PRAYING FOR SOULS

Feed Souls

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          A strange, blurry dream yesterday showed me preparing meals for Muslim memorial gatherings. It was a fuzzy dream, but long enough for me to remember its central theme: the preparation of food for this particular reason.

          I awakened wondering if I should shrug it off; after all, it was November 30, the last day of November when Catholics remember the souls of those gone, in a deeper, special way. I reasoned that if God really wanted me to do something about it, He’d have alerted me sooner. Besides, something else about the dream didn’t make sense – the memorial gatherings – because Muslims here rarely organise memorial get-together’s for their dead. They are very quick to bury their dead, often even before family members can gather. And the grieving are hurried to healing. Memorials are not the done thing.

          But something about the dream lingered on, just like the one about boys in prison. Gentle, like a soft breath against my hours. Not forcing me to focus on it, yet quietly willing me to turn my heart towards it.

          Given what our life here is like with Muslims in this country, I had scant desire to pray or do anything as in the dream. Yet, in issues concerning the departed, my heart bends in a strange softness; the call of their souls one I cannot turn away from, no matter what their faith or creed.

          It was no different this time. Although the rest of me scowled in rebellion, my heart ignored me and went ahead.

          I tried the easy way out first.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let Thy perpetual Light shine upon them.

May their souls rest in peace.

          The prayer faded out of reach pretty quickly, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just me or something more. If it was my reluctance asserting itself, then my offering for these particular departed souls needed to be something I did not actively think about. So, I stood before my altar and offered up my day for the souls. I thought I’d make it a busy chore day, pushing myself with the Christmas cleaning, especially the bits I wasn’t too keen on – to deepen the element of sacrifice of the day for those souls.

          My hours of the 30th of November instead slid into gentle, languid ease. The heavy work day I planned simply misted away. Apart from the daily ‘usuals’, I got nothing else done. It was not due to apathy; more like my plans for the day were moved out of my reach.

          The prayer didn’t fit, the offering didn’t work out. I must have read the dream wrong, I thought ruefully to myself. It was just a dream, not a call from heaven.

          As those thoughts tread through my mind, an old dream came before me, of a coming reunion, a dark day of approaching danger, yet also a day where I saw our beloved long gone, living with us once more, in happy play with the other children, yet not too busy to give me a hug.

          Then, from behind me, in the dream, appeared a Muslim man, dressed in almost white. His hands stretched out in a gesture of heartfelt pleading, he said,

“At least you can see them. Give us some hope too.”

          So many, many times since that dream of 2015 on the eve of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I’ve pondered those strange words from the unknown man, At least you can see them. Give us some hope too.

          What hope was he referring to? Hope of seeing those gone alive once more amongst us?

          Why could he not see them?

          How did he know I could?

          And how was I to give him the hope of this seeing?

          Years later, no clear answer was forthcoming.

          But this new November dream was still here, asking me for something for Muslim souls. What it was, I didn’t know, but I suspected it was something that was not a part of Islam.

          On last night of old November, as the night rains mouthed a soft chorus outside, I read something about the Holy Souls that I have never come across before.

For the souls in Purgatory then, Holy Communion is one precious personal gift which they can receive from us. Who can tell how helpful Holy Communions are toward their liberation? One day St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi’s dead father appeared to her and said that one hundred and seven Holy Communions were necessary for him to be able to leave Purgatory. When the last of the one hundred and seven was offered for him, the Saint saw her father ascend to Heaven. ~ http://www.marys-touch.com/Eucharist/ch3.htm

          In a fall of Light, I suddenly saw and understood something I hadn’t before.

          This year, I’ve been moved to do something odd- to ask God permission each time I went to receive Holy Communion, to bring along Poor Souls. I had not read about this practice anywhere before, nor heard of it done by someone. In fact, every time I prayed to “bring along” a Poor Soul, I thought I was bone mad. But in the depths of my heart, I also wondered if coming with me to receive Holy Communion placed the departed souls as close to Jesus as possible, at least for a few moments, thus momentarily appeasing their flaming sorrows at the separation of atonement.

          I wasn’t even sure if this act was theologically sound but I was confident that if it wasn’t, God would right it Himself.

          Yesterday, upon reading the above passage, it became very clear that taking the souls for Holy Communion was not an act of madness. It was an asking of God.

To enable the expiation of sins through the power of the Holy Eucharist

          There are many written accounts of Saints like Padre Pio who tell of souls serving their Purgatory by expiating in very specific ways, of sins committed during their time on earth. I personally know this to be true, although I do not know if what I saw was Purgatory or Hell itself.

