Blood of Christ

An Old Bell Tolls

          Recently, I slowly became aware of the tolling of an old bell. Old as in a journey I have undertaken. Old as in a call to return to the exact starting point of that slightly worn path.

          It began with the recent discovery of the live streaming from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland, where St Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Miraculous Image is kept. I have since ‘taken’ broken hearts and lives daily to that shrine, and set them before the Miraculous Image.

          I have seen at least one miraculous healing.

          And one powerful guidance.

         One day last week, I woke up to a great inner struggle with anger against someone given to incessant grumbling and the beginnings of sloth. I felt my anger was justified. I felt I needed to speak up.

          Righteous anger leads to spirit-life.

There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity… ~ St Isaiah the Solitary

          But the trouble with my anger, as it so often is, is that it was laden with the added dimensions of vengeance and rebuke with the intention to hurt. And that obliterates righteousness from it, defiles its purity. I was aware of it, and there was a great back-and-forth within me over it.

          In the midst of that struggle, I suddenly became aware of a frisson of deep unease. It might have been a premonition. To me, it felt more like someone else within me was trying to warn me away from a deeply unpleasant situation that would arise should I follow through on my intent to hurt this person to shock sense into her, using righteous anger as an excuse.

          The unease was powerful enough to cause me to rear back from my inclinations. Yet, I knew very well indeed that I often have a wanton disregard for caution. I was fearful that I might, at some point, be overcome by this black anger and do just what my heart and mind were begging for.

          So, I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I took this black venom and ran and set it before the Miraculous Image.

          The anger was pulled out of me, and it was pulled out by its roots.

          Stunned, I turned to the Miraculous Image. I don’t ever remember this type of prayer being answered so swiftly for me. It’s always preceded by long, banging on Heaven’s door. Somehow, I just knew this deliverance was not an end, but a beginning. It was a call to approach closer. And so I did, going before it even when there were no specific intentions. Going before it just to rest my heart there.

          And when my ear burned, I began to breathe Samuel’s entreaty, Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.

          This morning, before we left the home for Mass, the angel brought me The Diary of My Soul, St Faustina’s journal of her spiritual journey into the depths of the Divine Mercy. I had done a thorough reading of it beginning in November of 2015, and it had been an immensely powerful journey that took me through 2016.

          Now, more than a year later, it was gently placed in my hands again.

          The old bell tolled once more.

          I opened it after Mass and for long minutes, lost myself in it. In the early pages of St Faustina’s heart, I saw my own recent life-journeys, albeit on a much less profound scale. I read on calmly and in a state of prayer, going from one event in the saint’s life to another, my spirit for once content to listen out for my Lord.

          Just before I was about to end the reading for the day, I saw these words:

I was to make this novena for the intention of my Motherland. – Entry 33, The Diary of My Soul

          And then I no longer saw those words but these –

Pray for the Motherland.

          A tiny bell went off.

          My country is facing deep turmoil, though not many would see it that way. There are immense struggles on every front. For the most part, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Marriage and family are being sacrificed on the altars of self, materialism and corruption. Too many couples are going headlong into wrong unions. Too many think nothing of ending their marriages. Too many are counselled to believe that is indeed the right and only option.

          Children number the most on the casualty list, yet many parents, politicians, educationists and social activists remain blinded.

          My country is being torn apart from its heart.

          Pray for the Motherland.

          How do I pray?

          The previous entry in the Diary of a Soul had mentioned a nine-day hour long Adoration with Stations of the Cross. I sensed I was to begin the prayers this very day, the 13th of August, the day the August apparitions of Fatima would have taken place in 1917 had the young seers not been kidnapped and taken away. If I began the prayers today, in nine days, they would end on the 21st of August, the day of the total solar eclipse.

          21 August. Solar eclipse. Did the prayer ending on that day say anything of the much-awaited eclipse? Was the prayer linked to it? Did it portend something ominous as many were predicting, prophesying even?

          The same answer as before returned to me. No. There was nothing in the eclipse for me.

          Tell me what to pray. Tell me how to pray, I pressed for Jesus’ heart.

          And the answer came.

