MERCY

Be Ever My Friend

 

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For the victims of the Manchester bombing and their families, May 22 2017;

for victims of terrorism everywhere, the world over.

 

Swift through the world

You went a-flying,

Dearest Jacinta,

In deepest suffering

Jesus loving.

Forget not my plea

And prayer to you:

Be ever my friend

Before the throne

Of the Virgin Mary,

Lily of candour,

Shining pearl,

Up there in heaven

You live in glory,

Seraphim of love,

With your little brother

At the Master’s feet

Pray for me.            ~ The late Sr. Lucia Dos Santos, Fatima Seer.

 

 

Lent 14 ~ Sigh of the Prisoner

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You,

with Your great power free those doomed to death. ~ Psalm 79:11

          Last year, I wrote of one of my superiors at work who has the unfortunate disposition of crushing hearts and spirits. He doesn’t do it unknowingly; he does it with cruel and calculated intent.

          I’ve been his target for the past 12 years. One day last year, he broke me finally.

          Deeply hurt, I turned to God.

          And the God I turned to turned me decidedly towards praying in mercy for this man. No retribution plea He allowed. No arm about me, no flooding of heavenly comfort into my heart either.

          The balm for my pain lay in the mercy prayer for this man’s soul.

          And so, I prayed. Of course, it didn’t come easy. Revenge can be as strong a manacle of my heart as it is for this man who hurt me. The only difference is I seldom act on it. But revenge maintained a malevolent vigil even as I forced myself to pray that this man be saved.

          I was taken through several prayers as I went from one level of healing to the next. When I first began, it was a simple yet powerful, Blood of Christ on him, Blood of Christ on me. The angels tinkled the prayer chimes every time I saw him at work. Every time he entered my thoughts. I said the prayer when my heart softened from time to time. I said it when my heart hardened in anger every time bitter memories won out.

          And after a time, I was led to the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. By this time, there was no more inner struggle to pray for him. I didn’t have to be dragged to the prayer. I said it with some dedication too.

          And whenever I slipped in my routine, God sent me dreams of the man and his power to hurt, He allowed little nips at work too – to take me scurrying back to the Cradle of Grace, seeking life for the man.

          I have read to some extent of the immense power of prayer. It can work in ways we least expect.

          Great imagination that I have, it failed me with regards to this man. Despite all my reading and experiences on the miracles prayers can obtain, I couldn’t fathom how my puny prayers this time were going to save his soul – because he barely changed. I finally reached the point where I stopped caring about where my prayers for this man were headed, and how they were going to be answered. I was called to say them, and I did.

          I placed whatever disappointment I had in the lack of signs of conversion, in Mother Mary’s heart. And while I continued to pray for him, in this way, I moved on too.

          Then, one day at Mass, through one of the readings, I heard a voice tell me that this man could not change because the dark pride in him went back a long way; his bloodlines had been contaminated from a long time before.

          I was stupefied. What did it mean? After all my effort, this??!! God let me puzzle over this for many long weeks.

          And then, a tiny bud began to bloom. An Unseen Heart gently drew me to the Prayer of the Holy Wounds. For a reason I have no explanation for, two weeks ago, I began to determinedly place this man in Jesus’ Holy Wounds. I put him and four others in Christ’s sacred Wounds, I imagined them there, deep within, and prayed for the Blood of Christ to flood them all, cleansing every bloodline, helping each one to love God more than themselves.

          Every day, I offered that same Prayer of the Holy Wounds at the start of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Each time I prayed it, the prayer became a little less about me, and more about saving him.

          Then, at the beginning of the new week, these lines of the Responsorial Psalm caught my heart ~

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.

          At any other time, reading those words would have made me immediately see myself as that Prisoner, because I have too much of mercy for myself.

          But this time, this time was different.

          The moment I saw the words, I saw my superior’s face.

          I knew then that while I only saw him as a sneak and a bully and all things negative and unpleasant before this, in God’s compassionate gaze, this man was a prisoner.

          And by extension of that, if I held on to my negative perception of my superior – however justified it was, but without the compassion of mercy and forgiveness, – then, I was being his jailer.

