The Dream……

(Because I am in the midst of a storm, and need to snuggle close to Jesus on the rough waters of life, I share this post from 2011.)

Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But He was in the stern, His head on the cushion, asleep. Mark 4:37-39

I especially love Mark’s account of the calming of the storm on the lake, because it includes the lovely little detail of Jesus resting His head on the cushion

O Son of God, asleep in the boat, Your Sacred Head resting upon a cushion — like us, You sought a bit of comfort. 

O how beautiful You are, Divine Jesus.  I love to sit and contemplate Your Holy Countenance at rest.  Sweet and Innocent Lamb of God, You are breathtaking, and I cannot turn my eyes away.

Gently, I reach out to brush back your damp hair so that I may drink in all the Beauty of Your Face.

I find myself wondering what You are dreaming about.  You look so peaceful.  O, I hope it is a lovely dream.  Perhaps You are dreaming of all who will one day love You and sing Your praises forever.

Are you dreaming of the great Saints and Martyrs who will live lives of heroic virtue, and even die for love of you?  Are you dreaming of Your Home in Heaven?

My Jesus, do I dare hope that You are dreaming of me?

The wind has picked up and a huge storm is moving into my life, but I must not wake You.   I recall Your words to Your disciples:  “Why are you frightened?  Have you still no faith?”

Increase my faith, O dearest Jesus!

“I sleep, but My Heart is awake.” (Song of Songs 5:2)  Your Heart hears my unspoken prayers.

Our boat is tossed about.  I can scarcely hold on.  I come closer, and snuggle next to You, resting my head upon Your Heart.  I close my eyes.  The waves wash over us.  I feel Your Closeness.  “I will not wake Him,”  I whisper to myself.  And I too drift off to peaceful sleep…….

“His left arm is under my head,
His right embraces me.” (Song of Songs 2:6)

 ………Some years ago, I often liked to ask Jesus what He dreamed about while on earth.  I never expected an answer, of course.  But one weekend, I went to a huge Marian Conference in New Orleans.  There were thousands of people there praising and worshiping God.  The Masses were beautiful.  There was an adoration chapel set up, and Our Blessed Lady was honored with beautiful words, prayers and an abundance of flowers.

I felt I had died and gone to Heaven, but the best was yet to come.  On Sunday evening, suddenly I heard the steady ringing of bells from a distance while the choir began to exquisitely sing “Crown Him with many Crowns.”  Then I saw the procession of white vested priests start down the aisle, amidst clouds of incense, and as the bells grew louder, I saw Him.  He was being carried in a ciborium swaddled in white, surrounded by candles.

But what took my breath away were His people.  As the procession passed each row in this immense conference center, all of the people bowed to the ground.  Row after row fell on their faces before Him.  As I watched with tears filling my eyes, awaiting His approach, I thought, “Oh, this must be what Heaven is like.”

And, unexpectedly, astonishingly, I heard a clear and tender voice whisper to my heart,

THIS is one of My Dreams! 

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A voice that speaks of peace……

On this day of memories of the attack on our beloved country, the following Psalm seemed so appropriate as I prayed Morning Prayer. It is always amazing how the LORD provides so much food at just the perfect moment. And in praying this Psalm, I thought not only of 9/11, but also of the current state of our nation as we enter the approaching elections. I truly believe that nothing will go well for us in the economy, jobs, energy, etc., until we repent of our moral failings. Many Americans dismiss the “social” issues as minor compared to financial woes. But which matters more to our LORD? Which matters most to you…and to me?
His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land.

PSALM 85
Morning Prayer
Liturgy of the Hours
September 11, 2012

O Lord, you once favored your land and revived the fortunes of Jacob, you forgave the guilt of your people and covered all their sins. You averted all your rage, you calmed the heat of your anger.

Revive us now, God, our helper! Put an end to your grievance against us. Will you be angry with us for ever, will your anger never cease?

Will you not restore again our life that your people may rejoice in you? Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to him in their hearts. His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.

My Peace…I give to you..

(The beautiful chanted Salve Regina, with which my Carmelite Community always ends our meetings.)

