Lent 27 ~ Light the Darkness


Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the darkness of my understanding and sharpen my conscience, so that I may recognize God’s will in all things. Send forth Your light and truth into my soul!


          Susan Skinner has written about a disturbing dream that speaks to our now and to what is coming:   a deadly confusion – embraced as truth and reality  – by more and more people. A confusion that will lead us to leave our faith – willfully – or without realizing it. We will give up all that is important for what isn’t.

          Because the world will become our master and it will guide our choices. No longer will we choose Jesus in our families, in our places of work, or even, I suspect, in our worship. We will choose the god of the moment – anything that the world compels us to worship at any one time.

          What Susan wrote hits very close to home as this is my suffering, my family’s suffering too. Each and every day, we are spiritually and emotionally hurt, sometimes even assaulted, by people who are angry that we are trying to choose Jesus when they won’t. My husband and I are suffering this on a daily basis at work. Our kids are struggling in school. It is not the usual disagreeable co-worker antics or the errant student or teacher.

          It is far, far worse. It is a pervasive, multi-headed slave-owner mentality that seeks to control and force us all to bow down and worship its many gods – money, self, whatever the idol of the hour.

          At the root of this abuse is the spirit of narcissism. We have the Holy Spirit. Satan’s is the spirit of narcissism.

          It is the spirit of narcissism that will encourage us to neglect our children, spouses and loved ones, to favour ourselves. It will delude us to believe that as we try to break the glass ceiling at work, we are doing what’s best for our kids at home. Narcissism will whisper accolades into our ears as we go deeper and deeper into work, drawn not by need, but by the siren’s call to worship of money and self idolatry, leaving our homes, our marriage, our kids emotionally and spiritually starved. It is not about earning the honest dollar; it is about money replacing our hearts.

          The spirit of narcissism feeds the winds of boredom. Suddenly, the Rosary is slow and ineffective, the Mass dull and uninspiring. Why isn’t the priest prancing around, where are the sermons of fire-and-brimstone? Narcissism pretends to commiserate with our spiritual lethargy  – only to slyly draw us away from the Eucharist, from the Word of God, from the hard truths of the tenets of our faith, towards fads and trends, modern gurus and spiritual ear candy.

          As the hour deepens, the voices that insist that we obey satan’s spirit will become louder and more convincing. It is easier to resist this nefarious wrecker’s wiles when it’s a single voice.

          Not so when it is a chorus gaining in size and volume by the day as more and more people succumb to narcissism in all its shades and forms. People like our closest friends, co-workers, our superiors.

          Our own family members.

          Not so when those who have fallen employ various means, even emotional blackmail, to get us to cross over to their side.

          Not so when we can no longer discern the fading line between truth and deception.

          It will be very, very hard to resist but it will not be impossible. Susan Skinner’s words to us are to walk blind to know what is real. To not depend on our sight but to allow the Holy Spirit to lead.

          To seek God in every way the Holy Spirit reveals to us, and then to depend on God to light the darkness for us.






Spiritual Winter


How to Survive a Spiritual Winter

by Sara Hagerty,

Sept 4, 2018


A tree doesn’t survive the winter without healthy roots. Neither do we.

I remember that bleak February morning when my husband and I loaded up our car and drove through the stripped-bare forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to move into my parents’ basement. Everything felt cold, including my heart. Weeks earlier, my dad was diagnosed with a fast-growing brain cancer which we were all still dazed by.

I left their house only for brisk runs through Ohio’s suburban sprawl, and I came home to more winter as I watched my dad decline. I couldn’t escape this season. I had entered into a spiritual winter.

A Holy Season

What I didn’t know then was that this was a holy winter. God was doing something underground that I couldn’t see.

In our early thirties, our friends were taking active steps towards impacting the world for God: sharing the gospel with neighbors over shared meals, moving into impoverished parts of a city with their hammers and prayers, and starting foundations to release women from bondage. This, while I was cooking tomato soup and playing euchre in my parents’ kitchen, watching my once-strong daddy die.

It all seemed so unfair.

When God saved me at fifteen, I responded by pouring myself into evangelism. Then, in my prime, I was unable to alleviate the pain for the man who’d raised his little girl to believe that life had no limits. My offering was now a cup of soup.

Yet it was in the dark basement of my parents’ home, listening to my dad restlessly putter upstairs through the dark night, that I started to see winter as holy.

A Tree in the Cold

Psalm 1 talks about the man who meditates day and night on the Lord:

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The deciduous tree knows seasons. It shoots out nascent sprigs of life and verdant leaf in spring. They and their accompanying fruit unfurl under the summer heat, lush and alive. In fall, the mossy-green alights into gold, but only for a flash before brown takes over and winter starts her pull. This tree is disrobed in winter, but not dead. Motionless, with roots resting and waiting, it ever so slowly grows.

The tree prospers in winter, fulfilling its God-intended purpose. Though, to the unknowing eye, it sure looks barren.

Without recognizing seasons, we might only see that barrenness. We see a prospering life in God akin to the opulent tree in early spring, with leaves and fruit intertwined. We forget that this blooming comes forth because of the preparation that winter provides.

Blessed Are the Thirsty

That holy winter — when I felt hidden, unseen by friends who weren’t familiar with long hours of care-giving, passing my days without visible accomplishments and apparent fruit — I started to see that I could cultivate an unseen, private life in God. My roots were still alive, albeit concealed.

In the basement, underground seasons of my life, His Word and His whisper became fresh to me. I wanted it, not so that I could teach it or share it or sermonize it, but because I was thirsty. So thirsty. During my daddy’s restless nights, I needed God to highlight a phrase from His Word to sustain my little-girl heart.

I wasn’t changing the world; I was changing my parent’s laundry. But through it, God was changing me. With his word cracked open on the counter, he whispered words of encouragement and promise: “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:4–5).

The blessed man, likened to the tree in Psalm 1, found his delight meditating on God, day and night (Psalm 1:2–3). Meditating on God’s word — singing it, crying over the pages, taking my angry heart to his word for answers and asking for a surprise rush of his Spirit’s lifting — took on new meaning when I was winterized.

In the winter, I fell in love. He became my delight — because he was all there was. His whisper, my winter song back to him. And this was to his glory.

New Practices for Cultivating Roots

For those who are in winter (perhaps even a prolonged winter), there are some reminders that might help sustain our roots:

1. Receive your season.

Rather than giving your energies towards wishing for another. The surrender, although painful, positions us to receive all that God intends for that particular season much better than if we fight against it. God is always oriented towards our growth, even in our winter. This is a truth given to us in John 15.

2. Create new spaces.

Find areas where you can fall in love with God afresh. Seemingly barren seasons might convince you that your roots are hardened. Not necessarily so.

Thwarted opportunities are a fresh chance to see God through His Word in ways you haven’t before. Start a new habit of engaging with His Word in the middle of your thwarted day. Write songs from His Word. Take walks with your earbuds out, praying a verse back to Him. Ask His Spirit to direct your eyes to the ways He is working in the small areas of your life. Winter is a time when the inside can be nourished even when what is outside feels barren.

3. Don’t forfeit your dream for fruit.

Our culture is largely oriented toward action. But dormant dreams are not dead dreams; they are often further opportunities for dialogue with God. He created you to desire fruit, and He desires fruit for you (John 15:8). Winter is a time to take those desires to God in prayer. Winter can also be a season where dreams are cultivated.

Thankful for Winter

My seemingly barren winter started even before my dad was diagnosed, and it lasted years beyond his death. But during that very long season, I had this single verse on a notecard, propped behind my kitchen sink:

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3, NKJV)

Now, during a kind of spring, I see that it all proved true. He cultivated my roots in winter and gave me treasures that are still producing fruit within me. And it wouldn’t have happened without my winters.


Song of the Lark


May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.


          The road is dark indeed, and getting darker for many. We have days of joy-filled moments embroidered into them. Hours laced with funnies and laughter where the sun spills its warm blessings upon the dimpled land and the green~gold breezes tug leaves  and boughs into a timeless dance.

          Yet, paradoxically, I sense the light outside going out. One by one, lights which line the streets of life and living, the lights we have come to depend on, are dying. I’m only getting by because of a strange, invisible light from within. A light fed by family, thanksgiving and prayer, knit together by obedience – the oil that will feed the light.

          Some days, the walk comes easy. Some days, obedience is hard to find. But I must trudge on. If obedience dies, so will the light – for me.

          And for others too.

          For tonight, another’s sorrow weighs heavily on my heart. A young man I know has fought many battles to live to love his God. Gentle soul, he burdens none with his bitter load. But the Cross bites deep now, deeper than before. Like it is with many the world over, I sense his lights too are dying out, one by one.

          My heart aches for him, this son of Ireland. He is tiring, it comes strong this still night, where the wee leaves lie unstirred in the dead of winds.  I’ve been there before, that same shore where hopes go to die.

          Only love pulled me back, away to the secret nooks where hope sings and lives.

          Now, this love must be returned for this young soul, as once was done for me. In every way the Spirit moves me to, in an obedience that doesn’t always come easy, I press this son loved by a Mother, into the Divine Heart, praying,

May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.







Lent 29 ~ When You Leave

Lake Bye Good Bird Leaving Waves Tahoe Wallpaper Download

You will no sooner have resolved to give yourself to God than Hell will send out its forces against you. The devil himself, the arch-deceiver, will renew his warfare and turn all his forces against you. Enraged at your desertion from his party, he will leave nothing undone to ruin you. . .  .   ~   Venerable Louis of Granada, The Sinner’s Guide


          In much of my life, one thing that stands out is the reaction of people when I dared to leave their party. Breaking away from my NPD mother. Leaving the friendship of the narcissist university mate I mistook as a friend. Choosing Christian work principles over flamboyance of worldliness. Going against the Napoleonic mindset of our parish ‘elite’. Or even taking the side of Pope Francis(!) – finding light and strength in his words that seem to set other teeth on edge.

          In each of these situations and more, when I dare to break ranks, sometimes, just questioning because something seems off to me, – it gets people foaming. Their anger used to frighten me. I used to backpedal when this happened, damp down my doubts and allow people to tell me that I was wrong – if it would just help calm things down.

          But not any longer.

          This reaction when I choose to go against the flow because I sense the Will of God does not lie here, this reaction of not mere anger but absurd anger, is a red flag to me. It tells me something is not right. Something is not of the true Christian spirit here.

          Something else is in control.

Enraged at your desertion from his party, he will leave nothing undone to ruin you.

          I am tired as I read these words for I have felt and continue to suffer from their very flames. Not every one of my sufferings is because of satan’s fury. Not every time I’ve chosen my own path and suffered for it, it has been because I was obedient to God’s Will.

          But I have come to know this different edge of the knife when I choose the Cross of Christ over the deceiver’s will. The rage and hatred is different. It cuts differently. It makes you bleed differently too.

          I have every reason to fear it.

          But since last Thursday, an old prayer has found its way into my spirit. Christ’s last words on the Cross which He Himself gave me on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross some years ago.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit.

          Every time I sense something in the air, stirrings of unease, or even in bouts of praise and thanksgiving, in moments of deep peaceful stillness, my spirit naturally falls into this ancient prayer.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit.

          Everywhere I turn, this prayer lies in wait to catch my heart.

          Not once do I turn away to seek a different prayer. Not once.








          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.






Cross the Jordan


          Years ago, plumbing the depths of desolation, I heard these words in an insistent whisper,

Cross the Jordan

And you will find rest.

          I almost wept in frustration. I couldn’t even put one foot in front of me in hope, what more swim across a biblical river.

          But unseen souls wouldn’t give up on me. On and on, over and over, through weeps and struggles, stumbles and falls, the holy wraiths urged me  forwards,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Grave after grave, farewell after farewell, one loss after another. And I’d struggle to my feet for the sake of my husband and children, for the sake of those at work who depended upon me. I walked blind, unable to sense or feel anything but the tearing sorrow of dashed hopes and dreams.

          I fell more than walked.

          I knocked at doors as I stumbled, begging mercy, respite from the wrench of pain. Many doors closed. Many never even opened. Get over it, move on, they said from their seats of comfort and triumph behind the lock. But some doors were thrown open. The most wounded of all reached out to me, fed me, nourished me and with love, set me on my way, for the journey could not end then. And long after I had crested the hill, they remained in watch at their doors, willing me on, despite their own bleeding.

          Great has been the distance covered since I began this weave through the most bitter of valleys. Yet, not one step could I have managed without the love of other wounded hearts that chose not to hide in hollows of pity. What I was fed with, they gave from their pain, they gave despite their bleeding, many wounds unhealed. They didn’t wait to reach their rest to put out their hand to me. My angel~saviours, both of this world and the next, seen and unseen, known and stranger alike, never once left my side, never ceased their whisper, willing me the life-giving hope I didn’t have.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          With that chorus in my ears, I have made it this far. At the end of this week, a Light awaits in the dark. Waiting to touch  and bathe me in welcome. But I do not want to fall into Messiah Luminescence by myself. I want this welcome to bathe one and all, every seeking soul.

          And so, to every pilgrim soul lost in the grey and in the dark, I shine you this light that was lit for me from the love of countless others,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Do not stop now, do not give up. Do not let bitterness win. Hard as it is, the road we stumble along is not as lonely and as empty as it seems. Many hearts travel the same routes unseen, brokenness a common coat shared in the freeze of loss. Even when all hope is gone, even when all has been taken away, especially when there is absolutely nothing left in our jar of oil, Jesus fills it with His own grace.

Yet, it is a grace not always felt. It is a hope not always sensed. It is a light not always seen.

          But it is a life~grace born of the most bitter of Crosses. It is a grace born of One who chose to Love despite the dark, One who chose life through death so that He may pour His grace into all of us, wounded seekers of life eternal. Our Messiah’s grace poured into us at our most empty, stands at ready to light the strength we need to not stop now, to not give up, but to cross the roughest Jordans of our life, to reach the rest Jesus has ready for us.

          Come now, beloved brethren, Christmas is almost here.

Don’t stop now,

Don’t give up.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.


To those who bound my wounds and fed me,

Always, always in my heart,

Sue Shanahan, https://commonplacegrace.com/

Carlos Caso-Rosendi, https://casorosendi.wordpress.com/

Susan Skinner, https://veilofveronica.wordpress.com/

Nancy Shuman, http://www.thebreadboxletters.com/

Veronica Jarski, https://theinvisiblescar.wordpress.com/

God’s Child

Merry Christmas

When All Is Gone


          When all is gone, not everything is lost, although it may seem that way. I continue to learn this truth in each one of my own journeys, from the swell of pain to the light of seeing. In many of my deepest struggles, it took me many, many years to find my treasure in the ash heap of loss. It was never hidden from me. But my hurt, my bitterness and lack of faith clouded my sight and blighted my seeking. I searched for hope and truth, but being guided by my sin~mottled will, I never saw my treasure.

          Even in the greatest loss, some things will remain, waiting for our spirits to recognize them. If we care to place our pain and weeps in the Holy Wounds of Christ, and persevere in searching among the ashes of brokenness, we will find that treasure that has withstood the lash of storms and the sear of flames. We will find that on which our eyes should remain.

          From yesterday, I am sensing the word Persevere being written on my heart. It comes and goes fleetingly, like a fairy’s feather light touch. But it comes and goes very often. So, I am going into the mountains to pray for those whose hearts risk a deadly hardening from one too many storms and flames. I hear the call to persevere for my brethren. To pray for those who cannot pray for themselves. To pray for those who continue to cling to the Cross despite the lash of dissenting winds.

          I hear the call to pray them all to their treasure in the midst of loss.

          Seek and ye shall find ~ Matthew 7:7. Christ’s promise is a promise never broken.


Troubling the Dark


          A week back, I began to pray for the grace to love my crosses. I was fed up of fearing them, worrying over them, and twisting this way and that to get away from them. I figured that if I loved my crosses like the saints did theirs, it would make for a far simpler life, gentle the rough and painful.

          But I’m no saint. To love one’s cross is a love that is hard to swallow. And praying for the grace to love the cross is one thing; loving it when it actually comes is another. But anyway, last week,was all about praying for this grace. And hale and hearty, feeling strong inside, I went at it with a dedication.

          One day, my husband away in another city, the kids in bed, just past the witching hour, I said the Rosary for the day. Through each decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wove a tentative thanksgiving for the crosses in my life which helped me see the Face of my God. I asked for the grace to love my crosses sincerely. When I was done, I went in to prepare for bed.

          No sooner had I set the alarm for the next day when a thunderous crash smashed through my home. Shocked, I shot out of bed, shouting, What was that? What was that? It sounded like something huge and heavy had crashed down to the floor just outside my room. I turned on the light in my room and cautiously scanned the hallway and living room for the source of that terrible sound. None of the pictures on the walls had fallen. The altar hung as securely as ever. The house lay still and silent. The children slept on blissfully unaware of anything. I stood still at my bedroom door, in full alertness, yet, curiously, unafraid.

          Then, I saw it.

          Just in front of me, on the floor, a good 5 feet from where it hung, was our small, light, wooden Crucifix. Its place was a nail on the wall just beneath our altar outside my room. And just below this Crucifix, was a broad, sturdy, hardwood cabinet. If either the nail on the wall from which it hung or the hook on the Crucifix itself had broken, the Crucifix would have landed on the cabinet, or at the furthest, the floor close to the cabinet. But, no, it landed 5 feet away.

          It had hit the floor with a vehemence incongruous with its smallness and lightness.

          I was exceedingly calm. Yet, my skin on my right arm crawled and crawled upon seeing the Crucifix on the floor – a sensation I had only when I saw snakes.

          I took a deep breath and bent down to pick up the wooden Crucifix. I willed it to have a broken hook.

          It was fine, nothing wrong with it.

          I went to the wall to see if the nail had loosened. It hung firm and securely.

          A light fell into my heart like a shard of glass.

          I knew then with a certainty that the Crucifix had not fallen down. That terrifying noise had come with force. It had been smashed down by a force unseen. And it had been smashed down with hatred and anger.

          Someone hated the very Cross I wanted to love.

          I was alone with young ones, living an hour when it would be insane and heartless to call the priest and tell him what had happened. To get through the remaining hours of the dark night, I tried to convince myself that I had imagined it all. Maybe a super-big bug had knocked the Cross off its hook on the wall.

          In an immediate response to that reasoning,  my skin crawled again. This time, I couldn’t delude myself into believing that I had imagined it, or that there was an insect that it could be blamed on. The crawling sensation on my skin was proof that the Crucifix on the floor was the work of the serpent.

          Why had it come into my home? Where had I gone wrong? I searched my heart for answers as I moved through each room in the house, sprinkling holy water as I prayed a prayer brought to me two years ago in a warning dream of evil, Blood of Christ, wash through my home. It was then that I recalled my prayer earlier, at each decade of the Rosary. My prayer to love my crosses seemed to only be brave words from a cowardly soul, yet, it had hit darkness and lit a black rage there, its fury making it grab and smash the very Cross I had prayed to love.

          In that moment of illumination, I realized that every humble and sincere prayer troubles the dark waters, but the prayer to willingly suffer for Christ goes further. It unlocks an unseen gate, unleashing a violent tempest of malevolence. I believe it is the prayer the dark hates the most. And that was the prayer I prayed in all my weakness. The journey of years had brought me to that point. I have taken a step willed and lit by heaven’s Light. But it’s not a step the dark ever wanted me to take.

          To suffer for my Christ is to suffer the brutality of the dark. Yet, cowardly and lame as I am, I will not turn back, for I sense heaven lies ahead.

          Just past the steaming dark swells that churn between the now and the Coming.





LENT 37 ~ Forsaking the Vineyard for the Potter’s Field


          In these final days of Lent, there is a clamour on the steps outside the door of my heart. It is the past – using mercy as an excuse, a reason – to be allowed in again.

          It has come right after Confession on Sunday, and today, the angels have given me insight:

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  ~  Luke 11:24

          Something is just outside, and it is screaming and scratching to be let in.

          Will I turn my back on the Lord? Will I avert my gaze, let go my hold on the Hand held out? Will I tear to naught the fabric of sacrifice and seeking of this Lent journey?

And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. ~  Luke 11:25

          I sense the rising winds of desperate fury outside.

Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. ~  Luke 11:26

          If I turn my back on the Lord, if I avert my gaze, let go my hold on the Hand held out, and return to the person I once was – allowing fear to blind and deafen me to God’s voice – then, it is none other than a refusing of my Father’s Mercy.

          It is to return to the very darkness I fled from.

…..last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

          When I allow that darkness to engulf and break me, I will be distracted from my calling, and I will then forsake my Saviour’s vineyard, for the futile toil in the Potter’s Field.