Doing God’s Will

Rock the Boat Now

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          This past weekend, at a family get-together, I learned that the will of God is indeed a refuge in storms. My husband and I were confronted  with the choice between standing up for the faith, annoying people with our stand and perhaps creating a rift between family members and choosing to be silent to maintain peace, as well as not to be seen as over-reacting towards seemingly one-off dissents  against the Catholic faith.

          Trust me, it was far easier not to rock the boat. We were a close-knit clan and it didn’t seem wise to stir up unpleasantness – even if a family member was breaking the first Commandment of God – I am the Lord Thy God. Thou shall have no strange gods before Me. Besides, most other members had chosen the more agreeable response of respecting a personal choice than to respect God’s laws. It was all about freedom of choice. As long as we, my husband and I and our children respected God’s Commandments, why did it matter whether others did or did not?

          It did matter. Because, like it or not, we are our brother’s keeper.

          If it was about freedom, it was that I should be free to express without fear, my concerns for a Catholic who was increasingly distancing herself from the faith. And I should also be free to express my concerns about other family members who were choosing to look the other way on this issue just to keep the peace.

          Why shouldn’t I be free to respectfully articulate the Christian perspective on the issue at hand when our stand was questioned? Why shouldn’t I be free to ask someone to take a moment to think about what they were doing? Even if we were not Christians, if a loved one was moving apart from the family, wouldn’t we talk to the person? To ask the questions that needed to be asked? To express our fears, our concerns?

          Wouldn’t we do all that and more – whether within or outside the context of religion?

          And so, when we were faced with the choice either to speak up or to be silent, my husband and I said what we needed to say. Just calm, quiet statements. No badgering. No condemning. I don’t know if any other hearts will be steered to a different response in the days to come. I pray so, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Unless the Spirit moves my husband and I to speak up again, His Will for us now is that we pray.

          As we drove home from that family gathering, my heart and mind returned to what we had done, to the line we had drawn in the sand, and the lonely side we had chosen to stand on. Even if it were never raised in future gatherings, I am certain that line would forever stay between us, possibly as the first of more of such lines. In every pool of laughter and tender tightness of hugs, there will from now on be a shadow in many hearts because of our stand, because of this first line in the sand. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the sting of regret – not over what I had said – but over the necessary cut to this family I love.

          And yet, as I sifted through the pebbles of sadness, I realized a soft peace had spread over my heart. Even as I probed and prodded it, this gentle peace remained anchored firmly in place.

          That was when I understood. The Will of God is indeed a refuge in storms. We had done His Will this time. There was a price to pay for this obedience, for choosing the Will of God over the will of Man, but even as we paid it and hurt from doing it, He pressed His peace into our hearts.

         It is this peace that sealed the certainty in my heart that there are times when the boat of souls must be rocked. We cannot allow our hearts to be bribed by warmth of relationships and the worldly perception of peace to turn away from the bitter waters of God’s Will. If He stirs our spirits and gives us His words, then we must speak because He wants to speak through us.

          I can already sense a subtle chill in some of the winds as they coast over us. In a family that has always prided itself on maintaining respectful silence when disagreeing over an issue, we have broken ranks by choosing to speak.

          But true love of neighbor means that when the boat has to be rocked, it must be rocked.

 

 

 

 

         

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Refuge

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If, on going to the garden to pluck some fruits, you were surprised by a heavy rain, what would you do? You would seek shelter under the shed, would you not? So when sorrow, bitterness, tribulation, rain down upon you, you must seek a refuge in the safe asylum of the will of God, and you shall not be troubled.   ~   St. Paul of the Cross

 

          There have not been many times when I have sought shelter in the Will of the Most High. Even fewer times when I have willingly gone to it, my own will fused to God’s. Almost always, every resting of my will is preceded by struggle. I have learned enough lessons from this point of acquiescence once I have reached it; I have learned and re-learned timeless truths of peace and serenity and strength when God’s will is mine.

          And yet, I continue to rebel. In every storm, I continue to remain out in the open, ignoring the shelter proffered, pleading my case before God.

