Pray for Judges

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Pray for judges

          After weeks of praying, Save my country, praying for our leaders, for our people, the Lord unexpectedly placed this exhortation on my heart in the dark hours of Sunday morn.

          It was not a prayer that fell right into my heart, I’m not sure why. Nevertheless, I gnawed at it all the way to Mass even as I obeyed the call.

          But upon hearing our pastor’s sermon at Mass, I had no doubts I had heard right: Father unexpectedly preached on wrongful incarceration.

          This comes after the sorrow caused by the judgement in the Alfie Evans case in the UK. When judges play God and deny parents their right to that final struggle and that final suffering for their dying children. I don’t think Alfie’s young parents really expected a miracle cure in Italy even if they hoped for one; what their hearts must have yearned for most was a safe place to love their baby as he waned from this earthly life. Safe from the distractions of struggles and tussles with medical staff.

          Safe from the sickening fear of court judgements that tore children from their parents.

          And when going to Italy was ruled against, all they wanted was to take the boy who would never grow up, home.

          But the courts denied them that.

Pray for judges

          How many lives are being altered along wrongful lines just because of flawed judgements? Even if there are aspects I do not understand about the Alfie Evans case that might have guided the judge to his decision, there are many, many more lives the world over,  scarred permanently by judgements made without the fear of God.

          And this scarring is seldom limited to just that one life because suffering is rarely contained. Often its pain is borne by and marks every other world entwined with that one world turned upside down by a judge who forgets he is not God.

          An unseen hand beckons that I step into the rushing currents of cries of my suffering people. Time is short. Sensing an urgency, I turn my heart towards the call. Every vocal prayer, every struggle, every hurt – I offer them all as prayers for judges and their judgements.

          It is then that something slips into my prayers,

Pray for their conversion. That they love God.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

It is Time to Build

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When a man prepares to build a house, he gathers together all he needs to be able to construct it, and he collects different sorts of materials. So it is with us; let us acquire a little of the virtues.   ~   St. Poemen

 

           In the last days of Lent, I had begun to feel a new and unexpected bubbling of a secret joy~brook within me. As its waters  silvered deeper into the folds of my spirit, I wondered at its source. One day, I understood it – it was akin to the joy of moving into a lovely new home.

          And then, I was told to build an oratory within myself.

          Passion Week brought a muting of that beautiful, gentle trickling, and I did not feel it again until Desert Father Poemen slipped his words quietly into my morning stillness.

When a man prepares to build a house

he collects different sorts of materials

let us acquire a little of the virtues.

Each word of the Shepherd pearled into lights as they touched my spirit. Each word resurrected the purpose of living that lights the path ahead. Our mourning and cleansing done, we are now to rise to begin to build a new home within us, walled and lined and sealed with every virtue God wills of us.

There is an appointed time for everything,

and a time for every affair under the heavens.  

a time to tear down,

and a time to build.  

~   Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wounded by Him

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When I withdraw this grace of conversation with Me for a time, it is so that you will not mistake it for the product of your own imaginings, and also so that you will not grow accustomed to My words and so, little by little, fail to take them to heart and to treasure them.   ~   In Sinu Jesu

 

          On the First Saturday of this month of the Eucharist, as the sun began its ascent to its throne in the highs of the skies, Jesus told me He was withdrawing from me. Yet, so soft was his voice that I tucked it away, thinking He meant a time in the past. Later that night, the eve of Feast of Mercy was marked in a temporary but intense falling out with one of my children over their conscience. It was brief, but deeply upsetting for us both. Although the nets were mended that very night, I felt as if something had been torn from me. Did I disobey God in some way? Did I use the wrong words? Did I preempt God’s timing through what I had said? Did I move ahead to speak without praying and discerning sufficiently?

          Retiring for the night, all I asked for was that Jesus not hide from me, but speak to me. That I hear His voice when I needed to most.

          All that returned to my ears was silence. Rising to meet the pearling new dawn, I knew my Lord had not come to my heart in the night.

