Death

Fatima 4 ~ 19 August

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          Under the pretext of providing his personal automobile, so that the children could travel safely through the crowds pressing around their homes, the civil Administrator or Mayor of the district in which Fátima was located, arrived in Aljustrel on the morning of August 13th. A previous attempt on August 11th to obtain the “truth” from the children having been unsuccessful, Artur Santos, an apostate Catholic and high Mason, had devised a scheme by which he would take them into custody and force them to reveal all.

          With a show of good will he now offered to take the three and their parents to see the parish priest, whom he claimed wished to see them, and then to the Cova. At the parish house he abandoned this ruse, and the parents, taking the children alone from there to the district headquarters in Vila Nova de Ourem, some 9 miles away. Here he tried bribes, threats of death and locking them in a cell with other “criminals” in order to get them to recant their story. It was to no avail. Despite their ages, their belief in the Lady and their courage was unshakeable.

          Meanwhile, in the Cova at noon on the 13th the characteristic external signs of the Apparition appeared for the benefit of the crowd, the greatest crowd to that time. After they ended the crowd dispersed, as yet unaware of the trickery of the government.

          The “trial” of the children, however, continued for two days, to the consternation of their families. Finally, on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, the Administrator had them driven back to Fátima and deposited on the steps of the rectory. Here they were seen as the people, who had just come from Mass, were trying to determine from Ti Marto where the children were. Their anger was poured out on the driver, and on the Mayor when he arrived a little later, both of whom were no doubt glad to be rid of their little charges and to escape unscathed. It would effectively be the only serious effort of the civil authorities to interfere with the Lady of Fátima.

          As it was the Lady’s plans were delayed slightly. On Sunday the 19th Lucia, her brother John, and Francisco, were grazing the sheep at a place known as Valinhos. It was located on the side of the same hillock opposite Aljustrel where the angel appeared twice, though a little farther north. At apout 4 o’clock, sensing that Our Lady was about to appear, Lucia tried unsuccessfully to get John to fetch Jacinta, until she offered him a couple pennies for the errand. As she and Francisco waited they saw the characteristic light. The moment Jacinta arrived, the Lady appeared.

          “What do you want of me?”

          “Come again to the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of next month, my child, and continue to say the Rosary every day. In the last month I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          “What are we to do with the offerings of money that people leave at the Cova da Iria?”

          “I want you to have two ardors [litters to carry statues] made, for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I want you and Jacinta to carry one of them with two other girls. You will both dress in white. And then I want Francisco, with three boys helping him, to carry the other one. The boys, too, will be dressed in white. What is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.”

          Lucia then asked for the cure of some sick people.

          “Some I will cure during the year.” (looking sadly at them) “Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell, because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice.”

          Having said that, She departed as She had on the other occasions.

 

~ EWTN

 

 

 

The Harvest Has Begun

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The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.   ~   Matthew 13: 39

 

          This line from today’s Reading lingers before me while others move ahead. I see the words: Harvest. End of age. Harvesters. Angels. All of these marked the old July. A few short weeks before, such a line would have filled me with dread. And the way July this year shaped up for us, would have added shadows to the chill in me.

          But since the passing of my colleague’s husband, and the prayer journey we took as a family, and since a physical and financial difficulty we faced over the weekend, something has changed within me. I fleetingly sense something has taken root. A calm I never had before. A quietness to my strength. A gent~ling. It’s as if someone not me has come to live within me.

      The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  

          For the first time, I am filled with hope. Always one to fear the Cross despite my best attempts to love it, I cannot understand this reaction. I cannot explain it.

          Neither can I explain my conviction that the harvest has indeed begun.

 

 

 

 

When There Are No Words

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          I came to the morning, to the news of two deaths – a colleague’s young husband, and baby Charlie Gard of the UK. One was expected, the other not, but both hurt.  And the passings hurt for different reasons.

          Yet, my sadness is nothing compared to the pain of the young Muslim widow who lost her husband and her best friend whom she thought was on his way to recovery after a stroke and surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. There is nothing I am feeling that can compare to the sorrow of baby Charlie’s parents who fought so hard to try to heal their baby and keep him alive. I can only stand useless by the door of grief as they henceforth carry their beloveds in their hearts and begin a painful, twisting journey far removed from the lit highway so many of us stand on.

