Faith

Song of the Lark

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May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.

 

          The road is dark indeed, and getting darker for many. We have days of joy-filled moments embroidered into them. Hours laced with funnies and laughter where the sun spills its warm blessings upon the dimpled land and the green~gold breezes tug leaves  and boughs into a timeless dance.

          Yet, paradoxically, I sense the light outside going out. One by one, lights which line the streets of life and living, the lights we have come to depend on, are dying. I’m only getting by because of a strange, invisible light from within. A light fed by family, thanksgiving and prayer, knit together by obedience – the oil that will feed the light.

          Some days, the walk comes easy. Some days, obedience is hard to find. But I must trudge on. If obedience dies, so will the light – for me.

          And for others too.

          For tonight, another’s sorrow weighs heavily on my heart. A young man I know has fought many battles to live to love his God. Gentle soul, he burdens none with his bitter load. But the Cross bites deep now, deeper than before. Like it is with many the world over, I sense his lights too are dying out, one by one.

          My heart aches for him, this son of Ireland. He is tiring, it comes strong this still night, where the wee leaves lie unstirred in the dead of winds.  I’ve been there before, that same shore where hopes go to die.

          Only love pulled me back, away to the secret nooks where hope sings and lives.

          Now, this love must be returned for this young soul, as once was done for me. In every way the Spirit moves me to, in an obedience that doesn’t always come easy, I press this son loved by a Mother, into the Divine Heart, praying,

May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lent 2 ~ Abandon to Me

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The things that weigh upon you most heavily, the things that cause you the most anxiety and distress, are the very things that I want you to abandon to Me. Anonymous, In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart – The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.

                    The things that weigh most heavily upon me are like fruits on a tree. They appear and disappear according to seasons, and they are not always the exact same. But the stirrings they evoke are often beyond what I am able to handle with calm faith.

                    When my heart aches over something, I trouble heaven a great deal, and I know God doesn’t have a problem with that. But going to God with a problem is only the halfway point in faith; to go the whole distance, one must leave the issue in the Heart of God.

          Abandon to God.

          And that is precisely where I often stumble. Everything that I take to God, I take back on my shoulders. And then, I go back to God. The pattern is repeated. I cannot seem to be able to leave my pain with God. Often, I don’t know how to.

          Something else niggles at me. How do I reconcile abandoning to God and persistent prayer? For long minutes, I think of my various prayer struggles, trying to understand.

          Something begins to take form.

          Persistence in prayer is to deepen our asking – as much as we are called to. Some prayers are one off prayers. Most others are not. They require us to return to Heaven’s door repeatedly. They are not the same as the prayers I often pray – where I take back on my shoulders the burdens I’ve just offered up to God – and then go right back again.

          Persevering prayer is the work of the Spirit in us. 

          Although we seem to be saying the same prayer over and over, although there seems to be no discernible change to the petition, there is indeed a difference. Each time we go to God with it, persistent prayer means we are deepening it, we are plumbing the depths of that prayer.

          And every deepening we obey must end in abandonment of the petition into God’s Heart. Because abandonment – spiritual surrender – is not merely the last latch on the gate.

          It is the link that binds one prayer to the next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigil of Broken Faith

          After doodling in the sand for a time, after the uncomfortable silence that I tried to ignore but couldn’t quite, heaven’s window opened a little, and I understood that I was to stay by the water’s edge.

          And quit chaffing at the bit.

          For even by the lake shores where weeds grow in wild abandon, there was work to be done and work being done. I had to learn patient submission – because to meddle, to saddle up and force a journey, was to interfere in the Spirit’s work.

          So, retreating to the sun~shadows among the water grasses where the wounded  gather, I tried to press Jesus into wounds through the Memorare novena; I was determined to not be caught in spiritual idleness – whatever else my failings.

          But whenever the rains fell and rippled diamonds on the lake waters, I’d look across the wide expanse with a wistfulness. For a while, I didn’t understand myself. Whenever the pace got wild and frenzied, I grumbled about how much was taken from me; yet, when the tempests stilled and I was left alone, untroubled, I longed for…action.