          As the sun rose to its glory and the eastern winds began their earnest visits, I felt their beauty by the door of my heart. Nothing could pierce this sense of unsettling uncertainty over the events of the old night. In the argument the previous night, my only intention had been that God be glorified. But why did I feel that something had been torn away from me, despite the restoring of sweetness?

          More importantly, why did it not hurt as wounds always do?

          I took the desolation within me to Adoration. Going before the Miraculous Image on this Feast of the Divine Mercy, I dropped my prayer cart and fell to my knees. I gave Jesus everything. Every word, every sharing, the doubts, the right and wrong of it.

          In a silent instant, it was all taken away.

          Every thing in my prayer cart was taken. Nothing was left behind. I sensed the complete inner healing of that strange, unseen wound.

          Yet, my Lord remained silent. No Word did He give me for my hours on choppy waters. Did I do wrong? Did I not?

          About to lift my spirit in question again, I felt an unseen finger write these words  on my heart,

Wounded by Him.

 

 

 

Lent 40 ~ Victory

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          Short weeks before the Passion Week, St. James came before me. I had learned some years before, that whenever he comes, it will mean, Prepare for Battle.

          I didn’t get into a panic this time, but I went into alert mode.

          There were indeed many spiritual skirmishes, but I came through with few bruises. And I thought that was that. Even when the Passion Week loomed and the warning, Prepare, sounded again, I didn’t see the shadow take form before me.

          When it did hit – in the form of physical suffering that brought on fear and worry and distraction, I slipped and struggled to regain my footing. Of all the battles I had imagined, this one caught me off guard. From Holy Thursday right up to Good Friday, I struggled to hold on to my faith. I struggled to console my Crucified Lord.

          Easter Vigil morn brought some relief. Gulping in air, I hoped the worst was behind me. Yet, I held on tightly to the 2 saints who had kept vigil with me in my struggle – St. Anne and St. Gianna Molla. Something told me it was far from over.

          I was right. Travelling to Easter Vigil Mass, I was dragged down once more. Fighting fear and weakening of faith, I suddenly remembered the light that came to me on Good Friday.

Place your sufferings into the Wounds of Christ

          I lunged for it. Over and over and over again, every time the pain and discomfort took hold of me, I sank my sufferings into Christ’s Wounds. I didn’t try to pretend faith. I told St. Anne and St. Gianna that I was slipping. I begged them to not let go of me.

          Towards night, before Mass, I finally emerged from that battle.

          I offered thanksgiving to heaven.

          And wondered why I wasn’t flooded with more relief.

          That was answered soon enough. The moment I stepped into church, as it began to fill up, I was hit again.

          The hammer that struck this time was different. In some ways, it was far worse than what I had endured the whole week. Every time I tried to immerse myself into the prayers, I was hit from every single direction.

          I was hit so that I would not pray.

          I tried to fight back but even I could tell my attempts were weak. My blows were soft against the unyielding iron of evil.

          Suddenly, before me, misted these words again,

Place your sufferings into the Wounds of Christ

          I fled to the Wounds of Christ. Every time negative thoughts about people entered my mind, I fought back by placing the persons into the Wounds of Christ. I sensed a new courage flood me. My enemy had unmasked himself but I was no longer cowering in fear behind stones. Everything he threw at me, I did not deflect, but I reached out and grabbed and plunged into the Wounds of Christ. Over and over and over. Bring it on, I challenged as I have never before done.

          Every attack now meant more souls for Christ.

          The moment I received Holy Communion, I knew it was truly over.

          The Wounds of Christ had won.

 

 

 

 

Lent 38 ~ They Have Returned

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          This had been a week of some physical suffering. I had attempted to be brave about it, and on the first day, it did seem that I would be able to weather it. Then, I was shown the words, Prepare for Holy Week, and so I offered up my pain and worries as my part in my Lord’s passion. The moment I did, everything changed. The suffering intensified overnight. I began to wobble.

          Yesterday found me telling God, I’m so sorry. I can’t do it. I want to but I can’t.

          This time, my mind took over, trying to cajole me into not relinquishing my suffering, but my will had been weakened beyond words. I could not find it in me to join my sufferings with Jesus’.

