Lent 21 ~ Conqueror


          I saw this heading to a post yesterday, Gratitude Conquers Envy, and understanding lit my mind.

          Almost 2 years ago, I had a dream. It was of the colleague at work who had hurt me very deeply and continues till this day. In the dream, she was at her desk beside me and all around us were odd, yet perfect boxes, almost the size of shoe boxes, tightly packed with brand new books – except that interiorly, I knew that they weren’t books. They were memories of everything I had done for her in our 20 plus years of knowing one another. Memories packed tight into light, perfectly made mud-coloured boxes. My colleague was at her desk, with a pen in hand, writing on each of those boxes.

In thick, black, fancy classic script, she was writing, Thank you, on the inside of those boxes.

          And I knew immediately, with neither joy nor relief, that it was directed to me.

          Some time after the dream, I went to Confession to a visiting priest to our parish. I confessed about my struggles with anger and my difficulty loving those at work who hurt me. I didn’t provide Father with any details of my work situation; instead, focusing on my sins and weaknesses.

          But the priest had looked deep into my eyes, hearing in his heart words I had not given him. And he understood why I was being attacked.

It is due to jealousy, Father had said that day.

          That illumination had shocked me to the core, that jealousy could wreck such cruelty.

          But today, the memory of that dream lifts another face towards me. That of the Thank you. The power of gratitude to bend a soul to humility. To heal it of every trace of envy and jealousy.

          We often take gratitude for granted, assuming it’s a virtue we either have or do not possess. However, I have had one spiritual experience, in church, of being pierced by an invisible arrow of gratitude and thankfulness, to learn that it is also a grace. Some of us might have been born to be grateful and thankful. Some of us lack it. And some of us barely possess it. So, what if God was now asking me to pray for the oil of gratitude to heal jealous hearts?

          A few days ago, I had written that those ruled by jealousy needed to make the effort to cleanse themselves of this ugliness. While that is certainly true, I think God is now telling me, No, that’s not all. You can do something else too.

          This Lent, He wants me pray a very specific prayer of healing. To pray for the grace of gratitude, that jealous hearts be healed by it.

          Because gratitude conquers jealousy.

Lent 12 ~ Open the Prison Gates


Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.   ~  Psalm 79: 11


Yesterday, I told Jesus, Help me to pray the prayers You want me to pray. Then, I had a very brief and quick vision: It was daytime, perhaps in the morning. I saw a clear blue sky and a mountain range. And from behind it, a small, very bright sun rose quickly. Reaching the highest point in the sky, a burst of light came forth from the little sun.

          I understood this to mean that yes, God would give me a prayer, and pray it I must.

          Early today, God placed before me one of the women He wanted me to fight myself to love. Actually, I only saw her back as she was walking some distance in front of me – I was not treated to a hard look or even the usual scornful swish as she strode past me. Even then, my first reaction was disgust.

          It was only a little later that I belatedly recalled the prayer I was to pray for her, I love you because Jesus loves you.

          Today, Psalm 79’s Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You; with Your great power free those doomed to death, arrived once more at my consciousness, as it has since 2017. Each time that verse has caught my attention, it has always been for one of my superiors at work.

          In 2018, after the verse came, I prayed for those who needed it. And then, I saw the word, Gates. I wasn’t told what it meant, and till today, I hadn’t come any closer to an answer.

          Seeing the verse once more now, I wondered if my prayer for today was to once again pray for my superior’s release from the sin of loving money.

          And then, as is always the case, I clean forgot about it.

          Past 3 in the afternoon, I saw this man’s car and was a little surprised that he was still around. But I had a list of things to tick off and that was that.

          Buzzing around town, about to pull into a parking lot, I saw another car. It belonged to one of the local business owners whom I had approached some weeks back for sponsorship. He hadn’t been happy to give and the brief encounter had left a bitter aftertaste. I avoided him after that, but here now was his car.

          Without pausing to think about my annoying sensitivity to the slightest nicks, I took the plunge and prayed from the heart, I forgive you – although, honestly, that was the last thing I actually felt for him.

