OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Fatima 4 ~ 19 August

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          Under the pretext of providing his personal automobile, so that the children could travel safely through the crowds pressing around their homes, the civil Administrator or Mayor of the district in which Fátima was located, arrived in Aljustrel on the morning of August 13th. A previous attempt on August 11th to obtain the “truth” from the children having been unsuccessful, Artur Santos, an apostate Catholic and high Mason, had devised a scheme by which he would take them into custody and force them to reveal all.

          With a show of good will he now offered to take the three and their parents to see the parish priest, whom he claimed wished to see them, and then to the Cova. At the parish house he abandoned this ruse, and the parents, taking the children alone from there to the district headquarters in Vila Nova de Ourem, some 9 miles away. Here he tried bribes, threats of death and locking them in a cell with other “criminals” in order to get them to recant their story. It was to no avail. Despite their ages, their belief in the Lady and their courage was unshakeable.

          Meanwhile, in the Cova at noon on the 13th the characteristic external signs of the Apparition appeared for the benefit of the crowd, the greatest crowd to that time. After they ended the crowd dispersed, as yet unaware of the trickery of the government.

          The “trial” of the children, however, continued for two days, to the consternation of their families. Finally, on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, the Administrator had them driven back to Fátima and deposited on the steps of the rectory. Here they were seen as the people, who had just come from Mass, were trying to determine from Ti Marto where the children were. Their anger was poured out on the driver, and on the Mayor when he arrived a little later, both of whom were no doubt glad to be rid of their little charges and to escape unscathed. It would effectively be the only serious effort of the civil authorities to interfere with the Lady of Fátima.

          As it was the Lady’s plans were delayed slightly. On Sunday the 19th Lucia, her brother John, and Francisco, were grazing the sheep at a place known as Valinhos. It was located on the side of the same hillock opposite Aljustrel where the angel appeared twice, though a little farther north. At apout 4 o’clock, sensing that Our Lady was about to appear, Lucia tried unsuccessfully to get John to fetch Jacinta, until she offered him a couple pennies for the errand. As she and Francisco waited they saw the characteristic light. The moment Jacinta arrived, the Lady appeared.

          “What do you want of me?”

          “Come again to the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of next month, my child, and continue to say the Rosary every day. In the last month I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          “What are we to do with the offerings of money that people leave at the Cova da Iria?”

          “I want you to have two ardors [litters to carry statues] made, for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I want you and Jacinta to carry one of them with two other girls. You will both dress in white. And then I want Francisco, with three boys helping him, to carry the other one. The boys, too, will be dressed in white. What is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.”

          Lucia then asked for the cure of some sick people.

          “Some I will cure during the year.” (looking sadly at them) “Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell, because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice.”

          Having said that, She departed as She had on the other occasions.

 

~ EWTN

 

 

 

Fatima 2 ~ June 13

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          On June 13 1917, accompanied by about 50 people, the children were reciting the rosary, when there was again the lightning, and immediately after, the Lady on the holm oak appeared like in May.

          “What do you want from me?” asked Lucia.

          “I wish you to come here the 13th of next month; that you say the Rosary every day, and that you learn to read. In succeeding months I will tell you what else I want.

          “I would like to ask you to bring us to Heaven,” said Lucia.

          “Yes, Giacinta (Jacinta) and Francisco will be among the few, but you must stay here for a long time. Jesus wants to help Himself of you to make Me known and loved. God wishes you to remain in the world for some time because He wants to use you to establish in the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.”

          Lucia asked: “Will I stay here alone?”

          “Don’t be discouraged, I will not abandon you ever. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and through it will conduct you to God.”

          Then She opened her hands and emanated Her light on the children. Giacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the light that went up toward the sky, Lucia in the light that spread on the earth. In front of the palm of the right hand of the Lady there was a heart surrounded by thorns that impaled it. They understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary affronted from the sins of men, and She then asked for reparation.

(Taken from http://www.theholyrosary.org/fatimaapparitions)

 

REPARATION

by Robert Stackpole, STD,

http://www.thedivinemercy.org/library/faq/commonanswers.php?newsID=2585

…it is an act of restitution, of making compensation to someone for the wrongs we have done to them, and in some way repairing any damage that we have done by our wrongdoing.

…..We can even offer prayerful acts of reparation to God for the good of others, to open the “floodgates” (so to speak) to all the graces of repentance and deeper conversion that our Lord wants to pour out upon them from His Merciful Heart!

