Rosary

Little One

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          I am one of those who strongly believes in the power of the Rosary and yet struggle mightily to recite it daily. It is the simple issue of lack of discipline. But I know my family and I are intrinsically  bound to the Rosary.

          Reciting the Rosary as a family has been a struggle since years and years before, perhaps worse back then because the kids were younger and a lot harder to handle and I myself wasn’t in a good place –  emotionally,  mentally and spiritually.

          But if I thought those were hard times, worse was yet to come. One day, a knife cut through my soul. I knew I was going to fall but I no longer really cared. If I lived at all, it was only for my husband and children. A lot of life didn’t matter much anymore.

          At that point in time, I had in my possession, a rosary made from small sandalwood beads. It was a child’s rosary, gifted to me by someone  I didn’t particularly like, who couldn’t differentiate between a child’s rosary and an adult’s. I had received that sandalwood rosary during a Christmas visit – which meant shutting my mouth and swallowing any remarks I would have made otherwise.  As I already had a pretty, gold rosary which I had received when I was a child, this little new rosary was made into my ‘spare rosary’ – its smallness made it handy to have around when I was travelling.

          Years later, I faced the worst test of my life. I struggled with a dark I have never before been seared by. Oftentimes, it felt as if I would drown and never live again. I was far from home, facing a severe darkness and all I had with me was the little brown rosary. I held it tight and prayed incoherent prayers and hoped God had heard me.

          One day, I had to travel even further away. In the rush and worry and fear at that time, I misplaced the little rosary. I went to my Gethsamane without my beads. Although my relatives visited me at that time, I didn’t mention this, so no one knew. I didn’t feel like asking any one of them to get me another rosary either. I just didn’t want to receive a rosary in this way.

          It was at this time that an old aunt, very close to God, visited me and placed a white~bead rosary in my palm. It was the heaviest Rosary beads I have ever held, yet there was a strange comfort in the polished smooth heaviness of it. She told me she had bought it on a pilgrimage to India when she herself had been close to death a long time before. But she had come back to life. I knew she devoutly said the Rosary every day. Through joy, illness, heartbreak or even worry, this simple woman with a heart of gold recited the Rosary every single day.

          Yet, my aunt never told me to pray. She didn’t blithely tell me to say the Rosary and that all would be well. She just placed the rosary in my palm and with her eyes, willed me to hope on.

          That lonely night, when my aunt and everyone had returned home leaving me to face my sorrows and fears alone, I gripped my old aunt’s rose~beads and went in weeping search of Mother Mary. For many weeks after that, through highs of hopes and lows of shatterings and piercings, I held on to those smooth, white beads for life. Some days I could pray the Rosary. Often I couldn’t. But every day, often more than once a day, I tightly gripped those beads as I screamed and wept and that was the only prayer I could muster.

          Then, one night, my family and I were in the car. For a brief moment, a strength out of nowhere surged through me, and I began to speak about how great and good God was. I had just faced the worst test of my life and more was to come. The waters were still churning around me. I was by no means healed and safe. Yet, with that strange power coursing though me in the dark car, I began to speak about the greatness of a God who had just given me the worst Cross ever.

          I cannot recall what exactly I said but I know these were my ending words in the dark:

We had to go through all of this in order to return to the Rosary again.

          No sooner had the words left my mouth when my toddler son exclaimed that he had found something. He placed it in my open palm.

          I didn’t need any light to tell me what he had found. Even in the dark confines of the car, the minute I felt it, I knew he had found the small sandalwood Rosary given to me five Christmases ago. The very same one I had left in the car that hurried, harried day and forgotten about. Left it in a car I had cleaned thoroughly many, many times, and yet, never came across.

          The moment the eyes of my heart saw how we had to be taken through flood and fire to return to the refuge of the Rosary, the moment I proclaimed this truth to the others with us that night, an Unseen hand had brought back the small beads. I barely thought of the person who had given me the rosary; that was not important.

          What shone through was that a child had given me the rosaryThe child was now pointing me towards something in the Rosary.

          And so began another chapter of our lives. Through the valley of death we walked, my husband, my children and I. We held each other up. We leaned against each other. In joy and in tears, we walked through the weave of years upon years. We didn’t always know what we were doing. We didn’t always do the right things. But we tried to recite the Rosary every day. Sometimes we could, sometimes, we failed. But again and again and again, we got up and went to it.

