HOLY SPIRIT

Song of the Seas

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Then he said to me:
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.
They have been saying,
“Our bones are dried up,
our hope is lost, and we are cut off.”
Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.   ~  Ezekiel 37: 11 – 14

          Almost three weeks ago, bound by illness and fear, I searched desperately for hope, but none was to be found – only because I was searching in the wrong places. The medications which normally worked didn’t seem to be working. We have always been a family that recovered speedily from illnesses, but it wasn’t the case at that time. And never before had we all be ill at the same time.

          I was sick with fear. What if we needed to go into hospital? The pathetic excuse of a hospital we have in our town and the even worse medical personnel working there, charading as doctors and nurses, ruled out going there for treatment. Our next option was a reputable private medical centre but it was almost two hours away and despite being the strongest of the lot, I didn’t think I could drive the family there.

          What illness was this that we were having?

          Oh, the fear was deep indeed.

          In that state, hunting high and low for hope and not finding it, I suddenly quit searching. If there was to be no escape from this sickening fear, no respite from our illness, it dawned on me then that it was God’s will that we suffered this. Although no part of me embraced this suffering, a gentle visit from an old friend a few days later brought me to a door I didn’t want to open: the door to humble acceptance of suffering.

          Then, through the powerful intercession of St John of the Cross, my prayer changed to,

Help me to suffer this for Thy glory

          From then the mists lifted slightly from the path. Each time the fear came, each time I felt I could not go on, each time I struggled to rise and to walk and to work, I prayed in desperation,

Help me to suffer this for Thy glory

Help me to suffer this for Thy glory

Help me to suffer this for Thy glory

         Still, I struggled mightily, for to love my cross is my greatest cross. There is nothing I want less. It is my personal Calvary, the path along which I fall and fall and fall.

          And so, even as I prayed to accept my sufferings so that God be glorified, I could not find the love with which to embrace the prayer. Yet again, God showed me He never leaves us to suffer alone. He sent His beloved Mary to me. The Mother of God took pity on me and deigned to gather me into Her arms and to whisper to me Her words from that old day in September, fourteen years gone,

Sorrow before joy

          Upon hearing Her words once more, an odd strength began to flow into me, to ask in sincerity for the grace to suffer my then afflictions for the glory of God. One day wove its tendrils into the next, and into the next, and the next. When all of us felt dizzy and weak, when I felt I just could not cope with work, when the high fevers returned undeterred to all of us despite the meds, over and over, I prayed with all my heart and soul now,

Help me to suffer this for Thy glory

          Still, I puzzled at this change even as I welcomed it. How did this happen, I questioned as I peered through the remaining mists. I sure wasn’t praying better now because I felt good things were coming and that this was just a phase to get through – long years of suffering certainly put paid to that kind of hope even if it were true. I neither longed nor sought for joy as a respite from suffering. In fact, in a sudden turn of the seas, I seemed to have instead found an odd, indescribable vigour for suffering.

          Then, days later, without warning, the seas turned a second time.

My spirit began to sing through suffering!

          It was a full-bodied song which I have never, ever in my life heard. It began swelling and pouring through my dried out spirit, in silence and in gentleness and also in soaring power. Granted, each one of us in the family had begun to slowly recover from the flames of illness but the recovery this time was like climbing out of a grave after being buried alive. We were all still within the shadows of horrors of that pit. Thus, despite knowing we were getting better, our hearts could not quite sink into relief and happiness yet.

          But that strange, new song continued to pour its many cadences into my spirit. And I knew then, with an unshakeable conviction, that the raised skies of my heart was not due to relief nor simple happiness. It was something else. It was a secret, hidden joy, flowing and flowing through me each time I cowered before a cross and then, chose to pray in truth and sincerity, Help me to suffer this for Thy glory.

          Today, as the sun curls gold lights through me, heaven finally whispers the secret to me, of where this song of the seas comes from.

I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
Then,
I will put my spirit in you

that you may live.

Last of June

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          On this last day of June, month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the winds lift and fall from the break of dawn, blowing secrets among them, marking the last of what has been a very hectic month. Still, even as I’m glad it has come to an end, a quiet awe sits stronger within me. Awe at all God has done and eased for us this entire month. Awe at how, for once, I managed to face the innumerable twists and hurdles relatively calmly and with fewer stumbles.

