Communion of Saints

Lent 35 ~ Water for the Rocks

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Prayer to St. Raphael, Archangel

Glorious archangel, St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travelers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as you did once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost.

          There’s a prayer generator I access every day after I’ve done my Bible Readings for the day. It’s an avenue God often uses to get my scattered attention – and He did again, today. Over two days, I drew prayers to be prayed to the Archangel Raphael; the one I drew today, gave me pause.

          Today, an unexpected skirmish with a family member upset me. Unexpected as it was, it was just one of many I’ve had with this person and I was so tired of it all. I flew straight to God’s heart and I vented mightily there. But by late evening, the annoyance was still stinging and I conceded that something more was needed.

          Emerging from the cave and standing on the ridge, I called out for all my saint-friends, calling each one by name. I had a feeling that I was missing some humility but I wanted to be completely truthful as well. So, I expressed my frustration to them, holding nothing back. I told the Communion of Saints, including the Archangels, that I felt like giving up on this family member; but I ended by quietly asking that I be shown my sin as well in this tug-of-war, in case it was I who was in the wrong.

          There was no denying that all I wanted was to turn away and stop caring even as I knew that giving up on this person and walking away was not God’s way. Yet, wounds in a heart can be like rocks strewn across the path of an already tattered and mottled human will, making it a struggle to love, to forgive and to persevere.  

Blood and Water that gushed out from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for me,

I trust in Thee.

          Still, as afternoon rains began to press their silver~pearls into a waiting earth, my heart slowly fell into peace in the ensuing hours. Busy once more with work and studies, the morning’s squabble retreated quietly to the sidelines of my consciousness.

Until I drew St Raphael and realised that it was the second time since yesterday.

And spied the words my heart had missed before,

consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners,

in all the trials of this life, 

physician of God,

I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities 

                  

          Even as God saw my hurt, He also saw my need for healing.

          And so He sent His Angel with Water from His Sacred Side, to break and dislodge the rocks within my heart.

Shoulder To Stand On

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          Almost 2 weeks back, I felt a vague unease pass by my heart. There was so much to do then that I could not pay it much attention. Nevertheless, it hovered close by, biding its time to come forward. Later, in town, waiting in the car for one my children to run an errand, I sensed a quietening within me. Then, I felt a distinct press on my heart: someone was in need.

          Last week, there was another unexpected sign – someone in need – in New Zealand. My godparents and their families reside there. So did the family of another aunt who had passed away recently. Was it any of my loved ones? Or New Zealand in general, I wondered. I prayed. But again, work interfered.

          Still, even as I worked, one quote kept coming up,

Standing on the shoulders of giants

          Although I knew what the quote meant, I was certain that it was pointing to something else.

The giant souls we depend on to get us through our trials.

Something to do with those we rely on so much, the strong ones among us. Those who hold us up when we would fall, those who will us on when we lose hope. Who wipe our tears when the pain scales the highest walls, holding us close to their own worn and broken hearts, holding us tighter through prayers.

It is the caregiver, whispered my heart. The soul in need was a caregiver.

          On Friday, I received some good news concerning work that brought immense relief –  something big that had taken up quite a chunk of my time and attention had been cancelled. I had been locked too much within myself over that. Freed now, I flew to open my heart more to others.

          Then, a text came in and it became clear who needed me. My uncle in New Zealand. The family has faced so much over the past decades. My uncle patiently, with great love and faith, has led the way forward each time. But the recent trials they have endured have been one too many. Serious illnesses, an ill grandbaby, a business all but wiped out by Covid.

The heart of a caregiver is the biggest heart of all.

          Yet, it is that heart we often forget and that which we take for granted. Who holds a caregiver’s hand when life is hard for him, the difficult journey far from its end? Who loves her back to strength when her heart is broken and her vigour gone? To our eyes, the caregivers among us are the epitome of joy and endless grace in suffering, a tower of strength. Yet, we see only what we want to see. Hidden from ready sight is the price of a caregiver’s love. What is the hidden cost of loving and giving so much? What pains do they bear in silence so that they can be there for us? What do they keep away from us so that we can heal, so that we find our footing once again after a fall?

          The answers to each one of those questions will be varied, I know. I know something about my Uncle’s walk of fire, but every caregiver’s story, if he cares to share it, will speak to a common refrain of sacrifice, suffering and loss, endured in sweetness and silence, so that others may live on in hope and dignity.

          The caregiver cares for someone. But someone else must look out for the caregiver too. So, I go knocking on doors, to all the saints I’ve called upon, learned to trust and come to love over the years.

Help him

help him

help him

I call at each stop.

          When generous souls spare little thought for themselves, we must, for their sakes, for even a giant needs a shoulder to stand on.