Death

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.

Lent 14 ~ Sigh of the Prisoner

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You,

with Your great power free those doomed to death. ~ Psalm 79:11

          Last year, I wrote of one of my superiors at work who has the unfortunate disposition of crushing hearts and spirits. He doesn’t do it unknowingly; he does it with cruel and calculated intent.

          I’ve been his target for the past 12 years. One day last year, he broke me finally.

          Deeply hurt, I turned to God.

          And the God I turned to turned me decidedly towards praying in mercy for this man. No retribution plea He allowed. No arm about me, no flooding of heavenly comfort into my heart either.

          The balm for my pain lay in the mercy prayer for this man’s soul.

          And so, I prayed. Of course, it didn’t come easy. Revenge can be as strong a manacle of my heart as it is for this man who hurt me. The only difference is I seldom act on it. But revenge maintained a malevolent vigil even as I forced myself to pray that this man be saved.

          I was taken through several prayers as I went from one level of healing to the next. When I first began, it was a simple yet powerful, Blood of Christ on him, Blood of Christ on me. The angels tinkled the prayer chimes every time I saw him at work. Every time he entered my thoughts. I said the prayer when my heart softened from time to time. I said it when my heart hardened in anger every time bitter memories won out.

          And after a time, I was led to the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. By this time, there was no more inner struggle to pray for him. I didn’t have to be dragged to the prayer. I said it with some dedication too.

          And whenever I slipped in my routine, God sent me dreams of the man and his power to hurt, He allowed little nips at work too – to take me scurrying back to the Cradle of Grace, seeking life for the man.

          I have read to some extent of the immense power of prayer. It can work in ways we least expect.

          Great imagination that I have, it failed me with regards to this man. Despite all my reading and experiences on the miracles prayers can obtain, I couldn’t fathom how my puny prayers this time were going to save his soul – because he barely changed. I finally reached the point where I stopped caring about where my prayers for this man were headed, and how they were going to be answered. I was called to say them, and I did.

          I placed whatever disappointment I had in the lack of signs of conversion, in Mother Mary’s heart. And while I continued to pray for him, in this way, I moved on too.

          Then, one day at Mass, through one of the readings, I heard a voice tell me that this man could not change because the dark pride in him went back a long way; his bloodlines had been contaminated from a long time before.

          I was stupefied. What did it mean? After all my effort, this??!! God let me puzzle over this for many long weeks.

          And then, a tiny bud began to bloom. An Unseen Heart gently drew me to the Prayer of the Holy Wounds. For a reason I have no explanation for, two weeks ago, I began to determinedly place this man in Jesus’ Holy Wounds. I put him and four others in Christ’s sacred Wounds, I imagined them there, deep within, and prayed for the Blood of Christ to flood them all, cleansing every bloodline, helping each one to love God more than themselves.

          Every day, I offered that same Prayer of the Holy Wounds at the start of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Each time I prayed it, the prayer became a little less about me, and more about saving him.

          Then, at the beginning of the new week, these lines of the Responsorial Psalm caught my heart ~

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.

          At any other time, reading those words would have made me immediately see myself as that Prisoner, because I have too much of mercy for myself.

          But this time, this time was different.

          The moment I saw the words, I saw my superior’s face.

          I knew then that while I only saw him as a sneak and a bully and all things negative and unpleasant before this, in God’s compassionate gaze, this man was a prisoner.

          And by extension of that, if I held on to my negative perception of my superior – however justified it was, but without the compassion of mercy and forgiveness, – then, I was being his jailer.

          Slowly, ever so slowly, the flower of comprehension began to bloom more petals. The Prayer of the Holy Wounds was as much for me as it was for that unfortunate man.  Christ’s Sacred Wounds had freed me from being the jailer of this soul. 

          And I now know with a deep certainty that my Jesus’ Wounds will now free this man’s soul.

          As often, as deeply  and as selflessly as I continue to place this man into the Holy Wounds, this prisoner will be freed to begin to seek the only God there is.

          And the conversion will begin.

