Lent 25 ~ Hoping Against Hope


There are many saints to whom God has given the power to assist us in the necessities of life, but the power given to St. Joseph is unlimited: It extends to all our needs, and all those who invoke him with confidence are sure to be heard.   ~  St. Thomas Aquinas


          My novena to St Joseph ended yesterday. His feast day, the 19th of March, falling on a Sunday this year, is celebrated today. As I write this, dark clouds have been gathering in my heart since a phone call this afternoon. Although I know that no word from my heart escapes St Joseph, fear finds me today.

          My faith in St Joseph is an odd one. Not borne out by many quickly answered prayers, it’s a faith built upon something deeper and less understood, even by me. Perhaps, this is best expressed by St Joseph himself. Some years ago, I was journeying with a cousin who was facing marriage difficulties. The situation was desperate and there was little hope. I strongly encouraged my cousin to seek St Joseph’s help because I had a feeling it had come to the end of the road for me, that there was nothing more I could do to help her. To my chagrin, she resisted.

          And then I heard St Joseph’s voice, clearly, in my spirit,

I am your journey, not hers.

         St Joseph was telling me then, as he is even now, that I need to keep the eyes of my heart on the journey. That it is not as much the final answer to prayer as much as it is the walk.

          I don’t know what lies in store in the days and weeks to come. I do know that after failing to get some much needed hope today, I am deeply troubled, fearful that things will not work out the way we are desperately hoping for. Yet, in a way I cannot explain, I also suspect it is St Joseph who never feared to do the impossible, who has come this Lent to tell me I should no longer be a slave to fear. That is he who brought the words of the song for me ahead of time knowing that my hopes in man will be thwarted today and that I will fall into worry once more.

          How do I do this, St Joseph? I ask. How do I break this new manacle of fear?

          In immediate reply comes the lines from today’s Reading,

He believed, hoping against hope
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.   ~  Romans 4: 18, 22

          Hope is the antidote to fear.


Lent 22 ~ I Am a Child of God


          I heard this beautiful song, No Longer Slaves, for the first time last night. Curious to know more, I went a-digging and discovered that I most liked the version superbly sung by an African singer on America’s Got Talent. Gently and unpretentiously, sung from the heart, it caught my own heart and wouldn’t let go. I don’t know if I could ever make the words of the song mine.

          But it felt like someone wanted me to listen and to walk the road to belief. To tuck the words of the song into my heart, for when fear threatens to conquer. When the mountains before me rise intimidatingly. When the Jordans before me stretch out too wide to cross.

          Someday, may that day come, when I will no longer be a slave to fear, but secure in knowing that I have been ransomed.

By a Love so great it is beyond words.

… You unravel meWith a melodyYou surround me with a songOf deliveranceFrom my enemies‘Til all my fears are gone
… I’m no longer a slave to fearI am a child of GodI’m no longer a slave to fearI am a child of God
… From my mother’s wombYou have chosen meLove has called my nameI’ve been born againInto Your familyYour blood flows through my veins
… I’m no longer a slave to fearI am a child of GodI’m no longer a slave to fear
… I am a child of God
… I’m no longer a slave to fearI am a child of GodI’m no longer a slave to fearI am a child of God
… I am surrounded
… By the arms of the Father
… I am surroundedBy songs of deliverance
… We’ve been be liberated
… From our bondage
… We’re the sons and the daughters
… Let us sing our freedom
… Ooh, ooohOoh, oooh
… Ooh, ooohOoh, oooh
… You split the seaSo I could walk right through itMy fears are drowned in perfect loveYou rescued meSo I could stand and sayI am a child of God
… You split the seaSo I could walk right through itMy fears are drowned in perfect loveYou rescued meSo I could stand and sayI am a child of GodI am a child of GodYes, I am a child of God

Lent 21 ~ If We Be Faithful


The Saints await us; the Angels await us; Mary awaits us; and Jesus stands with the crown in His Hands wherewith to crown us if we shall be faithful to Him.

~  St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


          There are some days when our heavenly reward means less to us than immediate release from the problems plaguing our lives – but some people just cannot bear for us to say so. In their compassion, they hurry to comfort us, and in the course of it, sometimes end up hurting us more when they brush aside the pain of our struggles.

          The fact is there will be days when our pain overshadows our strength to carry and to love our crosses. Such days are too real, and they must be acknowledged, not shushed down. Yesterday and today were such days for me. I clung with all my might to the prayer my angel taught me, Jesus, I will trust in You, and it became my lifeline as the waters churned and churned around me. Yet, in the pre-dawn hours of today, I struggled with the stress of new work responsibilities in spite of that prayer. It was as strange a struggle as they come: the storm seemed to attack my mind but not my heart – which remained as calm as from the moment I prayed the trust prayer.

          It then struck me that even if I was praying the prayer to trust, it didn’t mean that my pain could or should be blanketed over – because if I did, it would mean that my Jesus wasn’t big enough for my pain. It has also been said that to withhold our pain from God’s scrutiny is not an attempt at courage, but actually one of lack of faith – we are professing our lack of belief that the God who cares for even the simple sparrow would care enough about us to take our pain unto Himself.