          I knocked on every door of every saint who had come to mean something to me. I prayed to Mother Mary. Through it all, heaven stayed silent. I didn’t sense that I had been abandoned, but it felt as if everyone I invoked had retreated behind closed doors, except for St. Therese the Little Flower – I sensed a ‘movement’ when I called her name.

          Then, I remembered two I had missed out.

          I hastened to St. Anne. This time, I felt the door yield to my pleading. Just.

          Following this, the name of another saint appeared before me. St. Gianna Beretta Molla. I knew she had been a doctor, and I desperately needed the comfort of one at that moment. I prayed and prayed that she speak to me.

          St. Gianna did. She corrected the medication I was on.

          That night, before I slept, I tried to do some spiritual reading to take my mind off things. But exhausted from work, my suffering and two days of almost no sleep, the words swam before my eyes. I struggled to focus, my eyelids were coming down.

          Then three lights emerged from that mist:

St. Therese the Little Flower

Place your sufferings into the Wounds of Christ

Redemptive Suffering

          I was so exhausted that although my heart acknowledged all three, it was the last – Redemptive Suffering – that stayed with me. I went to bed that night, with a prayer on my heart to St. Gianna and St. Anne that they help me to suffer my pain for Jesus, in honour of His Passion, so that my suffering might be of use to someone.

          What had slipped my mind was that St. Anne and St. Gianna were also the patron saints of mothers.

          I slept well but was awakened close to six in the morning by a dream.

          I was outside a building. I had the feeling that there was water nearby, that it was a waterfront building. There were cars. I saw one, a humble, old car, a father and kids inside. The kids were slightly impatient. I heard the father calmly tell the children to be patient a while longer. I sensed he and others were waiting for something or someone.

          Then, I was inside the building. A priest was just ending the celebration of Mass. For some reason, I went right up to the altar, but to the left of it. Behind the altar, doors opened out to a huge, huge, flowing river. The waters seemed to be even higher than the building I was in. 

          Suddenly, the moment the Mass ended, a great mist rose from the river and began to swirl around. There was something so deeply beautiful in that mist that the congregation collectively gasped at its beauty.

          But didn’t have time to immerse myself in it. For I saw something the others had not seen yet.

That it was not mist.

It was children! Little children. Hundreds of them!

          The children were alighting from a sort of river bus. Each one had a photo. I knew immediately that the little ones had come from heaven. And that they were going to be ‘matched’ to the person in the photo that each one clutched.

          In such a crowd of busy, silent children, it should have been impossible, but I immediately saw the one I sought. I rushed towards him and hugged him tightly as I sobbed. All around me, the rest of the congregation at Mass, all of them parents too, surged forwards towards their children in tearful joy.

          But the little boy in my arms didn’t hug me back as I expected. He didn’t pull away either. He was contented to remain in my tight embrace. But there was something in the way he looked at me. In the way he searched my face.

          It was as if he knew me, yet was learning about me for the first time.

          Looking down, I saw that this beautiful boy dressed in the smart wedding finery of a ring-bearer’s white silk shirt and clean, pressed black pants, had his arm tight to his chest; like all the other children, he too was holding a photograph.

          As I was about to see take the photo to see who it was of, I caught sight of a smaller child. A girl, standing a little away by the side of the altar.

          At that moment, two things registered.

          The altar had been stripped of its white cloth. The altar was now bare, clean unadorned wood.

          And the little one was standing by it, holding her photo and gazing at it with deep, deep love. A love so rarely seen in one as young as she was.

          There was no one else there at that moment. All the other children had been claimed by their parents. They had left. The building had fallen silent. All that remained was me and these two children.

          Stunned at seeing her, I asked the little boy, Who is that?

          Hearing me, the little girl turned to face me. She had my daughter’s eyes. She had another daughter’s soft hair. Little though she was, she had her hair tied up in a low, little bun, soft waves framing the sweetest, purest face.

          She looked straight into my eyes.

          She was wearing her hair just as I always did. As none of my other daughters did.

          In that moment, I knew her.

She was my daughter!