          Slowly, ever so slowly, the flower of comprehension began to bloom more petals. The Prayer of the Holy Wounds was as much for me as it was for that unfortunate man.  Christ’s Sacred Wounds had freed me from being the jailer of this soul. 

          And I now know with a deep certainty that my Jesus’ Wounds will now free this man’s soul.

          As often, as deeply  and as selflessly as I continue to place this man into the Holy Wounds, this prisoner will be freed to begin to seek the only God there is.

          And the conversion will begin.

Cross the Jordan

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          Years ago, plumbing the depths of desolation, I heard these words in an insistent whisper,

Cross the Jordan

And you will find rest.

          I almost wept in frustration. I couldn’t even put one foot in front of me in hope, what more swim across a biblical river.

          But unseen souls wouldn’t give up on me. On and on, over and over, through weeps and struggles, stumbles and falls, the holy wraiths urged me  forwards,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Grave after grave, farewell after farewell, one loss after another. And I’d struggle to my feet for the sake of my husband and children, for the sake of those at work who depended upon me. I walked blind, unable to sense or feel anything but the tearing sorrow of dashed hopes and dreams.

          I fell more than walked.

          I knocked at doors as I stumbled, begging mercy, respite from the wrench of pain. Many doors closed. Many never even opened. Get over it, move on, they said from their seats of comfort and triumph behind the lock. But some doors were thrown open. The most wounded of all reached out to me, fed me, nourished me and with love, set me on my way, for the journey could not end then. And long after I had crested the hill, they remained in watch at their doors, willing me on, despite their own bleeding.

          Great has been the distance covered since I began this weave through the most bitter of valleys. Yet, not one step could I have managed without the love of other wounded hearts that chose not to hide in hollows of pity. What I was fed with, they gave from their pain, they gave despite their bleeding, many wounds unhealed. They didn’t wait to reach their rest to put out their hand to me. My angel~saviours, both of this world and the next, seen and unseen, known and stranger alike, never once left my side, never ceased their whisper, willing me the life-giving hope I didn’t have.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          With that chorus in my ears, I have made it this far. At the end of this week, a Light awaits in the dark. Waiting to touch  and bathe me in welcome. But I do not want to fall into Messiah Luminescence by myself. I want this welcome to bathe one and all, every seeking soul.

          And so, to every pilgrim soul lost in the grey and in the dark, I shine you this light that was lit for me from the love of countless others,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Do not stop now, do not give up. Do not let bitterness win. Hard as it is, the road we stumble along is not as lonely and as empty as it seems. Many hearts travel the same routes unseen, brokenness a common coat shared in the freeze of loss. Even when all hope is gone, even when all has been taken away, especially when there is absolutely nothing left in our jar of oil, Jesus fills it with His own grace.

Yet, it is a grace not always felt. It is a hope not always sensed. It is a light not always seen.

          But it is a life~grace born of the most bitter of Crosses. It is a grace born of One who chose to Love despite the dark, One who chose life through death so that He may pour His grace into all of us, wounded seekers of life eternal. Our Messiah’s grace poured into us at our most empty, stands at ready to light the strength we need to not stop now, to not give up, but to cross the roughest Jordans of our life, to reach the rest Jesus has ready for us.

          Come now, beloved brethren, Christmas is almost here.

Don’t stop now,

Don’t give up.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

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To those who bound my wounds and fed me,

Always, always in my heart,

Sue Shanahan, https://commonplacegrace.com/

Carlos Caso-Rosendi, https://casorosendi.wordpress.com/

Susan Skinner, https://veilofveronica.wordpress.com/

Nancy Shuman, http://www.thebreadboxletters.com/

Veronica Jarski, https://theinvisiblescar.wordpress.com/

God’s Child

Merry Christmas

Water for the Shells

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          It is time for angels.

          Yesterday, I began to do what a nun at church told me after Mass two weeks ago: When you pray for someone, send them angels, she said. I am not accustomed to praying this way although I know many do so. But I thought it was time I signed up too. I’m in another emptying inside. No matter how deep I dig into my inner wells, there’s very little water to be found. Yet, I can feel that I am being fed. Nourished. Strengthened. Guided.