          Since the sandalwood rosary returned to me, all my rosaries for years since then were recited using it. Yet, I always kept my old aunt’s gift of white beads with me, in memory of her steadfast love for God and for me.

          But close to decade later, more than a year back, the small sandalwood rosary began to ‘slip away’ from me. Every time I reached for it, I’d see the white beads and I’d feel a longing for them mist over my heart instead. If I ignored this and took up the brown beads, I’d sense something amiss but I could never understand it. After several times, sensing something was at work, I stopped fighting it, and switched rosaries. But I kept the ‘little one’ beside me each time.

          One day, little one went missing. I was not perturbed, though. I just knew it would come back. For some reason, my Rosary had to be said with the white beads now. And again, I could not understand beyond that.

          More than a year passed. Two months back, I suddenly began to search for the sandalwood rosary again but to no avail. I still remained undisturbed but every time we recited the prayers, I now wondered where the little one had gone to.

          And I wondered why. Deep down, something was beginning to stir in me that the rosary had been taken away. Taken away by the same Unseen hand that had brought it to me that day in the car when I had given praise to God in a time of deep sorrow. I didn’t get the feeling that it was due to some wrongdoing or failure to fulfil some responsibility.

          But just as before, the humble brown beads had made way for the queenly white one.

          This morning, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I awakened to a blue mist binding my heart. I wasn’t sad or depressed or in a fit over something. But there wasn’t any joy in me either. I was feeling dead and empty and this morning, I just wished it weren’t so. Christmas was coming and I wanted to feel that special joy and to quiver a bit in anticipation.

          As I was musing over this, I recalled a line from a prayer I had just read:

A Cross is a perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect.

Then, someone passed a thought through my mind. What if this touch of blue in my soul was this perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect? If so, to pray it away was not in the will of God, never mind my yearning.

          I didn’t try to bargain with God this time. I got off the ground and dusted myself. If He had willed that I should not feel joy, then I would embrace this Cross for the sake of others – for those contemplating suicide and for those struggling with grief and other unhappiness. I had been in those valleys before. I knew what they were like. So, I asked the Holy Mother of God that these sufferers instead be given the joy I had prayed for.

          Then I quickly got busy before I regretted the prayer.

          Dressing to go out for the day’s errands, I caught sight of a backpack I normally take on holidays. I had just used it and I knew it was now empty. Yet, for no apparent reason, I picked it up and absently ran my fingers down its inner compartments.

          I touched something. I didn’t need light nor sight to tell me what it was.

          Little one had been returned.

          I must have asked why. No answer did I receive, no reason did I get. Yet, a soft mist passed over my heart.

          And then I knew. A door has shut behind me, a page has now been turned.

 

 

 

 

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Fatima 5 ~ September 13

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          Despite the ridicule and jokes of the secular, atheistic press, more than 30,000 people gathered in the Cova for the September  apparition. Whether drawn by devotion or curiosity, they prayed the rosary while awaiting the arrival of the visionaries and their vision. When at least the time came they could hear Lucia say,

          “What do you want of me?”

          “Continue the Rosary, My children. Say it every day that the war may end. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.”

          God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to wear the cords to bed. Keep them on during the day.”

          “I have the petitions of many for Your help. Will You assist a little girl who is deaf and dumb?”

          “She will improve within the year.”

          “And the conversions that some have asked to have brought about? The cures of the sick ones?”

          Some I will cure, and some I will not. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

          With these last words still ringing in their ears, the Lady rose and disappeared in the heavens, as Lucia called to the crowd, “If you wish to see Her — look! Look!”

 

 

 

 

I Love Thee

 

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          Almost two weeks ago, someone contacted me and asked me if I had heard of this particular St Joseph novena prayer ~ 

NINE-DAYS NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH

(Note: This prayer was found in the 50th year of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sometime during the 16th century, it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. It is said that whoever shall read this prayer or take it with them, shall never die a sudden death or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or shall be burned in any fire or shall be overpowered in battle. Say this prayer for nine days for anything you may desire. Then let go and let God. Trust that whatever is the outcome of your novena is truly what is best for you in accordance with the will of God.)