          Why? Because up to now, I have only seen the Will of God as a call to obedience. I have not learned to accept it as a refuge from storms.

          There are some prayers in my prayer~cart, and I have gone before my Lord for them for a long time now. As there is a time to pray, there will soon come a time to rest those hopes, when He presses His hand against my heart and renders slumber unto my seeking.

          When that time comes to pass, I must, in faith and humility, seek the safe refuge of the will of God, where I shall not be troubled.

 

 

 

 

Lent 10 ~ The Only Son

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….you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.  ~   Genesis 22:12

 

          I was not Abraham two days ago. While I had not withheld my son from the trial he faced because that was simply beyond my power, my response to what had unfolded certainly constituted a withholding.

          Willful and calculated.

          Today, I come to the First Reading and God tells me, Long before you were faced with the faith-response to offer up your child, Abraham was, and he chose to break his own heart if it meant choosing to love his God.

          Abraham didn’t try to strike a win-win deal with God. Neither did he marshal an array of arguments to his favour. In simple obedience, Abraham chose to love God – despite what it would ask of him.

          Faced with an Abraham moment – of a far smaller scale – despite all my resolutions, I had chosen to love myself. I wish I could say that I was ashamed or sad or angry with myself, but I wasn’t. I knew I had sinned but even now, I wasn’t sure I would choose Abraham’s Way the next time.

          Then, came the clincher:

He who did not spare His own Son
but handed Him over for us all..     ~   Romans 8:32

          There will be another race today. My child faces yet another test. And so do I. In some ways, today’s race will be harder. I fear for my son. I fear the crushing. I fear the tears. I fear myself.

          He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all.

          Then, in a strange fluid easiness, I surrender my child to God. I give Him the race and all that would follow. I feel sick to my stomach but I ask for the strength to suffer that small cross. No bargains, no wheedling. I don’t feel heroic, neither am I pretending to be Abraham.

          It just feels like the thing that has to be done.

          I will not withhold my son from God.

 

 

 

 

Let Go and Let God

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          In another stew yet again. I had, some weeks back, heard about Reparation Mondays – one Monday a month for 9 months – where the sufferings for that day were offered for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For some reason, I felt drawn towards it – although I have a great fear of suffering. And knowing just how bad my memory is getting, I figured why wait for a Monday every 9 months. Why not just offer every Monday up for reparation and get the 9 over with. And if God wants more than 9, well, ….well, I will try to obey.

          So, timidly, I offered up my first Monday. It turned out to be a rather rough day but I got through it without maiming anyone. After that was the next Monday – a rather tame affair.

          Then, came the next. A hit when I least expected it. And ensuing almighty stew of emotions.

          I struggled and struggled with myself over the bitter sting of unfairness. I tried to pray but my anger over what I had received was so great. Yet, cognizant of my sin, I kept returning to heaven’s door – anger in tow. Every time it surged, I buried it clumsily into the Holy Hearts.

          After several hours, Someone gently nudged Our Lady of Guadalupe towards me.

Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.  Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under My shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”       Our Lady’s words to Her servant Juan Diego in the 1531 Guadalupe, Mexico,  apparitions

 

          Are you not under My shadow and protection? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? 

          Still in the binds of anger, I beseeched Mother Mary, Take me under the folds of Your mantle. Bind my heart in Your mantle.

          And then, as an afterthought, knowing how intent I was on avenging the wrong done to me, I tacked on, Bind my tongue with Your mantle too.

          Much later, busy with dinner preparations, I slowly sensed the firestorm within abate. Not trusting myself, I continued speaking to God. I told him of my anger, my disappointment with the person who had hurt me. But I also told God I wanted to do His will. Or at least, a small part of me did.

          In the midst of cooking, I suddenly saw the words, Reparation Monday. It had slipped my mind completely. So, this was why it was so bad, I acknowledged. My suffering was needed someplace.

          What do You want me to do? I asked God again. I had a couple of plans lined up.

          I heard the softest whisper,

Let Go and Let God.

          I felt the fight go out of me.

