DISCERNMENT

Their Tears

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          For ever so long, what I’ve wanted most is to not cry over anything anymore  because there’s been enough shed for two lifetimes.

          Yet, in the strangest twist of yearning, my heart is asking for more tears.

          I have had this yearning before, and two days ago, it whispered by my heart again,

Grant me the grace of remorse, I had asked.

          Remorse – because I’ve often wondered why is it that I’ve never been stricken to the core, or cut to the heart – over my sinfulness. I’ve been tossed about and troubled mightily alright over my various wrongdoings, but secretly, there has always been that puzzlement as to why the shadow of callousness is never too far away from my repentance.

          If I am truly repentant, why isn’t it more ….full? Why do I keep sensing the element of hardness in me, even as I admit and acknowledge my wrongs? Such questions sometimes beat against my heart like a trapped bird. 

          And from the Feast of the Assumption this year, those same questions have come by slightly more insistently.

          Yesterday, a strange storm stirred up the waves within me. Try as I did, I just could not put my finger on the why of it. I raked through every event and action of the day, and nothing seemed to stick. On and on it progressed, till the churning weighed heavy and deeply within me. With the beginnings of desperation, I fled to the only place I believed held the answer or at least, the appeasement: the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland – streamed live around the world.

          No sooner had I settled my spirit in front of the Miraculous Image, when a vine of small roses was tumbled into my spirit:

Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned.

          It was a sunburst out of nowhere. What sin? I am, without doubt, riddled with sin, but what specific sin had tossed my spirit about so forcefully? Again, I went through my day. Again, nothing made sense. Finally, it got too much. I was weary, and it had been a long day. Rather than claw the air for answers, it was oddly far easier to bend my spirit into humility. And so I prayed in obedience the words the angel had misted before me,

Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned.

          Over and over. Not understanding anything, not really caring anymore, but unable to resist the strange, powerful force of that simple prayer of supplication. Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned… Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned… Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned.

          The minute I wove the prayer through my heart, I felt relief wrap its arms around my spirit. Gone were the wild tempests. Gone was the dead weight of the unseen grief that had come out of nowhere and taken me captive. 

          I awoke this morning to the petals of the previous day scattered on the ground. Sifting through them, once more, nothing made sense. Yet, I knew I hadn’t imagined it; something powerful had happened.

          Nothing became clearer until the night hours, distant rain~dewed breezes weaving quiet paths through our trees. Over at Susan Skinner’s blog, Veil of Veronica, she had a new post up – Harden Not Your Hearts. The fingers of my heart traced the words.

          I sensed a movement, and then it was gone.

          Reading on, I saw the words, I am Our Lady of Sorrows.  My heart is Sorrowful.  My son’s heart is Sorrowful…..embrace your cross and truly receive.  This is how you console our hearts….Be contrite.  Be thankful.  Do not be afraid.  Receive what My Son gives you.  ~ The Immaculata

          The words swarmed before me. Suddenly, I knew my questions, my puzzlement, had its answer here, right here, in the words the Mother of God spoke through Susan! But I could not comprehend a single thing. I understood the words, and yet, paradoxically, I understood nothing.

          I ran to my prayer nook. Give me my prayer, Lord. May the prayer enlighten me.

          I lost my breath a bit the moment the prayer of enlightenment I asked for came ~

 

Hail Mary, Full of Sorrows
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Hail Mary, full of sorrows, the Crucified is with Thee: tearful art Thou amongst women, and tearful is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of the Crucified, grant tears to us crucifiers of Thy Son, now and at the hour of our death.

(Bl. Pope Pius IX desired this prayer to be said with contrite heart in honour of the most holy Virgin in her desolation.)

          Grant tears to us. My mind raced to the vine of prayers that had treaded through my days since the Feast of the Assumption.

Grant me remorse, I had prayed.

And Heaven’s answer had been that odd heaviness in my spirit, and the prayer – Forgive me Lord, I have sinned.

…..this prayer to be said with contrite heart….. in honour of the most holy Virgin …..in Her desolation.

Be contrite…. Do not be afraid. Receive what My Son gives you.

          In a searing moment, I saw it all. I saw the storm of yesterday. I saw the heavy despondency. I looked at the memory of strange grief that I had sensed was not mine. Receive what My Son gives you.

          That sorrow hadn’t been mine. It had been my Jesus’ and my Holy Mother’s. It had been placed on my soul in response to my plea for the grace of repentance for myself. I had prayed to be able to grieve in fullness over my fallen~ness. But God knew I was asking for a grief I was not capable of mustering.

