DISCERNMENT

Trust in Me

          I’ve been in some physical suffering since the night before, but nothing could leach away the beauty of the day. Discomfort had prevented me from watching the dawn pearl tangerine~pink roses from its eastern breast, and when I had awakened from disrupted sleep, the sun was beaming cheerily from cloud-misted blue skies.

          Despite what the night had been, I knew it was going to be a special day.

          And it was.

          All through the lifts and dips of the high-spirited winds of the happy day, I felt a peace that settles deep. Despite the roughness of the week that was, despite the turmoil that awaits my land in the weeks to come, this beautiful peace feels like the wordless murmur of saints and angels sitting by our hearts unseen, comforting us in our struggles.

          The Church … was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.   ~   Acts 9:31

          I think of the various pearls that met my heart in the past week.

The time of Mercy is meeting the time of Judgement

A shifting

Trust in Me.

          Even in all the turmoil and confusion buffeting the Church today and each day, is she – in secret – being broken down, stone by stone, and being rebuilt by a Power so pure, beautiful and encompassing? I think of the endless stream of accusations and missteps among church hierarchy, the Calvary of priests, the dying wick of faith in hearts, the emptying of many churches. Perhaps Jesus is once more asking in brokenness, Do you also want to leave?

          Instead I hear the words, unmistakably clear, with a strength beyond words.

Trust in Me.

 

 

 

 

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It is Time to Build

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When a man prepares to build a house, he gathers together all he needs to be able to construct it, and he collects different sorts of materials. So it is with us; let us acquire a little of the virtues.   ~   St. Poemen

 

           In the last days of Lent, I had begun to feel a new and unexpected bubbling of a secret joy~brook within me. As its waters  silvered deeper into the folds of my spirit, I wondered at its source. One day, I understood it – it was akin to the joy of moving into a lovely new home.

          And then, I was told to build an oratory within myself.

          Passion Week brought a muting of that beautiful, gentle trickling, and I did not feel it again until Desert Father Poemen slipped his words quietly into my morning stillness.

When a man prepares to build a house

he collects different sorts of materials

let us acquire a little of the virtues.

Each word of the Shepherd pearled into lights as they touched my spirit. Each word resurrected the purpose of living that lights the path ahead. Our mourning and cleansing done, we are now to rise to begin to build a new home within us, walled and lined and sealed with every virtue God wills of us.

There is an appointed time for everything,

and a time for every affair under the heavens.  

a time to tear down,

and a time to build.  

~   Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 32 ~ Not A Single Copper Coin

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So, then, whoever seeks to be received into the discipline of the cenobium is never admitted until, by lying outside for ten days or more, he has given an indication of his perseverance and desire, as well as of his humility and patience. And when he has embraced the knees of all the brothers passing by and has been purposely rebuked and disdained by everyone, as if he wished to enter the monastery not out of devotion but out of necessity, and has been visited with numerous insults and reproaches and has given proof of his constancy, and by putting up with taunts has shown what he will be like in time of trial, and when the ardor of his intention has been proven and he has thus been received, he is asked with the utmost earnestness if, from his former possessions, the contamination of even a single copper coin clings to him.   ~   St. John Cassian

 

          Had that question been posed to me, I would have been in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that the contamination of more than a single copper coin clings to me. As long as this world continues to have a hold over me, the chink and clang of copper coins will give me away, and deny me entry into the Heart of God.

          Ever so often, I trundle from the other end of the spectrum, and go to where I think I’m not so bad after all, taking up position, not quite Pharisee, not quite Publican, but somewhere in between. It is for such times that this warning has come to me today – if the contamination of even a single copper coin clings to me –  for when I dare to delude myself that God will not mind a stray copper coin or two in my heart.

          The contamination of even a single copper coin.

          I think of the ancient prayer, Into Your hands I commend my spirit, Christ’s last words on the Cross. I think of the way the prayer blew into my heart last week, with the sultry evening breezes from the chambers of the orange~purple sunset skies. I think of the way this old prayer of life has returned to me in these last days of Lent – this ‘bridging prayer’ – marking the ending of one life, leading to the beginning of the next.

          I wonder why it has returned; somehow, it is time to ask that question.

          The moment I do, a memory returns.

          The memory of Tearing Winds on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes last year. Of a strange, frightening, intense internal storm hidden from everyone else. A powerful, almost debilitating rage of winds inside my soul, with no discernible source. The hours of struggle. Struggle to hold on. Struggle to pray. Every prayer being snatched away by violent hurricanes. Struggling to make sense of what this was, clawing my way out of its vortex.