 

 

Be Ever My Friend

 

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For the victims of the Manchester bombing and their families, May 22 2017;

for victims of terrorism everywhere, the world over.

 

Swift through the world

You went a-flying,

Dearest Jacinta,

In deepest suffering

Jesus loving.

Forget not my plea

And prayer to you:

Be ever my friend

Before the throne

Of the Virgin Mary,

Lily of candour,

Shining pearl,

Up there in heaven

You live in glory,

Seraphim of love,

With your little brother

At the Master’s feet

Pray for me.            ~ The late Sr. Lucia Dos Santos, Fatima Seer.

 

 

Every Seeking Heart

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          After days of cheery sunbeams and green breezes in tinkling dance through evergreen boughs, I came to Sunday morning thoroughly happy.

          Happy but distracted. My thoughts scattered in a hundred earthly paths, disappearing into thickets and grass dips; my prayers like sighs borne away on the slightest whisper of wind~breaths.

          It was as if this merriness within left no room for much else.

          I could have gone on this way. Who doesn’t want an end to or even some respite from fretting and rushing and hurting and fuming, even if for a day? But I was headed for Mass soon, and it somehow felt frivolous to go to my Lord’s dwelling with my spirit in a state of giggles.

          And so I strived to summon prayers. Petition prayers, emptied prayers. Rosary and Chaplet cups offered to be filled by heaven. They came. And they went before I could catch hold of any. Sighing, I went about getting ready for the journey to church. I had a book on the Fatima apparitions that I was reading, and I put it into my bag in case I had some minutes after Mass for some quiet time with it.

          The very minute I touched the book, quick as a silver flash, I saw Our Lady of Fatima in my mind. I promptly decided to ask Her for help in quietening my gay spirit: I told Her of my difficulty in praying.

          The words had barely left my heart when I heard the strains of this old hymn blow through my spirit:

In moments like these I sing out a song,
I sing out a love song to Jesus.
In moments like these I lift up my hands,
I lift up my hands to the Lord.

Singing I praise You, Lord.
Singing I praise You, Lord.
Singing I praise You, Lord,
I praise You.

          The little bean rolled into the pod just then. I saw that this tumbling happiness inside me was a gift, a pillow for my heart. As I sank into it over the days that had passed, much of the thorns and thistles of the preceding weeks had misted away, giving way to this jollity that was so much a stranger emotion to me.

          A stranger-happiness because it felt like bread meant for me alone. There was no tug of heart telling me I had to share it with others. Yet, something didn’t feel quite right  keeping this bread~gift for myself.

          By asking Our Lady for help to be able to pray the prayers heaven asked for, to care as I was called to, I think I was in fact asking to share this bread with others.

          And when, of my own volition, I had asked for permission to share the bread~gift, In Moments Like These was Our Lady’s breath through my soul as to how the sharing was to be done: 

I was to begin with Praise.

          And so I did. I praised and thanked God for every thing, little and great, that had been given to me. Gifts I had been grateful for. Gifts I had received with the heart of one of the nine biblical lepers who took and forgot. Gifts I had hitherto been too preoccupied to notice. Gifts I had taken for granted.

          How much, how very much there was to be grateful for.

          I took that spirit of gratitude and praise into Mass. Throughout Mass, in moments when I was tempted to grumble internally or to be moved to quick irritation over inconsequential-s, I found my heart being turned away – towards praise and thanksgiving – and the vexation lost its allure.

          But a strange emptiness remained unfilled. I mouthed words of prayer but they felt like fruit falling far from my reach.

          When Mass ended, my husband took the kids to their Sunday School classes, and I had some time for myself. Scooting over to the other end of the pew so I was directly in front of the crucifix over the altar, I settled back and opened my Fatima Apparition book. It was after the apparitions had ended, and the young seers, Jacinta and Francisco were seriously ill. Jacinta had wanted to continue attending daily Mass but she was advised against it.

          Protesting, she replied, “I want to go in place of the sinners who don’t go even on Sundays.”

I want to go in place of the sinners 

          Like icepearls, the child~saint’s words fell into my heart and they fell deep.

          I had been given my prayer.

          Shutting the book immediately, I closed my eyes and reached out for the prayer,

I bring to Thee every seeking heart,

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart.