          But I also know that it wasn’t me going out to meet each deadline and obstacle; each day, it felt as if someone or something within me was already in charge and leading the way. A still and quiet power beyond what I’ve ever experienced. A power so strong yet so exquisitely gentle, unperturbed at my occasional shenanigans and general inability to read things right. A power at peace even when I often tried to do things my way.

          Today, on this last day of blessed June, looking back, thanksgiving and gratitude breathes strong in my heart. I know well many hearts have helped me get through all the hard days of June, for very few journeys of this life can be undertaken safely and successfully without the love of those who pray and guide us all onwards and upwards. Most of all, without a doubt, we have journeyed through June, as a family, bound tightly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

          As the winds raise their softly golden voices higher in the late morning sky, I can’t help but ponder what July holds for us. I can sense something is ahead, for some endeavours have ended even as we hoped to go on.

It is as if an invisible gate is slowly being shut on some journeys, why I do not know.

          But fear finds no living within me today.

          Today, I am at peace, content to let the Spirit lead.

          And He will, Father of the Poor He is.

Lamp of Nazareth

          Deep in the old trenches of work once more, God came today to steer my heart to His Light.

          For a long time, February had been the month of Lourdes for me, in remembrance of Our Lady of Lourdes and her apparitions there. So, through the days of February, I try to live my hours as close to Her as my fickle self possibly can. Yet, given that I am once again back in the thick, thorny thickets of work, I did wonder more than once if this work year would be any different. My two superiors were back at it again – casually loading up our schedules, blatantly defying lockdown regulations, secure in the confidence that enforcement officers would baulk at coming so far out here to the boondocks to check on us.

          Mere weeks into the new year, I am already as tired as before.

          But the start of 2021 has not been bone-dried out of its miracles for me. For the first time in such a long while, I have woken up each day and gone out to work with a little skip in my step. Despite the amount of work set before us each day, I have gone to it with much enthusiasm. This was only possible due to the Christmas miracle of joy and rest and sufficient quiet.

          Yet, my spirit yearns for more. Not so much for a reduced workload as much as for freedom from tyranny – for it is back in full force now.

          The Lord has come to me many times to say:

Tell My people how much I love them. Tell My people that they are not alone and that I am with them. Tell My people that My Holy Spirit provides power, grace and love each day of their lives. Tell them miracles are there for them every single day, but they must look for them. They must expect them; they must want to experience My love.   ~ Look for Miracles Every Day, Steve Greco, Catholic Stand 

          Since reading those words, I have been spurred to tug at God’s robes to ask for more miracles. Each time I asked for miracles, I also asked His forgiveness for the thanklessness in my heart, if anything was blinding me to the many flowers already in bloom in my life this year.

          And of course, even as I pray, I have a very clear idea of what shape and form my miracles should take. I am, as ever, ready to give God the helping hand He doesn’t need.

          Two days ago, Jesus sent His spirit to open my eyes. One of my superiors stopped by my table with an unsettling gleam in her eye and casually put forth a proposition for me to extend my already long working hours and conduct yet another programme. I don’t know whether it was because I was already up to my eyes in work at that moment or if it was due to something else – but a calm yet firm refusal immediately sprang to my lips even before I could think up counter arguments. What I could see of her face above her mask tightened, obviously angered that I had dared to defy and refuse and she quickly moved on to seek support elsewhere.

          Coming home after work, I slumped to the floor, very, very tired. Dinner needed to be cooked, the younger kids needed help with studies and the house needed some cleaning. The birds were noisily chirping their evening farewells as they lifted into skies painted in swells of pink and tangerine. Even as I heard them, their songs I could not seek. There was no time to rest; yet, it was also too difficult to get up and to get going.

          Suddenly, an unseen hand pushed to memory a dream I had of this same woman last year. Of her entering my bedroom and stealing my rest. It was then that I realised that this superior needed to be fought off.

          And that Someone had done it for me that day.

Miracle

          But that superior is never one to take a rebuff well, and too soon, I was slightly beset with anxiousness about what traps she’d lay out for me next.

          Nonetheless, God was already ahead. The next day brought a bout of energy and a slice of wily wisdom. Covid came a little too close and some colleagues had to give up their work time. With some maneuvering, I could take on a bit more, freeing me from the need for extended hours. That put me out of the crosshairs of that woman.