          I gave myself a shake. What did I want? Was it really eagerness to be about my Lord’s business – as I tried to convince myself? Or was this restlessness about something else?

          This morning, Someone sat by His door waiting for me. The minute I arrived, He opened the scrolls,

Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, 
you endured a great contest of suffering.
 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; 
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.   ~  Hebrews 10:32 – 35

          Do not throw away your confidence. The words fell into my heart. And with it, crept in a soft, worn sadness. A lantern had been held up in the darkness of my yearning, and I saw the faltering faith I was trying to hide, and hide from. My impatience was not a saintly longing to toil in my Master’s vineyard. I was not being impatient to do my Lord’s will; I was impatient for a Sign that the end to suffering was close by. I wanted Jesus to come, and to come right now. I wanted Him to hurry up!

          And because my Lord didn’t seem to be in a hurry to do my bidding, I wanted to storm across and drag Him to my place of waiting!

          My chastened spirit fell before that enlightenment. How many more holes would I continue to worry into the fabric of my fragile faith? When would I ever learn humility and patience and spiritual perseverance?

          Making a tentative step towards contrition, this consolation quietly came:

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what He has promised.
For, after just a brief moment,
He who is to come shall come;
He shall not delay.   ~ 
Hebrews 10: 36 – 37

Gales must blow wild and fires rage

Water must churn and swell,

earth in fury shake its molten fist.

And aridity and desolation root firm and unflinching,

before the winds dip

and the air still

in homage

to the King.

          For every summit reached, there might be a valley whose deeps await us in yet another testing. For all our sureness that we have read the signs right, we might reach one threshold after another in breathless anticipation of a King’s coming, only to cross into disappointment and dismay.

          Despite all that has been endured, much must still pass before He comes. Till the Time, we must endure and not throw away our confidence. Even when the beauty of life loses its allure for us, and light~dances dim in their glimmer, keep the vigil of faith we must.

          However broken and disfigured that faith becomes.

Last of August

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Appenine Mountains, Italy

 

          This last day of August here is a joyous gathering of wind souls, in a camaraderie understood best by the busy cloud vessels sailing the skies, and the sage welcomes adorning the trees. All morning, the breezes have been in a delightful tumbling, giddily greeting one wind~friend after another. From the dawn hours, they have been linking arms and dancing the merriness of spirit, as the soft, white sky-pouches race to partake of this sacred joy.

          For anyone tired or afraid of what September holds, they need only to rest their gaze against the cloud-laced skies of this last of August, and feel the love caresses of brethren winds that see far beyond the hollows and ridges of today.

         No matter what the ninth of the year keeps hidden in its bosom, in the cusp between old Augusts and September mists, I realize the sunlit winds of the morning have brushed a question against my heart: am I willing to let go of the old, and make way for the new? Am I willing to be born again?

          I’m not sure what I am being called to, but with a sudden ease, I fall into seeking the Holy Spirit. I allow it into my heart, unhindered.

          I’m putting out into the deep.

LENT 9 ~ HE

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He can turn the tides
And calm the angry sea.
He alone decides
Who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star
That makes our darkness bright.
He keeps watch all through
Each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time
To hear a child’s first prayer.
Saint or sinner call
And always find Him there.

Refrain:
Though it makes him sad
To see the way we live,
He’ll always say, “I forgive.”

2. He can grant a wish
Or make a dream come true.
He can paint the clouds
And turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where
To find the rainbow’s end.
He alone can see
What lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree
And turn the leaves to gold.
He knows every lie
That you and I have told.

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 5 ~ When Surrender Is Faith

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          When you’ve been hurt by those who give up when the terrain gets rough,  then, there’s a great chance you’d try to bend the other way in your subsequent journeys so the pain you faced is relegated to history where it cannot knife others. You don’t see the sense in making others face what you had to, because you intimately know the pain of being left to struggle and make sense of life alone.         

          When the lash of pain has torn you more often than you can count or even remember, you might go forth into life with a grim determination to make it all about sunshine, breezes and blossoms for others – because you think that’s why you had to go through hurt in the first place: to suffer so others don’t have to.