          I am not wilting from the inner drought.

          So, there is water nearby.

          A mysterious flow of dew I cannot lay claim to in any way because I can sense that its source has no roots in my efforts – not in my sacrifices, not in my prayers, not in the ruts and tangles navigated so far.

          What water is this?

         In my mind, I turn over what little I know of water. This year, I discovered two founts of this Water. The Tears of the Holy Mother. Water from the Heart of Jesus. Two founts, yet one and the same. I have yet to fully comprehend their import, but I have already tasted their power for others I have immersed in them. During Lent this year, I felt the call to immerse lost and dying souls in the Springs of Lourdes. When I pondered the source of the miracle springs, a sign was given and I was made to understand that the Lourdes Water was the Tears of the Holy Mother.

          Then, came the learning of the piercing of the Crucified Jesus. An act of cruel, earthly mercy that gushed forth a New, unblemished mercy~water, blessed in the Blood of sacred Sacrifice.

          And in recent days, a hand took mine and led me to the apparitions of Banneaux, and to the words, Plunge your hands into the water. This spring is reserved for me. I am the Virgin of the Poor.

          And now, although a mere puddle wets the floor of my spirit shell, everything I do is being wet by a hidden stream.

          How else can I explain the lightness of step and the skip of joy in my heart when I cannot feel the beauty of the world around me? When rainstorms, sunsets and sunrises in all their natural glory~beauty fall upon my deadened senses and fail to wake them, yet I am happy and focused? Where are the words for when my prayer efforts are facing its newest and strangest struggle yet – every single prayer I start evaporates at the very first words – but I am at peace within?

          I have never before been empty inside yet walking on light. Every previous emptiness or emptying has torn me up, frightened me, driven me to a madness of desperation.

          But not this time.

          There is a drought within, but no wilting. When my eyes trace the efforts of the week, I see them glisten with a dew.

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          There is Water somewhere. Someone is watering my spirit. And I wish this for others as well. To share this Water of Life. There are droughts in places when the wells have run dry. There are places where the well-springs of the soul have been tainted and poisoned, and multitudes drink from them. And there are other inner wells, far from empty, but which need to be filled in order to spill into seeking souls.

          This Water is much needed. So, I send out what has been given to me. I pray this Water into other lives. I pray what scraps of prayer I can, and I ask the angels to fill the waiting shells.

The Tears of the Mother.

The Spring of Banneaux.

Water from the Heart of Jesus.

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Tumbling Rosebuds

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          It’s one of those days here, when the sun hides like a sulking child behind clouds so low, the sky has all but disappeared. I’ve never liked such days, when the sun, and even the winds seem to scowl, dripping its discontent into my heart. It’s a day when I cannot feel the prayers I say. Every word out of me seems empty, withered and forced. I struggle to concentrate to mean the words.

          I’m tempted to cope with the dry rustling within by breaking from prayer, when I remember the Los Lobos’ song, How Far Is Heaven?, gifted to me by a commenter close to my heart. Thinking of the lyrics, I fleetingly sense spirits I cannot see, in pain, and asking for comfort.

          In a pearl drop moment, I decide to leave the day to work out its mood for I have work to do. I bring forth a soft, old rose I love but keep hidden within me, and hold it before God. I shakily thank Him for the rose and its wounding thorns. I don’t know why I do this, just that the time for it has come.

          Then, I ask my God what He wills of me.

          In a silver whisper comes Heaven’s answer, r5  Tumble rosebuds.

          And so I begin. Through the dry weave of daily mundanes. Not an offering of an entire Rose~wreath, but tumbling a rosebud of a Hail Mary, into every tear the angels bring.

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An Un-vesting

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          Early this week, my superiors informed us that we would all be subjected to a new performance evaluation. ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ work performance had been redefined to suit the times. Basically, those who trumpeted their efforts the loudest, regardless of what those efforts were, stood to gain everything. Those who worked quietly and in obscurity would have their efforts remain unrecognized and unrewarded – unless they converted to the times, and burnished everything in the fool’s gold of egoism and vanity.

