FATIMA APPARITIONS

Fatima 5 ~ September 13

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          Despite the ridicule and jokes of the secular, atheistic press, more than 30,000 people gathered in the Cova for the September  apparition. Whether drawn by devotion or curiosity, they prayed the rosary while awaiting the arrival of the visionaries and their vision. When at least the time came they could hear Lucia say,

          “What do you want of me?”

          “Continue the Rosary, My children. Say it every day that the war may end. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.”

          God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to wear the cords to bed. Keep them on during the day.”

          “I have the petitions of many for Your help. Will You assist a little girl who is deaf and dumb?”

          “She will improve within the year.”

          “And the conversions that some have asked to have brought about? The cures of the sick ones?”

          Some I will cure, and some I will not. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          With these last words still ringing in their ears, the Lady rose and disappeared in the heavens, as Lucia called to the crowd, “If you wish to see Her — look! Look!”

 

 

 

 

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An Old Bell Tolls

          Recently, I slowly became aware of the tolling of an old bell. Old as in a journey I have undertaken. Old as in a call to return to the exact starting point of that slightly worn path.

          It began with the recent discovery of the live streaming from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland, where St Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Miraculous Image is kept. I have since ‘taken’ broken hearts and lives daily to that shrine, and set them before the Miraculous Image.

          I have seen at least one miraculous healing.

          And one powerful guidance.

         One day last week, I woke up to a great inner struggle with anger against someone given to incessant grumbling and the beginnings of sloth. I felt my anger was justified. I felt I needed to speak up.

          Righteous anger leads to spirit-life.

There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity… ~ St Isaiah the Solitary

          But the trouble with my anger, as it so often is, is that it was laden with the added dimensions of vengeance and rebuke with the intention to hurt. And that obliterates righteousness from it, defiles its purity. I was aware of it, and there was a great back-and-forth within me over it.

          In the midst of that struggle, I suddenly became aware of a frisson of deep unease. It might have been a premonition. To me, it felt more like someone else within me was trying to warn me away from a deeply unpleasant situation that would arise should I follow through on my intent to hurt this person to shock sense into her, using righteous anger as an excuse.

          The unease was powerful enough to cause me to rear back from my inclinations. Yet, I knew very well indeed that I often have a wanton disregard for caution. I was fearful that I might, at some point, be overcome by this black anger and do just what my heart and mind were begging for.

          So, I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I took this black venom and ran and set it before the Miraculous Image.

          The anger was pulled out of me, and it was pulled out by its roots.

          Stunned, I turned to the Miraculous Image. I don’t ever remember this type of prayer being answered so swiftly for me. It’s always preceded by long, banging on Heaven’s door. Somehow, I just knew this deliverance was not an end, but a beginning. It was a call to approach closer. And so I did, going before it even when there were no specific intentions. Going before it just to rest my heart there.

          And when my ear burned, I began to breathe Samuel’s entreaty, Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.

          This morning, before we left the home for Mass, the angel brought me The Diary of My Soul, St Faustina’s journal of her spiritual journey into the depths of the Divine Mercy. I had done a thorough reading of it beginning in November of 2015, and it had been an immensely powerful journey that took me through 2016.

          Now, more than a year later, it was gently placed in my hands again.

          The old bell tolled once more.

          I opened it after Mass and for long minutes, lost myself in it. In the early pages of St Faustina’s heart, I saw my own recent life-journeys, albeit on a much less profound scale. I read on calmly and in a state of prayer, going from one event in the saint’s life to another, my spirit for once content to listen out for my Lord.

          Just before I was about to end the reading for the day, I saw these words:

I was to make this novena for the intention of my Motherland. – Entry 33, The Diary of My Soul

          And then I no longer saw those words but these –

Pray for the Motherland.

          A tiny bell went off.

          My country is facing deep turmoil, though not many would see it that way. There are immense struggles on every front. For the most part, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Marriage and family are being sacrificed on the altars of self, materialism and corruption. Too many couples are going headlong into wrong unions. Too many think nothing of ending their marriages. Too many are counselled to believe that is indeed the right and only option.

          Children number the most on the casualty list, yet many parents, politicians, educationists and social activists remain blinded.

          My country is being torn apart from its heart.

          Pray for the Motherland.

