St Faustina Kowalska

Replace My Blood With Yours

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Chorus
Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.


Join we now as friends, and celebrate the
Brotherhood we share, all as one.
Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.


 

          The psalmist talks about eyes being dimmed with sorrow. Mine are literally dimmed with weariness and emotional exhaustion. What a terrible test for me and for so many, many others. Sometimes, I crumble in anger, but only for scant minutes, for the squall passes over me quickly now.

          And through it all, from yesterday, an old, old hymn in my inner ear, Here We Are.

Here we are, altogether as we sing our song joyfully.
Here we are, altogether as we pray we always be.

          How do I sing this song of sorrow and uncertainty – joyfully? Is such a thing even possible? As if in answer, another line from the song comes gently,

Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care,
And we’ll all join in and sing.

          The fire of faith must burn on. Keep the lamps trimmed and ready.    

          My loved ones on another continent, and my dear~heart blogging friends, hold me close to the Cross. From miles away, they will me on, Keep your eyes on Him, God will protect you

          During Rosary last night, I pondered Jesus’ terrible journey through Calvary, His Crucifixion, the piercing of His Heart. Precious Blood and Water all poured out for mankind. Although my suffering is very small against what my Jesus endured, for the first time, I feel a severe drying out within me, all of me. Not just of my spirit, as I’ve often come to know, but this desert has now reached deep, deep within me. I truly have nothing left. Only the love of my earthly and heavenly friends hold me bound to my crucified Jesus.

          How do you go on when everything has been poured out? 

Replace my blood with Yours.

          The old prayer I prayed in times past. I recall the day I found the prayer, and the mystery of it. When all is gone, Replace my blood with Yours, Jesus. 

          Then, I realise, the hymn, Here We Are, has stopped playing in me, the voices of the unseen choristers stilled.

          And I understand why. Because it is now time to pray the prayer of repentance. And of conversion.

Replace my blood with Yours

Greet Mary

1861 Elin Kleopatra Danielson-Gambogi (Finnish painter, 1861-1919) (2)

… for nine days, she personally greeted Mary by saying a thousand Hail Marys a day in Her honour   ~  The Life of Faustina Kowalska, The Authorised Autobiography, Sr. Sophia Michaelenko, CMGT

          The usual Rosary of just 50 Hail Marys is the Alps for me. I can’t even manage the tiny anthill just outside our residential area, much less the Alps – in any form.

          And yet, this line in the autobiography of one my favourite saints, puts out its hand and pauses my gallop across the day.

She personally greeted Mary

a 1000 Hail Marys

9 days

          I just cannot do 1000. I don’t know how St. Faustina did it but I do know what I can do and what is beyond me and 1000 a day ticks the second box. As I was trying to settle on a manageable figure, it came to me to just ask God what He wanted of me.

          Greet Mary, was His simple answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straying Beyond the Sheepfold

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          Yesterday, a lady shared about an awful family situation spanning many years. Listening, it seemed to me to bear all the hallmarks of Narcissistic  Personality Disorder. The woman was at her wits’ end, didn’t know what else to do with her husband and how to go on. Being intimately acquainted with that same disorder, I felt sorry for her. Even if it wasn’t NPD, it was clearly emotional and mental abuse that she was enduring on a daily basis. And decades of it was, well, a long time to suffer the way she had. In my case, I received church counselling to create a firm boundary. It saved my sanity as well as the sanity of my husband and children. However, I didn’t know how a boundary was going to help this woman’s situation without destroying what was left of her marriage.

          Nevertheless, I felt I needed to do something before this poor soul crossed the line of no return. So, without giving her any details about my situation so as not to unduly influence her, I told her I’d pray for her to receive a special enlightenment – because what she needed was a very special light for her extremely difficult journey.

