DIVINE WILL

Pearls of Little Holies

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          I made a friend recently. Only I didn’t know it till later. I first found him through a humble entreaty to the Holy Spirit in a Consecration Novena I had said short weeks before. Later, in the hours of dry winds, I met him again in a prayer.

          And still it didn’t clink that these bumpings were not mere coincidences.

          Until I came face-to-face with him yet again in a quote by him, On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope, used as a lead to the exquisite poem, Regarding Love by Cynthia Scodova in her blog, The Mad-Eyed Monk. From that quote, he led me down the poem till my eyes rested on

The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          Only then, belatedly, did it hit me that St. Augustine was calling out to me to get my attention, and his call had something to do with the way The infinitesimal sings its small song for You curled and settled into my heart .

          I knew very little about him except that he was more than a trunk-load of headache and heartache to his mother, St. Monica. Then, he found God, and left the sordid life he had known and loved, for another of holy deeps that stripped him of all he had held close before.

          Reading about him, getting to know him, I asked him what his reaching out to me meant. Was it to strip myself of more life-sapping petals? Was it to write more, speak more? What?

          He held my eyes, and took me back to the little lamps he had lit as he drew me towards him.

∗   The simple prayer to the Holy Spirit in the Consecration Novena,

∗   The calling to the Holy Spirit to scatter its cheerful beams into my withering soul.

∗   And finally, The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          And then, the bead slid into its pod.

          St. Augustine, great Doctor of the Church who occupied the highest of echelons of spiritual greatness, was calling me to the littles of life. To pare down life to what was truly important – the little calls heaven presses into my spirit. The ones I sadly, often forsake, seeking instead the heights of greatness in pastures not meant for me. The calls were the sacred duties of wife and mother which God had entrusted to me.

          Every day since I found his prayer I had been praying for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Now, St. Augustine was willing me to understand that for the Spirit to permeate every pore of my soul, I needed to return in cheerful obedience and humility, to tend to every one of the little holies of my life – the sacred calls woven into my marriage and motherhood. To attend to the littles of life was to allow a scattering of the Spirit’s cheerful beams, within every fold and crease of my walk on this earth.

          St. Augustine had come in Mercy, to call me to return to the holiness of the littles. To fill with love and tenderness the golden cups set out for me in the Divine Will. He had come to teach me that every little act of love, every tiny sacrifice hidden for the Love of the Most High, would be like simple grains of sand the world might scoff at, but when  purified, be transformed into pearls of little holies, woven one into another, to form the necklace of Eternal Life.

LENT 8 ~ Repose In Me

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12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  (Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14)

 

NOVENA OF SURRENDER

Day 1

Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to Me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to Me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 2
 
Surrender to Me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to Me a worried prayer asking Me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in My care, so that only I act, saying “You take care of it”.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 3

How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and material need, turns to me, looks at Me and says to Me; “You take care of it”, then closes its eyes and rests. In pain you pray for Me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to Me, instead, you want Me to adapt your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to.

So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the our Father:

“Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in My need. “Thy kingdom come”, that is, let all that is in us and in the world be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”, that is, in our need, decide as you see fit for our temporal and eternal life. If you say to Me truly: “Thy will be done”, which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”, I will intervene with all My omnipotence, and I will resolve the most difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 4

You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry. Close your eyes and say to Me with faith: “Thy will be done, You take care of it”. I say to you that I will take care of it, and that I will intervene as does a doctor and I will accomplish miracles when they are needed. Do you see that the sick person is getting worse? Do not be upset, but close your eyes and say “You take care of it”. I say to you that I will take care of it, and that there is no medicine more powerful than My loving intervention. By My love, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 5

And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in My arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 6

You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, direct everything and see to everything and you surrender to human strength, or worse – to men themselves, trusting in their intervention, – this is what hinders My words and My views. Oh how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you; and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you from my protection and to throw you into the jaws of human initiative. So, trust only in Me, rest in Me, surrender to Me in everything.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 7

I perform miracles in proportion to your full surrender to Me and to your not thinking of yourselves. I sow treasure troves of graces when you are in the deepest poverty. No person of reason, no thinker, has ever performed miracles, not even among the saints. He does divine works whosoever surrenders to God. So don’t think about it any more, because your mind is acute and for you it is very hard to see evil and to trust in Me and to not think of yourself. Do this for all your needs, do this all of you and you will see great continual silent miracles. I will take care of things, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 8

Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of My grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would from temptation. Repose in Me, believing in My goodness, and I promise you by My love that if you say “You take care of it” I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and guide you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Day 9

Pray always in readiness to surrender, and you will receive from it great peace and great rewards, even when I confer on you the grace of immolation, of repentance and of love. Then what does suffering matter? It seems impossible to you? Close your eyes and say with all your soul, “Jesus, you take care of it”. Do not be afraid, I will take care of things and you will bless My name by humbling yourself. A thousand prayers cannot equal one single act of surrender, remember this well. There is no novena more effective than this.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

Mother, I am Yours now and forever.
Through You and with You
I always want to belong
completely to Jesus.

