MERCY

Lent 30 ~ You Called Me Senõra

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I remember a mother with young children, whose husband had left her. she did not have a steady job and only found temporary jobs a couple of months out of the year. When there was no work, she had to prostitute herself to provide her children with food. She was humble, she came to the parish church and we tried to help her… I remember one day – it was during the Christmas holidays – she came with the children… and asked for me… She had come to thank me. I thought it was for the packet of food from Caritas that we had sent to her. “Did you receive it?” I asked. “Yes, yes, thank you for that, too. But I came here today to thank you because you never stopped calling me Senõra.”   ~   Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy

 

 

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Lent 26 ~ Immerse

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         Two days ago, when I had very little genuine and unforced compassion and charity for my superiors and co-workers, I asked God the question, How long more till the promised help comes?

          God answered me early the next day with, God will help it at the break of dawn   ~   Psalm 46: 6.

          While it gave me deep consolation, it didn’t tell me how I was to bridge the gap between the now and the fulfilment. So, assuming this ‘how’ was hidden in the petals of a bloom I had once known, I returned to prayers I had prayed in the past.

          Then, a small hand pushed a wreath of words towards me. Words I had read, believed and prayed as a prayer 3 years ago.

Today bring to Me ALL MANKIND, ESPECIALLY ALL SINNERS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.   ~   Chaplet of the Divine Mercy novena, 1st day.

          The words immerse and console pulsed strong. I had been firmly drawn to consoling Jesus through my recent night and early morn offerings of, I seal my heart in Your Tabernacle. Now, in a deeper way, I understood that it was not me; it had been Jesus drawing me closer to Him through that prayer – leading me to the next prayer:

Immerse souls in the sea of my Mercy.

          Later that day, through another person’s sharing of a troubling experience with nightmare neighbours, yet again, Jesus deepened the lesson that the never ending duels with my superiors and co-workers had a purpose:

Only through suffering would I be hurt enough to cry to heaven.

Moreover, I had to cry to heaven not just for myself, but for those oppressors as well.

And the prayer for my oppressors now was to be,

I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          I stepped back from the call of life to meditate on this development. I realized it was no random prayer. I had journeyed to this point from the very early days of this Lent when God told me this was to be a Lent to console Jesus through the fasting for oppressors. I had discerned and obeyed as best as I could and that took me to the next stop and the next prayer for oppressors,

Replace his blood with Yours

          And now, after that, after whatever offerings of sacrifice and obedience of worth, I had come to,

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          Each time, the darts of anger pierced my heart, I prayed,

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          Every time they annoyed me. Every time I observed my oppressors desecrate whatever was good and pure and blessed. Every time I felt that I could not go on another day in this hell.

          Then, my husband shared his sufferings with me. And it was the same  wounding too.

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          And also with our children.

          Each and every time the spirit moves me, I pray that prayer. Through the day. Each awakening in the night. In hope. In brokenness. When I can. When I cannot. When I don’t want to.

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 24 ~ House of my Heart

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Act of Humility

from the Small Roman Missal

O GOD of sanctity! Who am I, that Thou shouldst come to me?

“The heavens are not pure in Thy sight,” and wilt Thou dwell in my heart?

“Lord! I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof.”

The consciousness of my unworthiness would prompt me to exclaim: “Depart from me, O Lord! For I am a sinner.”

But oh, the wonderful condescension of Thy love! Thy pressing invitation encourages me, and dispels my fears.

Here I am, for Thou didst call me.” Come then, O Jesus! Take possession of a heart that wishes to belong to Thee.

“Behold! They that go far from Thee shall perish.

But, O my God! this house of my heart is too narrow for Thee: do Thou enlarge it;

it is falling to ruin; do Thou repair it;

it has been defiled by sin: do Thou cleanse and purify it.

Look Thou upon me, and have mercy on me. Oh, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee! Let Thy tender mercies come unto me, and I shall live!

 

Lord! I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof;

say but the word,

and my soul shall be healed.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Sacrifice of An Only Son

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          About two months back, a niece of ours got married to someone outside our faith. While this wasn’t the first time for our family, it was the first time my husband and I became upset over something like this.

          But we were more upset with the way our niece seemed to be forsaking her faith. We had been praying for her for some years and on her wedding day, while we attended the service, we did so with grieving hearts. There was little respect for God. Almost none for family. It hurt us to see this.