          How do I pray?

          The previous entry in the Diary of a Soul had mentioned a nine-day hour long Adoration with Stations of the Cross. I sensed I was to begin the prayers this very day, the 13th of August, the day the August apparitions of Fatima would have taken place in 1917 had the young seers not been kidnapped and taken away. If I began the prayers today, in nine days, they would end on the 21st of August, the day of the total solar eclipse.

          21 August. Solar eclipse. Did the prayer ending on that day say anything of the much-awaited eclipse? Was the prayer linked to it? Did it portend something ominous as many were predicting, prophesying even?

          The same answer as before returned to me. No. There was nothing in the eclipse for me.

          Tell me what to pray. Tell me how to pray, I pressed for Jesus’ heart.

          And the answer came.

Jesus said to me, My child, unite yourself closely to Me during the Sacrifice and offer My Blood and My Wounds to My Father in expiation for the sins of that city. Repeat this without interruption throughout the entire Holy Mass. Do this for seven days. – Entry 39, The Diary of My Soul

          There was no way I could attend Mass for the duration of the prayers, but I could unite my prayers spiritually with the Sacrifices offered in all churches during daily Masses, praying the powerful prayer of entreaty I believe Jesus was asking of me through His words to St Faustina ~

Eternal God, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

          I had come to the end of the discernment. Just before I moved on, I performed one last check. Do this for seven days, Jesus had said. Beginning today, I counted to see where seven days would take me.

          The prayers for the Motherland would end on August 19. The day of the actual Fatima apparitions.

          It left me with no doubts that this prayer and this time were willed. I was to petition the Divine Mercy through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

         

 

Fatima 3 ~ July 13

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          As the July date approached Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions. Finally, she confided to Jacinta that she intended not to go. When the day finally dawned, however, her fears and anxieties disappeared, so that the noon hour found her in the Cova with Jacinta and Francisco, awaiting the arrival of the beautiful Lady.

          The apparition of July 13th would prove to be in many ways the most controversial aspect of the message of Fátima, providing a secret in three parts which the children guarded zealously. The first two parts, the vision of hell and the prophecy of the future role of Russia and how to prevent it, would not be revealed until Sr. Lucia wrote them down in her third memoir, at the request of the bishop, in 1941. The third part, usually called the Third Secret, was only later communicated to the bishop, who sent it unread to Pope Pius XII.

          A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

          “Lucia,” Jacinta said, “speak. Our Lady is talking to you.”

          “Yes?” said Lucia. She spoke humbly, asking pardon for her doubts with every gesture, and to the Lady: “What do You want of me?”

          “I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”

          “Yes, yes.”

          “I would like to ask who You are, and if You will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that You have appeared to us.”

         “You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          Thus assured, Lucia began to place before the Lady the petitions for help that so many had entrusted to her. The Lady said gently that she would cure some, but others she would not cure.

          “And the crippled son of Maria da Capelinha?”

          “No, neither of his infirmity nor of his poverty would he be cured, and he must be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day.”

          Another case recommended by Lucia to the Lady’s assistance was a sick woman from Atougia who asked to be taken to heaven.

          “Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her. Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

 

First Part of the Secret – The Vision of Hell

          As Our Lady spoke these words She opened her hands once more, as had during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

 

Second Part of the Secret

          “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

          This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.

          To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins-of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal the faith will always be preserved…”

 

Third Part of the Secret – Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, “The Message of Fátima

          After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from Her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’.

          And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in white; ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.}

          “Remember, you must not tell this to anyone except Francisco.”

          “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

          “Is there anything more that You want of me?”

          “No, I do not want anything more of you today.”

          Then as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until She finally disappeared in the immense darkness of the firmament.

          The possession of the Secret proved to be very great trial for the three young ones. Family, neighbors, followers of the apparitions, even the clergy, tried unsuccessfully to get them to reveal it. Finally, as the day of the August apparition approached even the civil government, which was secular and virulently anti-clerical, alarmed by the numbers of people taking an interest in the Fátima events, attempted to wrest it from them and in the process expose the Church as a collaborator in a fraud.

 

(Taken from https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/third-apparition-of-our-lady.asp)

 

Fatima 2 ~ June 13

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          On June 13 1917, accompanied by about 50 people, the children were reciting the rosary, when there was again the lightning, and immediately after, the Lady on the holm oak appeared like in May.

