Straying Beyond the Sheepfold


          Yesterday, a lady shared about an awful family situation spanning many years. Listening, it seemed to me to bear all the hallmarks of Narcissistic  Personality Disorder. The woman was at her wits’ end, didn’t know what else to do with her husband and how to go on. Being intimately acquainted with that same disorder, I felt sorry for her. Even if it wasn’t NPD, it was clearly emotional and mental abuse that she was enduring on a daily basis. And decades of it was, well, a long time to suffer the way she had. In my case, I received church counselling to create a firm boundary. It saved my sanity as well as the sanity of my husband and children. However, I didn’t know how a boundary was going to help this woman’s situation without destroying what was left of her marriage.

          Nevertheless, I felt I needed to do something before this poor soul crossed the line of no return. So, without giving her any details about my situation so as not to unduly influence her, I told her I’d pray for her to receive a special enlightenment – because what she needed was a very special light for her extremely difficult journey.

          I’m now on a small prayer mission using my newly received St. Raphael’s healing oil. I first prayed using the blessed oil for a friend suffering from addictions and other attacks but never told her exactly how I was praying for her. This friend’s subsequent communication to me bore strong indications that the prayers were having effect on her. That strengthened my faith in Archangel Raphael as well as I’ve never really invoked him in this way.

          A short time later, speaking to a priest, I heard about his immense struggles with his family as well as with the parish he was assigned to. There was also his acrimonious relationship with a fellow priest and its spillover effects. That troubled me more than anything. If our priests were falling out with each other, what hope did we have for ourselves? Nonetheless, it wasn’t something I dared advise him about, mainly because of the distinct possibility that it was above my paygrade.

          Nonetheless, a strong urge took hold of my heart. So, I began the same prayer I had said for my friend with the addictions, for the 2 priests, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil, so kindly and generously sent to me by the Healing Oil Ministry of South Grafton, MA. I have no idea how long I am supposed to pray for this intention but I’m confident the Archangel will let me know.

          And now, I fully intended to invoke Archangel Raphael’s intercession for the lady struggling with her Cross.

          I tried to pray Hail Marys for the woman all Saturday morning. It was a very busy morning, and rushing to and from errands and duties, I couldn’t manage more than a few Hail Marys, recited distractedly. But I was undeterred. We had to travel long distance to Mass later, so there’d be lots of time for prayers.

          I planned to pray using the oil before the drive. I remembered – about 15 minutes into the drive, it didn’t make sense to turn back.

          Then, I tried to pray Hail Marys again for the lady. Again, I got distracted after the first few.

          Arriving at church, I hurried inside to lay down my prayer cart before the Divine Mercy image. Fixing my gaze upon the image, I offered every prayer – except the one for the lady. Clean forgot.

          I had a few minutes before Mass began so I opened my battered copy of St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy in My Soul. Jesus speaks very clearly to me through lines in this book, different lines in each reading. I needed to hear God’s voice and I prayed to hear it through the book, if it was willed.

          It came. But it was not what I expected.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul.   ~   Entry 74, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska

          I stared at the line for a good few seconds. What?

          It was just before Holy Communion that I suddenly remembered my intention to pray for the woman. So, I did but it was harried and hurried. It had been that way the whole day – but it didn’t affect other prayers; only the prayer for this lady. 

          Something began to disturb me lightly. Don’t you want me to pray for her, for her enlightenment? I grumbled to Jesus. What do I pray for? I directed my exasperated asking towards St. Faustina, assuming there was some other prayer needed for this lady.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul, came the calm, quiet reply.

          I decided to stop my prayers or rather, my attempt at prayer, for the troubled lady. I was learning again the lesson I have learned many times before: that just because I had sympathy for someone, it didn’t mean that I could get ahead of God, even in prayer. What prayer, how we are to pray, if we are called to it – is all governed by God. We get nothing done by straying ahead of Him. To pray outside of His Will, never mind whatever good intentions, was to leave the sheepfold. I had tried enough. It was clear that this was not the prayer – for now or perhaps, ever. I knew God would let me know if and when anything was needed. If I said I loved God, then it was His will that I had obey, even in something like what to pray for, who to pray for or when to pray.

          And so, I retreated from that prayer, but focused on the prayer for peace in priests.

          This morning, I met this lady once more. Imagine my utter surprise when she made it clear that she wasn’t looking for enlightenment for herself. If anyone needed it, it was her husband, she said. She was grateful for support, for comfort. For listening, for the prayers for her husband even. But she didn’t need God’s direction because her husband was the problem, not her. God needed to speak to her husband and her husband needed to listen to Him.

          That was the kind of prayer she was looking for.

          I suddenly understood why the wind had stolen my every prayer for her.




The Time of Littles


          Towards the end of August, one day I stopped by the small vegetable patch we have on a wee slope at the end of our backyard, intending to take close-ups to be made into bookmarks for the kids. Everything was fresh and crowned with a vibrant green. Taking my time, I snapped two photos of the lushious vegetable plants from different angles, and delightedly went into the house to have a look at them.

          Both pictures barely caught the plants I wanted.

          Instead, staring at me from within the pool of green leaves was a tiny, pink mimosa pudica. From both angles, hardly any of the veggies I sought, but mighty clear shots of that tiny, spunky touch-me-not in its court of green, glaring up at me in all its pink defiance.

          One such picture can be a mistake; but two  – is a message.

Keep your eyes on the littles.

          I knew my interpretation was right when the next line I read was,

          Many spiritual undertones are concealed in little things.   ~   Entry 112, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.










The Little Sound


          On the 13th of August, on what should have been the date of the fourth apparition of Fatima, the First Reading was from 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13.