 

 

 

 

Rocks Not Seen

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         This is the day when prayers come easier. A thick sheet of rushing clouds had teased the morning with kingship of rain but determined north winds soon sent them on their way. The skies are now a wide expanse of golden~blue, with soft mists of clouds in gentle journey. As the playful morning breezes dart about to greet old friends, I listen to their blue, sun~warmed notes rustle melodies through the leaves and trees. This First Saturday of the month of Lourdes, I want to make a worthy offering to my Heavenly Mother as reparation for the sins against Her Immaculate Heart. Resting my will, I look to the sound of the happy winds among the trees to guide my heart.

          For that was my morning prayer in the Rosary of Tears today, that no matter how good my intentions, that I may never reach beyond the shores of the Divine Will in work and in loving. Anything and everything must be discerned – to be contained within and restrained by the will of God alone.

          Because that is the lesson I have been learning in many ways these past weeks. That no good done be of mine, but of God’s. In my workplace efforts, in the way I love my husband and mother my children, how I reach out to others – in every single one – I must discern right, so that Jesus reigns in all I do.

          Because it is so easy to go wrong. Because it is becoming dangerously easy to seek right in wrong. A great Deception has begun to cloud more and more minds and wills. The more deaf we become, the more our blindness increases, the louder and more strident we get, unwittingly luring innocent souls to emotional, mental and spiritual shipwreck upon rocky shores.  

          That was what I began to learn early in the year and I am mightily thankful that lesson has come early. I had been so sure that all was well with my children but through a troubling dream about one of them, the Spirit illumined another danger that had lain hidden amongst invisible rocks, one that I could not have foreseen but for the intervention of God’s Helper.

          But, long before this latest dream, one day years back, having prayed that Mother Mary rest by my side as I napped, I had a dream that had cut me with its anguish. In this old dream, I was warned of a coming calamity. A calamity where there would be  casualties.

          And that the casualties would be the souls of our children for Satan’s Army.

          My fear and sorrow at what I saw was so great that I shrank from what I saw. But a woman’s voice sounded another warning rebuke in my ear,

Time is short!

          It was the memory of this old dream and the maternal urgency of the voice in my ear – Time is short! – that pushed me to action when I awakened from the second dream of a few weeks back. Had I been caught deeper in the Deception of over-busyness, of over-preoccupation with external demands, I would not have seen the rocks.

          If not for these two dreams, and others too, years apart, I would have perfectly  done the will of the one who deceives. I would have been that siren that delivers my  innocent, trusting child and God knows how many others, into the deceiver’s claws, to swell the ranks of his infernal army.

          To the outside eye and ear, even be they Christians, this danger my husband and I overcame recently, might even be a thing to be shrugged off in the face of far more severe and obvious trials plaguing our young. Had we cared to share about it, there would have been those who might have cautioned us against over-reacting, seeing snakes where there were none to be seen.

          But this is not about over-reacting – although that too should be a legitimate concern for any parent. This is about being so vigilant on many issues, yet missing the one that can make all the difference. The worst dangers do not slither and saunter merrily in the open; they lurk hidden amongst rocks we do not always see. This morning, when I came before Mother’s Eyes, offering her the Rosary of Tears, I believe it was She who pressed my spirit to pray for the Gift of Discernment, to ask for it in a deeper way.

          Because such are the times we are now in. The eyes in our head are not sufficient for the battle we wage as parents to keep our children’s souls safe. We need to be led by the Spirit in totality.

          The voice of the Spirit must be the only one we heed if we are not to trip on rocks not seen and trip up others as well.

 

 

         

 

Broken To Save

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          “And make sure you forgive.” Those were my friend, Susan Skinner’s firm words to me in her comments to my previous post, Unbeliever. I had written about a hurtful experience with a relative on the day of my child’s First Holy Communion. Our child had received Jesus for the first time. During Mass, we saw something we hadn’t expected to experience and we were deeply affected by what had happened. While this man surely did not know of our experience, for sure he saw how preoccupied we were with our little one on such a meaningful day, but instead of rejoicing with us and heaven, used it to his advantage and backed us into a corner.

          When I saw Susan’s words later, And make sure you forgive, my instant self-assured reaction was, Sure I can, nothing to it.

