POPE FRANCIS

Lent 21 ~ The Last Bastion

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Every family, every faithful, every religious community: all united spiritually at 9 p.m. in the recitation of the Rosary, with the Mysteries of Light.   ~   Pope Francis, for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19 2020

 

          The one Lent observance God called me to this year is the Recitation of the Luminous Mysteries. That is a personal sign for me, a confirmation of the voice I heard 4 years ago during our nightly Rosary,

The Luminous Mysteries is the Illumination of Conscience

          There are shepherds assigned to us – our leaders, our parents, our care providers. Many of these lights that are supposed to illuminate our path ahead are beginning to stumble, waver and flicker. Many lights too are going out, one by one, leaving us in a gathering and deepening darkness of the soul.

          But on this Feast of St Joseph, we pray to seek the guidance of the simple yet wise, brave and holy foster father to Jesus who braved the darkness of his times to keep The Child King and His Mother safe. We pray that even if all our shepherd-lights blacken, one light will remain in a clear and powerful illumination.

          The light of our conscience. The last bastion for these times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Mum Rest

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          By early morning today, we had a pretty good idea of how our Christmas this year was going to be. Part of me was hugely relieved that the annual big family gathering was not to be. I’m tiring easily and it’s taking me longer and longer to recover, despite relying more and more on the kids to help out with the cleaning and tidying. In addition to that, with a house packed with guests, I was beginning to wonder how do I pull off massive meal preparations for 3 straight days when I wasn’t bouncing back quickly enough.

          So, it did brighten my day to have it finalised today that Christmas would just be us and the kids.

          And yet, disappointment curled tiny tendrils around my heart that the house wouldn’t be filled this year. I know it’s almost suggestive of madness to feel this way when it’s clear that I’m having trouble coping with the physical work that used to come easy. But this is the shadow which most, if not all, adult survivors of emotional abuse contend with – the tendency to perceive rejection even when there’s none to be found.

          I knew very well that none of our extended family could make it to our place this year for a variety of valid reasons ranging from shortened or no Christmas leave to hospitalised parents and having to care for the elderly who could no longer travel so far out to us here.

          Still, that knowing wasn’t strong enough to smother the snide snigger I kept hearing from somewhere behind my ear.

They could have come but just didn’t want to try, said that voice, just for me.

          I think Jesus heard it.

          Minutes later, out on an errand, some time to myself in the car, I read a line from The Life of Faustina Kowalska. Jesus had appeared to the dying saint and said to her, Heart of my Heart, be filled with joy.

          My heart still filled with conflicting emotions over Christmas, I read the line only with my mind, wondering absently, How would it feel to have Jesus say this to me?

          No sooner had the thought budded when I felt an unseen finger write those very words on my heart.

Heart of my Heart, be filled with joy.

          Suddenly, I felt certain, it was Jesus’ voice I felt.

          Be filled with joy. I felt I needed to make myself worthy of such tenderness. I needed to rid myself of all that was enervating me. So, I resolved to go in cheer to my chores and Christmas preparations. To encourage myself to keep going when I got tired, yet not be unkind to myself to forsake needed rest.

          Jesus stopped by once more to cheer me on.

Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

~   Song of Songs 2: 13, 1st Reading, 3rd week of Advent

          Happy hours slipped past like tiny boats on a grinning brook, gurgling after the break of winter’s ice. Much got done and done happily. My kind of day. Eager for a short rest, I turned back to take one last look at the tumble of the day’s old hours. I saw each face of my family members and their reasons for not being able to make it. Why? I asked Jesus, why did You keep each one away? Not achingly asked; merely wanting to know.

          In reply, He led me to a new nativity image. Someone had named it, Let Mum Rest.

          For weeks now, I’ve been praying daily for help, consecrating our Christmas to our Guardian Angel, asking that he take each prayer to Jesus and to Mother Mary.

          Today, I knew for certain that our angel had heard the prayers, joining his own heart to each entreaty, as he entrusted it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

          And as the winds sang their afternoon hymn, I heard Their tender reply.

Let Mum Rest

 

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Lent 37 ~ I Must Love

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I believe in my pain, made fruitless by selfishness, in which I see refuge.

I believe in the stinginess of my soul that seeks to take without giving.

I believe that others are good and that I must love them without fear and without ever betraying them, never seeking my own security   ~   The Creed of Pope Francis, in Pilgrimage by Mark K. Shriver

 

 

          I went to work today, armed with Pope Francis’ creed, determined to love without seeking my own heart. I fell soon enough. The invisible onslaught was too much. I forgot all about the creed but I know I fought and fought to love. And yet, I fell.

