Faith

Crucial Moments

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The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the thieves hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”   Luke 23: 35 – 43

 

          No prizes for guessing which thief I was at Christ the King feast day Mass. The day had begun well enough and I thought I had it all under control. Yet, just before Mass, someone sneaked in and tweaked the script, and my participation at Mass evolved into a litany of anger, frustration and weakening hope, one bitter cup after another offered up to the King of the Universe.

          But God worked an almost immediate miracle. Within seconds of my offering, He healed me of my anger towards 2 members of my family. The storm in my spirit quietened considerably, I continued to offer up the rest of my struggles – with hope especially.

          Soon, I became aware of the words on the back of a top won by an unfamiliar young lady in the pew in front of me,

MY GOD, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee!
I ask pardon for those who do not believe,
do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.   ~   The Pardon Prayer, Fatima Angel

          My heart turned away from that prayer. I was having trust issues, so how on earth could I pray the line – I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee – with any sincerity? Furthermore, I wasn’t in the mood to ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love GodNo, I had enough with obedient waiting and I wanted God to storm right in and work an earth-shaking miracle with the family members who had kept me in knots for much of the year.

          The day at church ended with my priest’s gentle advice to not borrow trouble from the unseen future, but to keep my eyes on the present, believing that Christ the King is already in every situation of my life.

          I wish the good priest’s counsel could have put out the last of the flames within me. It didn’t. Intent on not ruining the day for my family with my inner struggles, I sailed into the next act of disobedience: I chose to lie to myself.

          I pretended all was well. That the earlier storm had passed and the sun had come out.

          By lying to myself and pretending, I didn’t wait for God’s timing but went ahead of Him. There’s always a price for streaking ahead of Him, of course, and I paid it pretty soon. In a short amount of time, the flames within snaked to life again, and giving in to my frustrations, I spoke words the Almighty had not placed on my tongue.

          My words didn’t edify anyone in my family; they likely hardened hearts even further.

          Hours later, reading Rev. John Henry Hanson’s sermon for the Solemnity of Christ the King,

It is tempting for people, like the impenitent thief, to struggle, shout, and curse when they suffer. But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King. Those are moments when the Lord can conquer us, because we see how weak and vulnerable we are, how incapable we are of saving ourselves.  

– I suddenly saw something.

But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King

          It is easy to affirm trust in God when all is well, when our sight is opened to seeing the miracles which the Lord weaves into our days. But when the road of the present is rutted and broken and navigating it has taken almost everything out of us, when the bend ahead hides all hope in the coming – trust is very difficult indeed. When hopes are long in coming true, it is the first thief’s voice that rises high, because it comes from the depths of frustrations rooted in faltering faith.

But it is in those crucial moments that we most need to believe, love, and hope in Christ as our King.

          Fifteen years ago today, God blessed me with double rainbows as the sign of His abiding presence in my life. Today, as I remember that Christ is the Sinner’s King, God wills me to understand that the prayer He bequeathed us through the Fatima Angel – to believe, adore, trust and love – is not merely the prayer for when the spring breezes blow and flowers dot the fields – but especially when the walls around hearts remain unyielding and the sprawlers’ revelry unending.

          For those are the crucial moments when unseen to us, Light pierces through to illuminate the darkness.

Christ the King,

Christ the King,

Christ the King,

Make me love Thee more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust All to Him

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Trust that I will bring about all that I have promised you.  

This is the year during which I will begin to fulfil all that I have prepared for you…   ~  In Sinu Jesu

 

This is the year…

          These past weeks, the waters of work and home have filled every deep and crevice of my life. They have reached the uppermost beams of my living, no inch of space left to be wet. So many days, chancing upon an air pocket, I’ve raised my head to look back over the distance covered. And surprise catches me each time – surprise that we’ve gotten by, somehow sidestepping major upheavals and tumults.

          I, who have always lurched headlong into the eyewall of every storm, taking everyone else with me.