          Over and over, those simple words, every seeking heart. I tried to pair them with various seekings, names and pains, but unseen hands brushed my efforts away. None of my own was needed.

          What was asked was that I sit there in total humility, obedience and silence, my will fused to the Divine, before the Blessed Sacrament, before the Crucifix of the Ultimate Sacrifice, bringing every seeking heart to Jesus, through the simplest of prayers,

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart

Every seeking heart.

          I have read many times before that praise and thanksgiving opens the heart to heaven. So many, many others have learned this, and today, that lesson became mine as well. In desiring that other hearts be watered by happiness as did mine, Our Lady gave me the key that unlocked my heart – Praise.

          And by that prayer wrought by praise, seeking hearts, though hidden from me, were led to heaven.

         

Family & the Rose~beads

         

          Since early this week, some days I have been sensing a quietening within me. The kind of creeping hush that slowly and silently wets the shores of the soul, making its way deeper within, bit by slow bit, blanketing over the noise and indignation and distractions that abound within.

          When I first became aware of it, I looked to its source, and this is what I learned of its origins:

FAMILY

          Ask any parent – there’s no escaping family duties. Not the cooking, not the cleaning, not the loads of laundry, the homework, the counselling, the binding up of wounds, the list goes on and on and on. But there are two ways to go at it – with heart and soul, or distractedly and grumpily. Unfortunately, I was on the second mode for much of April into May.

          Until that day when I asked Our Lady of Fatima, What do You ask of me?

          And I asked Her over and over, all through the hours of the day and those that followed. What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me?

          My heavenly Mother answered quickly enough, and repeated Her answer every time I doubted I heard Her right, every time I sought a different answer – thinking it had to be something different for me.

Pray the Rosary every day.

First Saturday of the month.

          Since 2012, we have been saying the Family Rosary almost every day. However, in recent months, we’ve missed saying it more than we ever have before. Several times, Heaven has called my attention to it. Each time, I’ve bowed my head in repentance, and gone back to set things right. For some weeks, it would be fine, but then, we’d start skipping a day here and another there, and soon, we’d be right back in the rut we thought we had left for good.

Pray the Rosary every day

          Mother Mary has never been this clear with me on this before, and that itself is telling. Just as clearly, this time, Mother has shown me some of the link the daily recitation of the Rosary has on my hope for savouring Eden some day.

           I believe I was shown this Eden through early 1900s life on distant Prince Edward Island, where love of God and neighbor and work once co-existed seamlessly and in a harmony long gone for me now in this country of my birth. Yet, I also believe this Eden of the past is also of the coming future, and that it was shown, and then taken away, to leave in its wake a bereftness deeper than anything I’ve ever felt before – so that I would make every attempt to find it again.

          It wounded me with a longing that will likely live in me all the rest of my days.

          And it is this ache now that has been taking me back to the Rosary this week, despite late hours and tiredness and weak will. I hope to God I do not falter again because I need the Rosary more than anything.

          Because the Rosary is battle beads that will help anyone find heaven.

          In the short days since I returned to this call of Fatima ~ the Rosary, I’ve rediscovered the simple happiness of caring for my brood, heart and soul. In the midst of rush and busyness, I’ve been able to laugh with my family, to love each of them, and to savour the little suns that burst over us in tiny joy~bubbles.

          And when I began to sink my spirit into the heart of family, this mysterious brook of inner quiet began weaving its way through my soul. It is not merely a quiet that distils my day of its errors and distractions. It is a quiet that has me turning away from work so often, seeking my God and all of God in the skies, in the secret language of the clouds, in the new wind~notes as they whisper their secrets through boughs and leaves. When I am fretting over something, it gently beckons to me from flowerbeds, asking that I visit there to refresh my dusty spirit.

          I am indeed learning anew the far-reaching powers of the Rosary.

          This stillness born of the prayer of the rose~beads allows levity and joy, life and work – as long as its goals and outcomes are anchored in family – yet, it cautions my spirit against other roads that lead away from the warning of Sr Lucia, the Fatima seer.

          The warning that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of satan will be about marriage and the family.

         

Fatima 1 ~ May 13

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          The First apparition of Our Lady occurred on Sunday May 13th 1917 as the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes.

          They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. It was not really lightning, but rather the reflection of a light that approached little by little. Frightened by the flash, the children looked around at the sky that was clear and bright without the least spot of a cloud. No breeze stirred, the sun was strong, and there was no hint anywhere of a storm that might be responsible for a flash of lightning. The children, however, thought that they had better head home in case it might start raining.

