gifted with the book, A Pathway Under The Gaze of Mary. I went to a place where I was sure I would find it. Being the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it made me doubly certain that my prayers would be answered.

          Once more, I learned that my way was not God’s way. There was no book.

           So, I allowed my disappointment to steer me towards hearts that needed to be filled. The 12th of December passed quietly. The 13th brought little parcels of sweetness as we took a break for a quick holiday with the family.

          But the 14th dawned and the familiar restlessness was back. It was the feast day of an old friend, St. John of the Cross, to whom I owe my very life. There being no spot in my heart that I cordon off from him, I lay my seeking at his feet, asking,

What am I supposed to learn?

There is always something to learn when you come. So, what is it this time? All through my washing, my baking and cooking, I badgered. Tell me. Teach me.

          He helped me as I cooked. Watched over me as I napped. Yet, not a word passed through St. John’s lips.

          But as the rain-soaked night air pressed the hidden sun to sleep, two words from of old appeared once more,

Narcissist

Boundaries

          As any adult survivor of Narcissistic Personality Abuse will tell you, celebrations like Christmas are really tough. Because you’re expected to go home, to light fires of cheer and goodwill where your love is demanded in ways and means beyond you, but not valued nor treasured. Times like these, though brief, fill all the barrels for the coming year with enough hurt and tears to keep the sun out.

          And yet, the barrels keep filling and spilling over because the abuse never stops as long as contact remains. For the NPD parent firmly entrenched in narcissism, to stop abusing is to die. They keep hurting us in order to live on, believing in the deception that they have only our best interests at heart.

          But if we choose to draw the lines in the sand to cut off and separate our lives from theirs, we erect a wall they cannot climb – which is what I finally did, after more than 40 years of pain and madness that took my marriage and family life to the brink of tragedy and life-long sorrow. I was at the very edge of the cliff. Just before the rocks beneath me gave way, St. John of the Cross pulled me away. But he didn’t just leave me a safe distance from that cliff-end.

          St. John brought me face to face with God.

          And that day, I learned that Christian NPD parents are not above abusing the 4th Commandment: Honour thy father and mother, that all may go well with you. That day, I learned that I had been trained and conditioned to worship, not honour. And that was wrong. That day too, I learned that no vocation must be forsaken for the love of earth.

          My submission to Narcissistic Personality Abuse was destroying my vocation of Marriage and Family.

          In my situation, there was no option of standing up to my abusers. Not a chance of gently making them understand or even of forcing them to respect my vocation, because not only did this abuse in my family stretch back to two generations with multiple abusers and secret victims and abuse of varying degrees, it was also fed from both bloodlines. For every limit I had endeavoured to impose, there was always someone else with NPD in the family to back them up, to enforce the idea that they had done no wrong.

          That it was I who was wrong. And that they had been wronged by me.

          In God’s heart that day of my epiphany, I finally saw that the only way to save my marriage and family was to yield to a boundary my abusers could never cross.

          It’s now been 5 years since I’ve begun to learn the meaning of lying down in green meadows where a brook gurgles past blooms that dance in winds of freedom. Yet, every celebration time, the mist of fear and worry rises a little within me: Should the boundary remain? Should I return? And each time the question forms, I become afraid. I begin to fret over unlocked gates, passing cars. I tense up in familiar family grounds. I fear the phone, the mailman. All the things that bear the stains of past encounters.

          In those minutes when I give that question life, am unable to live. My mind gets caught in the trap of what-ifs. Prayer becomes careless, patience erodes, anger creeps in. And that is ominously telling. The boundary must remain for the vocation to live.

          In today’s coming though, St. John brings me a second reason for the boundary – it is to enable me to pray for my parents. The existence of the boundary means I am no longer trapped and held in bondage to the abuse that takes hostage my very mind and will. I am no longer caught up in anger and hurt and frustration. My mind is no longer clouded by lies and deception. My time is no longer taken up in paying homage to those who believe themselves to be God. I am free to live as God wants me to.

          But I have also been freed – to pray heart and soul, for my abusers. Because as the good priest made clear to me that day – the abuse makes me the person who knows exactly what to pray for them – that one day, like me, they too reach that shore where God’s outstretched Hand awaits them.

          And like me, they reach out and take It. And be freed.

          For that reason, the boundary must remain. The court of public opinion would assert that these are lines drawn with hate and unforgiveness.