O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. Amen

O Saint Joseph, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. O Saint Joseph, pray for me. (Mention your intention)

          Then, this person informed me of a ‘spiritual’ nudge that I would have need of this novena too.

          That certainly got my attention because in the days before this happened, I had noticed that St Joseph was coming up pretty often. And my husband and I were both facing serious work-related issues as well. So, I took it as a sign and began the novena.

          The day the novena ended for me, I received a whipping at work. I had my life efforts dismissed for the second time in two years. My abilities were belittled and in shock, I watched another august institution I had respected deeply crumble into the sewer of moral erosion, pride and blindness.

          Although I withstood it better than the previous hit last year, the bewilderment and the pain was severe and it cut deeper, because this time, my humiliation was public. I was desperate not to cry, not to compound my shame, but I sensed the unrelenting wet hovered close.

          An angel answered my prayers and pressed my tears into a vault in my heart, to not fall before eyes, and a dear friend’s prayers got me through the day. I stumbled home in a condition one would expect as a result of the smashing and grinding into the dirt of every potter’s vessel worked and lived for.

          And yet, I sensed something was different this time. Throughout the lashing, my strength in tatters, I begged for grace to hold onto the Fatima Way, because I was struggling to hold on to my cross.

          Slowly, faintly, I felt my spirit being held up by unseen hands. I felt unseen hearts willing me to not break. I wept some, but again, someone caught them.

Take my tears, I whispered to the angel I had summoned, Press them into Jesus’ Wounds. Tell Him I carry my cross for the Love of Him.

          Turning my heart to heaven, I called upon the saints of my heart ~ St Joseph, Padre Pio, St Francis of Assisi and St Jude. I prayed for help because I feared the wave that would drown me was now hidden from sight yet determinedly advancing.

          And then, I prayed for my prayer.

          The prayer to anchor my heart to God’s when the blackness of anger and hatred born of a wounding inevitably arrived. I prayed and I begged with every breath. But only silence resounded.

          As the barest of evening winds began to be touched by incoming sable hours, my eyes were led twice to hymns and verses of Praise. I recalled Mark Mallett’s deeply enlightening explanation of praise ~ …the most powerful praise comes when we acknowledge God’s goodness in the midst of the dry desert, or the dark night…, and I knew no matter what shadow my heart lay in, the lepers’ response could not be mine; I could not return in thanklessness every gift He had sent me.

          So, I somehow found the will to form praise from my heart. I formed it from the bitterseeds of the scourging I had received. I forced myself to push past the pain to acknowledge my own sinfulness that to some extent I deserved what I had received, because pride in my abilities and work results had birthed tiny seeds of scorn towards others. By nurturing this within me, I knew well enough where I was headed for, yet no attempt had I made to pull this sin of pride out by its roots.

          I don’t believe I watered this poison; but I certainly didn’t deprive it of its home in me either.

          I picked up my sin and wove my praise from repentance.

I have sinned, Lord, Let me suffer this for you.

          Hours passed. Sinking my heart into the night’s Rosary with a yearning only a wounding can bring on, I wearily touched heaven’s door yet again, Lord, give me my prayer.

          In a breath, gently, I sensed something bud and bloom in the emptiness.

You Who live and reign forever,

I love Thee,

I love Thee,

I love Thee.

          I jumped eagerly for the words that streamed serenely into my spirit. But they gently eluded my will to tendril their peaceful vines around my brokenness. Over and over, all through the still night eyes, with no exertion, like breath I breathed them,

You Who live and reign forever,

I love Thee,

I love Thee,

I love Thee.

          I marched the events of the day before me. I replayed my humiliation. I kept my sin before me. Through each one, I breathed,

You who live and reign forever,

I love Thee

I love Thee,

I love Thee.

          When the silvers of dawn found me, the pain had gone. No trace but the memory of it.

          Not to cloud, nor to shadow, but to light the weave of path ahead.

