Love

Lent 4 ~ The Gift of Piercing

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          So much has happened in these past few years, more so in the recent 7 months. Although I am not broken and crushed as I was last year, there is a deep weariness within me, for to me it has been so very long. Of late, I’ve often felt as if the light within me is dying.

          Today, hearing of some work-related developments, the darkness inches a little closer.

          But happening in tandem with that is something strange. Despite feeling the way I do, I’ve noticed in recent days that whenever I pray with heart and soul for others, my heart is pierced with an unusual sweetness. I’ve never experienced a piercing of this sort before, one that leaves my heart flooded with love for whoever I’ve prayed for – after I’ve prayed for them.

          And when the moment folds into its petals, the world within me grows quiet, eased into trust once more.

          Pierced, I rise strengthened. Nothing is too difficult anymore.

Christmas of the Poor

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         Some short weeks back, I had been so bogged down by my studies. It hurt me that after all these years fighting to keep my professional work out of Advent, it was now the stress and worry over my own studies that was encroaching upon this time of silence and watching. I was exhausted, I looked like a ghoul from severe lack of sleep and I could barely think of baking or cooking for Christmas. But thanks to the fervent prayers of my loved ones and dearest friends here, there were 2 miracles and I was freed from the worst of it. Overwhelmed by relief, I wanted more good to come out of this early Christmas gift of freedom. In this relief, a tiny memory tapped at my heart. It was about a Mexican legend I had read about 3 years before, about the miracle of poinsettias.

…a very poor child, Pepita, who wistfully longed to lay a gift at Baby Jesus’ crib at her church during Christmas Eve service. Some accounts say that it was her angel who then told her to pick some weeds from the roadside and present them to the Child King. When the little girl hesitated, the angel encouraged her, telling her that, Even the smallest gift from a heart that loves would make Jesus happy.

          In obedience, yet, still embarrassed, Pepita made a little bouquet of the weeds which she took into church later that night, shyly laying it at the bottom of the nativity scene.

          Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds no eye would heed burst into bright red flowers known today as poinsettias. It was a miracle seen by all present. The common and the ordinary was transformed into something of luminous beauty by pure, simple love. In that miracle, everyone at that time and over the centuries, saw the kiss of heaven on a little urchin’s gift from the heart that sought nothing but to love her Saviour.

          It dawned on me that unless I did something more with my days, I was going to arrive at Jesus’ Crib filled with my own needs and concerns, and yet be empty handed. So, I turned to God to ask Him what He wanted of me this Christmas. Slowly, I became aware of a tapping against my window,

Christmas of the Poor

          Honestly, after such a difficult year, all I wanted was a miraculous burst of huge good news come Christmas, and end to all the severe crosses we have borne so far. I wanted to rise above my exhaustion and frozen spirit and revel in last minute Christmas shopping, make up Christmas menus and think about Christmas trips and visits. Instead, it was 

Christmas of the Poor

laid down quietly and ever so gently, by the door of my heart.

          While I didn’t groan in disappointment, my spirits did droop. How long more, Lord? I asked. How long more must we endure? Is 14 years, and the last 4 months of sheer agony not enough for You? In answer, once again came the quiet,

Christmas of the Poor

          Thankfully, one of the blessings of being more grateful and thankful for everything in life is a heart that cannot lie upon the rug of whine for too long. I soon took myself in hand and joined the crowds of others long busy in trying to help other folks have a better Christmas.

          I figured I’d offer one Divine Mercy chaplet a day and the night’s family Rosary for a person in need. The first 2 came quickly enough, but after that, there seemed to be no specific name. So, on the 3rd day, I offered the chaplet for the Holy Souls of Purgatory. Then, came the 4th day but still no name. Do You not want me to pray, Lord? I asked, puzzled. In answer, the Angel opened my eyes. I learned of 2 people almost drowning in despair. And in a quick moment, I was moved to join the others already gathered there, to reach in and do what I could to help.

          And just like that, something shifted on the home front. Where I was once so tuckered out and listless, I found myself baking again. To the daily cooking and cleaning, a freshened vigour came. Even with my studies, I found myself calmly chipping away at the work that needed to get done.

          Today is a green and silver day, rendered by soft December rains. It is a day that lends itself to quiet thoughts and a listening heart. Into this velvet softness, a gentle hand tucks into my heart once more,

Christmas of the Poor

          We are all poor, whether we realise it or not. Even in our richness and perceived wealth, there will be fields of poverty somewhere in our lives. This we sometimes see, often not. But I think the angels take these poverties of ours and lay them by the doors of other hearts, even as they bring to us the poor of the world. 

