Faith

Lent 35 ~ He Has Heard

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In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears.   ~  Psalm 18: 7

 

          An unearthly hush has descended here. Even the breezes caress the leaves in gentleness and silence. Only the birds delightfully chirp on unhindered. The First Friday of the month of April, the month of the Holy Eucharist. Ten days to Easter.

          What silence is this, I ponder and wonder, yet not really seeking an answer, for so very beautiful it is, this silence, this peace. Just being swathed in it suffices. Suddenly, nothing else matters, except being in the moment.

What silence is this?

          Softly, softly, it comes. It is the silence when heaven has heard.

 

 

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Hold On A While

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Hold On A While

by Amos Russel Wells

When all the sky is very black
And all the earth is blue,
And all the fiends are on your track
And howling after you;

When courage falls and hope decays
And fair ambition dies,
And all your dreamland is ablaze
Beneath the ebon skies;

When you would fain renounce the goal,
Nor plod another mile,
Oh, straighten up your drooping soul,
And—just—hold on—a while!

Hold on a while! the darkest night
May bring the fairest day.
Hold on a while! the good, the right,
Will always find a way.

Hold on! for is Jehovah dead?
His love an empty song?
Hold on! have heaven’s armies fled
Before the hosts of wrong?

Hold on! for still some strength remains,
Nor yield you till you must;
A newer life may flood your veins;
Born of a larger trust.

A newer life—hold on for that!
A lily from the mud!
The greening peak of Ararat
Emerging from the flood!

The clouds are shattered by the sun;
The earth is all aglow;
Away the howling devils run,
And back to hell they go!

Hold on for that! Do what you can,
Nor prove a craven elf;
For heaven never helped a man
Until he helped himself.

And when your fondest hopes are dead
And fate has ceased to smile.
‘Tis then it pays to lift your head
And—just—hold on a-while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 8 ~ Endure for a While

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So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.   ~  1 Peter 1: 6

 

          This morning, part of this verse appeared in Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead

          I had been seeking Jesus’ answer for something important to our family, and to read that verse right at that moment did me a world of good.

          So, I understandably drooped when I saw the rest of the verse,

…even though you must endure many trials for a little while

          It’s just not in me to love my trials, patience and endurance one of my many sticking points. But I grudgingly admit that joy is sweetened only by trials endured in the right spirit.

          I saw this demonstrated in a small way some years back. Most of us had been so involved in various endeavours to eject the ruling party in our country. We took our politicians’ campaigns into hostile and indifferent heartlands, working feverishly, doing whatever we could to win every vote. And when we finally won, the joy we experienced was indescribable. For the first time, we were united as a country, ecstatic in finally sharing a single bloodline of true brotherhood.

          But one of my colleagues had little to do with that struggle. She had always had a weakness for gossip and news that singed the ear, and in the tense weeks in the lead up to the election, instead of trying to do something meaningful, however small, she took it upon herself to dig up nuggets of unsavoury, empty news about the townspeople’s political affiliations. While it didn’t detract from our efforts, it did nothing to help either. Yet, despite seeing the work that was being done and how much was still left to be done, it didn’t move her to try and contribute in a more positive way.

          When the sun finally rose for this land, beyond a polite smile, I found I could shared none of my joy with her. None of the excited analysis, not a single victory anecdote – simply because it felt flat to do so with someone who had not really been a part of your struggle. We couldn’t talk statistics or political demographics – her eyes would glaze over, waiting for me to stop, to bring in some yellow angle.

          Somehow, she got to know of the big dinner I managed to cook for the family as a celebration. Eager not to be left out, she went out with some other likeminded friends of hers for a celebration dinner, and the next day, proceeded to inform me about it. But there was no masking it for either of us. The emptiness of it was evident. Not having worked for it, she could barely scratch the surface of the national jubilance.

          That victory did so much for so many of us. Although many returned to old prisons and old problems after that night of joy, we did so with the fire of hope burning fiercely within us. We loved better and we forgave easily. That fire changed the way we worked and lived, because we knew that even if there was none yet in some of our homesteads, there was wonderful joy ahead.

          For eschewing the call of the struggle and preferring the languid ease of a ringside seat, my friend, sadly, was a stranger to that glorious fire of hope. Hence, in a very short while, she returned to her bitter and vicious roots, caught up once more in pettiness and trivialities.

          Tomorrow is a momentous day for our family – and for thousands of others across the country. Thinking about my friend and what she lost out on by staking her claim on joy without earning it, the second half of the verse – you must endure many trials for a little while – loses its tiny sting. Because my heart now knows that joy is sweetened only by trials endured in the spirit of hope and faith.

          I may be a woman of little faith, but I’m not worried, for God has enough for me. By His grace, I will reach that summit of wonderful joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promise of a New Dawn

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          The image for my post yesterday came with this information: Morgenrot. Curious, I looked it up. It was the name of the place and it was German, bearing the meaning dawning, red sky at morning.

          Reading that, I felt a sudden arrow of excitement slice through me.

          This morning, eager to get on with the remaining cleaning and Christmas pre-cooking, my spirit found a quiet corner for some minutes. Remembering Sunday’s 1st reading,

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!   ~  Isaiah 7: 10 – 11

I prayed my prayer since Sunday once more.

Lord, I ask Thee for Thy sign

Since Sunday, each time I’ve prayed it, not seeking my will but that of God through His sign, God has answered me in huge ways. And so, I press on today.

Lord, I ask Thee for Thy sign

          Once more, He answers me and catches me by surprise. It is by the prayer following the Alleluia during morning Mass.

Alleluia, alleluia.
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Alleluia, alleluia.

          The words seize my spirit. Each word is like an alpine horn, its notes blown down hillslopes and valleys, sounding the echoes of the past year.

Radiant Dawn

eternal light

sun of justice

come and shine

          In months past, countless times, so tired and beaten, unable to get back to my feet, God shot arrows of hope and encouragement to bid me rise.

God will help at the break of dawn

The cock is about to crow

My designs for you are about to unfold

          Each one bore the undeniable promise of a new dawn.

          Today, seeking His sign, God gives me the prayer for Christmas.

Radiant Dawn, Eternal Light,

Sun of justice, come and shine!

 

 

 

 

 

Faith to Fallen is Restored

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Maker of All, Eternal King

Now the shrill cock proclaims the day,
and calls the sun’s awakening ray,
the wandering pilgrim’ guiding light,
that marks the watches night by night.

New hope his clarion note awakes,
sickness the feeble frame forsakes,
the robber sheathes his lawless sword,
faith to fallen is restored.

 

Faith to fallen is restored

The line resolutely pushes past the many clouds upon my heart.

Three days to Christmas.

The sun begins to rise!

 

 

 

 

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!