          But pride finds no address within me on this; I just know that it’s not my doing and I do not have to convince myself of this knowing.

This is the year…

          The softest press of my heart. Something is a-stir at work, the lightest of breezes. Unexpected, joyful news. Not for me – but for my colleagues – yet, to be rejoiced over together. As if God is saying, You thought it would never happen but see now

Trust, whispers Heaven

          I nod and rise in obedience. Still, there are points where I falter, falter as much as I ever did.

I say Yes to all the Sacred Heart desireth for me. I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me. I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.   – prayer by the unknown In Sinu Jesu author

My heart and spirit recoil from that prayer. Holy people fear God’s judgement; I fear the will of God. Because I fear that He would ask of me once more what He did 12 years ago. Even now, my answer is an anguished No, because I cannot bear that journey of searing sorrow once more.

          No, no, no, Lord, I thrust myself away from Him, despite not in the least knowing what the future Asking may be.

          …my precious children stick to me like little burrs…   ~   St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in a letter, describing her beloved toddlers. Three would die, two in their mother’s arms.

          No, no, no, Lord.

          And yet, the angels planted more and more seeds of faith into St. Elizabeth’s grief worn heart.

…trust all to Him who fed the fowls of the air and made the lilies grow.   ~  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Tears burn their presence in my eyes. Loss of a young husband St. Elizabeth loved and adored beyond words. Loss of her precious children. Loss of other loved ones, one by one, pillar after pillar of support and strength taken away from her. Beaten and buffeted by the tempests. And still the saint found the will to affirm,

…trust all to Him who fed the fowls of the air and made the lilies grow

          I’m afraid of You, Lord, I admit. Afraid of what You’d ask.

          My heart traces once more His words, Trust that I will bring about all that I have promised you.

          What have You promised me, Lord? I grope wildly. No dream, no word of a job change, no promise of a sudden heaven in my workplace, an easier home life. He has told me nothing, save for I alone know what lies beyond the bend. In all these months since His word, I’ve not been shown anything of the future to give me hope, no glimpse of what lies beyond the Jordan of life. Have I missed something? I wonder. Did He whisper His promise and did I not hear?

          The monk’s prayer edges towards me again.

I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me.

I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.

          In a slice, the revolt stills within me, and I plunge off the cliff.

I want for myself only what Thou wantest for me.

I desireth what Thou desireth for my life, and nothing else.

And then I flee as far as I can from the prayer, afraid of what I’ve unleashed.

          As the soft pink evening clouds settle to welcome the night’s rain, Jesus gently turns me towards His Heart. I ask you to be grateful and full of confidence. I have given you every reason to hope that I will carry out all that I have promised and that I will fulfil all that I have made you desire.

          I will fulfil all that I have made you desire.

          One by one they come to me, little vessels on the sea of hope. Suddenly, I realise – they were not the product of my fanciful imaginings! They were from my Jesus!!!

Family

Conversion

Peace

Freedom from fear

Joy of work

The sound of church bells

Now rest in My presence and be at peace. ~  In Sinu Jesu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proclaim on Distant Isles

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Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.   ~  Jeremiah 31: 10, 13

 

          It has been three very intense workdays, like a whole week crammed into them. Long hours, the feeling that you can’t do one thing more.

          And yet, amazing strength. Laughter and cheer. Calmness.

          As calm as a saint.

          From yesterday, her feast day of October 1st, my thoughts skip over ever so often to St Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, because the St Thérèse roses, as I have named them, by my window, have put out gentle, pink blooms. Ever since the sign of some years back, when I see roses come forth from the plant, I think of her and I know that she’s thinking of me too. And this calmness since yesterday is not mine, I can assure you.

          Today, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, the other rose plants clamour to rise their blooms too. Suddenly, the garden is blooming and laughing like never before.