          I’m now on a small prayer mission using my newly received St. Raphael’s healing oil. I first prayed using the blessed oil for a friend suffering from addictions and other attacks but never told her exactly how I was praying for her. This friend’s subsequent communication to me bore strong indications that the prayers were having effect on her. That strengthened my faith in Archangel Raphael as well as I’ve never really invoked him in this way.

          A short time later, speaking to a priest, I heard about his immense struggles with his family as well as with the parish he was assigned to. There was also his acrimonious relationship with a fellow priest and its spillover effects. That troubled me more than anything. If our priests were falling out with each other, what hope did we have for ourselves? Nonetheless, it wasn’t something I dared advise him about, mainly because of the distinct possibility that it was above my paygrade.

          Nonetheless, a strong urge took hold of my heart. So, I began the same prayer I had said for my friend with the addictions, for the 2 priests, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil, so kindly and generously sent to me by the Healing Oil Ministry of South Grafton, MA. I have no idea how long I am supposed to pray for this intention but I’m confident the Archangel will let me know.

          And now, I fully intended to invoke Archangel Raphael’s intercession for the lady struggling with her Cross.

          I tried to pray Hail Marys for the woman all Saturday morning. It was a very busy morning, and rushing to and from errands and duties, I couldn’t manage more than a few Hail Marys, recited distractedly. But I was undeterred. We had to travel long distance to Mass later, so there’d be lots of time for prayers.

          I planned to pray using the oil before the drive. I remembered – about 15 minutes into the drive, it didn’t make sense to turn back.

          Then, I tried to pray Hail Marys again for the lady. Again, I got distracted after the first few.

          Arriving at church, I hurried inside to lay down my prayer cart before the Divine Mercy image. Fixing my gaze upon the image, I offered every prayer – except the one for the lady. Clean forgot.

          I had a few minutes before Mass began so I opened my battered copy of St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy in My Soul. Jesus speaks very clearly to me through lines in this book, different lines in each reading. I needed to hear God’s voice and I prayed to hear it through the book, if it was willed.

          It came. But it was not what I expected.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul.   ~   Entry 74, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska

          I stared at the line for a good few seconds. What?

          It was just before Holy Communion that I suddenly remembered my intention to pray for the woman. So, I did but it was harried and hurried. It had been that way the whole day – but it didn’t affect other prayers; only the prayer for this lady. 

          Something began to disturb me lightly. Don’t you want me to pray for her, for her enlightenment? I grumbled to Jesus. What do I pray for? I directed my exasperated asking towards St. Faustina, assuming there was some other prayer needed for this lady.

A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul, came the calm, quiet reply.

          I decided to stop my prayers or rather, my attempt at prayer, for the troubled lady. I was learning again the lesson I have learned many times before: that just because I had sympathy for someone, it didn’t mean that I could get ahead of God, even in prayer. What prayer, how we are to pray, if we are called to it – is all governed by God. We get nothing done by straying ahead of Him. To pray outside of His Will, never mind whatever good intentions, was to leave the sheepfold. I had tried enough. It was clear that this was not the prayer – for now or perhaps, ever. I knew God would let me know if and when anything was needed. If I said I loved God, then it was His will that I had obey, even in something like what to pray for, who to pray for or when to pray.

          And so, I retreated from that prayer, but focused on the prayer for peace in priests.

          This morning, I met this lady once more. Imagine my utter surprise when she made it clear that she wasn’t looking for enlightenment for herself. If anyone needed it, it was her husband, she said. She was grateful for support, for comfort. For listening, for the prayers for her husband even. But she didn’t need God’s direction because her husband was the problem, not her. God needed to speak to her husband and her husband needed to listen to Him.

          That was the kind of prayer she was looking for.

          I suddenly understood why the wind had stolen my every prayer for her.

 

 

 

My Angel Heard Me

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          My angel was beside me today and he heard me for sure.

