CATHOLIC FAITH

Mark the Doors

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          The past few unpleasant days were lived through the prayer to Mother Mary that I had learned: I bind my heart to Yours. All through those tough hours, in my waking and in my sleep, I whispered, I bind my heart to Yours. Through the initial desolation, right up to later, when I learned that pain or no pain, being a Christian meant living God’s Commandments; that there was no dark corner to duck into to wallow, no time-out to not obey His decrees.

          And to walk the path God had set out for me, I needed that little prayer to take me from one step to the next. A long day later, I finally came to the rain-soaked night hours, feeling sore from the endless bouts against the world and against my rebel self.

          Tired, listless. Then, a tiny bud gently unbuttoned itself in my memory.

          The day before I had more of my life torn down, a name had floated by: Julian of Norwich. I barely knew anything of her. In fact, I had initially assumed she was a man. I had a faint idea that she was some sort of a mystic.

          Having no interest in her that day, earlier in the week, and I didn’t pursue her.

          But in the ashes of the latest fire in my heart, she floated by again. Gently, lingering only till I looked up. Then, she was gone. I had been emptied enough through the wounding to realize Julian of Norwich wanted me to seek her.

          So, I stumbled after her, and learned of a soul who so deeply yearned to love her GodThe anchoress didn’t keep me waiting and wildly searching. She quickly made clear why she had come to me by giving me the Lord’s words to her:

All shall be well

          It didn’t feel like the awaited dew on fire. It wasn’t the balm I was hoping for.

          But I knew God would never send His messenger with something I didn’t need. So, I took the four little words, and tucked them into the folds of my spirit. All through my sleep that night, each time I awakened and prayed I bind my heart to Yours, I remembered All shall be well. Like two moons, they shed their soft luminescence over my ragged sleep, and brought me a healing I didn’t feel.

          When I had risen to greet the somber morning skies wrapped in the blankets of heavy mists, I was determined to return to my calling of prayer. I didn’t feel refreshed. I didn’t feel healed. But there was work to be done, and I had stayed away long enough.

          The memory of the dream of the white map came before me again. Wanting to make up for lost time, I sifted through my store of prayers to be said. I felt the lightest of whispers slip by:

 The Illumination of Conscience.

          Directing my prayers towards Africa, I prayed for spirits to be made ready for the illumination of conscience, the revelation of each one’s soul as God sees it. Through the gentle and busy weave of hours and work that followed, I tried to consecrate my efforts for the day as a prayer offering towards the intention.

          Sinking into sleep in grateful relief at the end of the day, I reached for the prayer for Africa again, but my seeking came up empty. Instead, another prayer was rested on my searching spirit:

Blood of Christ,

Mark the doors

Of human hearts.

          Everything went still.

          Blood of Christ to mark. Blood of the Lamb on doors.

Prayer of the Passover.

 

 

 

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Water for the Shells

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          It is time for angels.

          Yesterday, I began to do what a nun at church told me after Mass two weeks ago: When you pray for someone, send them angels, she said. I am not accustomed to praying this way although I know many do so. But I thought it was time I signed up too. I’m in another emptying inside. No matter how deep I dig into my inner wells, there’s very little water to be found. Yet, I can feel that I am being fed. Nourished. Strengthened. Guided.

          I am not wilting from the inner drought.

          So, there is water nearby.

          A mysterious flow of dew I cannot lay claim to in any way because I can sense that its source has no roots in my efforts – not in my sacrifices, not in my prayers, not in the ruts and tangles navigated so far.

          What water is this?

         In my mind, I turn over what little I know of water. This year, I discovered two founts of this Water. The Tears of the Holy Mother. Water from the Heart of Jesus. Two founts, yet one and the same. I have yet to fully comprehend their import, but I have already tasted their power for others I have immersed in them. During Lent this year, I felt the call to immerse lost and dying souls in the Springs of Lourdes. When I pondered the source of the miracle springs, a sign was given and I was made to understand that the Lourdes Water was the Tears of the Holy Mother.

          Then, came the learning of the piercing of the Crucified Jesus. An act of cruel, earthly mercy that gushed forth a New, unblemished mercy~water, blessed in the Blood of sacred Sacrifice.

          And in recent days, a hand took mine and led me to the apparitions of Banneaux, and to the words, Plunge your hands into the water. This spring is reserved for me. I am the Virgin of the Poor.

          And now, although a mere puddle wets the floor of my spirit shell, everything I do is being wet by a hidden stream.