         And so, Son and Mother gave me Their Tears, that I may learn, for the briefest of hours, the depth of Heavenly grief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Bell Tolls

          Recently, I slowly became aware of the tolling of an old bell. Old as in a journey I have undertaken. Old as in a call to return to the exact starting point of that slightly worn path.

          It began with the recent discovery of the live streaming from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland, where St Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Miraculous Image is kept. I have since ‘taken’ broken hearts and lives daily to that shrine, and set them before the Miraculous Image.

          I have seen at least one miraculous healing.

          And one powerful guidance.

         One day last week, I woke up to a great inner struggle with anger against someone given to incessant grumbling and the beginnings of sloth. I felt my anger was justified. I felt I needed to speak up.

          Righteous anger leads to spirit-life.

There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity… ~ St Isaiah the Solitary

          But the trouble with my anger, as it so often is, is that it was laden with the added dimensions of vengeance and rebuke with the intention to hurt. And that obliterates righteousness from it, defiles its purity. I was aware of it, and there was a great back-and-forth within me over it.

          In the midst of that struggle, I suddenly became aware of a frisson of deep unease. It might have been a premonition. To me, it felt more like someone else within me was trying to warn me away from a deeply unpleasant situation that would arise should I follow through on my intent to hurt this person to shock sense into her, using righteous anger as an excuse.

          The unease was powerful enough to cause me to rear back from my inclinations. Yet, I knew very well indeed that I often have a wanton disregard for caution. I was fearful that I might, at some point, be overcome by this black anger and do just what my heart and mind were begging for.

          So, I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I took this black venom and ran and set it before the Miraculous Image.

          The anger was pulled out of me, and it was pulled out by its roots.

          Stunned, I turned to the Miraculous Image. I don’t ever remember this type of prayer being answered so swiftly for me. It’s always preceded by long, banging on Heaven’s door. Somehow, I just knew this deliverance was not an end, but a beginning. It was a call to approach closer. And so I did, going before it even when there were no specific intentions. Going before it just to rest my heart there.

          And when my ear burned, I began to breathe Samuel’s entreaty, Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.

          This morning, before we left the home for Mass, the angel brought me The Diary of My Soul, St Faustina’s journal of her spiritual journey into the depths of the Divine Mercy. I had done a thorough reading of it beginning in November of 2015, and it had been an immensely powerful journey that took me through 2016.

          Now, more than a year later, it was gently placed in my hands again.

          The old bell tolled once more.

          I opened it after Mass and for long minutes, lost myself in it. In the early pages of St Faustina’s heart, I saw my own recent life-journeys, albeit on a much less profound scale. I read on calmly and in a state of prayer, going from one event in the saint’s life to another, my spirit for once content to listen out for my Lord.

          Just before I was about to end the reading for the day, I saw these words:

I was to make this novena for the intention of my Motherland. – Entry 33, The Diary of My Soul

          And then I no longer saw those words but these –

Pray for the Motherland.

          A tiny bell went off.

          My country is facing deep turmoil, though not many would see it that way. There are immense struggles on every front. For the most part, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Marriage and family are being sacrificed on the altars of self, materialism and corruption. Too many couples are going headlong into wrong unions. Too many think nothing of ending their marriages. Too many are counselled to believe that is indeed the right and only option.

          Children number the most on the casualty list, yet many parents, politicians, educationists and social activists remain blinded.

          My country is being torn apart from its heart.

          Pray for the Motherland.

          How do I pray?

          The previous entry in the Diary of a Soul had mentioned a nine-day hour long Adoration with Stations of the Cross. I sensed I was to begin the prayers this very day, the 13th of August, the day the August apparitions of Fatima would have taken place in 1917 had the young seers not been kidnapped and taken away. If I began the prayers today, in nine days, they would end on the 21st of August, the day of the total solar eclipse.

          21 August. Solar eclipse. Did the prayer ending on that day say anything of the much-awaited eclipse? Was the prayer linked to it? Did it portend something ominous as many were predicting, prophesying even?

          The same answer as before returned to me. No. There was nothing in the eclipse for me.

          Tell me what to pray. Tell me how to pray, I pressed for Jesus’ heart.

          And the answer came.

Jesus said to me, My child, unite yourself closely to Me during the Sacrifice and offer My Blood and My Wounds to My Father in expiation for the sins of that city. Repeat this without interruption throughout the entire Holy Mass. Do this for seven days. – Entry 39, The Diary of My Soul

          There was no way I could attend Mass for the duration of the prayers, but I could unite my prayers spiritually with the Sacrifices offered in all churches during daily Masses, praying the powerful prayer of entreaty I believe Jesus was asking of me through His words to St Faustina ~

Eternal God, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

          I had come to the end of the discernment. Just before I moved on, I performed one last check. Do this for seven days, Jesus had said. Beginning today, I counted to see where seven days would take me.