          There’s this beautiful site I discovered a few years ago after prayer to find an online Adoration chapel. Since I live far away from a church and certainly no chapel close by for Adoration, my best recourse was an online adoration site. I visited a few but nothing caught my heart till I found the Divine Mercy Chapel in Poland that offers a 24-hour transmission. This famed chapel houses the original, miraculous painting of the Divine Mercy. From thousands of miles away, before it I’ve knelt countless times, in seeking and in rest, in calm and in tears, in times of anger and in times of fear.

          Each time, my prayers have been answered.

          A visit here became part of my daily morning prayers. I felt the difference on the days I didn’t stop by.

          But there was something more that I sought. I wanted a chapel close to my place of work. Early in my working life, I had worked at a place tucked away from the bustling street, situated practically on church grounds because that St. Francis Xavier church was a mere one-minute trot away. I was going through heartbreak at that time, and the little church, with its green and sedate pre-War cemetery beside it, was where I went to bury my tears. I guess I first learned about Adoration there – without actually knowing anything about it. 

          Now, decades later, I sought this same stillness for my work hours. I sought a church-by-my-heart to escape the relentless, unending sprawler’s revelry that has taken over my office. I wanted the quiet hush of the presence of the True God, a place to get my breath back every time the tenets my colleagues adhere to choke the life out of me.

          Not being tech savvy by a long mile, the obvious didn’t occur to me. Until this morning. I had just read about a priest having so close a relationship with his guardian angel that he conversed with him as he would a close friend, obeying every prompt in faith. Aspiring to this same relationship, I was led to pray the Angel of God prayer,

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day,
be at my side
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.

          After this rose the old wish for a chapel. It was then that the light fell upon me. To load and bookmark the live-streamed Divine Mercy Chapel site on my phone home screen. So every time life got too much, every time I felt myself veering towards prohibited roads, on this First Saturday of the Rosary Month, I finally have a chapel a mere touch away.

          The Angel’s answer to my prayer. His way of saying,

Indeed beside you I am, 

to light and guard,

to rule and guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Sound

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          On the 13th of August, on what should have been the date of the fourth apparition of Fatima, the First Reading was from 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13.

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

          As far as bells go, those specific verses from 1 Kings 19 have, for me, about the loudest clang. In this past year or two, never have other readings lit up as brightly as 1 Kings 19. And each time, the message has been the same:

Do not get caught up in the loud and obvious.

Be still and wait for the little sound.

          And every time 1 Kings 19 has come to me, despite the crash of events around me, true to His word, God chose to speak through the tiny, whispering sound.

          This time was no different.

          On the 21st, I was busily rifling through the pages of St Maria Faustina’s Divine Mercy In My Soul, big thoughts booming through my head, when a tiny wildflower of a sentence halted me in my hurried tracks.

On one occasion I heard these words in my soul, Make a novena for your country. This novena will consist of the recitation of the Litany of the Saints. ~ Entry 59

          I had just come off the back of a 7-day prayer for my motherland – inspired by Jesus’ words to St Faustina. That had ended on the 19th of this month – the actual August Fatima apparition date. To end on such a date, that went deep for me. And 3 days from the close of that prayer, was this new entreaty.

          Again, a prayer for the country.

          Once again, for some strange reason, without an iota of doubt, I felt Jesus’ words to St Faustina were for me too. I resolved to recite the Litany as a novena for my motherland. But the 21st was an incredibly busy day, and it took too much out of me, leaving me too weary to embark on the Litany that day. So, on the morning of the 22nd, I took my heart to the Saints on my first day prayer.

          When I went to my daily readings later, I saw that it was the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

          The Fatima apparition date. And now, the Queenship of Mary. These were all Mary dates. And of great significance to me. They were the tolling of bells through the hills and valleys of my thoughts and living. The call of the bells were telling me something. Something withheld from me for now. Something beyond the veil.

          Something to do with my deeply troubled and increasingly polarized motherland, caught in a rising and blinding sandstorm, being dangerously enticed by the black lure of persecution and abuse.

          Never before have I heard this call this clearly. And coming twice, it reflected the urgency of the state of affairs here in a country that gained its freedom from colonial masters, only to fall prey to the seduction of communist greed and power.