Another little miracle.

          Then came the next miracle. Due to a colleague coming down with Covid, we came under the very scrutiny my boss was hoping to evade. He was then forced to allow us to work on a schedule that blended on-site work with working from home. That gave me 2 beautiful days of working from the peace and quiet of my little nest.

          Today was my first day of working from home and it filled me with tufts of early spring sweetness. Despite being up till past 1 a.m. working on reports and plans, I rose early in glee of being home. It was into this rising dawn within me that God told me something that I had not known before.

That the month of February was also dedicated to the Holy Family.

          And with that, God gently lit the Lamp whose light I was to follow. In my fears over work-related reprisals and doubts over the validity of my resistance, when guilt shadows me, whispering I must do more, more, more, my heart must flee to Nazareth. Into the hearts of Three who lived hard days within the untroubled sweetness of the Divine Will.

          Today, as every little feathered friend sought the dawn sun hidden within fleecy skies, He taught me once more that even as others seek to set their yoke upon me, my heart must be resolutely illumined by the Lamp of Nazareth.

          In the quiet of its humility, courage and obedience, lived unwaveringly by a Mother, a Father and a Son.

Hour of Need

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…you easily forget My words and My promises to you. Call upon the Holy Spirit to keep My words and My promises alive in your heart, and to call them to mind in your hours of need.   ~  In Sinu Jesu

          Today, nearly 4 months from my last Friday afternoon trip to church, I was finally back in church on a Friday again, and there, I touched the sweetness of a homecoming, new to me. Since we are still in the recovery phase, there were no flowers in church. And yet, there was a gentle softness to the still air, a waiting love.

          It took me a long time to quieten down, there was much to say, though my words were few.

          In my ending minutes in that serene stillness, He slipped His words into my heart. Nothing stirred within me as my eyes went over all other words. Nothing until,

          …you easily forget My words and My promises to you. Call upon the Holy Spirit to keep My words and My promises alive in your heart, and to call them to mind in your hours of need. 

          And still, doubt tugged at me. What if I was seeing things where there were none? When you’re straining at hope, it’s easy to slip and misidentify. They were after all words He spoke to a Benedictine monk, not to me.

          My Lord knew I would doubt and He was ready for me.

When the Spirit of truth comes,
He will guide you to all truth
and remind you of all I told you.   ~  John 16:13A; 14:26D

          And just like that, the sliver of doubt disappeared.

Call upon the Holy Spirit to keep My words and My promises alive in your heart, and to call them to mind in your hours of need. 

          He alone knows how far ahead the undulating dunes of work stretch out. He alone knows how much it will take out of me. He alone knows how easily I will forget, and fret because of it. Call upon the Holy Spirit, says my Jesus to me on my first return to His Friday Heart.

          That in my hour of need, when I am most bereft, I will remember once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 30 ~ Be Sealed with the Spirit

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          In the afternoon hours of Thursday, a fear began to press itself into the creases of my spirit. Try as I might, I could not determine its reason for appearing. It didn’t seem to be about the death I had been told of. But it was definitely about the pandemic.

          Fear at such a time is understandable, expected even. Yet, I knew that while what I was sensing was related to the terror and deepening worries about so many things spreading across the globe, the fear seemed to be about something else.

          Something I could feel but not see.

          I rose early on Friday and went to my promise.

Mother, I prayed to Our Lady of Fatima, I consecrate the world to Jesus, through Thee.

Please protect us. Please save us.

          Life went on in the new monastic rhythm of busyness intertwined with quiet alertness. The sun danced its light upon us as we cleaned the home, taught the kids their lessons. As we worked in the garden, as we prepared meals.

          But the quiet thread of fear continued to weave its seam through it all.

          By late afternoon, this fear had grown bolder. I felt my chest tighten. Again I searched for the source of this reaction. Again, the air kept its own counsel.

          Then, I remembered a prayer, and urgently reached for it.

Jesus, lay Thy hand upon my heart

          Immediately, the constricting fear and tightness evaporated. I knew then that whatever had come, it wasn’t from God.

          Once more, the day and its little calls continued. Again, I returned to my duties, but with an alert eye trained on the distance even as I pondered the many things laid against my heart since the morn of Thursday.

