Doing God’s Will

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.

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 6 ~ Fasting to Repair and Restore

          For the past several years, I have been troubled by the loss of peace in my workplace. The old harmony had been systematically undermined by persistent back-biting and venomous beliefs. However hard I tried to do my part in holding things to the golden way they once were, despite the prayers and tears, the rifts widened and deepened with the passage of years. I struggled on, and more than once asked God, How much longer?

          And then, I read Isaiah 58 ~

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
….
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
Restorer of ruined homesteads.”    Isaiah 58: 9 – 12

          Suddenly, it came together for me. I believe I have always given all I have for those around me. I’ve tried to be there for the sorrowing and the grieving long after the last caller has left and the griever forgotten. Yet, it always seemed as if nothing I did ever mattered much for long. The camaraderie I forged among my co-workers misted away easily in any passing gale of malice and spite.

          Inremove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech… I saw my failing. It should have been obvious but it wasn’t. Whilst I saw the desecration of relationships and had been wounded myself by workplace malice and gossiping, I too had failed to keep myself pure of those same accusations. Too often had I sought respite in the same sins that hurt and maimed us all.

          I hadn’t done enough to restore peace. That was the long and short of it.

          That was why God gave me the prayer, Let them love God more than themselves  to be said at the very start of a wounding, the very second I saw or felt it, not a moment later. For the stones of sin to be removed, I had to first fast from my own sinful inclinations to hurt others through gossiping and biased assessments. I had to fast by turning every hurt into a conversion prayer.

          For it is only through this fast that I can come into the fullness of His will for me as Repairer of the breach, and Restorer of ruined homesteads.

Burying A Tear~Seed

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          I’m in the business of burying a tear~seed today. Digging and pressing into the soil a small, broken dream, an old hope. I’m not making the resting place just any place. I’m giving the seed a home in the Sacred Heart of my Jesus. Because I want this sadness to be purified and made to be worth something.

          A long time ago, I dreamt of an unknown nun in grey, who, in my dream, had prayed for my well-being, and was instead told by God to ask me if I’d be willing to receive twin babies.

          With no hesitation, I accepted.

          After that dream followed years of hoping and waiting. Alongside so many other journeys, I embarked on this secret one of waiting to be given twins. And it turned out to be a lighting and a snuffing out of one tiny lantern of hope after another, the cycle of breath~held hoping followed by twisting sadness with every disappointment hidden deep within me. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father awaits his child’s return in anxiousness and unabated love; I too know something of this waiting. I know, with a sad familiarity, the tilt and lurch of heart that comes with this solitary watch by the window of life.

          But it’s time to leave my vigil by the edge, because today I finally know I was called to this wait and hope, not for myself as I thought, but for a precious soul somewhere in the world.

          For some reason, I was called to this cross of hope for the sake of a child; asked to suffer this, so a baby in an unknown part of the world may be saved.

          This little baby has now been saved, lifted from gentle waters. Safe in the arms of a nun in a boat, – a nun I do not know, in a black habit – who gave up being a mother, to indeed become a mother to souls, traversing the waters in her boat, in search of little ones to lift out and keep safe.

          The call to suffer for those not known to us is a call that berths in every heart, seeking the embrace of the human will. Sometimes, the call is clear; often, it is misted, with the veils being parted ever so slightly when heaven deems it right. Sometimes, we are told the outcome; sometimes, not.

          The great saints who have embraced the will of Heaven tell of their joy in the gift of salvation received by souls they have suffered for. And they yearn to suffer more, to unfurl that banner of life even further and deeper, that more souls may come to know the refuge of heaven.

          I am no saint. I neither yearn for more suffering, nor do I carry my crosses as well as I should.

          Yet,  this time, I refuse the luxury of tears over the end of this particular journey, for to do so is to indulge in selfish bitterness, ignoring that my suffering was for a little life to be saved. So, into a little brown seed, I place all that is broken and hurt within me, all the bewilderment. What little I understand. What I never will. Everything, grain and pearl alike, I press deep into the Light of the Shepherd’s Love.

          To die now, but to live again someday, this seed washed pure in His Precious Blood and in His Mother’s Tears. Because years before, my angel had gently shown me, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          I sense the rising winds of desperate fury outside.

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

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

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

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

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

 

LENT 28 ~ Unfasten the Moorings

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          When God unties binds that hold us to loves, our tears birth seas never seen that our souls may traverse. When God takes away loves we hold close, and when we mourn the loss, we see another world through mourning- one we wouldn’t have seen, any other way.

          We will see the little joys we missed that should have been treasured. We will see that the questions we asked God that seemed so important then, matter little now. We will see that the mountains we raged against were mere bumps of sand on life’s footpath. 

          We will see the seas of grace we were immersed in when all seemed wet and gray.

          We will see glory in the mundane of every day.

          One day, perhaps years from that birth of our weep, we will see that we were loved, because through the tempest of grief, God lit His Light in our souls, and gently launched us out into the sea of His Will, to travel life’s lanes to understand the love we are called to.