I believe in the stinginess of my soul that seeks to take without giving.

          I gave but I asked for just a bit of kindness in return, for my parched heart. It was that seeking that made me fall. It took me away from Jesus’s hidden suffering.

          His death was nearing but His apostles were distracted by tainted conversations, empty pleasures, the inflicting of pain on others. As His suffering increased, Jesus searched the crowd of consolers for my heart but alas, it was not bound to His.

          No, my heart was seeking its own comfort today.

          It is night here. Only the crickets sing. The air does not dare stir to soothe. I have only a few short hours before dawn comes once more.

          I am weary from years of struggle. But the battle is not over yet. I seal my heart in His Tabernacle. I must love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 30 ~ You Called Me Senõra

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I remember a mother with young children, whose husband had left her. she did not have a steady job and only found temporary jobs a couple of months out of the year. When there was no work, she had to prostitute herself to provide her children with food. She was humble, she came to the parish church and we tried to help her… I remember one day – it was during the Christmas holidays – she came with the children… and asked for me… She had come to thank me. I thought it was for the packet of food from Caritas that we had sent to her. “Did you receive it?” I asked. “Yes, yes, thank you for that, too. But I came here today to thank you because you never stopped calling me Senõra.”   ~   Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy

 

 

Bless Them, Lord

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It would do us well, today, to think of our enemy – I think all of us have one – someone who has hurt us or wants to hurt us. The Mafia’s prayer is: ‘You’ll pay me back.’ The Christian prayer is: ‘Lord, give them Your blessing, and teach me to love them.’ Let us think of one enemy, and pray for them. May the Lord give us the grace to love them.   ~   Pope Francis

          Sometimes, I can’t help but think that the biggest slaughterhouse around must be in my own heart. Too often that is where those who hurt me unknowingly end up. No, I don’t imagine killing people. But I am pretty creative about the path I wish them on when they have hurt me so deeply that forgiveness seems an impossibility.

          I have a lot in common with them Mafia.

          But today, as I struggle with those who have hurt me, God tells me to do the impossible:

Ask Me to Bless them

Love them

          It is asking me to scale the mountain when I can’t even manage the hill. So, so often He tells me to love my enemies. The frequency of this exhortation just goes to show what my biggest struggle is. I wish He would tell me something else for a change. That He would take my wound-ers away. Or that He would ask them to wear my crown for a day, carry my crosses, live my journey.

          But He does none of it.

          I eye the two pearls He has placed before me today. Ask Me to Bless them. Love them. As if the asking for the blessing wasn’t hard enough, my God wants me to love my enemies. Although I know God’s call to love is very different from my idea of a saintly, sincerely smiling face willingly inclined towards every spit and slap, I can’t help but feel despair that not only have I to pray for them, I have to cheerily love them as well.

          Is it reversed, I wonder suddenly. As if in answer, an old memory rises like incense before me. Of two consecutive dreams one December night in my prison. The first dream of joy, then of sorrow. Then, eight months later, on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a sweet, feminine voice in the dark of dawn,

The dreams will be reversed in reality. Sorrow before Joy.

          I look again at the two calls set before me now. Ask Me to Bless them. Love them. I suddenly see that it is indeed reversed.

Love them

Ask Me to Bless them

I am being asked to love those who hurt me by asking Jesus to Bless them.

          I take a deep breath. The revelation makes things a little easier. I don’t have to be all chummy-friendly or walk around with a cherubic smile not mine.

          And so I begin. Slowly, with a firmness of intent absent before, I take Pope Francis’ counsel. Every time the faces come before me, every time their hurt rises in my mind, I pray,

Jesus, Bless them.

          It’s less of a struggle.

          But it does not come as easy either.

 

 

 

 

LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

I struggled with a minor disturbance recently, struggled to keep the sun shining and the clouds at bay. I was aggrieved at the irritant, and in need of a sympathetic audience, took my angst to God. In a whitesilver flash, He cut through, and gave me this hymn:

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LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

 

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.

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Let there be peace on earth

The peace that was meant to be.

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With God as our Father

Brothers all are we.

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Let me walk with my brother

In perfect harmony.

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Let peace begin with me

Let this be the moment now.

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With every step I take

Let this be my solemn vow.

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To take each moment

And live each moment

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With peace eternally.

Let there be peace on earth,

And let it begin with me.

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