IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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.

         

 

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When There Are No Words

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          I came to the morning, to the news of two deaths – a colleague’s young husband, and baby Charlie Gard of the UK. One was expected, the other not, but both hurt.  And the passings hurt for different reasons.

          Yet, my sadness is nothing compared to the pain of the young Muslim widow who lost her husband and her best friend whom she thought was on his way to recovery after a stroke and surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. There is nothing I am feeling that can compare to the sorrow of baby Charlie’s parents who fought so hard to try to heal their baby and keep him alive. I can only stand useless by the door of grief as they henceforth carry their beloveds in their hearts and begin a painful, twisting journey far removed from the lit highway so many of us stand on.

          This is the night when prayers sit only a wee while on my heart and lips like rainpearls before they slip off the tree boughs. I cannot hold on to a single prayer rope tonight when I want so much to offer prayers for those left to mourn departed loves that had once snuggled deep in hearts. This is the night when the words to comfort a widow of 30 sound tinny and forced and empty because although I too have known the searing bitterness of loss, I have not known my colleague’s grief. I cannot even tell her I love her as one who wants to carry her Cross with her, because there are no words that recognize such a love in her faith and in the language she speaks.

          This is the night when words fail me, when nothing is worthy enough to staunch the bleeding of wounds that go far deeper than most understand, and which will soon go unseen as grief transitions from visible to hidden, yet raw.

          So, I press grief and the grieving into a heart that once knew a depth of pain beyond words, beyond anything we have ever known. In the absence of words, I press pain and love and memories into the maternal heart that saw Her only Son give up His life to a death that led to Life eternal, so that through suffering, God’s Love might live on.

          The past, the present and the future have its place in the heart the world knows as the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And it is here, in the Heart of Mary, that grief will be purified and sanctified.

          Till it is free of earthly shadows.