Prayer

Christmas Rosary~Wreath

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         Early this morning, as I watched and listened to a lyric video of Give This Christmas Away, sung by Matthew West and Amy Grant, I wondered if this just might be the answer to my musings in recent days. I’ve had this sudden, quiet urge to observe the final week before Christmas in a way different from years past. As we journey closer to the final week, I feel myself digging in my heels to stop the inevitable slide into the extreme busyness of house cleaning, baking, decorating, shopping and all other -ings of Christmas. I want to be able to manage all of that yet not lose my inner peace and quiet.

          I don’t want to take my sights off what really matters in Christmas.

          And Give This Christmas Away gave me an idea. A Christmas Rosary~wreath. A different Christmas intention for each day’s morning Rosary in the remaining ten days till Christmas. I could pray the Dominican Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or even my Holy Tears Rosary. A different intention each day for the sorrowing of this world. I will pray as the wind leads.

          The moment I come to this decision, I see the word, Joy. That will be the first bloom for my Rosary~wreath. For the world.

          For those most in need, comes the next still whisper. My spirit bends in acquiescence.

          My mind made up, I come across a story about a ‘miracle’ sampler. I read the words, God Bless Our Home, and I pray the same for us. 

          And then, the words, Jesus Loves Me, fall upon my eyes.

          Electricity ribbons through me. My heart catches and I weep.

 

 

 

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Words for the Red

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          From the joyful red~shine of Advent days here, rose a red of a different kind, one far removed from joy and hope. It is an insidious thorn that rears its head at the end of almost every year since my husband and I started a family life moons ago. I had assumed that with the deep, illuminating spiritual journey that this year was, my husband and I would be in a better place in this largely lively and joyful marriage. Then came the morning and a thoughtless, dismissive statement and we were right back where I thought we had left for good. Granted, my grievance is nothing in comparison to what many people  are facing. Many would even consider it laughably trivial and so might I some distant day, but that reasoning fails to stamp out the red flames today.

          I try to turn away from the hurt. I try to shrug it off and fill the sun~dappled morning hours with home chores and yard work. But the red follows in waves and dips. As soon as I have crested one, as soon as I dare to think the hurt has gone, the next rise comes.

          But there’s a difference to my anger. It is not rage. There is no wild slant to it. The sadness it evokes in my heart burrows deep. It brings to life old disappointments and frustrations that I had assumed were in our past.

          As hour spills into hour, I struggle with myself. I struggle to not return to twisted ruts of old. Nonetheless, numerous retorts, rebuttals and accusations march steadily and stormily though my mind.  Snatches of speeches and choice words I conjure.

          The very second they form, I force myself fight them off, to turn my back on them. And then I realize, they need to come out. They are all reactions to my hurt that must have some place to go. So, I give them to Jesus, saying, I chose You, Jesus.

          On and on I battle until I am overwhelmed. I tell God I cannot do it anymore. I cannot pretend, neither can I overlook. I place my husband in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You take over, Lord. I can’t.

          Hours later, the flames have died. In their place an odd quietness – which I put to the test immediately. No, it is not of wanting to forget and make up. Yet, the stillness within me tells me that I am no longer in control of my spirit. I am no longer in control of anything or anyone.

          Someone else is now in charge. I am content to let that be. For once, I do not want to lead. I am tired. I can barely make out the path in front of me.

          My chores for the day done, I cautiously open my door to God. Although my injury is real, in my struggle to overcome my hurt and in my inability to pray in humility for my husband, I am not sure that I am walking in the will of God.

          Timidly, yet with a strange certitude, I ask my God, Lord, give me my prayer. 

          The Almighty’s response is swift, as if He has been waiting for me to ask. His prayer for me is unexpected.

          Prayer of St. Anthony of Padua

          O Light of the world, Infinite God, Father of eternity, giver of wisdom and knowledge, and ineffable Dispenser of every spiritual grace; who knowest all things before they are made, who makest the darkness and the light: put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words. Make my tongue, O Lord, as a chosen arrow, to declare faithfully Thy wonders. 

          Put Thy spirit, O Lord, in my heart, that I may perceive; in my soul, that I may retain; and in my conscience, that I may meditate.

          Do thou lovingly, holily, mercifully, clemently and gently inspire me with Thy grace. 

          Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts. And let Thy discipline instruct me even to the end, and the counsel of the Most High help me through Thine infinite wisdom and mercy.

 

          Oh no, I groan. The last thing I want is to speak. Words have had no effect on this situation that arises without fail every year end holidays. Same fight. Different words. Same failure. Year after year. And now God asks me to pray, put forth Thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy words?

          I begin to think that I may have been mistaken about the prayer being for me. That’s when St Anthony, a saint close to my heart, steps in swiftly and takes my eyes directly to the line,

Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of my senses and my thoughts.

          That closes the door on my doubts. That prayer line directly addressed my struggles with my emotions since the morning. It told me God saw the back-and-forth, the tug-and-push, and that He was with me. He understood my hurt. He saw my struggle to contain it and cope.

          I was not alone. That realization suffices.

          I raise my eyes to heaven. Give me Thy words, I pray.

          Not mine but Yours. 

 

 

 

         

I Choose Jesus

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On awaking, enter in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrate to It your body, your soul, your heart and your whole being, so as to live but for Its love and glory alone.   ~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          This was set before me on this First Friday of the last month of this old year. And with it, my journey from yesterday became very clear. Upset over my niece’s choice of life partner and her increasing distance from the Church and Catholic values, upset that novenas for her and others haven’t yielded positive results yet, upset that I had given till I had nothing left to give and the journey was not over yet, an odd thought had come to me yesterday ~

Choose Jesus for those who won’t

          It came and it took root and it wouldn’t go away. I didn’t for the life of me understand what it meant or how I was to go about choosing Jesus for those who had not the slightest inclination to. Forcing someone to align their beliefs with mine was distasteful to me. I don’t even do it with my own children. But here I was, hearing it loud and strong in my heart, my spirit in waiting readiness to obey the call.

          So, I got started. When I saw dishes in the sink that needed washing, although I honestly wanted to leave them right there, I thought of my niece who couldn’t keep a small room clean and I fought my wee bit of tiredness and got the dishes done, saying, I choose Jesus for… When Rosary for the day seemed much harder than usual, when I didn’t feel like that extra prayer for the Holy Souls, I dragged myself to them for the sake of everyone else with the same struggles, saying, I choose Jesus.

          Throughout the remaining hours of the waning, wet day when the skies took to sobs in fits and bursts, I tried to do what I least felt like doing, each time with a resigned sigh and the prayer, I choose Jesus… Even then, I didn’t know if this was actually what I was meant to do. But I figured I had to start somewhere and this was my wobbly, Yes to God. He would take it from there.

          And He did.

          This morning, when I saw the words from St Margaret Mary’s quote that meant to consecrate my living for the glory of the Sacred Heart and to live for that glory alone, I suddenly saw before me:

Reparation

          It was then that the bean slid into its pod. Choosing Jesus for someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t, through my daily, mundane life choices or through tough decisions made solely for the glory of God – was REPARATION.

Reparation is the repairing or making up for the offenses against God. This covers a wide variety of areas from the fact of Original Sin to our own personal sins and even to the sins of others no matter how large or small the offense might be. (What is Reparation, Fr Robert Altier, http://www.courageouspriest.com)

          For the first time, I understood with my heart what reparation was. I saw that it went beyond selfless sacrifice, itself great and honourable,  because it meant ‘marrying’ my own struggles to those of others. It was not made from the lofty, snooty perch of superciliousness that saw and judged only the failings and weaknesses of other people. It was certainly not about the hidden smugness that might be present when we sacrifice for others.

          I finally realized that reparation was to atone for both my failings and those of my brethren pilgrims.

          Something else tugged at me once I reached this point. Apart from a few searing occasions, it is never easy for me to atone for my own sins. But yesterday, in joining my sins with those of others, I remember being infused with a subtle strength to atone. Strength that had not quite been there before. A strength born from acknowledgement  and purpose. Acknowledgement of my own sins. Purpose that came from wanting to make amends  – for myself and on behalf of others.

          The skies slowly part their cloak of white and grey fleece for the sun as he moves slowly across his court. The hours of the day tendril out before me. Hidden in its tucks and joints lie moments that await I choose Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fatima 5 ~ September 13

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          Despite the ridicule and jokes of the secular, atheistic press, more than 30,000 people gathered in the Cova for the September  apparition. Whether drawn by devotion or curiosity, they prayed the rosary while awaiting the arrival of the visionaries and their vision. When at least the time came they could hear Lucia say,

          “What do you want of me?”

