REPARATION

Lent 19 ~ Littlest Bells

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          We often believe that it’s the loudest gongs that get our attention in life, but yesterday was proof yet again for me that that the most tiny of bells can hold its own.

          It was my Reparation Monday again and I began the day with a prayer that God tell me who or what my daily struggles should be offered for. I briefly imagined that it would be for priests, but swiftly damped that down when I remembered I should not direct.

          When I asked again, the face of my friend’s son came before my heart. We had met at church the previous day and she had told me about recent struggles with her son who seemed to have grave psychological issues. The child’s face had stayed before me through much of Sunday, but I certainly didn’t expect God to ask that I suffer for this child on Reparation Monday.

          But He did, and so I did and I hoped the difficult day and the worth of its tough hours did something for that troubled child.

          I had worked outstation that day and some health issues preoccupied me throughout. When the terribly hot red evening hours came, bringing with it lethargy, I forgot all about suffering for children, even my own, and decided I deserved to put my feet up and rest a bit. Dinner would be whatever there was, kids could help vacuum the floors and the family laundry could stay in their baskets.

          But an email had come in from a dear~heart blogger friend. In it were the words,

Busy with my grandchildren

          I heard a soft chime as I read those words. As I read them again, my own brood returned home from sultry evening farewells. The draining day had taken a bit more out of them than usual and they were not all-about-the-place as they usually were.

Busy with my grandchildren

          Today was to be lived and struggled through for children. It began with my friend’s son and now my own needed me. That was the message of the bell. Getting to my feet, I whispered the prayer I had learned late last year, I Choose Jesus. For that boy, for my own.

          Somehow, I found the needed vigour to attend to the calls of home and hearth.

          I can’t help but wonder just how many of such little calls to reparation through children must have slipped unheeded to fall and be lost in my busyness and in the many, never ending tempests of emotions, day after day after day. How many people, known and unknown, how much they must have hurt, just because I was too caught up in my inner noises to hear the silver chimes that come softest.

          My thoughts return to the Adoration I am called to each day. Being still and silent with my Jesus is merely to run my fingers over the surface of the lake. Much, much more lies below. And reparation, caring for children, choosing Jesus for those who won’t – these and more are all somehow tied to Adoration.

          The tiny silver bells that chime for me go far deeper in Adoration than I realize.

 

 

 

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Let Go and Let God

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          In another stew yet again. I had, some weeks back, heard about Reparation Mondays – one Monday a month for 9 months – where the sufferings for that day were offered for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For some reason, I felt drawn towards it – although I have a great fear of suffering. And knowing just how bad my memory is getting, I figured why wait for a Monday every 9 months. Why not just offer every Monday up for reparation and get the 9 over with. And if God wants more than 9, well, ….well, I will try to obey.

          So, timidly, I offered up my first Monday. It turned out to be a rather rough day but I got through it without maiming anyone. After that was the next Monday – a rather tame affair.

          Then, came the next. A hit when I least expected it. And ensuing almighty stew of emotions.

          I struggled and struggled with myself over the bitter sting of unfairness. I tried to pray but my anger over what I had received was so great. Yet, cognizant of my sin, I kept returning to heaven’s door – anger in tow. Every time it surged, I buried it clumsily into the Holy Hearts.

          After several hours, Someone gently nudged Our Lady of Guadalupe towards me.

Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.  Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under My shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”       Our Lady’s words to Her servant Juan Diego in the 1531 Guadalupe, Mexico,  apparitions

 

          Are you not under My shadow and protection? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? 

          Still in the binds of anger, I beseeched Mother Mary, Take me under the folds of Your mantle. Bind my heart in Your mantle.

          And then, as an afterthought, knowing how intent I was on avenging the wrong done to me, I tacked on, Bind my tongue with Your mantle too.

          Much later, busy with dinner preparations, I slowly sensed the firestorm within abate. Not trusting myself, I continued speaking to God. I told him of my anger, my disappointment with the person who had hurt me. But I also told God I wanted to do His will. Or at least, a small part of me did.

          In the midst of cooking, I suddenly saw the words, Reparation Monday. It had slipped my mind completely. So, this was why it was so bad, I acknowledged. My suffering was needed someplace.