          As they descended the hill, another flash of lightning took them by surprise. Panicky with fear, they took a few steps and looked towards the right. There, standing over the foliage of a small holm oak, a lady dressed all in white, more brilliant then the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun.

          The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.”

          “Where are you from?” the children asked.

          “I am from heaven,” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising Her hand towards the distant horizon.

          “What do you want of me?” Lucia asked.

          “I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want. And I shall return here again a seventh time.”

          Lucia said : “Do you come from heaven…and will I go to heaven?”

          “Yes, you’ll go.”

          “And Jacinta?”

          “As well.”

          “And Francisco?”

          “Him too, but he will have to say many rosaries”. In the end Our Lady asked: “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?”

          “Yes, we do.” said the children.

          “You will have to suffer a lot, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

          Then She opened her hands with a loving gesture of a mother who offers Her heart. From it an intense light departed that seemed to go through them. The vision vanished telling them: “Recite the rosary every day to obtain the peace for the world and the end of the war.”

          And She disappeared.       

(Taken from http://www.theholyrosary.org/fatimaapparitions)

Lent 32 ~ Priests

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Some visitors were one day discussing in her presence the faults of a certain priest who had been forbidden to say Mass. Jacinta began to weep for sorrow and she said that people should not talk about priests but they should rather pray for them. She herself often prayed for priests and asked others to do the same. ~ of Jacinta Marto, Fatima seer.

          I am tired and worn out by the week, yet able to pray, but unable to pray for others since the past Sunday. The only prayer allowed me as I reach for the Rosary is the prayer of an emptied vessel. Since Sunday, it feels as if I am only allowed to approach God in this way.

          Yet, it is not a form of spiritual dryness. Despite my physical weariness, my heart sings in a skip of joy. It’s just that although I cannot pray for anyone, the feeling is Someone is assuring me that those of my old prayers are all taken care of. And this was one of the messages in a double dream I had last year on the feast day of St Jude.

          These puzzling developments in my prayer life take me back to an October 28th dream of a huge white map in the sky. A map that showed Africa especially, a bit of Europe and to diminished extent – Asia. A blank, brilliant white map of Africa. In the dream, I chose to ignore the map in the sky. As I walked on, I saw a big statue of Our Lady of Fatima. When I saw it, I looked back up at the map suspended in the sky above, and I was filled with a deep, deep fear.

          Right after, the second dream began. I was at a St Jude church, where I saw people crammed into a little green church. Happy people.

          They seemed well take care of. Spiritually well taken care of.

          I had the sudden feeling that they were those I had prayed for. And that they were secure in the Arms of God. Sensing my work there was done, as I moved to leave the church grounds, I felt a voice write this on my heart ~

          Pray for others

          In a way I cannot explain better, I knew immediately, the exhortation was linked to the dream of the white map in the sky. That I was to leave the old petitions behind, and move on to the new.

          Since that dream in the old October of 2016, I’ve gone back to its core over and over again, wondering especially at the call to leave behind the old prayers and to move on to others. As often as I’ve wondered, I have looked out for new causes and tried to pray about them too.

     But it has not been entirely successful. I kept getting pulled back. I didn’t understand why it was that I couldn’t move on. I didn’t understand why God didn’t help me if that was what He wanted me to do.

          It was pretty frustrating.

          Yesterday, I had wanted to journey with Blessed Francisco Marto, one of the Fatima seers. I wanted to keep him close to me and to console Jesus as he did. But it was a tough and busy day, and Francisco got lost in the hours. I arrived at the humid night chimes, annoyed with myself.

          Before I went to bed, I made one last stab to place my heart close to Francisco. I prayed that he and Our Lady of Fatima come and be beside me.

          I believe they did.

          When I awakened, the October dreams appeared before me. Suddenly, I realized why the white brilliance of the map had seemed familiar. It was the white of Our Lady of Fatima. Something of Fatima was going to touch and completely envelope the continents. Beginning with Africa. But for the spirit of Fatima to take root in hearts there, I think pain might have to come first.

          As my mind stayed with that illumination, another was brought – the second dream and the call to leave behind old prayers and to move on to new calls. My previous efforts hadn’t worked because I had wrongly interpreted the timing. I had erred in assuming that I was to heed the call immediately. And so, I had thrust forward of my own accord, but because the timing was not in His will, my efforts went up against a wall.

