JESUS

When Nothing Stands

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          Some days ago, looking over my day, I felt I hadn’t lived it as well as I should. Yet, it wasn’t enough that I saw my less-than-perfect reactions to situations; I wanted to feel its burn deep in my soul. I wanted to really feel remorse for any wrongdoing.

          And so I prayed for that.

          Instead, the answer I received from Jesus was,

Console Me.

O Jesus, Divine Saviour, deign to cast a look of mercy upon Your children, who assemble in the same spirit of faith, reparation, and love, and come to deplore their own infidelities, and those of all poor sinners, their brethren. May we touch Your Divine Heart by the unanimous and solemn promises we are about to make and obtain mercy for ourselves, for the world, and for all who are so unhappy as not to love you. We all promise that for the future:

For the forgetfulness and ingratitude of men, we will console You, O Lord.
For the way You are deserted in Your holy tabernacle, we will console You, O Lord.
For the crimes of sinners, we will console You, O Lord.
For the hatred of the impious, we will console You, O Lord.
For the blasphemies uttered against You, we will console You, O Lord.
For the sacrileges that profane Your Sacrament of Love, we will console You, O Lord.
For the outrages against Your divinity, we will console You, O Lord.
For the injuries of which You are the Adorable Victim, we will console You, O Lord.
For the coldness of the greater part of Your children, we will console You, O Lord.
For the contempt of Your loving invitation, we will console You, O Lord.
For the infidelity of those who called themselves your friends, we will console you, O Lord.
For the abuse of Your grace, we will console You, O Lord.
For our own unfaithfulness, we will console You, O Lord.
For the incomprehensible hardness of our hearts, we will console You, O Lord.
For our long delay in loving You, we will console You, O Lord.
For our tepidity in Your holy service, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your bitter sadness at the loss of souls, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your long waiting at the door of our hearts, we will console You, O Lord.
For the heartless scorn that grieves You, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your loving sighs, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your loving tears, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your loving imprisonment, we will console You, O Lord.
For Your loving death, we will console You, O Lord.

Let us pray: O Jesus!  Divine Savior, from whose Heart comes forth this bitter complaint, “I looked for one that would comfort Me, and I found none,” graciously accept the feeble consolation we offer You, and aid us so powerfully by Your grace, that we may, for the time to come, shun more and more all that can displease You, and prove ourselves in everything, and everywhere, and forever Your most faithful and devoted servants.  We ask it through Your Sacred Heart, O Lord, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, world without end.  Amen.

 

          Since that day Console Me returned, the Angel has led me to His tabernacle at the unlikeliest times. I use the word ‘led’ because I know it’s not me. Every time I awaken in the middle of sleep, I immediately remember, Console Me. When I have a few stolen minutes between tasks, in the sudden quiet that descends, Console Me instantly looms before my heart. This is improbable of me. And certainly not at a time like now when I come from work so tired I can barely think, when my head is so full, my hours too short.

          And yet, the second Console Me calls, everything that matters falls away, fading in a suddenness.

          In that instant, nothing of this earth stands.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Vigil Night

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Watch with me Jesus, in my loneliness:
Though others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Though others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
To-night of pain, to-morrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.   ~   Old and New Year Ditties, by Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

          In choosing these verses as my sign-off for the old year, I am keeping vigil with someone who is dying of cancer. It’s a miracle that he’s been able to see Christmas, but I wish there’d be more miracles. Everyone who knows him is already hailing him as a saint, even packing off petitions to him, for when he gets to heaven. They have made him their personal saint. Their personal postman, taking their mail to heaven.

         I can’t help but wonder if this adulation isolates him even more, in his seclusion of loneliness, aloneness and unimaginable grief at having to leave behind his wife and nine young children, one just a baby. Everyone is playing God, praising him for his spiritual preparedness. May it be as they praise this man loved by God. May this not sadden him, for the closer we are to the end, for some, we know it gets harder. The road narrows, the skies darken, silence deepens. People will speak but the dying one will not hear. The written word may no longer make sense.

          His eyes, ears and lips are closing against his will.

          Woe to us if we have added to a dying man’s sorrows.

          Watch with me, Jesus, is the prayer of all who keep silent vigil with this soul as he whispers his farewells. Amidst the tinkles of wine glasses, the laughter and glee, amidst the joy and love and hope, many hearts remember this brave man.

          In the deeps of our own joys, we withdraw from the banality of misplaced blythe.  We withdraw from the mob that assumes a dying man should rejoice as we place the crown of glory on him.

          In our hearts, in every corner of the world, rich and poor alike, keep vigil with a man who welcomes a year whose end he will likely not see.

For Mac, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 39 ~ Memories

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          Hours upon hours of stillness. A world frozen. A world in motion. One has ended, the other in a flow that barely paused. Voices filter through the bars, laughter even. Huddled in spots, people gather for the news, casting for details they might have missed. Mouth to ear, word by word, a story gets told.

          Almost forgotten is a mother, whose heart beats in the shadows of anguish. Surrounded, yet alone, travelling the length of remembers.

          Of a Baby She held to Her Heart, a life loved, a life lived, lit by lamps of a million memories. Thoughts and words, so many, many, tucked into each crease of times gone by. Old yet fresh, anguished yet tender, in its unveiling.

          Held again, this Mother Her mutilated Son, in farewell poignant, one last time. Released now as Light to the world.

          That life may live again.

LENT 35 ~ Jesus Fought My Battle

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          Yesterday, the Lord called me to a fast from anger.

          Never before have I felt such tenderness in a call. Never before have I found the firmness of will to obey. 