          I heard this my God’s call, not in the fury of winds or earthquakes or fire. Just as it came to Elijah, He drew me to His will yet again, but through a tiny whisper that I could so easily have missed.

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Bell Tolls

          Recently, I slowly became aware of the tolling of an old bell. Old as in a journey I have undertaken. Old as in a call to return to the exact starting point of that slightly worn path.

          It began with the recent discovery of the live streaming from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland, where St Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Miraculous Image is kept. I have since ‘taken’ broken hearts and lives daily to that shrine, and set them before the Miraculous Image.

          I have seen at least one miraculous healing.

          And one powerful guidance.

         One day last week, I woke up to a great inner struggle with anger against someone given to incessant grumbling and the beginnings of sloth. I felt my anger was justified. I felt I needed to speak up.

          Righteous anger leads to spirit-life.

There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity… ~ St Isaiah the Solitary

          But the trouble with my anger, as it so often is, is that it was laden with the added dimensions of vengeance and rebuke with the intention to hurt. And that obliterates righteousness from it, defiles its purity. I was aware of it, and there was a great back-and-forth within me over it.

          In the midst of that struggle, I suddenly became aware of a frisson of deep unease. It might have been a premonition. To me, it felt more like someone else within me was trying to warn me away from a deeply unpleasant situation that would arise should I follow through on my intent to hurt this person to shock sense into her, using righteous anger as an excuse.

          The unease was powerful enough to cause me to rear back from my inclinations. Yet, I knew very well indeed that I often have a wanton disregard for caution. I was fearful that I might, at some point, be overcome by this black anger and do just what my heart and mind were begging for.

          So, I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I took this black venom and ran and set it before the Miraculous Image.

          The anger was pulled out of me, and it was pulled out by its roots.

          Stunned, I turned to the Miraculous Image. I don’t ever remember this type of prayer being answered so swiftly for me. It’s always preceded by long, banging on Heaven’s door. Somehow, I just knew this deliverance was not an end, but a beginning. It was a call to approach closer. And so I did, going before it even when there were no specific intentions. Going before it just to rest my heart there.

          And when my ear burned, I began to breathe Samuel’s entreaty, Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.

          This morning, before we left the home for Mass, the angel brought me The Diary of My Soul, St Faustina’s journal of her spiritual journey into the depths of the Divine Mercy. I had done a thorough reading of it beginning in November of 2015, and it had been an immensely powerful journey that took me through 2016.

          Now, more than a year later, it was gently placed in my hands again.

          The old bell tolled once more.

          I opened it after Mass and for long minutes, lost myself in it. In the early pages of St Faustina’s heart, I saw my own recent life-journeys, albeit on a much less profound scale. I read on calmly and in a state of prayer, going from one event in the saint’s life to another, my spirit for once content to listen out for my Lord.

          Just before I was about to end the reading for the day, I saw these words:

I was to make this novena for the intention of my Motherland. – Entry 33, The Diary of My Soul

          And then I no longer saw those words but these –

Pray for the Motherland.

          A tiny bell went off.

          My country is facing deep turmoil, though not many would see it that way. There are immense struggles on every front. For the most part, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Marriage and family are being sacrificed on the altars of self, materialism and corruption. Too many couples are going headlong into wrong unions. Too many think nothing of ending their marriages. Too many are counselled to believe that is indeed the right and only option.

          Children number the most on the casualty list, yet many parents, politicians, educationists and social activists remain blinded.

          My country is being torn apart from its heart.

          Pray for the Motherland.

          How do I pray?

          The previous entry in the Diary of a Soul had mentioned a nine-day hour long Adoration with Stations of the Cross. I sensed I was to begin the prayers this very day, the 13th of August, the day the August apparitions of Fatima would have taken place in 1917 had the young seers not been kidnapped and taken away. If I began the prayers today, in nine days, they would end on the 21st of August, the day of the total solar eclipse.