          What you actually did no longer mattered. How you elevated and promoted yourself was to be the new compliance test.

          Stunned, I saw almost everything crumble before me. Like everyone else, I wanted my work to be appreciated. I wanted it to be recognized for the good it truly brought. But I shrank away from the turgidity of the platform upon which I was called to promote my work. I could not understand why the sacredness of sincere toil needed to be dolled up to be admissible for scrutiny. I could not understand why the fruits had to be sacrificed so garishness of the self might shine.

          I had a basket of simple wildflowers no one wanted. They were not fit for adornment for the times we were in.

          Everything dear and sacred to me, every struggle faced alone, one by one, peeled off and cast aside contemptuously by a world beholden to the luridness of the times. Day after sad day, one petal after another, plucked and left to flutter to the ground, deemed not worthy to be lifted by the breeze of authority.

          It was in the bitter hours of those thorn-wreathed days that I felt this word written on my heart ~ un-vesting. Over and over, I felt it pressed gently upon my spirit. Like someone unseen was willing me to see the negation of my work through the lens of heaven. To suffer it without the stain of mutiny to render it a worthy offering ~ atonement for sins – mine and others.

          Despite the gentle entreating that I open the eyes of my spirit, I kept turning away. Too much of me was bound too tightly to my work efforts. A rejection of it was a rejection of me. To cast it aside was to toss me aside too. And I took it none too meekly. Storm after storm beat a hymn of keening within me, lamenting all that I was now to lose for choosing to stand with my Lord.

          On the dawn of the 13th, on the 99th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition of the 13th of May 1917, I wearily prayed the Act of Consecration of the family to Our Lady of Fatima. I surrendered each one to my Mother. At the end of it, I remained at the shores of the prayer for a while. Then, I wearily reached deep into me and untied the moorings that had hitherto bound work efforts -my simple wildflowers – to my heart. I placed the tiny blooms of all I have done, each one, into my Mother’s hands, and stepped back into the busyness of the day, emptied but sad.

          Within an hour, a vine of tiny miracles began to unfold through my work day. I laughed with a giddy abandon and tickled dour others to mirth as well. I found myself tending to my duties with a skip and lilt of spirit lost to me in the days past.

          Surprised at the sudden change, I put my joy to the test: I recalled my losses.

          The joy remained, anchored in the serenity of a spirit freed from burdens by an un-vesting willed by Heaven. I still saw my losses. I know what has been done to me and others is wrong. But the sting was gone.

          The un-vesting called me to meekness this week, and late though I was to answer that call, the flood of joy I experienced was His Mercy~gift to me on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

          To tell me my wildflowers, rejected by the world of the times, had its place in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

LENT 22 ~ Mercy in the Mind

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By Josephine Wall

During mental prayer, it is well, at times, to imagine that many insults and injuries are being heaped upon us, that misfortunes have befallen us, and then strive to train our heart to bear and forgive these things patiently, in imitation of our Saviour. This is the way to acquire a strong spirit. ~ St. Philip Neri

I never ever expected to read such a quote on prayer. Some of us are gifted with a fertile imagination that often wounds and maims charity in our souls more than reality itself. When these powerful imaginations play out in technicolour detail future situations we might encounter, St Philip’s words offer a splendid way to track out the venom of our imaginings and replace it with the dew of mercy.

Thus, a potential for more pain is transformed by mercy into the sweet incense of prayer.

LENT 14 ~ The Press of Water

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Photo credit ~ James Fahy

          The week before Lent began, I had a dream about a coming water. A violent rush of taint and filth. People in another part of the town heard of its impending arrival, and they made haste to flee. Flee , they told me too. But I refused.

          For hours later, I pondered the dream. Dismiss or delve deeper? I sought the counsel of the Discerner of Dreams, St Joseph.

Then, it came :

PREPARE

 A week later, after night Rosary, a deepening of meaning :

A coming cleansing to pave the way for a Promised Land on earth.

          Some days into Lent, came the call to immerse lost and dying souls into the waters of Lourdes, and later I was given to understand that the waters of Lourdes were the Tears of the Holy Mother.