Jesus said to me, My child, unite yourself closely to Me during the Sacrifice and offer My Blood and My Wounds to My Father in expiation for the sins of that city. Repeat this without interruption throughout the entire Holy Mass. Do this for seven days. – Entry 39, The Diary of My Soul

          There was no way I could attend Mass for the duration of the prayers, but I could unite my prayers spiritually with the Sacrifices offered in all churches during daily Masses, praying the powerful prayer of entreaty I believe Jesus was asking of me through His words to St Faustina ~

Eternal God, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

          I had come to the end of the discernment. Just before I moved on, I performed one last check. Do this for seven days, Jesus had said. Beginning today, I counted to see where seven days would take me.

          The prayers for the Motherland would end on August 19. The day of the actual Fatima apparitions.

          It left me with no doubts that this prayer and this time were willed. I was to petition the Divine Mercy through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

         

 

Jesus, Take Them.

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          I entered August without a prayer direction for the month. I was not consciously anxious. I knew it would come. Nonetheless, never one to wait for the Lord in patience, I went a-digging in search of the August guide for the skies of my heart.

          The digging unearthed nothing. But the prayer came. And it came from the last place I’d have thought to look into.

          It came from the occult.

          It began with a change in a work colleague.

          She had never been a hard worker; in fact, diligence was lost on her. She did what she had to, and she did it with bad grace. While I despised her attitude towards work, it was hard not to acknowledge the good in her – namely that she never participated in gossip; no matter how alluring the temptation, she always stuck to the facts.

          Given to bouts of cheeriness and loud, hearty laughter, over a period of two weeks, this young woman began to morph into something else. I began to see a roughness in attitude. Her disregard for good work hardened into a darkness that had not been there before. Then, came the harshness. Small annoyances set her off. She dealt harshly with others over minor infractions. There was unfairness in her dealings where there was none before.

          It could easily have been a mood change, personal stress or any number of things. But I was in no mood to be charitable when this dark change widened its circle and caught me in its web and stung me. I began to seethe with rage over her harshness and unfairness towards innocent people. I was angry that she did so little, yet complained so much.

          For a couple of hours, I stewed in the pot this woman had lit the fire for. Then, as I climbed the stairs to return to my office, an angel stood before me. I didn’t see, nor did I sense his presence, but I know he had stood there blocking my ascent, because suddenly, I was lifted out of my anger. From out of nowhere, this woman and her nastiness assumed the form of a Cross. The minute I saw the Cross, I was overcome with awareness that I had chosen not to love the Cross.

          Help me to love my Cross, I breathed in prayer. Help me to suffer this so I may pray for her.

          From there, things took off.

          Within brief minutes of that prayer, it came to me that this sudden change in my colleague began about two weeks ago, and it had its starting seeds with her challenging the occult. There had been a serious family situation involving the occult, and when my colleague got wind of it, she went on the offensive against it.

          When this knowledge was placed before me, my heart stared at it. For the life of me, I didn’t know what to do about it. My colleague is a Muslim. Occultism, dabbling in the dark spirits, entreating its help, shamanism, all these are very much a part of the Muslim faith as it is practiced here. It’s not encouraged openly, neither is it prohibited.

          To tell her I suspected that she had been hexed the day she confronted the occultists over that family matter, would be to drive her into the netherworld of a shaman who would have what she believed could rid her of the hex. Because Muslims do not believe that prayers can rid them of this; only that a Muslim shaman can.

          By golly, I’m not sold on that. One does not fight the dark with darkness.

          As I pondered the matter, the words – dark, rough, heavycame before me. I brought up the issue of hexing with another colleague, and she too began to share of her experience with it. With no contribution from me to influence her testimony, she spoke of uncharacteristic heaviness. She spoke of a deepening darkness.

          Dark. Rough. Heavy.

          At that minute, I saw something in our own lives. An oddity. My husband and I had recently perceived a strange roughness and heaviness. We both felt like something odd and rough and heavy had slipped in and settled in. But we had dismissed the discerning, forsaking it for the security of logic.

          Suddenly, it became clear what I had to do. My beleaguered colleague had no need of a shaman any more than I did. Although I knew Jesus and she didn’t, I knew His Blood was all I needed and she needed.

          So, I prayed the Blood of Christ to flood our hearts, our lives, anything that had been affected by the occult.

          The very minute I pleaded the Blood of Christ, the roughness and heaviness we had been personally experiencing, disappeared. Even my taciturn husband acknowledged it. Greatly heartened, I went before the Sacred Heart to pray for my colleague.

          And I was led to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy of Cracow, Poland.

          I was led to the 24-hour online transmission from the chapel where the miraculous image of Merciful Jesus and the tomb of St. Faustina is found.

