Lent

Lent 1 ~ Voice from Lourdes

16247839430_e4cfcc6836_b.jpg

          From a few weeks back I’ve been praying about Lent this year. For some sign, for direction. A prayer maybe, or better still, a book. But nothing came. I went to bed the night before Ash Wednesday with a mound of prayers left by God’s door. Well, not really prayers, but just one, said over and over:

Give me a Word at least.

And just before sleep claimed me, Our Lady of Lourdes, let me hear Your voice.

          No book, no discourse. No soft, sweet voice either. So, one single word for Lent, it wasn’t much that I was asking for.

          A busy day came and went. I received no Word from God on this 1st of Lent – although I did have a far quieter heart and strength not mine for a long and difficult day.

          Then, late in the evening, despite prayers and attempts at hope, we received news of a setback. I tried to bravely accept this setback involving my son, and live out my faith as I should, but I faltered after a few hours of make-believe.

          Rather than hide my tottering column of faith and compound matters further, I took my disappointment, the whole cart of it, and dumped it before God.

          Why, I demanded angrily, why did You not answer our prayers in the way we wanted? What was so wrong with our prayer that You chose to answer it in the negative? I thought of my boy, his long struggle, and now, trying so hard to be strong in the face of defeat.

How do I mend his broken heart? I hurled my anger and sorrow at God.

          Heaven did what it does best – it remained silent.

          Some hours later, still hurting and confused but trying to surrender and accept, I told God through gritted teeth,

Let my hurt be, but hold my son close to You. Do not forsake him. Bind his heart to Yours.

          I had some minutes to myself. Wanting to take my mind off things, I reached for the book I am reading now. But my gaze strayed to another – Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska. I had no intention whatsoever of choosing Divine Mercy in My Soul – I wanted cheering up and that was sure not the book to get the lark singing in my heart.

          However, something began to pull and tug at my conscience. It’s Lent, you know, hissed an exasperated voice from within me. Choose the Diary – for the sake of Lent.

          Still at war with God, I thought of my Ash Wednesday. It had been a day like any other, filled to the brim with endless work and another round of hurt. I didn’t have anything for my Lord, not even on this day when He asks to be consoled. No Lent prayer. No Lent meditation. Now, the day was drawing to its close. Clouds clustered together in the purple night skies, softly weeping. What was a few last minutes given to Jesus?

          I dropped my book and picked up Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul. Give me a Word, Lord. You speak so much to the saints, why won’t You say just one Word to me? I threw one last dart of a grumble in God’s direction.

          Opening the book to a folded page, a bookmark fell out from elsewhere. It was a prayer card someone had left in our pew after the blessing of the sick on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes back in February.

A Message to the Sick

Cheer up,

God is with you

You suffer

it is true,

But He is near you.

Trust in Him.

If He has let you suffer,

It is because He sees something good in it,

which today you do not know.

Your peace of mind is in your

“Trust in God”

Who can never let you down.

          I went still reading those words. Not a prayer, but a message to the sick. Message – as if fully expecting that I’d likely dismiss it if it said ‘prayer’.

          Message – as in words sent by someone.

          For Ash Wednesday, I had asked for a Word from God. He gave me Words.

          I asked to hear Our Lady’s voice. She answered me through the healing message of Lourdes.

          The moment I heard Her voice, my spirit ceased its struggle. I saw what I could not accept in the earlier hours when the dry branches of winter tore at our hearts. I saw that the setback we experienced today was God’s answer to our prayers – as well as His answer to my son’s toil and struggle. Strange and unfair as it appears to our earthly sight on this side of heaven, while I cannot yet see how this disappointment is good for us, God certainly can and He knows the hidden value of a great and good gift.

Trust in God.

          I lay down my sword. And with it, my heart.

 

 

 

Lent 6 ~ Fasting to Repair and Restore

          For the past several years, I have been troubled by the loss of peace in my workplace. The old harmony had been systematically undermined by persistent back-biting and venomous beliefs. However hard I tried to do my part in holding things to the golden way they once were, despite the prayers and tears, the rifts widened and deepened with the passage of years. I struggled on, and more than once asked God, How much longer?