          I wasn’t meant to move on then; but I was to, now.

          That was why the petitions were being dried up since Sunday. Petitions were mine. Even if they were about people I cared for and needs close to my heart, they were ultimately mine.

          God was now asking for a complete surrender of my prayer~will to Him. He would allow prayers as long as they were emptied for Him to fill.

          As the light dawned brighter, my eyes were turned to that account of Jacinta Marto who had been upset that people preferred to tear down a priest, however justified it seemed, than to turn to the mercy of prayer. As I read the account again, I knew it was no coincidence that I was led there because I had lived that same experience.

          Ten years before, I had been with a seriously sick child in a hospital room. A child who had feared our then parish priest because of his terrible, uncontrollable temper. Some visitors came to visit us in the hospital room. Like it had been with Jacinta, with us too the conversation steered towards priests, that priest in particular.

          And the conversation was far from charitable.

          Although I didn’t contribute any morsels to the character assassination, I disliked the priest immensely. In fact, I feared him for his ability to hurt.

          As the conversation wore on about this priest, I began to sense an odd, odd sadness. It was a sadness deep and heartbreaking.

          One spirit glance at it and I knew it was not mine. It was coming from elsewhere.

          In the next instant, I knew it was this very sick child’s sorrow. This shy, gentle child so very much like little Francisco Marto.

          This little one with me who feared this priest and his violent anger, was grieving over the way the priest was being torn down.

          The realization seared and shocked me then.

          And today, after a night kept in counsel with Francisco Marto and Our Lady of Fatima, the pearling of the dawn skies brought with it the discernment of old dreams, and the understanding of what I am to do next.

          To withdraw from malice. To pray for priests.

 

Moving On

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          On the 28th of October, I had a dream. Walking down a street bordered by old, old, whitewashed buildings, on a sunny day with the clearest and bluest of skies free from even a hint of cloud.

          And then suddenly, in those skies appeared a huge, pure white map. A blank map consisting of the continents of Africa, Europe and Asia. No cities or towns marked on that map, no names of the countries. Only their boundaries, drawn in black.

          Among the continents and countries I saw, only Africa stood out clear and bright; all the rest seemed to be in a slight shadow – but I understood that to mean that the focus was on the African continent.

          In the dream, looking at the map in the sky, I mused if I now had to pray for Africa as well. Somewhat disinterested, I dismissed it and turned away from the map, intent on my journey. A few steps on, for some reason, I stopped and turned to look behind me.

          There on the side of the street, was a big statue of Our Lady of Fatima, looking out at the street.

          I have never been afraid of any statue, none has ever struck fear within me. But seeing this statue of OL of Fatima, I was gripped with a sudden fear.

          But not of the statue itself. In that fear, my gaze immediately shot towards the white map still suspended in the blue sky, and I had a deep realization:

I have to pray for them.

          I awakened briefly after the dream. The fear from the dream was not deep, but it sat firmly enough on my heart. I fell back into sleep.

          And into the next dream.

          I was outside a St Jude church, one I had never seen before. Its walls were a fresh, clean, soft shade of green. There was a Mass going on inside the little church. It was packed to the brim. The congregants seemed happy and cared for.

          As I moved to leave the church grounds, I felt these words etched deep in my heart –

Pray for others.

          And immediately, the memory of the white map flashed before me.

          The message seemed clear enough, but there were missing pieces, as in – what do I pray for? who do I pray for – which others are these? And I wondered about the connection between the white map and St Jude. When I awakened, I realized it was the feast of St Jude – one that I have always marked by saying the 9-day novena, but which I did not do this year simply because I didn’t feel like it. So, did the saint come to me through the dream, to tell me I needed to continue my prayers for others? It seemed so, but even that didn’t make sense. 99% of my prayers were for others. It has always been that way. The strength for my own journey has always come from the nourishment of praying for others.

          But St Jude had clearly said, Pray for others.

          A mere reminder to carry on doing it? Somehow, I felt there was more.

          So, I took my dreams to the Interpreter of Dreams – St Joseph, and asked him to make them clear. After a period of quiet, a single word floated up before me ~

Consecrate

Consecrate a nation? Wasn’t that for the Pope to do? I could barely manage my own life, I didn’t believe I was being asked to do the work of the Pope now. It must be pride, I surmised.