          I’ve read of such live streaming before, but none has ever fallen straight and deep into my heart as this one did. My spirit lunged for it.

          That night, the angels placed my spirit before the Miraculous Image in Poland. And I placed my friend before the image. The next day, I actually forgot all about my prayer for her. At work, I found this lady back to her old cheeriness. Gone was the viper’s spit. Feeling relieved, I cast it out of my mind and went about my busy day.

          It was hours before it suddenly dawned on me that it was Jesus who had reached into her and taken the poison out.

          On the Feast of Our Lady of Snows today, I know this is to be my August call. To go before the Miraculous Image, to place hearts and spirits and souls before it.

          To plead that Jesus take them. That heart. That spirit. That soul. And free them from the houses they are attached to.

          To take captive for the Courts of Heaven.

         

 

 

Lent 14 ~ Sigh of the Prisoner

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You,

with Your great power free those doomed to death. ~ Psalm 79:11

          Last year, I wrote of one of my superiors at work who has the unfortunate disposition of crushing hearts and spirits. He doesn’t do it unknowingly; he does it with cruel and calculated intent.

          I’ve been his target for the past 12 years. One day last year, he broke me finally.

          Deeply hurt, I turned to God.

          And the God I turned to turned me decidedly towards praying in mercy for this man. No retribution plea He allowed. No arm about me, no flooding of heavenly comfort into my heart either.

          The balm for my pain lay in the mercy prayer for this man’s soul.

          And so, I prayed. Of course, it didn’t come easy. Revenge can be as strong a manacle of my heart as it is for this man who hurt me. The only difference is I seldom act on it. But revenge maintained a malevolent vigil even as I forced myself to pray that this man be saved.

          I was taken through several prayers as I went from one level of healing to the next. When I first began, it was a simple yet powerful, Blood of Christ on him, Blood of Christ on me. The angels tinkled the prayer chimes every time I saw him at work. Every time he entered my thoughts. I said the prayer when my heart softened from time to time. I said it when my heart hardened in anger every time bitter memories won out.

          And after a time, I was led to the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. By this time, there was no more inner struggle to pray for him. I didn’t have to be dragged to the prayer. I said it with some dedication too.

          And whenever I slipped in my routine, God sent me dreams of the man and his power to hurt, He allowed little nips at work too – to take me scurrying back to the Cradle of Grace, seeking life for the man.

          I have read to some extent of the immense power of prayer. It can work in ways we least expect.

          Great imagination that I have, it failed me with regards to this man. Despite all my reading and experiences on the miracles prayers can obtain, I couldn’t fathom how my puny prayers this time were going to save his soul – because he barely changed. I finally reached the point where I stopped caring about where my prayers for this man were headed, and how they were going to be answered. I was called to say them, and I did.

          I placed whatever disappointment I had in the lack of signs of conversion, in Mother Mary’s heart. And while I continued to pray for him, in this way, I moved on too.

          Then, one day at Mass, through one of the readings, I heard a voice tell me that this man could not change because the dark pride in him went back a long way; his bloodlines had been contaminated from a long time before.

          I was stupefied. What did it mean? After all my effort, this??!! God let me puzzle over this for many long weeks.

          And then, a tiny bud began to bloom. An Unseen Heart gently drew me to the Prayer of the Holy Wounds. For a reason I have no explanation for, two weeks ago, I began to determinedly place this man in Jesus’ Holy Wounds. I put him and four others in Christ’s sacred Wounds, I imagined them there, deep within, and prayed for the Blood of Christ to flood them all, cleansing every bloodline, helping each one to love God more than themselves.

          Every day, I offered that same Prayer of the Holy Wounds at the start of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Each time I prayed it, the prayer became a little less about me, and more about saving him.

          Then, at the beginning of the new week, these lines of the Responsorial Psalm caught my heart ~

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.

          At any other time, reading those words would have made me immediately see myself as that Prisoner, because I have too much of mercy for myself.

          But this time, this time was different.

          The moment I saw the words, I saw my superior’s face.

          I knew then that while I only saw him as a sneak and a bully and all things negative and unpleasant before this, in God’s compassionate gaze, this man was a prisoner.

          And by extension of that, if I held on to my negative perception of my superior – however justified it was, but without the compassion of mercy and forgiveness, – then, I was being his jailer.

          Slowly, ever so slowly, the flower of comprehension began to bloom more petals. The Prayer of the Holy Wounds was as much for me as it was for that unfortunate man.  Christ’s Sacred Wounds had freed me from being the jailer of this soul. 