          Hence, I came clean on my struggle. Even as I continued to affirm Jesus, I will trust in You, I told Him about my fears and hurt. That after promising that rest was coming, it seemed as if He had instead allowed the earth to open up over my head by placing me in a leadership position when all I wanted was to be unheard and unseen.

          On and on went the struggle. It felt as if something was determined to win and I sure didn’t look like I was going to make it through. In desperation, from the depths of my heart, I called out for the saints who had journeyed with me for ever so long.

Sr Lucia of Fatima

St Joseph

St Padre Pio

St Faustina

St John of the Cross

I will trust You, Jesus

I will trust

I will trust

I will trust

          Sleep then claimed me.

          When I awakened, all was still. In my heart. In my mind.


Lent 16 ~ The Lord Knows


The dear Lord knows what is going on.

We must pray. The good Lord will take pity.

We must not lose patience.

~  St. Conrad of Parzham


          Today, the sign of geese appears once more, after yesterday’s surprise. A personal sign to me signifying a change of seasons, a sign of hope.

          3 days ago, I had suddenly wondered about the geese that took as their home an area of our daughter’s university campus. One of the first things our girl did when she had settled into her place there less than a year before was to send us pictures of those geese. It thrilled our hearts so because this was the life we had wanted so much for our children – to have decent access to modern life and yet to retain a strong hold on the old where Nature truly lived and breathed free. To know she had geese there made it perfect. She was just as happy with them and over the next few months, we were kept informed about the family of geese and their little exploits.

          And then, life got very busy for us all, and the little geese got tucked away somewhere unseen.

          Until 3 days ago, when my thoughts went there.

          Then, yesterday, without a word from me, our daughter sent us 2 videos of the geese on her campus. Needless to say, I was so, so surprised. And delighted.

          It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that after such a long time, geese had returned, on not just any day but on what I refer to as Miracle Thursday and Illumination Thursday. It had been a somewhat dry day, my spirit silent and unmoved in listlessness. Although I pondered so many things, I did so only with my mind as my spirit had curled in on itself. I knew I was physically tired from my studies and that there was nothing to do but to let the body heal in its own time. Still, a part of me yearned for some sort of sign. And it came, on the breaths of twilight.

          Today, without warning, the geese return for a second time. They come after I have asked God if things at work would ever change. If the old dream of a quiet and pared down workforce would ever come true. If the hope of an especial peace and quiet to work hard and to work in love would ever be ours.

          Right after this weave of thoughts, comes the geese. Then, in its wake, St. Conrad’s gentle entreaty.

          Among the highest and lowest boughs, the winds leap and twirl.

          They know something I don’t.


Lent 13 ~ Do Not Narrow Your Hearts


The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is—trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.

Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, Entry 1578

Geese in the Water


Who in my land can ever forget the week that was, from the 19th to the 24th of November 2022?

          A week of learning the earth-moving lesson that when the call to radical trust comes, one must walk blind. One must pray with the communion of saints for it will be almost impossible to hold on to prayer when the winds are tearing at you, and you will need the saints’ help. One must hope against hope, even as each passing hour brings news upon news, shattering and shattering everything within us.

A week that taught me that when we cross the Jordan, it is the tearing winds that we must beware.

          For these are winds fed by an evil that abhors peace and hope. Each time we give up and give in to disappointment, we feed satan. And each time we feed satan, he raises the winds in violence against us, dashing us upon rocks, till we are no more.

Never feed satan, our angel lays the quiet caution into our hearts.

          Oh, what a week! And the blessed angel led the way forward. Against the winds. Out of the gathering darkness.

          We have crossed the Jordan to safety now, we have finally reached the shores. From days of the most violent of tumults to utter, absolute joy! Spring in Winter. As I close my eyes to draw breath, the old, old words from years back find me once more,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest     St. Mary of Egypt

          How true!

         And now, il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing, St. Pio reminds me, his voice the freshness of spring in the gathering of winter’s cold.

          Rest? But there’s so much to do.

          And then, I see.

          The geese are in the water now.

          It is indeed time to rest.

Hold Your Eyes


Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.   ~  St. Jane Frances de Chantal

          I’ve not heard from my Lord for some days now. For most of the past week, work had yet again encroached past personal boundaries. While it hadn’t stirred up the usual ruckus within me, it certainly rendered me deeply exhausted. Despite many entreaties to heaven, there was little sign of an easing. How are we to go on? I must have asked that question so many, many times.

          This morning, gentle rains silver~pearl the early hours. Yet, despite the falling wet, the birds sing their myriad songs undeterred. Closest to me, somewhere in the deeps of our trees, two turtledoves trade throaty warbles in a steady rhythm against the heavenly benediction. Tracing the Sign of the Cross over both my ears, I pray, Let me hear Thy voice.

          In quick answer, comes this, from a saint I’ve never before sought, the Patron saint of rejected women.

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.

Curtiss Ann Matlock

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