Family

Battle

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          When the old year went to its end, I had a feeling I was off to a tough start in 2018 – and how right I was! But nothing could have prepared me for the way the new year unfurled itself. My husband came down with a very severe sinus attack. Out-of-sorts and in pain, the cold evenings and nights were hard on him. I tried to help by taking on his load so he could relax after work each day. That pushed my own load to the brim. Every day was tough. Every day brought new demands. Every day I struggled to clear my to-do list.

          And every single day, although I was cheery and working with a skip in my step, it felt like I was falling behind more and more in my schedule.

          By the second week, the home schedule had begun to unravel as well. I forgot to get us fresh vegetables one day, dinner got more and more delayed, and I struggled to put together even simple meals. But as a family, we laughed it off and pushed on.

          I got to the end of the days very exhausted, barely able to keep my eyes open and to think straight. Naturally, I couldn’t make my usual 4.30 a.m. wake up time for Holy Hour and prayed as much for God’s forgiveness as I did for strength just to get through the day, the week.

          Soon, we got to 5 straight days of no night Rosary. I’ve been at this point many times before and I knew I had to dig in deep and halt the slide. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Every time, exhaustion won.

          Then, the dreams began. Messy, troubling dreams. Dreams that took me on draining and confusing journeys I could not afford to go on. I awakened even more tired and spent. But there was a new, unsettling, side to those dreams as well. It came with a negative kind of forcefulness that increased incrementally with each dream, trying to tug me towards a disturbed state of mind.

          In the midst of it all, was a flash of a dream one day. A quick one that softly planted itself in my consciousness, setting itself apart from the others.

          It was of my son, in a state of deep fear and panic, wanting to quit his studies.

          I honestly wasn’t sure what I was to do. I believe my husband and I have a great relationship with all our kids. Despite the crazy schedules we both keep, the kids are always near us and we know every story of their hearts – especially of this son I had dreamed about.

          After the dream, I began to keep an even closer eye on him and his activities, in case I was reading things wrong. But his joy and exuberance, his sincere commitment to his studies and athletics  remained undimmed. The dream might be something for the distant future, I told myself.

          It was mid-week then, and I waited to get to Friday when I could draw in breath and put things in order and get us all back on track, Rosary and all. A few more days, I placated myself.

          But the dark never waits for when you’re prepared and ready, to strike.

          In a matter of a few brief hours, my sunny and cheery son went from light and bright to morose and subdued. The change was extreme. Sudden. Obvious even to the blind, it seemed.

          I thought he was coming down with the flu or something and so, I made him soups and health drinks and insisted on early bed time. Oddly, he remained alert and responsible in his home chores and school assignments.

          Yet, it seemed like in an instant, something had reached in and turned off my child’s inner light. I tried everything but I could not reach him.

          I banged on heaven’s door. My vigilance went into overdrive. But despite my deep concern for my son, I was also aware that I felt no panic. Yet the situation was not something I could turn away from. Some force other than my mother-heart was keeping the eyes in my head and heart riveted on my son and this mysterious shift in temperament.

          And this force was allowing me no panic, but insisting that I keep my eyes on the ball.

          By the second day, and no change for the better, even as I got a better grip on my work and home schedules, concern furrowed deeper. Then, late in the evening, my son got into a minor argument with his siblings, forcing me to step in to rear him back. He went off quietly into his room and I went back to the kitchen to get on with dinner preparations. I was undisturbed and thought the matter was over. Nonetheless, suddenly remembering how St. John Bosco had once helped me to discern an approaching danger  concerning my son, I sent up a quick prayer to him for help.

          It was then that a dewdrop fell on my spirit. I recalled a dream this same son had had just before Christmas this year when we were having some family struggles. He had dreamed that we were going to be under severe and unexpected spiritual attack. He had dreamt that he was being attacked by an entity and that my husband had come to his aid and as he was trying to help my son, he was attacked by the same entity.

          My son had dreamed that it was he who was going to release to freedom something that shouldn’t be free.