          But the very next second, I wasn’t so sure. I no longer heard Susan’s voice; a Supreme Being was speaking through my friend. Still trying to believe that I didn’t have a problem forgiving this man, I imagined seeing him again at church and set up the scene in my mind.

          I found myself running into the church to hide from him. And after Mass, I saw myself running into the car to escape bumping into him.

          I knew then that I had a problem forgiving this relative.

          So, I plunged headlong into prayer. I tried to fashion the words for it. I came up short. Later, in Susan’s post, Dreams and Preparation, I saw this prayer:

Lord, send your Holy Spirit to convict …. repent of their sins,…..confessing them to their priest.

          Is that for me? I gave it a go.

          Truth be told, I could say the prayer only once before I fell from the weight of it. Even the prayer for the grace to forgive seemed lighter than this. This other prayer was heavy. I’ve never experienced this. It was not due to reluctance on my part. It was not because I wanted to say another prayer. It oddly felt like a heavy door.

          And that it was not my place to push it open.

          Yet, I didn’t sense it was the wrong prayer.

          So, I did the next best thing. I did what I could do: I loaded this relative onto my prayer cart. Then, I loaded in my sinfulness and every difficulty I had in dealing with this situation, especially the struggle to forgive. I asked for His Mercy (I loaded that too). All weekend, I filled up the prayer cart because I didn’t have the words. I couldn’t come up with a simple prayer sentence; I couldn’t even read one with my heart even if I saw it.

          But I was not troubled. I knew it was in Good Hands.

          Arriving at Mass the next Sunday, I forced myself to look out for this person – as a way of fighting my real desire to run and hide from him. But I didn’t see him. I must say I entered church with more than a little relief.

          There, I dropped to my knees. Fixing my gaze on the Miraculous Image, I told my Lord,

Lord, I set down my prayer cart before Thee.

          Then, I sat back and waited for Mass to begin.

          Our parish priest had never been even a minute late for Mass but this time he was. Minutes ticked by and the congregation became slightly restless, with many turning to the back to see if Fr had entered. My thoughts still on my prayer cart contents, I kept my gaze forwards but I heard the distinct bang of the confessional doors. I knew then what had delayed the priest.

          Soon, the Mass began.

          Right after Mass, the relative who had hurt us sought out my husband. Uh oh, I thought.

          “My mother had a fall last Sunday after Mass,” he announced and went on to describe his 90 year old mother’s condition. She was unhurt but shaken.

          I wish I could say that my concern immediately shifted to the poor woman. It didn’t. Too full of myself, I instead held my breath, waiting for the axe to fall. But nothing of that sort happened. We soon parted. There was no apology but neither did he make any attempt to twist us back to where he had us the previous Sunday.

          Genuine thankfulness filled me over this conclusion; I had merely tried to forgive him as best as I could. God had done the rest. That was enough for me. It didn’t matter that our relationship would forever be marked by the wound of caution. I didn’t feel like asking for more, because my thoughts were now on something else the wind had rested on my ears.

          And what I heard troubled me.

          Deep in my pots later that night, my husband sauntered into the kitchen. We chatted about the day again. After a short pause, he asked me if I had noticed that our priest that day had been late in starting the Mass. When I nodded absently, I sensed him hesitate. Then, he asked me if I knew why.

          Someone had gone to him for Confession, I replied.

          Do you know who? my husband pressed, watching me carefully.

          I shook my head, puzzled over the line of questioning. My husband is the last person on earth to keep tabs on others, much less take attendance at the Confessional doors, so I didn’t know where he was going with this.

          It was him, said hubby.

          I almost leapt at my husband, pot, scrub pad and all, so great was my shock and excitement and incredulity. So many go for Confession, yet I could not name a single person despite years of being a parishioner here because it is simply not something I keep a look out for, much less brand into my memory. But that day, both my husband and I had been alerted in different ways to a stirring behind the door – the greatness of someone’s hidden humility to seek Jesus’ healing love.