          “Continue the Rosary, My children. Say it every day that the war may end. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.”

          God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to wear the cords to bed. Keep them on during the day.”

          “I have the petitions of many for Your help. Will You assist a little girl who is deaf and dumb?”

          “She will improve within the year.”

          “And the conversions that some have asked to have brought about? The cures of the sick ones?”

          Some I will cure, and some I will not. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          With these last words still ringing in their ears, the Lady rose and disappeared in the heavens, as Lucia called to the crowd, “If you wish to see Her — look! Look!”

 

 

 

 

Jesus, Forget and Forgive

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          Right after I received the prayer, Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying, and began saying it, intermittently, I have felt this bubble up in me, unbidden, Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned. I thought it could be to warn me against spiritual pride. And to seek His mercy for my own sinfulness. Or to remind me that I have not done all I should and could for lost and dying souls.

          So, whenever the breezes brushed past my heart, I whispered, Forgive me, Lord, I have sinned. And then, I tried to go back to the prayer, Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.

          But I faintly sensed that prayer being lifted away, out of my spirit’s reach. I thought it was perhaps due to my being under the weather recently. But this morning, when I stopped by my daily prayer nook, it became clear, very clear, that I needed to pray the cleansing prayer for myself, because this was what the angel held out to my spirit:

 

Act of Contrition

Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins;

the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul,

the sins of my body, my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins,

the sins I know, the sins I do not know;

the sins I have concealed so long, and which are now hidden from my memory.

I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial,

for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.

I know my sins have wounded Thy Tender Heart, O my Savior.

Let me be freed from the bonds of evil through Thy most bitter Passion, O my Redeemer.

O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.

         

          I want to press this close, till it marks my spirit, to pray it as often as I breathe,

O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Shall It Be Mine

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          After close to two weeks of good, hard work, and some tumultuous hours pickled in impatience, frustrations and hurts, the days wind to a quiet close in the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

          And I have little to offer Him.

          As I lay awake in the lasts of the old night, in my offering basket there is no novena, no bracelet of days spun from deep prayer and contemplation of the Word of God. There is more praise and thanksgiving than usual.

          But my basket still looks bare to the eye.

          I love Thee, I whisper as sleep finds me.

          Awakening to a cool, rain-sprinkled morn where elfin breezes play shy games among the wet boughs, the world wears mists for its dress. In the still of the silver~green day, I sadly acknowledge the aching empty of heart that is fast becoming the birthmark of my soul. I am knowing more and more days when my heart feels so empty, the barrenness trying, difficult and sorrowful. Ever more are the days when I straddle two worlds: the outer one of work and care, lived for others, wreathed in joy-giving as well as pain.

          And the hidden inner one, grey and dry, worn and empty.

          June has not been an easy month for ten years now. From the Feast of St Anthony of Padua begins the sorrow of memories of a life gone by, and these days I cope by trying not to dwell on the passing dates which cradle one anniversary of loss after another.

          Right in the middle of this grey journey I make every year stands the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, harbor in this storm-tossed crossing.

          I arrive at this hiddenness today, hoping for a miracle of joy, some light at least, but for the early hours, it is not to be. The words of the Readings and Gospel tumble past my discerning. I am as empty as ever. And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts.

          Rising to leave my post of wait, I take one last look into a prayer nook, to see if Heaven has left me any morsel for the day. In the quiet deeps, I find this awaiting me ~

…..my heart, O sweetest Mary,
Is not mine, but Thine:
Take it; give it all to Jesus;
Ne’er shall it be mine.

          The words find my heart. I know what I need to do.

          From emptiness I draw forth every struggle, stumble and failure, every bit of bread broken and shared. Every sorrow. Every joy. Sweet and bitter, vibrant and shriveled, cradle after offering cradle I fill.

……not mine, but Thine:
Take it; give it all to Jesus;
Ne’er shall it be mine.

 

 

 

 

Loader of the Prayer~Cart

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          My weekend began with an examination of my conscience, and a doubting of the path I was now on – to empty my prayer~will. To empty it (of petitions) – for God to fill it. Off and on, through the weekend hours, I kept going back to this – Was it the right thing to do?

          Then, my mind wandered over the changes and happenings that had ensued from the new prayer.

