OPPRESSED

Lent 26 ~ Immerse

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         Two days ago, when I had very little genuine and unforced compassion and charity for my superiors and co-workers, I asked God the question, How long more till the promised help comes?

          God answered me early the next day with, God will help it at the break of dawn   ~   Psalm 46: 6.

          While it gave me deep consolation, it didn’t tell me how I was to bridge the gap between the now and the fulfilment. So, assuming this ‘how’ was hidden in the petals of a bloom I had once known, I returned to prayers I had prayed in the past.

          Then, a small hand pushed a wreath of words towards me. Words I had read, believed and prayed as a prayer 3 years ago.

Today bring to Me ALL MANKIND, ESPECIALLY ALL SINNERS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.   ~   Chaplet of the Divine Mercy novena, 1st day.

          The words immerse and console pulsed strong. I had been firmly drawn to consoling Jesus through my recent night and early morn offerings of, I seal my heart in Your Tabernacle. Now, in a deeper way, I understood that it was not me; it had been Jesus drawing me closer to Him through that prayer – leading me to the next prayer:

Immerse souls in the sea of my Mercy.

          Later that day, through another person’s sharing of a troubling experience with nightmare neighbours, yet again, Jesus deepened the lesson that the never ending duels with my superiors and co-workers had a purpose:

Only through suffering would I be hurt enough to cry to heaven.

Moreover, I had to cry to heaven not just for myself, but for those oppressors as well.

And the prayer for my oppressors now was to be,

I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          I stepped back from the call of life to meditate on this development. I realized it was no random prayer. I had journeyed to this point from the very early days of this Lent when God told me this was to be a Lent to console Jesus through the fasting for oppressors. I had discerned and obeyed as best as I could and that took me to the next stop and the next prayer for oppressors,

Replace his blood with Yours

          And now, after that, after whatever offerings of sacrifice and obedience of worth, I had come to,

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          Each time, the darts of anger pierced my heart, I prayed,

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          Every time they annoyed me. Every time I observed my oppressors desecrate whatever was good and pure and blessed. Every time I felt that I could not go on another day in this hell.

          Then, my husband shared his sufferings with me. And it was the same  wounding too.

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

          And also with our children.

          Each and every time the spirit moves me, I pray that prayer. Through the day. Each awakening in the night. In hope. In brokenness. When I can. When I cannot. When I don’t want to.

Jesus, I immerse them in the sea of Your mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 25 ~ At the Break of Dawn

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          My return to work after a short break brought with it the inevitable bite of winter. The oppression of loneliness and religious rejection. I tried everything I had learned on keeping my eyes on God, but I could sense the strength of spring slowly leave me.

          Some hours later, I received a text message of a cousin’s pain. As I reached out to comfort her through my gift of tickles, a healing crept back into my spirit. Within the hour, though nothing at work had changed, I was upright once more.

          I came home late yet determined not to bring winter in with me. I stoked the hearth to keep the fires of hope in spring alive. When bedtime came, I sought it with gladness as the day had been long and tiring.

          Settling down to sleep, I began to feel a strange weight pressing down on my chest. It felt like an iron brick. I went still, trying to figure out what was happening. The ‘brick’ pressed down harder – but oddly, I didn’t have trouble breathing. My thoughts returned to the day and I knew then that it had been harder than I was willing to admit. And it was not just today. Today had been just one day out of many long years of this same suffering. No end seemed to be in sight.

          Jesus, I calmly called out in the silence of my heart, Lay Thy hand upon my heart.

          In a heartbeat, the pain lifted. Just like that, it was gone. I snuggled down in the comfort that God was close by.

          But before I drifted off to sleep, I quietly asked God about my work woes, How long more till the promised help comes?

          Today, I see something that brings to life the tiny embers within me,

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.   ~   Psalm 46: 6

          I recalled the pain in my chest and how it had lifted miraculously.

God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed

          When will help come? I had asked.

          Could this be the answer?

God will help it at the break of dawn.

 

 

 

 

Lent 4 ~ Oppressor Hearts

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I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.     Ezekiel 33: 11

          After Jesus called me to the Lenten fast of consoling, I happened upon an account by a cancer survivor, detailing not just her struggles with the disease, but also the hurt and unnecessary pain caused by medical professionals through their lack of empathy, lack of compassion and absence of professional thoroughness in helping this woman  navigate the debilitating darkness that is cancer.

          It reminded me of something I had experienced in the past with regards to cancer (I did not have cancer; it was something else). Reading that poor woman’s story this morning brought back the memory of that sudden, piercing aloneness when you’ve just received the diagnosis – made worse upon realizing that no one really cared. No one cared much  about your emotions, your shock, about your fears of what lay ahead. They didn’t care that you were sitting there, blank, yet scrambling for questions… and answers. It mattered nothing to them that you were in shock, that your life had ground to a halt – and that it was simple charity to be sensitive to the patient’s place at that point in time – by refraining from joking with colleagues, talking about plans after work – until I got some grip on what I had just heard.

          I didn’t care if it was the kind of news that they delivered to patients hundreds of times before; it was my first time hearing it and I deserved much better than what I got from the doctor leaning away to crack a joke with another doctor. I deserved way much more than a condescending look and a careless answer when I asked my first question about treatment options.

          I had every right to concern and compassion that I didn’t get from those medical specialists. In that moment of my suffering, they were not healers. Their attitude was oppressive because it further compounded a Cross I barely even knew how to lift.

          My experience only lasted a few excruciating hours. But how many men, women and children, face this sentence in reality each day, alone and isolated in their fears because hostile onlookers want no part in their pain?

          So, today, I begin my fast for the oppressed as well as for the oppressors. Both are found everywhere, not just in hospitals and in doctors’ rooms. Some are in our places of work. Some are in our own homes. Not all are obvious, out in the open. Although it is far easier on me to cast those callous hearts aside and focus only on those in pain, I sense God is calling me to fast for the conversion of oppressors as well.

          Knowing that I might just choose to focus my consoling on those suffering oppression, God gave me a sign right in front of my eyes. Returning from Mass, for close to 30 minutes on dark roads, God placed my superior’s car in front of us. Due to the heavy traffic, we had no choice but to trail this man cruel to so many for so long. 30 minutes was enough time to pretend not to see, make excuses and then to concede defeat to God and say, Ok, yes, I will console You for this man too.

          Because just as I seek life, God wants oppressor hearts to be converted – that they too may live.