WOUNDS OF CHRIST

Lent 15 ~ Go Out and Love

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          Yesterday, some issues regarding my professional future were weighing on my mind. In my post, Destiny, fellow blogger and my friend, Ann Coleman, commented, “It’s natural to be anxious about something so important. But I do believe we can trust God to be with us through even the worst challenges. And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.” 

          Something about that last line snagged my frazzled and tattered attention.

And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.

          Ann’s touching concern and support lit a spark in me. Of wanting to go out of myself and care for others besieged by work concerns in whatever form. Nonetheless, at that very moment, it was mind over heart, because it was almost night and I was so very worn out from staring at my laptop screen for hours on end.

          Still, when God lights a spark, it is lit, no matter what.

          Today, I had to travel to the city with my husband. We met a salesperson he had dealings with. Within a few short hours, the 60-something man had let down inner his mask with us, and let slip that he had just undergone a heart procedure. I thought to myself that sales wasn’t the best job to be in if you had a heart complaint. Later on, we observed signs that despite his good work ethic, genuinely genial nature and immense popularity with clients, he didn’t seem to be earning very much.

          And yet, he was so giving, even when it would have gotten him nothing back.

          As we waved goodbye, something about him tugged at my heart. Well into his 60s and continuing to work in such a cutthroat business when others would have retired, I just felt that something hadn’t worked out in his life. He had a hunted look in his eyes, as if there were forces he was trying to outrun but couldn’t.

          Driving home, I thought about this man’s worn heart and remembered him before God.

          We were late in leaving the city and so got caught in its after-work traffic snarl. Driving carefully, I watched cars zip in and out, drivers in a great hurry to get home. Deeply exhausted, home seemed so far away. And we had one more similarly draining trip to make the next day.

          Despite my state, in the sharply angled evening sunshine, something else began to take over. I found myself empathising with the commuters’ rush to get home. Oddly, it was almost as if I could cut past the layers of metal and noise, and see right into hearts, here and there encountering happiness and good cheer, but mostly touching weariness, worry, frustration or just plain tiredness from a hard day’s work. All stopped at traffic lights after traffic lights, we were sitting in different vehicles, looking different, living differently. And yet, there was a common thread of happiness, worry, fear and tiredness running through each of our lives. 

However different we were, we are all bound together by our need of God, to be placed in His Flaming Heart.

          Once home some hours later, I contacted our parish priest to make arrangements to attend private Mass with him. To my sadness, I found our priest in great agony from nerve pain. He asked for prayers and so I hastened to do what I could, feeling it was too little against such a great need.

          It was past midnight when I sought the stillness to gather my thoughts. While no great mountain did I move in my Friday hours, Ann’s words reminded me that even in our hardest struggles, our hearts must never close in on ourselves. That no matter how gnarled and rutted our own path is, we must take care to never lose compassion for others who are suffering. And yet, that remains a mountain to be scaled – to remain in the moment of others’ suffering, to help them carry their crosses, even as my own weigh me down.

          Although so many of our questions remain unanswered, and the road stretches on through the uncertain terrain of life, in choosing to open our hearts to the pains of others, I have learned a great many times, our crosses will not vanish, our own pain might not diminish. The lesson God wrote upon my heart today was that,

The more we hurt inside, the more we must go out and love.

          Because it is when we wipe the wounds of others, that we touch the very Wounds of Christ.

Lent 40 ~ Victory

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          Short weeks before the Passion Week, St. James came before me. I had learned some years before, that whenever he comes, it will mean, Prepare for Battle.

          I didn’t get into a panic this time, but I went into alert mode.

          There were indeed many spiritual skirmishes, but I came through with few bruises. And I thought that was that. Even when the Passion Week loomed and the warning, Prepare, sounded again, I didn’t see the shadow take form before me.

          When it did hit – in the form of physical suffering that brought on fear and worry and distraction, I slipped and struggled to regain my footing. Of all the battles I had imagined, this one caught me off guard. From Holy Thursday right up to Good Friday, I struggled to hold on to my faith. I struggled to console my Crucified Lord.