          “What do you want from me?” asked Lucia.

          “I wish you to come here the 13th of next month; that you say the Rosary every day, and that you learn to read. In succeeding months I will tell you what else I want.

          “I would like to ask you to bring us to Heaven,” said Lucia.

          “Yes, Giacinta (Jacinta) and Francisco will be among the few, but you must stay here for a long time. Jesus wants to help Himself of you to make Me known and loved. God wishes you to remain in the world for some time because He wants to use you to establish in the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.”

          Lucia asked: “Will I stay here alone?”

          “Don’t be discouraged, I will not abandon you ever. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and through it will conduct you to God.”

          Then She opened her hands and emanated Her light on the children. Giacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the light that went up toward the sky, Lucia in the light that spread on the earth. In front of the palm of the right hand of the Lady there was a heart surrounded by thorns that impaled it. They understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary affronted from the sins of men, and She then asked for reparation.

(Taken from http://www.theholyrosary.org/fatimaapparitions)

 

REPARATION

by Robert Stackpole, STD,

http://www.thedivinemercy.org/library/faq/commonanswers.php?newsID=2585

…it is an act of restitution, of making compensation to someone for the wrongs we have done to them, and in some way repairing any damage that we have done by our wrongdoing.

…..We can even offer prayerful acts of reparation to God for the good of others, to open the “floodgates” (so to speak) to all the graces of repentance and deeper conversion that our Lord wants to pour out upon them from His Merciful Heart!

 

 

The Fatima Way

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          It has been a blessed and joyous two weeks lived well and loved well. But a few days ago, I learned anew the truth of Sr Lucia’s Dos Santos’ prophetic words:

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about

marriage and the family.

I have some issues with my beloved husband, and they boiled over yet again this week. As a result of that, I lived some long moments with sand in my eyes and a storm in my heart.

          One day later, late at night, I stayed up reading about the Fatima Apparitions. I came to the heartrending part where little Jacinta lived her last days, and finally, passed into eternal life. I was so glad for the late hour because it meant no one would witness my own reaction to the enduring courage of a wee child to love her Cross till the end – to offer her terrible sufferings for the salvation of souls. The lateness also meant on no ears would the sound of my own grief fall as my heart traced the path of two simple Fatima parents humbly answering God’s call to bury their own child.

          That part of the Fatima book also took me back to memories of old wounds I’d rather not see. It took me back to what we had lost as a family. It took me back to black hours that we lived through, unknowing that even darker hours awaited us in coming years.

          My pillow was wet that night, and I prayed that there’d be no sign of it in my eyes in the morning, for my grief is private and I wanted it to stay that way.

          I awakened to two miracles the next day.

          There was no sign of the night in my eyes.

          And a greater one – those tears had washed away the grit of old hours of my marital and family related grievance. With the sand washed away, I saw with fresh eyes what the storms had clouded over:

I had not carried my Cross in the Will of God; I had not walked the Fatima Way. 

          Marriage and family struggles come to one and all, some more bitterly and more devastating than others. Some we bring upon ourselves through the choices we make. Some are allowed because it is through the splinters of the Cross that we are emptied for Heaven. In my specific reaction to my frustrations with my husband over his parenting methods and his some of his spousal attitudes, I saw that I had left my Cross. I did not carry it, neither did I ask for God’s help with it. I chose to do it my way, and it was as self-serving as the life of the man of Frank Sinatra’s song (even if the world disagrees with me!)

          My way was not the Fatima Way. My way was the serpent’s way. Seemingly harmless and justified, but winding resolutely and stealthily towards the desolation of Me. I was going in the wrong direction – not towards Heaven, but towards Myself.

          My compass had to be reset. If little Jacinta and Lucia could push past walls rock solid with pain, to love and carry their crosses as God willed of them, then so could I.

          Fresh and cleansed, I got up from the ground. A new day was before me – to be lived the Fatima Way.

          And live it thus, I did. Despite my sinfulness and smallness, I lived it in love as best as I could. Despite the fact that the issues which upset me still remain, and will surely resurrect itself yet again, I held nothing back from my husband and family but gave all I had in love and joyful service.

