THE ILLUMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

Lent 17 ~ Give Me A Sign

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          The bell of the Annunciation has chimed thrice in the last 7 days. My daughter unexpectedly reminded us about it last week. Yesterday, the priest informed the congregation of the special Mass times for the Feast. And this morning, a commenter wished me, Happy Annunciation  Day.

          Since 2016, the Feast of the Annunciation has chimed a special, hidden bell within my soul. That year, in the month of July, I had a strange experience. I was trying to gift Our Lady with a Joyful Mystery Rosary when She put out Her hand and gently restrained me to the First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation.

          And then, She spoke 10 words,

The event of the Warning will begin with the Annunciation

          Will begin with. For the first time then, I was faced with the likelihood that the Warning or the Illumination of Conscience was not merely to be a single, sudden event; it was also to be like a flower bud, going towards its full bloom, petal by petal unfurled. It was clearly imprinted on my heart that this unfurling of the Warning – for me – would begin in 2017. This has led me to believe that many people would have had the same experience – but with different dates.

          Today, on the Feast of the Annunciation, remembering the signs of the Warning I have received, the First Reading stuns me:

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”   ~   Isaiah 7: 10 – 12

Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God

God is commanding Ahaz to ask for a sign. In my simpleton’s understanding of that line, God is actually asking Ahaz to move beyond his fear and tremulous faith, to put out into the deep, and to boldly ask God for His illumination.

let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky

This Illumination which God is commanding Ahaz to ask for will be a paradox. To some, this illumination will be the rainbow of all rainbows, high in the skies, beyond the sight of hope and expectation, an unexpected fire of joy. But to others, the illumination will bring severe pain, piercing to the very depths of all that has been secret thus far.

But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”  

          That was my exact answer when I first read the words of Isaiah 7 this morning, Ask for a sign.

I will not ask!

To ask is to be curious about what is to come.

To ask is to return to what I was before – painting my own picture of hope.

I will not ask!

I will not ask!

I will not ask!

          Then, the words of the Responsorial Psalm came before me,

Sacrifice or oblation You wished not,
but ears open to obedience You gave me.   ~   Psalm 40: 7

God reminded me of the change I have committed to – which includes moving from mere sacrifice to the sacrifice of obedience.

          The obedience of not just asking for a sign – which may return me to who I was before – but to Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God.

          And so, on this Feast of the Annunciation, I seek Mary’s fiat to obedience.

Give me a sign, O Lord,

From You

And You alone.

 

 

 

Winter

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          The dark grey rain~morning of today began curiously enough for me. Today is Friday, yesterday was Thursday – the day we recite the Luminous Mysteries in the Rosary. And yesterday, while reciting the Rosary, I had allowed my mind to wander a little at the beginning. The gate of daydreaming that I cracked open so slightly quickly swung open wide. Soon, I tread two worlds: reciting the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, while at the same time, imagining house redecorating ideas.

          I winced a bit at the end and tried to rein in my far wandering thoughts but the damage had been done: house redecorating trumped Luminous Mysteries meditation.

          Turning in for the night, I told myself I had to recite the Rosary again – properly this time. What I had done was just too much. I didn’t want other doors to open as a result of it.

          But sleep claimed me swiftly and the next thing I knew, the last day of November was slowly lifting its grey lids, rising from old slumber.

          Undeterred, with a dawn rain softly falling through the sleep-sweetened night air, I lay on my pillow and said my Luminous Mysteries again, this time, turning each Mystery over in my mind as I threaded roses through them.

          The First Luminous Mystery – Christ’s Baptism at the River Jordan. I thought of water. Water had come up quite a bit for me in recent days. There was the much welcomed November rain. There had been chatter among friends about the using of the sacramental of holy water. November also brought back memories of a December 27th dream from last year where I was shown a bedroom in my home, filled with clear water, right up to the ceiling – water that filled, yet did no damage; water which then knocked me over as it overflowed out through open windows, into a lush, green garden where my mother-in-law was enjoying the plants with my husband, deep peace filling her slight form.