          And I now know with a deep certainty that my Jesus’ Wounds will now free this man’s soul.

          As often, as deeply  and as selflessly as I continue to place this man into the Holy Wounds, this prisoner will be freed to begin to seek the only God there is.

          And the conversion will begin.

An Old Promise

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          First Friday of the month. First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. First time in a long time that I’m able to observe this devotion.

          But I dispense with the usual prayers. I wish to gift Jesus with something of my own, from my heart. I begin with a consecration – pressing the family and others, name by name, deep into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then, I offer up my own Chaplet ~

Blood of Christ,

Mark our hearts.

Each decade – a different petition of need. Is this right? Should I be dispensing with the usual formula? I honestly do not know. But what I do know is, if it is wrong, God will set me right.

          I leave my Holy Hour and move on to house chores. With Christmas fast approaching, there’s much to do. Busy in the depths of planning, listing, wielding and scrubbing, I feel the lightest nudge, and the strains of an old hymn unfurl their petals in the inner ear of my spirit:

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

          I run the words of the hymn through my heart to see what sets anchor in my spirit. When the winds dip, I feel the words:

old rugged Cross

          On a day when the grey~blue winds sing hushed notes through green weaves, and the shy sun blesses the land, on a day when my spirit skips in joy, reveling in the respite from bitters and stings, my Jesus gently reminds me that no life lived for Him can be lived away from the Cross. That to pray asking to be marked with His Blood is to pledge my acceptance and love of the cross in my life.

          It is to love the Cross through the weave of months and years, until old breath. And by that, to bring to fulfilment His promise to me one anguished night nine years ago, when I had begged for death in order to find heaven. Jesus had turned me resolutely back to this earth and its awaiting sufferings, promising me,

When you have done My Will, I will come and take you home.

Replace my blood with Yours

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          It’s been some days of a growing emptiness within me, despite many sun~tumbled days of happiness and laughter. It hasn’t driven me to the precipice of panic – as it would have before – that heaven has deserted me. I now know enough to know that it is I who does the fleeing – never God. Nevertheless, the vacuum within is mildly unsettling, irritating.

          Because I don’t want this void. I want to be filled with joy. I want that joy~Light to spill and flood every crack and crevice of my heart to the brim. I want to skip sunny steps and twirl and dance in happy abandon.

          Yet, it isn’t the worldly allure I seek. I want the gaiety of spiritual lightness that only the Spirit can bequeath the soul because suddenly, I am tired of worrying and caring. I want to believe that putrid waters will never hit our shores.

          But the Holy Spirit is Wisdom. Its ways not mine. It alone knows what my soul needs.

…don’t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you. Give yourself up to all His transports and have no fear. He is so wise and gentle and discreet that He never brings about anything but good. ~ St Pio

          When my Father Pio’s words sank into me, I slowly understood that this voiding was His work of Mercy. He is emptying me to be filled, I thought. Although I accepted it, being the sinner I am, I was not entirely happy with it. I wished it could have been different. I am all for the infilling. It is the emptying that scrapes unpleasantly at me.

          Suddenly, I remembered a curious incident from the Sunday before. My reading of St Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy In My Soul had taken me to:

          …the Blood and Water which came forth from my heart flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours. # Entry 1602

          Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          That prayer ensnared my heart. It was one of those prayers that fell straight into my spirit. I barely understood it, but feeling it was right, I prayed it over and over.

          Some days later, wanting to note down that prayer in my diary, I searched for the paragraph where it was mentioned. I found the paragraph I read. I found everything there except the prayer, Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          The prayer was not there. It was never there.

          Today, in the sun-blessed hours of a whitegold morning, birds in an ecstasy of mad trilling from green arbours, the memory of that mysterious prayer returned. In a pearl~moment, the lights knitted together.

          Replace my blood with Yours. For the Holy Blood to flow and flood me to fullness, I had first to be stripped bare, emptied of mine. That was why, when I chaffed at the emptiness inside, my Father Pio had come to tell me, Don‘t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you.

          Not every inner suffering is a punishment. Neither is it always something to be rid of. My present emptying is the work of the Holy Spirit I had consented to through the prayer, Replace my blood with Yours. Although I didn’t know it then, that prayer was my Yes to the Holy Spirit’s gentle knock on the door of my heart.

          I had opened the door to the Spirit. Now, I must submit to It.

Replace my blood with Yours.