          It matters not to me what had passed between our relative and the priest, if our matter had even been mentioned. For some reason, our unpleasant experience has diminished in its importance. The mere fact that that he had run to Jesus, considering all that had happened in the space of that week, both stunned and touched me deeply.

          And it placed the eyes of my heart squarely on the whispers the wind had brought me about this poor man’s hidden struggle. It told me why my husband and I had to suffer for that wee while.

        My relative’s problem(s) was the bigger rock, hitherto hidden. Our trouble with him was the light that fell on it and unmasked it. This time we were not called to pray this person to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That was why that prayer was so heavy. All that was asked of us was that we forgive him.

          I’ve heard many times that forgiveness frees both sides. However, till this time, all I knew personally was the healing and freedom I received when I forgave someone. This was the first time I saw the power of forgiveness at work on the other side away from me.

          For the first time, I learned with my heart that when I forgive, even wordlessly, in secret, or as part of an ongoing struggle, my forgiving becomes a key that unlocks the jail cell of the prisoner who has hurt me. Forgiving leads to healing – of forgiver and forgiven. And healing leads to conversion.

          I cannot see the wind of road ahead for this person. That sight is not afforded to me. But what I do see is that my husband and I had to suffer shock and hurt to save a soul, possibly that of a secret gambler.

          We were called to suffer briefly, to be bread broken, that through our forgiveness, a lost sheep might return to its rightful fold.

 

 

 

When the Seas Wild

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Those pursuing the spiritual way must always keep the mind free from agitation in order that the intellect, as it discriminates among the thoughts that pass through the mind, may store in the treasuries of its memory those thoughts which are good and have been sent by God, while casting out those which are evil and come from the devil. When the sea is calm, fishermen can scan its depths and therefore hardly any creature moving in the water escapes their notice. But when the sea is disturbed by the winds, it hides beneath its turbid and agitated waves what it was happy to reveal when it was smiling and calm; and then the fishermen’s skill and cunning prove vain. The same thing happens with the contemplative power of the intellect, especially when it is unjust anger which disturbs the depths of the soul. ~ St. Diadochos of Photiki

         

          This was a week of struggling with spots of red anger, but yesterday, the ante was upped. My children told me of a hurt caused by a teacher, and it roused my anger against her. It was not the first time this woman had strayed into personal territory. The hurt this time was a culmination of thorns she had glibly sown in my heart, and last night, it was one thorn too many.

          I decided it was time to deal with her. To give her a memory she would never forget. So, I plotted. I planned the words.

          Then, I recalled the word: ECLIPSE.

          We had just passed one of the greatest events of our lifetime, the Total Solar Eclipse of the US. I had clearly been told by God that the actual event itself held no spiritual weight for me. But in the throes of flaming anger, when I put my rebelling heart at the feet of God, God bade me recall the word, ECLIPSE.

          Then, He stepped back. No comfort. No other word. No direction. Just ECLIPSE.

          I didn’t need to be told what to do because I knew what God wanted of me. I also knew He was not going to push me towards that decision. I had to go to it of my own accord.

          So, I left my mutinous heart hell bent on revenge, and dragged my resisting mind to ECLIPSE. Clumsily, I fashioned a prayer from ECLIPSE for my anger:

Grant me the grace to love this Cross. Give me a Love that eclipses all.

          My mind sought to follow the path of my heart’s desire to vent the anger that bubbled black from its wellsprings. So, it had to be lashed to the prayer because my mind had no interest whatsoever in the prayer. 

          Over and over, alone and woven through the Rosary,

Grant me the grace to love this Cross. Give me a Love that eclipses all.

          I awakened today to a gentle rain that softly pearled the morning air. As I rested my heart against the rain~diamonds that sequined the leaves and boughs, the skies’ tears gently flowed into my spirit. Quietly the streams slipped in and smoothed its silver cold over seas whipped wild by the trouble~winds.

          No trace of the night’s fires remained. I was clothed in calm.

          The trouble~winds sent back to their pits, I went before God. I realized I could now place wounds and wound-ers into His Wounds.

         Then, He spoke. Words for me. Words for my family.

          And I heard Him. I heard every still and little whisper.

 

 

 

 

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.