          What do You want me to do? I asked God again. I had a couple of plans lined up.

          I heard the softest whisper,

Let Go and Let God.

          I felt the fight go out of me.

 

 

 

 

Water Will Win

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          In late December last year, we had a houseful of Christmas guests, one of whom was my old mother-in-law. We were having a crisis that most in the family, in the bliss of Christmas, was unaware of, and my mother-in-law was at the centre of that crisis. My husband and I had been struggling to save his mum who, in her old age, seems bent on choosing any rose-strewn path – the wider, the better. Her choices in life have brought us a lot of deep suffering, and very often, I have struggled to love her, to pray for her. That Christmas week, the moment she arrived at our place and alighted from the car and quickly made her way past us into our home, I had to bite down the bitter disappointment that she couldn’t be more of a beacon for us. That even in this old age, she was choosing paths that did not lead to heaven. That our struggles for her, especially what my husband was enduring and suffering for her, didn’t seem to be helping.

          Despite my acute disappointment in her that day, I decided I would keep my tongue well out of the way at the back of my teeth – for the sake of my husband. He had surely noticed his mother’s mood and it would be wounding enough without my adding another caustic edge to his heartache. So, for the first few busy minutes of photos and hugs and squeals, I let Mum be. But when lunch was served, something moved in me and I went to make sure she was taken care of.

          That was the tone for the rest of the day and even into the next. I kept an eye on her but generally kept out of her way. There was no anger in me, but I didn’t trust myself to not fall into red pits because I was very tired and Mum had a penchant for getting a rise out of me.

          One afternoon, lunch over, everyone relaxing in quiet corners, I went to have a short nap to recharge for dinner preparations. Oddly, so tired though I was, my prayer for inner quiet was answered in those cloudy afternoon hours where the yellow~blue winds sang restless notes among the trees. Into that quiet I descended and began to pray for a special peace in all hearts gathered under our roof.

          I fell asleep.

          I had a dream.

          I dreamt of a room in my home being flooded to the roof. It was just this one room. Unlike my old dream from years ago where I saw a terrible, filthy torrent rush into our town, this water was as clear as crystal, and it was only in my home. I worried about what damage this water would do to our furniture.

          Then, I opened the door to this room, this same water drained into where I was. I managed to catch a glimpse of the room where the water had come from, – and I saw very clearly that the water had not damaged any of the furniture.  

          Then, this water knocked me over.

          It then flowed out through another set of doors that opened out over a peaceful garden.

          Getting up from the floor, I went to those doors, and there in the garden, I saw Mum with my husband. I saw her as I have not for so very long: at deep peace. She was gardening with my husband by her side and it was a picture of a mother and a faithful son who loved each other heart and soul.

          When I awakened and asked God what it meant, I felt these words written on my heart:

Momentarily overwhelmed.

          I knew then that this year would be very hard. One room in the house being flooded could perhaps mean that some weeks would be harder than others, and that I would be knocked off balance, that I would fall, but like the water in my dream did not damage the furniture in the room, that the suffering would not hurt as much as I feared.

          But the suffering was needed to save my Mum.

          Then, I remembered the water, and how clear it was. When I asked God why the water was clear, speaking through my godmother, He told me it was hidden graces. Graces that don’t seem like graces at all. Graces that come in the hardest packages. I understood anew then that, that is what suffering is – a hidden grace. I would be knocked over, momentarily overwhelmed, how many times I know not, but each one would be a hidden grace because the pain I endure would save someone else.

          The grace of reparation.

          Nearing the end of her brief stay with us, one night, I took photos of the family, and there was one of Mum watching the kids in the family crowd around a board game. When she had returned to her own home, I had a look at the pics and at this one of my mother-in-law. She was looking away, focused on the teens, and she wore the beginnings of smile. I then saw something in the photo that I hadn’t seen earlier – the first sparkles of joy.

          Joy that wasn’t there when she first came.

          In the weeks that followed, in the daily chats with her, we realized joy had indeed returned to my mother-in-law. It gave her strength to walk paths different to what she had always chosen. It flooded her with love for some people she had taken for granted. It made all the Christmas struggles and pain worth every hurting morsel.

          God’s Light had come into Mum’s old heart once more.

          Grace of reparation.

          Early this week, a colleague’s antics unpleasantly ruffled my day. I tried to stay above the muck that follows a wounding but it wasn’t easy. As the hours rolled on, despite my efforts, it seemed like I was losing this battle to love and forgive.

          Then, I prayed to be given the strength to bear this minor hurt for my sins.

          And that too failed.

          The day came to an end. I was puzzled and discomfited as to why all the ‘right’ prayers seemed to fail.

          When the new day broke, Someone gently took my mind back to Christmas of last year. To my mother-in-law’s initial aloofness and the reason for it. From there, my mind was led back to my Water Dream. And the dream took hold of my mind. Even as the hurt from the previous day remained, it felt like the memory of the dream was the more powerful.

         I then received an email from a dear friend. Its stark words revealed a deep suffering that had deepened even further recently. My heart ached for him.

          Suddenly, the Water Dream formed out of the mists before me again.

          I had a sudden inspiration: offer my hurt over my colleague for this. Suffer it for this friend close to my heart, thousands of miles and many countries away.

          The moment my will fused to this, I felt strength and clarity return. The strife~winds that had rattled my inner windows departed. I went to my day with a new purpose.

          My colleague added a few more nicks to her repertoire against me, yet, no blood did they draw.

          I knew then that the Water of Reparation had won. I had been overwhelmed but momentarily.

          As was promised.

 

 

 

 

 

Hard~Flowers

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May Christ support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in His mercy
may He give us a safe lodging,
and holy rest.
and peace at the last. Amen.

          This is the world and life I long for. This living where hard work and faith are entwined, and honest fulfilment of the day’s duties is met with holy rest and night’s peace when the sun goes to its crimson rest. This is what life should be, pure, sweet and simple, tenderly nourishing the listening soul, beauty lived in the heart of God.

          But as I learned anew yet again yesterday, this is not the life sought by enough people. All through the hours of yesterday’s Sunday, there was an unsettledness in spirits that even the clouds in the skies reflected, shifting from dense to wispy to rain~bellied. There were smiles which didn’t touch the eyes, and eyes that refused to meet. There were hearts that refused to care and still more that supported this wrong. While people didn’t quite rush about in the madness they were usually addicted to, there was something else in the air, in hearts, in Christian spirits mostly, that troubled my own spirit. What is it? I asked God.

          But I just couldn’t reach the heart of this troubling to understand it. I couldn’t touch it in order to pray about it. I couldn’t even pray! As soon as I began my attempt, the airs swirled even faster around me, clouding and blinding. Little things riled me and I slid into traps of petty annoyances. The more I justified my irritation, the redder I got, and the less I was able to be thankful for the little purses of beauty God had embroidered into my hours.

          Finally, fed up with myself, I hauled myself out of the cages I had willingly trotted into. I still couldn’t pray properly but I held on to my Rosary beads for the Christmas Wreath for as long as I could. I forced myself to sink my spirit into gratitude, for the merry laughter of my children as they helped with baking, for the shared stove as my husband and I cooked together.

          There was no miracle lifting of the cloak of thorns that had formed from my early Sunday hours. Yet, slowly and surely, the pricking dissipated, taking with it any happiness I had within me but also leaving my spirit in an undisturbed stillness.

          It was then that an old question welled up in me again, What is the sin that can never be forgiven, that which is called Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

          And with it, formed a sobering reply:

The hardened conscience.

A hardening that is neither sudden nor forced, but which begins with a personal, willful deafening and blindness to the Call of God to love and to obey. One turning away followed by the next. Slowly, stealthily, relentlessly.

          I looked back over the old, gone hours of the day, this time seeing what I had not comprehended. I saw the people I had met. The old woman who always had compliments for my husband and I, but whose sugared tongue and carved smile served as a front for a begging to feed a hidden habit. The relative with the cheerful words and hard eyes who now hastened to get away from us because we once chose our marriage and family over him. The woman who sneered at her husband’s simplicity, honesty and gentle love over the years and who refused to care for him in his declining years because she believed he had no right to be ill and to visit that suffering upon her. Who led her daughter by silent example to do the same to her own husband decades later.