From heaven I will send down a shower of roses   ~  St Thérèse of Lisieux

          Oh joy, she certainly has kept her word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Old

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Thus says the LORD:

Stand by the earliest roads,

ask the pathways of old,

“Which is the way to good?” and walk it;

thus you will find rest for yourselves. ~   Jeremiah 6:16

 

          A set of old books which I read every year without fail would be the Anne of Green Gables series written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in the early 1900s. When times are rough, as they have been these past 12 years, each book is sometimes read twice each year – for they impart to me a deep comfort, their pages a place for my soul to rest.

          More importantly, the Anne books return me to a time in the old when life was lived as it should be.

          I always take leave of my reading moments somewhat wistfully, for returning to an unpleasant reality is never welcome return. Yet, I return in renewed strength and vigour to the calls of home and hearth. After each sojourn to the kingdom of Anne, I am a better mother and wife, my rough edges smoothened down.

So, which is the way to good? I ask

The old Anne~roads, I answer myself

Where people rose early to greet the bloom of a new day, consecrating their hearts to the God they knew and feared, yet loved. Their hours spent in hard, honest labour, busy yet not imprisoned, free to smile at heaven even in the midst of occupation. Never too caught up in doings to rest spirits in the chant of winds and merry blooms, never so overcome by hardship or hurt so as to forsake neighbour.  Their hours set to chimes of cheer, hope and faith, scented by graces received in humility and joy, each day is lived and bequeathed to God and to God alone.

Stand by the earliest roads,

ask the pathways of old,

“Which is the way to good?” and walk it;

thus you will find rest for yourselves

          God is telling me to take my family in hand and return to the days of old. To return even if echoes of derision follow us – for some may never see the wisdom of our choice. The call to return is placed in every heart, awaiting only the obedient response,

Yes, Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blessing in Disguise

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          We have loved zinnias for a long time. They stand for a time of joy. For the time before sorrow visited us.

          We used to have a whole bed of them, every colour, different varieties. They were our special flowers. We had them at a time when orchids were the rage for many of our neighbours. Every morning, going to my window for a brief respite from milk feeds, porridge and diapers, my zinnias had smiled for me in the glory of sunny mornings.

          Then, came a time when our hearts no longer sought them in the joy we once knew. We did try to grow them again and for a time, they flowered. Yet, something was just not the same anymore.

Our zinnias no longer smiled.

          We made an attempt at comfort by trying to grow them elsewhere, but the plants gently refused us. The meaning of this was lost on me in those grey years, but today, I understood:

Our zinnias would not live in the soil of sorrow.

They were, for us, joy, and so, only joy and hope could nourish them to bloom in beauty once more.

          Yesterday, we reeled from a yet another blow. In the church courtyard, I sat in my car, gripping the phone in anguish as my husband told me of a verdict our whole country had been waiting for. Adding to the mountain of injustices and religious bigotry, was yet another racially charged judgement.

          Cut up, I went into church and went before my silent Jesus. I placed before Him our pain and the pain of our country. I placed into His heart our embattled Attorney General. In quick strokes, I laid bare our collective grief, Will things ever change for this land?

          My morning quiet time earlier had been rushed and a trifle harried. Hence, not having had the time to do my Daily Readings then, I went to them now, in the silent church, its stillness untroubled.

…the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:
Tell this to the governor of Judah,
Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,
and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak,
and to the remnant of the people:

Who is left among you
that saw this house in its former glory?
And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?
But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the LORD,
and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak,
And take courage, all you people of the land,
says the LORD, and work!
For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.
This is the pact that I made with you
when you came out of Egypt,
And my spirit continues in your midst;
do not fear!
For thus says the LORD of hosts:
One moment yet, a little while,
and I will shake the heavens and the earth,
the sea and the dry land.
I will shake all the nations,
and the treasures of all the nations will come in,
And I will fill this house with glory,
says the LORD of hosts.
Mine is the silver and mine the gold,
says the LORD of hosts.
Greater will be the future glory of this house
than the former, says the LORD of hosts;
And in this place I will give you peace,
says the LORD of hosts!   ~  Haggai 2: 1 – 9

          I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

But now take courage, Zerubbabel,
and take courage, Joshua,
And take courage, all you people of the land,
For I am with you,
My spirit continues in your midst;
do not fear!