Lent 4 ~ Fire of Seeking

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          First Saturday devotions to Our Blessed Mother. After long days where the skies tipped over jar after jar of heaven’s dew over us, the rains lost to the pale sun this morning. As rain memories formed a million water~diamonds that clung to wet leaves and twinkled sunlight through, my inner rebel bade me depart from the usual 1st Saturday devotions.

          Instead, I offered Mother the first rain~roses of the blessed first Saturday of Lent – decades of the Glorious Mysteries. I recalled a similar July offering last year, and I tried my best to scrub my offering clean of my never ending petitions. Today’s morning Rosary was my gift to Mother, and I didn’t want it beribboned in earthly seeking.

          The 4th Mystery wrapped and offered, my Mother showed Herself. This would be the third time since last year that I have experienced this – right after the 4th Mystery, I am either shown or taught something.

          This time, Mother came forth and led my mind back to the Miracle of Limpias. Back into the quiet, dusty church, lit by flailing faith. The miracle had happened on March 30, 1919 – during the season of Lent. At a time when spiritual mourning should have brought souls to the tabernacle of supreme grace. As my spirit stood within that still moment when the sunlight streams through dustnotes, I felt this written in a whisper,

Pray to Seek

          As the sun’s rays fell into my heart, I suddenly realized almost all my prayers are usually about appeasement – that someone be given this or granted that. They are seldom about a genuine searching for God. I can barely remember if I have ever prayed that others sell their treasures and to become spiritual pilgrims on a journey of holy seeking.

          That dying church of St Peter in Limpias, in the days before Life lit the dark there, might have been filled with people who did not seek Christ as they should have. They brought themselves to church but might have left their souls elsewhere in the coils of earthly cares.

          The brethren of Limpias then are me and too many others now. We do not seek God with heart and soul. And even if we do, we might be seeking Him in the pastures and meadows of our choice.

          On this morning when the sun seeks to dry the tears of the earth, the Queen of Heaven has made Her wish known – that we pray for the fire of seeking.

The Call of Lent

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          Lent last year began with a dream of a strange, terrible flood coming, a multitude in a panic, scrambling onto buses to escape the town, a town being emptied of life. The call to me was not to join the fleeing. The call was to stay and PREPARE.

          To prepare by praying lost and dying souls into the Ark of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

          The months that followed were just about that – although, often, it didn’t seem that way.  Each month brought pains and weeps different from the old month’s offerings. And from where I stood, all I saw was that many of the sufferings were distractions – distractions that took me away from the prayers to save the lost and the dying. Time and again, I felt as if those struggles made me go into myself to understand what was happening. I didn’t always want to go into myself. It felt like wasted time. It made me fret with frustration that I couldn’t be about the Lord’s work.

          Only tonight do I see it differently.

          In every heartache in the months that streamed from Lent, I was forced to face my sins; I was forced to confront the sins of others. Each time, I was not accorded the luxury of indifference. I had to suffer the fire. To cope with each burning, I fled to God.

          And every time, He gave me the prayer I needed.

          And every prayer was a prayer for the lost and the dying souls – both mine and others.

          A new Lent again lies just beyond the sleeping skies. In a few days, Lent will slowly unbutton its weave of path for each one of us. A journey of the soul no one can afford not to undertake.

          For to spurn the call of Lent is to lose souls entrusted to us.

          And to lose ourselves.

 

Cross the Jordan

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          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.

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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

Wounds for the King

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          The day gently rises from its slumber. I stand at my window and search for the sun – pale and unwilling to pierce the heavy white cloud curtain. The droop of spirit is everywhere in the trees and flowers. It shouldn’t have been so, not after the invigorating rains, but it is. I will the sullen beauty of morning mists and listless breezes to fall into my heart and stir it to thanksgiving. 

          I refuse to fall into the greys.

          For I have much to be thankful for in a world clawing for life as crack after crack, snakes across the ground.

          There is a wave rolling across seas and lands, effecting a change of guard – some expected, others – not quite. One nation after another is facing sudden changes and upheavals. The foam of a sea in turmoil is flowing into lives, reaching one doorstep bringing tumult, going over another bringing jubilance and relief.

          More and more, to go to bed tonight is to awaken to a surprise the next day. Or shock.