          The prayers for the Motherland would end on August 19. The day of the actual Fatima apparitions.

          It left me with no doubts that this prayer and this time were willed. I was to petition the Divine Mercy through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

         

 

Fire On My Ear

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Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate.  ~ Prayer of St Anthony of Padua

 

          Six years ago, I was attending an outstation meeting. Late in the evening, having some time to myself, I decided to visit a church nearby. Living so far away from a church, I have seldom been able to enjoy visits alone to a quiet church, far removed from the bustle of Sunday Masses. But that sultry day, yearning to be freed from empty chatter and work thoughts, I hoped to give myself some quiet time with the Lord.

          There was not a soul about, not even the parish priest with whom I was hoping to have a chat. I walked into the stillness I sought, the waiting hours outside the church slowly falling into the sunset slumber of day’s end. Settling into the front pew, I cast my burdens aside and as best as I could, fixed my heart on Jesus on the Cross before me.

          Never short for a word, I beat God to it and launched into my monologue.

          He patiently allowed me to unreel every whine, rant and squeal, till the babbling no longer made sense even to me. Then, I sat back and waited. Long minutes passed, yet the winds were not stirred, the earth never shook, nor was a great message given. A tad disappointed, I made ready to leave.

          It was then that I felt a searing heat on my outer right ear.

          Someone’s holding my ear, I thought, flummoxed because I didn’t even know where that thought had come from. Then, it hit me. The Divine is holding my ear!

          I quickly sat back and hurried to stuff and shove my recalcitrant spirit into some state of created holiness. God was here, and ready to speak, and there I was, on a flight of my own, totally not dressed to face Him. Giving myself a good, great shake, I froze myself and waited for the other ear to burn.

          I don’t know how long I waited, but nothing more happened. I even clumsily tied up my hair, away from my ears, just to give God a hand. But He had no need of it. The heat stayed on my right ear, and it stayed for a time.

          Then, it gently began fading away, taking with it my quivering restlessness and getting ahead. It left my spirit subdued, recollected. Quiet and pliant.

          Without any effort on my part, in my spirit, I suddenly knew that God had given me a sign. Fire on my ear. A personal sign for when He wanted me to pay close attention to the hidden notes in the coming winds.

          Today, I weave the tiny bell~chimes of St Anthony’s prayer through my heart,

Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate. 

          I write these words on my heart, chiseling them deep.

          Because on this rain~dewed morning, the fire fell on my ear yet again.

 

 

Jesus, Take Them.

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          I entered August without a prayer direction for the month. I was not consciously anxious. I knew it would come. Nonetheless, never one to wait for the Lord in patience, I went a-digging in search of the August guide for the skies of my heart.

          The digging unearthed nothing. But the prayer came. And it came from the last place I’d have thought to look into.

          It came from the occult.

          It began with a change in a work colleague.

          She had never been a hard worker; in fact, diligence was lost on her. She did what she had to, and she did it with bad grace. While I despised her attitude towards work, it was hard not to acknowledge the good in her – namely that she never participated in gossip; no matter how alluring the temptation, she always stuck to the facts.

          Given to bouts of cheeriness and loud, hearty laughter, over a period of two weeks, this young woman began to morph into something else. I began to see a roughness in attitude. Her disregard for good work hardened into a darkness that had not been there before. Then, came the harshness. Small annoyances set her off. She dealt harshly with others over minor infractions. There was unfairness in her dealings where there was none before.

          It could easily have been a mood change, personal stress or any number of things. But I was in no mood to be charitable when this dark change widened its circle and caught me in its web and stung me. I began to seethe with rage over her harshness and unfairness towards innocent people. I was angry that she did so little, yet complained so much.

          For a couple of hours, I stewed in the pot this woman had lit the fire for. Then, as I climbed the stairs to return to my office, an angel stood before me. I didn’t see, nor did I sense his presence, but I know he had stood there blocking my ascent, because suddenly, I was lifted out of my anger. From out of nowhere, this woman and her nastiness assumed the form of a Cross. The minute I saw the Cross, I was overcome with awareness that I had chosen not to love the Cross.

          Help me to love my Cross, I breathed in prayer. Help me to suffer this so I may pray for her.

          From there, things took off.

          Within brief minutes of that prayer, it came to me that this sudden change in my colleague began about two weeks ago, and it had its starting seeds with her challenging the occult. There had been a serious family situation involving the occult, and when my colleague got wind of it, she went on the offensive against it.