          In all the busyness that was Christmas, we had forgotten about that dream. Till now. In that moment, I knew what it was that my boy was facing. A demonic attack of some sort.

          Dropping everything, I traced the sign of the Cross on my forehead and lips, and went swiftly to him. I made him look at me and told him the sudden change that had come about now was unusual and wrong and insisted he tell me what was going on.

          My beloved child broke down and wept. He told me he was struggling with his studies. He told me he didn’t know how he was going to cope.

          My mind went to that flash of a dream. It had indeed been a warning.

          Yet, my spirit turned away from his words. My son wasn’t lying to cover-up something else but this kind of a studies-related panic is gradual; it doesn’t happen over a space of two hours. And not to a boy who had just begun the new academic term, who practically hopped and skipped to classes and who was coping well. This belief didn’t stem from my unwillingness to read the handwriting on the wall, wanting to conveniently blame this on the spiritual. It came because just when I had prayed to St. John Bosco, I had been reminded about the dark dream of a coming attack – incidentally one that would target both my son and his father.

          With an insight even I didn’t know I had, I began to talk to my boy. I took him back to his own dream, walked him through the discernment. I opened up and shared about some struggles my husband and I had been having, which the children had not been aware of.

          Without even thinking about it, I found myself telling him about times we had turned the eyes of our hearts towards work, consequently, neglecting family, not loving the family as we should, as was willed by God.

          Something took hold of my tongue. When we love our family, I told my son, when we stay close to their hearts and be a part of their daily lives, it is like building a wall around our home. A wall that keeps us safe within. But when we stray away, even for a while, it is like making a gaping hole in our fences, and evil will steal in.

          As my son stared at me, I said to him, That was what happened with you in the space of a few hours. You turned away from the family to focus on your studies – even though it seemed like a good thing – that was the hole that let the dark in.

          I didn’t know where that had come from. I hadn’t even thought of it.

          Long minutes later, I left him with a kiss and a hug.

          He did lighten up slightly after that, but it was clear to my eyes that he still remained in the iron grip of that darkness.

          I finally told my husband and insisted he battle with me for our boy. Together we fought. We went into the next day, but the hours did not herald the change we were praying for. Still, my heart lifted when I saw that my son too was battling this dark hold. Even though he clearly didn’t feel like it, I saw him try and be a part of his siblings’ hearts. He listened as we shared about our days and plans and failures. He listened despite what it must have been costing him to. There was still no light in his eyes. Fear still ruled.

          So much prayers and all for naught, came a voice close to my ear. But we ploughed on undeterred. We returned to the Rosary.

          Later, stopping by my prayer nook for the prayer for the day, I found an unknown saint waiting for me:

Do not grieve if you do not at once receive from God that which you ask. He wishes to benefit you still more by making you persist longer in your patient prayer before Him. For what can be higher than to address one’s converse to God and be in communion with Him? ~ St. Nilus of Sinai

          I chiseled the words to my heart, new strength flooding me.

          Later, about to doze off in the afternoon, I latched my spirit to prayer. I called upon the saints who had come to help me with my son in the past, St. John Bosco, St. Francis of Assisi.

          Then, a vague image of Our Lady with a scepter in hand passed through my mind. I lightly sensed the words,

She will lead in battle.

          Mother, St. John Bosco, St. Francis, fight for my son. Save him, I prayed with calm and faith.

          I awakened about an hour later and immediately went in search of my son. He had been reading. When he saw me, he jumped up and bouncily announced that the rains that day seemed to have eased up.

          My spirit saw it even before my eyes perceived. The old joy was back! He had come out of it. It had lifted. Still, I put the hours that followed to the test.

          No trace of the dark remained, not even the vaguest stain of it.

          It was clear: we had indeed won.

          This time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Retreat

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          Friday should have been a happy day for me. An arduous work week had come to a welcome end. Rain clouds had burst briefly over our home before parting in barely disguised pride to display a bright sky~breast of the most joyful blue. I spent some long minutes at my window this afternoon, resting my heart against sun warmed breezes that played about before retreating into the waiting sunset.