LENT 4 ~ Into His Hands

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          Struggling with my will these past days, having to tamp it down every few minutes or so. The very moment I surrender, I take it right back. Never before than in these days have I been so aware of my willfulness, and of my struggle to surrender my all to God without telling Him how to do His job. And there I was, short days before, blithely advising others to release, to let go, to trust the Lord – serenely unaware of the depth of my own weakness!!

          Once heaven gave me the sight to see, I knew I needed grace to win this one. I knew enough to know that I couldn’t go very far on my own imperfect strength and wisdom. Besides, I was here on earth to do His will, and not to bend Him to my will.

          But I needed help to stop doing just that!

          And it came, through the gentlest of hands, The Cloistered Heart.

          In Nancy Shuman’s inspired post, My OfferingI first heard that my Lord loved me, and would do anything to save me.

          I have waited, waited for the Lord, and He stooped toward me and heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; He set my feet upon a crag; He made firm my steps, and He put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe, and trust in the Lord ~ (Psalm 40:2-4)

          I didn’t know that I needed to hear I was loved; I was too busy trying to be brave and strong and tough for others. Seeing the words, I felt the tension ease, and I leaned heavily in relief against my Saviour, and in a breath, bequeathed Him my willfulness:

          Jesus, I give You my whole heart and my whole will.  They once rebelled against You, but now I dedicate them completely to you…Receive me, and make me faithful until death ~ (St. Alphonsus Liguori) 

          I felt the struggle leave me.

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LENT 2 ~ Beware the Ravens’ Light

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          I have known fear in a way I never want to again. It made me bow in homage at godless altars. It kept me in a cage, strung on a leash, forcefully led on journeys to where there was a light that shone on everyone but never illumined the soul.

          I feared to offend. I feared to express myself. I feared to beat my own path of search. But my soul chafed at this imprisonment, and longed to be free. So, on my own strength and wisdom, I sought my freedom from this cage. I told God I wanted to be free, but I didn’t let Him too near, because I feared His Will. I didn’t analyse my fear of the Holy Will. I didn’t want to. I thought I would be exchanging one captor for another.

          So, I struggled on my own to make my escape. But years of allowing others a power over me had taken its toll. I couldn’t tell light from dark. Avoiding God, I sought counsel in the dungeons. Foolishly, I spoke of my longing to be free to those who should not have been told.

          And so they came, these ravens, to secure my cage by opening my eyes to their light.

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          Deceptive light. Darkness masquerading as light. Light that paints the fantasy of freedom when you are still imprisoned. That is the only light the ravens know.

          Like I once was, there are too many of such captives – those who live in this deceptive light, lulled into the lie that they are free. The light by which the ravens see is one that tells us to choose self over love.

That light shines strongly when we advocate for and make life choices that maim and decimate natural life – because it suits us to. Because it fits the path we have chosen for ourselves.

That life feeds on the death that comes when we seek to bend God to our will through the silencing of our conscience to justify aberrance, accept sin paraded as truth, as a right.

          It gleefully and shamelessly shines us to the pool of self-gratification. But after the initial euphoria of living life on our terms, comes a gaping emptiness when the lustre of rebellion against God has worn off, and we find ourselves increasingly pursued by a wrenching desperation to fill the ever-widening abyss within us.

          Beware the light the ravens know. Know it by its deadly mark: it brings eternal death to every aspect of life it touches. We cannot live in two worlds – ours and God’s. There cannot be two wills – ours and The Divine. Every minute inch of life we give to the dark will ultimately be poisoned. We cannot hope to stay pristine and pure even by the edge of muck.

          Flee the ravens and their light of subterfuge, for there is no life, no hope, to be found there. With humility, seek instead the grace of heavenly courage and wisdom, to find the light that leads to everlasting life.

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TRIUMPH OF THE HOLY CROSS ~ Sept 14

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Years ago, when my eyes first traced the words – Triumph of the Holy Cross, I naively imagined the coming feast would bring me joy and revelry. As it turned out, from that first year, every time I saw the feast approaching, I remembered all we had hoped for but ultimately lost. My heart ached every time I heard the proclamation that the Cross would bring joy and that it was a sign of hope.

To me, it brought neither.