          This is the night when prayers sit only a wee while on my heart and lips like rainpearls before they slip off the tree boughs. I cannot hold on to a single prayer rope tonight when I want so much to offer prayers for those left to mourn departed loves that had once snuggled deep in hearts. This is the night when the words to comfort a widow of 30 sound tinny and forced and empty because although I too have known the searing bitterness of loss, I have not known my colleague’s grief. I cannot even tell her I love her as one who wants to carry her Cross with her, because there are no words that recognize such a love in her faith and in the language she speaks.

          This is the night when words fail me, when nothing is worthy enough to staunch the bleeding of wounds that go far deeper than most understand, and which will soon go unseen as grief transitions from visible to hidden, yet raw.

          So, I press grief and the grieving into a heart that once knew a depth of pain beyond words, beyond anything we have ever known. In the absence of words, I press pain and love and memories into the maternal heart that saw Her only Son give up His life to a death that led to Life eternal, so that through suffering, God’s Love might live on.

          The past, the present and the future have its place in the heart the world knows as the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And it is here, in the Heart of Mary, that grief will be purified and sanctified.

          Till it is free of earthly shadows.

 

 

 

Souls at the Shore

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          It’s rare these days that I have the quiet of the morning to myself, but that is what I received today. Awakening to a still and peaceful day, I thought only of my hot morning coffee and some hours to my thoughts. When I went to greet the day, a slightly chilly breeze twirled around me and the skies were shrouded by the fleece of grey.

          Yet, deep in the eastern bosom, orange determinedly burnt the sky as the sun rose to its call.

          I understood at once that God was calling me to my garden under the awakening skies, to rest my spirit in praise.

          When I returned, I asked for my prayer that day. I sensed that the call to pray intensively for the souls of the departed was receding to make way for another, so I needed to know where my heart was to set anchor.

          In a breath, it came:

Prayer for the Faithful in their Agony
O most merciful Jesus, Lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the Sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine own blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and about to die this day.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying. 

~‘With God’ by Fr. F.X. Lasance

          I think of those suffering in unimaginable physical pain. Those in agonies hidden from the sight of the world. Those in a skip of happiness, unaware that the next hour will not be theirs.

          Who will all this day cross the shore.

 Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying. 

 

 

 

Reunion

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          It was a night of patchy sleep due to an irritating cough, but it was well worth the morning I awakened to. Happy sunshine rays warmed and dappled the lawn and teased the windows with its allure. Frisky breezes danced through boughs and leaves, teasing and tickling. It felt like a morning party of the most joyful kind. Even the skies were in a dance, windbrooms sweeping cloud puff after cloud puff to one harbor of joy after another.

          I paused my morning sweeping to sit awhile and to rest my spirit in the blue~gold beauty of that happy morning. I thought I should pray a bit, but sensed the prayer called for was not of words, but of the spirit. So, I let go of the words, and sank my spirit into the spill of gold and green before me.

          However, my thoughts immediately returned to those who might not be able to partake of this spiritual feast – the Holy Souls of Purgatory.

          Last week, my confessor had hurriedly informed me that he was about to depart on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montligeon, France – the centre of prayer for the departed. I had never in my life heard of it, but I thrilled to it, as praying for the Poor Souls is a personal calling. The priest then said he needed all the prayers he could get, and I was determined to give him all I could. I figured a St Joseph prayer – for strength, protection, wisdom and discernment.

          Just then, a little prayer invoking the aid of the Holy Souls popped up on my laptop screen. It was a tender, little prayer – again, one I had never heard of – and it fell straight into my heart like a tiny rosebud. I wanted to write it out in the little prayer book I have, but I tarried, and unfortunately, the screen closed. Try as I did, I failed to retrieve the little gem. Not a single word of it had lodged in my memory either.

          I was very disappointed in myself. How could I have done this? Then, I reasoned: if it was meant to be, it’d come back.

          It never came back. That prayer was like the smallest bud. It had caught the sight of my heart, but when I reached out for it, it misted over. Yet, its essence stayed with me – seek the aid of the departed.

          The next day brought grey news that we had lost a loved one.