          This morning, ambling through online highways searching for prayer meditations by saints, I came across a website. Browsing through the prayers, I read each one and waited for the one that would ‘fall into my heart’.

          Just then, I caught sight of a line at the end of the webpage – What if God chose a prayer for you?

          For some reason, that little line stuck its burr into my heart.

          Quickly, I responded, God give me my prayer, then. And resumed searching.

          It was the very next prayer. It was by St Ignatius of Loyola, and it was his Prayer of Generosity ~

Prayer for Generosity
of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous,
teach me to serve You as I should,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and ask not for reward,
Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will. 

          Every line, every word of it – the Fatima Way.

 

 

Family & the Rose~beads

         

          Since early this week, some days I have been sensing a quietening within me. The kind of creeping hush that slowly and silently wets the shores of the soul, making its way deeper within, bit by slow bit, blanketing over the noise and indignation and distractions that abound within.

          When I first became aware of it, I looked to its source, and this is what I learned of its origins:

FAMILY

          Ask any parent – there’s no escaping family duties. Not the cooking, not the cleaning, not the loads of laundry, the homework, the counselling, the binding up of wounds, the list goes on and on and on. But there are two ways to go at it – with heart and soul, or distractedly and grumpily. Unfortunately, I was on the second mode for much of April into May.

          Until that day when I asked Our Lady of Fatima, What do You ask of me?

          And I asked Her over and over, all through the hours of the day and those that followed. What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me?

          My heavenly Mother answered quickly enough, and repeated Her answer every time I doubted I heard Her right, every time I sought a different answer – thinking it had to be something different for me.

Pray the Rosary every day.

First Saturday of the month.

          Since 2012, we have been saying the Family Rosary almost every day. However, in recent months, we’ve missed saying it more than we ever have before. Several times, Heaven has called my attention to it. Each time, I’ve bowed my head in repentance, and gone back to set things right. For some weeks, it would be fine, but then, we’d start skipping a day here and another there, and soon, we’d be right back in the rut we thought we had left for good.

Pray the Rosary every day

          Mother Mary has never been this clear with me on this before, and that itself is telling. Just as clearly, this time, Mother has shown me some of the link the daily recitation of the Rosary has on my hope for savouring Eden some day.

           I believe I was shown this Eden through early 1900s life on distant Prince Edward Island, where love of God and neighbor and work once co-existed seamlessly and in a harmony long gone for me now in this country of my birth. Yet, I also believe this Eden of the past is also of the coming future, and that it was shown, and then taken away, to leave in its wake a bereftness deeper than anything I’ve ever felt before – so that I would make every attempt to find it again.

          It wounded me with a longing that will likely live in me all the rest of my days.

          And it is this ache now that has been taking me back to the Rosary this week, despite late hours and tiredness and weak will. I hope to God I do not falter again because I need the Rosary more than anything.

          Because the Rosary is battle beads that will help anyone find heaven.

          In the short days since I returned to this call of Fatima ~ the Rosary, I’ve rediscovered the simple happiness of caring for my brood, heart and soul. In the midst of rush and busyness, I’ve been able to laugh with my family, to love each of them, and to savour the little suns that burst over us in tiny joy~bubbles.

          And when I began to sink my spirit into the heart of family, this mysterious brook of inner quiet began weaving its way through my soul. It is not merely a quiet that distils my day of its errors and distractions. It is a quiet that has me turning away from work so often, seeking my God and all of God in the skies, in the secret language of the clouds, in the new wind~notes as they whisper their secrets through boughs and leaves. When I am fretting over something, it gently beckons to me from flowerbeds, asking that I visit there to refresh my dusty spirit.

          I am indeed learning anew the far-reaching powers of the Rosary.

          This stillness born of the prayer of the rose~beads allows levity and joy, life and work – as long as its goals and outcomes are anchored in family – yet, it cautions my spirit against other roads that lead away from the warning of Sr Lucia, the Fatima seer.

          The warning that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of satan will be about marriage and the family.

         

Fatima 1 ~ May 13

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          The First apparition of Our Lady occurred on Sunday May 13th 1917 as the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes.