          When this knowledge was placed before me, my heart stared at it. For the life of me, I didn’t know what to do about it. My colleague is a Muslim. Occultism, dabbling in the dark spirits, entreating its help, shamanism, all these are very much a part of the Muslim faith as it is practiced here. It’s not encouraged openly, neither is it prohibited.

          To tell her I suspected that she had been hexed the day she confronted the occultists over that family matter, would be to drive her into the netherworld of a shaman who would have what she believed could rid her of the hex. Because Muslims do not believe that prayers can rid them of this; only that a Muslim shaman can.

          By golly, I’m not sold on that. One does not fight the dark with darkness.

          As I pondered the matter, the words – dark, rough, heavycame before me. I brought up the issue of hexing with another colleague, and she too began to share of her experience with it. With no contribution from me to influence her testimony, she spoke of uncharacteristic heaviness. She spoke of a deepening darkness.

          Dark. Rough. Heavy.

          At that minute, I saw something in our own lives. An oddity. My husband and I had recently perceived a strange roughness and heaviness. We both felt like something odd and rough and heavy had slipped in and settled in. But we had dismissed the discerning, forsaking it for the security of logic.

          Suddenly, it became clear what I had to do. My beleaguered colleague had no need of a shaman any more than I did. Although I knew Jesus and she didn’t, I knew His Blood was all I needed and she needed.

          So, I prayed the Blood of Christ to flood our hearts, our lives, anything that had been affected by the occult.

          The very minute I pleaded the Blood of Christ, the roughness and heaviness we had been personally experiencing, disappeared. Even my taciturn husband acknowledged it. Greatly heartened, I went before the Sacred Heart to pray for my colleague.

          And I was led to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy of Cracow, Poland.

          I was led to the 24-hour online transmission from the chapel where the miraculous image of Merciful Jesus and the tomb of St. Faustina is found.

          I’ve read of such live streaming before, but none has ever fallen straight and deep into my heart as this one did. My spirit lunged for it.

          That night, the angels placed my spirit before the Miraculous Image in Poland. And I placed my friend before the image. The next day, I actually forgot all about my prayer for her. At work, I found this lady back to her old cheeriness. Gone was the viper’s spit. Feeling relieved, I cast it out of my mind and went about my busy day.

          It was hours before it suddenly dawned on me that it was Jesus who had reached into her and taken the poison out.

          On the Feast of Our Lady of Snows today, I know this is to be my August call. To go before the Miraculous Image, to place hearts and spirits and souls before it.

          To plead that Jesus take them. That heart. That spirit. That soul. And free them from the houses they are attached to.

          To take captive for the Courts of Heaven.

         

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fatima Way

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          It has been a blessed and joyous two weeks lived well and loved well. But a few days ago, I learned anew the truth of Sr Lucia’s Dos Santos’ prophetic words:

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about

marriage and the family.

I have some issues with my beloved husband, and they boiled over yet again this week. As a result of that, I lived some long moments with sand in my eyes and a storm in my heart.

          One day later, late at night, I stayed up reading about the Fatima Apparitions. I came to the heartrending part where little Jacinta lived her last days, and finally, passed into eternal life. I was so glad for the late hour because it meant no one would witness my own reaction to the enduring courage of a wee child to love her Cross till the end – to offer her terrible sufferings for the salvation of souls. The lateness also meant on no ears would the sound of my own grief fall as my heart traced the path of two simple Fatima parents humbly answering God’s call to bury their own child.

          That part of the Fatima book also took me back to memories of old wounds I’d rather not see. It took me back to what we had lost as a family. It took me back to black hours that we lived through, unknowing that even darker hours awaited us in coming years.

          My pillow was wet that night, and I prayed that there’d be no sign of it in my eyes in the morning, for my grief is private and I wanted it to stay that way.

          I awakened to two miracles the next day.

          There was no sign of the night in my eyes.

          And a greater one – those tears had washed away the grit of old hours of my marital and family related grievance. With the sand washed away, I saw with fresh eyes what the storms had clouded over:

I had not carried my Cross in the Will of God; I had not walked the Fatima Way. 

          Marriage and family struggles come to one and all, some more bitterly and more devastating than others. Some we bring upon ourselves through the choices we make. Some are allowed because it is through the splinters of the Cross that we are emptied for Heaven. In my specific reaction to my frustrations with my husband over his parenting methods and his some of his spousal attitudes, I saw that I had left my Cross. I did not carry it, neither did I ask for God’s help with it. I chose to do it my way, and it was as self-serving as the life of the man of Frank Sinatra’s song (even if the world disagrees with me!)