          How else can I explain the lightness of step and the skip of joy in my heart when I cannot feel the beauty of the world around me? When rainstorms, sunsets and sunrises in all their natural glory~beauty fall upon my deadened senses and fail to wake them, yet I am happy and focused? Where are the words for when my prayer efforts are facing its newest and strangest struggle yet – every single prayer I start evaporates at the very first words – but I am at peace within?

          I have never before been empty inside yet walking on light. Every previous emptiness or emptying has torn me up, frightened me, driven me to a madness of desperation.

          But not this time.

          There is a drought within, but no wilting. When my eyes trace the efforts of the week, I see them glisten with a dew.

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          There is Water somewhere. Someone is watering my spirit. And I wish this for others as well. To share this Water of Life. There are droughts in places when the wells have run dry. There are places where the well-springs of the soul have been tainted and poisoned, and multitudes drink from them. And there are other inner wells, far from empty, but which need to be filled in order to spill into seeking souls.

          This Water is much needed. So, I send out what has been given to me. I pray this Water into other lives. I pray what scraps of prayer I can, and I ask the angels to fill the waiting shells.

The Tears of the Mother.

The Spring of Banneaux.

Water from the Heart of Jesus.

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Transfigure Me

Transfiguration

          I wanted to mark the Feast of the Transfiguration with a more personal involvement this year. More so since I believe I was given a sign to pay attention to it. Having begun the morning with the readings, I mused over why the Transfiguration happened in front of witnesses. 3 witnesses. Peter, John and James. One Christian writer explained that it was to prepare the apostles for the tragedy of the Crucifixion and the glory of the Resurrection.

          To prepare for grief and glory.

          I took an honest look at my life, viewed through the lens of faith. Viewed through the mist-wreathed experiences I do not always have the words for. And I asked myself what exactly did/does the coming of Jesus into my heart mean for me?

          I expected my own response to be sunbursts and all things lit by the lamps of joy. Instead, to some degree of surprise, I saw Jesus in my heart to mean the gifting of crosses to purify and the dew of holy relief from the purification. The Cross and Joy. Grief and Glory.

          What do the weeks and months ahead hold for me? What lies in a deceptive slumber, awaiting its unfurling? I know it’s not going to be all calm seas. Life is rarely that for me. But I had to be done shrinking from the tomorrows if I was to truly glorify my God. I needed to shore up my wobbling spirit and learn to face all that is to come with courage from above. So, I bent my spirit to ask for the needed grace ~

Jesus, transfigure my heart and soul,

Prepare my spirit to receive You.

Holy Blood

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          Since the July dawn rose, I have joined others in saying the Litany of the Precious Blood of Christ since this is the month of the devotion to the Saviour’s Holy Blood shed for mankind. Recitation of this Litany is my response to a deepening unease within over recent bloodshed in Baghdad, Iraq and Dhaka, Bangladesh. In a way I cannot explain, I feel as if it’s the Exodus, played out again. This is my first year saying the Litany for myself and for others attached to my heart. It’s been only a couple of days, but there have already been four little miracles.

          So, is it a miracle prayer?

          It is for me.

          But so is every other prayer, when said in earnestness, humility and charity. The prayer that tugs strangely and strongly at us all the time or at a given time, the prayer we cannot escape from, the one that is pressed upon our spirits – whatever that prayer may be – it is the Prayer of our Mission, and it must be prayed when we feel the press of spirit.

          I might be called to other prayers this month, but for now, the Litany of the Precious Blood it is.

LITANY OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God, Save us.
Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament, Save us.
Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in the Agony, Save us.
Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging, Save us.
Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns, Save us.
Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Price of our salvation, Save us.
Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls, Save us.
Blood of Christ, river of mercy, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Victor over demons, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Courage of martyrs, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Strength of confessors, Save us.
Blood of Christ, bringing forth virgins, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Help of those in peril, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Relief of the burdened, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Solace in sorrow, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Hope of the penitent, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Consolation of the dying, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Peace and Tenderness of hearts, Save us.
Blood of Christ, Pledge of Eternal Life, Save us.
Blood of Christ, freeing souls from Purgatory, Save us.
Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor, Save us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

You have redeemed us, O Lord, in Your Blood,

And made of us a kingdom for our God.