          It was late in the evening that I recalled Psalm 79:11 once more. I remembered my desire to want to love God. Then, it came to me that God had used cars and registration plates to remind me to pray. Today too He didn’t bring me face-to-face with those who hurt me but who needed prayers. Instead, God showed them to me but He showed me their backs.

          On each occasion except for one, I failed to pray. I gave in to myself – my feelings, my busyness – and the moment passed.

          I could easily pray for my boss now that I remembered, and also the I love you prayer for the two women. But I had not prayed them at the moment of call.

          So, I wanted to make up for it.

          I looked about my day and there was scant little to offer, except that it had been a long and tiring day. So, I took each little difficulty and offered them to heaven.

          Everything endured today I offered for prisoners, as mentioned in the psalm.

          In a quiet moment, I suddenly understood the meaning of Gates: they were prison gates. Each one of the three people God had brought me today were prisoners behind different prison gates – money, pride, hatred, jealousy, revenge. Yes, they had hurt me, and it was very difficult to pray for them.

          Yet, each one is loved by God. He loves them as much as He loves me. If I want to love God, I have to love them as well.

          Because only love will open those prison gates.









Lent 1 ~ Sharpen My Conscience


Prayer of Reconciliation

Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the darkness of my understanding and sharpen my conscience, so that I may recognize God’s will in all things. Send forth Your light and truth into my soul! May I see all my sins and failures in this light and confess them with a contrite heart. Jesus Christ, gentle Savior, I put my hope of salvation in You. Accept my confession with loving mercy and move my heart to true sorrow for my sins. Heavenly Father, when You look into my soul, look not so much at the evil I have done but at the genuine sorrow which I feel within my heart. Help me to confess all my sins with a childlike trust in Your loving forgiveness. Amen.






The Hour of Smallness


Evening Prayer to God

O eternal God and Ruler of all creation, You have allowed me to reach this hour. Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain. Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify You by my deeds throughout my entire lifetime, and that I be victorious over every spiritual and physical enemy. Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts and from evil desires, for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.   ~   Saint Macarius


          Today, from the birdsong morning hours, I vowed to give glory to my God.

          I did all I could to stay close to my Lord’s heart.

          Hurrying from one appointment to the next, we squeezed in a quick stop at church in the city and I was delighted that we managed it. I seal my heart in Thy Tabernacle, I prayed and then got up to leave. Despite our busyness, I remembered to weave prayer buds into the hours, praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for the troubles in our land. Later in the day, returning home in the wan sunset blessed by rain dimples, a huge rainbow journeyed  alongside us, and I gave God glory for the reminder of His promise to me that help is coming.

          Today was one of those rare days when I had been busy yet immersed in prayer. I was quietly pleased I had lived the hours the way I did.

          Everyone was tired and I was eager to get dinner going for an early night in.

          But in a sudden moment, I let a dart of anger lead the way. Despite the prayer~laced hours before, in that split second of the present moment when the path forked, I chose to be Lot’s wife, I chose to return to the old me. I seemed to have stayed so close to Jesus today, yet something in my day nefariously assured that I had a right to indulge this old sin – the price of which is the company of sadness and regret even in the quiet midnight hours. Although dinner was good and laughs aplenty, that one moment sits by still my window of consciousness.

          How could I have let this happen? What I wouldn’t give to take it back.

          Then comes this sunset prayer, tiptoeing to my mourning,

Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain.

          I whisper its lines to my heart, feeling no comfort, no hope, wondering if I’ll ever leave this gnarled of old behind, these sudden bursts of anger. Suddenly, I’m made aware of my smallness, my inadequacy, and only now do I see that nothing of this day was through my power. Not the prayers, not the plans.

It was all by the grace of the Most High.

          There’s nothing I can do for now but place the hurt I’ve caused an innocent heart, and my own sorrow and regret, into my Saviour’s Heart, and whisper my plea,

Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify You.