 

 

 

 

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)

A Deepening

         

          Yesterday brought into the day a deepening of a struggle – my Christian faith against this one other faith. My Christian space against this particular one. My rights against it. This is not a new struggle, it’s been close to twenty years, of being trampled upon, abused – by those who adhere to the tenets of this particular religion. This is a religion of a thousand dictates. Here there is no such thing as a conscience – they do not even recognize it. All it seeks is a rigid and robotic adherence to its tenets, even as the rights of the living and the unborn are abused, the innocent maimed or killed, marriages and family life destroyed by polygamy, abortion, incest and child marriages.

          Yesterday, I reached some kind of breaking point. I received news that my attendance was required at a national programme for a specific work community whose members come from every race and religious creed. But I soon found out that the programme was going to be interpreted through the lens of this particular religion. The greatness of this religion, to be specific.

          I felt as if I was tethering on the threshold of spiritual nausea. We had just heard news of an 11 year old who had died from abuses inflicted on him by a religious school warden (that religion, again). It brought back memories of last year when my own child had been hit at school and the lengths we had to go through to ensure our children were safe at school here.

          And now hearing that I had to participate in an event that was merely an excuse to extol the eminence of this farcical and cruel religion, it took all I had. I had gone past the last gates of tolerance and patience. I had nothing left in me.

          In raw desperation, I looked into familiar nooks for consolation, hope. But it felt like pulling on locked doors. Until night came, and with it, our family Rosary time. I flung myself, heart and soul into the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries. I tried meditating on the mysteries, tried emptying myself to be filled by God Himself – but this was not one of those days. I was too filled and full of my own frustrations; I needed to find the stopper that plugged the keg, only then could I find release.

Please help me, Mother Mary, please help me, I begged. Take this Cross away or give me the strength to face it, to carry it.

          Rosary ended with no discernible sign that the bitter chalice was not to be mine to drink from. I went to bed exhausted. I love Thee, O Lord, I love Thee, O Lord, I love Thee, O Lord, I prayed from the depths of my weakness, seeking the only Hand that could comfort me.

          When I awoke, I was less than ready to face the day. The tough work week had left me tired out; the struggle I was now facing, depleting my energy even more. But it was an important work day and I didn’t dare lie back for some extra minutes in case I slept off. Not this on this day, I told myself firmly. As I sat up, a song burst in my head.

On this day, O beautiful Mother,
On this day we give thee our love.
Near the, Madonna, fondly we hover,
Trusting thy gentle care to prove.

On this day we ask to share,
Dearest Mother, thy sweet care;
Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          The hymn beat out any other thought. It had been very long since I had heard this hymn, even longer since a hymn had flooded my mind like this. But I had gone through this enough times to know the hymn held heaven’s message to me. I leaned in closer as it played over and over in my head, and realized two lines were standing out more.

Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          I groaned when I realized what it meant. By asking to be saved from facing this struggle I was going through with this other religion, by asking to be kept away from it, I was walking away from the path Our Lady had illumined for me. I was rejecting the Divine Will.

          Nevertheless, I wanted so much to be wrong about what I had discerned. Maybe there is some other line for me in this hymn, I thought.

          I looked up the hymn, and traced every line of its lyrics. My heart remained unmoved till the last verse ~

Fast our days of life we run,
Soon the night of death will come;
Tower of strength in that dread hour,
Come with all thy gentle power.

          For whatever reason, the journey of my soul and spirit was along this route of thorns and knives. This programme I was to attend was a mountain in my way. And no one scales a mountain to reach the other side by shimmying up the nearest tree.         

          I went resignedly to work, and was soon caught up in the busyness of the day. But a grey shadow of regret remained. Regret that my prayer had not been answered differently. Regret marked by weariness over the many more mountains like this that remained to be faced and overcome.

          Nonetheless, I turned my heart back to heaven. Help me to face it, I slumped into God’s Will, defeated at last.

          Late into the night, there was a knock on the door of my spirit, and the Conversion Prayer dictated by Jesus to St Faustina Kowalska was laid before my eyes.

          My despondent spirit jumped to life. Taken aback by this, I looked closely at the prayer I have prayed very often before.

If you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith, on behalf of some sinner, I will give that soul the grace of conversion.

“O Blood and water that gushed forth from the heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You”.

          Conversion of souls! My spirit leapt at the promise. So that was where this journey was heading to! That was why this suffering, and perhaps more later, could not be circumvented. It was not about me. It was about saving souls.