          And then, I read Isaiah 58 ~

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
….
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
Restorer of ruined homesteads.”    Isaiah 58: 9 – 12

          Suddenly, it came together for me. I believe I have always given all I have for those around me. I’ve tried to be there for the sorrowing and the grieving long after the last caller has left and the griever forgotten. Yet, it always seemed as if nothing I did ever mattered much for long. The camaraderie I forged among my co-workers misted away easily in any passing gale of malice and spite.

          Inremove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech… I saw my failing. It should have been obvious but it wasn’t. Whilst I saw the desecration of relationships and had been wounded myself by workplace malice and gossiping, I too had failed to keep myself pure of those same accusations. Too often had I sought respite in the same sins that hurt and maimed us all.

          I hadn’t done enough to restore peace. That was the long and short of it.

          That was why God gave me the prayer, Let them love God more than themselves  to be said at the very start of a wounding, the very second I saw or felt it, not a moment later. For the stones of sin to be removed, I had to first fast from my own sinful inclinations to hurt others through gossiping and biased assessments. I had to fast by turning every hurt into a conversion prayer.

          For it is only through this fast that I can come into the fullness of His will for me as Repairer of the breach, and Restorer of ruined homesteads.

Lent 4 ~ Fire of Seeking

Color Fire Coals Nature Photo Picture

          First Saturday devotions to Our Blessed Mother. After long days where the skies tipped over jar after jar of heaven’s dew over us, the rains lost to the pale sun this morning. As rain memories formed a million water~diamonds that clung to wet leaves and twinkled sunlight through, my inner rebel bade me depart from the usual 1st Saturday devotions.

          Instead, I offered Mother the first rain~roses of the blessed first Saturday of Lent – decades of the Glorious Mysteries. I recalled a similar July offering last year, and I tried my best to scrub my offering clean of my never ending petitions. Today’s morning Rosary was my gift to Mother, and I didn’t want it beribboned in earthly seeking.

          The 4th Mystery wrapped and offered, my Mother showed Herself. This would be the third time since last year that I have experienced this – right after the 4th Mystery, I am either shown or taught something.

          This time, Mother came forth and led my mind back to the Miracle of Limpias. Back into the quiet, dusty church, lit by flailing faith. The miracle had happened on March 30, 1919 – during the season of Lent. At a time when spiritual mourning should have brought souls to the tabernacle of supreme grace. As my spirit stood within that still moment when the sunlight streams through dustnotes, I felt this written in a whisper,

Pray to Seek

          As the sun’s rays fell into my heart, I suddenly realized almost all my prayers are usually about appeasement – that someone be given this or granted that. They are seldom about a genuine searching for God. I can barely remember if I have ever prayed that others sell their treasures and to become spiritual pilgrims on a journey of holy seeking.

          That dying church of St Peter in Limpias, in the days before Life lit the dark there, might have been filled with people who did not seek Christ as they should have. They brought themselves to church but might have left their souls elsewhere in the coils of earthly cares.

          The brethren of Limpias then are me and too many others now. We do not seek God with heart and soul. And even if we do, we might be seeking Him in the pastures and meadows of our choice.

          On this morning when the sun seeks to dry the tears of the earth, the Queen of Heaven has made Her wish known – that we pray for the fire of seeking.

Lent 3 ~ Limpias

jesus-christ-limpias-spain

          In the lead up to Lent this year, I was on alert for Lenten signposts that would indicate the path I was to take. I looked out for prayers and meditations and devotions. I read up on saints, went to stories on every day lives. I took them all in, and then sat back to discern what had settled on my spirit.

          Nothing really.

          And then, one day, the Christ of Limpias story came to me.

          I had read it last year and the miracle was beautiful. When it came back to me again in the week before Lent, I wanted to move on to something else, but something tugged me back.

          I read the story of the Christ come alive on the Cross in a little village church. And this time, it felt different. It felt like I was right there in the church, at the moment of the start of the miracles, in the somber emptiness, watching the priest repair a bulb, and suddenly becoming aware of Jesus coming to life.