Let Us Pray:
Almighty and Eternal God, You have appointed Your only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world, and willed to be appeased by His Blood. Grant, we beseech You, that we may worthily adore this Price of our salvation, and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of this present life, so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in Heaven. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

 

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/03/asia/bangladesh-terror-attack-moments/

We Shall Meet

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          When June slipped in, I suddenly remembered friends I had long left to themselves in a dusty corner. They were the best friends one could ask for. They never settled comfortably in my life only to make me uncomfortable. They didn’t bang on my door demanding what I could not give. They visited, casting no shadow on my day, but in quiet and gentleness, breathed upon the wind chimes by the door of my heart, and tinkled my awareness of them and their only need:

          That I pray paradise open for them, whose abode lay in the shadows of heaven.

          And so, in a guilt-tinged haste, I went back to an old calling, and began to pray for the Poor Souls who need prayers to unlock the door of Mercy that opens to Divine Rest.

          Sacred Heart, release them.

          As joyful June days tumbled one into the other and I flitted from parcel to parcel of happiness, through an act of will I tried to step away from earthly sunnies to pray the only prayer asked of me by these yearning souls, who have journeyed long and faithfully with me, helping me, protecting me, guiding me away from the rocks in the shadows of earthly life.

          Sacred Heart, have Mercy on them.

          Yesterday, I awoke to a day whose early hours were dipped in rain. The joys of the day beckoned beguilingly and I waited to go to them. Pausing awhile by the window, watching the sun spill its gold through water diamonds, an old hymn fell on the ears of my spirit ~

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

          The moment I heard the lines, I was like a cat caught in water, clutching at life in panic. That was a funeral song, for goodness’ sake! Was I going to die?

          Not wanting to meet anyone on any shore, I made a frantic attempt to silence that song within. I tried to blanket it over with happy, carefree ditties more in keeping with the bouncy day. On such a beautiful day washed and refreshed by the tipping of heaven’s jars, the last thing I wanted to hear was a funeral dirge, because that was all that refrain meant to me.

          In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore….the voices sang on cheerily undeterred.

Please don’t take me now, Jesus, I countered.

          For long minutes, I ran as far I could from that refrain, but it followed me like a chuckle train.

          And then, in a waterdrop moment, the angel reached out and stilled my panic.

          We shall meet on that beautiful shore was not a heavenly summons for my life. It was a promise-gift left me in the joyous parting wave of friends finally going on to the bosom of joy and peace, their release secured by prayers. In the eyes of the sneering world, those hurried, distracted prayers might not have seemed like much.

          But my Holy Soul friends had come on the breath of morn to tell me they had sailed to life eternal on my paltry offerings, offered in homage to the Sacred Heart of my Jesus.

Power of the Rose Crown

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The rosary is the book of the blind,

where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known;

it is the book of the simple,

which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men;

it is the book of the aged,

whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next.

The power of the rosary is beyond description.

~  Venerable Fulton John Sheen

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LENT 31 ~ The Final Ten

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          I had been wondering about how to observe the final ten days of this Lent. For this Lent, I had made for myself a little Lenten booklet of prayers and devotionals I was inspired to pray. But I couldn’t help but ask God if anything was needed of me in the final pearls.

          It came to me gently late, late last night through an account in The Little Flowers of St Francis, about Brother Juniper, a most humble and loyal friar in the order that St Francis had established:

Brother Juniper once determined with himself to keep silence for six months together, in this manner. The first day for love of the Eternal Father. The second for love of Jesus Christ his Son. The third for love of the Holy Ghost. The fourth in reverence to the most holy Virgin Mary; and proceeding thus, each day in honour of some saint, he passed six whole months without speaking.  ~ The Little Flowers of St Francis, Chapter VI,  How Brother Juniper Kept Silence For Six Months

          While I very much doubt anything can help me pipe down, much less go without speaking, the purposing of each day for a specific prayer, offered throughout the ebb and pull of the day, is a bloom in my spirit that tells me this His will for me in the final ten.

TRIUMPH OF THE HOLY CROSS ~ Sept 14

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Years ago, when my eyes first traced the words – Triumph of the Holy Cross, I naively imagined the coming feast would bring me joy and revelry. As it turned out, from that first year, every time I saw the feast approaching, I remembered all we had hoped for but ultimately lost. My heart ached every time I heard the proclamation that the Cross would bring joy and that it was a sign of hope.

To me, it brought neither.

Yet, I knew that the struggle to comprehend the true meaning of Christian joy was due to my experience of pain, and not a rebellion against the truth. My feelings were an impediment to the acceptance of the doctrine of the Cross. Although I instinctively knew it was true, I couldn’t see the truth of it manifested through what we had gone through. I didn’t doubt the truth of my cradle faith, but I hurt because I could not proclaim it in sincerity in my life. And I desperately wanted to not hurt because of it.

