CONVERSION

Replace My Blood With Yours

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Chorus
Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.


Join we now as friends, and celebrate the
Brotherhood we share, all as one.
Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.


 

          The psalmist talks about eyes being dimmed with sorrow. Mine are literally dimmed with weariness and emotional exhaustion. What a terrible test for me and for so many, many others. Sometimes, I crumble in anger, but only for scant minutes, for the squall passes over me quickly now.

          And through it all, from yesterday, an old, old hymn in my inner ear, Here We Are.

Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.

          How do I sing this song of sorrow and uncertainty – joyfully? Is such a thing even possible? As if in answer, another line from the song comes gently,

Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.

          The fire of faith must burn on. Keep the lamps trimmed and ready.    

          My loved ones on another continent, and my dear~heart blogging friends, hold me close to the Cross. From miles away, they will me on, Keep your eyes on Him, God will protect you

          During Rosary last night, I pondered Jesus’ terrible journey through Calvary, His Crucifixion, the piercing of His Heart. Precious Blood and Water all poured out for mankind. Although my suffering is very small against what my Jesus endured, for the first time, I feel a severe drying out within me, all of me. Not just of my spirit, as I’ve often come to know, but this desert has now reached deep, deep within me. I truly have nothing left. Only the love of my earthly and heavenly friends hold me bound to my crucified Jesus.

          How do you go on when everything has been poured out? 

Replace my blood with Yours.

          The old prayer I prayed in times past. I recall the day I found the prayer, and the mystery of it. When all is gone, Replace my blood with Yours, Jesus. 

          Then, I realise, the hymn, Here We Are, has stopped playing in me, the voices of the unseen choristers stilled.

          And I understand why. Because it is now time to pray the prayer of repentance. And of conversion.

Replace my blood with Yours

In Transition

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          The week began with 3 distinct nudges to pray for an awakening of the spirit.

          It started with In Sinu Jesu, read in obedience to the quietest of calls to leave my laptop and phone and instead, Tolle lege. Phrases like outpouring of the Holy Spirit, hearts will be opened, miracles and graces abound, synonymous with this Easter period moving towards Pentecost, suddenly reached out and caught my heart without warning.

          Just like that, I knew I had to pay attention.

          The next bell tinkled with a message from my godmother about a virtual Pentecost Pilgrimage. While the details didn’t tug at me in a deeper way, someone held my eyes a little longer on the word, Pentecost.

          The last chime came late on a Wednesday night. A story about a WWII vet who was now a pastor. He had been ill and had asked God to take his life, but God told him he was needed on earth and it was to gather people together to pray for a spiritual awakening. Because of Covid-19, that gathering had to be a spiritual gathering.

A meeting of praying hearts.

          And with that, it became clear what I had to do. While it was nothing that hadn’t been done before, initiating it was a first for me. I texted my godparents and we worked out a time to pray together from wherever we were. We didn’t need to thresh out any details beyond that, how we’d do it or for how long. Just that we would pray in our own ways for this awakening, hearts joined across 2 countries.

          The rest of the day was busy with work, mingled with a slight anxiousness that I’d miss that prayer meet. I also pondered what prayer I was called to. Did I just say whatever came to mind or was there to be a specific prayer for me?

          The answer came quickly enough. My prayer for the awakening was to be the Conversion Prayer in the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus,

as a Fount of Mercy for us,

I trust in You.

          Late that Thursday night, waiting for one of my children to finish up for the night, my thoughts wandered to the Heart of Jesus, and from there, to the Wound in His side. I thought about the centurion who had inflicted that final wound on Jesus. Blood and Water had flowed out. Repentance and purification. A moment of searing revelation and utter contrition. An illumination.

Truly this man was the Son of God!   ~  Mark 15: 39

          Longinus was the name given to the centurion who had pierced Jesus. Tradition tells us that nothing had been the same for him since that moment of illumination.

          I slept deeply that night, awakening early on Friday morning. The moment I awoke, from a deep, unknown distance, I heard the lines of a familiar hymn,

I go before you always.
Come, follow Me, and I will give you rest.

‘         On and on, those lines wound through me, but still, as if from a great, great distance.

          I looked up that hymn and imagine how I felt when I saw its title,

Be Not Afraid

          Then, I read about its composer, Fr. Bob Dufford, and about his journey in creating that hymn and the journey the hymn took him on later.

I learned that God used that hymn to ease transitions.

          When I finally went to my Readings for Friday, my heart went still, for it was John 14: 1,

Jesus said to his disciples:
Do not let your hearts be troubled.

          I hadn’t known beforehand of the Gospel reading for Friday – but someone clearly did and had sung those lines early to lead me.

