satan

Lent 36 ~ Ravages of The Enemy

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          At Mass, I was given to understand what my family and I were facing.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.   ~   Entry 356, Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska

          Ravages of the enemy. Efforts of hell.

          From 3 days before, a strange pulsing over the number 15. No fear. No lightness either. I believed it would be a sign.

          And today, the 15th of April, the iconic Notre Dame cathedral burns. Whatever its electrical cause, the fire is symbolic of the efforts of hell against us.

          But hell will not prevail. Endure, Our Lady told me. Endure we will. We will keep our eyes on God. We will do His Will. We will not hate. We will love.

          And we will endure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troubling the Dark

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          A week back, I began to pray for the grace to love my crosses. I was fed up of fearing them, worrying over them, and twisting this way and that to get away from them. I figured that if I loved my crosses like the saints did theirs, it would make for a far simpler life, gentle the rough and painful.

          But I’m no saint. To love one’s cross is a love that is hard to swallow. And praying for the grace to love the cross is one thing; loving it when it actually comes is another. But anyway, last week,was all about praying for this grace. And hale and hearty, feeling strong inside, I went at it with a dedication.

          One day, my husband away in another city, the kids in bed, just past the witching hour, I said the Rosary for the day. Through each decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wove a tentative thanksgiving for the crosses in my life which helped me see the Face of my God. I asked for the grace to love my crosses sincerely. When I was done, I went in to prepare for bed.

          No sooner had I set the alarm for the next day when a thunderous crash smashed through my home. Shocked, I shot out of bed, shouting, What was that? What was that? It sounded like something huge and heavy had crashed down to the floor just outside my room. I turned on the light in my room and cautiously scanned the hallway and living room for the source of that terrible sound. None of the pictures on the walls had fallen. The altar hung as securely as ever. The house lay still and silent. The children slept on blissfully unaware of anything. I stood still at my bedroom door, in full alertness, yet, curiously, unafraid.

          Then, I saw it.

          Just in front of me, on the floor, a good 5 feet from where it hung, was our small, light, wooden Crucifix. Its place was a nail on the wall just beneath our altar outside my room. And just below this Crucifix, was a broad, sturdy, hardwood cabinet. If either the nail on the wall from which it hung or the hook on the Crucifix itself had broken, the Crucifix would have landed on the cabinet, or at the furthest, the floor close to the cabinet. But, no, it landed 5 feet away.

          It had hit the floor with a vehemence incongruous with its smallness and lightness.

          I was exceedingly calm. Yet, my skin on my right arm crawled and crawled upon seeing the Crucifix on the floor – a sensation I had only when I saw snakes.

          I took a deep breath and bent down to pick up the wooden Crucifix. I willed it to have a broken hook.

          It was fine, nothing wrong with it.

          I went to the wall to see if the nail had loosened. It hung firm and securely.

          A light fell into my heart like a shard of glass.

          I knew then with a certainty that the Crucifix had not fallen down. That terrifying noise had come with force. It had been smashed down by a force unseen. And it had been smashed down with hatred and anger.

          Someone hated the very Cross I wanted to love.

          I was alone with young ones, living an hour when it would be insane and heartless to call the priest and tell him what had happened. To get through the remaining hours of the dark night, I tried to convince myself that I had imagined it all. Maybe a super-big bug had knocked the Cross off its hook on the wall.

          In an immediate response to that reasoning,  my skin crawled again. This time, I couldn’t delude myself into believing that I had imagined it, or that there was an insect that it could be blamed on. The crawling sensation on my skin was proof that the Crucifix on the floor was the work of the serpent.

          Why had it come into my home? Where had I gone wrong? I searched my heart for answers as I moved through each room in the house, sprinkling holy water as I prayed a prayer brought to me two years ago in a warning dream of evil, Blood of Christ, wash through my home. It was then that I recalled my prayer earlier, at each decade of the Rosary. My prayer to love my crosses seemed to only be brave words from a cowardly soul, yet, it had hit darkness and lit a black rage there, its fury making it grab and smash the very Cross I had prayed to love.

          In that moment of illumination, I realized that every humble and sincere prayer troubles the dark waters, but the prayer to willingly suffer for Christ goes further. It unlocks an unseen gate, unleashing a violent tempest of malevolence. I believe it is the prayer the dark hates the most. And that was the prayer I prayed in all my weakness. The journey of years had brought me to that point. I have taken a step willed and lit by heaven’s Light. But it’s not a step the dark ever wanted me to take.

          To suffer for my Christ is to suffer the brutality of the dark. Yet, cowardly and lame as I am, I will not turn back, for I sense heaven lies ahead.

          Just past the steaming dark swells that churn between the now and the Coming.

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The Tempter’s Song

tumblr_m4h0zdGltC1rwvtn9o5_r1_1280[1].png          Not even a month into the new year, and every day is a race to complete an endless amount of to-dos. The house like a tree, fruiting in abundance stacks of dirty dishes and laundry, crumpled paper and pencil stubs, food wrappers and store receipts. Trash bag after trash bag. Got to see to believe. Floors scrubbed today, grimy the next. No matter how fast I work, hardly a dent in what still needs to be done. At work, task after task crossed off, yet more popping up like mushrooms after the rain. The deadlines get shorter and shorter, the furrow in the boss’ forehead, deeper and deeper.

          I look around for hard surface. I need someplace to bang my head. I’ve only got a toe into the new year, and I’m already wheezing and gasping to keep up.

          I can’t believe that Christmas was not even a month ago. Short weeks since the languishing within the deep wells of Yuletide peace; yet, something seems to be chasing away the Christmas spirits of peace and inner stills, into deep burrows, away from the busy path of the every day. 