Every time, every year the feast made its way up my calendar, the eyes of my heart watched it in wary curiosity, willing God to lift the veil and let the truth shine through, so the pain would dissipate.

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This year, on an impulse, I made the sudden decision to mark the feast. I had had enough of waiting by the wings. I began to recite the Novena of the Exaltation of The Holy Cross. It was my way of telling God, I want to know. Lift the veil, Lord.

Some days into it, I heard a voice say, Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms. A fleeting voice. Light. Leaving no mark within me. No compulsion that I follow its leading. An invisible beckoning to part the veil, to go beyond the veil.

I chased after the voice. I called out and waited for its answering echo. I listened out for it, day and night, trying to make out its cadences from among the cacophony of other competing voices.

Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms.

I turned the phrase over and over in my mind. Many dear souls tried to help me fathom its meaning. But every honest suggestion bounced off me like silver raindrops sliding into the earth. Nothing stayed long enough to resonate.

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On the 14th of September, I sat in an empty and silent church and stared at my Lord on His Cross. It was not an easy journey to make to the church, so I wanted to make the most of it. I got busy offering Him my prayers and supplications. I looked carefully at the Cross and willed Him to speak to me. I waited. There was a peaceful quiet around me, but nothing more. After a time, I decided to leave.

As I moved to get up, I was suddenly assailed by a powerful sense of gratitude for His gift of faith to me. Thankfulness flooded my spirit like never before. I had long suspected that what bit of faith I had was not of my making, but a gift from above.

But up to then, I had never before felt such a deep conviction of that. In that moment of light in the church yesterday, I was bent over in a gratitude not mine for all God had blessed me with. It was something I knew all along, and yet, it seemed that some inner eye had been opened to the gift of spiritual insight.

As I finally made my way out of church, I felt an unseen burden lifted off my shoulders. I did not know what that burden was, but I felt light within.

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Stepping into the sunshine, ready to go forth with a spring in my step, I became aware of a sudden developing aridity in my soul. In a split second, I had moved from white to dark. It felt as if my soul was drying from the edges inwards. Nothing around me had changed. And yet, some darkness had slipped in. An unseen wind borne and strengthened on gusts of fear and panic began to howl silently inside me. From the positive emotions of a scant few minutes before, this sudden change was a storm I never saw coming.

I went into pretend mode. I tried to not panic. I carved a face of normalcy and went about my day, while the storm clawed at me on the inside. I tended to house chores and cooked dinner, all the while frantically trying to discern what I had done wrong to have visited this on myself. A hundred questions. No answers.

But I knew, like the faith I carried in my heart, this secret growing desert within my soul was not my doing. It had formed unbidden in me several times in the past. It was not unknown. It was a small moment in the desert Christ stayed in for forty days. It was the desert of hopelessness, doubt, sorrow of the loss of heaven. It was the desolation of the perceived closed door of heaven. No spiritual leadings in that desert in me. No voiceless prompts to charity and rightness. No comfort, no solace, no peace. The aridity was heaven’s door sealed to me so I would leave the comforts I had grown used to, to search anew for Truth.

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It was a journey I could never not make however much I despised it. And yet, I cowed in fear because it was a journey of the soul but without clearly sensing my Lord’s guiding Hand. It was a journey of obedience through bitter darkness and fear, not being able to see in front of me. This was a journey that called for only faith and obedience. And yet it seemed unsurmountable.

As the storm inside me crashed and raged in a widening circle of tempests, I grew more and more desperate. It reached a hideous peak.

Then, a prayer slipped into me. A prayer I have never before prayed.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Like the faith I had, like the dryness in me, this prayer too was not my doing.

But I grasped it like one drowning. I didn’t question it. I didn’t analyse it. Over and over and over, I prayed the prayer, throwing myself in abandon into the depths of it.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

And the miracle began. I felt something take root and bloom within my soul.

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The black ice began to melt. The darkness edged away. The storm swirled slower and slower and slower.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

I didn’t know that prayer and but my spirit did. It was my Savior’s words from the Cross. He gave me His words and turned me to His mother to place my spirit, my will in Her hands.

Stunned, I realised whose voice it was that I had heard that day ~ Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms – it was Jesus’ voice.

And when I answered with a trusting beyond me, Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit, I stepped out of the darkness. I parted the veil.

In that instant, I knew the Triumph of the Cross.