          But as we heave and push to keep pain at bay, sometimes, we glance up from the struggle, and we’re seared to realize we are the only ones in the tangle; it’s just us in the fight to give life and love, but this life and love matters little to the ones we’re trying to save. It hurts to see that the ones we sought to protect from pain aren’t quite as committed to undo the knots in their own gnarled lives.

         When we are left with the hollow feeling that we have been fooled into caring, a bitter caution slithers into our hearts, dimming charity in us and casting suspicion on every need which requires the antidote of merciful love. Jaundiced, we are unable to minister where mercy is most needed.

          As my little sting sank deep, I was faced with a choice. To withdraw into a corner and wither my love as a self-preservation. Or to bury the hurt deep in Jesus’ Holy Wounds, and surrender to His Will.

          The former tugged stronger, and for a couple of days, I stewed in a pot of my own stirring.            

          Then, I saw the words,

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 leaned on the words to learn anew:   He took me from pain. Not just anyone but my Lord did. And He placed me on solid ground, held me till I got back my confidence. He wiped my tears, gave me hope that pain is passing, and tenderly taught me that sorrow precedes joy.

          It was then that my gaze came to rest on the final verse:

Many shall look on in awe, and trust in the Lord.

          Many will trust in the Lord.

          In the gentlest of breezes, the Spirit silvered in my soul a truth my frustration had mottled over ~ that no pain for God is ever wasted; no effort comes to naught in the vineyard of the Lord.

          Many will trust in the Lord. Everything will be made perfect in His time and in His way. All I needed to do was to lean completely against my Saviour, surrender as an act of faith, and move on to the next pasture of need.

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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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You Do Not Walk Alone

 

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May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows fall—
You do not walk alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Old Irish prayer

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JEWEL

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Never before have I felt such a spring of joy and anticipation for the weeks ahead. Many years of my life have been spent yearning to embrace the future, yet wary that for every joy there will be tears. I came from an upbringing where the past was everything, the present a torture, the future muddied with doubt, fear and emptiness. In the life I once led, hope struggled to live; it rarely bloomed.

But not in recent years, not in recent days. I welcome each new day, as it rises from its ebony slumber and comes into its new majesty through a burst of tangerines, golds and blues. I welcome its promise and the hope it gifts me with.

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I revel in love and being loved, hold close to my heart my family, the sacredness of matrimony and motherhood. Every one of it a treasure not to be squandered or gambled away.

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Yet, my abode is not in the clouds of spiritual naïveté. I know the Storm is here and will come. I watch the skies more than I ever did, heeding the caution I have sensed that the first warnings will come in the world above me.

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And lest, in this state of internal alertness, I return to the worry and fear that were the hallmarks of my past, I must remember that resilience in faith and gratitude for simple joys are the real jewels of life, no matter how bitterly the tempests rage.

HARD TIMES

by Jim Fish

When hard times come they sit a spell,
Like kin folk come to stay
A-packin’ troubles, pets an’ kids
That always get ‘n your way.
It’s drought an’ flood, an’ flood an’ drought,
There ain’t much in-between.
You work like hell to make ’em good,
But still they’re sorta lean.

The ranch went under late last year,
The drought got mighty tough.
The boss held-out a long, long time,
But finally said, “enough!”
So here I am dispatchin’ cops
An’ watchin’ felons sleep,
In Junction, at the county jail,
A job I’ll prob’ly keep.

The wife, she works at Leisure Lodge,
Where older people stay,
A-makin’ beds an’ moppin’ floors
To earn some ‘extra’ pay.
Though “extra pay‘s” the term I used,
It goes to payin’ rent,
An’ after all the bills are paid,
We wonder where it went.

We hocked my saddle, guns an’ chaps,
An’ then our weddin’ rings;
Then when we couldn’t pay the loan,
They sold the ‘dad-blamed’ things.
We felt real bad a day or two
But then we let it go,
Cause it got Christmas for the kids
When money got real slow.

When hard times come they sit a spell,
Don’t matter who you are;
They’ll cost ya things you’ve set aside,
An’ clean your cookie jar.
You’ll loose some sleep an’ worry some,
Won’t pay to moan an’ groan;
But hang on to your happiness,
They’ll finally leave ya ‘lone.

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