          And when we sense the light rise upon our own hearts, it is because someone was moved by our poverty to share their light with us. It is because someone didn’t choose to look away or didn’t get too busy.

          It is because someone out there was poor enough to see our poverty, moved to share what little they had of their own light with us.

An Answer Comes

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God has answered me. Troubled by the Sri Lanka Easter Day bombings, I had asked God to tell me what to do. Exactly 3 days after my asking, He answers through another person,

Pray a special Rosary for the Muslim fasting month.

From May till early June.

Pray for conversion of Muslim hearts.

 

          When I asked Him 3 days before, I was restless and anxious. Then, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque calmed me with,

This divine Heart is naught but sweetness, humility and patience, therefore, we must wait. . . He knows when to act.  

Her words made me realise that patient wait went hand-in-hand with humility. I saw that my fretting was caused by my lack of humility – I was impatient with God; I wanted to lead. Once I saw that, I returned to doing His will in my daily life. I went to work. I cared for my family. I worked as hard as I could in quietness. When the tough hours drained me of vigour, I forced myself to be grateful for littles. Over and over, I prayed from the depths of my heart, Lord, Forgive me for I have sinned.

          And all through the 3 days, I sensed the softest, lightest breath upon my spirit, saying,

For reparation

For reparation

For reparation

          On the evening of the 3rd day, a friend’s words moved me to pray to forgive those who hurt me. I did not think of my family members. Instead, immediately, I thought of my superiors and some co-workers. And again, from the depths of my heart, I prayed, I forgive…

          The very next instant, God spoke and told me He wanted the Conversion Rosary. The Muslim fasting month presents the same danger we as Christians face in Lent – the abyss of spiritual pride. Spiritual pride that comes when we think we are great for the fasting we do each day, for the number of prayers we recite, for the various added Lenten rituals.

          But in many ways, it is harder for them. They have no Jesus who fought off the devil. They do not have Jesus’ example. They do not have His words. So, when pride assails them in that desert of deprivation, it finds an easy target.

          And they emerge from the fasting month, worse than before, for being nourished by pride.

Pride in any hands is a deadly weapon.

          But we have a weapon far greater, far more powerful – the Rosary. It is a weapon that can defeat any other because it is a weapon of love and of humility – not of pride, not of arrogance, not of hatred.

          It is this same journey of humble and loving entreaty that God is asking of me in this May Rosary. Not to demand, but in love and humility, to pray for the conversion of brethren Muslim spirits.

          That with us, they too seek to love and obey the Divine Heart of Jesus.

 

 

 

Bouquet of Weeds

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          When we come to the end of a path and we part the foliage to discern the next tread, often it is the littlest of blooms that point the way forward. In November, I began to pray for direction for my Advent Home Retreat – one I go on each end of year right in my own home, a different retreat each time. These retreats began years back with the book about Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light. I read that book, bit by bit every day of December, and it took me on a journey with the Saint of the Slums. From that year on, it has been a different book every year or even a particular blog, lighting the way forward all through December.

          This November, I thought I’d nudge God a little in my direction of want. I told God I’d very much like to read the book, A Pathway Under The Gaze of Mary, a biography on the Fatima seer, Sr. Lucia Dos Santos. I’ve wanted it for so long and I felt it would be a great retreat-maker for me this year. So, I winged up my yearning to God. And then, promptly forgot about it.

          Heaven didn’t, though. But the answer came in a way different to my seeking.

          One day at the end of November, Ellen Fassbender’s post, My Advent Preparations for Christmas 2018, reminded me about the Advent retreat I had prayed about and then forgot. The Advent Food Box gift she wrote about stirred a Christmas-sy yearning in my heart.

          But more than that, Ellen’s words finally softened my heart into some semblance of humility. Lifting my spirit, I asked God, What gift would You have me bring my Jesus? As I asked, I stretched my eyes as far as I could see over the busy landscape of the weeks ahead. Holiday or not, two of our children face important exams next year. Hence, against the backdrop of Christmas, was the grey pallor of studies and the long commutes for coaching sessions, alongside the inevitable heavy cleaning and de-cluttering. I knew it would take much out of me. After arduous work months, I wanted to be filled with something powerful and special and holy this Christmas; I wasn’t sure I had anything to offer the baby Jesus – if there was anything worth offering.

          That very evening, I felt a sudden longing for Christmas flowers inside the home. I thought of poinsettias and on a whim, looked them up. Imagine my surprise when I read the Mexican legend about poinsettias and Christmas. The story told of a very poor child, Pepita, who wistfully longed to lay a gift at Baby Jesus’ crib at her church during Christmas Eve service. Some accounts say that it was her angel who then told her to pick some weeds from the roadside and present them to the Child King. When the little girl hesitated, the angel encouraged her, telling her that, Even the smallest gift from a heart that loves would make Jesus happy.

