ST MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE

I Give You Everything

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Our Lord loves you and wishes to see you advance with great speed in the way of His love, however crucifying to nature. Therefore, do not bargain with Him, but give Him all, and you will find all in His divine Heart.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          Thanks to a fellow blogger, I think I’ve fallen in love with Switzerland, Mürren especially. It’s a car free Alpine village and it’s gorgeous. I think that with the need to walk (since we don’t have cars there), the sheer loveliness around and quietness of the place, I’d be thin in no time.

          And it would be easier to be good!

          There are times when we need all the help we can get just to be good and kind. Beautiful flowers everywhere, crisp, clean air, decent people around you – can do wonders for me. But God’s not going to create a Mürren for me so that making sacrifices comes easily, or that prayer just springs from the heart instead of having to go and dig for it, and then to lash my will to it.

          God is not going to make me a Mürren to make anger management easier either. Life doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. So, so often, I ask myself, Where has my young heart gone to?

Where is the spirit that used to quicken at the pink and orange blush of the dying evening skies?

Where is the girl who used to awaken at nights just to enjoy the sound of the winds singing among darkened boughs?

          And there is no answer save that of, She is gone.

          For years now, I’ve looked high and low for her, this person whose spirit is primed to settle into the deeps of the smallest cups of loveliness. Sometimes, I think I have glimpsed her, but when I reach deep within to hold on to her, to stop her from running away again, I come up against emptiness, as if she was never there.

          I feel the bite of tears for the girl I once was, rising quickly in hope and light after every fall and push, but to cry is to hold on to what has gone – for that young one is no longer there. I am no longer that girl, I’ve grown old; but my soul is likely still young – immature, petty, unsteady. In a perpetual wobble. Never learning well enough the many lessons God has taught me over and over, I flounder in the breech between the past and the present.

          I am tired. Tired of this life, so very, very tired. Unlike many, I have so much to live for, yet, today, I can barely see each gift. It is not for want of trying though;

My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,

worn out because of all my foes   ~   Psalm 6:8

Today, as the hot evening motherwinds try with all their might to sing me their strength, nothing slips past the door of my spirit.

          Our Lord loves you and wishes to see you advance with great speed in the way of His love, however crucifying to nature. Therefore, do not bargain with Him, but give Him all, and you will find all in His divine Heart.

          This was God’s word to me yesterday. I see the word, crucifying, and I flail against it. Oh, how right my priest was when he looked deep into my eyes and read my soul right, Patience, you need patience. But soul loved by God himself, the priest did not leave me bereft of hope. The miracle you seek will come, he has assured me gently. It will come, but not in the violent wind, not in the fire, nor in the earthquake. It will come in a quiet and gentle unfolding.

          The tears come then, and this time, I do not dam the stream, pretending a fortitude I do not possess. I have given my all today. There’s nothing left in me. No hope, no excitement even for the future. It is as if all has died. Nothing left to be of use to God, my cup of offering is dry.

          Patience, you need patience

          Then, give me Yours, Lord, I pray in deep weariness, for I have none left in me.

…do not bargain with Him, but give Him all…

          How can I give what is no longer there?

…do not bargain with Him, but give Him all…

          I give you everything, Lord. What is there and not there. What is seen and unseen. I give you everything, Lord.

          I am moving on empty now. Somehow, I clean the house, teach the younger ones their lessons.

 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change of Address

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          Last Saturday, nestled in the midst of household busyness and the refrain of restless winds in the trees, an old memory returned to me. That of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, her Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory prayer and the departed. I do remember to pray for my faithful friends, the Holy Souls, from time to time. But lately, too busy digging holes in my vineyard, it had been too long since I went deep into those prayers. Since we were to attend sunset Mass that evening, I made up my mind to take the Holy Souls along.

          However, as usual, I got sidetracked and it was only just before the elevation of the Eucharist that I remembered them, some friend I am. I rushed to place loved ones and relatives who needed the power of the Mass before the altar. I usually tack on groups of others but I didn’t this time. I didn’t feel the need to. That day was all about relatives.