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

          As far as bells go, those specific verses from 1 Kings 19 have, for me, about the loudest clang. In this past year or two, never have other readings lit up as brightly as 1 Kings 19. And each time, the message has been the same:

Do not get caught up in the loud and obvious.

Be still and wait for the little sound.

          And every time 1 Kings 19 has come to me, despite the crash of events around me, true to His word, God chose to speak through the tiny, whispering sound.

          This time was no different.

          On the 21st, I was busily rifling through the pages of St Maria Faustina’s Divine Mercy In My Soul, big thoughts booming through my head, when a tiny wildflower of a sentence halted me in my hurried tracks.

On one occasion I heard these words in my soul, Make a novena for your country. This novena will consist of the recitation of the Litany of the Saints. ~ Entry 59

          I had just come off the back of a 7-day prayer for my motherland – inspired by Jesus’ words to St Faustina. That had ended on the 19th of this month – the actual August Fatima apparition date. To end on such a date, that went deep for me. And 3 days from the close of that prayer, was this new entreaty.

          Again, a prayer for the country.

          Once again, for some strange reason, without an iota of doubt, I felt Jesus’ words to St Faustina were for me too. I resolved to recite the Litany as a novena for my motherland. But the 21st was an incredibly busy day, and it took too much out of me, leaving me too weary to embark on the Litany that day. So, on the morning of the 22nd, I took my heart to the Saints on my first day prayer.

          When I went to my daily readings later, I saw that it was the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

          The Fatima apparition date. And now, the Queenship of Mary. These were all Mary dates. And of great significance to me. They were the tolling of bells through the hills and valleys of my thoughts and living. The call of the bells were telling me something. Something withheld from me for now. Something beyond the veil.

          Something to do with my deeply troubled and increasingly polarized motherland, caught in a rising and blinding sandstorm, being dangerously enticed by the black lure of persecution and abuse.

          Never before have I heard this call this clearly. And coming twice, it reflected the urgency of the state of affairs here in a country that gained its freedom from colonial masters, only to fall prey to the seduction of communist greed and power.

          I heard this my God’s call, not in the fury of winds or earthquakes or fire. Just as it came to Elijah, He drew me to His will yet again, but through a tiny whisper that I could so easily have missed.






Close to the Ground


……let simplicity and humility be the characteristic traits of your soul. Go through life like a little child, always trusting, always full of simplicity and humility, content with everything, happy in every circumstance. There, where others fear, you will pass calmly along, thanks to this simplicity and humility. Remember this, …. for your whole life: as waters flow from the mountains down into the valleys, so, too, do God’s graces flow only into humble souls.   ~ Entry 55, Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St Maria Faustina Kowalska

          Humility has never been my strong point. I don’t know if having been put down so severely so often in more than thirty years of my early life with my birth family has anything to do with it.

          But whatever my old sorrows, God never allows a tearing unless it is willed for some reason.

          And what if, this reason was for humility?

          Although I expand great efforts to soar the skies, even I must admit that humility is often comforting. For one, it takes away from me the stress of having to burnish myself and my efforts with some form of allure. I do not need to care about what others think of me; I can leave them to their thoughts in peace.

          Humility takes away the many ruts and tangles that come with the seeking of respect, recognition and adulation. It smoothens out the many wrinkles and ripples that mark any life of worldly seeking.

          The view from the ground is different from any other. The times I have been here, I’ve seen life in a way I couldn’t from high up some perch. I saw the poor and the forgotten. I saw the broken and the wounded. I saw beauty in what the world scoffs at.

          Humility removes the inner mountains which obscure our view of God. It is the water from Heaven that cleanses our soul because it rids the spirit of strongholds that do us no good. 

          It has the subtle power to draw us away from the squalor of worldly dictates towards simple joys and an unfettered spirit.

          Because humility helps us to see what really matters and what doesn’t.




LENT 38 ~ Not My Sword To Wield


          Two days ago, my peace was attacked by someone who has caused me grievous pain before, and it sent me out of kilter for a time. I gazed back on the many miles I’ve come since escaping this darkness. I saw the healing and joy my husband, children and I have come to as a family since then, and I felt anger that this person had re-emerged to chain me up again.

          I decided enough was enough, and determined to put an end to this emotional and mental hegemony, once and for all.

          I had it all planned and was on the brink of carrying it out when these words came, borne of Light:

No action undertaken on your own, even though you put much effort into it, pleases Me.  ~ #Entry 659, St Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy In My Soul.

          I was discomfited. Why would the Lord say such a thing to me? He, more than anyone else, knew exactly what my family and I endured for so many long, dark years. And we had been mired in that muck of a maelstrom because I failed to do what was right for my husband and children – I failed to put them first.

          Fear had come first.

          My beautiful family came a distant, inferior second – because I allowed fear to set the terms of life for us all.

          I didn’t deserve to be a mother and a wife if I allowed the past to become our present and future all over again.

          He countered me: 

It is in My Passion that you must seek light and strength. ~ #Entry 654, St Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy In My Soul.

          It is in My Passion …..

          My anger slowed and stilled. At any other time, those words might not have seared as deeply, but to hear them at the beginning of the holiest of journeys, I knew I had been summoned to the presence of God. I was being shown that the road ahead no longer merely curved and crooked as it had before .

          It now forked. Into Life and Death.

          I was being called to decide where my tread would henceforth take me.

          All I wanted was to set right a wrong – protect my family as I never did before. Now, I was being asked to lay down my weapon as danger took another step closer.

Know, My daughter, that although I was raised to the dignity of Mother of God, seven swords of pain pierced My heart. Don’t do anything to defend yourself; bear everything with humility; God Himself will defend you. ~ #Entry 786, St Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy In My Soul.

          My Heavenly Mother reached in and took the fight out of me. I put down my sword as bidden.

          It is not mine to hold and wield.