          Suddenly, the Holy Souls was no longer a wan, little light seeking my heart in my busyness. With Father’s pilgrimage and the death in the family, they were very much before me now. 

          All through the wake and the funeral Mass, we family members prayed together and raised incense of heart~offerings. Everything proceeded smoothly. I did not get the sense that our prayers were blocked.

          Yet, there remained a distinctive mist over the prayers. It was as if I could ‘see’ the prayers going on their journey, and then, for some reason, a mist rose up to block my view of the rest of its journey. I wasn’t too sure what was going on, but I sensed something was about to change or to be revealed.

          Yesterday, in the quiet hours of night peace, a little door opened, and an unseen heart placed before me a novena I have never before heard of: The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory by St Margaret Mary Alacoque. The minute I heard its name, I knew it was no random passing prayer.

          It was willed for me and it was willed for the now. The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory encapsulated both entreaty for heavenly mercy upon the departed, as well as invocation of their assistance. It would work for Father on his pilgrimage, as well as for all the departed.

          Then, I thought of that little rose of a prayer. The one that came and disappeared. The little pink light that fell upon my heart to awaken it from its slumber; its work done, slipped past my reach.

          And suddenly, I knew who had brought it: Love. Love had come, asking me to love the departed with a deeper intensity. Reminding me that every prayer we pray for those precious Souls reduces the separation between them and the Joy of Heaven; that every time we forget ourselves for them, we take the Souls closer to heavenly Reunion – the yearning of each one of us.

          Why have they come now, and as strongly, I wonder? Why the ‘confluence of events’ ? Three bright stars ~ the pilgrimage, the passing and the prayer – coming together and appearing in the skies of my spirit now.

          Almost two years ago, on the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi’s death, October 3rd, I had dreamt of a time that is coming. A time of two overlapping contrasts. One of raucous, prideful and sneering celebration of emptiness – a sprawler’s revelry – juxtaposed against another – a time of gathering darkness, of deepening silence.

           And of a seeing. It was the time of a miracle enabled by the lifting of veils. The miracle of seeing clearly and in the flesh – some who have passed on before us.

          In the dream, there was a marker – a significant event – personal to me, indicative of the time. Almost two years ago, it didn’t make much sense.

          But just recently, that personal event came to pass. What I had deemed inconceivable before actually became a (sad) reality. Wholly unexpected. Triggering a revelry like never before – exactly as in my dream.

          In the dream too, the celebration continued into the gathering veils of the night, its light of glitz and pomp mocking some of my family and some strangers too, who had gathered together. The revelry taunted us for being in the shadows, for being left out of the ‘light’.

          There we stood, family and strangers, banded together in the dark, in a stone house filled with light, yet, awaiting a further darkness. There was no fear in the hearts of the gathered. There was compassion for one another, and a distinct absence of self-seeking. Even as we cared for one another, our eyes remained trained on what lay beyond the hills, the approaching darkness. It came to me that as we cared for one another with no self-seeking, we seemed to have an alertness to a shifting in the distance.

          But it was an awareness lost on the revelers. Because they were too full of themselves, and there was little space for anything else.

         When the dark got closer, I went out to call in the children, in the deeps of happy, innocent play, unperturbed by anything.

          It was then that I saw those who had long ago left this earthly life. They were not standing apart, in the watchful silence I would expect from past experiences with the Holy Souls.

          In that dream, I saw the departed very much a part of our life and joys. They were alive! There was no chasm between me and them. I could touch them, hug them, even speak to them! They were as warm and as alive as before. Likewise, they could converse with me, live in my home. They were one of us – just as before!

          All my life, I understood that a reunion with the departed could only take place on our last day, when we had unloosed the final moorings that held us to this early life –  through death.

          But the dream showed something else. A totally unexpected reality that may come to pass. I am no prophet. My dream is not a biblical truth that must be written on hearts and looked out for.

          But without ascribing my interpretations to it, this dream, brought by St Francis of Assisi, a saint who only appears to me when he wants me to quieten down, listen up, is a dream I know I need to pay attention to.

          Because the dream points to a reunion promised to me ten sad years ago through the words, I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you…. he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fatima 1 ~ May 13

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          The First apparition of Our Lady occurred on Sunday May 13th 1917 as the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes.