          My way was not the Fatima Way. My way was the serpent’s way. Seemingly harmless and justified, but winding resolutely and stealthily towards the desolation of Me. I was going in the wrong direction – not towards Heaven, but towards Myself.

          My compass had to be reset. If little Jacinta and Lucia could push past walls rock solid with pain, to love and carry their crosses as God willed of them, then so could I.

          Fresh and cleansed, I got up from the ground. A new day was before me – to be lived the Fatima Way.

          And live it thus, I did. Despite my sinfulness and smallness, I lived it in love as best as I could. Despite the fact that the issues which upset me still remain, and will surely resurrect itself yet again, I held nothing back from my husband and family but gave all I had in love and joyful service.

          This morning, ambling through online highways searching for prayer meditations by saints, I came across a website. Browsing through the prayers, I read each one and waited for the one that would ‘fall into my heart’.

          Just then, I caught sight of a line at the end of the webpage – What if God chose a prayer for you?

          For some reason, that little line stuck its burr into my heart.

          Quickly, I responded, God give me my prayer, then. And resumed searching.

          It was the very next prayer. It was by St Ignatius of Loyola, and it was his Prayer of Generosity ~

Prayer for Generosity
of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous,
teach me to serve You as I should,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and ask not for reward,
Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will. 

          Every line, every word of it – the Fatima Way.

 

 

Every Seeking Heart

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          After days of cheery sunbeams and green breezes in tinkling dance through evergreen boughs, I came to Sunday morning thoroughly happy.

          Happy but distracted. My thoughts scattered in a hundred earthly paths, disappearing into thickets and grass dips; my prayers like sighs borne away on the slightest whisper of wind~breaths.

          It was as if this merriness within left no room for much else.

          I could have gone on this way. Who doesn’t want an end to or even some respite from fretting and rushing and hurting and fuming, even if for a day? But I was headed for Mass soon, and it somehow felt frivolous to go to my Lord’s dwelling with my spirit in a state of giggles.

          And so I strived to summon prayers. Petition prayers, emptied prayers. Rosary and Chaplet cups offered to be filled by heaven. They came. And they went before I could catch hold of any. Sighing, I went about getting ready for the journey to church. I had a book on the Fatima apparitions that I was reading, and I put it into my bag in case I had some minutes after Mass for some quiet time with it.

          The very minute I touched the book, quick as a silver flash, I saw Our Lady of Fatima in my mind. I promptly decided to ask Her for help in quietening my gay spirit: I told Her of my difficulty in praying.

          The words had barely left my heart when I heard the strains of this old hymn blow through my spirit:

In moments like these I sing out a song,
I sing out a love song to Jesus.
In moments like these I lift up my hands,
I lift up my hands to the Lord.

Singing I praise You, Lord.
Singing I praise You, Lord.
Singing I praise You, Lord,
I praise You.

          The little bean rolled into the pod just then. I saw that this tumbling happiness inside me was a gift, a pillow for my heart. As I sank into it over the days that had passed, much of the thorns and thistles of the preceding weeks had misted away, giving way to this jollity that was so much a stranger emotion to me.

          A stranger-happiness because it felt like bread meant for me alone. There was no tug of heart telling me I had to share it with others. Yet, something didn’t feel quite right  keeping this bread~gift for myself.

          By asking Our Lady for help to be able to pray the prayers heaven asked for, to care as I was called to, I think I was in fact asking to share this bread with others.

          And when, of my own volition, I had asked for permission to share the bread~gift, In Moments Like These was Our Lady’s breath through my soul as to how the sharing was to be done: 

I was to begin with Praise.

          And so I did. I praised and thanked God for every thing, little and great, that had been given to me. Gifts I had been grateful for. Gifts I had received with the heart of one of the nine biblical lepers who took and forgot. Gifts I had hitherto been too preoccupied to notice. Gifts I had taken for granted.

          How much, how very much there was to be grateful for.

          I took that spirit of gratitude and praise into Mass. Throughout Mass, in moments when I was tempted to grumble internally or to be moved to quick irritation over inconsequential-s, I found my heart being turned away – towards praise and thanksgiving – and the vexation lost its allure.

          But a strange emptiness remained unfilled. I mouthed words of prayer but they felt like fruit falling far from my reach.

          When Mass ended, my husband took the kids to their Sunday School classes, and I had some time for myself. Scooting over to the other end of the pew so I was directly in front of the crucifix over the altar, I settled back and opened my Fatima Apparition book. It was after the apparitions had ended, and the young seers, Jacinta and Francisco were seriously ill. Jacinta had wanted to continue attending daily Mass but she was advised against it.

          Protesting, she replied, “I want to go in place of the sinners who don’t go even on Sundays.”