          And each time, falling back.

          Until I screamed for Mother of Lourdes. She sent me a prayer like a lightning bolt.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit.

          I lunged for it like the lifeline it was. And then, the storms died.

          Much, much later, prompted by the Spirit, I returned to the memory. I was made to understand that the tearing winds were from the future.

And they were coming for our spirits.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit is the Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping. In the last breaths of Lent, the Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping has returned strongly to me. To be said at every moment of recollection. When I am disturbed. When I am at peace. When I am filled with joy.

          I run the eyes of my heart over these past few days. I want to make sure I am missing nothing.

          The Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping had returned first. That was followed by the warning of the copper coin, that I hold back nothing for myself.

          I remain still before the discernment.

          The pearl slides into its oyster.

          The house must be swept clean and returned to its Master.

 

 

 

Lent 19 ~ Littlest Bells

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          We often believe that it’s the loudest gongs that get our attention in life, but yesterday was proof yet again for me that that the most tiny of bells can hold its own.

          It was my Reparation Monday again and I began the day with a prayer that God tell me who or what my daily struggles should be offered for. I briefly imagined that it would be for priests, but swiftly damped that down when I remembered I should not direct.

          When I asked again, the face of my friend’s son came before my heart. We had met at church the previous day and she had told me about recent struggles with her son who seemed to have grave psychological issues. The child’s face had stayed before me through much of Sunday, but I certainly didn’t expect God to ask that I suffer for this child on Reparation Monday.

          But He did, and so I did and I hoped the difficult day and the worth of its tough hours did something for that troubled child.

          I had worked outstation that day and some health issues preoccupied me throughout. When the terribly hot red evening hours came, bringing with it lethargy, I forgot all about suffering for children, even my own, and decided I deserved to put my feet up and rest a bit. Dinner would be whatever there was, kids could help vacuum the floors and the family laundry could stay in their baskets.

          But an email had come in from a dear~heart blogger friend. In it were the words,

Busy with my grandchildren

          I heard a soft chime as I read those words. As I read them again, my own brood returned home from sultry evening farewells. The draining day had taken a bit more out of them than usual and they were not all-about-the-place as they usually were.

Busy with my grandchildren

          Today was to be lived and struggled through for children. It began with my friend’s son and now my own needed me. That was the message of the bell. Getting to my feet, I whispered the prayer I had learned late last year, I Choose Jesus. For that boy, for my own.

          Somehow, I found the needed vigour to attend to the calls of home and hearth.

          I can’t help but wonder just how many of such little calls to reparation through children must have slipped unheeded to fall and be lost in my busyness and in the many, never ending tempests of emotions, day after day after day. How many people, known and unknown, how much they must have hurt, just because I was too caught up in my inner noises to hear the silver chimes that come softest.

          My thoughts return to the Adoration I am called to each day. Being still and silent with my Jesus is merely to run my fingers over the surface of the lake. Much, much more lies below. And reparation, caring for children, choosing Jesus for those who won’t – these and more are all somehow tied to Adoration.

          The tiny silver bells that chime for me go far deeper in Adoration than I realize.

 

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Noble Heart of Jesus

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I offer you the infinitely precious and noble Heart of Jesus.   ~   Guardian Angel Prayer, by St. Gertrude

 

          Since I read St. Gertrude’s Guardian Angel Prayer, I have become more conscious of my unseen companion. I went into the challenging hours of yesterday willing myself not to lose peace over discomforts, delays and sandpaper-moments. In every door I passed through,  my heart sought that golden presence.

          Granted, I didn’t always choose the way of Light in the hundred moments  embroidered into the busy day. But with each stumble, I righted myself and started anew, my spirit always in alertness for that fragrant peace that could still storms.

          It was in the part and weave of the hours that I began to see a word come before me over and over ~

Noble Heart of Jesus

          When my work day had ended, I found some quiet minutes to seek St. Gertrude’s prayer once more. There I found the birthplace of the day’s echoes,

In acknowledgment and return for all your loving ministries to me,

I offer you the infinitely precious and noble Heart of Jesus

          My Angel was asking an offering of me. I did not refuse.

          Every time my heart saw the Angel, I whispered, I offer you the noble Heart of Jesus.