          21 August. Solar eclipse. Did the prayer ending on that day say anything of the much-awaited eclipse? Was the prayer linked to it? Did it portend something ominous as many were predicting, prophesying even?

          The same answer as before returned to me. No. There was nothing in the eclipse for me.

          Tell me what to pray. Tell me how to pray, I pressed for Jesus’ heart.

          And the answer came.

Jesus said to me, My child, unite yourself closely to Me during the Sacrifice and offer My Blood and My Wounds to My Father in expiation for the sins of that city. Repeat this without interruption throughout the entire Holy Mass. Do this for seven days. – Entry 39, The Diary of My Soul

          There was no way I could attend Mass for the duration of the prayers, but I could unite my prayers spiritually with the Sacrifices offered in all churches during daily Masses, praying the powerful prayer of entreaty I believe Jesus was asking of me through His words to St Faustina ~

Eternal God, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

          I had come to the end of the discernment. Just before I moved on, I performed one last check. Do this for seven days, Jesus had said. Beginning today, I counted to see where seven days would take me.

          The prayers for the Motherland would end on August 19. The day of the actual Fatima apparitions.

          It left me with no doubts that this prayer and this time were willed. I was to petition the Divine Mercy through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

         

 

ATONE

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          Wild gales marked the opening of 2017 for me. Almost every day has been a whirlwind of duties and tasks and meetings and deadlines and I’ve been skidding from one port of call to another. There have been pockets and deeps of happy days. Days when blue~gold morning winds played elfin tunes as they darted between tree arms and fingers green. Even the sudden showers we’ve had were lovely, the darkening of skies bringing a delicious quietening within my heart.

          But the pace has been wild, and its first victim – prayer life.

          Specifically – our night time family Rosary.

          This year alone, I’ve missed more Rosaries than I ever have since we began it in earnest in 2012. No amount of resolutions and adjusting of timing helped. If we made it one day, we missed the next two. It gnawed at me, for I knew just where we were headed with this – right back to before 2012 – when missed days led to missed weeks and then, months marked by endless tearing and scratching of spirit. That was one rutted path I did not ever want to go down again. I needed climb back up the wagon, and get on with it.

          But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

           Trapped by an odd malaise, I felt caught in a vice of tiredness, frenzy and muddled thinking. My will abandoned me. Something needed to be done to arrest the slip, but I felt like I had been rendered…. stupid.

          One night, after we did manage the Rosary, yet without the conviction that we were back on track, the days’ stress having curdled my spirit, I decided to sink my heart into some much needed spiritual dew. Opening my precious Christmas gift from a more precious friend, the book – Left To Tell – by Rwandan genocide survivor, Immaculée Ilibagiza, I returned to where I had left off from a previous reading. It was when the machete-armed Hutus were descending upon Immaculée’s helpless and defenseless family and thousands of other hunted Tutsis like them, with the sole intent to slaughter and massacre them all. All escape avenues cut off, no weapons except some spears and stones against the enemies’ machetes, guns and grenades,  Immaculée’s father, Leonard, rallied his fellow Tutsis:

“Let us use the time we have to repent.”

          It was past midnight, and finding that I could not read on anymore, I called it a night. But before I went to bed, I reached for my alarm clock, and did the unthinkable (by my pathetic standards of willpower) – I set it back to 4:40 a.m., from my usual 5 a.m. wake up time. Already sleep deprived, it sure wasn’t something I had planned; something just took over me.

          By 5 the next morning, I was ready for my Holy Hour, and Left To Tell was far from my mind. I didn’t feel like my usual prayers, though. It might have been tiredness. I wanted to pray something different. Then, I had the sudden thought to pray the Rosary. Not as a replacement for our nightly family one, but an extra one, an addition to the night’s one. Just me and my beads. I thought I’d use it to ask for forgiveness for all the times I had missed. About to recite the first Mystery, I felt someone whisper in my heart,

Atonement Rosary

          I went still for a moment. My mind returned to a night last year, when I had been in the car, waiting for my husband as he ran an errand. I had felt the sudden urge to pray to St Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy mystic, to ask her to come to me, to journey with me. And the very second I did, I felt her presence close to me.