          Once done, my mind left them and went traipsing elsewhere.

          Early Sunday morning, I learned anew the worth of prayers. I dreamed of a place almost like Nepal. Narrow streets, crowded poor. Women, children, mothers out and about. As I moved through them, no one seemed to see me. I made my way through the knot of people and the weave of dull streets to a wide building at the edge of that place. It was an old building, big, cheerless, yet not dark nor forbidding. Everything about that town and streets and various structures seemed aged, poor, but not neglected.

          I entered the building. It was like a big house with rooms upstairs.  It was bare and unadorned. There were no curtains on the dull windows. These windows were in need of a wash. Somehow, I sensed this was not because  they were grimy; just that they needed some cleaning for light to come through.

          As I stepped into the empty foyer, in the dream, I thought,

I hope she has packed.

          Just then, I saw two people glide quickly past me, out of the front door. I could not retain how they looked like, it was as if I was not allowed to see their faces clearly, to know them.

          But one of them, face blurred, smiled sunnily at me. I somehow knew it was a woman. And although I couldn’t make out her face, my spirit knew her.

          As I turned towards the door she and the other person had misted through, I saw a big pile of small boxes. Plain, mud-coloured boxes. All of the same size, just stacked in a heap by the door.

          On them was printed 2 names in thick, black ink-

Betty

Jobbiah

Some boxes belonged to Betty, some to this Jobbiah.

          I don’t know who Jobbiah is but Betty was my cousin who had passed away tragically from a medical overdose some 14 years ago.

          Back in the day, Betty was very much a part of our lives and of many others’ too. She took a very keen interest in every event and detail and was always chasing down issues that didn’t need her interference. We were very fond of her but there was no disguising the fact that Betty was an inveterate busybody. She was not a troublemaker. She didn’t go around upsetting people, but neither was she someone who brought much good anywhere for all her meddling.

          Betty had a ear for everything and it kept her too busy. It took her away from duties to home and hearth. She had a husband who adored her just for who she was and he never tried to reign her in even when he should have. Consequently, Betty’s circle and depth of meddling widened considerably over the years.

          Truth be told, if ever we needed a sympathetic shoulder or an eagerly listening ear for gossip, Betty was the one to go to. She was the sort to moan and weep with us. Not as likely to always rejoice over others’ good fortune, but she was good natured for the most part.

          No matter what, I loved my cousin. That old February day she died, I lost someone I cared for and who cared for me as deeply, perhaps even more than I would ever know.

          Since her death, I’ve tried to pray for her but I could sense that my prayers were being blocked. They would not travel far. After a time, I stopped. Not out of a lack of charity. But because I trusted that as there is a time for everything under the sun, when the time of prayers for Betty had come, my spirit would know it.

          That dream of Betty and the boxes tells of the worth of every form of prayer – Masses, of words, of sacrifices. Betty has packed up and is ready to leave that place of brown~grey emptiness because of the various forms of prayers of us here on this earth. We have been taught that while the Poor Souls can pray for us and journey with us, they can no longer pray for themselves after death. Their change of address depends to some extent on our efforts to plead the Mercy of God for them.

          Even if there was a period of time when God would not ‘allow’ my prayers for Betty, it did not mean He held up His hand against others’. Every Mass we offer up, every sacrifice for the Holy Souls, every prayer even by stranger-hearts, goes towards a common trust for these Souls, to be released when willed by God, to secure a new home for a soul.

          Happy though she was, I sense Betty still has some way to go. Heaven is not her new address yet, for I’ve seen souls in heaven, as well those about to leave the fires of anguish forever. They are clothed differently.

          And they carry with them no boxes, marked with their name, of sins yet to be fully expiated.

 

 

 

 

The End is at Hand

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          Three days ago, reading, I began to feel the waves reach over my head. That is often a sign for me to step back and away, and to let the word that matters settle gently over my spirit. And so I did, and it was this:

You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Reject them!   ~   2 Tim 3, 1-5

          It pertained directly to a present suffering. Love those who hurt me, pray for them, suffer for them even.