Lent 11 ~ Gates

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.   ~   Psalm 79:11

 

          A few years ago, this exact verse came before me, and with it, the face of someone I honestly despise.  But something stirred in me that however much that nasty man had hurt me, he was a prisoner who had to be set free – because the root cause of his darkness was a dangerous love and worship of money and wealth.

          Yesterday, not knowing this verse was going to appear again, a friend mentioned this same person to me. It was from her that I heard again about this man’s growing desire for money.

          I saw that he was fast sinking into a deadly spiral.

          I honestly didn’t want to pray for this man except to pray for protection from him because being my superior at work, he has hurt me deeply and still possesses the power to harm me. In my moment of reluctance, I saw these words pass before my heart:

Before My Eucharistic Face

          Jesus was asking me to bring this man to Adoration.

          Since I do not live close to any church, I did what I could. I went to the live streaming link to the Divine Mercy Chapel in Poland and I went before the Blessed Sacrament. My spirit knelt before the Miraculous Image, and I placed this man before the Face of Jesus. No words did I fuss over except to utter his name.

          I then felt I ought to bring other names as well and so I did. With each name I pressed, I leaned in to determine His will, to see if I was truly called to pray for that person. 

          Groups of people passed before my spirit’s eyes. As I touched each one to take them before the Eucharistic Face, with some I could sense a yielding, like some invisible latch had fallen and its gate opened; with others I felt a shrinking away, like they were closing in on themselves. 

          After yesterday’s dying to myself, I was not in the mood to be disobedient by feeling guilty for not praying for more people. I was here to bring before the Eucharistic Face only those whom Jesus called for through me today.

          When my Adoration had ended, I sat back and rested my heart against the morning winds as they sang their silver and gold hymns among the leaves.

          Slowly, I became aware of a single word.

Gates.

 

 

 

Lent 9 ~ How Do I Come Home?

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          The turbulent days behind me, I am now in a place where the winds keep counsel among the sodden trees. Even when they occasionally blow by my path, it is in careful, measured breaths. The skies sob in bursts and fits, but it is not for this that the winds mourn.

          It is because I chose to rebel against God and His Will.

          Since that rebelling, I had gone to the hours of my day. I had been very busy. There was much to do and much that I got done. I came to the end of the work day satisfied.

          Yet, there had been a serrated edge to the day. Because a wound had been sewn up but stitched up roughly because I chose to rebel. I had given in to a wounding by heaven but I had given in in anger.

          Old anger always looks different in the morning after.

          Still, remorse sits distantly within me. I know I have sinned but if it happened again, I’m not sure I would choose another path of response and reaction. I don’t know if I am even capable of it. I think of Jesus~in~my~heart. I feel He is near. Heaven has not shut its doors against me despite where I chose to go.

          But something keeps me from throwing myself into His arms. There is a breach between us. I am rooted to my side. I do not know how to cross over.

          How do I come home? I ask the air about me. The night hours take my question but no answer do they yield. I think of all the saints close to my heart – Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Bosco. I think of taking their hand and asking them to lead me back to God. But the thought mists away as soon as it comes, as if brushed away by an unseen hand.

          Then, I think of Mother Mary and my thoughts stop there. No words knit to form my plea. I sense none is needed. I sense I must let it be for now.

          In the early grey morning, a tiny silver bell slides across my spirit. It chimes,

Adoration.

          That is the way home.

 

 

Lent 6 ~ Dedication

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There is a very real sense in which the prayer of adoration is a loss of one’s life. It is a kind of falling into the ground to die. Remember this when you come to adore Me. When you adore Me, forgetting yourself and forsaking all things for Me, you imitate Me, for adoration is a kind of death. It is a passing out of everything that solicits the senses and a cleaving to Me alone in the bright darkness of faith. ~ Anonymous, In Sinu Jesu

         

          Adoration is a kind of death. It has been two days since I read that and it has followed me silently in all the weave of hours since. As the sun~warmed morning breathes elfin breezes through the trees this day, Adoration is a kind of death returns yet again.

          In these two days, the veil has thinned twice. Both times, the prayer nook I stop by daily for random prayers gave me Surrender Prayers. I don’t remember this happening before – similar prayers over consecutive days. The second prayer today gave me pause:

Prayer of Self Dedication
from the Sacramentary

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom,
my memory, my understanding, and my will.
All that I have and cherish
you have given me.
I surrender it all to be guided by Your will.
Your grace and Your love
are enough for me.
Give me these, Lord Jesus,
and I ask for nothing more.