I want to go in place of the sinners 

          Like icepearls, the child~saint’s words fell into my heart and they fell deep.

          I had been given my prayer.

          Shutting the book immediately, I closed my eyes and reached out for the prayer,

I bring to Thee every seeking heart,

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart.

          Over and over, those simple words, every seeking heart. I tried to pair them with various seekings, names and pains, but unseen hands brushed my efforts away. None of my own was needed.

          What was asked was that I sit there in total humility, obedience and silence, my will fused to the Divine, before the Blessed Sacrament, before the Crucifix of the Ultimate Sacrifice, bringing every seeking heart to Jesus, through the simplest of prayers,

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart.

          I have read many times before that praise and thanksgiving opens the heart to heaven. So many, many others have learned this, and today, that lesson became mine as well. In desiring that other hearts be watered by happiness as did mine, Our Lady gave me the key that unlocked my heart – Praise.

          And by that prayer wrought by praise, seeking hearts, though hidden from me, were led to heaven.

         

Family & the Rose~beads

         

          Since early this week, some days I have been sensing a quietening within me. The kind of creeping hush that slowly and silently wets the shores of the soul, making its way deeper within, bit by slow bit, blanketing over the noise and indignation and distractions that abound within.

          When I first became aware of it, I looked to its source, and this is what I learned of its origins:

FAMILY

          Ask any parent – there’s no escaping family duties. Not the cooking, not the cleaning, not the loads of laundry, the homework, the counselling, the binding up of wounds, the list goes on and on and on. But there are two ways to go at it – with heart and soul, or distractedly and grumpily. Unfortunately, I was on the second mode for much of April into May.

          Until that day when I asked Our Lady of Fatima, What do You ask of me?

          And I asked Her over and over, all through the hours of the day and those that followed. What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me?

          My heavenly Mother answered quickly enough, and repeated Her answer every time I doubted I heard Her right, every time I sought a different answer – thinking it had to be something different for me.

Pray the Rosary every day.

First Saturday of the month.

          Since 2012, we have been saying the Family Rosary almost every day. However, in recent months, we’ve missed saying it more than we ever have before. Several times, Heaven has called my attention to it. Each time, I’ve bowed my head in repentance, and gone back to set things right. For some weeks, it would be fine, but then, we’d start skipping a day here and another there, and soon, we’d be right back in the rut we thought we had left for good.

Pray the Rosary every day

          Mother Mary has never been this clear with me on this before, and that itself is telling. Just as clearly, this time, Mother has shown me some of the link the daily recitation of the Rosary has on my hope for savouring Eden some day.

           I believe I was shown this Eden through early 1900s life on distant Prince Edward Island, where love of God and neighbor and work once co-existed seamlessly and in a harmony long gone for me now in this country of my birth. Yet, I also believe this Eden of the past is also of the coming future, and that it was shown, and then taken away, to leave in its wake a bereftness deeper than anything I’ve ever felt before – so that I would make every attempt to find it again.

          It wounded me with a longing that will likely live in me all the rest of my days.

          And it is this ache now that has been taking me back to the Rosary this week, despite late hours and tiredness and weak will. I hope to God I do not falter again because I need the Rosary more than anything.

          Because the Rosary is battle beads that will help anyone find heaven.

          In the short days since I returned to this call of Fatima ~ the Rosary, I’ve rediscovered the simple happiness of caring for my brood, heart and soul. In the midst of rush and busyness, I’ve been able to laugh with my family, to love each of them, and to savour the little suns that burst over us in tiny joy~bubbles.

          And when I began to sink my spirit into the heart of family, this mysterious brook of inner quiet began weaving its way through my soul. It is not merely a quiet that distils my day of its errors and distractions. It is a quiet that has me turning away from work so often, seeking my God and all of God in the skies, in the secret language of the clouds, in the new wind~notes as they whisper their secrets through boughs and leaves. When I am fretting over something, it gently beckons to me from flowerbeds, asking that I visit there to refresh my dusty spirit.

          I am indeed learning anew the far-reaching powers of the Rosary.

          This stillness born of the prayer of the rose~beads allows levity and joy, life and work – as long as its goals and outcomes are anchored in family – yet, it cautions my spirit against other roads that lead away from the warning of Sr Lucia, the Fatima seer.

          The warning that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of satan will be about marriage and the family.

         

What Do You Ask Of Me?

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          Since the Prince Edward Island Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote so profoundly of caught my heart and refused to let go this time, I have come to know an ache I have not known before this ~ the intense longing for a life gone by, that was lived for God and God alone. The intensity of this foreign ache for an even more foreign land cut into me so deeply that I was frightened of it, frightened of the power a mere longing could have over me.