          Easter Vigil morn brought some relief. Gulping in air, I hoped the worst was behind me. Yet, I held on tightly to the 2 saints who had kept vigil with me in my struggle – St. Anne and St. Gianna Molla. Something told me it was far from over.

          I was right. Travelling to Easter Vigil Mass, I was dragged down once more. Fighting fear and weakening of faith, I suddenly remembered the light that came to me on Good Friday.

Place your sufferings into the Wounds of Christ

          I lunged for it. Over and over and over again, every time the pain and discomfort took hold of me, I sank my sufferings into Christ’s Wounds. I didn’t try to pretend faith. I told St. Anne and St. Gianna that I was slipping. I begged them to not let go of me.

          Towards night, before Mass, I finally emerged from that battle.

          I offered thanksgiving to heaven.

          And wondered why I wasn’t flooded with more relief.

          That was answered soon enough. The moment I stepped into church, as it began to fill up, I was hit again.

          The hammer that struck this time was different. In some ways, it was far worse than what I had endured the whole week. Every time I tried to immerse myself into the prayers, I was hit from every single direction.

          I was hit so that I would not pray.

          I tried to fight back but even I could tell my attempts were weak. My blows were soft against the unyielding iron of evil.

          Suddenly, before me, misted these words again,

Place your sufferings into the Wounds of Christ

          I fled to the Wounds of Christ. Every time negative thoughts about people entered my mind, I fought back by placing the persons into the Wounds of Christ. I sensed a new courage flood me. My enemy had unmasked himself but I was no longer cowering in fear behind stones. Everything he threw at me, I did not deflect, but I reached out and grabbed and plunged into the Wounds of Christ. Over and over and over. Bring it on, I challenged as I have never before done.

          Every attack now meant more souls for Christ.

          The moment I received Holy Communion, I knew it was truly over.

          The Wounds of Christ had won.

 

 

 

 

His Wounds Be Mine

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          Almost a year ago, a family member upset me so deeply with some news that I struggled mightily with prayer afterwards. Prayer seemed so very difficult.

          It was then, that by some inspiration, my heart found a prayer to Mother Mary, a prayer born of my helplessness ~

I bind my heart to Yours

          Since that day, that prayer has become like an old friend. I’ve gone ever so often to it whenever I am overwhelmed by anger or despair. I’ve ‘given’ it away to those in need as well, because in those six words is a Hand held out to us as we are tossed madly about in the heart of the sea, breakers and billows passing over us.

          This year, just recently, Susan Skinner wrote a blog post, Trinity of Hearts and it brought back memories of I bind my heart to Thee. She wrote of a vision of a trinity of Three hearts that she had been given in prayer – Jesus’, Mary’s and ours – and of God’s words to her.

          When I read that post, the words swirled before me. I understood the words and yet, did not understand their meaning. But that image of the three hearts stayed with me. A short time later, my spirit in the desert, I recalled Susan’s vision. And I figured perhaps that was what I needed to pray: that my heart be placed between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to form a trinity, to glorify God. I felt that I could do nothing till I did that.

          I’d be lying if I said I understood what I was about to do; I understood nothing.

          So, I said the prayer one time. Listlessly. I press my heart to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Then, maybe a few days later, the prayer ‘came before me’ again, and I said it and it felt different. My spirit no longer felt dead, unresponsive. Buoyed by hope of coming alive again, I not only pressed my heart to form that Trinity but that of others too – family, co-workers, superiors at work.

          Almost immediately, I was rewarded with a piercing, a thorn through my heart, by someone whose heart I had pressed into Jesus’ and Mary’s.

          The pain was not severe but enough to dim the joy~light in my heart.

          I recovered soon enough. And today, during my morning prayers, I once more pressed hearts into Jesus’ and Mary’s.

          Once more, immediately, a new piercing.

          That was when I made the connection. I was being wounded every time I placed hearts into the blessed Chalice. With each wounding, I was having to fight myself and my inclinations to cut others just as they had done to me. Each time, I saw my soul as God might see it. Not a pretty sight.

          I wish I could say that what I saw humbled me. That the illumination  drove me back to God with a renewed vigour born of repentance.