Lent 9 ~ How Do I Come Home?


          The turbulent days behind me, I am now in a place where the winds keep counsel among the sodden trees. Even when they occasionally blow by my path, it is in careful, measured breaths. The skies sob in bursts and fits, but it is not for this that the winds mourn.

          It is because I chose to rebel against God and His Will.

          Since that rebelling, I had gone to the hours of my day. I had been very busy. There was much to do and much that I got done. I came to the end of the work day satisfied.

          Yet, there had been a serrated edge to the day. Because a wound had been sewn up but stitched up roughly because I chose to rebel. I had given in to a wounding by heaven but I had given in in anger.

          Old anger always looks different in the morning after.

          Still, remorse sits distantly within me. I know I have sinned but if it happened again, I’m not sure I would choose another path of response and reaction. I don’t know if I am even capable of it. I think of Jesus~in~my~heart. I feel He is near. Heaven has not shut its doors against me despite where I chose to go.

          But something keeps me from throwing myself into His arms. There is a breach between us. I am rooted to my side. I do not know how to cross over.

          How do I come home? I ask the air about me. The night hours take my question but no answer do they yield. I think of all the saints close to my heart – Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Bosco. I think of taking their hand and asking them to lead me back to God. But the thought mists away as soon as it comes, as if brushed away by an unseen hand.

          Then, I think of Mother Mary and my thoughts stop there. No words knit to form my plea. I sense none is needed. I sense I must let it be for now.

          In the early grey morning, a tiny silver bell slides across my spirit. It chimes,


          That is the way home.



A Piercing


          Recently, when I found myself wanting to feel the sting of remorse over my sins, my wrongdoings, I had prayed for just that – to be given the grace of remorse. And very quickly, that prayer was answered. I believe that the sudden heaviness of heart that beset me one evening, for no apparent reason, was the Tears of Jesus and Mary for my sins.

          But it didn’t end there.

          Yesterday, at the local farmer’s market, I met up with someone and we had a brief conversation, just a couple of sentences of pleasantries that should have ended on a light and breezy note.

          But it didn’t.

          Because I chose to speak a few words against my neighbor.

          They weren’t lies, nor were they my imaginings. I didn’t provide a detailed breakdown of someone else’s failings, neither did I mention names, so no one got hurt. I just spoke the truth about a work situation that even my conversation partner was aware of; it wasn’t like I had parted the curtain to reveal something she had not known.

          But almost immediately, bare minutes after the words had left my lips, I felt an intense piercing. It didn’t tear me up. It didn’t keep me from savouring the beauty of the cloud tufts that embroidered the skies. I didn’t feel weighed down by despondency. I didn’t feel like throwing myself against rocks.

          But an unseen thorn pierced. And it pierced deep.

          Even now, many hours since I uttered those few shadowed words that stained unnamed individuals, as this pain finds print, the piercing of my spirit continues unabated. I, who have gone through a life  mottled by mistake after mistake, slip after slip, fall after fall, yet seldom regretting my wrongs, am now aching beyond belief to be able to return to that moment in that happy bustle of people at the market, to take back my dark words.

          Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go back.

          My heart today looks out on a joy~blessed day. I rest my spirit against the golden blooms of sunlight that light up grass freshened to wildgreen by recent rainfall.

          A languid breeze weaves its visit through the greenhearts of tree boughs. I reach out and place my heart in its arms.

          And in return, the breeze leaves a note on my spirit.

          It is not my heart that is pierced. For the one I have is hardened beyond piercing.

          Within me beats the Heart of Jesus, bequeathed to me because I had asked for the grace of remorse.

          Which is the grace to feel my Jesus’ pain as I pierced Him.




Fell. But Not Pushed.


          After a couple of days of doing things right – saying prayers faithfully, responding right, performing little duties well, I received a gentle warning early this morning. Being prompted to and also wanting to offer Mother Mary something on the Feast of the Annunciation, I began the Novena and Divine Mercy chaplet this morning. Obeying the voice I heard during the Rosary of the Sorrowful Mysteries last Tuesday, for the Chaplet meditation, I contemplated on the Holy Wounds of Christ.