          I thought of parents who chose their children over Jesus. And of children, now adults, returning that teaching by choosing loves over Jesus.

          I saw what was not obvious before. Every one of it was the hardening of the conscience. The killing of the Light.

          And God had allowed me to be touched by air stained by that hardening.

          As a warning to me that all sin begins with a single No, and that neither I nor anybody is exempt from the danger of losing our souls. And through this warning and personal repentance, that I would be pierced with His sorrow and seek to console Him.

          The Christmas Rosary~Wreath beckons for its next bloom. Gone are the schmaltzy ideas for it that I had entertained, for the antidote for the hardening of the conscience is not pretty or whimsical. The Wreath calls for blooms of perseverance, humility and obedience. To suffer loving when it is hardest.

          Hard~flowers as a gift for the King.

 

 

 

I Choose Jesus

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On awaking, enter in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrate to It your body, your soul, your heart and your whole being, so as to live but for Its love and glory alone.   ~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          This was set before me on this First Friday of the last month of this old year. And with it, my journey from yesterday became very clear. Upset over my niece’s choice of life partner and her increasing distance from the Church and Catholic values, upset that novenas for her and others haven’t yielded positive results yet, upset that I had given till I had nothing left to give and the journey was not over yet, an odd thought had come to me yesterday ~

Choose Jesus for those who won’t

          It came and it took root and it wouldn’t go away. I didn’t for the life of me understand what it meant or how I was to go about choosing Jesus for those who had not the slightest inclination to. Forcing someone to align their beliefs with mine was distasteful to me. I don’t even do it with my own children. But here I was, hearing it loud and strong in my heart, my spirit in waiting readiness to obey the call.

          So, I got started. When I saw dishes in the sink that needed washing, although I honestly wanted to leave them right there, I thought of my niece who couldn’t keep a small room clean and I fought my wee bit of tiredness and got the dishes done, saying, I choose Jesus for… When Rosary for the day seemed much harder than usual, when I didn’t feel like that extra prayer for the Holy Souls, I dragged myself to them for the sake of everyone else with the same struggles, saying, I choose Jesus.

          Throughout the remaining hours of the waning, wet day when the skies took to sobs in fits and bursts, I tried to do what I least felt like doing, each time with a resigned sigh and the prayer, I choose Jesus… Even then, I didn’t know if this was actually what I was meant to do. But I figured I had to start somewhere and this was my wobbly, Yes to God. He would take it from there.

          And He did.

          This morning, when I saw the words from St Margaret Mary’s quote that meant to consecrate my living for the glory of the Sacred Heart and to live for that glory alone, I suddenly saw before me:

Reparation

          It was then that the bean slid into its pod. Choosing Jesus for someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t, through my daily, mundane life choices or through tough decisions made solely for the glory of God – was REPARATION.

Reparation is the repairing or making up for the offenses against God. This covers a wide variety of areas from the fact of Original Sin to our own personal sins and even to the sins of others no matter how large or small the offense might be. (What is Reparation, Fr Robert Altier, http://www.courageouspriest.com)

          For the first time, I understood with my heart what reparation was. I saw that it went beyond selfless sacrifice, itself great and honourable,  because it meant ‘marrying’ my own struggles to those of others. It was not made from the lofty, snooty perch of superciliousness that saw and judged only the failings and weaknesses of other people. It was certainly not about the hidden smugness that might be present when we sacrifice for others.

          I finally realized that reparation was to atone for both my failings and those of my brethren pilgrims.

          Something else tugged at me once I reached this point. Apart from a few searing occasions, it is never easy for me to atone for my own sins. But yesterday, in joining my sins with those of others, I remember being infused with a subtle strength to atone. Strength that had not quite been there before. A strength born from acknowledgement  and purpose. Acknowledgement of my own sins. Purpose that came from wanting to make amends  – for myself and on behalf of others.

          The skies slowly part their cloak of white and grey fleece for the sun as he moves slowly across his court. The hours of the day tendril out before me. Hidden in its tucks and joints lie moments that await I choose Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!