BLESSED SACRAMENT

Lent 1 ~ In the Heart of God

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My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed Sacrament , where my heart is, as it were, in Its centre.   ~  St Margaret Mary Alacoque

          I have been looking forwards to Lent for a few weeks now. Like Christmas, Lent marks an especial time of inner quieting, a time when heaven grants me a singular strength to withdraw from the world and to place my heart into God’s, at Its very centre. 

          Where my journey will take me this year I know not, but no one is ever the same emerging from the time spent in God’s Heart.

Time to Fight

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May the malice of the enemy be stunned.   ~ St Albert of Trapani

          Today was one of those days when I did not ask for my prayer for the day but it came nonetheless, slipping in on the breath of warm breezes. On this last day of the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I had prayed the battle prayer of the August Queen for the final time this month, my heart joined in mourning with the brethren of my country, for all that has been lost, for all that could have been.

          At my altar this morning, I prayed for the soul of an old man who had died 4 days ago.  Late last year, this man had been severely beaten, just for doing his duty. A victim of someone else’s incomprehensible rage. Poor, his voice was too small and no one came to his aid.

          For months, this old man had lain bedridden and comatose. But he died 4 days ago. From the depths of grief, his wife in quiet had spoken, He has died and left me. 

          I found it very hard to love when the news broke  yesterday and the videos of the brutal beating from last year found life once more. It was as if this poor man’s death brought to the fore every meaningless loss this broken nation has endured for 64 years. No tree nor rock for any of us to hide from the searing lash of shared sorrow.

          A few days ago, I began sensing an inner call to go before the Blessed Sacrament. Since we have been under lockdown since mid May and likely for another couple of weeks, my weekly Friday visits to church have become a thing of the past. But here now was this call, gentle yet insistent,

Come before Me in the Blessed Sacrament

          Then, it dawned on me that there was a way: find a livestream of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. And so I did, and began my visits. One of the first things I did was to place into the Heart of Jesus my red rage against the killer of this old man. I wasn’t having much success with hate the crime, not the person – but I figured God would know what to do.

          And God did. The rage was gone this morning. I wasn’t suddenly filled with goodwill towards the one who had done such a terrible wrong. But quiet and deep peace had come into my heart and with a mind free of anger and hate, I was able to finally pray, Lord, may Thy Justice and Mercy meet for this poor old man. While it was not brave and noble as a prayer of forgiveness for the accused would have been, this was a great improvement from some of the other darker things that had been skidding across my mind yesterday.

          A short while later, the winds began to gently stir the windchimes outside. With the rising of the last August sun, the calls of the day beckoned smilingly. But I was not done yet. I wanted to touch the Immaculate Heart of Mary one last time today. Moments after I had recited the August Queen prayer, ready to move on with my day, Someone put out Her hand and stayed me with these words,

May the malice of the enemy be stunned.

          And I knew then that it is time to fight.

Open My Inner Ear

          Last Friday, I had the alluring prospect of the afternoon to myself. After weeks of pushing myself, I was coming to the end of the work week feeling drained, so some hours to rest and let go were precious indeed.

          But then my husband came home from work in the middle of the week, fuming about a change in work plans, necessitating him to attend a long meeting in the city on Friday afternoon.

          Immediately, I found myself asking him if I could tag along. Given what the weeks had been, especially that week, I did wonder inside of me, if I was mad. Mad to forgo physical rest. Mad to endure that long drive to the city and the likelihood of traffic snarls.

          Yet, there was no doubt in my mind. I wanted to go with my husband and while he was at his meeting, I wanted to be in church. I had gone so long without being before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus had sustained me all this while and would continue to, I knew, but this Friday, after giving so much of myself to others, I wanted to give my Jesus an offering of myself. I wanted to be before Him and to console him by my presence and the offering of my heart, however tattered it was.

          My husband readily agreed. Over the 2 days or so till Friday came, I sensed a change come over me. Something began trickling into my heart. A cool stream of some kind of water, mystical and mysterious. As it tumbled and slipped into the gullies and crevices, my tiredness and tensions yielded unprotestingly to that water. I thus came to Friday, happy and light. Happier than I had been in a long while.