          They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. It was not really lightning, but rather the reflection of a light that approached little by little. Frightened by the flash, the children looked around at the sky that was clear and bright without the least spot of a cloud. No breeze stirred, the sun was strong, and there was no hint anywhere of a storm that might be responsible for a flash of lightning. The children, however, thought that they had better head home in case it might start raining.

          As they descended the hill, another flash of lightning took them by surprise. Panicky with fear, they took a few steps and looked towards the right. There, standing over the foliage of a small holm oak, a lady dressed all in white, more brilliant then the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun.

          The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.”

          “Where are you from?” the children asked.

          “I am from heaven,” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising Her hand towards the distant horizon.

          “What do you want of me?” Lucia asked.

          “I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want. And I shall return here again a seventh time.”

          Lucia said : “Do you come from heaven…and will I go to heaven?”

          “Yes, you’ll go.”

          “And Jacinta?”

          “As well.”

          “And Francisco?”

          “Him too, but he will have to say many rosaries”. In the end Our Lady asked: “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?”

          “Yes, we do.” said the children.

          “You will have to suffer a lot, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

          Then She opened her hands with a loving gesture of a mother who offers Her heart. From it an intense light departed that seemed to go through them. The vision vanished telling them: “Recite the rosary every day to obtain the peace for the world and the end of the war.”

          And She disappeared.       

(Taken from http://www.theholyrosary.org/fatimaapparitions)

What Do You Ask Of Me?

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          Since the Prince Edward Island Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote so profoundly of caught my heart and refused to let go this time, I have come to know an ache I have not known before this ~ the intense longing for a life gone by, that was lived for God and God alone. The intensity of this foreign ache for an even more foreign land cut into me so deeply that I was frightened of it, frightened of the power a mere longing could have over me.

          What if this is from darkness? I wondered. What if this is a distraction, to take me away from duty and prayers and inner silence?

          So, I was determined to wrest back my stoic, practical side, by wilfully forgetting this mad yearning, and getting on with life.

          It being the 1st Saturday of the month, I felt a sense of purpose open up before my seeking. Determined to observe 1st Saturday devotions, I decided to live this one day solely for Mother Mary, as an act of reparation for the blasphemies against Her Immaculate Heart.

          And to live the hours of the day just this way by burying Prince Edward Island into the folds of forget, so that its beauty would haunt and distract my thoughts no more.

          And so it was, Hail Mary after Hail Mary, woven through a day sweetened by cool breezes and the welcome respite of household chores and cares. Nonetheless, it was one rosebud of a Hail Mary after another, against the backdrop of Prince Edward Island. It felt as if my spirit could not release itself from the lure of this little Canadian jewel.

          Why? I wondered. Why?

          I had wanted to bury it and forget it, hoping spiritual busyness would leech its lustre for me. Yet, like an enduring flame, the beauty of old life on this island burned steadily on in my heart.

          Gently, I became aware that my wistful desire for this land didn’t cloud out prayer, or diminish it, – as it would have had this longing been from darkness as I had feared; in fact, the minute I began the consecration of my day to the Immaculate Heart, this strange ache gently eased into the background of my consciousness, content to remain there as I gave my hours as best as I could to Mother Mary.

          Despite its potency, it did not compete with Our Lady. On the contrary, it willingly acceded to Our Lady’s presence, although it remained close. If at all it had been the work of the evil one, it would have fled.

          Hours passed. I mentally soaked my spirit in pictures of that beautiful island far north of the world, each time asking, Why? Why did you come? Why will you not go? Then, I suddenly thought of someone I know and wondered if I should open up about it.

          And with no overture on my part, that was what actually happened. This very person got in touch. Taking it as a sign, I shared what had been happening.

          Why am I aching for this place? I asked.

          Perhaps it is a longing for heaven…, came the reply.

          I am stunned! For it is that exactly. As if by seeing this land, I have touched heaven for real. And I have returned from that communion now, no longer the same for this touch I have been allowed.

          If it was indeed that the veils were lifted, then why? For what purpose? Because the life I long for, the period of time the novels of Anne of Green Gables is set in, is not devoid of challenges. I see this Prince Edward Island of the character Anne’s time as my Eden-on-earth – one of savouring of deepest joys, but one of willing, joyous labour too.

          Is that what heaven really is too?