          Something drew me back to the prayer again. Returning, this time, I saw one little word shine out more than the others:

Contrite

          I had asked for the cup of suffering to be taken away. Despite the almost 2 decades’ long background to my suffering with the members of this religion, the coming Cross in the form of the programme I was to attend was minuscule in contrast to the immense tearing of soul that others had to endure. Could I honestly say I was disturbed by the increasing loss of souls to the tyranny of this religion, and yet refuse to partake in their salvation – just because the path of my compliance lay among deadly thorns and knives? What was the use of lamenting if I was not willing to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet on this earth, in every way, to help return these prisoner hearts and souls to the Heavenly Father?

          Where was my contrition?

          In bringing this illumination to me, an angel had ministered to me in the desert of my present struggles. I got to my feet, still unsure of myself, yet now firmly anchored in the refreshed certainty that God would provide all that was needed. Just as Jesus had died to save us, so must I face this night of death for the conversion of souls.

Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.

          I had sought to leave my Cross. To it I must now return.

Loader of the Prayer~Cart

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          My weekend began with an examination of my conscience, and a doubting of the path I was now on – to empty my prayer~will. To empty it (of petitions) – for God to fill it. Off and on, through the weekend hours, I kept going back to this – Was it the right thing to do?

          Then, my mind wandered over the changes and happenings that had ensued from the new prayer.

          There had been power. Strength. There had been joyous, unexpected  happenings.

          And yet, I continued to nibble at the certainty, slowly ragged-ing its smooth edges. What if I was wrong? In these days of fake news and lies and distortion and illusions, had I veered off the True Path? What if I was wrong to empty my prayer~will?

          On the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I went before God. You have to answer me, I insisted.

          The first reply came through Susan Skinner’s post, If You Seek Healing. Of the many things that lit up in her piece, this caught me firmly – once you have emptied all of you, you can be filled up with God.

          And I learned yet again that the emptying of my prayer~will was the Will of God Himself. It was not a hardening of my heart, as I feared. It was not a callous disregard of the entreaties of others.

          It was another step in the journey of Surrender that I first began almost ten years ago. One I veered off many, many times, and returned to as often. And now, with the emptying of my prayer~will, I was tentatively opening myself up even further, laying everything of me at His Feet, to be used as He pleased. During Lent this year, my spirit got caught in the Call of the little Consoler, the Fatima seer, Francisco Marto. As I began to try to offer up little beads of Chaplets and Rosaries, solely to console the Wounded Heart of Jesus, like the little Shepherd had done, I learned of this little by-path the  emptying of the prayer~will was leading me to.

          But my learning was in no way over. Something else of Susan Skinner’s post remained in me: humility. When the eyes of my heart turned to it, I found it in a little pouch, its strings fastened such that I could not undo them to understand what deepened meaning Humility held now for me.

          But meaning came soon enough. That night, I read the words of a niece of the soon to be canonized little shepherd-seers. Jacinta Pereiro Marto said, “God chose my uncle and aunt because this is what He wanted, so much that my grandfather used to say that the Virgin wanted to come to Fatima and she chose his children, but that we didn’t deserve anything.” Because of this attitude instilled in the family by her grandfather – father to Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto – “we always lived very simply because God chose, and He chooses who He wants. We don’t deserve anything.”

          Her humility, the humility of that entire family despite understanding the import of the apparitions in Fatima all those years ago, was like a flower bursting into bloom for me. I realized that the erasing of my will in my prayers was a deepening of humility. To understand that it was not for me to ever occupy the driver’s seat of prayers. And not even to decide for myself which prayers to load onto my cart to take to Heaven.

          For the God who chooses me to drive the cart, is the same one Who will decide whose need gets onto mine and whose goes to another prayer~cart.

          Although I still do not understand why I have been brought to this point of placing even this freedom to pray for others in His Divine Will, for now, I feel a deep security in the Marto wisdom, God chose, and He chooses who He wants.

          The same God who chose my prayer~cart, will fill it with the needs He chooses.

 

Lent 36 ~ Water from the Wounds

Jesus_on_Gethsemane

          Since Sunday, I have been trying to get the family to reduce the hours we spend on ourselves, and instead, carve out minutes for the Lord through an additional Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Throughout the course of each day, when school and work ends and we come home, we slip away to our nooks for a bit, and offer a decade as often as we can.