          My soul was then filled with a strange sadness, but it was not mine. I somehow knew immediately that it was St. Faustina’s sadness, and asked for its reason, but she chose not to answer my question. About to revisit my own considerable list of sins to find the culprit, St Faustina stepped in and stopped my thoughts with the knife-slice of a single word:

ATONE

The word left me with a cold that reached to the pit of my stomach.

          I knew now that I could not in any way lay claim to the urge to say the Atonement Rosary. It was not from me. It was not a mere whim. I was led to it by unseen hands. Why, I briefly wondered. It should have been obvious, but I never seem to learn. The answer came before the next breath. Immaculée’s father’s words in Left To Tell came back to me:

 “Let us use the time we have to repent.”

          Use the time we have. Repent. Atone. The Divine Mercy call. The call many heard last year. The call we might have forgotten with the closing of the Year of Mercy, and with the Christmas rush. The call renewed in some hearts yet again this year, with a deeper, more powerful urgency.

          In the time we have left,

Atone.

 

 

 

 

 

Replace my blood with Yours

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          It’s been some days of a growing emptiness within me, despite many sun~tumbled days of happiness and laughter. It hasn’t driven me to the precipice of panic – as it would have before – that heaven has deserted me. I now know enough to know that it is I who does the fleeing – never God. Nevertheless, the vacuum within is mildly unsettling, irritating.

          Because I don’t want this void. I want to be filled with joy. I want that joy~Light to spill and flood every crack and crevice of my heart to the brim. I want to skip sunny steps and twirl and dance in happy abandon.

          Yet, it isn’t the worldly allure I seek. I want the gaiety of spiritual lightness that only the Spirit can bequeath the soul because suddenly, I am tired of worrying and caring. I want to believe that putrid waters will never hit our shores.

          But the Holy Spirit is Wisdom. Its ways not mine. It alone knows what my soul needs.

…don’t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you. Give yourself up to all His transports and have no fear. He is so wise and gentle and discreet that He never brings about anything but good. ~ St Pio

          When my Father Pio’s words sank into me, I slowly understood that this voiding was His work of Mercy. He is emptying me to be filled, I thought. Although I accepted it, being the sinner I am, I was not entirely happy with it. I wished it could have been different. I am all for the infilling. It is the emptying that scrapes unpleasantly at me.

          Suddenly, I remembered a curious incident from the Sunday before. My reading of St Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy In My Soul had taken me to:

          …the Blood and Water which came forth from my heart flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours. # Entry 1602

          Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          That prayer ensnared my heart. It was one of those prayers that fell straight into my spirit. I barely understood it, but feeling it was right, I prayed it over and over.

          Some days later, wanting to note down that prayer in my diary, I searched for the paragraph where it was mentioned. I found the paragraph I read. I found everything there except the prayer, Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          The prayer was not there. It was never there.

          Today, in the sun-blessed hours of a whitegold morning, birds in an ecstasy of mad trilling from green arbours, the memory of that mysterious prayer returned. In a pearl~moment, the lights knitted together.

          Replace my blood with Yours. For the Holy Blood to flow and flood me to fullness, I had first to be stripped bare, emptied of mine. That was why, when I chaffed at the emptiness inside, my Father Pio had come to tell me, Don‘t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you.

          Not every inner suffering is a punishment. Neither is it always something to be rid of. My present emptying is the work of the Holy Spirit I had consented to through the prayer, Replace my blood with Yours. Although I didn’t know it then, that prayer was my Yes to the Holy Spirit’s gentle knock on the door of my heart.

          I had opened the door to the Spirit. Now, I must submit to It.

Replace my blood with Yours.