          For a moment, it all becomes too much, and I want to escape it. But the questions pursue me, pushing me to where the mists are gathered, willing me to not give up  seeking the Truth. It comes to family Rosary time, and with a rush of relief, I throw my seeking into the prayers.

          Just after the first decade, inexplicably, I sense the questions dry up. I try to summon the queries again, but come up empty. They have gone.

          The desire to know has left me.

          I return to the rest of the recitation, emptied of myself finally, and in some relief, offer up the prayers as cleansed vessels for the Mother to fill as needed.

          When Rosary ends, an Unseen Hand leads me to the question of the Fatima seer, Sr Lucia, for Our Lady of the Fatima Apparitions:

What do You want of me?

          It falls straight into my heart.

          Immediately, I know that is what I am to ask as well. In a light~burst, the mists part, and I suddenly see the winding turns I had to traverse because that was the only way to  reach this question.

What do You want of me?

          This inexplicable wrench of heart for a tiny province in a country that will once more be consecrated to Our Lady in July this year, had not been a passing bloom that had randomly fallen into my heart. It had been breathed into my soul on blue breezes, to rest in the folds of my heart.

          To trouble and trouble my spirit till it yielded, to ask my own Fatima Question, 

What do You ask of me?

Loader of the Prayer~Cart

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          My weekend began with an examination of my conscience, and a doubting of the path I was now on – to empty my prayer~will. To empty it (of petitions) – for God to fill it. Off and on, through the weekend hours, I kept going back to this – Was it the right thing to do?

          Then, my mind wandered over the changes and happenings that had ensued from the new prayer.

          There had been power. Strength. There had been joyous, unexpected  happenings.

          And yet, I continued to nibble at the certainty, slowly ragged-ing its smooth edges. What if I was wrong? In these days of fake news and lies and distortion and illusions, had I veered off the True Path? What if I was wrong to empty my prayer~will?

          On the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I went before God. You have to answer me, I insisted.

          The first reply came through Susan Skinner’s post, If You Seek Healing. Of the many things that lit up in her piece, this caught me firmly – once you have emptied all of you, you can be filled up with God.

          And I learned yet again that the emptying of my prayer~will was the Will of God Himself. It was not a hardening of my heart, as I feared. It was not a callous disregard of the entreaties of others.

          It was another step in the journey of Surrender that I first began almost ten years ago. One I veered off many, many times, and returned to as often. And now, with the emptying of my prayer~will, I was tentatively opening myself up even further, laying everything of me at His Feet, to be used as He pleased. During Lent this year, my spirit got caught in the Call of the little Consoler, the Fatima seer, Francisco Marto. As I began to try to offer up little beads of Chaplets and Rosaries, solely to console the Wounded Heart of Jesus, like the little Shepherd had done, I learned of this little by-path the  emptying of the prayer~will was leading me to.

          But my learning was in no way over. Something else of Susan Skinner’s post remained in me: humility. When the eyes of my heart turned to it, I found it in a little pouch, its strings fastened such that I could not undo them to understand what deepened meaning Humility held now for me.

          But meaning came soon enough. That night, I read the words of a niece of the soon to be canonized little shepherd-seers. Jacinta Pereiro Marto said, “God chose my uncle and aunt because this is what He wanted, so much that my grandfather used to say that the Virgin wanted to come to Fatima and she chose his children, but that we didn’t deserve anything.” Because of this attitude instilled in the family by her grandfather – father to Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto – “we always lived very simply because God chose, and He chooses who He wants. We don’t deserve anything.”

          Her humility, the humility of that entire family despite understanding the import of the apparitions in Fatima all those years ago, was like a flower bursting into bloom for me. I realized that the erasing of my will in my prayers was a deepening of humility. To understand that it was not for me to ever occupy the driver’s seat of prayers. And not even to decide for myself which prayers to load onto my cart to take to Heaven.

          For the God who chooses me to drive the cart, is the same one Who will decide whose need gets onto mine and whose goes to another prayer~cart.

          Although I still do not understand why I have been brought to this point of placing even this freedom to pray for others in His Divine Will, for now, I feel a deep security in the Marto wisdom, God chose, and He chooses who He wants.

          The same God who chose my prayer~cart, will fill it with the needs He chooses.