          It’s not much, I know. Not when you compare it with the greatness of what many others offer the suffering Lord in this most holy of weeks. Not when churches are being bombed and lives being snatched away. Not when even those short minutes we give Him are pock-marked with distractedness and hurry and so many other mottles.

          But small it may be, it is willed by heaven for us. And I know it because I am not capable of pulling this out of my own head. It wasn’t until some days into it, that I realized that we were, in fact, consoling the Wounded Heart of Jesus. It has given me much joy to be able to at least offer this; greater joy that the family is part of it too for the first time. All we offered were our minutes. We didn’t ask for anything in return. 

          And yet, the short days we have lived since Sunday are different. There’s a depth and gentle peace overshadowing the tired hours. Despite the hectic work-calls. Despite the little pricks of hurt and humiliations that form the fabric of every life.

          I put out my hands and receive this grace of Holy Week peace and strength with deep joy. And with sadness too because what we have received is so very much more than what we have given. Jesus had no one with Him in those terrible hours of Agony. Today, so many lifetimes later, my family and I timidly approach Gethsemane; sometimes we reach out and touch Him, often we stay among the shadows of busyness and self.   

          And yet, He holds it not against us, but sears us with His Love, far beyond the worth of our blighted offerings.

          This love which I suddenly feel with a new keenness enflames my heart with a yearning to go beyond our Gethsemane offerings, to do more for the Suffering Jesus. This too is new for me. I do not belong to the company of those who willingly suffer for Christ. Spiritual timidity renders me a shabby candidate for this esteemed group who love their Lord with all their soul to the point of death. The prayer to escape suffering must be, by far, the prayer I most often pray.

          Hence, the wanting to suffer for Him now takes me a bit by surprise. Do what? I wonder. Almost instantaneously, I see a situation unfold itself before me. It is a work situation with several very unpleasant people. People bent on making other lives a misery. People who thrive on the pain of others. And I sense Jesus wanting me to go forwards and face this lot for Him. Not to run away, to avoid them – even if it is to keep the peace. But to bravely face them if need be and to be genuinely sweet about it. To do it for Jesus.

          I wanted to run and hide instead.

          I didn’t want to see these arrogant and rude people, much less be sweet about it, because I know who they are and what they were capable of. I didn’t want to be punched in my face, so it didn’t make sense to go looking for a punch.

          An hour later, striding into work, hoping not to be asked to be sweet, I saw a familiar form on a nearby seat. There she is, I thought caustically, my sour little owl, praying rain on everyone.

          Then I heard my own voice in my head, Do it for the Wounded Jesus.

          For my Wounded Jesus, I whispered obediently. Before I could even process that, I realized I was smiling at the woman.

          I got a sullen stare for my efforts, and I’d be lying to say it didn’t hurt because I’ve never done such a thing to anyone. But I whispered again, For my Wounded Jesus, although I felt no love in my heart for that woman.

          That was the only test I faced today, and in the later hours, I did wonder why there weren’t more. After all, I didn’t fare that well; my heart wasn’t flooded with love. Not for that person. Not for the Cross either. It felt more like failure than anything else.

          It wasn’t until I stumbled home from work, bone-weary, very late in the day, that I realized something had happened as a result of the single For my Wounded Jesus. From that moment of suffering, tiny though it was, a gentle and cheery patience had begun gurgling and bubbling thorough my spirit like a happy brook, silvering its way through quiet fields. Despite the tough work day, on and on that little stream went forth, spilling its diamonds into one weary riverbed pocket after another.

          Again, for one paltry offering, an overflowing of grace in return.

          The eyes of my heart go to the Divine Mercy. The stream of comprehension slowly reaches me. Rays of Blood and Water emanating from the Holy Wounds.

          I realise what I have received today. Water from the Wounds.

Lent 26 ~ Fighting the Weeds

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          I went to bed last night, dead inside and tired. I had heeded a call to share a verse from Isaiah with one of my children who had come home with poor grades. I was reluctant to – initially. The verse was They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant ~ Isaiah 65:21,  and it came after I had breathed a prayer for heavenly illumination to handle this escalating problem. Nonetheless, answer or not, I was not sure if I had heard heaven right. In all times past, whenever I was hurt or upset over something, my prayers had always taken me to God’s gentle rebuke or comfort or strength.

