POOR SOULS

Home I Have Come

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          My Christmas surprises came a little late this year – they came this week. Little things longed for, but on which I didn’t dare linger in yearning too long, lit up my tree the first week of 2017. Little gifts, left to surprise, in misted pockets along my path.

          So, it has been a happy week. Tiring but happy. I flew to duties, I flew to tasks, with an energy I hadn’t felt in a long while. And it felt good to see things work out. It felt even better to see how I handled life when the road dipped unexpectedly around the bends.

          I should have been up in the sky of a hundred blues, twirling next to the shy gold sun.

          But I wasn’t.

          Something was missing. I missed my Lord’s voice.

          I missed Him in the press of spirit I sometimes feel when searching for Him. I missed Him in the unseen Hand on my will, holding me back from something. I missed Him in the songs sung by unseen voices somewhere deep within me.

          This week, it certainly felt like He had released me to skip along my own path in wildflower meadows hiding a thousand surprises of light and joys. And skip and dance and spin I did, for it was great to feel light and unburdened for once.

          Yet, I came to the quiet sunset of the week, feeling a slight emptiness, despite the successes and happiness of the busy days past, no sorrow or suffering casting their shadows. I didn’t feel abandoned. But I did feel as if my Lord had skipped town for a bit.

          And the lights dimmed for me.

          That was when I realized that as much as I longed to be carefree and in a perpetual jolly frolic, I only felt anchored to my God in suffering – whether it was through my own suffering or through the pains of others. In the days past, Heaven had blessed me with the freedom to wander unrestrained amongst dancing grasses and singing blooms, and even as I sang happy ditties, my spirit ached from an odd loss. The missing of something that had always been there. That should have been there, but it was not. It was much more than an attachment to something.

          I was feeling the bereftness that binds a life lived away from the sun of suffering.

         Today, I came late to the morning hours birthed from a cloud-festooned grey~blue sky. Hence, I missed my usual rest by God’s door, and that poked more than a bit at my heart. I didn’t like missing my morning Holy Hour of sorts. It wasn’t much, by any standards, and to not keep even that was to sink to a low I was not comfortable with. But there was no chance to slip away.

          Deep in chores I had offered up in lieu of my still~time with Him, I sent God my yearning:

I want to pray. Not like this, on the go, but to really immerse myself in prayer.

          The wish had barely left my heart when I heard unseen voices, singing a familiar song in a somber timbre. I leaned in to listen. It was the Litany of Saints. Sung by a choir hidden from sight. I recognized the tune, but while the voices were clear, the words were oddly muffled. I immediately wished I knew what the response was to each saint mentioned in the litany, because, while I didn’t know the Litany off by heart, but I knew enough saints to be able to concoct my own litany. I just needed to know what the response was. I could then pray as I worked.

          On cue, the voices sang, St…Pray for us.

Pray for us. That was it.

          About to begin the prayer, I felt an imperceptible tug on my spirit, like Someone was holding me back a wee bit. So, I stepped back from the choir, and tried to discern the message – if any. I thought perhaps it was to understand what to pray for, or to focus on a specific saint.

          Instead, I felt I was led to focus on the hidden voices singing the litany. The mystery choir.

          Who are they, I wondered. Angels? It didn’t seem so. Monks or priests singing it on recordings I have surely heard many times before? Quite possibly, yet, it didn’t feel that way.

          I leaned in deeper. 

          And made out a quality of sorrow in their voices. Unmistakable notes of pleading woven through the grave cadences. Something familiar about them.

          And once I had reached that, I felt my attention led to the next lamp:

Pray for us.

Angels wouldn’t ask us to pray for them.

          And then I knew. Those were the voices of my friends, the Holy Souls.

          When I had expressed the wish to pray deep, it was to sink deep into my friends’ and their children’s prayer needs, those I had been informed of. I had their faces before me, and I wanted to be there for them.

          But it was not to them that God turned me to; He instead led me to the most loyal of my friends, the ones I love, yet, often forget. The ones in the deepest pain – the Poor Souls.

          I had asked to be able to pray, to touch the pains of my friends and loved ones, for Jesus. And so, He answered me by letting the pleading prayer of the Holy Souls fall on my ears, so it may be my prayer too. To their suffering I was led, their song I joined.

