Wait

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This divine Heart is naught but sweetness, humility and patience, therefore, we must wait. . . He knows when to act.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          After Sri Lanka, I am straining at the reins. I want to do more than what I am doing. I don’t want our churches bombed. Neither do I want the places of worship of other faiths to suffer the same. For more than 20 years, living here, my family and I have tried to witness to Christ in a way that shows others they have nothing to fear of Jesus – but that even if they will not convert, they can embrace His teachings to love one another and live differently in their faith.

          We’ve emptied ourselves in this giving. It feels as if there is nothing left in our jar of oil.

          But there must be.

         What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? I tug and tug at God’s hem.

          But He doesn’t answer. Because God never answers an asking that doesn’t listen.

          As I prod and probe, skirmishes within the family begin. Seemingly minor things but still they chaff. A husband’s disbelief in something. A child’s self-centeredness. I continue to work for the family, to be there for them, but the lightness in my heart has gone. And when the hurting  doesn’t let up, the wound deepens. And a silence enters my heart.

          Padre Pio comes by later in the morning. Gently, he reminds me, Don’t allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely.

          But I cannot pretend the hurt isn’t there. I cannot just jump back into my happy and cheery self.

          It is Divine Mercy Sunday. I place my heart, sadness and all, in the Divine Heart. And I get on with my day, no longer pulling and tugging at God’s hem, but pondering in the silence within.

          It is late afternoon when I seek God’s word. Tell me what to do, I quietly tell Heaven.

          St. Margaret Mary answers for the saints,

This Divine Heart is naught but sweetness, humility and patience, therefore, we must wait. . . He knows when to act.  

 

 

 

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Waters of Grace

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          Yesterday, I came across a prayer by Pope Francis:

Lord, roll back the stone in my heart

          It’s Easter now. The time of fasting and sorrowing over our sins is supposedly over. The Lord has risen, and by right we are to be all light and joy.

          But here I was, stuck in an unbeliever’s world – not because I do not believe – but because something was holding me outside the circle of Light.

          The Lord has risen but I was still in the tomb.

          I went ahead and (unenthusiastically) said the prayer, Lord, roll back the stone in my heart. Frankly, I was unhappy to pray the prayer. I didn’t like to admit that stones might still be stacked up God knows how high in my heart. It’s as if Lent didn’t work out for me. Everyone else has done their spiritual cleaning and de-stoning during Lent; here I was, wondering if I was only just beginning!!

          Maybe it’s because of the Roll back the stone prayer, but last night, my thoughts returned to the hymn, He, and the refrain,

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live,

He will always say, I forgive.

          In the last week of Lent, seeing no hope of change in my place of work, I opened my heart and asked God if it were not possible for just a little kindness. I wasn’t asking for much, I reasoned, because before, I had asked for much more. Before this, I had asked to be allowed to leave this town due to its rejection of me and my family for our Christian values. I asked to leave because it’s been 20 plus years of trying to live out our witness to our faith. More than 2 decades of welcoming the people of this town into our hearts. Of suffering with them. Of journeying with them, respectfully, in the ecumenism of different faiths.

          Yet, the long and bitter years to love as Jesus asked have not  changed this place nor its people for the better. If anything, this town and its inhabitants are becoming increasingly radicalized. They have begun turning on us for refusing to cross over to their side, for steadfastly choosing Jesus. Exhausted from navigating upheaval after upheaval, I asked to leave.

          But this year, God made His voice heard on that petition. He told me that if we left, this town would never know Jesus again.

          It broke my heart to hear that. It was not what I wanted. But I never prayed that prayer again because disappointed or not, some part of me bowed in obedience to God’s will.

          Suddenly, last night, hours after the prayer of Roll back the stone in my heart, I decided that the next new day, every time someone hurt me, every time a situation made me want to run and hide, I would face it in silence and allow it to pierce me instead.

          And I would pray, Jesus, forgive me. Even if I had done no discernible wrong, that would be my prayer for the next day.

          No prizes for guessing how the day worked out.

          I tripped the very minute I stepped into my work place. I came face to face with the colleague who’s made my life a misery for years. I don’t normally see her so early in the day but there she was, bright and early, primed for malice.

          The second I saw her, I didn’t remember anything about rolling back any stone. I didn’t remember the purposing of my day for atonement. Instead, I distinctly felt my heart inflame and harden remembering the injustices she has meted out.

          Scant minutes later, I belatedly remembered the response I had planned. Fed up with myself, I honestly wanted to bin the intention of the previous night. What was the point anyway, I never seemed to move beyond the biggest rocks in my life.