          But on this day when I so wanted to celebrate with the happy nuances of the wind and skies, I felt as if joy was holding me at arm’s length. This was a day when my heart  could not go past vile headlines involving innocent children and family. This was the day when images and words stayed and did not depart.

          I tried to pray. Tried to discern the whisper in the winds, if they held a message for me. But something inside me had suddenly wearied. It was not me, not my will that could be blamed this time.

          The weariness came from much deeper. It leeched strength and joy from me. It took away purpose. It took away energy. Again, I tried to pray, even for those who were dead now, but who had lived vileness when alive once before. But the prayers were barely shaped before they were gone.

          In that deepening emptiness came a prayer I have never seen before.

May the Three enfold you

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Hold you safe and hold you strong;

May the Three encompass you

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Encircle your life each day and night;

May the Three protect you

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Guard your door and keep each gate;

May the Three watch over you

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Still your heart and calm all fear.

 

          May the Three guard your door and keep each gate. Still your heart and calm all fear. Was something approaching us? Something, someone so leeched of God and godliness?

          My thoughts went back to July 2015, when I had shot out of sleep in a terror so wild and deep. I had been out with the family. It was night, a small bright moon lit the starless skies. Suddenly, soundlessly, the moon unanchored itself and slammed violently into a mountain top. People around me screamed and scattered in a mad panic. I grabbed my children’s hands and retreated under a whitewashed, white-lit porch. For some reason, I knew we were safe there, under that open, windowless, door-less porch. I wanted to call out to others who were racing about in terror. I wanted to tell them to come in as well.

          But I couldn’t. I could only watch. And for some strange reason, no one saw that white porch and the safety it offered.

          Since that frightening dream of 2015, whenever I look at the gentle luminescence of the motherly moon, I always remember that one day, she will signal the beginning of a violent time.

          From that old memory, my thoughts travelled on. I was not afraid, not troubled as my mind went over a more recent dream, where a gentle, quiet, unknown man had come to warn me to get off the street, retreat inside my home. I looked at the other people still out in the open. I had heard his warning, but had they? I had felt his warning wasn’t loud enough. Why didn’t he repeat the warning to secure ourselves? I had asked in the dream. But he merely replied,

The warning will only be given once.

          So, whoever heard it, heard it. Those who didn’t – would never know. I thought of the number of times I had heard the words, Prepare, and Be still. They were no mere words. They were sirens, steering me away from distractions, lest I miss the warning that will only be given once.

          I turned back to the Prayer of Three. I could sense it held something in its heart. I began to pray it.

          I had whispered it a few times to the dying inside of me, when one of my children, firm of character and not given to emotional slides nor spiritual highs, matter-of-factly informed me,

I dreamt of the moon last night. It was spinning.

          Hours later, when I had breathed in the cold new morning air and asked the Mother of God to fill me, I understood the message of my child’s dream. I understood the timing of the Prayer of Three.

          The time of the moon was near. Just as I had done, countless unknown souls must be praying the Prayer of Three for others everywhere because something lies beyond the bend.

          And it may not necessarily be a physical event.

          It was time to hold the hands of my family. It was time to hold tighter than ever before.

          And retreat.

 

 

The Fatima Way

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          It has been a blessed and joyous two weeks lived well and loved well. But a few days ago, I learned anew the truth of Sr Lucia’s Dos Santos’ prophetic words:

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about

marriage and the family.

I have some issues with my beloved husband, and they boiled over yet again this week. As a result of that, I lived some long moments with sand in my eyes and a storm in my heart.

          One day later, late at night, I stayed up reading about the Fatima Apparitions. I came to the heartrending part where little Jacinta lived her last days, and finally, passed into eternal life. I was so glad for the late hour because it meant no one would witness my own reaction to the enduring courage of a wee child to love her Cross till the end – to offer her terrible sufferings for the salvation of souls. The lateness also meant on no ears would the sound of my own grief fall as my heart traced the path of two simple Fatima parents humbly answering God’s call to bury their own child.

          That part of the Fatima book also took me back to memories of old wounds I’d rather not see. It took me back to what we had lost as a family. It took me back to black hours that we lived through, unknowing that even darker hours awaited us in coming years.