          In obedience, yet, still embarrassed, Pepita made a little bouquet of the weeds which she took into church later that night, shyly laying it at the bottom of the nativity scene.

          Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds no eye would heed burst into bright red flowers known today as poinsettias. It was a miracle seen by all present. The common and the ordinary was transformed into something of luminous beauty by pure, simple love. In that miracle, everyone at that time and over the centuries, and now, I, saw the kiss of heaven on a little urchin’s gift from the heart that sought nothing but to love her Saviour.

          It gave me the will and strength to hold my spirit to loving my Saviour just as Pepita had. When the 1st of December blew in on a blustery, rain-pearled wind, no pigeon flew in with it, bearing a message for me from heaven on how my retreat was to be.

          Yet, no disappointment even whispered by my heart. If my Advent retreat this time was to follow the child Pepita into the virginal bloom of each day, I would.

          If it was to fashion a bouquet, out of the weeds of my simple duties as mother, wife and friend, and then to lay it by my Jesus’ Heart each day’s end, then I would too.

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 3 ~ While the Candles Are Lit

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          A long time ago, I saw these words on a sticker, Did you hug your child today? Although I didn’t heed them that very moment, I did later that night, but it was no longer the same. About two years ago, a fellow blogger saw something over the horizon. For a very brief moment, the veil was lifted for him, and his impassioned plea to me was, Hug and kiss your children.

          Sad days ago, in Parkland, Florida, a grieving Fred Guttenberg  reminds the world yet again, Hold your children tight, because in the school shooting, his daughter numbers among those who will never again hear their parents tell them how much they are loved.

          I hug and kiss my children a lot now. I tell them how much I love them. Some of the older ones squirm in understandable embarrassment, but that only gets a giggle out of me; it doesn’t stop me. Even if they don’t realize it or value it, every child, young or adult, needs to know they are loved. And they need to hear it now because the shadows of tomorrow will not always be made known to us.

          And the candles bequeathed to the world will not always remain lit.

 

 

 

Lent 38 ~ For Love

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Love never abandons.

The Blessed Mother walked each step of Calvary.

As He wet the rugged stones with His Precious Blood,

She wet it with Her Holy Tears.

Stone by stone they traversed, Son and Mother,

As before

As always.

He wiped the blood from His eyes so that He could look again at His Mother…

Till the very end, His Mother in His Heart.

She receives His Body from the Cross

Asks for the Blessed Weight against Her once last time.

Memories

Of a Baby held against Her shoulder

Tight and comforting then,

The leadenness of Him against Her now

Knives score Her broken Heart

For She was as much a mother like us,

as she Is the Mother of God

She weeps for the Son She gave up

That He may belong to us all,

Love,

Love everlasting.

 

 

The King Reminds

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          It had been a gentle and tender day of household chores. Busy hours under the quiet of cloudy skies and a light breeze, wet from old rain. Deprived of my usual morning Holy Hour, I tried to find the time to pray simple prayers as I worked, but the call of the pots and the stovetop and the laundry clanged a loud clamour for my attention. In the later hours of the sulking day, I went to my room for some quiet time, intent on saying a chaplet. But it had been taken over by blankets and soft toys and two very busy little people charming the air with giggles and smiles, toothy and toothless.

          I found another chore crooking its little finger at me, and to it I sailed, prayer forgotten.

          By night, little things began to rile me up. Gone was the gentle unhurried pace of the day. All I saw were the many little things that needed to be attended to before bedtime. But my household of people, in happy anticipation of a good rest, did not share my urgency. So, a little fuse was lit and the night veils heard a song of carping and fuming.

          Still bent on getting to bedtime with a home in apple pie order, I unconsciously decided to help one of my children with his ironing. I wasn’t even aware of moving to his cupboard to get the shirts out.

          As the hot iron moved over crease after crease, I felt a gentleness settle into my heart. While I still kept my tone firm with a slightly subdued family, giggles muffled and their eyes lowered to hide the dancing in them, Someone began to release a soothing wetness to quietly flow over the little fires lit in my heart earlier. Suddenly aware of the change within me, I paused. It was then that I heard the insistent strains of a hymn,

Ubi Caritas,…..ubi caritas…..

I couldn’t remember what those words meant, but I let them flow unhindered over my spirit because they brought with them the dew of peace. Before I went to bed, I looked up the hymn. Its English translation told me while I had not remembered my God as much I should have, He hadn’t forgotten me. He came to me to remind me that I should not make Martha’s error mine – that in every little thing I do, only one King should hold court.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end. Amen.