          If I had read Isaiah 65 at any other time, the verses in the chapter would surely have comforted and lifted drooping spirits. But this time, all I saw in They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant – was a warning.

          A warning to my child.

          I had come from a life where my mother had liberally used the Bible and God to cow me into submission. I didn’t want to be my mother; I wanted none of her in the way I mothered my own brood. So, naturally, I was more than a little unwilling to take Isaiah 65:21  – as a warning – to my child. There had to be another way.

          Everything then went dead inside. No whisper, no murmur. However insistently I troubled the depths of me in search, my spirit stubbornly yielded nothing.

          It folded in on itself. And I found myself locked out. All I had with me was Isaiah 65:21.

          It was as if by asking God for an alternative, He was answering me by giving me none.

          Breathing a silent prayer, I shared the verse with my child.

          It was not the most pleasant or easy of encounters.

          I had been raised to fear God. My children had thus far been raised to love and trust Him. When they do wrong, we teach them to see the hurt they had caused God. Negative fear of God had damaged my relationship with God for so many, many years, and I swore I would never allow that in our lives now.

          Yet, what I sensed in the call of yesterday was that I was not to water down or strip the words of Isaiah of its sternness. I was to give them as they were.

          Deeply unhappy, I obeyed, all the while hoping I had read the call right.

          As feared, in sharing the verse as it was, I hurt my child – which in turn, hurt me. I was not rewarded with flooding joy to tell me all would be well. All I carried away with me was the wounded look in clear, jovial eyes over the message that if change was not willed and adhered to, there would be consequences to live with.

          It was deeply unpleasant to see my hurting child, and worse, to know I was the perpetrator.

          This morning, dulled in spirit upon rousing, in the cold stillness of a day still caught in the dark of slumber, I heard the unmistakable strains of Ave Maria, Ave Maria, Ave Maria, in my heart. They followed the tune of a hymn I heard sung in a Fatima apparition video, The 13th Day, that we had watched as a family on Annunciation Day. Most mornings, I say the Rosary of Atonement – the Divine Mercy chaplet, and I had intended to do just that today.

          But the Ave Maria strummed stronger than ever against my heart. It blocked out every other hymn I tried to play against it. It was odd, something I had never before experienced.

          Hours after I had obeyed, joy began to trickle into my heart and into the heart of my child. This made me ponder the chain of events, the connection between points.

          Isaiah. Obedience. Repentance. Fatima. Rosary.

          Did this mean the sun would never retreat from this point on? That is not possible, I think. Raising children is rarely a perpetually happy jaunt through flowering meadows. The weeds of challenges and struggles is a constant presence in every family life.

         These challenges are not to be made light of. Not to be watered down, plastered over, just to protect our beloved children from the unpleasantness of God’s judgment. Sister Lucia of the Fatima apparitions has said: “The final confrontation between the Lord and satan will be over Family and Marriage.” And she is right. What had happened to our family was not just a simple matter of exams or school. Our child’s problem had its roots in spiritual disinterest. A dangerous spiraling that starts out innocuous, but can see likely ending in spiritual death as it slowly chokes and leeches life out.

          And when one life is affected, it hurts the entire family. That is the insidious power of spiritual lethargy. If we step aside and simply allow our lives and hopes to unravel by making excuses for it, by refusing to face it for what it is, then what happens to a single child can extend death to the marriage as well.

          A year ago, I had a deeply upsetting dream that satan was hunting our children as recruits for his evil army. Since the dream, my husband and I have assumed the watchman’s post at every plausible point of entry.

          But I think we made one mistake. We expected satan to come with a burst and a bang. We were on guard for the inevitable commotion and ruckus that would have heralded his attempt to enter our children’s lives.

          But he is not called serpent and wily for nothing. He came to our children alright. But he came in the deadliest of silences – spiritual lethargy. He came in small and light and quietly. Like weeds in the flowerbeds. A prayer missed here and another missed there. Mild disinterest in Mass, lapses in attention. Typically adolescent, we assured ourselves even as we did reprimand and do the necessary pulling back.