          In the first meditation on the wounds caused by the crowning with thorns, this line stood out more than the others: We show mercy by not only forgiving but symbolically dying to the notion of getting even or telling others about our experience. 

          Dying to the notion of getting even or telling others about our experience. I read that line carefully, sure that with the inner spiritual strength I was feeling, I would stand strong.

          A few short hours later, the exact opposite happened. I fell.

          Stung by a colleague who had taken my help for granted, – help I rendered despite tiredness and too much other work – I sought release from my inner hurt and anger. I talked about her to others. I received prompt support and understanding.

          Yet, the balm of human comfort did not ease the sting for long.

          Within minutes of being comforted, I felt bereft. The little wound smarted with a deeper keenness. And there was no leaf I could find to cover the nakedness of my sin – I had NOT died to the notion of getting even. I had NOT died to telling others about my hurt. I had not even forgotten the warning speared to my heart in the slumbering sable hours of early morning. It was ever before me, like parchment messages held up by unseen angel hands.

          Yet, I had willfully turned away from the Cross. When others are suffering so, so much more, under the weight of heavier Crosses. When others are bearing pains far worse. When I myself have tasted bitterness beyond compare in times past, today, over a relatively minor difficulty, I chose the shadows over the Cross.

          I fell. But I was not pushed.

          As the sultry hours of the day seek their repose, I seek a quiet corner to cry the tears that must be shed. But for the first time in ever so long, I do not cry over my hurt.

          I cry because I chose to sin. I cry because I chose to fall when I was not pushed.

LENT 11 ~ Befriending the Wolf


          There is a path that has been carved out for me by angels who do the bidding of our Heavenly Father. It is a wind of road set into the weave of my life. It is not an easy one, but it is the only path for me.

          Sadly, there are a number of things that take me off the set course. Pride is one of them.

          In my life, pride is simply when I think God got it all wrong, and it’s my place to point out to Him alternative, easier, road for me.

It should have been this way, Lord…

          Pride is also when I seek to assume I know the mind of God although I’ve done little or nothing to understand God in the first place. When He has told me to forgive, and I cannot, instead of going back to Him to understand the whys and the hows, I surmise that if it’s so tough to forgive, then it’s got to be the wrong path to take. God, You don’t understand….

          Pride is when little time has been invested in humble prayer and devotions because I have failed to realize that the fundamental purpose of prayer and devotion is to learn the mind of God. Not bully heaven into obeying my will.

          Pride controls me when I’ve been tardy in my religious practices, cutting myself too much slack, being overly gentle on myself, and not seeing this weakness as symptomatic of an insidious underlying lack of faith in God.

          Pride is my master when I have arrived at moral conclusions without the right religious basis to back them – because I simply don’t know what God’s Commandments are, I don’t understand them or what they call me to.

          Pride is when I seek to play God, although my own respect for Godly authority is suspect. Or worse – in tatters.

          It turns deadly when I direct the spiritual journey of others despite being spiritually malnourished myself. If I think I can feed others when I myself do not know which are the streams of Living Water.

          Directed and blinded by pride, I might stray into the wolf’s lair unaided by heavenly insight. Emboldened by pride in myself, I might seek, ostensibly, to secure the enemy, fully confident of my own wisdom, but slowly, unknowingly, gentle towards the wolf, and ultimately, lose myself in its embrace.





LENT 2 ~ Beware the Ravens’ Light


          I have known fear in a way I never want to again. It made me bow in homage at godless altars. It kept me in a cage, strung on a leash, forcefully led on journeys to where there was a light that shone on everyone but never illumined the soul.

          I feared to offend. I feared to express myself. I feared to beat my own path of search. But my soul chafed at this imprisonment, and longed to be free. So, on my own strength and wisdom, I sought my freedom from this cage. I told God I wanted to be free, but I didn’t let Him too near, because I feared His Will. I didn’t analyse my fear of the Holy Will. I didn’t want to. I thought I would be exchanging one captor for another.