          In my happiness, I told Jesus that He was not to be silent with me. It had been so long since I had been in church and I wanted Him to speak and speak to me all the hours I was before Him.

          Then I spoke of my wish,

Open my inner ear

I didn’t just want to hear things; I wanted Jesus to speak to me through the ear of my heart.

          When Friday morning came, readying for work, I felt that skip of joy inside me, and again, wondered at it. Is it because I’m coming to see You? I suddenly asked. That I chose hours in a simple seat inside a still and empty church instead of an afternoon of deserved rest?

          A tiny sprite of words formed in reply,

My little adorer

          I keeled away from the name. I did not deserve it. All I was, was a mess of a person. One who slipped and tripped and fell more often than she walked upright, clearsighted and steady of heart. Never was this more evident than this October. This October of farewells and a change to life. An October of hoping and of hopes being dashed. Of a reigniting of old fires in our marriage, nefarious fires that had no business coming back to life.

Adorer

          For close to 3 hours in church that day, over and over.

          I left church later that day, tired, but with an inner quiet missing for so long. That Friday led to 4 more incredibly hectic days. My step slowed and I laboured to get through each day.

          But that sweet, cool brook within tripped and skipped on, catching the rays of an invisible sun with every turn and bubble.

          Today, I was home on sick leave. As is my practice, I fight illness with work. Managing to put dinner together, I left the kitchen after some minutes of listening to my husband venting about a mess at work. A sudden weakness had come over me and I needed to sit down. But I also wanted to get away from my husband’s anger and frustrations over work.

          I had barely sat down and begun scrolling through the posts on a forum when it occurred to me that I was giving my time to other people instead of being with my tired husband. That thought had not fully rolled itself out when these words formed,

Carry his cross.

          They were not my thoughts. They were from somewhere else. From within me but not of me. I know it because I did not delay, trying to hedge out of what was needed. Instead, in an immediate obedience pretty much foreign to me, I went to my husband and let him know he had my ear once more.

          I knew then whose Voice it was that I was hearing, that quiet bloom of words within me. I understood the difference between the talking to I often give myself, and this other Voice. When it is from me, often there is a struggle to comply. But when it is my Master’s, it straightens my soul to willing obedience and to genuine humility.

          Open my inner ear. My prayer had been heard.

Angel to the Heart of Heaven

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          I awakened after an unusually long night’s sleep, to a quiet and misty Saturday morning. A Saturday of freedom. For the first time in long weeks, I finally had Saturday to be at home and not on the road, travelling to the city.

          At my altar to say my daily prayers, I remembered that Saturdays for me were for Our Lady. So, after I prayed my customary prayer to Jesus, I seal my heart in Yours, I added on another line, I seal my heart in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

          The moment I said that, an image came to mind. An image of my husband and I driving in the city on Friday yesterday. If I am alone in the city on a Friday, with a quick call to my parish priest for permission, I always get to spend an hour in church. If my husband is with me, we still stop by at church but for a shorter time because my husband always has errands to run.

          Yesterday however, he had this one thing to be done and we felt it would take ages. Hence, we didn’t go to church. I didn’t feel any regret because our Friday trip to the city had come after a very tiring week for us both, and I wanted us to just settle our business there and get home. Furthermore, I didn’t even think of making a flying visit to church because my husband had a long drive ahead of him for outstation work on Sunday and I wanted us to get back to our town as quickly as possible so that he could get sufficient rest before his trip.

          But, this morning, after the prayer, I seal my heart in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I suddenly wondered if I should have made more of an effort to be with Jesus in church yesterday, even for mere minutes.

          After my daily Readings, stopping by at my prayer nook for the saint quote of the day, I learned how important it was to God that I stepped into church when I could, even for the briefest of visits. Today’s quote was from a saint dear to me, and she got straight to the point.