          From what I read, that hymn, Be Not Afraid, had a lot to do with transitions and fear of them.

          On Saturday morn, praying for the awakening, I recited the Conversion Prayer in my garden. Threading the prayer through quiet minutes scented by the white~gold of the sun, I watched unhurried, bees busy among the blooming flowers, and let the gentle breezes hold me in their sweet embrace.

          These weeks of the stay-home order have changed me, maybe even in ways unknown to me. Yet, I have little reason to believe that my workmates and superiors have changed for the better. How could I go back, how do I go back changed – but to a place and values still bound to an old where the sun doesn’t rise? To where I am welcomed one day and rejected the next, because I am an outsider. Not of their faith. Not of their race.

          To work alongside and beside the woman who does all she can to make sure I am aware of her hatred for me.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Then, go before me, Jesus, I prayed that day. I thought about the woman whose jealousy and hatred draws from wells that seemingly never run dry. I cannot love her, Lord, I whispered. If love means to think good of her and to love her like I do my husband and my children, then it was beyond me. All I was capable of was to fight myself in not wishing her ill –  and even at that, I fall a hundred times. I imagined Jesus sitting in her place. Not Jesus in her – that was too much for me – but Jesus in her place, instead of her.

          I smiled at that. If only…

          A few short hours later, I learned that I had to return to work next week. Although the short notice caught me by surprise, I was surprisingly calm and resigned.

          Then, I learned that a new schedule had been put in place. That we would work in the office in teams and in shifts.

          The woman was not on my team, not on my shift.

          I thought of my imaginings earlier that day, under the arching majesty of the sun. Of Jesus beside me at work.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Indeed He had. Things are changing. More than what is visible are the secret stirrings beneath the earth of our daily lives, all moving towards something. The inner call to pray for conversion of spirits, the new normal-s in every layer of life, are just part of this new journey of change.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Jesus had come to tell me that it was time to rise and set out.

          We are in transition.

An Answer Comes

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God has answered me. Troubled by the Sri Lanka Easter Day bombings, I had asked God to tell me what to do. Exactly 3 days after my asking, He answers through another person,

Pray a special Rosary for the Muslim fasting month.

From May till early June.

Pray for conversion of Muslim hearts.

 

          When I asked Him 3 days before, I was restless and anxious. Then, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque calmed me with,

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

Her words made me realise that patient wait went hand-in-hand with humility. I saw that my fretting was caused by my lack of humility – I was impatient with God; I wanted to lead. Once I saw that, I returned to doing His will in my daily life. I went to work. I cared for my family. I worked as hard as I could in quietness. When the tough hours drained me of vigour, I forced myself to be grateful for littles. Over and over, I prayed from the depths of my heart, Lord, Forgive me for I have sinned.

          And all through the 3 days, I sensed the softest, lightest breath upon my spirit, saying,

For reparation

For reparation

For reparation

          On the evening of the 3rd day, a friend’s words moved me to pray to forgive those who hurt me. I did not think of my family members. Instead, immediately, I thought of my superiors and some co-workers. And again, from the depths of my heart, I prayed, I forgive…

          The very next instant, God spoke and told me He wanted the Conversion Rosary. The Muslim fasting month presents the same danger we as Christians face in Lent – the abyss of spiritual pride. Spiritual pride that comes when we think we are great for the fasting we do each day, for the number of prayers we recite, for the various added Lenten rituals.

          But in many ways, it is harder for them. They have no Jesus who fought off the devil. They do not have Jesus’ example. They do not have His words. So, when pride assails them in that desert of deprivation, it finds an easy target.

          And they emerge from the fasting month, worse than before, for being nourished by pride.

Pride in any hands is a deadly weapon.

          But we have a weapon far greater, far more powerful – the Rosary. It is a weapon that can defeat any other because it is a weapon of love and of humility – not of pride, not of arrogance, not of hatred.

          It is this same journey of humble and loving entreaty that God is asking of me in this May Rosary. Not to demand, but in love and humility, to pray for the conversion of brethren Muslim spirits.

          That with us, they too seek to love and obey the Divine Heart of Jesus.

 

 

 

Lent 6 ~ Replace With Yours

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          Just before sunset Mass last week, God called me to console Him for victims of oppression as well as for oppressors. Then, He placed in my heart a light longing for a Blood of Christ prayer. Later that night, He showed me a specific oppressor to focus on, one of my bosses at work.

          The next morning, the yearning for a Blood of Christ prayer deepened and going in search of one, I was returned to an old blog post from 3 years back, Heeding the Confessor. I had forgotten all about it, so I was slightly surprised to see that the post was about that specific boss. Reading it, I recalled that the tug of spirit at that time, 3 years ago, was to pray the Blood of Christ upon that man.