          The day will come when we will see that true love means unfastening the moorings of our loves, and releasing them to journey untethered, praying them all the way into the harbor of God’s Heart.

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LENT 18 ~ A COMING

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          Since the dream of coming waters, I have been mulling the call I heard: Prepare . As the dream showed an impending trauma for my town and community, I often wondered what kind of a preparation I was being called to. Spiritual, certainly, but physical? Probably, but to what extent? Although it should have been pretty obvious, it wasn’t to me. For some reason, every time my mind traced the word, Prepare , I sensed a veil mist over the word.

          And I wondered why.

          I had been slowly working my way through St Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul, reading a page or two every day. Every single time I opened the book to read, there would be an answer to a question I would have been thinking about just before. It has happened every single time.

          And Sunday was no different. I accompanied my husband on a quick grocery errand late that evening, but opted to stay in the car to keep out of his way as he scuttled around in the mart. My thoughts dwelling on the word, Prepare, and praying for lost and dying souls, I opened the Diary to entry #625:

          In the evening, when I was praying, the Mother of God told me, Your lives must be like mine: quiet and hidden, in unceasing union with God, pleading for humanity and preparing the world for the second coming of God. ~ St Faustina, Diary, #625

          Preparing. It seared through me. Caught my spirit. I tried to read on but something held my eyes focused on the entry.

          Only then did I see the words I’d just read: For the second coming of God .

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          I thought of the dream again. A coming sorrow. A terrible fear for some, resulting in panic, minds closed to reasoning. Reacting to the fear by fleeing to seek refuge in structures built on sand.

          Prepare them for the second coming of God.

SOAR A SOUL FREE

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A true story of a man haunted by the past, whose life had been totally miserable due to the harrowing burden of guilt……

A priest in California was preparing to go to bed on a Sunday night after a busy day when the phone rang. It was a nurse at the hospital which was a couple of hours drive away. A man was dying. He was a Catholic and would “Father” come. The priest was reluctant because there was a storm raging outside. But he decided to go. Upon arrival he entered the room of the dying man. He introduced himself and was gruffly told to “go to hell.” The conditions of the storm had worsened, so the priest decided he would hang around for a while. An hour later he approached the man again. “I am a Catholic priest. You are dying. Are you sure I can’t help you in any way?” Again the man rebuked him, demanding that he be left alone. For some reason the priest decided he would try once more. He waited another hour. Then he entered the room for the last time. To his surprise the man responded, “Well, I may as well tell you.” Then he began to relate the story of his life. Forty years previously he worked on a railway signals box. Everything was done manually in those days. It was Christmas time, and he had been drinking. When the train was approaching he pulled the wrong lever. The train went down the wrong track and collided into a car as it was crossing the lines. A woman and her two children were killed instantly. He told the priest that from that day onwards he had lived with the guilt of that accident. He kept to himself, never married, and gave up on life. He lived in quiet despair.

The priest, who had been listening very intently, asked him a few more questions about the date and time of the accident. Then he said to the dying man, “I want you to listen closely to me. You did not know this. But there was another little boy in that car. He lived. And when he grew up he became a priest. And he is speaking with you right now! And I want you to know, I forgive you.”

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          That man, who had spent his whole life in such an awful prison of self-hate, guilt and self-recrimination, was able to hear from the priest the words of forgiveness that set him free. He was finally able to forgive himself as he not only heard the words of absolution from the priest, but also the words of forgiveness from the little boy who had lost his mother and siblings in an accident 40 years previously. He died in peace…

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          When you live in the darkness of depression and despair, when the Light shines in, even a sliver of it, it is deeply welcomed for it liberates the imprisoned soul. There are so many of us living within prisons. Trapped by ourselves. Trapped by others. We grieve and rant for we are unable to find the key to the lock of our dark, dank cells.

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          There are too many sitting in prisons, and too few holding the keys to unlock those prison cells. And this is why, even as we live imprisoned lives, we must strive to release others. We cannot wait to be free ourselves before we free others. We need not wait! And if we know the pain of being imprisoned, it must never be our wish to see others share our fate. Guard against it we must, that perverse joy of seeing other souls suffer as we do. No comfort must we seek in seeing the numbers increase in prisons like ours.

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And even if that sordid wish lives in a secret crevice within us, we must turn away from it and not give it life, for it makes no sense to welcome death for others while we fight it ourselves.

Even as we stumble along the lonely terrain of Calvary, even as we bleed and hurt, we must train our wounded-ness to find joy in freeing other imprisoned souls.

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To watch in peace through our own prison bars, that other soul soar free. To welcome that inevitable sting of sorrow that others are free whilst we aren’t. For that sting is not selfishness; it is our wounded-ness.

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And when we have freed others, and if that Sting comes – that they are free and we arent, we must know that angels stand in gentle wait to take our pain.

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          Our wounded-ness in all its forms, our own imprisonment, must never hold us back from freeing others. We are both prisoners as well as jailers. We might not possess the keys to our own freedom, but we have with us that which can unlock other cells not ours.

And unlock them we must.

For to free others is to love Him.

To free others, is to free ourselves.