          This prayer of Self Dedication I received today is the hand that has stayed my busy gallop. Because in days past, my gaze has often gone and remained upon my February calendar picture: The Presentation of the Child in the Temple. We’ve always had a calendar up. Lots of February pictures. But never of The Presentation. And every time I see it, Someone holds me back for a bit.

          More than once, I’ve wondered why.

          Today, reading the second surrender prayer, the clarity of its call pierces deeper.

          The adoration I now offer the Lord is the beginning of the  journey to what He truly means by adoration. I must not remain rooted in my present form of adoration. Because it must evolve into what is decreed by the Divine Will.

          To set this into motion, I must first dedicate myself to the Heart I seek. This complete surrender will protect me from resisting, choosing to return to roosts of comfort.

          Because the Heart of Jesus is to be found far removed from where I am now. I need to leave myself if I am to find Him.

 

 

Lent 4 ~ Candles. Emergency.

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          An urgent wind parting the trees from sunny morning hours. There were some things I wanted to get done but for some reason, the winds wouldn’t leave me. I stopped and listened to their melody. It was not troubling. Neither was it comforting.

          Listening deeper, I sensed this: Listen, Listen, Listen.

          From yesterday, reading something, two words lingered awhile even as others moved on: Candles. Emergency. Even at that moment, I sensed it was not about stocking up on emergency candles. And that it was not to do with ‘candles’ and ’emergency’ as we understood it. When the winds raised their call, I stepped off the road and went back to the words, trying to touch to discern.

          But the second I did, they misted out of reach.

          Undeterred, I sought to understand. I looked up candles and learned something I never focused on before. That candles symbolize Jesus.

The wax is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity. ~ St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury

          I felt the words swim before me again – a personal sign that the veil was being dropped back in place. I sat back and in my heart, went over what I had been shown thus far and the little I understood about Light. That there will come a time when the darkness around us will deepen to the point where ordinary illumination will no longer suffice. And that when that time comes, it is the Light within us that will shine the path ahead that we may see. The less we block it, the brighter the Light for us to see ahead.

          And then I understood that, that Light is Christ enthroned within us.

          I returned to what I had learned about the symbolism of the wax, the wick and the flame. I thought about how a candle looks like. From wax to wick to flame – in some ways, an allegory of a spiritual journey.

          The journey of enthronement.

          Then the door closed completely and I couldn’t see anymore.

          Until hours later, when I went to In Sinu Jesu. Until I saw,

Abide in Me and I will abide in you, speaking through you, and touching souls through your words. 

Allow Me to be the physician of souls and bodies through you. I want to live in you and pursue on earth all of those things that I did out of love and compassion when I walked among men in My flesh. You are My flesh now, and you are My presence in the world. It is through you that I make Myself visible to men. It is through you that I will speak to them, and comfort them, and heal them, and draw them to My Father in the Holy Spirit. 
          You are My flesh now.
          You are My presence in the world. 
          It is through you that I make Myself visible to men.
          Flesh. Presence. Visibility.
          The wax. The wick. The flame.
          We must be His flesh. We must be His presence in order that His Spirit shines through us as the only Candle that can pierce the deepening darkness – for ourselves, for others.
          I sit back and turn this over in my heart. The teaching of the Candle is not entirely new. Yet, something has settled in deeper.
          About to take leave of my perch, something moves behind me.
          Emergency.
          Facing it squarely to get a deeper look, it is there.
          And then I see it no more.

Water Will Win

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          In late December last year, we had a houseful of Christmas guests, one of whom was my old mother-in-law. We were having a crisis that most in the family, in the bliss of Christmas, was unaware of, and my mother-in-law was at the centre of that crisis. My husband and I had been struggling to save his mum who, in her old age, seems bent on choosing any rose-strewn path – the wider, the better. Her choices in life have brought us a lot of deep suffering, and very often, I have struggled to love her, to pray for her. That Christmas week, the moment she arrived at our place and alighted from the car and quickly made her way past us into our home, I had to bite down the bitter disappointment that she couldn’t be more of a beacon for us. That even in this old age, she was choosing paths that did not lead to heaven. That our struggles for her, especially what my husband was enduring and suffering for her, didn’t seem to be helping.

          Despite my acute disappointment in her that day, I decided I would keep my tongue well out of the way at the back of my teeth – for the sake of my husband. He had surely noticed his mother’s mood and it would be wounding enough without my adding another caustic edge to his heartache. So, for the first few busy minutes of photos and hugs and squeals, I let Mum be. But when lunch was served, something moved in me and I went to make sure she was taken care of.