          By night, the tightness had returned, reaching into my throat with a firmness of intent. I knew instinctively that it wasn’t a physical condition; my spirit was reacting to something. I started to share about it with my husband, but somehow, the words evaporated and the moment passed.

          Late at night, busy reflecting and writing, an alert popped up in a small window at the base of my laptop screen. It was a message from a website I might have visited at least a year ago, not something recent. And the message was,

Be sealed with the Spirit

          The moment my puzzled gaze took it in, the tightness disappeared.

          I couldn’t believe it.

Be sealed with the Spirit

          It’s been two days and no shadow has drawn close to my gate since. The fear, the tightness – has left.

          I watch the news, read words of pain and fear. All over the world, people weeping, in anguish over lost jobs and lives. I could turn a deaf ear, dismiss the panic as manufactured, busy myself elsewhere. The choice is mine.

          But I don’t – because I can’t and I shouldn’t. That fear I experienced wasn’t from God but God let that fear touch me for a reason. And that reason is the love I profess is of no value if I pull my hands away from the wounds of my brethren. Because I wound my Jesus if I withdraw into my security and comfort when others around me the world over are losing every comfort and security they’ve ever known.

          And so, I return to where He wants me to be – in the pain of His people. Where each life left on earth is in need of the same healing benediction laid upon me,

Be sealed with the Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soul of my Soul

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          I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:

O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.

          If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.   ~  Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier

 

          Early yesterday, before I learned about the Ring of Fire eclipse, the Angel had gently opened the door to my heart and slipped this in,

          Love the Holy Spirit and call upon Him in humility and confidence. He will never fail you. He is, as my Church calls Him, the “Father of the Poor”. He takes delight in descending upon the poor in spirit and He makes His tabernacle in their hearts.

And then I learned a tiny gem of a prayer,

…and address Him as “Soul of your soul”.   ~  In Sinu Jesu

          Using the words from Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier’s advice, I fashioned my own prayers to the Holy Spirit, now calling Him, Soul of my soul. Through the calls of duty, through the excitement of the eclipse, I embroidered this name new to me upon the garment of hours lent me by the day.

Soul of my soul

          When the stars had come out to adorn the velvet breadths, I made a small discovery. The annular eclipse of yesterday had coincided with a beautiful sun halo. The last time I had feasted my eyes upon a sun halo had been more than a year ago. And a prayer had been speared through my heart that day,

Holy Trinity, light Thy flame within me

          So, the ribbon that bound both sun halos was the Holy Spirit.

          This morning, marigold~sunshine grins through my window as the North winds and breezes dart about weaving heaven’s secrets into this final Friday of a year making its way to eternal slumber.

          Will You give me Your sign today? I ask God playfully.

          In His answering peace and light, I slip my hand into His.

Soul of my soul

 

 

 

 

 

River

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          The past week, I had been trying to prepare myself for the feast of Pentecost. Yet, everything I tried didn’t quite click. Finally, I turned to God and asked Him to lay upon my heart that which I should focus on.

          I went on to spend a happy Pentecost Vigil day touching the soul of God through an assortment of household chores which kept me busy and happy, yet undistracted.

          Through them all, in my heart I prayed St. Augustine’s prayer,

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

          Later that day, still confident that God would speak, as I read on a multitude of topics, I continued to ask Him to lay His word on my heart.

          I felt a shifting in the air. Many things did pass before my eyes, but my spirit could hold on to nothing.

          As I waited for sleep to claim me on the Vigil night, I sang in my heart an old Holy Spirit hymn that an Irish nun had taught me as a child.

Come, Holy Spirit, we need you,

Come Sweet Spirit, we pray,

Come with Your strength and Your power,

Come in Your own gentle way.

          On the morning of Pentecost, an unexpected word was waiting for me.

River

And with it, an old post from Good Friday last year, They Have Returned.

          I slept well but was awakened close to six in the morning by a dream.

          I was outside a building. I had the feeling that there was water nearby, that it was a waterfront building. There were cars. I saw one, a humble, old car, a muslim father and kids inside. The kids were slightly impatient. I heard the father calmly tell the children to be patient a while longer. I sensed he and others were waiting for something or someone. I interiorly knew that the mother, a muslim too,  had gone inside that waterfront building

          Then, I too was inside that building. A priest was just ending the celebration of Mass. For some reason, I went up to the altar, to the right of it. Behind the altar,  the doors of the building opened out to a huge, huge, flowing river. A golden river. The waters seemed to be even higher than the building I was in. 