          There had been power. Strength. There had been joyous, unexpected  happenings.

          And yet, I continued to nibble at the certainty, slowly ragged-ing its smooth edges. What if I was wrong? In these days of fake news and lies and distortion and illusions, had I veered off the True Path? What if I was wrong to empty my prayer~will?

          On the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I went before God. You have to answer me, I insisted.

          The first reply came through Susan Skinner’s post, If You Seek Healing. Of the many things that lit up in her piece, this caught me firmly – once you have emptied all of you, you can be filled up with God.

          And I learned yet again that the emptying of my prayer~will was the Will of God Himself. It was not a hardening of my heart, as I feared. It was not a callous disregard of the entreaties of others.

          It was another step in the journey of Surrender that I first began almost ten years ago. One I veered off many, many times, and returned to as often. And now, with the emptying of my prayer~will, I was tentatively opening myself up even further, laying everything of me at His Feet, to be used as He pleased. During Lent this year, my spirit got caught in the Call of the little Consoler, the Fatima seer, Francisco Marto. As I began to try to offer up little beads of Chaplets and Rosaries, solely to console the Wounded Heart of Jesus, like the little Shepherd had done, I learned of this little by-path the  emptying of the prayer~will was leading me to.

          But my learning was in no way over. Something else of Susan Skinner’s post remained in me: humility. When the eyes of my heart turned to it, I found it in a little pouch, its strings fastened such that I could not undo them to understand what deepened meaning Humility held now for me.

          But meaning came soon enough. That night, I read the words of a niece of the soon to be canonized little shepherd-seers. Jacinta Pereiro Marto said, “God chose my uncle and aunt because this is what He wanted, so much that my grandfather used to say that the Virgin wanted to come to Fatima and she chose his children, but that we didn’t deserve anything.” Because of this attitude instilled in the family by her grandfather – father to Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto – “we always lived very simply because God chose, and He chooses who He wants. We don’t deserve anything.”

          Her humility, the humility of that entire family despite understanding the import of the apparitions in Fatima all those years ago, was like a flower bursting into bloom for me. I realized that the erasing of my will in my prayers was a deepening of humility. To understand that it was not for me to ever occupy the driver’s seat of prayers. And not even to decide for myself which prayers to load onto my cart to take to Heaven.

          For the God who chooses me to drive the cart, is the same one Who will decide whose need gets onto mine and whose goes to another prayer~cart.

          Although I still do not understand why I have been brought to this point of placing even this freedom to pray for others in His Divine Will, for now, I feel a deep security in the Marto wisdom, God chose, and He chooses who He wants.

          The same God who chose my prayer~cart, will fill it with the needs He chooses.

 

Lent 29 ~ Follow the Consoler

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After the apparitions ended, Francisco played truant from school as often as possible. Our Lady had told him that his life on earth was to be short, and Francisco did not see why he had to attend school when there was something far more important to be done: he preferred to spend time praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. ~ of Blessed Francisco Marto, Seer, Fatima Apparitions.

         Praying to the Hidden Jesus, and going among trees and rocks to hide to pray – those were the things which made a deep impression on me these few days. I decided to attempt to follow Francisco’s prayer footsteps on Saturday, the 1st of April. Since it was 1st Saturday Devotions, the prayer I prayed amongst stones and trees was the Hail Mary. Not the actual Rosary, but simple Rosary~buds said as breath~prayers throughout the course of the day. I tumbled Hail Mary’s down two need~burrows.

          The Pope, and someone who was hurting me.

          For the Holy Father, the Mary~rosebuds were for whatever his real needs may be.

          For the present ‘thorn in my life’, well, the Hail Mary’s were my penance for every angry thought I entertained against this person. It was not that easy for me to be more generous; I could not pray deeper prayers for this person today.

          The Hail Mary’s were simple and straightforward. And saying them just like that emptied the prayers of me; they were not shadowed by petition today.

          I think it was my way of surrendering them completely into the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, with no dagger of a petition of how I think what should be done, slipped in within the folds of the prayer.

          Jesus was alone among stones and trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. No one was there with Him to share His Tears. But the young child Francisco made reparation through his tender efforts. 

          Francisco was barely eleven when he sought to console his beloved Jesus and Mary.

          Yet, he left us the biggest footprints to step into, to walk his journey of the Consoler ourselves.