          And then I saw the words,

Momentarily overwhelmed.

I later shared about the Water Dream with my Godmother. That water in the dream signifies grace, she told me immediately. If so, it meant that I would be knocked over by grace. Certainly not the way I viewed ‘grace’. Over the months that followed, through each cycle of hurt and pain followed by strength and wisdom, my education on grace deepened, specifically – hidden grace. Disguised grace.

          The Second Luminous Mystery The Wedding Feast at Cana. I imagined the scene in my head. The embarrassment and consternation of the couple’s parents upon discovering that the wine had run out. The frantic scurrying around. The furtive whispers. I imagined Mother Mary lifting her gaze to the unfolding scene, her alertness. She must have heard the whispers, maybe even the sneers of a few as the news slowly made its rounds. She listened and determined. Then, she went to Jesus and told Him. I watched His ensuing obedience to the call of God through His Mother.

          Do whatever He tells you, says the Mother. Obedience again. Water to wine.

          The Third Luminous Mystery – The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. The old St. Jude dream of 2016 – the huge snow-white map in the blue sky. Then the little green church, my birth family safe inside. I was moving away when I heard and felt the exhortation,

Pray for others.

Pray for others. Proclaim the Kingdom of God.

          The Fourth Luminous Mystery – The Transfiguration. The snow white clothes. The thinning of the veil. Moses and Elias. The dead are alive again. A glimpse of what was to come. A glimpse of that glory, shown early to give strength and put hope firmly in place – because the blinding, searing despair that was to come soon would make anyone forget the glory that awaited shattered hearts.

          The Fifth Luminous Mystery – The Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Bread and Wine. Wine from water. Bread from the dough of sacrifice and the yeast of obedience.

          And then I felt the door shut. I could no longer press forward.

          I felt like I was now standing before that closed door, my hand on it, uncertain about what to do next. Uncertain but not troubled. A quiet curled within me.

          An old memory came unbidden. Of another Rosary recited some years ago. Deep in its meditation, not distracted, a still voice quietly slipped through,

The Luminous Mysteries is the Illumination of Conscience.

For years since I heard that voice I’ve puzzled over the message. How is the Luminous Mysteries the Illumination of Conscience? I wonder each time I recall the words.

          I wondered it again this morning as I lay in bed, What is the connection?

          But this time, in the quiet of the dark, shuttered by the silver curtain of falling rain, an unseen hand lined up the pearls before me:

Luminous. Illumination. Light.

It was so obvious and yet it hadn’t occurred to me before today. I pushed the closed door again to see if it would yield to my searching, but it didn’t. So I arose and went to my day.

          Someone had reminded me yesterday that it was time to begin the St. Andrew novena ~

St. Andrew Christmas Novena
(from 30th November up to and including Christmas Eve)

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.​

          I felt a movement in my spirit at the words piercing cold. We have no winter of biting cold and snow here so it wasn’t familiarity that tugged at me. But beyond that, as I didn’t feel the novena call out to me in a special way, I returned the prayer to its place.

          Throughout the course of the day, I went on several other little journeys. By the end of the day, a single word stood out in the crowd of thousands. A new one I’ve never before encountered spiritually:

Winter

          Piercing cold. Suddenly my old dream of the white map the blue sky crystallized before me. White map. Why was it white? I’ve asked and wondered so many, many times since I saw it on St. Jude’s Feast day two years ago. Today, after the Luminous Mysteries, it comes,

Some kind of snow

I was shown three places consecutively in that White Map dream: Africa, Europe, Asia. White Africa. White Europe. White Asia. Why white? Why three? I had asked heaven so many times.

Then, soon after the Feast of St. Jude this year, for the briefest moment, a sliver of light shone through the clouds.

Africa. Europe. Asia.

2017. 2018. 2019.

Shock had pierced me then. In every discussion with close friends, every time the veil thinned a little, this had never come up.

And now, shock swarmed through me again. White covered nations.

A Coming Winter.