          The moment I sensed the call, there arose like mushrooms after the rain, endless pops of situations that tested my patience, and tempted me to anger. Seeing the end of Lent in sight, and not wanting to gift my Lord on Easter with the usual mess of red darts, I willfully chose to rest my heart and will in Jesus.

          And He fought my battles for me.

          I came to evening weary and listless from physical tiredness, but also with a relief that no one did I maim with my anger. Neither did it find a refuge within my soul in the sultry hours of yesterday.

          Because, for once, I fasted from myself and let my Jesus fight for me.

TRIUMPH OF THE HOLY CROSS ~ Sept 14

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Years ago, when my eyes first traced the words – Triumph of the Holy Cross, I naively imagined the coming feast would bring me joy and revelry. As it turned out, from that first year, every time I saw the feast approaching, I remembered all we had hoped for but ultimately lost. My heart ached every time I heard the proclamation that the Cross would bring joy and that it was a sign of hope.

To me, it brought neither.

Yet, I knew that the struggle to comprehend the true meaning of Christian joy was due to my experience of pain, and not a rebellion against the truth. My feelings were an impediment to the acceptance of the doctrine of the Cross. Although I instinctively knew it was true, I couldn’t see the truth of it manifested through what we had gone through. I didn’t doubt the truth of my cradle faith, but I hurt because I could not proclaim it in sincerity in my life. And I desperately wanted to not hurt because of it.

Every time, every year the feast made its way up my calendar, the eyes of my heart watched it in wary curiosity, willing God to lift the veil and let the truth shine through, so the pain would dissipate.

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This year, on an impulse, I made the sudden decision to mark the feast. I had had enough of waiting by the wings. I began to recite the Novena of the Exaltation of The Holy Cross. It was my way of telling God, I want to know. Lift the veil, Lord.

Some days into it, I heard a voice say, Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms. A fleeting voice. Light. Leaving no mark within me. No compulsion that I follow its leading. An invisible beckoning to part the veil, to go beyond the veil.

I chased after the voice. I called out and waited for its answering echo. I listened out for it, day and night, trying to make out its cadences from among the cacophony of other competing voices.

Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms.

I turned the phrase over and over in my mind. Many dear souls tried to help me fathom its meaning. But every honest suggestion bounced off me like silver raindrops sliding into the earth. Nothing stayed long enough to resonate.

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On the 14th of September, I sat in an empty and silent church and stared at my Lord on His Cross. It was not an easy journey to make to the church, so I wanted to make the most of it. I got busy offering Him my prayers and supplications. I looked carefully at the Cross and willed Him to speak to me. I waited. There was a peaceful quiet around me, but nothing more. After a time, I decided to leave.

As I moved to get up, I was suddenly assailed by a powerful sense of gratitude for His gift of faith to me. Thankfulness flooded my spirit like never before. I had long suspected that what bit of faith I had was not of my making, but a gift from above.

But up to then, I had never before felt such a deep conviction of that. In that moment of light in the church yesterday, I was bent over in a gratitude not mine for all God had blessed me with. It was something I knew all along, and yet, it seemed that some inner eye had been opened to the gift of spiritual insight.

As I finally made my way out of church, I felt an unseen burden lifted off my shoulders. I did not know what that burden was, but I felt light within.

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Stepping into the sunshine, ready to go forth with a spring in my step, I became aware of a sudden developing aridity in my soul. In a split second, I had moved from white to dark. It felt as if my soul was drying from the edges inwards. Nothing around me had changed. And yet, some darkness had slipped in. An unseen wind borne and strengthened on gusts of fear and panic began to howl silently inside me. From the positive emotions of a scant few minutes before, this sudden change was a storm I never saw coming.

I went into pretend mode. I tried to not panic. I carved a face of normalcy and went about my day, while the storm clawed at me on the inside. I tended to house chores and cooked dinner, all the while frantically trying to discern what I had done wrong to have visited this on myself. A hundred questions. No answers.

But I knew, like the faith I carried in my heart, this secret growing desert within my soul was not my doing. It had formed unbidden in me several times in the past. It was not unknown. It was a small moment in the desert Christ stayed in for forty days. It was the desert of hopelessness, doubt, sorrow of the loss of heaven. It was the desolation of the perceived closed door of heaven. No spiritual leadings in that desert in me. No voiceless prompts to charity and rightness. No comfort, no solace, no peace. The aridity was heaven’s door sealed to me so I would leave the comforts I had grown used to, to search anew for Truth.

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It was a journey I could never not make however much I despised it. And yet, I cowed in fear because it was a journey of the soul but without clearly sensing my Lord’s guiding Hand. It was a journey of obedience through bitter darkness and fear, not being able to see in front of me. This was a journey that called for only faith and obedience. And yet it seemed unsurmountable.

As the storm inside me crashed and raged in a widening circle of tempests, I grew more and more desperate. It reached a hideous peak.

Then, a prayer slipped into me. A prayer I have never before prayed.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Like the faith I had, like the dryness in me, this prayer too was not my doing.

But I grasped it like one drowning. I didn’t question it. I didn’t analyse it. Over and over and over, I prayed the prayer, throwing myself in abandon into the depths of it.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

And the miracle began. I felt something take root and bloom within my soul.

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The black ice began to melt. The darkness edged away. The storm swirled slower and slower and slower.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

I didn’t know that prayer and but my spirit did. It was my Savior’s words from the Cross. He gave me His words and turned me to His mother to place my spirit, my will in Her hands.

Stunned, I realised whose voice it was that I had heard that day ~ Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms – it was Jesus’ voice.

And when I answered with a trusting beyond me, Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit, I stepped out of the darkness. I parted the veil.

In that instant, I knew the Triumph of the Cross.