A pretty deep press of water into my soul this Lent thus far. Then, they knitted together:

Prepare for a coming cleansing by immersing lost and dying souls in the Tears of the Heavenly Mother.

SEEKING SILENCE

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          In the noise and distractions of the past weeks, someone has slipped in quietly. He has found his nook, made his home in the silence he calls a friend. Called to a duty he knows well. Watching. Praying. Waiting for me to turn my back resolutely on the chatter that disturbs.

          Waiting to take my hand to navigate the coming twists of path the lie ahead.

          I think about him, and the little I know. My memory traces the stories of old. His immense love for those placed in his heart. His determined protection of the vulnerable. He was a man blessed with an unexpected and special fatherhood. Tenderly guided by the voice of an angel, he immediately embraced the sacredness of the calling. I never knew a father like that, but thankfully, my children have such a daddy – one who has cradled and loved and nurtured them, just like the father of his Lord did before him. Having seen my husband give his heart and soul to our children, loving them even in his pain, I know that the biblical narratives about the silent and resolute heroism of the Holy Spouse of Mary are goldpearls of truth; such a father did, and does exist.

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          They call him the Silent Saint. Often, his is a ministry of love beribboned in quietness. Whether it is to build a staircase for nuns, or to help the desperate find employment or shelter, he finds little need of words, but in love, sets to work on the task to ease the ache of need. I think of the noise that surrounds me, and which makes itself king over my waking hours. I think of my own contribution to the babel, every frivolous word uttered, every shuddering hyena-cackle, and I wonder if those minutes could not have been put to better use, for every second of every minute, someone is in a pain we can help to alleviate. I know I am not called to perpetual solemnness or sepulchral tones. But, what if, just a couple of times, I could have retreated from empty mirth, and gone instead to a place of need, and prayed for a soul not known to me? How hard could that have been? St Faustina once prayed for the grace of interior and exterior silence, so Jesus may have a place to rest His head. My prayer these days is that I too know the grace of interior and exterior silence so I remember to press aching souls into St Joseph’s heart. I will need the gift of silence to discern silent pain and need, and he knows how necessary that is because he truly lived that call on earth. In a world where the currency of empty speech is gaining value and respect, he has led the way first to show us the power and value of silence, and that it has its place of worth in every pilgrim soul.

          I believe it was in the carefully cultivated silence of this saint’s soul, that the angel made his visitations. And it was in this blessed and holy quiet that this gentle man pondered the message of the dreams, and discerned his Master’s voice. As the world’s vain braying reaches a crescendo, and the clamour competes for my attention, I fear that I would no longer be able to hear the Shepherd’s gentle call. To tell it apart from other spikes of cacophony. To understand what He says, what I am called to do. 

          I sense an urgency to seek silence till it embraces me. I need silence to love, and to persevere to love  – whether through prayer or deed. I cannot care as much as I am called to if I am pulled in a hundred directions, lulled to the dangers of noise in my spirit, for this noise is the brittle grit that clogs up charity.

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          Now, more than ever, in the racket of worldly preoccupations and empty pursuits, I need the silence of St Joseph’s soul to know where the abyss of indifference lies, because I sometimes sense its open mouth lies much closer than I think.

 

 

Kumbaya

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          It’s been a few days of mildly unsettling dreams, devoid of a clear message. Confusion, mistakes, irrationality. I seem to be making a mess of things. But something’s missing. It doesn’t seem to herald caution. I don’t get a sense of a warning. The dreams continue. Day after day, yet, strangely, emptied of meaning. I finally turn to St Joseph. What do they mean?

          Immediately, I hear the strains of this old hymn ~

Kumbaya   ~   Come By Here

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

 

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Someone’s cryin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s cryin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s cryin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

 

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Someone’s prayin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s prayin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s prayin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

 

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Someone’s singin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s singin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s singin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

 

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Someone’s sleepin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s sleepin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s sleepin’ my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

 

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya

Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

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          The dreams. Kumbaya ~ Come By Here, Lord. Gently, St Joseph lifts the veil. The attacks have begun. Do not fear. Tend to the wounded.