          Suddenly, the moment the Mass ended, a great mist rose from the golden river and began to swirl around. There was something so deeply beautiful in that mist that the congregation collectively gasped at its beauty.

          But I didn’t have time to immerse myself in its beauty – for I saw something the others had not seen yet.

That it was not mist.

It was children! Little children! Hundreds of them!

          These children were alighting from a sort of river bus. Each one had a photo. I knew immediately that the little ones had come from heaven. And that they were going to be ‘matched’ to the person in the photo that each clutched.

          In such a crowd of busy, silent children, it should have been impossible, but I immediately saw the one I sought. I rushed towards him and hugged him tightly as I sobbed and sobbed. All around me, the rest of the congregation at Mass, all of them parents too, surged forwards towards their children in tearful joy.

          In that piercing dream, I was shown the two children I had lost through miscarriage long years ago. I had always strongly suspected that I had miscarried our first baby but because it had happened so soon, before I even had time to test myself, I could never be sure.

          Yet, my heart mourned and I mourned for a boy, though I didn’t know why.

          Then, after our eldest was born, a year later, I had a miscarriage at 2 months, but came to know only at the fourth month mark. We grieved very deeply over that loss and somehow, I always sensed it had been a girl.

          That Good Friday dream of 2018, years and years after these wounds to our hearts, confirmed what I had sensed all these years.

          Now with the word river laid on my heart, I realized something about little children was being shown to me. It was like a hidden bell tinkling in the mist, signaling that something lies ahead.

          Something to do with children. A miracle.

          Something not just for Christians but for all.

          The following day, on the Feast day of Mary, Mother of the Church, God placed on my heart a sick baby and his brave mother. Too far away to offer any physical help, I decided to pray a special anointing prayer for them for the rest of June, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil I had. I asked for a miracle.

          As I traced the sign of the Cross on my forehead in proxy for the mother and wee son, I sensed my spirit quieten even more.

          Later, tuckered out from a busy day of home chores, I went to lie down for a short nap. I had been on a short break and it was my last day of respite from work. I would be returning to work the next day, returning to all the old and mottled lanes.

          But something had changed. I no longer resented the call of work. While I wasn’t looking forwards to it, I did not fear it as I had before. My impending return didn’t dry out my spirit or rent my heart. Instead, a strange ray of hope had begun to shine through.

          My heart plunged into thanksgiving for the beautiful break. Over and over and over, I gave God my grateful heart, humbled at how happy He had made me with little gifts tucked into each day. As each passing hour took me closer and closer to a world I still wished I was not a part of, suddenly nothing mattered now except my song of thanksgiving.

           A short while later, I awakened. Going to my window, I looked up at the sky.

          And I gasped.

          Before me was a massive, massive rainbow, stunning beyond words, its colours so vibrant and vivid. Only once before, broken and in near despair, had I seen a rainbow as beautiful as this. That day, God had strongly spoken His word of hope to me. Upon hearing it, my weakened spirit had immediately revived.

         Now, seeing this gorgeous gift from heaven, right outside my window, unbelievably huge, majestic in its presence, its colours pulsing with life, I rushed out of the house, into my garden to gaze at the bow in the sky, unhindered.

          Standing in stunned, joyful silence, I breathed in its luminous beauty.

          Golden river. Returning children. Feast of Mary the Mother of the Church.

          The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise   ~   Jeremiah 33: 14

 

 

 

 

Empower Me

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Nobody knows how weak I am, better than You
Nobody sees all of my needs, better than You
And nobody has the power to change me, from what I was born to be
Jesus be strong in my weakness
Empower me

Chorus:
Empower me, like a rushing river flowing to the sea
Lord, send Your Holy Spirit flowing now through me
Till I’m living as Your child, victorious and free
Send the power of Your love
Empower me

Nobody’s eyes see through my soul, better than Yours
Nobody’s love can make me whole, no one but Yours
And nobody has the power to lift me, to reach for eternity
Jesus break through all my defences
Empower me

 

          I hadn’t heard a hymn in my inner ear for so long. Then, this morning, before I awoke, a voice I did not recognize sang the opening lines of the chorus to this hymn, before trailing off and leaving me to follow, unfurling line after line.