          My pillow was wet that night, and I prayed that there’d be no sign of it in my eyes in the morning, for my grief is private and I wanted it to stay that way.

          I awakened to two miracles the next day.

          There was no sign of the night in my eyes.

          And a greater one – those tears had washed away the grit of old hours of my marital and family related grievance. With the sand washed away, I saw with fresh eyes what the storms had clouded over:

I had not carried my Cross in the Will of God; I had not walked the Fatima Way. 

          Marriage and family struggles come to one and all, some more bitterly and more devastating than others. Some we bring upon ourselves through the choices we make. Some are allowed because it is through the splinters of the Cross that we are emptied for Heaven. In my specific reaction to my frustrations with my husband over his parenting methods and his some of his spousal attitudes, I saw that I had left my Cross. I did not carry it, neither did I ask for God’s help with it. I chose to do it my way, and it was as self-serving as the life of the man of Frank Sinatra’s song (even if the world disagrees with me!)

          My way was not the Fatima Way. My way was the serpent’s way. Seemingly harmless and justified, but winding resolutely and stealthily towards the desolation of Me. I was going in the wrong direction – not towards Heaven, but towards Myself.

          My compass had to be reset. If little Jacinta and Lucia could push past walls rock solid with pain, to love and carry their crosses as God willed of them, then so could I.

          Fresh and cleansed, I got up from the ground. A new day was before me – to be lived the Fatima Way.

          And live it thus, I did. Despite my sinfulness and smallness, I lived it in love as best as I could. Despite the fact that the issues which upset me still remain, and will surely resurrect itself yet again, I held nothing back from my husband and family but gave all I had in love and joyful service.

          This morning, ambling through online highways searching for prayer meditations by saints, I came across a website. Browsing through the prayers, I read each one and waited for the one that would ‘fall into my heart’.

          Just then, I caught sight of a line at the end of the webpage – What if God chose a prayer for you?

          For some reason, that little line stuck its burr into my heart.

          Quickly, I responded, God give me my prayer, then. And resumed searching.

          It was the very next prayer. It was by St Ignatius of Loyola, and it was his Prayer of Generosity ~

Prayer for Generosity
of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous,
teach me to serve You as I should,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and ask not for reward,
Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will. 

          Every line, every word of it – the Fatima Way.

 

 

Family & the Rose~beads

         

          Since early this week, some days I have been sensing a quietening within me. The kind of creeping hush that slowly and silently wets the shores of the soul, making its way deeper within, bit by slow bit, blanketing over the noise and indignation and distractions that abound within.

          When I first became aware of it, I looked to its source, and this is what I learned of its origins:

FAMILY

          Ask any parent – there’s no escaping family duties. Not the cooking, not the cleaning, not the loads of laundry, the homework, the counselling, the binding up of wounds, the list goes on and on and on. But there are two ways to go at it – with heart and soul, or distractedly and grumpily. Unfortunately, I was on the second mode for much of April into May.

          Until that day when I asked Our Lady of Fatima, What do You ask of me?

          And I asked Her over and over, all through the hours of the day and those that followed. What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me?

          My heavenly Mother answered quickly enough, and repeated Her answer every time I doubted I heard Her right, every time I sought a different answer – thinking it had to be something different for me.

Pray the Rosary every day.

First Saturday of the month.

          Since 2012, we have been saying the Family Rosary almost every day. However, in recent months, we’ve missed saying it more than we ever have before. Several times, Heaven has called my attention to it. Each time, I’ve bowed my head in repentance, and gone back to set things right. For some weeks, it would be fine, but then, we’d start skipping a day here and another there, and soon, we’d be right back in the rut we thought we had left for good.

Pray the Rosary every day

          Mother Mary has never been this clear with me on this before, and that itself is telling. Just as clearly, this time, Mother has shown me some of the link the daily recitation of the Rosary has on my hope for savouring Eden some day.