          So, I shrugged off consecrate.

          Short days later, at Mass, the weekly prayer for the Year of Mercy was recited. One word of the many there reached out and caught my spirit ~

Consecrate

          This time I could not shrug it off. All this was now clearly beyond me and I needed spiritual direction. Suddenly, I was filled with an odd urgency to seek out my spiritual advisor, ensconced in a parish many miles away.

          Father listened to my tumble of words. Then, with a calm sureness, he confirmed that the call was indeed to place the continent of Africa into the hands of Our Lady of Fatima.

          I was still slightly unconvinced. And more than a little unwilling.  Africa had never been on my personal news-scape. I knew little of that country, and nothing before this had tugged me to it.

          Except that in recent days, for some reason, I had been rolling the name of Sierra Leone on my tongue.

          I had totally forgotten that this priest had an on-going mission with Africans. More than anyone I knew, he has a firsthand understanding of the situation there. And sure enough, he immediately grasped the meaning of the first dream:    Mother Mary was not before you; She was behind you. This indicates Africa has pushed aside the Mother of God to the far back. They have replaced her with other gods. They need to return to loving Her again.

           And on seeing Her behind you, you immediately looked up at Africa again. That is Her call to you, he explained. That you pray them back to Her.

          He advised me to consecrate Africa by offering up the continent during Mass. He reminded me that St Jude was the patron saint of hopeless cases, and his call to me in the second dream was to pray for others – hopeless cases.

          How serious was the situation in Africa, I asked, still seeking that final escape chute.

          Very, Father insisted. In some places, the faith is strong. Others – not so.

          Like where? I pressed. I knew of the fervor of pure faith in Rwanda, and flippantly assumed Rwanda represented the faith of the whole of Africa.

          Nigeria, Father offered.

          Anywhere else?

          Sierra Leone, he supplied matter-of-factly.

          I was startled. Of all the places.

          Then, Father gently but firmly added, Go beyond your family and present prayer needs.

          His words reminded me of a phrase that had come to me a long time ago ~ Spread your nets further. I wasn’t clear about it then, but the haze mysteriously cleared up a bit now. I had understood enough. Still less than eager, I was, however, determined to do what I was called to.

          Yet, my spirit remained in a hold. Not soaring in zeal. Not on fire.

          I lashed myself in obedience to the needed prayers. For the first few days, it felt right. But soon, I began to sense a drying up within me. A drying that took with it all prayer. I fought and fought it. But the aridity streamed in further and deeper.

          I was about to get myself into a twist of frustration when I remembered my vow to not revisit old haunts of behavior. Instead, I offered up my dryness to Our Lady of Fatima. The very next minute, I recalled a prayer given to me some time ago.

Empty me and fill me with the Holy Spirit.

As I prayed it with an earnestness deepened by the agony of the spiritual aridity, I felt my spirit sink in relief into the prayer. This was strange. It was as if my spirit had been searching for home, an anchor. And found that anchor in that prayer of Surrender to the Holy Spirit.

          In the days that followed, over and over, I went to that prayer. When I wanted to pray but couldn’t. When I could pray but failed to find a prayer that rested in ease on my spirit. Over and over,

Empty me and fill me with the Holy Spirit

Empty me and fill me with the Holy Spirit

Empty me and fill me with the Holy Spirit.

          On the 5th of November, the First Saturday of the month, I went to Mother Mary for the first Saturday devotion. I give you my will, my heart, my mind, my soul. I give you my motherhood, my vocations, my job, my everything. I want to pray but cannot. There is no prayer in my heart. Please, Our Lady, give me my prayer.

          And in a whisper of a moment, I felt these words press deep into me.

Rest your heart in Jesus.

          Again, my spirit reached eagerly for the new prayer. Jesus, I rest my heart in You.

          It was then that the mists parted over months of signposts and I saw their meaning.

Blow the breath of my Mother into the realms.

Spread your nets further.

Sing a new song.

And now – Africa, the packed church, the call of the St Jude dream, Pray for others.

          Jesus shone His light on the signposts.

          Heaven had received the hearts of those I had loved through prayers. They were now in the church – the heart of God. They were now safe. It was time for me to leave and blow the breath of Mary into other waiting souls.

          Beginning with Africa.

The King!