          But a worse hurt was in store for us that day. By the priest who had guided this couple. The one who had presided over the service.

          My husband and I had never before attended a Mass or service said by this priest. The night before, after the church wedding  rehearsal, we heard the first rumblings. We were warned of some of his ways and for the first time in our lives, we wanted to keep our kids away from Mass. His Mass.

          But this being a family event, we were caught. And so we went. And witnessed a Mass I thought we’d never see, said by a priest we never wanted to ever meet again.

          We were filled with shame and torn up in anger that such a man had become a priest, soiled the priesthood. It was worse seeing just how many looked lightly upon this priest’s ‘quirks’, not seeing the danger clothed by a smile and cheery demeanour. We had, up to this point, been blessed by beautiful priests in the various parishes my husband and I had belonged to from the time we were children. Priests who themselves suffered in secret, yet joyfully carried their crosses that they might bring Jesus to us. They edified us. Saved our marriage and family life even. Those were the priests we had known. 

          But not this one that shamed the calling of his priesthood.

          In the weeks that followed the wedding, my husband struggled with anger against that priest. I went back to my prayer routine. When I prayed for priests, it was mainly for those we loved, those who had been placed in my care and for the Pope. While I did pray for young children and the vulnerable to be protected from that particular priest, something about that prayer couldn’t live. Even as I tried to pray with more earnestness for this priest, I just couldn’t put my whole heart into it. When the call for laypeople to suffer reparation for the terrible wrongs of priests became louder and some of my friends began to take up that call, I did too. I could sense no impediment. My offering was for all priests, for all manner of wrongs and failings, for all priestly sufferings too.

          Then, a little bell began to be tinkled. In the weave of days and life that followed, I began to hear the words,

The Only Son.

The Only Son.

The Only Son.

          I didn’t really understand what it meant now, what I was meant to do with it.

          One day, after a dear priest had come and spent time with us at home, I happened to be reading about this beloved priest’s story of his calling to the priesthood. It was a long read on our archdiocese website.

          When I had finished, about to turn off, I saw the name of that other priest who had upset us in June. I couldn’t care two figs about his life story. I didn’t want to know anything about his calling or whatever it was.

          Then, I changed my mind. If the website contained information that pointed to a reason why he did and does what he did and does, I wanted to know. So, I began to read on him.

          Later that night, I went out alone with my husband. And I began to tell him a story. About a couple who had not been able to have children. Then came the day of happy news of a baby finally conceived. The joyous mother, knowing it would be her only child, asked God for two things:

That she be given a son.

That he become a priest.

          And then, she forgot about her asking.

          Many decades later, her son had become a successful professional. She knew he would marry soon and both parents, very old now, hoped to see grandchildren before they returned to God. But it was not to be. Unbeknownst to the devout old couple, their only child had taken an unexpected turn in his life journey. Drawn to a Sacred Heart church on a dark, windswept night, this man came face-to-face with God.

          And to the call of the priesthood.

          It shook both the old people. It upset them. It frightened them because they depended on him financially. They depended on him in many, many ways.

          He was after all their only son.

          But the call to holy obedience resounded in their aged hearts too and both parents went before God to discern His Will. That was when the mother recalled the old prayer from decades earlier. She had asked for a priest. Then, she forgot. But God didn’t.

          Months later, they humbly gave up their only child.

          It suddenly became very clear to me how I was to pray for this priest. Mary’s sacrifice of Her only Son was echoed once more in this life of this priest through the  selflessness and courage of a father and mother to not deny God their only son.

          It was a sacrifice of pain, of tears and yet, of joy too. Although it frightened them immensely, this old man and woman lived their faith and chose God in that supreme decision. No matter what his bent was, no matter what he had done, God made it clear that night that I was to pray with the clear, pure compassion of a mother to this priest.

          Because God wants no other prayer, except that of a mother who understands the sacrifice of an only son.

 

 

 

 

Trust in Me

          I’ve been in some physical suffering since the night before, but nothing could leach away the beauty of the day. Discomfort had prevented me from watching the dawn pearl tangerine~pink roses from its eastern breast, and when I had awakened from disrupted sleep, the sun was beaming cheerily from cloud-misted blue skies.

          Despite what the night had been, I knew it was going to be a special day.

          And it was.