          But a promise to God was a promise. So, I bowed my heart and listlessly prayed,

Jesus, forgive me

          Although I knew I had done this colleague no wrong, although I had loved her with all my heart for more than 20 years and didn’t deserve this bulling and abuse of our friendship, once more I forced myself, as self-inflicted penance, to repeat,

Jesus, forgive me

          Then something strange began to happen.

          Kindness began to trickle my way – not from this colleague, but from others. It may not have seemed like much, but it was a lot to me. I had prayed for kindness the week before, just enough to be able to go on. Then, I had shushed myself, fearing that prayer was a rejection of my Cross.

          But strangely, unexpectedly, a pure spring now gently silvered into my day and my burdens lifted. Although almost every day before this had been difficult, now it seemed as if the walls of the day no longer bore nails to hurt.

          For some moments, I struggle to understand what I did to deserve this reprieve. And then, I realise that it’s not about what I’ve done. This is grace. Jesus was pierced as He hung on the Cross. Blood and water had flowed from that pierced side.

          The miracle of kindness I experienced today was that water of grace that came from the piercing of my Jesus’ body. As often as I pray with heart and soul, Jesus, forgive me, not the easy prayer in idle moments free of pain and hurt, BUT praying each time I face piercing, the stone in my heart rolls back further and further.

          2 years ago, at Christmas, I had dreamt of water filling a room in my home right to the ceiling. I had opened my door and the powerful rush of that clear water had knocked me down. I had then felt the words,

Momentarily overwhelmed

          I now know what it means. Opening the door means to roll back the stone in my heart. And I will be knocked down by the in-rushing waters of grace when my spirit bends in humility as I pray,

Jesus, forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Bend

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          I asked God a few days back why no song has been laid on my heart for months now. At the moment of my rising today, the angels brought this old hymn. As Easter rises hollow and empty for me, I search the lines of the hymn for His Light for me.

He

He can turn the tide or calm the angry sea,
He alone decides who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star that makes our darkness bright
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time to hear a child’s first prayer,
Saint or sinner calls and always finds him there.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true,
He can paint the clouds and turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end,
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold
He knows ev’ry lie that you and I have told.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”.

 

          I asked God which of those lines is meant for me. I expected it to be, He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end, given that He has used the rainbow to buoy me on to hope for the fulfilment of His promise to me.

          Instead, this was His answer,

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.

 

 

 

 

Lent 39 ~ The Greatest Love. The Greatest Grief.

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And if the love of Mary towards her Son was immense, immense also must have been her grief in losing Him by death. “Where there is the greatest love,” says Blessed Albert the Great, “there also is the greatest grief.”   ~ St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 37 ~ I Must Love

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I believe in my pain, made fruitless by selfishness, in which I see refuge.

I believe in the stinginess of my soul that seeks to take without giving.

I believe that others are good and that I must love them without fear and without ever betraying them, never seeking my own security   ~   The Creed of Pope Francis, in Pilgrimage by Mark K. Shriver

 

 

          I went to work today, armed with Pope Francis’ creed, determined to love without seeking my own heart. I fell soon enough. The invisible onslaught was too much. I forgot all about the creed but I know I fought and fought to love. And yet, I fell.

I believe in the stinginess of my soul that seeks to take without giving.

          I gave but I asked for just a bit of kindness in return, for my parched heart. It was that seeking that made me fall. It took me away from Jesus’s hidden suffering.

          His death was nearing but His apostles were distracted by tainted conversations, empty pleasures, the inflicting of pain on others. As His suffering increased, Jesus searched the crowd of consolers for my heart but alas, it was not bound to His.

          No, my heart was seeking its own comfort today.

          It is night here. Only the crickets sing. The air does not dare stir to soothe. I have only a few short hours before dawn comes once more.

          I am weary from years of struggle. But the battle is not over yet. I seal my heart in His Tabernacle. I must love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 36 ~ Ravages of The Enemy

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          At Mass, I was given to understand what my family and I were facing.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.   ~   Entry 356, Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska

          Ravages of the enemy. Efforts of hell.

          From 3 days before, a strange pulsing over the number 15. No fear. No lightness either. I believed it would be a sign.

          And today, the 15th of April, the iconic Notre Dame cathedral burns. Whatever its electrical cause, the fire is symbolic of the efforts of hell against us.

          But hell will not prevail. Endure, Our Lady told me. Endure we will. We will keep our eyes on God. We will do His Will. We will not hate. We will love.

          And we will endure.