           I believe I was shown this Eden through early 1900s life on distant Prince Edward Island, where love of God and neighbor and work once co-existed seamlessly and in a harmony long gone for me now in this country of my birth. Yet, I also believe this Eden of the past is also of the coming future, and that it was shown, and then taken away, to leave in its wake a bereftness deeper than anything I’ve ever felt before – so that I would make every attempt to find it again.

          It wounded me with a longing that will likely live in me all the rest of my days.

          And it is this ache now that has been taking me back to the Rosary this week, despite late hours and tiredness and weak will. I hope to God I do not falter again because I need the Rosary more than anything.

          Because the Rosary is battle beads that will help anyone find heaven.

          In the short days since I returned to this call of Fatima ~ the Rosary, I’ve rediscovered the simple happiness of caring for my brood, heart and soul. In the midst of rush and busyness, I’ve been able to laugh with my family, to love each of them, and to savour the little suns that burst over us in tiny joy~bubbles.

          And when I began to sink my spirit into the heart of family, this mysterious brook of inner quiet began weaving its way through my soul. It is not merely a quiet that distils my day of its errors and distractions. It is a quiet that has me turning away from work so often, seeking my God and all of God in the skies, in the secret language of the clouds, in the new wind~notes as they whisper their secrets through boughs and leaves. When I am fretting over something, it gently beckons to me from flowerbeds, asking that I visit there to refresh my dusty spirit.

          I am indeed learning anew the far-reaching powers of the Rosary.

          This stillness born of the prayer of the rose~beads allows levity and joy, life and work – as long as its goals and outcomes are anchored in family – yet, it cautions my spirit against other roads that lead away from the warning of Sr Lucia, the Fatima seer.

          The warning that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of satan will be about marriage and the family.

         

Lent 19 ~ The Stars of Past

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          In our family, the past lives with us like another family member. Almost every day, the past is resurrected. And yet, we are a family that revels in the present. My husband and I have hearts somewhat worn down by hurts and loss, so when our gaze goes beyond the horizon of what is before us, we are understandably more reticent in our hopes. But our children, growing up and facing life’s curves and dips with their hearts firmly in ours, see no clouds beyond the repose of the sun.

          The past comes alive each day when the kids awaken, and some are still young enough to want their morning kisses and cuddles. My husband and I have pet names for each, and while the older ones might look a tad askance when we use them, the younger ones sometimes refuse to answer to their given names, preferring their pet names. I think it’s like a security blanket for them. Or perhaps those funny little names comfort them that they are something special to us that they are not to others.

          I believe my children have grown ‘watching movies’ of their childhood because of the constant airing that childhood narratives get in our home. Not a day goes by without someone purposefully steering the dinner conversation towards tender reminiscences of  growing-up tickles and mischief.

          Is it any wonder that our dinners can go on to close to two hours?

          These precious conversations have become the soul of the family. As we chat and listen and sometimes, argue with one another, the past sits with us, like an unseen guest. He listens in earnest as my husband and I weave for our kids our sharings and teachings about present day issues, from the harbor of the days and lives gone by. Being very much people people,  we are a storehouse of endless family anecdotes.

          Indeed, we have rich earth to draw life lessons from.

          The words from yesterday’s 1st reading is gentle entreaty for a preservation of these ways of ours ~

However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children. ~ Deuteronomy 4:9

          Those verses tell us that the past must always be allowed its living. Not to haunt or torment and to take life away, but to burnish the life now and that which is to come.

          For just as it has the capacity to bring death, the starlight of history and memories bear also the supreme grace to heal, to nurture, and to light the way ahead.

 

Lent 12 ~ Wounds for Glory

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          I have been trying to stay faithful to my Atonement Rosary ~ The Divine Mercy Chaplet. Lately, through dreams and other experiences my family and I have faced, I know that as Sr. Lucia dos Santos of the Fatima Apparitions revealed, the family is the latest battleground. The family is under attack.

          And I fear for us.

          I wish I could be stoic and unflinching, with an Abraham-esque faith. Unshaken by storms and uncertainties; clear-minded and loyal to every asking of God. But I have too much of Peter in me. One squall and I’m ready to jump out of the boat.

          This morning was no different. Because of my working hours, I have now taken to reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet during my dawn Holy Hour. In the past week, I have begun to pray for the family’s persecutors. I wish I could say I pray the chaplet with love for my fellow men.

          I do not.

          I pray it with fear. No matter how many times I kick myself over it, whenever I pray for my husband and children’s protection, I still pray with no small amount of trepidation. What we have been through in years past, what we have recently faced, they make me afraid of what else is in store for us, and if our walls will hold.

          This morning, I went to the Chaplet with the same agitation. After the 2nd decade, at the start of the 3rd, about to petition for protection for my loved ones, I lost the prayer.

          It was slipped away from me. In its place was:

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          The minute the prayer got out, I twisted and flailed to pull it back.

          I didn’t want wounds. We have had enough for two lifetimes. We are a family that struggles with wounds and woundings; it would be sheer insanity to accept, to ask for any more. So, I quickly tried to tack on a couple of caveats.

         But an unseen hand had once more swiped the prayer out of my staining reach. I felt like I was down below, gazing up at my prayer held high, away from me.

         I completed the decade, and went on to the 4th. Again, at the beginning, the same attempt to pray for protection. And yet again, it was gently taken away and replaced ~

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          God’s Will Be Mine, I finally whispered, the fight gone out of me. I don’t know how we’d cope with any more lashings; we don’t stand among the strong, for sure. But suddenly, my wobbly love for God wins out. It is along those lines that my heart falls into peace. We may not be soldier material, but we have always loved. And if love calls us to bear our wounds for others, just like Jesus bore His for us, then my family and I must – no matter how afraid and spiritually timid we are. Because the Miracle of the Glorified Cross shines brightest through wounds borne for Love.

          Because to bear our wounds is a sacrifice. To bear our wounds is to praise God.

          And to offer praise as a sacrifice is to glorify God.

The King Reminds

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          It had been a gentle and tender day of household chores. Busy hours under the quiet of cloudy skies and a light breeze, wet from old rain. Deprived of my usual morning Holy Hour, I tried to find the time to pray simple prayers as I worked, but the call of the pots and the stovetop and the laundry clanged a loud clamour for my attention. In the later hours of the sulking day, I went to my room for some quiet time, intent on saying a chaplet. But it had been taken over by blankets and soft toys and two very busy little people charming the air with giggles and smiles, toothy and toothless.

          I found another chore crooking its little finger at me, and to it I sailed, prayer forgotten.

          By night, little things began to rile me up. Gone was the gentle unhurried pace of the day. All I saw were the many little things that needed to be attended to before bedtime. But my household of people, in happy anticipation of a good rest, did not share my urgency. So, a little fuse was lit and the night veils heard a song of carping and fuming.

          Still bent on getting to bedtime with a home in apple pie order, I unconsciously decided to help one of my children with his ironing. I wasn’t even aware of moving to his cupboard to get the shirts out.

          As the hot iron moved over crease after crease, I felt a gentleness settle into my heart. While I still kept my tone firm with a slightly subdued family, giggles muffled and their eyes lowered to hide the dancing in them, Someone began to release a soothing wetness to quietly flow over the little fires lit in my heart earlier. Suddenly aware of the change within me, I paused. It was then that I heard the insistent strains of a hymn,

Ubi Caritas,…..ubi caritas…..

I couldn’t remember what those words meant, but I let them flow unhindered over my spirit because they brought with them the dew of peace. Before I went to bed, I looked up the hymn. Its English translation told me while I had not remembered my God as much I should have, He hadn’t forgotten me. He came to me to remind me that I should not make Martha’s error mine – that in every little thing I do, only one King should hold court.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end. Amen.