          Empower me, like a rushing river flowing to the sea
Lord, send Your Holy Spirit flowing now through me
Till I’m living as Your child, victorious and free
Send the power of Your love
Empower me

 

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Change

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          On the second day of my Holy Spirit Rosary, I had intended to pray and meditate on the Second Sorrowful mystery – Jesus’ Scourging at the Pillar. But try as I might, I just couldn’t anchor my heart in it. Instead, I felt strongly drawn to the first and second Glorious Mysteries – The Resurrection and The Ascension. As I prayed those mysteries instead, I felt myself sink into them. There I stayed, waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak.

          All was still.

          After some minutes of forcing myself to be still, I began what I always do – digging. I scratched and dug into the earth of those Mysteries, seeking a reply that obstinately clung to secrecy.

          Of course, one doesn’t order the Holy Spirit around. So, I got nothing for my efforts.

          After waiting some more and not hearing anything, I rose to go to my day. That was when I felt a slight prick.

Change.

          Death to life in the Resurrection. Earth to heaven in the Ascension. Yes, that was change. But what did it mean for me? I was impatient to know.

          When no answer was forthcoming, I became suspicious. I doubted that it was the Holy Spirit. ‘Change’ was rather obvious. I expected to be hit on the head, caught by the heart, that sort of thing. Not though by something as unsurprising and as mundane as… change. It must have been me. Again. Just me.

          But change was like a dog that had just found its beloved master – it followed me everywhere, all through the rush and inert heat of the next day. I dismissed it as being akin to an irritating, inane lyric of a song that plays on and on in your mind.

          Yet, from time to time, I sneaked glances at the 2 Mysteries, wondering if they held a secret not yet divined to me. Change. What change? Was I being asked to change? If so, what was the connection between this and the 2 Glorious Mysteries?

          Then, I recalled reading somewhere, Christian faith is to believe in the Resurrection.

Resurrection. Ascension. The afterlife. That hope doesn’t end with death.

          I still couldn’t connect it to change, not in a deeper way that would point to it being from the Spirit for me.

          A long and draining day came to an end and I drove home in relief. Some of my children had been away with my husband for much of the week. I had missed them. They would be returning later in the night and the other kids and I were looking forwards to having our beloveds close to us again.

          In the midst of that anticipation, came a sharp sting, shot straight out of a selfish heart. It caught me square in the middle. Someone wanted me to choose between my family and her demands. I chose my family and of course, there was a price to pay. In a flash, she fired two darts at me. With the snap of a winter twig, flames shot out of my own heart at this unfairness.

          So much for the peace and gentleness that had come into me heart; I hadn’t moved on from anything. I was just who I’ve always been and always will be, dry kindling just waiting for the lick of the tiniest flame.

          Suddenly, a mist rose up inside me. Something within me began to fight back to hold on to the peace in me. As I battled my anger and myself, I suddenly understood what change of the Resurrection and the Ascension meant:

          If I truly believed in the Resurrection and in the Ascension, then I had to live that belief by changing. Change had to come before anything else.

          I made my next choice easily. I chose change. I chose to move from anger to forgiveness. From anger to mercy. From revenge to leaving it in Jesus’ heart.

          But it was incredibly hard to remain in this change. Old habits don’t go easily into the night. I fought and fought the whole length of night. Even when I awakened in the hush of a new morn blessed by the embrace of rain, remnants of anger still mottled my heart.

          I battled on. Over and over, I went to the edge, then drew back. I searched my memory for a battle prayer and found one,

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

Have mercy on me,

Have mercy on her.

          Have mercy on her because this was a woman caught by the lure of money. What she said to me was all due this blindness in her mind and heart, caused by the enticement of easy money.

          It was so much easier to dislike her, to remember what she had previously done to me and to fight a battle from the angle of a victim. But something had taken over me now; it was as if God was directing my heart, No, this has to be fought differently.

          Although she had hurt me, I had to change tactics and fight for us both.

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

Have mercy on me,

Have mercy on her.

          I said that prayer all the way to work. Many times, I caught myself planning what to say to her if she confronted me. Each time, I ran and placed my plans in Jesus’ heart, Not my will but Thine be done. All I did ask of God was that He gift me with silence because my tongue was always my greatest undoing.