          The ground is shaking and cracking.

          The winds have been hammering a restless beat against my spirit from yesterday. Moaning against the walls of my heart, asking for what I do not have. I step back and study the winds. They come from homes I do not know. They swirl a plea against my heart.

          I struggle to understand. I pray. But the prayers seemingly fall back. 

         Today, I awaken once more to the somberness of a day unsure of its call. Recalling problems I’ve heard and read about, I feel silent voices pleadingly pull at my spirit. I want to tell them the skies will blue again, and the winds will sing gold notes through happy green boughs once more some day. But, who am I comforting? Them or me? 

          There is a message on my phone. Grandparents reveling in the joy of their only grandchild. For a moment, I forget the lows of life and partake of that primeval joy of yet another Yes! to life.

          And suddenly, suddenly, a shaft of light falls into my spirit! The light tumbles into burrows and tickles joy into hollows. Strength surges through me, but I immediately know it is for others.

          Gripping my Rosary, I pray in imperfect hope, seeking the words for others,

Jesus, give me my prayer.

          For long minutes, nothing stirs. I call for Padre Pio. I call for St Jude. I call for the angels.

          Then, in the quiet still of a demure morning, I sense a stirring. One by one, in a slow, sad procession – face after face of every prayer need in recent days silently files past my consciousness. Pleas of those I know and do not know, the woe~wreaths of strangers and friends alike.

          Is this to be my prayer today? I wonder, This naming of wounds? And what comes after?

          I listen again for my prayer but none comes.

          So, I return to the pleas before me. Families breaking up. Marriages ending. Dwindling bank accounts. Work struggles. Hunger. Homelessness. Suicides. Loss of children.

          The sorrows of a hundred stories, of lives lived in the turmoil of uncertainty and loss of the familiar.

          I look at each pain, touching each sorrow, gleaned from blogs and forums and life. I cannot take it away. Today, to even point to future joys might cause a worse wounding. Nevertheless, it is imperative that each soul knows they are loved, that they are not alone in their suffering. I want to love them in the same way I have been loved countless times, by nameless angels, in secret hearts.

Jesus, King of Kings, receive my prayer.

          The prayer is like a light out of nowhere.

          It falls deep into my heart and my spirit springs to life. In a lightburst, I understand. On the beads of the Rosary, every grief touched with the heart, is a wound placed into the hands of the King. And this is what He asks of me today – to bring the wounds to Him. No mountain to scale, no valley to plumb; only compassion to seek the lost and the broken, to be brought Home to Love.

          I do not have what the wounded need, I never will.

          But Jesus does, and always will.

         

 

An Old Promise

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          First Friday of the month. First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. First time in a long time that I’m able to observe this devotion.

          But I dispense with the usual prayers. I wish to gift Jesus with something of my own, from my heart. I begin with a consecration – pressing the family and others, name by name, deep into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then, I offer up my own Chaplet ~

Blood of Christ,

Mark our hearts.

Each decade – a different petition of need. Is this right? Should I be dispensing with the usual formula? I honestly do not know. But what I do know is, if it is wrong, God will set me right.

          I leave my Holy Hour and move on to house chores. With Christmas fast approaching, there’s much to do. Busy in the depths of planning, listing, wielding and scrubbing, I feel the lightest nudge, and the strains of an old hymn unfurl their petals in the inner ear of my spirit:

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

          I run the words of the hymn through my heart to see what sets anchor in my spirit. When the winds dip, I feel the words:

old rugged Cross

          On a day when the grey~blue winds sing hushed notes through green weaves, and the shy sun blesses the land, on a day when my spirit skips in joy, reveling in the respite from bitters and stings, my Jesus gently reminds me that no life lived for Him can be lived away from the Cross. That to pray asking to be marked with His Blood is to pledge my acceptance and love of the cross in my life.

          It is to love the Cross through the weave of months and years, until old breath. And by that, to bring to fulfilment His promise to me one anguished night nine years ago, when I had begged for death in order to find heaven. Jesus had turned me resolutely back to this earth and its awaiting sufferings, promising me,

When you have done My Will, I will come and take you home.