          They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. It was not really lightning, but rather the reflection of a light that approached little by little. Frightened by the flash, the children looked around at the sky that was clear and bright without the least spot of a cloud. No breeze stirred, the sun was strong, and there was no hint anywhere of a storm that might be responsible for a flash of lightning. The children, however, thought that they had better head home in case it might start raining.

          As they descended the hill, another flash of lightning took them by surprise. Panicky with fear, they took a few steps and looked towards the right. There, standing over the foliage of a small holm oak, a lady dressed all in white, more brilliant then the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun.

          The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.”

          “Where are you from?” the children asked.

          “I am from heaven,” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising Her hand towards the distant horizon.

          “What do you want of me?” Lucia asked.

          “I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want. And I shall return here again a seventh time.”

          Lucia said : “Do you come from heaven…and will I go to heaven?”

          “Yes, you’ll go.”

          “And Jacinta?”

          “As well.”

          “And Francisco?”

          “Him too, but he will have to say many rosaries”. In the end Our Lady asked: “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?”

          “Yes, we do.” said the children.

          “You will have to suffer a lot, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

          Then She opened her hands with a loving gesture of a mother who offers Her heart. From it an intense light departed that seemed to go through them. The vision vanished telling them: “Recite the rosary every day to obtain the peace for the world and the end of the war.”

          And She disappeared.       

(Taken from http://www.theholyrosary.org/fatimaapparitions)

Lent 38 ~ For Love

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Love never abandons.

The Blessed Mother walked each step of Calvary.

As He wet the rugged stones with His Precious Blood,

She wet it with Her Holy Tears.

Stone by stone they traversed, Son and Mother,

As before

As always.

He wiped the blood from His eyes so that He could look again at His Mother…

Till the very end, His Mother in His Heart.

She receives His Body from the Cross

Asks for the Blessed Weight against Her once last time.

Memories

Of a Baby held against Her shoulder

Tight and comforting then,

The leadenness of Him against Her now

Knives score Her broken Heart

For She was as much a mother like us,

as she Is the Mother of God

She weeps for the Son She gave up

That He may belong to us all,

Love,

Love everlasting.

 

 

Lent 37 ~ Pressed to His Heart

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          When our Lord announced to His Blessed Mother what was going to take place, She besought Him, in the most touching terms, to let Her die with Him.  ….She did not weep much, but her grief was indescribable, and there was something almost awful in Her look of deep recollection. Our Divine Lord returned thanks, as a loving Son, for all the love She had borne Him, and pressed Her to His heart. ~ Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

Lent 21 ~ Words on the Heart

Take with you words, and return to the LORD ~ Hosea 14:3

          Yesterday, in the story about St John Vianney and his mystical response to a woman whose husband had taken his own life, the saint said that the deceased had been spiritually saved because of the last prayer he had uttered: the Act of Contrition.

          For some reason, I felt I needed to give the words of that prayer to others contemplating various deaths. Not to physically send the prayer, nor to tell them to pray it. But to pray the words for them who cannot. To say the prayer on their behalf.

          To write the words of contrition on hearts that would otherwise never contemplate them.

          As ever the Doubting Thomas, I did wonder if what I was doing was right.

          But there was no time to be lost. I went ahead anyway, due to the exigency – I was saying the Act of Contrition to stop deaths by human will.

          Today, the verse from Hosea 14:3 holds my spirit as I drift by.

Take with you words, and return to the LORD

          I know it refers to my own penitence.

          But could it mean too the prayers we pray in the waters of love and mercy – which give the words of contrition to be written on dying hearts?

Lent 20 ~ Between the Parapet and the Water

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From the book, Cure Of Ars

There was a woman who told St. John Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him.

          She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive, John Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!”

          The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.”

          It is the morning after Westminster. I don’t know how many lifebooks will close this day through human will – those who don’t want others to live; those who themselves don’t want to live.

          But I am alive and living and wanting to live.

          And I want others to live as well. In this life and in the next.

          So, for the remaining hours of the day, I offer the Act of Contrition for the world. For all those contemplating ending lives – theirs or others’.

          It saved that man in the story. It will save others too.

ACT OF CONTRITION

My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against You
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with Your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy.