Repentance

Replace My Blood With Yours

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Chorus
Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.


Join we now as friends, and celebrate the
Brotherhood we share, all as one.
Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.


 

          The psalmist talks about eyes being dimmed with sorrow. Mine are literally dimmed with weariness and emotional exhaustion. What a terrible test for me and for so many, many others. Sometimes, I crumble in anger, but only for scant minutes, for the squall passes over me quickly now.

          And through it all, from yesterday, an old, old hymn in my inner ear, Here We Are.

Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.

          How do I sing this song of sorrow and uncertainty – joyfully? Is such a thing even possible? As if in answer, another line from the song comes gently,

Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.

          The fire of faith must burn on. Keep the lamps trimmed and ready.    

          My loved ones on another continent, and my dear~heart blogging friends, hold me close to the Cross. From miles away, they will me on, Keep your eyes on Him, God will protect you

          During Rosary last night, I pondered Jesus’ terrible journey through Calvary, His Crucifixion, the piercing of His Heart. Precious Blood and Water all poured out for mankind. Although my suffering is very small against what my Jesus endured, for the first time, I feel a severe drying out within me, all of me. Not just of my spirit, as I’ve often come to know, but this desert has now reached deep, deep within me. I truly have nothing left. Only the love of my earthly and heavenly friends hold me bound to my crucified Jesus.

          How do you go on when everything has been poured out? 

Replace my blood with Yours.

          The old prayer I prayed in times past. I recall the day I found the prayer, and the mystery of it. When all is gone, Replace my blood with Yours, Jesus. 

          Then, I realise, the hymn, Here We Are, has stopped playing in me, the voices of the unseen choristers stilled.

          And I understand why. Because it is now time to pray the prayer of repentance. And of conversion.

Replace my blood with Yours

Lent 38 ~ Will I See My Lord Again?

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Tonight, I ask the question that burns on many hearts,

Will I see my Lord again?

         For some of us, Easter is an almost certainty. But for many, even the morrow is in doubt.

Will I see my Lord again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 19 ~ Night of Four Crosses

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We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with You.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in Your presence today…   ~  Daniel 3: 38 – 40

 

          I had been praying with blessed oil for physical and mental healing of a few people. Then, I missed the prayers two days in a row. Today, I went back to the blessed oil – but with an odd knowing – I am to pray differently. As if the missed days were some sort of marker, a break to indicate a transition of intention. So, I trace the Cross on my forehead today and pray a special Protection Prayer for all I carry in my heart – beloved family and friends, – and well, for the not so beloved by me too.

          Restricted Movement Order issued. A few steps removed from complete lockdown. From being cheery and carefree yesterday – despite knowing about the order – today – a strange urgency and uneasiness descends upon me late this morning.

          On business in the city, far from home. I’ve got to get home, I’ve got to get home. No panic. Just urgent.

          In the face of the pandemic, I had asked my husband a few days ago if we needed to stock up on essentials, in case we went into lockdown. No, we’re fine, he replied confidently. I left it, trusting him.

          Today, I’m away from home in the morning, and he calls me and tells me he’s gone and bought us enough supplies.

          This wasn’t what we discussed yesterday. My stomach tightens at what made him change his mind.

          I’m driving back in the afternoon. Uneasiness increasing. I probe it, trying to discern the reason. I tell myself it’s to do with the Restricted Movement Order, but deep inside I’m not so sure. I pray for the safety of all in my heart. Anxiety increases.

Jesus, place Thy hand upon my heart, I pray. If it’s from You, tell me what to do. If not, take it away.

In a slice, the tension vanishes.

          I reach home. Life goes on. I’m my old self again.

          Hours later, returning home with my husband late at night after a quick trip to the town, I think of the empty church in the city and in many places the world over. Masses and prayer services cancelled. This was prophesied centuries ago, I tell my husband as I alight from the car.

          Looking up at the dark night sky, the Southern Cross constellation catches my eye. Nothing new. Every time we get home at night, I see it when I get out of the car. I pause and gaze awhile at it. As I always do.

          But as I shut the car door behind me, I catch sight of a second Southern Cross. My husband has busied himself with his roses. I turn back to the sky, trying to puzzle out what I’m seeing. A mirror image of the first constellation. I must be mad.

          I call for my calm and practical husband and he comes. And he sees it too.

          Then, he raises his finger towards the dark sky, dotted by a million diamonds. There’s a third Cross, he points out.

          And he is right. Out of all the stars, yet another set of 4 especially bright ones, unmistakably positioned as a Cross.

          I am calm. No fear nor excitement. Fully alert.

          Look, says my husband again. There’s a fourth.

          Four Crosses in the southern night sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 6 ~ The Angel Brings My Prayer

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Two teenage girls living near the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo heard of Padre Pio’s supposed communication with the angels. Finding it rather incredible, they decided to test the validity of this claim. They spent a whole night sending their guardian angels to Padre Pio. They made such requests as, “Pray for my uncle Federico,” or “Cure my cousin.”

The next day after Mass, the two friends went to the friary to ask for Padre Pio’s blessing. To their surprise, the Padre was upset with them. He said to one of the girls, “You kept me awake all night. First, you sent me your guardian angel to cure your uncle Federico,” and turning to the other girl, he said, “and you sent me yours asking that your cousin be cured. And you kept it up all night long…I didn’t get any sleep!”

 

          In my sadness last night, I came across this anecdote about a saint close to my heart, St. Pio. While it didn’t turn my heart over, something about it remained with me all night, like a gentle perfume from an unseen wildflower.

          Going to bed, my heart continued to ache over my country and the follies of my leader and elected representatives. Wanting to pray, I tried to search for words. Coming up empty, I once again charged my angel, Angel, pray for me.

          Then, remembering what I had read, I decided I’d trouble my beloved spiritual father a bit. So, as those two young girls in the story above did, I too sent my angel to St. Pio, instructing him,

Ask Padre Pio for my prayer. And tell him you won’t leave till it is given.

          All through the night, each time I awakened briefly, I checked in with my guardian angel. When the morning came, I pressed the air for my prayer once more.

          There was none.

          I wasn’t too happy. I didn’t want to go into the second day leaving it all to my angel. As long as it was willed by God that I prayed this way, it was fine. But having struggled with depression for so many years, I was naturally on alert. If it was malaise that was dragging me down, I needed to rise up and fight it before the coils tightened.

C’mon, Padre Pio, I grumbled. Don’t do this. Please give me my prayer for today.

          A short while later, a line from an old repentance prayer popped into my head.

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

          And it continued to appear a few more times. Each time, I duly repeated it, until it struck me that this was my prayer for the day. I couldn’t believe it – and I was less than thrilled. Here I was agonizing over the loss of the government I had voted in, loss of our futures, loss of everything we had worked for, and this was the prayer? Forget and forgive what I had been? I? Focus on my sin at a time when others have cruelly shortchanged us?

          I was in a mild huff as I went to my morning Reading.

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not steal…”   ~  Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 11

          Verse 11 drew me up short. I knew at once that someone was trying to get my attention.

You shall not steal

          2 weeks ago, this had come to me during Mass in church in a moment of prayer for someone close to me. When that happened, as it did now, I was taken aback for a while. Then, upon reflection, I figured that God was asking me to pray for the sin of stealing: that family member had in fact stolen so much from so many.

          Despite the prayer, I could still sense the lingering presence of You shall not steal as I moved from day to day.

          Today, seeing that exhortation once more, I knew at once that this time, God was referring to what had happened to my country. We had lost the government we had legally and constitutionally voted in. But thieves had crept in and taken it away from us.

Our government had been stolen from us

          Although it should have been obvious, the realization still came as a shock.

          I thought that with the bitter night past, I’d feel better, but the pain came crashing down again. Forcefully lifting up my spirit, I tried to pray for those who had done this to us. But something didn’t feel right about the prayer. Not that it was wrong. Just the sense that it wasn’t what I was being called to for the moment.

          I had to go to work, to the mad amount that needed to be done there today. But I didn’t want to drown in it either. Angel, I whispered, ask Padre Pio for my prayer, and bring it back to me.

Our government had been stolen from us

Our government had been stolen from us

Our government had been stolen from us

          I turned it over and over in my heart as I drove to work.

          Then, in a quiet quickness, I suddenly discerned a change in the dejection within me. The hurt of being cheated slowly began to change into a strange, new sadness. I recalled the good times we had briefly enjoyed after decades of slavery.

          Slowly, very slowly, it began to dawn on me that I hadn’t been grateful enough for those good times and for everything our leaders had done for us.

          Instead, I had joined the masses and fixated upon the slowness of reforms and stewed in impatience over missteps. I had done nothing to convey my appreciation to my elected representatives. I had barely prayed thanksgiving prayers for them.

          And only now, when it was all stolen, did I see what I had done.

          Padre Pio had indeed sent me my prayer at dawn. Like any true father, he had known what I hadn’t, and he was determined that I see what I was blind to.  Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been was truly my prayer for my sin of ingratitude. It had taken an act of larceny of the highest order to lift the scales from my eyes.

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

          And with that, a sad peace finally stole into my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 4 ~ Light the Candles

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Light the candles  

Begin prayers in the church, begin prayers in the home

Pray for others

~  The Lord Jesus to Dina Basher, Mosul, Iraq 

 

          A gathering of thieves. A clamouring at the gates. The king’s son must decide.

Light of Christ, pierce him

Illuminate the past, the present and the future

Then, shine the path forwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 1 ~ Sharpen My Conscience

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Prayer of Reconciliation

Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the darkness of my understanding and sharpen my conscience, so that I may recognize God’s will in all things. Send forth Your light and truth into my soul! May I see all my sins and failures in this light and confess them with a contrite heart. Jesus Christ, gentle Savior, I put my hope of salvation in You. Accept my confession with loving mercy and move my heart to true sorrow for my sins. Heavenly Father, when You look into my soul, look not so much at the evil I have done but at the genuine sorrow which I feel within my heart. Help me to confess all my sins with a childlike trust in Your loving forgiveness. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Put Aside, Forget Everything

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The spouse of Christ who longs to become perfect must begin with her own self. She must put aside, forget everything else, and enter into the secrecy of her own heart. When she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins. She must weigh everything carefully, and make a thorough examination of past and present. Should she discover even the least imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of her heart.   ~   St. Bonaventure

 

          I heard the words, Spouse of Christ, yesterday. Unfortunately, there was no time to follow the words into the woods of discernment. No scant minute to even seek the Lord’s will for me for Lent. Each week is more brutal than the one before. The workload is crushing. I can see that I’m getting a lot done; yet, there is no sense of achievement. Neither time nor strength to revel, even for a while. Deadline after deadline. Hurdle after hurdle. Rushing from one assignment to the next, my memory leaks worse than a sieve.

          Due to the extremeness of the week, the waters of my heart were choppy and roaring. I could not seem to settle into peace and inner quiet. A trip to the stores late in the evening yesterday found me agitated, restless and dispirited. I left the store empty-handed, unable to recall what I needed to buy. I was so tired. I was also worried about a major event scheduled for the coming week.

Go indoors

          For some reason, I kept seeing those words before me all day. Nearly 2 years ago, the same words kept coming to me. Go indoors was a warning then. To return to serving and focusing on my family – not because they were in some danger – but because I needed the mantle of the family to see me through a cruel attack at work.

          This time, as I rushed from end to end from morn till evening, Go indoors kept knocking at the door of my heart.

          Driving home, I ran the day through my mind. On the outside, everything seemed calm and normal; yet, inside, I felt something within me was spinning out of control and getting worse. Knowing I couldn’t go on this way, I took my mutinous will with a firm hand. Once home from the store, I went straight to dinner preparations. As the stove busied, I settled the laundry for the day, helped the kids with their studies.

          They weren’t earth-moving actions. But they possessed a power.

          Suddenly, from being flung around in the vortex of madness and work overdrive, I fell to the ground, calm and steady once more. Late that night, with most of the family in bed, unable to chip away at tasks for next week, I reached for my gift book instead, Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams. It had been so long since I read anything late at night but I did this night, and I was glad for it.

          The words in the book steered my heart towards winter branches awaiting spring.

          The next morning, something else was waiting. A commenter had written this in my previous post, “I find him (God) best in solitude and open space…”  And the words, open space had twinkled up at me like a bright blue star in the dark swathes of sky.

          So, coming to the morning of Mary, I too sought open space.

          For some reason, despite the imperious ticking of the clock, I wanted to know how a nightingale sounded. Finding a video of it, I played its song over and over. From there, I explored other bird sounds. And slowly, a gentleness began to ribbon itself around me.

          A tiny rosebud of a miracle then unfolded. Despite the very busy day ahead, it seemed as if several layers of my ears were opened up. Even as I scurried about, I could hear many different birdsongs as they laced the gold~blue morning air. I was suddenly functioning on two levels, busy yet alert to Nature.

          Then, a second rose of a miracle bloomed.

          For the event next week, I had to approach some people for help. Always being someone who preferred shadows and backseats, I was not looking forwards to it. In addition, we were short of funds. I cringed at the idea of seeking donations from our usual donors, knowing that some could make it unpleasant for me. I didn’t mind humbling myself if it would yield something good. But I drew the line at licking the floor merely as entertainment for some.

          Praying to St. Joseph from days before, I knew it was his idea when he whispered to me names of possible new donors whom I hadn’t considered before. Nervously, I made contact and bashfully sought help, giving everyone an escape avenue so that they didn’t feel pressured to commit.

          Ask anyone in the know and they’d tell you this was not the way to go.

          Miraculously, every person and company I approached agreed to give – and cheerily at that! I skipped and skipped all the way home, to the serenade of birdsongs in hidden nests.

          It was in the quietness of that happy relief that I once more saw the words, Spouse of Christ. Surprised, this time, I realised that Someone was calling me – and calling out a message.

The spouse of Christ who longs to become perfect must begin with her own self. She must put aside, forget everything else, and enter into the secrecy of her own heart. When she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins. She must weigh everything carefully, and make a thorough examination of past and present. Should she discover even the least imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of her heart.  

          Let her weep in the bitterness of her heart. Over and over, through the busyness of the days and weeks, the Holy Spirit had been urging me towards inner silence. He led me back first to the needs of my family, then to the tiny birds who live and sing for God. When I had obeyed, through St. Joseph, He worked all those miracles – slowly quietening the anxieties in my heart.

          There were still streams to wade through and canyons to be crossed. But the Spirit of God saw much further, and He wanted me to be quiet enough to see it too.

put aside, forget everything else,

sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins

make a thorough examination of past and present

weep in the bitterness of her heart 

 

          The call to Lent.

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Old

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Thus says the LORD:

Stand by the earliest roads,

ask the pathways of old,

“Which is the way to good?” and walk it;

thus you will find rest for yourselves. ~   Jeremiah 6:16

 

          A set of old books which I read every year without fail would be the Anne of Green Gables series written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in the early 1900s. When times are rough, as they have been these past 12 years, each book is sometimes read twice each year – for they impart to me a deep comfort, their pages a place for my soul to rest.

          More importantly, the Anne books return me to a time in the old when life was lived as it should be.

          I always take leave of my reading moments somewhat wistfully, for returning to an unpleasant reality is never welcome return. Yet, I return in renewed strength and vigour to the calls of home and hearth. After each sojourn to the kingdom of Anne, I am a better mother and wife, my rough edges smoothened down.

So, which is the way to good? I ask

The old Anne~roads, I answer myself

Where people rose early to greet the bloom of a new day, consecrating their hearts to the God they knew and feared, yet loved. Their hours spent in hard, honest labour, busy yet not imprisoned, free to smile at heaven even in the midst of occupation. Never too caught up in doings to rest spirits in the chant of winds and merry blooms, never so overcome by hardship or hurt so as to forsake neighbour.  Their hours set to chimes of cheer, hope and faith, scented by graces received in humility and joy, each day is lived and bequeathed to God and to God alone.

Stand by the earliest roads,

ask the pathways of old,

“Which is the way to good?” and walk it;

thus you will find rest for yourselves

          God is telling me to take my family in hand and return to the days of old. To return even if echoes of derision follow us – for some may never see the wisdom of our choice. The call to return is placed in every heart, awaiting only the obedient response,

Yes, Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 8 ~ In Place of Priests

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I want you to call priests to the experience of My friendship…to remain before My Eucharistic Face …adoration and reparation. Draw near to My Open Side in the Sacrament of My Love for them and in their place, and they will begin to follow you there.

Reach out to My priests, not so much by speaking to them, but rather by reaching out to Me for their sake.   ~   In Sinu Jesu

 

          I haven’t prayed much this week. Work has been heavy. I’m falling behind, the cold I’m nursing diminishes any hope of catching up on work. I’m too worn out to even feel frustrated.

          I wonder how Jesus feels. The church is shaking and groaning from its pain and here I am, locked in my world of endless work and a cold determined to stay.

          Nonetheless, today, He deepens this second Lent call to me: come to Me in place of priests, for My priests.

Speak to My priests by coming to me.

Reach out to them by coming to me.

          The cold has turned into a racking cough. More work has been added on. I cannot even remember to enter my inner cloister to pray.

          So, I do the only thing I can: Before I leave for work, I seal my heart to His Tabernacle. I leave it there and go to my day. I hope it is enough. I hope it compensates.

          Yet, I feel nothing at all. No rejection, but no deepening recollection, no heightened spiritual alertness either. Nothing to indicate my heart is where it should be. I try the prayers He has given me. They pass through my heart listlessly, like dry leaves going to their death.

          I think of the dream of the red blouse and dried flowers. In the dream, I am going up to the tabernacle, bearing winter blooms. My wan prayers, the heart I am trying to seal to His – they’re the winter blooms which I must fight myself and the world to continue to offer to my Lord.

          Because He wants me to draw near to His Open Side in the Sacrament of His Love for priests and in their place, so that they too will come to Him.