          All through the lifts and dips of the high-spirited winds of the happy day, I felt a peace that settles deep. Despite the roughness of the week that was, despite the turmoil that awaits my land in the weeks to come, this beautiful peace feels like the wordless murmur of saints and angels sitting by our hearts unseen, comforting us in our struggles.

          The Church … was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.   ~   Acts 9:31

          I think of the various pearls that met my heart in the past week.

The time of Mercy is meeting the time of Judgement

A shifting

Trust in Me.

          Even in all the turmoil and confusion buffeting the Church today and each day, is she – in secret – being broken down, stone by stone, and being rebuilt by a Power so pure, beautiful and encompassing? I think of the endless stream of accusations and missteps among church hierarchy, the Calvary of priests, the dying wick of faith in hearts, the emptying of many churches. Perhaps Jesus is once more asking in brokenness, Do you also want to leave?

          Instead I hear the words, unmistakably clear, with a strength beyond words.

Trust in Me.

 

 

 

 

Forgiven

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          How long have I waited for October 13 of this year – 100 years after the Final Great Fatima Apparition, waited in hope of a sign that the God I knew was there was indeed there. Like every other broken being, I needed  a special assurance of God. For the now. For the weave of journeys that lie ahead.

          Here, rain wept into the earth from the eve, well into the deep hours of the 13th. It was like 1917 all over again and my hope deepened. I held on to this sign because inside me, I sensed a shifting, and it was going where I did not want it to go.

          As I waited for a sign or a miracle of some sort, my spirit was headed towards the unpleasantly familiar numbing deadness, which no sun nor rain could rouse.

          I didn’t want this numbed spirit. Not now more than ever. I wanted every bit of me to be fully alive to savour the mystical memory of October 13, 1917. I wanted to touch that day a hundred years ago with my spirit, and seal my brokenness to the hope and life that had flooded into the many souls there that great day, a hundred years before.

          All day long, I clawed the air trying to keep death away from my spirit.

          Sadly, so preoccupied was I trying to hold air in my hands, that I failed to keep watch over my living in the hours of the day. Keeping an eye on the grey~shrouded skies for a Fatima miracle, I let slip words and thoughts in caustic comments and snide jokes that should never find berth in any Christian soul.

          Hours later, orange breezes gently danced in to sweeten the somber winds of the aging day. And to illuminate for me the rutted track along which my day had fallen.

          It was then that my numbed and disappointed heart learned two sorrows.

          That the miracle I had primed my waiting for was not coming that day.

          And a worse one – that even had it come, I would have been found wanting, because I had sullied my garments by dipping into pools I had no business going by.

          How easy it was to be distracted, to lose sight of the goal – love of God, love of neighbour. How easy it was to scan the skies for light and yet not see God in my fellow men. How easy to slip and fall, a stray thought, a joke here, an observation there.

          When so many other humble souls had spent the day in Masses and Adoration and prayers to love as Mary had, in pursuing my wayward will, I had set up watch by the wrong harbor, waiting for a ship that was not meant to be.

          And worse, like the bridesmaids of old, who had been waiting for the Bridegroom but failed to keep watch over their conscience, I had soiled my waiting hours in reckless speech and empty mirth.

           When it dawned on me just where I had allowed myself to go, I didn’t try to evade the bite of remorse that cut deep. While the incense of Fatima must have risen hidden in a great many spirits all over the world, I sang the dirge of lament for the stain I had allowed on my soul. Will I ever, ever learn to choose silence and restraint over unnecessary chatter and empty laughter? Will I ever resolutely seek the inner cloister over social circles that have never known or will ever care to know Christ?

          Will I ever learn that to see God, I must love my brethren as Christ did?

          Over and over, hidden from earthly eyes, I tossed and turned over my sin.      

          Yet, this time, despair was not my lot. I was determined to admit my wrong at the only Knee that welcomed saint and sinner. Because I knew that only there would I find Pure love and Supreme forgiveness. Over and over, I went before the Seat of Mercy. I allowed nothing to distract me from this secret pilgrimage. As hour latticed into hour, every time the angels placed the memory of my transgression before me, my spirit knelt before the Miraculous Image.

Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me.

          Suddenly, my spirit straightened to attention. 

          The thorn of remorse had been silently plucked from my spirit. Noiselessly, no stirring of the air did I sense.

          It was gone. In a breath of a moment, I had been forgiven.

 

 

 

 

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.