          And there I found Jesus. Home I have come.

 

 

 

 

We Shall Meet

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          When June slipped in, I suddenly remembered friends I had long left to themselves in a dusty corner. They were the best friends one could ask for. They never settled comfortably in my life only to make me uncomfortable. They didn’t bang on my door demanding what I could not give. They visited, casting no shadow on my day, but in quiet and gentleness, breathed upon the wind chimes by the door of my heart, and tinkled my awareness of them and their only need:

          That I pray paradise open for them, whose abode lay in the shadows of heaven.

          And so, in a guilt-tinged haste, I went back to an old calling, and began to pray for the Poor Souls who need prayers to unlock the door of Mercy that opens to Divine Rest.

          Sacred Heart, release them.

          As joyful June days tumbled one into the other and I flitted from parcel to parcel of happiness, through an act of will I tried to step away from earthly sunnies to pray the only prayer asked of me by these yearning souls, who have journeyed long and faithfully with me, helping me, protecting me, guiding me away from the rocks in the shadows of earthly life.

          Sacred Heart, have Mercy on them.

          Yesterday, I awoke to a day whose early hours were dipped in rain. The joys of the day beckoned beguilingly and I waited to go to them. Pausing awhile by the window, watching the sun spill its gold through water diamonds, an old hymn fell on the ears of my spirit ~

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

          The moment I heard the lines, I was like a cat caught in water, clutching at life in panic. That was a funeral song, for goodness’ sake! Was I going to die?

          Not wanting to meet anyone on any shore, I made a frantic attempt to silence that song within. I tried to blanket it over with happy, carefree ditties more in keeping with the bouncy day. On such a beautiful day washed and refreshed by the tipping of heaven’s jars, the last thing I wanted to hear was a funeral dirge, because that was all that refrain meant to me.

          In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore….the voices sang on cheerily undeterred.

Please don’t take me now, Jesus, I countered.

          For long minutes, I ran as far I could from that refrain, but it followed me like a chuckle train.

          And then, in a waterdrop moment, the angel reached out and stilled my panic.

          We shall meet on that beautiful shore was not a heavenly summons for my life. It was a promise-gift left me in the joyous parting wave of friends finally going on to the bosom of joy and peace, their release secured by prayers. In the eyes of the sneering world, those hurried, distracted prayers might not have seemed like much.

          But my Holy Soul friends had come on the breath of morn to tell me they had sailed to life eternal on my paltry offerings, offered in homage to the Sacred Heart of my Jesus.

THE NEGLECTED TOMB

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          In many of the images spoken of by those given visions of Purgatory, there is fire and sorrow. A terrible thirst. We have been told there are levels in Purgatory which correspond to the seriousness of the sins http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2012/04/amazing-stories-from-purgatory-and.html.

          But back then, based on my reading that eventful night https://writingonmyheart.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/souls-to-saints, all I knew was about the fire and the sorrow and the thirst. And even that I understood only literally, skimming the surface of understanding. I imagined it to be noisy with weeping and wailing, like many Eastern funerals. Cauldrons of bubbling fire – never mind that that image might have been more at home at a witches’ gathering deep in dark woods.

          Some time after I was taught the importance of praying for the souls in Purgatory, I had a dream one night.

          I saw a world. Hidden. A hushed world, nestled deep within the bosom of peace. It seemed to be narrow. There were levels, linked by rough earthen floors and misshapen clay steps. The place was lit by unseen lamps. A soft, gentle light that bathed the surroundings in tenderness and peace.

          It was crowded. I saw people, oh, so many of them, ascending and descending the clay steps. In peace they took the steps. No jostling. No bumping. But in absolute silence. I didn’t hear or see them speak, but I saw their eyes, and I knew they were brethren, united in love. It was not love for one another; it was a special sort of love. Different.

         

          I sensed an unseen being showing me around. The steps were to one side of the space I was shown. The rest of the space was occupied by tombs, arranged close to one another. My unseen guide led me past the tombs. In this softly lit place where I felt warmth and comfort, I saw that each tomb was covered with beautiful bouquets of flowers, some more than the others. As I took this in, I assumed that was the order here: flowers for every tomb.