Glorify

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          I didn’t always love my family. I polished the home, cooked every day, and cared for little ones when the sniffles and spotties came. But I didn’t spend enough love-time with them, listen to their hearts as much as I should have. I had lovely, joyful children blessed with a freshness only children possess, whose little stories tumbled out eagerly, yet, fell wasted on preoccupied ears. So, I didn’t get to hear firsthand about the yellow and white butterflies playing tag amongst the gardenias, or about the yellow-and-green ‘ballbirds’ in the lush trees  at night. My young ones got hugs and cuddles and kisses, but very often, they didn’t get them too, because I didn’t always love my family.
see_no_evil_hear_no_evil_by_pinkparis1233-d5sfuql[1]           For many sad, bereft years, I didn’t always love my family because I allowed trespassers into my little sanctuary – those who had little or no regard for the sanctity of family life. They came into my home armed with authority, under the pretext of love and shared values, and dispensed wisdom they said I didn’t have. Cowed, I let them hold my mind and heart captive to satisfy their every whine and whim. When my small inner voice rebelled that my family needed more, I made feeble attempts to wriggle free, but the deceivers in my life told me I was wrong because I didn’t know, and they were right because they did.
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           I bought into the fable of the trespassers that in order to live, I must be enslaved, and my family paid the price for that. A hug when they needed it they did not get. A comfort when they fussed remained a wishful thought. They got a wife and mother who got things done but forgot to love because she was busy putting others before the Family, and didn’t see anything wrong with it. My husband and children fell a distant second because I let others dumb me down and set the parameters for family life. I was lulled into accepting the flawed belief systems of others. I let them dictate to me the hallmarks of a good Catholic wife and mother. I even allowed them to drive my religious beliefs. Family life was not lived through the lens of the Almighty, and whilst we seemed the joyous all-Catholic family, we were tearing at the seams.
          I stilled my conscience in order to up the volume of the trespassers, and that was my sin, and mine alone.
          Good mother, they patted me on the head in glee.
          And they led me out the front door, away from the family, into the dark.
          But there was a God above, and He kept watch over my soul. I had in me a hidden part that I misted away from everyone but my Saviour. It was my tiny act of defiance to keep a space of my own that was not overrun by external dictates. It was in this secret hollow veiled from human knowledge that I crumbled before the Almighty. It was here to Him that I took my sorrows and doubts.
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          But prayer is never a one-way street of petitions and pleadings. My Lord spoke, and the words of Life came back to me, but couldn’t take root because the soil of my heart was not right. It was a soil watered by a lack of spiritual nourishment and a drought of holy obedience. The Word struggled to live in me because I had pledged obedience and loyalty to those who lived dual lives: outwardly upholding family life; in reality, undermining it.
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          There was an incessant howling at the door of my life, voices not of my family’s, commanding me to come out for I was needed for vineyards not willed by heaven. The feral howls continued for many years. I was powerless to resist because I lived in the dangerous aridity where sin and dark was king. I offered incense in homage to people, not to my Lord. My refusal to break with the dark, my fear of repercussions, was in fact, a personal rejection of Life-giving Truths – God’s Commandments – which would have set me free a long time ago.
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          Then, one still night, on the tenth chime, the angels broke my heart. I learned a pain never known before. The searing flame of a final farewell marked my soul, never to be erased. The sea of grief formed a wave of walls around me, making me an island; for the very first time in my life, cutting me off from all that had stretched me in a thousand wrong directions. Alone in my pain,  a sword knifed through my soul, severing in finality, the ropes that strung me to the deceivers. 
          Then, came the grace of divine sight, hitherto withheld, borne on a blue wind.       jesusmarymet02[1].jpg
          Into that sudden freed expanse, the Mater Dolorosa slipped in quietly. To tell me She’d been here before. In gentle wisdom, She parted the old swirling mists, and bade me see the life my family and I deserved ~ a life lived in freedom to glorify God, and no one else. A freedom that would come only if I let the angels unbind my conscience captive to the world, and avail it for the nurturing of my Lord and King.
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          From that night of grace of grief, on a journey that has spanned years and far from over, Mother Mary continues to gently lead me down the blossom-blessed path of bitters and anguish towards peace. Every day, my spirit in Her Hands, I learn to fight any darkness that seeks to still and rule my conscience. Every day is a learning to discern the voice of my Saviour from the beguiling chorus from the sewers.
          For my Mother has taught me there is only one life that glorifies God.
          It is a life where the conscience, the breath to the soul, is never shackled nor governed by human tyranny that seeks to kill God and all of God.