          What if this is from darkness? I wondered. What if this is a distraction, to take me away from duty and prayers and inner silence?

          So, I was determined to wrest back my stoic, practical side, by wilfully forgetting this mad yearning, and getting on with life.

          It being the 1st Saturday of the month, I felt a sense of purpose open up before my seeking. Determined to observe 1st Saturday devotions, I decided to live this one day solely for Mother Mary, as an act of reparation for the blasphemies against Her Immaculate Heart.

          And to live the hours of the day just this way by burying Prince Edward Island into the folds of forget, so that its beauty would haunt and distract my thoughts no more.

          And so it was, Hail Mary after Hail Mary, woven through a day sweetened by cool breezes and the welcome respite of household chores and cares. Nonetheless, it was one rosebud of a Hail Mary after another, against the backdrop of Prince Edward Island. It felt as if my spirit could not release itself from the lure of this little Canadian jewel.

          Why? I wondered. Why?

          I had wanted to bury it and forget it, hoping spiritual busyness would leech its lustre for me. Yet, like an enduring flame, the beauty of old life on this island burned steadily on in my heart.

          Gently, I became aware that my wistful desire for this land didn’t cloud out prayer, or diminish it, – as it would have had this longing been from darkness as I had feared; in fact, the minute I began the consecration of my day to the Immaculate Heart, this strange ache gently eased into the background of my consciousness, content to remain there as I gave my hours as best as I could to Mother Mary.

          Despite its potency, it did not compete with Our Lady. On the contrary, it willingly acceded to Our Lady’s presence, although it remained close. If at all it had been the work of the evil one, it would have fled.

          Hours passed. I mentally soaked my spirit in pictures of that beautiful island far north of the world, each time asking, Why? Why did you come? Why will you not go? Then, I suddenly thought of someone I know and wondered if I should open up about it.

          And with no overture on my part, that was what actually happened. This very person got in touch. Taking it as a sign, I shared what had been happening.

          Why am I aching for this place? I asked.

          Perhaps it is a longing for heaven…, came the reply.

          I am stunned! For it is that exactly. As if by seeing this land, I have touched heaven for real. And I have returned from that communion now, no longer the same for this touch I have been allowed.

          If it was indeed that the veils were lifted, then why? For what purpose? Because the life I long for, the period of time the novels of Anne of Green Gables is set in, is not devoid of challenges. I see this Prince Edward Island of the character Anne’s time as my Eden-on-earth – one of savouring of deepest joys, but one of willing, joyous labour too.

          Is that what heaven really is too?

          For a moment, it all becomes too much, and I want to escape it. But the questions pursue me, pushing me to where the mists are gathered, willing me to not give up  seeking the Truth. It comes to family Rosary time, and with a rush of relief, I throw my seeking into the prayers.

          Just after the first decade, inexplicably, I sense the questions dry up. I try to summon the queries again, but come up empty. They have gone.

          The desire to know has left me.

          I return to the rest of the recitation, emptied of myself finally, and in some relief, offer up the prayers as cleansed vessels for the Mother to fill as needed.

          When Rosary ends, an Unseen Hand leads me to the question of the Fatima seer, Sr Lucia, for Our Lady of the Fatima Apparitions:

What do You want of me?

          It falls straight into my heart.

          Immediately, I know that is what I am to ask as well. In a light~burst, the mists part, and I suddenly see the winding turns I had to traverse because that was the only way to  reach this question.

What do You want of me?

          This inexplicable wrench of heart for a tiny province in a country that will once more be consecrated to Our Lady in July this year, had not been a passing bloom that had randomly fallen into my heart. It had been breathed into my soul on blue breezes, to rest in the folds of my heart.

          To trouble and trouble my spirit till it yielded, to ask my own Fatima Question, 

What do You ask of me?

A Deepening

         

          Yesterday brought into the day a deepening of a struggle – my Christian faith against this one other faith. My Christian space against this particular one. My rights against it. This is not a new struggle, it’s been close to twenty years, of being trampled upon, abused – by those who adhere to the tenets of this particular religion. This is a religion of a thousand dictates. Here there is no such thing as a conscience – they do not even recognize it. All it seeks is a rigid and robotic adherence to its tenets, even as the rights of the living and the unborn are abused, the innocent maimed or killed, marriages and family life destroyed by polygamy, abortion, incest and child marriages.

          Yesterday, I reached some kind of breaking point. I received news that my attendance was required at a national programme for a specific work community whose members come from every race and religious creed. But I soon found out that the programme was going to be interpreted through the lens of this particular religion. The greatness of this religion, to be specific.