          But he led me down the steps, and everything began to change. I felt the cold first. Then, came the darkness. It was not menacing or evil. I didn’t sense any hatred or wickedness, but there was a deep loneliness and profound sorrow. Gone were the lamps of the higher levels. No light. No warmth. No love.

          And not a soul was to be seen. No people gently navigating the steps. Dark, still, silent, cold.

          I was led on. We stopped at a tomb. Not a single flower adorned its stone slab covering. I felt my guide’s words, This is your (relative’s) tomb. He has been neglected.

          Not merely forgotten but neglected. An act of will to leave the soul without prayers.

          It had been about ten years since he had passed on. Even at his funeral, there was the smug belief among his children that Dad had gone to his heavenly reward. Never missed a day of Mass. Never missed nightly family Rosary. What was that if not a sure ticket to heaven. They didn’t care to dredge up memories of an old but able man who sat in his chair, twiddling thumbs all day. Busy with the paper. Busy with the tv. Who did little, but made footmen and butlers out of everyone else. He rarely stirred up trouble but found the odd occasion to spit at people or fling his plate of food. There was also a hint of an old illicit dalliance in the family annals but details were never revisited.

          God called him back in the midst of the holidays, and while everyone returned to pay obedient homage, there were murmurs at the bier that he could have chosen some other time to die, not pull the curtain down on other people’s fun and rest. I remember watching the group of supposed mourners gather, sitting stiffly in chairs. Not a crowd of them. Not by any means. Most making some effort to arrange their countenance into some semblance of mourning because there was no natural grief at this particular loss of a man who gave nothing to the world.

          We buried him. Later chiseled, Home in Heaven Again as his epitaph.

          Ten years on, he remains in his tomb. Unadorned. Not a petal. Not a prayer. Because we didn’t care enough.

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SOULS TO SAINTS

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In the home I grew up, when someone that mattered passed on, there’d be a couple of Eternal Rests, and a shrug and moving on with life. The realm of the Holy Souls was not one we lingered at. It was worlds removed from the life of Self we led.

One still night, decades ago, everything changed. I was home alone in my sitting room, reading a book on messages during an apparition, when I chanced upon a section on the Holy Souls and their need of our prayers. As line by line swam before my eyes, the agony of the Poor Souls buried their arrows in my heart and I was moved to a depth of pity I never thought was possible.

Suddenly, I was shocked out of my skin by a violent rattle of the windows. Gasping, I put down the book and looked around. Slowly, I became aware of a growing wreath of darkness and evil around me. That rattle earlier could have been explained by any number of scientific and logical reasons, but the menacing venom that encircled me told me the rattle on the windows was beyond science.

I shivered like a leaf, my heart raced in terror. I wondered if I had the strength to run up the stairs to the relative security of my bedroom and plunge beneath the covers, get away from the dark, invisible feral fangs that were reaching out for me. Never in my life before, had I been so terrified of something I could not see but only sense.

It was then, that I became aware of the heat. A slow, deep, yet gentle heat that began in my neck, and tendrilled down my back. An unseen cloak of warmth placed around me and drawn close to my body. As I sat in mute awareness of what was happening, my thoughts turned to the  blackness I had sensed, and I was stunned to realize that my fear was rapidly dissipating. I moved my chair to right beneath the fan that was turned on at full blast. I tied up my hair.

But the heat on my neck remained.

And soon, the fear was gone.

I put it to the test. I stretched and looked towards the dark kitchen that seemed so terrifying mere moments before. I scanned the room and its shadows. Not a whit of residual fear or anxiety.

The snaking terror had left.

The warmth on my neck remained.

In a silver instant, I knew that hell had come to stop me from praying for the Holy Souls. It didn’t want my heart beating for anything, anyone else. It wanted me to remain chained to an idolatrous worship that starved me to the point I was too malnourished to love others, least of all those who had gone to their eternal rest. I didn’t understand much that night, but I knew with a deep certainly that if evil had come to wrench me away just as my heart was being opened to showing earthly Mercy to those who had gone on, then, I had to answer the summons to free souls from Purgatory. I had to echo, in deed, Padre Pio’s words ~ Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.

A firm resolve sank into my heart, and eased its roots into my soul. On that night was born the prayer that has never left me since – the prayers for the release of Souls to Saintdom.

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