 

 

Thanksgiving For Little Lights

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          A chance reading of Melanie Jean Juneau’s lovely piece, Discovering the Fountain of Youth, lit a light within me: I don’t thank children enough. My lack of thanksgiving for children- born of me, born of others – perhaps stems from my single-minded focus on caring, nurturing and providing for them, seeing children mainly as something to work on, to work for, but precious little else.

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          I am too fixated on the notion that it is my duty to lead children to heaven, that it fogs my vision to see the truth: that I need them as much, too. This unfortunate amnesia of the gift that children are often obscures the greater truth that children are lights for me from Heaven, sent to lead me Home.  And need their light of leading I do because I don’t always know which path it is that leads to Heaven.

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          In the egoistic preoccupation with life and duty, it is often forgotten that life is not always just about caring for children; it’s just as much about letting down my guard and opening the door of my heart to allow the young in my life to minister to me, to set me on the path to heaven. If I could let them through the fences I’ve put up, I reckon there’d be much I can learn from them, for children possess a power I do not have – the power to lift the veil to the living I am called to, melting away that which is superfluous and detrimental. They live joy through love, teaching me that love needn’t be draining and burdensome; that sacrifice without love parches the soul – a lesson to be learnt a thousand times over.

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         Let no one dispute that children are the Keepers of the Lamp of heavenly TruthThey take me away from the smug belief that the beginning and end of Wisdom lies solely with me. When the young hurt me even as I try to love and guide them, it’s a pain that bewilders because they seem to have rejected what I deem right and good. I often fail to see that heartaches wrought by children actually lead me away from the deception that the children in my life exist mainly to be shepherded and corralled into approved pastures of thought and behaviour. If anything, putting on the mantles of humility and faith can help me understand that my will for the children must never supercede God’s path for them, for His sight extends far beyond my myopic limitations.

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          All children are formed of joy, the gift of laughter and joy firmly tethered in the soul of children even in the rising of the squall. They embody joyful survival in the life-journey through challenges and pains.

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          Hence, when life sours and pickles into greys and aridity, and laughter shrouds itself, the blossoming of insight comes from the little souls who live the Truth that the balm for the weary spirit is in the casting of its burdens on the Master, and that release can be found in heaven’s wellsprings of mirth and play.

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          And now, as the Light of the Baby King peeks from its pearl shell of Advent, on my heart I etch a renewed prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of children brought into my life – little Keepers of the Lamp who help me lean on God to heal and love and live right, and who thus, light the path to Heaven true.

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NO ONE DIES MOTHERLESS

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For every soul gone to rest, a mother weeps somewhere in the remembered loss of another child. Motherless, orphaned or abandoned, no one dies without a mother. A mother-heart grieves – for her children and for those born of other wombs. Her dirge is not a weakness, but that of love that burns through and transcends barriers of bloodlines and race, creed and time. Hence, no one dies unloved, un-mourned, by a mother somewhere, because no one is motherless.

A LITTLE WHITE HEARSE
by Ella Wheeler Cox
 

 Somebody’s baby was buried to-day

The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled back,

And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and gay      

As I paused on the walk while it crossed on its way,

And a shadow seemed drawn o’er the sun’s golden track.

France Honours Attack Victims As The Nation Mourns

Somebody’s baby was laid out to rest, 

White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold,

And the soft little hands were crossed over the breast,   

And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were pressed

With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.

 

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Somebody saw it go out of her sight,

Under the coffin lid—out through the door;

Somebody finds only darkness and blight

All through the glory of summer-sun light;

Somebody’s baby will waken no more.

 

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Somebody’s sorrow is making me weep:

I know not her name, but I echo her cry,

For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep,

The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep

In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.

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I know not her name, but her sorrow I know;

While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more,

And back to my heart surged that river of woe

That but in the breast of a mother can flow;

For the little white hearse has been, too, at my door.

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Pictures of Paris attack scenes sourced from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3318379/