          They are wrong. It is love.

 

 

 

 

A Sword In My Hands

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          When the journey of 40 became clear to me, I sensed I would be accompanied by two great saints, St. Pio and St. Michael. St. Pio for direction and St. Michael for protection. Sensing St. Michael’s presence, it told me that there would be forces very much against the 40. And that troubled me for courage is not an arrow in my quiver.

          I was right. If from the 1st of August, the skies of my professional life darkened suddenly without warning, the 16th marked a severe deepening of pain and humiliation. I broke down at work and struggled to contain my sorrow. The strength of what I was facing stunned and shook my husband too. He was working outstation and I knew it upset him that he couldn’t be with me when I needed him. Although I sought God at every step, I trembled in fear. Anger I could understand. Hurt too. But my experience of fear was the first signal that all was not what it seemed.

There was something new about the situation I was facing.

          That night of the 16th, no hope left in my abilities, yet clinging to God, St. Michael came before me. I came across the St. Michael’s Lent Novena. A 40-day journey. I hesitated, not sure if I was called to it. Something tugged my eyes to the prayers. The Opening prayers. The Closing prayers. The prayers for each day of the week for 40 days.

          It was a novena journey of humility, faith in God and of battle against evil. It contained the very prayers I needed for the times I was facing.

          I was still afraid. I was still very sad. But I no longer felt defenseless. It felt like a sword had been put into my hands.

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ST. MICHAEL’S LENT NOVENA

Prayers to be said every day:

V.     Our help is in the name of the Lord.

R.     Who made heaven and earth.

Most gracious Virgin Mary, You who would crush the head of the serpent, protect us from the vengeance of the evil one. We offer our prayers, supplications, sufferings and good works to You so that You may purify them, sanctify them and present them to Your Son as a perfect offering.

May this offering be given so that the demons that influence or seek to influence do not know the source of their expulsion and blindness.

Blind them so that they know not our good works.

Blind them so that they know not on whom to take vengeance.

Blind them so that they may receive the just sentence for their works.

Cover us with the Precious Blood of Your Son so that we may enjoy the protection which flows from His Passion and Death.

 We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him we humbly pray; O Prince of the Heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

 

Beloved Guardian Angel,

Bless, Guide and Protect us all. Amen.

Our Father.

Hail Mary.

Glory Be.

 

Conclusion for Every Day

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

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us.

Virgin Most Powerful, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

All You Holy Angels, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

On Sundays:

O Glorious Queen of Heaven and Earth, Virgin Most Powerful, You who have the power to crush the head of the ancient serpent with Your heel, come and exercise this power flowing from the grace of thine Immaculate Conception. Shield us under the mantle of Your purity and love, draw us into the sweet abode of Your heart and annihilate and render impotent the forces bent on destroying us. Come Most Sovereign Mistress of the Holy Angels and Mistress of the Most Holy Rosary, You who from the very beginning have received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan. Send forth Your holy legions, we humbly beseech You, that under Your command and by Your power they may pursue the evil spirits, counter them on every side, resist their bold attacks and drive them far from us, harming no one on the way, binding them to the foot of the Cross to be judged and sentenced by Jesus Christ Your Son and to be disposed of by Him as He wills.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, come to our aid in this grave battle against the forces of darkness, repel the attacks of the devil for us, and those for whom the priests pray, from the strongholds of the enemy.

St. Michael, summon the entire heavenly court to engage their forces in this fierce battle against the powers of hell. Come O Prince of Heaven with Your mighty sword and thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits. O Guardian Angels, guide and protect us. Amen.

 

On Mondays:

In Your name, Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that You cover us, our families, and all of our possessions with Your love and Your Most Precious Blood and surround us with Your Heavenly Angels, Saints and the mantle of Our Blessed Mother. Amen.

 

On Tuesdays:

Lord Jesus Christ, we beg You for the grace to remain guarded beneath the protective mantle of Mary, surrounded by the holy briar from which was taken the Holy Crown of Thorns, and saturated with Your Precious Blood in the power of the Holy Spirit, with our Guardian Angels, for the greater glory of the Father. Amen.