          But reject them. Because they choose to love themselves more than God.

          It confirmed the dawning realization that the time to be the friend that I was to these people was over. They had seen what they needed to see. They had heard the Good News. Then they came to the crossroads and they made their decision.

They did not chose Life.

Hence, it was time for me to move on.

          This time, in spite of myself, I could sense that my once wavering will had set in stone. Like Lot must have felt that day he fled Sodom, I knew that, spiritually, there was nothing to linger behind for anymore. Physically, I would remain in the same place, but my work among some people was done; it was time for me to move on spiritually and emotionally from these few.

          There is grief in some farewells, and there was to be in mine. Heaven readied the urn to receive the ashes of my sadness,

Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus, Victim of charity,

make me a living sacrifice to Thee,

holy, and pleasing unto God.

          Every time the sadness returned when I recalled old happy moments with these ones who chose to turn back like Lot’s wife, I felt the angels nudge the prayer back before my eyes.

Heart of Jesus, Victim of charity,

make me a living sacrifice to Thee,

holy, and pleasing unto God.

          What if I too turn back? I wondered uneasily. What if the lure of old roots of rot be too strong for me? What if the longing for a friendship be stronger than my love for God?          

          St. Margaret Mary Alacoque replied for Heaven:

          Having once made an entire donation of ourselves, let us not retract it: our Lord will employ every means to sanctify us, in proportion as we make use of every opportunity to glorify Him. 

          Again, I sensed a subtle strengthening of my will.

          On the First Friday of the month, offering my Atonement Rosary, I felt a strange piercing of my heart, as if something had passed through it, and then a momentary weakness. It felt almost physical. And yet, it wasn’t. As I straightened up in internal readiness, my eyes fell upon the First Reading, 1 Peter 4: 7-13 ~

Beloved, the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reunion

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          It was a night of patchy sleep due to an irritating cough, but it was well worth the morning I awakened to. Happy sunshine rays warmed and dappled the lawn and teased the windows with its allure. Frisky breezes danced through boughs and leaves, teasing and tickling. It felt like a morning party of the most joyful kind. Even the skies were in a dance, windbrooms sweeping cloud puff after cloud puff to one harbor of joy after another.

          I paused my morning sweeping to sit awhile and to rest my spirit in the blue~gold beauty of that happy morning. I thought I should pray a bit, but sensed the prayer called for was not of words, but of the spirit. So, I let go of the words, and sank my spirit into the spill of gold and green before me.

          However, my thoughts immediately returned to those who might not be able to partake of this spiritual feast – the Holy Souls of Purgatory.

          Last week, my confessor had hurriedly informed me that he was about to depart on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montligeon, France – the centre of prayer for the departed. I had never in my life heard of it, but I thrilled to it, as praying for the Poor Souls is a personal calling. The priest then said he needed all the prayers he could get, and I was determined to give him all I could. I figured a St Joseph prayer – for strength, protection, wisdom and discernment.

          Just then, a little prayer invoking the aid of the Holy Souls popped up on my laptop screen. It was a tender, little prayer – again, one I had never heard of – and it fell straight into my heart like a tiny rosebud. I wanted to write it out in the little prayer book I have, but I tarried, and unfortunately, the screen closed. Try as I did, I failed to retrieve the little gem. Not a single word of it had lodged in my memory either.

          I was very disappointed in myself. How could I have done this? Then, I reasoned: if it was meant to be, it’d come back.

          It never came back. That prayer was like the smallest bud. It had caught the sight of my heart, but when I reached out for it, it misted over. Yet, its essence stayed with me – seek the aid of the departed.

          The next day brought grey news that we had lost a loved one.

          Suddenly, the Holy Souls was no longer a wan, little light seeking my heart in my busyness. With Father’s pilgrimage and the death in the family, they were very much before me now. 