          But until last night, I had not known that we on earth can help to expiate for sins against the Holy Eucharist by the receiving It on behalf of the Poor Souls of Purgatory. And now, it appears that even in death, we can give Jesus to souls – including Muslims, for whom Jesus is a prophet, not the Messiah.

          Every year, I seek to know what Advent my Lord asks of me. This year was no different. Today, on this first day of Advent, an answer begins to take form. The memorial meals I saw myself preparing in yesterday’s dream was significant. I’m being asked to feed souls – but with the Eucharist.

          But it is what a priest does.

          I’m no priest and I’m not about to ordain myself.

         But as a sinner who was long ago taught to love and care for the souls of the departed, I am now being asked to feed them through my faith and belief in the presence and power of Jesus alive in the Holy Eucharist. As I receive my Jesus in Holy Communion,  carrying with me the departed in my heart, in a supernatural way, in a way I do not understand yet believe, they too will receive Jesus.

          Even Muslims.

          And by this open that final window to eternal freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 13 ~ I Refuse Thee Nothing

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          Some hours ago, I stopped by one of my favourite blogs, Veil of Veronica, by blogger Susan Skinner, and there I read what I wished I’d never read – the closing of the Lifebook of Eva Vaughan, a friend very dear to Susan.

          Susan had brought Eva to us through various blog posts. Through her posts on Eva’s battle with pancreatic cancer, I saw my smallness and my empty heroism, the way I took my own health, motherhood, and other gifts, for granted.

          Today, I read that Eva has folded her earthly wings and gone Home.

          I promised Susan Masses for Eva’s soul- which I can only do this coming Sunday when we go to church. I want to do something for Eva in the days between now and Sunday. I try to offer prayers for her soul, but it’s like pricing away nails deeply embedded in wood.

          It’s a day when prayers don’t come easy.

          But I don’t want a burning, humid day when the breezes forgot to play, to be the reason to leave a soul waiting.

          Yet, an unpleasant inertia takes hold of me.

          But I press on. I’ve got to do something.

          In a quiet moment, rare in the sultry night here, Nancy Shuman brings me Heaven’s answer ~

Have you ever tried giving God just one day in which you refused Him nothing, a day of absolute generosity? ~ Fr William Doyle

          I’m not in a giving mood, to be honest. A nagging shoulder injury and the heat of the day, coupled with kids determined to be like ants on your leg, have taken me amongst briars. I just want the pain to go, the kids to be quiet and the rains to fall.

Have you ever tried giving God just one day in which you refused Him nothing, a day of absolute generosity?

          What if God asks me for something I just cannot give? I know the Giver of Every Good Gift Who fashioned me, body and soul, would never ask me to cross terrains for which no grace is available. Yet, in my sinfulness I hold back. My reluctance tells the pathetic tale of my lack of faith. I am afraid to trust Him today.

          But what if this is what Eva needs? And if she has no need of my prayers, but someone else does, can I knowingly withhold this giving? Is it right for me to do so, so brazenly and selfishly?

Have you ever tried giving God just one day in which you refused Him nothing, a day of absolute generosity?

          I have never. Even now, I don’t want to.

          But if this is God’s decree for me, I must. Because I have made a promise to obey. With all my heart and with all my soul.

          And so, I take the plunge ~

God’s Will be mine. I refuse Thee nothing.

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Noel~Light

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          In the world today, there are many hearts that dwell in dark hollows. Weighed down by the Hadean anchors of sorrow, loss, anger, hatred, jealousy, guilt, and even indifference. Day and night, hour by hour, these hearts seek life in the dead, plumbing the depths of a strangling emptiness, in search of the light of Hope.

          Many years ago, I went through a phase of being awakened at 3 am every single night. I went to bed exhausted, and it didn’t make sense that short hours later, I would be roused from deep slumber when I wasn’t ready to wake up. Often, it was the acrid smell of smoke that shook me out of sleep.

          The smell of smoke without fire.

          But I was not afraid or troubled much.

          Every time it happened, I sought the light of prayer. For myself. For others.

          One such night, on a whim, I decided to send Light into homes. In my mind, I pictured dwelling after dwelling  – of loved ones and friends, and even those I disliked,  – and I said a prayer of Light for each. Suddenly, something took over the prayer. I felt I was being led to each homestead that I had prayed for. There I was shown the actual fire lit everywhere the match of my prayer touched kindling.