          That was the tone for the rest of the day and even into the next. I kept an eye on her but generally kept out of her way. There was no anger in me, but I didn’t trust myself to not fall into red pits because I was very tired and Mum had a penchant for getting a rise out of me.

          One afternoon, lunch over, everyone relaxing in quiet corners, I went to have a short nap to recharge for dinner preparations. Oddly, so tired though I was, my prayer for inner quiet was answered in those cloudy afternoon hours where the yellow~blue winds sang restless notes among the trees. Into that quiet I descended and began to pray for a special peace in all hearts gathered under our roof.

          I fell asleep.

          I had a dream.

          I dreamt of a room in my home being flooded to the roof. It was just this one room. Unlike my old dream from years ago where I saw a terrible, filthy torrent rush into our town, this water was as clear as crystal, and it was only in my home. I worried about what damage this water would do to our furniture.

          Then, I opened the door to this room, this same water drained into where I was. I managed to catch a glimpse of the room where the water had come from, – and I saw very clearly that the water had not damaged any of the furniture.  

          Then, this water knocked me over.

          It then flowed out through another set of doors that opened out over a peaceful garden.

          Getting up from the floor, I went to those doors, and there in the garden, I saw Mum with my husband. I saw her as I have not for so very long: at deep peace. She was gardening with my husband by her side and it was a picture of a mother and a faithful son who loved each other heart and soul.

          When I awakened and asked God what it meant, I felt these words written on my heart:

Momentarily overwhelmed.

          I knew then that this year would be very hard. One room in the house being flooded could perhaps mean that some weeks would be harder than others, and that I would be knocked off balance, that I would fall, but like the water in my dream did not damage the furniture in the room, that the suffering would not hurt as much as I feared.

          But the suffering was needed to save my Mum.

          Then, I remembered the water, and how clear it was. When I asked God why the water was clear, speaking through my godmother, He told me it was hidden graces. Graces that don’t seem like graces at all. Graces that come in the hardest packages. I understood anew then that, that is what suffering is – a hidden grace. I would be knocked over, momentarily overwhelmed, how many times I know not, but each one would be a hidden grace because the pain I endure would save someone else.

          The grace of reparation.

          Nearing the end of her brief stay with us, one night, I took photos of the family, and there was one of Mum watching the kids in the family crowd around a board game. When she had returned to her own home, I had a look at the pics and at this one of my mother-in-law. She was looking away, focused on the teens, and she wore the beginnings of smile. I then saw something in the photo that I hadn’t seen earlier – the first sparkles of joy.

          Joy that wasn’t there when she first came.

          In the weeks that followed, in the daily chats with her, we realized joy had indeed returned to my mother-in-law. It gave her strength to walk paths different to what she had always chosen. It flooded her with love for some people she had taken for granted. It made all the Christmas struggles and pain worth every hurting morsel.

          God’s Light had come into Mum’s old heart once more.

          Grace of reparation.

          Early this week, a colleague’s antics unpleasantly ruffled my day. I tried to stay above the muck that follows a wounding but it wasn’t easy. As the hours rolled on, despite my efforts, it seemed like I was losing this battle to love and forgive.

          Then, I prayed to be given the strength to bear this minor hurt for my sins.

          And that too failed.

          The day came to an end. I was puzzled and discomfited as to why all the ‘right’ prayers seemed to fail.

          When the new day broke, Someone gently took my mind back to Christmas of last year. To my mother-in-law’s initial aloofness and the reason for it. From there, my mind was led back to my Water Dream. And the dream took hold of my mind. Even as the hurt from the previous day remained, it felt like the memory of the dream was the more powerful.

         I then received an email from a dear friend. Its stark words revealed a deep suffering that had deepened even further recently. My heart ached for him.

          Suddenly, the Water Dream formed out of the mists before me again.

          I had a sudden inspiration: offer my hurt over my colleague for this. Suffer it for this friend close to my heart, thousands of miles and many countries away.

          The moment my will fused to this, I felt strength and clarity return. The strife~winds that had rattled my inner windows departed. I went to my day with a new purpose.

          My colleague added a few more nicks to her repertoire against me, yet, no blood did they draw.

          I knew then that the Water of Reparation had won. I had been overwhelmed but momentarily.

          As was promised.