My wee one whom I had miscarried at eight weeks of pregnancy. The love of our lives whom my husband and I had grieved for, far away from human eyes. The precious one no one had known, no one even remembered now, save my husband and I.

          She had now come home.

          And then, I realised who the little boy was.

He was my eldest child!

The long awaited baby I had miscarried after long years of barenness. I hadn’t known if it had been a boy or a girl. Today, finally, I knew.

          Many years ago, Jesus promised me that my children would be returned. At that time, I struggled to understand. Even as I continued to be blessed with children, even as I found exquisite joy in each one, my heart knew they were not the ones who had gone. Many times, I asked God if to long for them was to be ungrateful for the beautiful children we had been blessed with.

          I wondered if it was even right to wait for them.

          Today, on the day the altar is stripped bare in the grief of the Ultimate Sacrifice, God told me I had not been wrong to wait. That I had not been wrong to love to the depths that I had the babies who had died in my womb. That if there was anyone who was wrong, it was those who denied us our grief.

          And those who rejoiced in our loss.

          Today, God fulfilled His promise to me and to all other waiting parents on this 30th day of the month of flowers.

          God returned my children. Just as He had promised.

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

Lent 37 ~ Prepare

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          Yesterday was the lull, and today was the storm of sorts. Not violent, not tearing. But annoying. Draining. I couldn’t focus from morning. My Adoration today must have been my worst ever. But recalling Jesus’ words in In Sinu Jesu, This is really all I ask of souls – that you come to Me. And I will do the rest, I didn’t bother to beat myself up.

          Nonetheless, the wind sure had its claws out for me today. Try as I did, I couldn’t seem to settle into lines of peace. Still, it did feel as if someone was standing guard over my spirit, keeping the gusts from vexing me further.

          When I came home, trying to get some office work done, I went into another whorl of annoyance. Again, it was a brief battle – and no credit will I take for it; once more, I sensed someone within me holding the door closed against trespassing spirits.

          Then, I read these words, Prepare properly for Holy Week.

          Immediately, I guessed the dark abode of the clawing winds that had sought to assault me all day. In that instant, I felt the unseen vice release its hold over me. I didn’t need to worry about all that hadn’t quite worked out that day. I didn’t need to fret about whys and how-comes.

          Because the winds had come to trouble, the emissaries doing the bidding of the dark, to take my eyes off the Light in the distance.

Prepare properly for Holy Week

          The winds leave.

 

 

 

 

Lent 35 ~ Obey

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As the wax which we place near the fire assumes any form we wish to give it, so the loving soul ought to obey as soon as her Beloved has spoken.   ~   St. Paul of the Cross

 

          This entire week, the word ‘obey’ has been before me. I spoke to my children about it, taught them its meaning, admonished where necessary. I met a friend at church. She was struggling with her marriage, planning to carve out a ‘new life’ for herself through social work that would give her the separation she needed from her husband. As I listened to her, I felt her pain. But I wondered too, What if, in trying to reclaim her life, she is moving away from the Will of God?

Obey.

          I had a brief encounter with a troubled boy who had no need of God in his life. With my sister-in-law who chose to live life on erring terms.

          I was more than troubled by the various disobedience. I was angry. I certainly had a lot to say about it.

          Yet, today, as the rose awakened the slumbering sable veils, St. Paul of the Cross came to tell me, the loving soul ought to obey as soon as her Beloved has spoken. I had been so preoccupied with the disobedience of other people that I forgot to examine my own conscience and check my own disobedience. I have a great decision  before me – amare nesciri to love to be unknown – and I have yet to make a firm commitment to it. It is my obedience to the Will of God that I need to focus on – first and foremost. When I see people around me rebelling, if the Spirit presses me to an action, then to it I must go.

          But that does not exempt me from placing my own obedience beneath His gaze, so that I too may not be found wanting.

          I turn the eyes of my spirit towards amare nesciri. Those are the words that will seal my hermitage. Even if I am not discernibly moved, I know that the moment I say the words, there will be no turning back.

          I feel no resistance within me and yet, I stop at the gates, unable to go on.

          And then, going past myself, I say the words that don’t want to come forth.

Thy Will be done.