          All through the wake and the funeral Mass, we family members prayed together and raised incense of heart~offerings. Everything proceeded smoothly. I did not get the sense that our prayers were blocked.

          Yet, there remained a distinctive mist over the prayers. It was as if I could ‘see’ the prayers going on their journey, and then, for some reason, a mist rose up to block my view of the rest of its journey. I wasn’t too sure what was going on, but I sensed something was about to change or to be revealed.

          Yesterday, in the quiet hours of night peace, a little door opened, and an unseen heart placed before me a novena I have never before heard of: The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory by St Margaret Mary Alacoque. The minute I heard its name, I knew it was no random passing prayer.

          It was willed for me and it was willed for the now. The Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory encapsulated both entreaty for heavenly mercy upon the departed, as well as invocation of their assistance. It would work for Father on his pilgrimage, as well as for all the departed.

          Then, I thought of that little rose of a prayer. The one that came and disappeared. The little pink light that fell upon my heart to awaken it from its slumber; its work done, slipped past my reach.

          And suddenly, I knew who had brought it: Love. Love had come, asking me to love the departed with a deeper intensity. Reminding me that every prayer we pray for those precious Souls reduces the separation between them and the Joy of Heaven; that every time we forget ourselves for them, we take the Souls closer to heavenly Reunion – the yearning of each one of us.

          Why have they come now, and as strongly, I wonder? Why the ‘confluence of events’ ? Three bright stars ~ the pilgrimage, the passing and the prayer – coming together and appearing in the skies of my spirit now.

          Almost two years ago, on the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi’s death, October 3rd, I had dreamt of a time that is coming. A time of two overlapping contrasts. One of raucous, prideful and sneering celebration of emptiness – a sprawler’s revelry – juxtaposed against another – a time of gathering darkness, of deepening silence.

           And of a seeing. It was the time of a miracle enabled by the lifting of veils. The miracle of seeing clearly and in the flesh – some who have passed on before us.

          In the dream, there was a marker – a significant event – personal to me, indicative of the time. Almost two years ago, it didn’t make much sense.

          But just recently, that personal event came to pass. What I had deemed inconceivable before actually became a (sad) reality. Wholly unexpected. Triggering a revelry like never before – exactly as in my dream.

          In the dream too, the celebration continued into the gathering veils of the night, its light of glitz and pomp mocking some of my family and some strangers too, who had gathered together. The revelry taunted us for being in the shadows, for being left out of the ‘light’.

          There we stood, family and strangers, banded together in the dark, in a stone house filled with light, yet, awaiting a further darkness. There was no fear in the hearts of the gathered. There was compassion for one another, and a distinct absence of self-seeking. Even as we cared for one another, our eyes remained trained on what lay beyond the hills, the approaching darkness. It came to me that as we cared for one another with no self-seeking, we seemed to have an alertness to a shifting in the distance.

          But it was an awareness lost on the revelers. Because they were too full of themselves, and there was little space for anything else.

         When the dark got closer, I went out to call in the children, in the deeps of happy, innocent play, unperturbed by anything.

          It was then that I saw those who had long ago left this earthly life. They were not standing apart, in the watchful silence I would expect from past experiences with the Holy Souls.

          In that dream, I saw the departed very much a part of our life and joys. They were alive! There was no chasm between me and them. I could touch them, hug them, even speak to them! They were as warm and as alive as before. Likewise, they could converse with me, live in my home. They were one of us – just as before!

          All my life, I understood that a reunion with the departed could only take place on our last day, when we had unloosed the final moorings that held us to this early life –  through death.

          But the dream showed something else. A totally unexpected reality that may come to pass. I am no prophet. My dream is not a biblical truth that must be written on hearts and looked out for.

          But without ascribing my interpretations to it, this dream, brought by St Francis of Assisi, a saint who only appears to me when he wants me to quieten down, listen up, is a dream I know I need to pay attention to.

          Because the dream points to a reunion promised to me ten sad years ago through the words, I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you…. he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever…