ST PHILIP NERI

Lent 23 ~ Going Visiting

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The best remedy for dryness of spirit, is to picture ourselves as beggars in the presence of God and the Saints, and like a beggar, to go first to one saint, then to another, to ask spiritual alms of them, with the same earnestness as a poor fellow in the streets would ask alms of us. ~ St. Philip Neri

          I’m going visiting today, first to one saint, then to another, because despite the quiet serenity of the day, nothing spills into the arid gullies of my heart. There’s a dense fog in my head and a sullen spirit rules today. A loving old aunt is seriously ill in New Zealand. My mother-in-law found a bit of her old self – which she is better off not finding. Things are not going well in our country, and not in our workplaces too.

          If there’s a time when prayers are most needed, it is now – when it can least be given.

Ask spiritual alms of them

          So, I’m going to knock on some doors and ask for help. Beggar I may be but that will not stop me from asking big. At each door, I will ask for a miracle, for us and for others, for needs I am aware of and for those hidden and unspoken of.

          So that by eventide, I may return home, knowing that miracles are on the way to all those who need them.

Carry the Cross, Not You

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Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it.   ~  St. Philip Neri

          Just as dusk was falling today, I sensed a familiar but unwelcome shrivelling up within me. It didn’t come on the heels of frustration or tiredness or boredom. It wasn’t due to overwork or a lack of sleep. It came after days of beautiful blue skies and fat, white cloud boats. After a sudden orange~black darkening of evening farewells, running thrills through me. After the skies tipped over the blessings they had hidden in their bosoms all day, washing the earth clean and fresh.

          After so many happy, daisy~days, comes this old path, its emergence as always, unheralded, as always, unwelcome. Bitterly dry, with nary a water drop to wet even a morsel of the unyielding earth.

          It comes in the later hours of a Sunday lived in a new way today, for upon my morning rising, I had tasked my angel,

Take my soul to every Tabernacle where it is needed.

Place my soul before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus.

 

So that on a Sunday where the sacrifice of the Mass is yet again denied us, He is not left alone.

          And then, I had skipped to my waiting day. Flowers on the altar, marigolds and zinnias after ever so long. Mass on tv. A happy lunch. A little work. Good rest.

          A day so right, lived seemingly right too. And yet, here it was, that old of olds, an inner state that felt like the dull brown-red of the streets of purgatory I’d seen almost 2 years ago in a dream.

Drynesses of spirit and devotion

          Oh, any cross but this, my heart gets ready to grumble.

          But again, St. Philip Neri beats me to it.

As a rule, people who aim at a spiritual life begin with the sweet and afterward pass on to the bitter. So now, away with all tepidity, off with that mask of yours, carry your cross, don’t leave it to carry you.

          Despite it all, I have to chuckle. Carry your cross. Don’t leave it to carry you.

          Oh, the wisdom of God!

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 34 ~ Amare Nesciri

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Amare Nesciri. Love to be unknown.   ~   St. Philip Neri

 

          I am close to tears. So, this is the death I sensed was coming – death of my work being known. Death of recognition of my workplace efforts. It is a death that will be very hard to take because not only have I wanted people to see Jesus through my work, I am also nourished by what I do.

          My work gives me life. My work is my life.

          And today, my Jesus tells me He will answer the first prayer – to be seen through my work – but on one condition – if like a grain of wheat, I fall to the earth and die first – by accepting the gentle invitation of amare nesciri. Not just to be unknown.

          But to love to be unknown.

          I want to weep and weep. Now I see just how much of my longing was actually centred on myself. Abuse has been so much a part of my life. Daughter of an NPD mother, I learned to accept shaming and belittling and mockery of almost everything I did. I also learned to accept theft of my efforts when my mother stole the few successes I had.

          When I grew up and left home, abuse followed me to my workplace just because I am of the minority race – and the only Christian- in this community where I work and live. People mistrusted me simply because I was a Christian, their enemy.

          But soon all that changed.

          My work efforts became the moat around me that kept the marauders at bay. No matter how much they hated the faith I professed, grudging respect of my work and my work ethics made them hesitate to wound me – although for some, even that didn’t stop them.

          More importantly, through my work too, I rebuilt the inner confidence that my mother has always taken pains to shred and tear apart over and over. My work helped me find out who I really was. It helped me to see I was not who my NPD mother had indoctrinated me to believe.

          But now, Jesus was asking me to let go of my work. Not to stop working, but to no longer depend on it in order to live. To cut the vines that clung to my heart.

          To remove the contamination of my remaining copper coins. 

          Amare nesciri. I will continue to work. The effect of my efforts will be there but my workmates and superiors will no longer see me. I will recede into the background; I will no longer matter.

For amare nesciri is the falling of the grain of wheat to earth  – in order to die – that Life may come through.

          In that way, people will finally see Jesus.

 

 

 

 

LENT 22 ~ Mercy in the Mind

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By Josephine Wall

During mental prayer, it is well, at times, to imagine that many insults and injuries are being heaped upon us, that misfortunes have befallen us, and then strive to train our heart to bear and forgive these things patiently, in imitation of our Saviour. This is the way to acquire a strong spirit. ~ St. Philip Neri

I never ever expected to read such a quote on prayer. Some of us are gifted with a fertile imagination that often wounds and maims charity in our souls more than reality itself. When these powerful imaginations play out in technicolour detail future situations we might encounter, St Philip’s words offer a splendid way to track out the venom of our imaginings and replace it with the dew of mercy.

Thus, a potential for more pain is transformed by mercy into the sweet incense of prayer.