          Something doesn’t want the Christmas spirit around.

          It doesn’t want even traces of Bethlehem luminescence in any soul.

          It doesn’t want the joy. And certainly not the yearning for the Light of peace, for that is a yearning that feeds our souls. And the world says the time for that is over.

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          The world-all-wrong would have us believe that living in post-Christmas reality is to put Bethlehem spirit back into its box, and fasten the lid shut. That there is a time for the Messiah Joy, and it is not now. Achievement gurus will breathe into us that to rush and crush, is to live. That you’re living right if you’re always in a mad rush, stumbling from school runs to grocery shopping to dentist visits and then home, to burn the curry you thought you’d make to get everyone’s spirits up; if you’re sleeping late, waking early week after week to get that project on the road; if you go skidding into church, in time to hear the priest say, The Mass has ended, go in peace; if all you can manage is prayer on the run, and even that is mostly, O God, please, please let the bus be there.

          That’s life, shrugs the world. Accept it.

          But I won’t. Because that is deception.

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          We are being exhorted to buy into the belief that we must accept and succumb to and uphold a life made mad by the incessant rush of deadlines and stress. But it is precisely when we bow in obeisance to the Tempter’s doctrine of Rush and Crush, that we snuff out the Bethlehem Luminescence. We instead welcome in a manacling darkness, which will slowly and stealthily stain and destroy the very essence of our lives ~ children, family, relationships, our sacrifices, our very souls, – until we’re too blind to see anymore, and everything dies.

          The cramming of a decade of work into a year, the adrenalin rush of one super achievement after another, is a dark pull into the vortex of a life sans God, simply because there is no longer the time or space or stillness of spirit to seek Him and to listen out for Him. One simple ‘yes’ to the pull of the world precipitates us into another, and yet another, till we become slaves to a joyless, narcissistic life not willed by God.

          When the pursuit of material goals takes over our life, tiring us out so much we can no longer think straight, when we get so caught up in shoring up financial security that charity causes us pain, when worries and fears blacken the road ahead that all we see is the now of hopelessness, when family and marriage has to always pay the price for success, then, we have unwittingly listened to the wrong voice. We have submitted to the authority of the Tempter who touts Rush and Crush as the way to live, when in fact, it is a concealed, nefarious shackling to a life of slavery.

          Prematurely tired from just trying to cope, I think of the things that really matter – my God, kids and hubby and home. My faith life. All the little things not done but which must be done. I don’t want accomplishment, items ticked off lists, if it means forsaking quiet time. I think of the shallow prayers of the past week, and the nodding off through the night Rosaries. I realize there were too many prayers for my needs, and few for others. Everything was I  I  I the past weeks. My stress and struggle to cope had clouded my sense of charity. In my attempt to cope the way the world said I should, I had instead dimmed the true Luminescence of freeing truths that birth Life and love.

          Why pay homage to all that seeks to enslave when we were never meant to be slaves but brethren and free?

          I feel it deep within: there’s got to be a different way to live this life, and it must start sooner than later. 

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          We are born children of the Light. We are born to joy and peace. For ourselves, and to shine others to the same wellspring. The joyful luminescence of Christian hope and peace is a light lit in us from the moment of our conception, and nothing must ever dim it. The dimming is a deception that is not always a full frontal attack; more often than not, it sneaks up on us.  

         The seductive lure of Tempter’s song is sly in its subterfuge, for it promises life even as it seeks to kill.

 

SEEK REFUGE

12247-summer-flowers-wallpaper-hd[1]Bubbles of joy in music filled hearts. Not a care, not a worry, not a fear. Happy skips in the playgrounds of gaiety. Flower blankets blooming beneath the love of the unblighted sun.

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Food aplenty, open displays of feasts. No gnawing hunger, no fear of an empty larder. Raucous pursuits, a different joy every day. Freedom to scale any hill and mountain. No restraining leash tethered to pains and needs of those around us. Everything we want is there for the taking.

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Golden sunrise of hope, clear skies. Not a tear, not a shadow. We skip and dance past imprisoned souls, Live life to the fullest, we call out. Seize the day, we chime to teary eyes, Join in our song of camaraderie, we sing before we breeze on.

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Happy sojourns, success in every form, at every turn in the road. Eyes unseeing, ensconced within our walled-in sphere of accolades and shallow mirth. The still in the winds we sense not. The gathering hush comes slow and stealthily.

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Muted tinkle of warning. Ribboned our way by a wind chime stirred by the first rain winds. For an instance, our skip is stilled. We look up from our preoccupation, irritated at the intrusion.  We might see the burgeoning waves on seemingly distant seas. What’s new? That’s life, – we  reason impatiently. Then, we turn away. A crow call of nothings, we shrug and damp down the sparks of messenger whispers.

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The Storm hits from behind, a wild and feral fury unleashed. We latch our doors and cower in shock. Our houses are pummeled. Every pocket wherein we stored our hopes and faith torn and rent to shreds. In fear we flee the houses we occupied, tearing down streets where we built our other abodes, seeking open doors, ready welcome, comfort and refuge. Panic surges and overwhelms.

No door, no welcome.

No comfort, no refuge.

We crumple to the ground. Our life in ashes lie. Knifing through us, a wrenching grief of loss of the familiar. Mater dei, Mater dei, the cry slips from us.

An ember of light flickers to life within us. Sepia-stained memories of an ancient Call. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?

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Stumbling to our feet, we search for hallowed ground, seek the Mantle we once knew. Grateful collapse, our knees we bend in humble homage. Winds screaming all around, yet, an oasis of Comfort in holy remorse and repentance. Refuge found.