          It didn’t. I wasn’t afraid of the prayer but I did shrink from it. No one wants to be hurt. We want to go out into the world and conquer it for Christ. We want to emerge triumphant. Not hurt and wounded, cast aside and in need of binding. That doesn’t fit the portrait of a Christian warrior in a Lepanto battle.

          But it does a broken reed. And Jesus was that reed.

          So, who was I to reject the call of the Broken Reed?

          God knew the very minute my spirit was bending to His Divine Will. He brought me another prayer, to ask if I would trust in Him ~

Holy Mother, grant this of yours,
that the wounds of the Crucified be well-formed
in my heart.

Grant that the punishment of Your wounded Son,
so worthily suffered for me,
may be shared with me.

Let me sincerely weep with You,
bemoan the Crucified,
for as long as I live.
To stand beside the cross with You,
and for me to join You
in mourning, this I desire.

When my body dies,
grant that to my soul is given
the glory of paradise.

          I didn’t want this wounding. I was sick of this suffering. There never seemed to be an end in sight. I was fed up of being hurt, of seeing my family being stoned. Fed up of being misunderstood and maligned. Fed up of fighting myself. Fed up of living in joylessness of what tomorrow held.

          I wanted the glory of paradise and I wanted it now. To savour it alive on this earth – not in the life to come.

          But who was I to reject the call of the Reed?

          Once more, God knew the second I accepted the Wounds of Christ in my heart. He took me back to Susan’s post, Trinity of Hearts. And the mists that were there before were no more.

          The broken hearts of the faithful will be repaired with the thorns of suffering.

          I understood what I hadn’t before. That I will see Heaven only when I am pierced by the very same thorns that pierced my Lord.

          Wounds of the Crucified

          Be well-formed in my heart.

 

 

 

Lent 12 ~ Wounds for Glory

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          I have been trying to stay faithful to my Atonement Rosary ~ The Divine Mercy Chaplet. Lately, through dreams and other experiences my family and I have faced, I know that as Sr. Lucia dos Santos of the Fatima Apparitions revealed, the family is the latest battleground. The family is under attack.

          And I fear for us.

          I wish I could be stoic and unflinching, with an Abraham-esque faith. Unshaken by storms and uncertainties; clear-minded and loyal to every asking of God. But I have too much of Peter in me. One squall and I’m ready to jump out of the boat.

          This morning was no different. Because of my working hours, I have now taken to reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet during my dawn Holy Hour. In the past week, I have begun to pray for the family’s persecutors. I wish I could say I pray the chaplet with love for my fellow men.

          I do not.

          I pray it with fear. No matter how many times I kick myself over it, whenever I pray for my husband and children’s protection, I still pray with no small amount of trepidation. What we have been through in years past, what we have recently faced, they make me afraid of what else is in store for us, and if our walls will hold.

          This morning, I went to the Chaplet with the same agitation. After the 2nd decade, at the start of the 3rd, about to petition for protection for my loved ones, I lost the prayer.

          It was slipped away from me. In its place was:

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          The minute the prayer got out, I twisted and flailed to pull it back.

          I didn’t want wounds. We have had enough for two lifetimes. We are a family that struggles with wounds and woundings; it would be sheer insanity to accept, to ask for any more. So, I quickly tried to tack on a couple of caveats.

         But an unseen hand had once more swiped the prayer out of my staining reach. I felt like I was down below, gazing up at my prayer held high, away from me.

         I completed the decade, and went on to the 4th. Again, at the beginning, the same attempt to pray for protection. And yet again, it was gently taken away and replaced ~

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          God’s Will Be Mine, I finally whispered, the fight gone out of me. I don’t know how we’d cope with any more lashings; we don’t stand among the strong, for sure. But suddenly, my wobbly love for God wins out. It is along those lines that my heart falls into peace. We may not be soldier material, but we have always loved. And if love calls us to bear our wounds for others, just like Jesus bore His for us, then my family and I must – no matter how afraid and spiritually timid we are. Because the Miracle of the Glorified Cross shines brightest through wounds borne for Love.

          Because to bear our wounds is a sacrifice. To bear our wounds is to praise God.

          And to offer praise as a sacrifice is to glorify God.