          Take courage! Take courage! Take courage!

Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight
against a faithless people;
from the deceitful and impious man rescue me.   ~  Responsorial psalm – Psalm 43:1

          Do me justice, and fight my fight, O Lord, I murmured over and over, faith tightening its bands around my heart. Looking up at my Silent Jesus, remembering His promise to me last week,

I shall speak to you, I shall speak to your heart, so that you may hear My voice for the joy of your heart

I requested once more in quiet expectation, Speak to me Jesus.

          Immediately, I felt these words written in my ears,

A blessing in disguise.

          I sat there, staring at the words within. A blessing in disguise. It didn’t seem possible. All that was certain was further entrenchment of injustice and evil triumph. And yet, Jesus had whispered a message of contrarian hope,

A blessing in disguise

          I look out now at the bed by the fence, our first zinnias of the year. No longer downcast, unsure of staying. But a profusion of colours in wild and giddy bloom, resolute yet clearly happy in the dance of the late morning’s sun warmed blue~breeze kisses.

A blessing in disguise

          The last vestiges of doubt fled. I believed with all my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sealed in La Salette

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          Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering.   ~  St. Bernadette Soubirous, seer of Lourdes

 

          On this Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, I sealed my heart in the Tabernacle of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette, as an act of Adoration even when I am occupied otherwise. This night, I am deeply tired and worn from looking out for hope. The affairs in my country, my workplace, Brexit, and even in my own family, took enough out of me today.

          If I searched for faith in my heart tonight, I found none. Nonetheless, I prayed listlessly the prayer of the past week,

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

          As I sealed my heart in the holy tabernacle of the shrine of La Salette, 2 white lights pulsed brightly before me, one after the other.

          I don’t know what it means, except that someone must have heard me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pray for Faith

At Prayer, Edwin Long

          A fellow blogger has been dreading the 11th of September. He’s not American but British and the 11th for him is when his partner and the mum of his only child, passed away. For some time now, through his posts, he has been sharing his apprehension of the approaching anniversary of loss, a day that straddles the ending of one season and the beginning of another. But I never guessed that it would be the 11th of September, a day of mourning that crosses American soil as many around the world break their hearts with America over the senseless loss of lives.

          When this poor man revealed the date of his mourning, a lump formed, and remains yet in my heart.

          Because I feel so helpless in the face of his anguish. Because I want to help but I don’t know how.

          Because his sorrow brings back memories of a time in the old of years.

          So, I whispered a prayer for him in my heart, Lord, be with him – because I know too well that no human effort will suffice as grief rages wild. And then, I went wearily to my day.

          Night has fallen here. Pain has not left my heart, the sultry night air in sullen repose, unwilling to render any comfort or hope. I ponder this pain for this man and his child, I wonder at this stubborn clutch of tears within me, unable to be shed. If I cry, would the pain go?

          Slowly, I sense a hand reach out to my spirit.

Pray for the gift of faith.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Bend

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          I asked God a few days back why no song has been laid on my heart for months now. Then, at the moment of my rising today, the angels brought this old hymn. As Easter rises hollow and empty for me, I searched the lines of the hymn for His Light for me.

He

He can turn the tide or calm the angry sea,
He alone decides who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star that makes our darkness bright
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time to hear a child’s first prayer,
Saint or sinner calls and always finds him there.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true,
He can paint the clouds and turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end,
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold
He knows ev’ry lie that you and I have told.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”.

 

          I asked God which of those lines is meant for me. I expected it to be, He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end, given the significance of rainbows in my life of late.

          Instead, this was His answer,

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.