          So, I struggled on my own to make my escape. But years of allowing others a power over me had taken its toll. I couldn’t tell light from dark. Avoiding God, I sought counsel in the dungeons. Foolishly, I spoke of my longing to be free to those who should not have been told.

          And so they came, these ravens, to secure my cage by opening my eyes to their light.


          Deceptive light. Darkness masquerading as light. Light that paints the fantasy of freedom when you are still imprisoned. That is the only light the ravens know.

          Like I once was, there are too many of such captives – those who live in this deceptive light, lulled into the lie that they are free. The light by which the ravens see is one that tells us to choose self over love.

That light shines strongly when we advocate for and make life choices that maim and decimate natural life – because it suits us to. Because it fits the path we have chosen for ourselves.

That life feeds on the death that comes when we seek to bend God to our will through the silencing of our conscience to justify aberrance, accept sin paraded as truth, as a right.

          It gleefully and shamelessly shines us to the pool of self-gratification. But after the initial euphoria of living life on our terms, comes a gaping emptiness when the lustre of rebellion against God has worn off, and we find ourselves increasingly pursued by a wrenching desperation to fill the ever-widening abyss within us.

          Beware the light the ravens know. Know it by its deadly mark: it brings eternal death to every aspect of life it touches. We cannot live in two worlds – ours and God’s. There cannot be two wills – ours and The Divine. Every minute inch of life we give to the dark will ultimately be poisoned. We cannot hope to stay pristine and pure even by the edge of muck.

          Flee the ravens and their light of subterfuge, for there is no life, no hope, to be found there. With humility, seek instead the grace of heavenly courage and wisdom, to find the light that leads to everlasting life.




          As the sun dips to his rest, and the purple night gently ribbons across the skies, our hands reach out for light. However welcome the night in its cool flower-scented breezes and hushed life sounds, we seek the light to see and live.

          And so it is with the soul. Even in the wilful pursuit of all that chokes and stamps out the breath of God within us, the soul in loneliness seeks the Light. In every straying heart, the soul stands in diametrical solitariness, longing for that which gives True Life.


          So as the indigo mists of night drop their veils, heed the urgent whisper of the Spirit:       Go forth and light the lamps.


          Seek the barren streets, seek them in compassion. The paths where lonely snow drifts. In love reach out to those whose heads are bowed against the snow, intent on their cold aloneness because they think no one cares enough any more. Let love warm and melt the snow that they wear around their hearts, kindle unseen embers long dormant.


          Have courage. In patience, search for homes locked from within. Shutters clamped tight against the light, soil tilled no more, gardens listing to neglect. Walls adorned by sadness, loss of hope. Seek these homes of a thousand gray memories, dwelling place of souls fettered by the past and present. Seek them and let the Light stream in, for it’s only by His Light that the soul heals.


          Seek the faces on the streets of hardness, despair, fear and shame. Seek in earnest the faces of those who earn their living by the barrel of the gun of violence and drugs. Search out the souls who offer spousal comfort to those not theirs. In mercy and love, part the thorns that hide and protect those who choose to sever the bond between a mother and her baby in the womb. Go forth and light the lamps on those darkened streets of a thousand shadows. Give hope where hope has gone. Share love where hate has reigned too long. Light the lamp so the soul may be healed.


          Light the lamps in souls who choose their end before His time. Those so bereft of hope, who suffer the poverty of relationships true and strong. Those for whom love has fled. Let their grief light your path to them. Illumine the darkness of their agony with Christ, that they see in their sufferings, purpose amalgamated with the Divine Will.


          Go forth and light the lamps in lands where faith slumbers in peril. In prayer and deed, in a life lived true, guide hearts to the Pearl of the Blue Mantle.


          Shine the Shepherd’s Beacon in every pilgrim soul, away from the precipice of death, steer each one safe.