LOURDES

Lent 12 ~ Would You Come Here?

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“Would you be so kind as to come here?”

 

          An entire night of endless coughing, each bout sending me scurrying to, Go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there.

          Then, I was put to the test and I failed.

          Yet, this morning, only the kind heart of a Mother awaited me.

“Would you be so kind as to come here?”

These were the words of Our Lady to Bernadette at the third apparition. These strikingly courteous and homely words are not a command but an invitation to leave everything else aside and come spend time with Mary.   ~   Father John Lochran, chaplain to the English-speaking pilgrims to Lourdes between 1985 and 1995, 150 Years of God’s Healing Care, Franciscan Media

          I’ve been unwell for close to a week, yet unable to take sick leave due to work responsibilities. I cleared some of that work last Friday and now, I suddenly suspect why I don’t seem to be improving fast enough despite medication: it’s time to take the leave from work. Time to be still.

To leave everything else aside and come spend time with Mary. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lent 11 ~ Go to the Spring

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During the ninth apparition, the Lady asked Bernadette to scrape the soil, saying to her: “Go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there”.   ~   Apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous

 

 

 

 

Lent 1 ~ Voice from Lourdes

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          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.

 

 

 

Water for the Shells

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          It is time for angels.

          Yesterday, I began to do what a nun at church told me after Mass two weeks ago: When you pray for someone, send them angels, she said. I am not accustomed to praying this way although I know many do so. But I thought it was time I signed up too. I’m in another emptying inside. No matter how deep I dig into my inner wells, there’s very little water to be found. Yet, I can feel that I am being fed. Nourished. Strengthened. Guided.

          I am not wilting from the inner drought.

          So, there is water nearby.

          A mysterious flow of dew I cannot lay claim to in any way because I can sense that its source has no roots in my efforts – not in my sacrifices, not in my prayers, not in the ruts and tangles navigated so far.

          What water is this?

         In my mind, I turn over what little I know of water. This year, I discovered two founts of this Water. The Tears of the Holy Mother. Water from the Heart of Jesus. Two founts, yet one and the same. I have yet to fully comprehend their import, but I have already tasted their power for others I have immersed in them. During Lent this year, I felt the call to immerse lost and dying souls in the Springs of Lourdes. When I pondered the source of the miracle springs, a sign was given and I was made to understand that the Lourdes Water was the Tears of the Holy Mother.

          Then, came the learning of the piercing of the Crucified Jesus. An act of cruel, earthly mercy that gushed forth a New, unblemished mercy~water, blessed in the Blood of sacred Sacrifice.

          And in recent days, a hand took mine and led me to the apparitions of Banneaux, and to the words, Plunge your hands into the water. This spring is reserved for me. I am the Virgin of the Poor.

          And now, although a mere puddle wets the floor of my spirit shell, everything I do is being wet by a hidden stream.

          How else can I explain the lightness of step and the skip of joy in my heart when I cannot feel the beauty of the world around me? When rainstorms, sunsets and sunrises in all their natural glory~beauty fall upon my deadened senses and fail to wake them, yet I am happy and focused? Where are the words for when my prayer efforts are facing its newest and strangest struggle yet – every single prayer I start evaporates at the very first words – but I am at peace within?

          I have never before been empty inside yet walking on light. Every previous emptiness or emptying has torn me up, frightened me, driven me to a madness of desperation.

          But not this time.

          There is a drought within, but no wilting. When my eyes trace the efforts of the week, I see them glisten with a dew.

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          There is Water somewhere. Someone is watering my spirit. And I wish this for others as well. To share this Water of Life. There are droughts in places when the wells have run dry. There are places where the well-springs of the soul have been tainted and poisoned, and multitudes drink from them. And there are other inner wells, far from empty, but which need to be filled in order to spill into seeking souls.

          This Water is much needed. So, I send out what has been given to me. I pray this Water into other lives. I pray what scraps of prayer I can, and I ask the angels to fill the waiting shells.

The Tears of the Mother.

The Spring of Banneaux.

Water from the Heart of Jesus.

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LENT 14 ~ The Press of Water

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Photo credit ~ James Fahy

          The week before Lent began, I had a dream about a coming water. A violent rush of taint and filth. People in another part of the town heard of its impending arrival, and they made haste to flee. Flee , they told me too. But I refused.

          For hours later, I pondered the dream. Dismiss or delve deeper? I sought the counsel of the Discerner of Dreams, St Joseph.

Then, it came :

PREPARE

 A week later, after night Rosary, a deepening of meaning :

A coming cleansing to pave the way for a Promised Land on earth.

          Some days into Lent, came the call to immerse lost and dying souls into the waters of Lourdes, and later I was given to understand that the waters of Lourdes were the Tears of the Holy Mother.

A pretty deep press of water into my soul this Lent thus far. Then, they knitted together:

Prepare for a coming cleansing by immersing lost and dying souls in the Tears of the Heavenly Mother.