          In some homes, the fire was small, and burned neatly and restrainedly. I was given to understand that the fire was not allowed to burn with abandon; something in the hearts of those who dwelled there dampened holy fire. Then,  there was another home, where the match lit a fire so huge and powerful, it was startling. As I gazed at those determined flames, I felt this written on my heart: Purification. Indeed, a short time later, the family began facing deep trials.

          But there was another home where I sent the prayer of light, yet, no fire did it kindle. I stood in the shadows beyond the house, and looked at the deep, unyielding darkness before me. I didn’t ask for an explanation then, but received understanding months later – no fire could light there because the doyen of the family indulged in occultism.

          I prayed this same prayer over the years, a couple of times, but I was never shown this vision again.

          Today, this grey morning, rains fall outside, dew~ing away the dust and distraction of harried months. The clouds tip their water jars in benevolence, blessing the trees and grasses into bursts of emeralds and hunters, and flowers coyly unfurl the livened yellows, pinks, reds and blues of their petal~sheaths. A dew whisper travels from leaf to bud, awakening that which has fallen into the slumber of despair and despondency.

          As I drink in this reawakening to life, I wonder, if it is not time now, to once more send the angels out again, bearing the prayer of the Noel~light  ~  a Child waiting to be born in the yearning stables of every heart.

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.

THE NEGLECTED TOMB

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          In many of the images spoken of by those given visions of Purgatory, there is fire and sorrow. A terrible thirst. We have been told there are levels in Purgatory which correspond to the seriousness of the sins http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2012/04/amazing-stories-from-purgatory-and.html.

          But back then, based on my reading that eventful night https://writingonmyheart.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/souls-to-saints, all I knew was about the fire and the sorrow and the thirst. And even that I understood only literally, skimming the surface of understanding. I imagined it to be noisy with weeping and wailing, like many Eastern funerals. Cauldrons of bubbling fire – never mind that that image might have been more at home at a witches’ gathering deep in dark woods.

          Some time after I was taught the importance of praying for the souls in Purgatory, I had a dream one night.

          I saw a world. Hidden. A hushed world, nestled deep within the bosom of peace. It seemed to be narrow. There were levels, linked by rough earthen floors and misshapen clay steps. The place was lit by unseen lamps. A soft, gentle light that bathed the surroundings in tenderness and peace.

          It was crowded. I saw people, oh, so many of them, ascending and descending the clay steps. In peace they took the steps. No jostling. No bumping. But in absolute silence. I didn’t hear or see them speak, but I saw their eyes, and I knew they were brethren, united in love. It was not love for one another; it was a special sort of love. Different.

         

          I sensed an unseen being showing me around. The steps were to one side of the space I was shown. The rest of the space was occupied by tombs, arranged close to one another. My unseen guide led me past the tombs. In this softly lit place where I felt warmth and comfort, I saw that each tomb was covered with beautiful bouquets of flowers, some more than the others. As I took this in, I assumed that was the order here: flowers for every tomb.

          But he led me down the steps, and everything began to change. I felt the cold first. Then, came the darkness. It was not menacing or evil. I didn’t sense any hatred or wickedness, but there was a deep loneliness and profound sorrow. Gone were the lamps of the higher levels. No light. No warmth. No love.

          And not a soul was to be seen. No people gently navigating the steps. Dark, still, silent, cold.

          I was led on. We stopped at a tomb. Not a single flower adorned its stone slab covering. I felt my guide’s words, This is your (relative’s) tomb. He has been neglected.

          Not merely forgotten but neglected. An act of will to leave the soul without prayers.

          It had been about ten years since he had passed on. Even at his funeral, there was the smug belief among his children that Dad had gone to his heavenly reward. Never missed a day of Mass. Never missed nightly family Rosary. What was that if not a sure ticket to heaven. They didn’t care to dredge up memories of an old but able man who sat in his chair, twiddling thumbs all day. Busy with the paper. Busy with the tv. Who did little, but made footmen and butlers out of everyone else. He rarely stirred up trouble but found the odd occasion to spit at people or fling his plate of food. There was also a hint of an old illicit dalliance in the family annals but details were never revisited.

          God called him back in the midst of the holidays, and while everyone returned to pay obedient homage, there were murmurs at the bier that he could have chosen some other time to die, not pull the curtain down on other people’s fun and rest. I remember watching the group of supposed mourners gather, sitting stiffly in chairs. Not a crowd of them. Not by any means. Most making some effort to arrange their countenance into some semblance of mourning because there was no natural grief at this particular loss of a man who gave nothing to the world.

          We buried him. Later chiseled, Home in Heaven Again as his epitaph.

          Ten years on, he remains in his tomb. Unadorned. Not a petal. Not a prayer. Because we didn’t care enough.

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