          I read of the shock and of the subsequent spreading of the news. Of people coming from near and far to become witnesses to life in a special way. I read of things I had not known of my Jesus’ sufferings as He hung on the Cross. The descriptions of the sufferings witnessed in Limpias filled in the blanks of the Crucifixion.

          As my eyes went over the words of the accounts, a silence settled on my spirit. A silence that was absent in the first reading a year ago.

          A silence that told me I had not stumbled upon Christ of Limpias. But that the Miracle of Limpias had been brought to me for a reason. The faith in the community had been dying when the Miracles began to occur in 1919. The Cross coming alive had awakened the slumbering and dying souls of that parish and beyond, and it lit a fire that spread to distant nations, from 1919 till today.

          The Miracle of Limpias lit the fire of seeking in souls.

The Call of Lent

beach-horse-wallpaper-free

          Lent last year began with a dream of a strange, terrible flood coming, a multitude in a panic, scrambling onto buses to escape the town, a town being emptied of life. The call to me was not to join the fleeing. The call was to stay and PREPARE.

          To prepare by praying lost and dying souls into the Ark of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

          The months that followed were just about that – although, often, it didn’t seem that way.  Each month brought pains and weeps different from the old month’s offerings. And from where I stood, all I saw was that many of the sufferings were distractions – distractions that took me away from the prayers to save the lost and the dying. Time and again, I felt as if those struggles made me go into myself to understand what was happening. I didn’t always want to go into myself. It felt like wasted time. It made me fret with frustration that I couldn’t be about the Lord’s work.

          Only tonight do I see it differently.

          In every heartache in the months that streamed from Lent, I was forced to face my sins; I was forced to confront the sins of others. Each time, I was not accorded the luxury of indifference. I had to suffer the fire. To cope with each burning, I fled to God.

          And every time, He gave me the prayer I needed.

          And every prayer was a prayer for the lost and the dying souls – both mine and others.

          A new Lent again lies just beyond the sleeping skies. In a few days, Lent will slowly unbutton its weave of path for each one of us. A journey of the soul no one can afford not to undertake.

          For to spurn the call of Lent is to lose souls entrusted to us.

          And to lose ourselves.

 

LENT 33 ~ Sea of Mercy

Being Renewed

          As the hours wrapped themselves to sleep, I sought the Lord for the last two of ten. Do I continue to say, Jesus, Save Babies, or is there something else?

          I picked up Divine Mercy In My Soul by St Faustina Kowalska to continue my reading.

          Almost immediately, I sensed the answer lay in those pages, but a screen shielded it from me. I turned the page. Maybe I’m doing this wrong. I prayed on, Do I focus on my sins instead, in these remaining days of Lent?

          Instantly, my eyes saw the words:

Tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy ~ # Entry 699, Divine Mercy In My Soul 

          I was not done, and God was not done with me yet, either.

          I turned back to the page where I sensed a veil. Tell me what to pray, Lord.

          That very second, the veil lifted:

Sept 19, 1936…my soul was immersed in the whole sea of God’s mercy  ~ # Entry 694, Divine Mercy In My Soul 

          Second of ten – I immerse souls in the whole sea of God’s mercy.

LENT 31 ~ The Final Ten

imrs[1].png

          I had been wondering about how to observe the final ten days of this Lent. For this Lent, I had made for myself a little Lenten booklet of prayers and devotionals I was inspired to pray. But I couldn’t help but ask God if anything was needed of me in the final pearls.

          It came to me gently late, late last night through an account in The Little Flowers of St Francis, about Brother Juniper, a most humble and loyal friar in the order that St Francis had established:

Brother Juniper once determined with himself to keep silence for six months together, in this manner. The first day for love of the Eternal Father. The second for love of Jesus Christ his Son. The third for love of the Holy Ghost. The fourth in reverence to the most holy Virgin Mary; and proceeding thus, each day in honour of some saint, he passed six whole months without speaking.  ~ The Little Flowers of St Francis, Chapter VI,  How Brother Juniper Kept Silence For Six Months

          While I very much doubt anything can help me pipe down, much less go without speaking, the purposing of each day for a specific prayer, offered throughout the ebb and pull of the day, is a bloom in my spirit that tells me this His will for me in the final ten.