SACRED HEART OF JESUS

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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Winter’s End

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          Many sunny hours have woven their sweetness throughout my recent days. For the first time, in a long, long while, I have begun to feel a happy spring flow and flow  through me, tripping and tumbling through my spirit. After so long, once more, I find joy in the gentle sway of green trees in happy winds. I see parents with tots and rejoice over their Yes! to life. Even storm clouds make my heart sing as swathes of orange~gold sunset shine through breaks of grey.

          Yet, if anyone had told me this much longed for happiness was coming, if they had told me this last Thursday or Friday, I would have found it hard to believe – because on those days, I was involved in yet another fight for my religious rights. In those smarting  hours, I didn’t have a faith big enough to ask for joy.

          All I begged of God was for peace of mind to work peaceably.

          Because when troubles are deep, when life is difficult, we need peace to get from one day to another. In many places like mine, where religious intolerance and skirmishes are escalating, even a sliver of peace each day has immense power and I have learned to value it. That was what I was experiencing since that odd silence came into me, and I was so grateful for the strength and help God rendered to me. 

          But then suddenly, came this unauthorized ‘addendum’ on an old leave application for Good Friday way back in April. With one slice of someone’s dark sword, silence – and peace – went. My leave had been approved by my superior and submitted a long time back, and the leave taken. Yet, suddenly, weeks later, a clerk in the state department, not even a higher ranked officer, took it upon herself to place extra conditions on my leave application, threatening to void it if the conditions – her conditions – were not fulfilled.

          I only saw a red mist at her audacity. Suddenly, with all that has been happening, it was too much for me. This is why I am very wary of the Muslim fasting month here – There is something about this month of theirs that brings out the worst in them. It seemingly never fails to light and stoke the flame of intolerance and suspicion against others. It either turns people into what they weren’t before or it makes them worse.

          Please end this, God, please end this, I begged and begged, in frustration, in weariness. I am trying to endure but this is so hard. Please help me. Tell me what to do. Give me a sign, I prayed.

          On Friday morning, tense at what else lay ahead, I placed my Friday of Atonement and Reparation in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I said my first prayers at my altar, I saw a few flashes of light. This has happened many times before, though, not always. It is my guardian angel’s sign to me – to cheer up, all will be well.

          Really? I obviously didn’t have a lot of stock of faith at the moment.

          Then, came the next. The opening lines of Friday’s Gospel reading was,

Jesus said to his disciples:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  ~   John 14: 1

          In a more humble and steadfast soul, those words would have pierced right through, flooding the soul with strength and hope. But I was no humble and steadfast soul; I was a steaming geyser right then, not sure if I had to grit my teeth and endure this, or pray and ask – and hope – that it be resolved.

          So, my spirit wasn’t exactly quiet and meek and humble.  Because of that, I couldn’t feel His words. I leaned against the very door Jesus was trying to open to come in.

          But I didn’t give up either. Are you speaking to me, Lord? I asked. Let your heart not be troubled… is it for me? I pawed on.

          And then, I bowed my heart and asked for forgiveness for my lack of faith.

          Just as I was about to rise and go to my work day, St. Margaret Mary stopped me,

When you are in trouble and anxiety, go and plunge yourself in the peace of this adorable Heart, which no one can take from you.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          And the words fell straight into my heart. From the doubt I had shortly before, if I was meant to endure and suffer or if I had to go ahead and fight for my rights, now I suddenly had the strongest feeling that she understood me, that she was on my side.

          More importantly, that this was a battle and it had to be fought.

          The change in me was instantaneous. I rose from my prayer mat, pierced with a sudden rush of strength at the words, Go and plunge yourself in the Sacred Heart. Gone was the inner tension. Gone was the fear of standing up and making my voice heard.

Go and plunge yourself in the Sacred Heart

          Over and over, I said the words to myself, I plunge myself into the Sacred Heart. When I thought of the absurdity and the sheer unfairness of what I was going through, I plunged it into the Sacred Heart. When my thoughts went to how this would all work out, what I needed to do, when to do it, I plunged them all into the Sacred Heart.

          Within two short hours at work, I got a call telling me the matter was settled. I had not done anything. And neither was there anything that I needed to do.

          It wasn’t mere relief that burst through my heart. It was the hymn of utter joy! I could barely understand it. I have faced far, far worse before, and while I have received God’s guidance and consolation for those times, yet, it was over the resolution of this – smaller – issue that the arrows of joy were piercing me over and over and over again in their unutterable sweetness.

          I carried this bubbling, laughing light within me from the moment of that phone call. Gone was every shadow that had taken firm residence in me for so long. Suddenly, I tasted freedom. I could lean my heart against every thing of beauty ~ children not mine, big and little, my own husband, my own children, the sacred duties of wife and mother. I ran out to greet every song the winds sang from their secret  watch amongst the clouds. In a long neglected ritual, I stole minutes to go and rest awhile in the mad tangles of a little garden coming back to life, rejoicing over new shoots and baby buds. And late at night, at my window, saying good night to the world, I lay my heart in grateful rest in the gentle, solemn embrace of the mother~moon, suddenly sure of my Heavenly Mother’s love for me.

          Someday perhaps, I may learn the secret weave of this story, how each line, both visible and hidden, lived out its mission to take me from one chapter to the next.

          For now, though the road ahead lies in patient wait for my travel, I am certain of one thing.

          I have finally come to the end of my long winter. Spring has indeed come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Promise

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          First Friday of the month. First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. First time in a long time that I’m able to observe this devotion.

          But I dispense with the usual prayers. I wish to gift Jesus with something of my own, from my heart. I begin with a consecration – pressing the family and others, name by name, deep into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then, I offer up my own Chaplet ~

Blood of Christ,

Mark our hearts.

Each decade – a different petition of need. Is this right? Should I be dispensing with the usual formula? I honestly do not know. But what I do know is, if it is wrong, God will set me right.

          I leave my Holy Hour and move on to house chores. With Christmas fast approaching, there’s much to do. Busy in the depths of planning, listing, wielding and scrubbing, I feel the lightest nudge, and the strains of an old hymn unfurl their petals in the inner ear of my spirit:

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

          I run the words of the hymn through my heart to see what sets anchor in my spirit. When the winds dip, I feel the words:

old rugged Cross

          On a day when the grey~blue winds sing hushed notes through green weaves, and the shy sun blesses the land, on a day when my spirit skips in joy, reveling in the respite from bitters and stings, my Jesus gently reminds me that no life lived for Him can be lived away from the Cross. That to pray asking to be marked with His Blood is to pledge my acceptance and love of the cross in my life.

          It is to love the Cross through the weave of months and years, until old breath. And by that, to bring to fulfilment His promise to me one anguished night nine years ago, when I had begged for death in order to find heaven. Jesus had turned me resolutely back to this earth and its awaiting sufferings, promising me,

When you have done My Will, I will come and take you home.