          More chilling was the bible reference given to me about him. It was the parable of the Rich Fool.

Then the Lord Jesus spoke this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”   ~   Luke 12:16 – 21

          Every line that described the fool described my boss.

          At the time of the post, I had just been severely torn down by him. I was fighting anger. I didn’t want to pray for him. But St. Maximos Confessor had come and urgently told me I had to channel my anger into prayer for the man; I couldn’t allow my anger and hatred for him to steer me away from the prayer he needed so much.

To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.   ~   St. Maximos Confessor

          And so, I fought myself and prayed for him with the simple Blood of Christ prayer Jesus had slipped into my heart.

Blood of Christ upon me, Blood of Christ upon him.

          That was 3 years ago. Now, yet again, this man was brought before my eyes so firmly that I knew God was not about to tolerate any excuses from me not to pray for him. So, once more, I tried to pray that same prayer, Blood of Christ upon me, Blood of Christ upon him.

          I didn’t feel a hand stop that prayer. Neither was it lifted away from me. Yet, it felt different this time. It didn’t quite… fit. I spent the rest of that day and today gently seeking the prayer for this man and every superior that he represented. Nothing came. Instead, today was tough. The sullen weather. Work that progressed slowly. A technical breakdown. Long, long work hours. Signs of a bad flu attack. Left without a prayer yet knowing I had to pray, I offered up this arid, angry day and all its knots and gnarls for the conversion of this man.

          I finally drove home tiredly, nothing much left in me. I put my heart out once more, wanly searching for the prayer.

          A small hand pushed a memory across my heart. A memory of the post that was written just before Heeding the Confessor.

          It was Replace my blood with Yours – ‘Yours’ as in the Precious Blood of my Christ. The second my heart  uttered the line, I knew I had found the prayer of conversion for my superior.

Replace his blood with Yours

 

 

 

Lent 4 ~ Oppressor Hearts

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I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.     Ezekiel 33: 11

          After Jesus called me to the Lenten fast of consoling, I happened upon an account by a cancer survivor, detailing not just her struggles with the disease, but also the hurt and unnecessary pain caused by medical professionals through their lack of empathy, lack of compassion and absence of professional thoroughness in helping this woman  navigate the debilitating darkness that is cancer.

          It reminded me of something I had experienced in the past with regards to cancer (I did not have cancer; it was something else). Reading that poor woman’s story this morning brought back the memory of that sudden, piercing aloneness when you’ve just received the diagnosis – made worse upon realizing that no one really cared. No one cared much  about your emotions, your shock, about your fears of what lay ahead. They didn’t care that you were sitting there, blank, yet scrambling for questions… and answers. It mattered nothing to them that you were in shock, that your life had ground to a halt – and that it was simple charity to be sensitive to the patient’s place at that point in time – by refraining from joking with colleagues, talking about plans after work – until I got some grip on what I had just heard.

          I didn’t care if it was the kind of news that they delivered to patients hundreds of times before; it was my first time hearing it and I deserved much better than what I got from the doctor leaning away to crack a joke with another doctor. I deserved way much more than a condescending look and a careless answer when I asked my first question about treatment options.

          I had every right to concern and compassion that I didn’t get from those medical specialists. In that moment of my suffering, they were not healers. Their attitude was oppressive because it further compounded a Cross I barely even knew how to lift.

          My experience only lasted a few excruciating hours. But how many men, women and children, face this sentence in reality each day, alone and isolated in their fears because hostile onlookers want no part in their pain?

          So, today, I begin my fast for the oppressed as well as for the oppressors. Both are found everywhere, not just in hospitals and in doctors’ rooms. Some are in our places of work. Some are in our own homes. Not all are obvious, out in the open. Although it is far easier on me to cast those callous hearts aside and focus only on those in pain, I sense God is calling me to fast for the conversion of oppressors as well.

          Knowing that I might just choose to focus my consoling on those suffering oppression, God gave me a sign right in front of my eyes. Returning from Mass, for close to 30 minutes on dark roads, God placed my superior’s car in front of us. Due to the heavy traffic, we had no choice but to trail this man cruel to so many for so long. 30 minutes was enough time to pretend not to see, make excuses and then to concede defeat to God and say, Ok, yes, I will console You for this man too.

          Because just as I seek life, God wants oppressor hearts to be converted – that they too may live.