          It was late morning when she came to me, with tears in her eyes and a gentle hand on my arm, admitting her selfishness in what she had asked of me, in her unspoken words, an apology of sorts.

          Just like that, everything was over.

          I learned the lesson so many have learned long before. That in a hurting, there are always two victims – the wounded and the wound-er. In my life, I’ve mostly battled as a victim.

          It’s now time to change, to accept  and conquer my Everest of struggles – that from now on, I fight myself by fighting for my wound-er.

 

 

 

Fire

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          I had become aware that I had been mentally and emotionally feeling the heat of a burning for the past two weeks. The fire of loss of a (destructive) friendship I have come to cherish (unfortunately). The fire of loss of hope in the workplace environment. And a few other little  fires burning here and there on the landscape of my spirit.

          I lamented these fires, sought heaven’s help to put them out. These were almost all old fires, and I had wearied of them. Most of all, I was tired of being who I was, someone in a near constant burn, always burning up in secret over something.

          And when I finally fell at God’s feet for mercy, asking for the respite of Joy for my burning, He told me,

Rise!

          A day later, when I had quietened myself somewhat, He continued,

Arise!  Shine!

          I saw it as a call to obedience, as a call to work. So, with the help of dear~heart friends who answered the Spirit’s summons to help me understand, I tried the live the new hours differently. I did not seek joy although I burned for it; instead, I sought His will in loving and caring for my family. I sought His will at my workplace in willfully searching out silence. Because in all of these abodes of quietness and simplicity and silence, lay the call to obedience, from which joy would flow.

          If I could just hold on long enough, that is.

          So, I took myself back to the vineyard again. But instead of the inner assurance I thought would come, I sensed that my spirit doors remained open.

          Late, late at night, when the moon~scented hours seemed to have nothing more for me, unseen hands turned my eyes towards a piercing teaching about Fire.

          “A Father of the Church, Origen, in one of his Homilies on Jeremiah, cites a saying attributed to Jesus, not contained in the sacred Scriptures but perhaps authentic, which reads: “Whoever is near to me, is near to the fire” (Homily on Jeremiah, L. I [III]). In Christ, in fact, there is the fullness of God, who in the Bible is compared to fire. We just observed that the flame of the Holy Spirit blazes but does not burn. And nevertheless it enacts a transformation, and thus must also consume something in man, the waste that corrupts him and hinders his relations with God and neighbour.

          This effect of the divine fire, however, frightens us; we are afraid of being “scorched” and prefer to stay just as we are. This is because our life is often based on the logic of having, of possessing and not the logic of self-gift. Many people believe in God and admire the person of Jesus Christ, but when they are asked to lose something of themselves, then they retreat; they are afraid of the demands of faith. There is the fear of giving up something pleasant to which we are attached; the fear that following Christ deprives us of freedom, of certain experiences, of a part of ourselves.

          On the one hand, we want to be with Jesus, follow him closely, and, on the other, we are afraid of the consequences entailed.

          Dear brothers and sisters, we are always in need of hearing the Lord Jesus tell us what He often repeated to His friends: “Be not afraid”. Like Simon Peter and the others we must allow His presence and His grace to transform our heart, which is always subject to human weakness. We must know how to recognize that losing something indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and of life is actually gaining ourselves, finding ourselves more fully.

          Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus already experiences in this life the peace and joy of heart that the world cannot give, and that it cannot even take away once God has given it to us.

          So it is worthwhile to let ourselves be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit! The suffering that it causes us is necessary for our transformation. It is the reality of the Cross. It is not without reason that in the language of Jesus, “fire” is above all a representation of the mystery of the Cross, without which Christianity does not exist.

          Thus enlightened and comforted by these words of life, let us lift up our invocation: Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of Your love! We know that this is a bold prayer, with which we ask to be touched by God’s flame; but above all we know that this Flame and It alone has the power to save us.

          We do not want, in defending our life, to lose eternal life that God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems. Amen.”   ~   Pope Benedict XVI

 

          Like so many, I too wanted to be enveloped by the miracle and joy of Pentecost. Pentecost was fire, yes, but for me it meant the fire of inner light and jump and spring, the fire-power of special wisdom and vigour that I needed so badly to carry my Crosses.

          Not once did I associate it with a hidden burning away of my old self.

          In the dark of the quiet hours, I finally understood the fire I was sensing.