 

On Wednesdays:

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God, we ask You to render all spirits impotent, paralyzed and ineffective in attempting to take revenge against us, our families, friends, communities, those who pray for us and their family members, or anyone associated with us and for whom the priests pray. We ask You to bind all evil spirits, all powers in the air, the water, the ground, the fire, underground, or wherever they exercise their powers, any satanic forces in nature and any and all emissaries of the satanic headquarters. We ask You to bind by Your Precious Blood all of the attributes, aspects and characteristics, interactions, communications and deceitful games of the evil spirits. We ask You to break any and all bonds, ties and attachments in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

On Thursdays:

My Lord, You who all powerful, You are God, You are our Father. We beg You through the intercession and help of the Archangels St. Michael, St. Raphael, and St. Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one. All Saints of Heaven, come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness and obsessions – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From hatred, fornication, and envy – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From every thought of suicide and abortion – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From every form of sinful sexuality – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

From every sort of spell, malefice, witchcraft, and every form of the occult – We implore You, deliver us, O Lord.

You who said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” Grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every demonic influence and enjoy Your peace always. In the Name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

On Fridays:

Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 

On Saturdays:

O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Your holy Name and humbly beseech Your clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin, our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, You will help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Something You Do Alone

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Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute fighter.  ~   St. John Climacus

 

          Given what has been happening at work as well as its spillover effects, I have reason to fear and worry. Yet, today, seeing St. John Climacus’ words, I wonder if my fear has showed. And if it has fed bully-hearts, emboldened them to further abuse. Because this is not fear as we know it.

          My fear is my floundering faith.

          I think of the two envoys sent to me for these 40 days: St. Pio and St. Michael. Saints associated, particularly, with courage. Courage fed and nourished by the humility of total dependence on God.

          A friend close to my heart gave me these words of advice last night for the 40:

Remember too that when you offer this you are uniting it to Christ.  It is not something you do alone, He lifts you up, so rely on Him and not yourself and He will guide you through it.

 

It is not something you do alone.

          This is exactly how the old hours were lived. I took on a huge burden of reparation yesterday. I invoked His aid. But then, I let go of His hand and went it alone, into steaming red hours. And they swamped and battered me.

          Today, on the Feast of the Assumption, I begin anew. I bind my heart to Jesus and Mary. If before I failed in humility of absolute dependence on God, I renew my efforts once more. Exactly how I am to accomplish this surrender, I don’t know. But I have St. Pio and St. Michael. I will let them lead.

          Because this is not something you do alone.

 

 

 

 

 

The End is at Hand

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          Three days ago, reading, I began to feel the waves reach over my head. That is often a sign for me to step back and away, and to let the word that matters settle gently over my spirit. And so I did, and it was this:

You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Reject them!   ~   2 Tim 3, 1-5

          It pertained directly to a present suffering. Love those who hurt me, pray for them, suffer for them even.

          But reject them. Because they choose to love themselves more than God.

          It confirmed the dawning realization that the time to be the friend that I was to these people was over. They had seen what they needed to see. They had heard the Good News. Then they came to the crossroads and they made their decision.

They did not chose Life.

Hence, it was time for me to move on.

          This time, in spite of myself, I could sense that my once wavering will had set in stone. Like Lot must have felt that day he fled Sodom, I knew that, spiritually, there was nothing to linger behind for anymore. Physically, I would remain in the same place, but my work among some people was done; it was time for me to move on spiritually and emotionally from these few.

          There is grief in some farewells, and there was to be in mine. Heaven readied the urn to receive the ashes of my sadness,

Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus, Victim of charity,

make me a living sacrifice to Thee,

holy, and pleasing unto God.

          Every time the sadness returned when I recalled old happy moments with these ones who chose to turn back like Lot’s wife, I felt the angels nudge the prayer back before my eyes.

Heart of Jesus, Victim of charity,

make me a living sacrifice to Thee,

holy, and pleasing unto God.

          What if I too turn back? I wondered uneasily. What if the lure of old roots of rot be too strong for me? What if the longing for a friendship be stronger than my love for God?          

          St. Margaret Mary Alacoque replied for Heaven:

          Having once made an entire donation of ourselves, let us not retract it: our Lord will employ every means to sanctify us, in proportion as we make use of every opportunity to glorify Him. 

          Again, I sensed a subtle strengthening of my will.

          On the First Friday of the month, offering my Atonement Rosary, I felt a strange piercing of my heart, as if something had passed through it, and then a momentary weakness. It felt almost physical. And yet, it wasn’t. As I straightened up in internal readiness, my eyes fell upon the First Reading, 1 Peter 4: 7-13 ~

Beloved, the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.