          I felt as if I was tethering on the threshold of spiritual nausea. We had just heard news of an 11 year old who had died from abuses inflicted on him by a religious school warden (that religion, again). It brought back memories of last year when my own child had been hit at school and the lengths we had to go through to ensure our children were safe at school here.

          And now hearing that I had to participate in an event that was merely an excuse to extol the eminence of this farcical and cruel religion, it took all I had. I had gone past the last gates of tolerance and patience. I had nothing left in me.

          In raw desperation, I looked into familiar nooks for consolation, hope. But it felt like pulling on locked doors. Until night came, and with it, our family Rosary time. I flung myself, heart and soul into the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries. I tried meditating on the mysteries, tried emptying myself to be filled by God Himself – but this was not one of those days. I was too filled and full of my own frustrations; I needed to find the stopper that plugged the keg, only then could I find release.

Please help me, Mother Mary, please help me, I begged. Take this Cross away or give me the strength to face it, to carry it.

          Rosary ended with no discernible sign that the bitter chalice was not to be mine to drink from. I went to bed exhausted. I love Thee, O Lord, I love Thee, O Lord, I love Thee, O Lord, I prayed from the depths of my weakness, seeking the only Hand that could comfort me.

          When I awoke, I was less than ready to face the day. The tough work week had left me tired out; the struggle I was now facing, depleting my energy even more. But it was an important work day and I didn’t dare lie back for some extra minutes in case I slept off. Not this on this day, I told myself firmly. As I sat up, a song burst in my head.

On this day, O beautiful Mother,
On this day we give thee our love.
Near the, Madonna, fondly we hover,
Trusting thy gentle care to prove.

On this day we ask to share,
Dearest Mother, thy sweet care;
Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          The hymn beat out any other thought. It had been very long since I had heard this hymn, even longer since a hymn had flooded my mind like this. But I had gone through this enough times to know the hymn held heaven’s message to me. I leaned in closer as it played over and over in my head, and realized two lines were standing out more.

Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          I groaned when I realized what it meant. By asking to be saved from facing this struggle I was going through with this other religion, by asking to be kept away from it, I was walking away from the path Our Lady had illumined for me. I was rejecting the Divine Will.

          Nevertheless, I wanted so much to be wrong about what I had discerned. Maybe there is some other line for me in this hymn, I thought.

          I looked up the hymn, and traced every line of its lyrics. My heart remained unmoved till the last verse ~

Fast our days of life we run,
Soon the night of death will come;
Tower of strength in that dread hour,
Come with all thy gentle power.

          For whatever reason, the journey of my soul and spirit was along this route of thorns and knives. This programme I was to attend was a mountain in my way. And no one scales a mountain to reach the other side by shimmying up the nearest tree.         

          I went resignedly to work, and was soon caught up in the busyness of the day. But a grey shadow of regret remained. Regret that my prayer had not been answered differently. Regret marked by weariness over the many more mountains like this that remained to be faced and overcome.

          Nonetheless, I turned my heart back to heaven. Help me to face it, I slumped into God’s Will, defeated at last.

          Late into the night, there was a knock on the door of my spirit, and the Conversion Prayer dictated by Jesus to St Faustina Kowalska was laid before my eyes.

          My despondent spirit jumped to life. Taken aback by this, I looked closely at the prayer I have prayed very often before.

If you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith, on behalf of some sinner, I will give that soul the grace of conversion.

“O Blood and water that gushed forth from the heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You”.

          Conversion of souls! My spirit leapt at the promise. So that was where this journey was heading to! That was why this suffering, and perhaps more later, could not be circumvented. It was not about me. It was about saving souls.

          Something drew me back to the prayer again. Returning, this time, I saw one little word shine out more than the others:

Contrite

          I had asked for the cup of suffering to be taken away. Despite the almost 2 decades’ long background to my suffering with the members of this religion, the coming Cross in the form of the programme I was to attend was minuscule in contrast to the immense tearing of soul that others had to endure. Could I honestly say I was disturbed by the increasing loss of souls to the tyranny of this religion, and yet refuse to partake in their salvation – just because the path of my compliance lay among deadly thorns and knives? What was the use of lamenting if I was not willing to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet on this earth, in every way, to help return these prisoner hearts and souls to the Heavenly Father?

          Where was my contrition?

          In bringing this illumination to me, an angel had ministered to me in the desert of my present struggles. I got to my feet, still unsure of myself, yet now firmly anchored in the refreshed certainty that God would provide all that was needed. Just as Jesus had died to save us, so must I face this night of death for the conversion of souls.

Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          I had sought to leave my Cross. To it I must now return.