          When you pass before a chapel and do not have time to stop for a while, tell your Guardian Angel to carry out your errand to Our Lord in the tabernacle. He will accomplish it and then still have time to catch up with you.   ~   St. Bernadette Soubirous

          I didn’t sense any sting of admonition; instead, I felt a gentle hand showing the path I should have taken but didn’t think of.

          Heaven had more to tell me. Touched by the quote, I went to add it to my collection of quotes. On my way there, I came across another file – Guardian Angel to Mass. I hadn’t the faintest idea what that was, so I opened it. It turned out to be a prayer I had typed up for the children at the beginning of the stay-home order. A prayer to be said because we could not longer attend Mass.

Prayer to one’s Guardian Angel when unable to attend Mass

O Holy Angel at my side
go to the church for me,
kneel at my place at Holy Mass,
where I desire to be,
At offertory in my stead,
take all I am and own
and place it as a sacrifice
upon the altar Throne.
At Holy Consecration’s bell
adore with Seraph’s love,
My Jesus hidden in the Host,
come down from heaven above.
And when the priest Communion takes
O bring my Lord to me,
that His sweet Heart may rest on mine
And I His temple be.

 

          Heaven’s rebuke would have been hard enough to bear, but this soft breath of Love sent instead, through the first thoughts at the altar this morning, through the quote and finally through that prayer, made me wish that I had put God first before any errand.

          Still, the gentle sweetness of Mother Mary that opened the eyes of my heart told me that Heaven understood that we couldn’t stop by at church yesterday – but there was a remedy for that for all time:

God had given us someone who could go in our stead.

          Someone who could and would carry our hearts, our burdens, our joys, to the feet of The Most High. For every tear, every sweetness we bequeath our waiting Jesus in silent churches the world over, we have an angel who will willingly and joyfully bear all to the Heart of Heaven.

          With a smile in my heart, I began to pack. Into an old and worn little basket went my offerings of sunshine and a few clouds. The sweetness and the difficult, the unexpected and the funny. The little rose~blooms God had hidden in my work days this week. The morning dream of hope of a superior who has brought us so much suffering. The prayers I should have said but didn’t. The stumbling that comes when you don’t pray enough and don’t trust enough.

          Into the basket woven from years of joy and tears, each one went. Done, I pressed it into my faithful, ever waiting heart’s love.

          Take my offering, I told my Angel.

          Take it to the Heart of Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 11 ~ Gates

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.   ~   Psalm 79:11

 

          A year ago, this exact verse came before me, and with it, the face of someone I honestly despise.  But something stirred in me that however much that nasty man had hurt me, he was a prisoner who had to be set free – because the root cause of his darkness was a dangerous love and worship of money and wealth.

          Yesterday, not knowing this verse was going to appear again, a friend mentioned this same person to me. It was from her that I heard again about this man’s growing desire for money.

          I saw that he was fast sinking into a deadly spiral.

          I honestly didn’t want to pray for this man except to pray for protection from him because being my superior at work, he has hurt me deeply and still possesses the power to harm me. In my moment of reluctance, I saw these words pass before my heart:

Before My Eucharistic Face

          Jesus was asking me to bring this man to Adoration.

          Since I do not live close to any church, I did what I could. I went to the live streaming link to the Divine Mercy Chapel in Poland and I went before the Blessed Sacrament. My spirit knelt before the Miraculous Image, and I placed this man before the Face of Jesus. No words did I fuss over except to utter his name.

          I then felt I ought to bring other names as well and so I did. With each name I pressed, I leaned in to determine His will, to see if I was truly called to pray for that person. 

          Groups of people passed before my spirit’s eyes. As I touched each one to take them before the Eucharistic Face, with some I could sense a yielding, like some invisible latch had fallen and its gate opened; with others I felt a shrinking away, like they were closing in on themselves. 

          After yesterday’s dying to myself, I was not in the mood to be disobedient by feeling guilty for not praying for more people. I was here to bring before the Eucharistic Face only those whom Jesus called for through me today.

          When my Adoration had ended, I sat back and rested my heart against the morning winds as they sang their silver and gold hymns among the leaves.

          Slowly, I became aware of a single word.

Gates.