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          Early morning’s sunlight dimples. The winds in playful delight through the wetsilver of leaves. A child tumbles in with a Rose of Sharon in full bloom. For a reason wreathed in mists as yet, I felt the bloom ask for its place in our home. So, I gently placed it at the foot of my Our Lady of Fatima statue. I thought the flower was another name for our Blessed Mother. But when I looked it up, to my surprise, the Rose of Sharon instead symbolised Our Lord!

Rose of Sharon

          My mind then traced the dip in the path to yesterday morning. I had been awakened very, very early by a lone robin’s delirious rhapsody of joy on a branch of purple green, just outside our window. Their song here is usually a gentle morning lilt, tenderly respectful of a slumberer in the last wisps of dreams.

          But not yesterday. The little one sang his heart out to the purple grey skies awaiting the early blush of sunrise. His joyburst startled me out of sleep. Barely registering his exuberant cadence, a song burst from my own spirit:

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!

          On and on, the two lines of the Christmas hymn trilled  and trilled within me, willing me to join my spirit to its jubilant notes. I hesitated. What madness was this, at the wind down of a ragged two weeks that scraped at my soul, now Christmas in July?

          What Christmas is this?

          The little bird sitting in the tree that bears stars saw what my spirit has yet to grasp. A new wind has begun to weave its way through the disfigured pain~shards of broken dreams and lives.

          Even as the world weeps in its tortures, the King is already here.

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An Un-vesting

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          Early this week, my superiors informed us that we would all be subjected to a new performance evaluation. ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ work performance had been redefined to suit the times. Basically, those who trumpeted their efforts the loudest, regardless of what those efforts were, stood to gain everything. Those who worked quietly and in obscurity would have their efforts remain unrecognized and unrewarded – unless they converted to the times, and burnished everything in the fool’s gold of egoism and vanity.

          What you actually did no longer mattered. How you elevated and promoted yourself was to be the new compliance test.

          Stunned, I saw almost everything crumble before me. Like everyone else, I wanted my work to be appreciated. I wanted it to be recognized for the good it truly brought. But I shrank away from the turgidity of the platform upon which I was called to promote my work. I could not understand why the sacredness of sincere toil needed to be dolled up to be admissible for scrutiny. I could not understand why the fruits had to be sacrificed so garishness of the self might shine.

          I had a basket of simple wildflowers no one wanted. They were not fit for adornment for the times we were in.

          Everything dear and sacred to me, every struggle faced alone, one by one, peeled off and cast aside contemptuously by a world beholden to the luridness of the times. Day after sad day, one petal after another, plucked and left to flutter to the ground, deemed not worthy to be lifted by the breeze of authority.

          It was in the bitter hours of those thorn-wreathed days that I felt this word written on my heart ~ un-vesting. Over and over, I felt it pressed gently upon my spirit. Like someone unseen was willing me to see the negation of my work through the lens of heaven. To suffer it without the stain of mutiny to render it a worthy offering ~ atonement for sins – mine and others.

          Despite the gentle entreating that I open the eyes of my spirit, I kept turning away. Too much of me was bound too tightly to my work efforts. A rejection of it was a rejection of me. To cast it aside was to toss me aside too. And I took it none too meekly. Storm after storm beat a hymn of keening within me, lamenting all that I was now to lose for choosing to stand with my Lord.

          On the dawn of the 13th, on the 99th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition of the 13th of May 1917, I wearily prayed the Act of Consecration of the family to Our Lady of Fatima. I surrendered each one to my Mother. At the end of it, I remained at the shores of the prayer for a while. Then, I wearily reached deep into me and untied the moorings that had hitherto bound work efforts -my simple wildflowers – to my heart. I placed the tiny blooms of all I have done, each one, into my Mother’s hands, and stepped back into the busyness of the day, emptied but sad.

          Within an hour, a vine of tiny miracles began to unfold through my work day. I laughed with a giddy abandon and tickled dour others to mirth as well. I found myself tending to my duties with a skip and lilt of spirit lost to me in the days past.

          Surprised at the sudden change, I put my joy to the test: I recalled my losses.

          The joy remained, anchored in the serenity of a spirit freed from burdens by an un-vesting willed by Heaven. I still saw my losses. I know what has been done to me and others is wrong. But the sting was gone.

          The un-vesting called me to meekness this week, and late though I was to answer that call, the flood of joy I experienced was His Mercy~gift to me on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

          To tell me my wildflowers, rejected by the world of the times, had its place in heaven.