          We failed to go into battle. Because I came from endless chaos in my growing up years, I wasn’t about to overreact and resurrect that same tumult now. That was my priority. Not God. And that was where we tripped. Satan had come in some distance before the poor exam scores led to some soul-searching.

          It was then that we realized we had left one of the gates wide open…..

          We will not go meekly. Every child given is to be returned in holiness to God some day. We must go to battle against this darkness as it seeks our children to build its own dark army. We needn’t fear bereftness. Through humility, obedience and the Holy Rosary, we have the power of an army beyond compare.

          Any gardener with a heart and will, will fight to save his flowers from weeds. 

          Even more so, parents. For what we have is far, far more precious.

Lent 22 ~ Chime of the Annunciation

Pretty Annunciation Images

          I wasn’t sure of the date today, so I checked, and saw that it was March 25.

          And it tugged on my heart.

          I ran the date through my head to see if it was a birthday or a deadline I had forgotten, but there didn’t seem to be anything.

          I continued my work. And the date continued to chime quietly and gently, like the tiniest of bells. Little baby-tugs on my heart. About two hours later, it had gone on long enough that I could no longer ignore it, so I looked up the date to see if there was a church feast of some significance.

          March 25 2017 was the Feast of the Annunciation. It hit me like a slap of water.

          In July last year, we were to travel back to my husband’s hometown, to visit a grave. We always take flowers when we go, but that day, it was special, and I wanted roses, and the best of them too. In my heart, I envisioned pink roses; I yearned for the beautiful Guadalupe Roses. They do not grow here, but I prayed we’d find something close enough.

          However, during my Morning Holy Hour that blue~gold July day, I received three tugs in a single, different direction.

          The first came through a painting I had never before seen – of a young girl pinning a rose to a statue of Mother Mary.

          And the second tug was by St Padre Pio. I cannot remember how it came about, but it was willed by God that morning,  that I should find a link to a website that was all about St. Pio and the Rosary.

          Finally, as we were leaving the house to begin our long journey, I casually looked around the tangle that is our garden, and amongst the busyness there, a lone flower caught my hurrying gaze.

          A tiny, tiny pink tea~rose.

          As we travelled, my thoughts inevitably went back to my hope that we’d find roses.

          In a quiet light burst, I recalled the events of the morning – the picture, the words and the baby bloom of rose. And immediately, I knew.

          I had wanted roses for this beloved one gone Home.

          But instead, Beloved wanted Roses for our MotherThe most beautiful of Guadalupe roses – the Rosary.

          I yielded to the gentle but insistent request.

          It being a Monday, I began to recite the Joyful Mysteries. The 1st Mystery, the Annunciation, went fine, and I proceeded to the 2nd. But from a sharp and sure determination to recite the Rosary, I suddenly began to struggle with the 2nd decade of the Rosary. The words kept evaporating, I kept forgetting them.

          Over and over and over, I went back to the 2nd, then to the 3rd decades of the Rosary. 

          Over and over, each time, the Rosary header for each decade dissipated. I would begin to recite the Mystery for the decade, and I would be transported right back to the first mystery.

          The Annunciation.

          Soon, I began to feel drowsy. It was warm day, and one of beauty. Blue mists still hid and peeked out from amongst branches and grass dancing in the merry~yellow of the morning sunshine. The perky joy of the day drizzled its blessings into my spirit.

          Lulled into a deep peace, as I savoured the gold of that beautiful day, my thoughts drowsily went back to my struggle with the Rosary. My recitation kept going back to the Annunciation.

          Why did I keep returning to that? Was something holding me back? What was it about the Annunciation?

          And at that moment, I heard a clear, female voice write these words on my heart ~

The event of the Warning will begin with the Annunciation

          That was last year. I had forgotten all that. But the memory returned today, in the earliest hours of the 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, 2017. Despite the initial shock of remembering, there is no fear, no worry whatever may come. That day last year, I was not told the year to look out for.

          But I now know it is this year, 2017. Because the Rose~bell chimed just after midnight of the old day.

          To remind me of the great day when the Archangel Gabriel announced the coming of a Miracle to change the tide of the times.