 

 

 

Blood and Water

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          When the angel placed my eyes upon the Divine Mercy prayer, Jesus, I trust in You, it was the hardest prayer for me to pray, on that day and especially, in the days that followed. I had gone instead, to every spiritual pool I knew, to every saint’s door, begging for discernment,  for relief, for strength, as Jesus, I trust in You stood by resolutely. I searched in so many places, yet, nothing reached out and caught my heart.

          As I dithered, waiting for another nudge, a commenter told me to read Psalm 102 – the Psalm of the Afflicted – and to say Jesus, I trust in You, at the end of each verse. So, I read it and made the offering each time. While some of the lines encapsulated what I was facing now, at the end of the reading, what remained was, again,

Jesus, I trust in You.

          Heaven was being very firm with me; I had to say that prayer – regardless of how I said it or how I felt.

          And so, I began. I said the prayer every time the breath of despair swept close to my heart. Every time desolation threatened to take hope away.

          There was no answering strength that I discerned, no bloom of light.

          But late, late in the depths of night, I suddenly felt I had spent too much time among the stones of lament. I had left Jesus out in the cold, alone with the sorrows of the world. Wanting to make amends, I went to console Him.

          Taking up my Rosary, intending to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Someone slipped into my heart a prayer I had forgotten – The Divine Prayer of Conversion,

Blood and Water that gushed out from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.

           As I stared at the prayer, something gently folded around my Rosary beads, and I slipped into

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

I trust in You.

          Over and over, like with the Hail Marys, my spirit nestled into a quiet, resolute rhythm,

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

I trust in You.

In place of the Mysteries, I placed before my heart the images of places, people and practices that hurt and wound my family and I. Around each image, on my rose~beads, I wove Blood and Water, Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.

          At dawn the next day, I saw the word, Emissaries. Recently, I learned that for me it indicated the close presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mother of those in battles. Barely had my thoughts gone there, when from the dark green breast of trees awakening to the touch of shy sunrise, I heard a sudden burst of baby~bird melodies. I’m accustomed to hearing the little tweets of bird~lings, but today, it seemed like many little bird babies lifted their voices to joyously sing, spilling diamonds into the night sweetened air awaiting the embrace of the sun.

          A melody never before fallen on my ears.

          I went to work later. The hurts and the wound-ers, in their usual positions,  as solid as ever. The night’s prayers and sleep hadn’t lit strength in my soreness; nothing seemed different.

          But I saw immediately that the blade of anger sheathed within my heart was blunted.

          I think I understand. My anger takes me into a battle that serves no purpose. It takes me away from where I am most needed – the Guadalupe Battle.

          The battle for the conversion of souls.

          Through that unexpected avian hymn of unearthly sweetness, Mother of Guadalupe had sent Her emissaries again, to tell me that The Rosary of Blood and Water was Her answer to my anguished seeking.

          It is Her wish that I wield it for Her in the battle for souls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the Sun

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Prayer for Protection from Despair
by St. Claude de la Colombiere

Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others.
Other people will glorify You
by making visible the power of Your grace
by their fidelity and constancy to You.
For my part I will glorify You
by making known how good You are to sinners,
that Your mercy is boundless
and that no sinner no matter how great his offences
should have reason to despair of pardon.
If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer,
let me not offend You even more
by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me.

          On this morning which night rains have rendered green and silver, the last three lines of the prayer settle gently but deeply, pressed by an Unseen hand into my spirit. The lines go beyond a nudge towards humility. They hold a meaning deeper than caution.

          The last three lines tell me the little trees have meaning. Wee trees, always hidden before, that have suddenly, and oddly, stood out in the forests of my every days. As I coursed through the busy hours of each day, these little trees caught my attention, but when pursued, misted out of discernment’s reach.

          These trees were sometimes random words. Words that caught my heart in a fleeting vice of cold. Pines. Palms. Bridge. Snake. Flood. Hills. Wedding garments. Wedding feast. They were colours. Bright orange. Red. Black. Numbers. 370. 10. 2017. They were certain birdcalls. Warm, robust winds that occasionally rendered my heart and spirit still and watchful.

          The smell of roses when there were none. Bits and bites of dreams becoming reality.

          Sudden, unexpected occasions of contrition.

If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer,
let me not offend You even more
by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me.

          These last words press into my faltering spirit the urgency of repentance and conversion and the grace of unwavering faith. They tell me I have not misinterpreted the speed of events unfolding, that I have not overreacted.

          The Day of the Sun is indeed coming. The winds of that Sun are already here. I have begun to pray a prayer I have never before prayed.

           That our lamps be trimmed in readiness. That I and everyone I hold in my heart be not taken by surprise.

          And finally, that in the aftermath of the Illumination of Conscience, love prevails over despair.