Yet, I knew that the struggle to comprehend the true meaning of Christian joy was due to my experience of pain, and not a rebellion against the truth. My feelings were an impediment to the acceptance of the doctrine of the Cross. Although I instinctively knew it was true, I couldn’t see the truth of it manifested through what we had gone through. I didn’t doubt the truth of my cradle faith, but I hurt because I could not proclaim it in sincerity in my life. And I desperately wanted to not hurt because of it.

Every time, every year the feast made its way up my calendar, the eyes of my heart watched it in wary curiosity, willing God to lift the veil and let the truth shine through, so the pain would dissipate.

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This year, on an impulse, I made the sudden decision to mark the feast. I had had enough of waiting by the wings. I began to recite the Novena of the Exaltation of The Holy Cross. It was my way of telling God, I want to know. Lift the veil, Lord.

Some days into it, I heard a voice say, Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms. A fleeting voice. Light. Leaving no mark within me. No compulsion that I follow its leading. An invisible beckoning to part the veil, to go beyond the veil.

I chased after the voice. I called out and waited for its answering echo. I listened out for it, day and night, trying to make out its cadences from among the cacophony of other competing voices.

Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms.

I turned the phrase over and over in my mind. Many dear souls tried to help me fathom its meaning. But every honest suggestion bounced off me like silver raindrops sliding into the earth. Nothing stayed long enough to resonate.

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On the 14th of September, I sat in an empty and silent church and stared at my Lord on His Cross. It was not an easy journey to make to the church, so I wanted to make the most of it. I got busy offering Him my prayers and supplications. I looked carefully at the Cross and willed Him to speak to me. I waited. There was a peaceful quiet around me, but nothing more. After a time, I decided to leave.

As I moved to get up, I was suddenly assailed by a powerful sense of gratitude for His gift of faith to me. Thankfulness flooded my spirit like never before. I had long suspected that what bit of faith I had was not of my making, but a gift from above.

But up to then, I had never before felt such a deep conviction of that. In that moment of light in the church yesterday, I was bent over in a gratitude not mine for all God had blessed me with. It was something I knew all along, and yet, it seemed that some inner eye had been opened to the gift of spiritual insight.

As I finally made my way out of church, I felt an unseen burden lifted off my shoulders. I did not know what that burden was, but I felt light within.

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Stepping into the sunshine, ready to go forth with a spring in my step, I became aware of a sudden developing aridity in my soul. In a split second, I had moved from white to dark. It felt as if my soul was drying from the edges inwards. Nothing around me had changed. And yet, some darkness had slipped in. An unseen wind borne and strengthened on gusts of fear and panic began to howl silently inside me. From the positive emotions of a scant few minutes before, this sudden change was a storm I never saw coming.

I went into pretend mode. I tried to not panic. I carved a face of normalcy and went about my day, while the storm clawed at me on the inside. I tended to house chores and cooked dinner, all the while frantically trying to discern what I had done wrong to have visited this on myself. A hundred questions. No answers.

But I knew, like the faith I carried in my heart, this secret growing desert within my soul was not my doing. It had formed unbidden in me several times in the past. It was not unknown. It was a small moment in the desert Christ stayed in for forty days. It was the desert of hopelessness, doubt, sorrow of the loss of heaven. It was the desolation of the perceived closed door of heaven. No spiritual leadings in that desert in me. No voiceless prompts to charity and rightness. No comfort, no solace, no peace. The aridity was heaven’s door sealed to me so I would leave the comforts I had grown used to, to search anew for Truth.

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It was a journey I could never not make however much I despised it. And yet, I cowed in fear because it was a journey of the soul but without clearly sensing my Lord’s guiding Hand. It was a journey of obedience through bitter darkness and fear, not being able to see in front of me. This was a journey that called for only faith and obedience. And yet it seemed unsurmountable.

As the storm inside me crashed and raged in a widening circle of tempests, I grew more and more desperate. It reached a hideous peak.

Then, a prayer slipped into me. A prayer I have never before prayed.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Like the faith I had, like the dryness in me, this prayer too was not my doing.

But I grasped it like one drowning. I didn’t question it. I didn’t analyse it. Over and over and over, I prayed the prayer, throwing myself in abandon into the depths of it.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit…

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

And the miracle began. I felt something take root and bloom within my soul.

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The black ice began to melt. The darkness edged away. The storm swirled slower and slower and slower.

Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

I didn’t know that prayer and but my spirit did. It was my Savior’s words from the Cross. He gave me His words and turned me to His mother to place my spirit, my will in Her hands.

Stunned, I realised whose voice it was that I had heard that day ~ Blow the Spirit of My Mother into the realms – it was Jesus’ voice.

And when I answered with a trusting beyond me, Mother, into Your hands I commend my spirit, I stepped out of the darkness. I parted the veil.

In that instant, I knew the Triumph of the Cross.