Today was my monthly meeting for the Secular Discalced Carmelites, of which I have been a member for 16 years.

It is hard to believe that it has been that long since I nervously walked into my first meeting, not knowing anyone, but feeling called there by a desire which had long been in my heart. It is fascinating to look back and see how God begins preparing us for the future, even though we are completely unaware.

I had been taught by Carmelite sisters, of the Order of Ancient Observance (O.Carm.), from first grade all the way through highschool. I remember receiving my acceptance letter into Mt Carmel Academy.  It began, “Dear Carmelite..,” and that especially delighted me for some reason.

Years later, I read The Story of a Soul, and immediately fell in love with St. Therese and sat at her feet imbibing her wisdom and her science of love, as I read every available book I could find about her.  I have a personal collection of at least fifty such books, and have read more besides, in addition to countless articles in Carmelite publications throughout the years.

And then, in God’s timing, I learned that there was a community of Secular Discalced Carmelites in my area, and after a retreat and much prayer, I gathered the courage to attend that first meeting.

This morning, I was rushing as usual, praying not to be late, and trying to shake a migraine which had awakened me before dawn.  During the past few years, it is always that way. I have come to expect that meeting days will be a challenge.

In the beginning, it was quite the opposite. I looked forward to these special days and always arrived a bit early to talk and laugh with my formation companions. I loved my formation classes and never fell behind in the required reading and other assignments. LIke the first steps in the spiritual life which are usually strewn with much spiritual joy and many consolations, so also were my first steps in Carmel.

Now it is different, as there are always challenges just getting out of the house. I am not one to see the devil behind every bush, but I do believe he is always at work trying to grind us down, and discourage us from anything which will enable us to progress in our love for and union with our God. 

My current journey in Carmel also reflects the spiritual desert I have been living in for some years now. It is hard to pray, impossible to meditate … a spiritual existence devoid of any sweetness or consoling feelings.  As I walk through day after day like this, I also greet my monthly meetings in much the same way. My closest friends have left Carmel, and other beloved members have passed away. There are many new members I hardly know, as they joined during the two years before my parents died, a period when I had to miss many meetings. There was a certain disconnect, as I was not present for some clothings and professions and not available to participate in discussions about implementing changes, etc.

So now, I tend to sit in the back, quietly listening and observing, and endeavoring to be faithful to my current assignment as infirmarian, which makes me responsible to see that our sick and homebound members are not forgotten.

But, as on the spiritual journey, no matter which stage one may be in…no matter how dark and dreary and dry as a bone one’s soul feels, yet, deep within, there is that Peace which the Savior promised, a peace the world cannot give. It is in the center of the soul, where the King dwells with His treasures.

This peace is not so deep in the beginning, and can still be disturbed when especially painful crosses fall upon us, but as time passes, it penetrates more deeply into our hearts, and like a welcome anchor, is not easily shaken. And joy too remains…not the sunny bursts of joy which once made our souls dance and sing, but a quieter joy which comes from being absolutely certain that God is always with us, and will never abandon us. We have learned that He does not leave when the consolations go, and that is such a comfort. We have not lost Him because we no longer feel His Presence. We continue to trust, and that is much more reliable evidence than feelings.

For a Carmelite, it is now living what we once only learned about in formation, from our spiritual masters and Doctors of the Church, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Jesus.

And so I thank my Almighty King Jesus, that the Peace and Joy which lit up my soul on meeting days in my early years in Carmel, are still with me today, although now they are more like a gentle breeze, wafting across my heart, ever so gently, and reassuring me that: Yes, the vocation I embraced 16 years ago was indeed God’s Will for my life.

Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Evening Prayer II
Responsory:

The whole creation proclaims the greatness of Your Glory.
-The whole creation proclaims the greatness of Your Glory.
Eternal ages praise,
-the greatness of Your Glory.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
-The whole creation proclaims the greaness of Your Glory.

Who will put happiness before our eyes? Psalm 4: 6

PSALM 4: 6-7

Many keep saying, “Who will put happiness before our eyes?”
Let the Light of Your Face shine on us.

Lord God, to my heart You are a richer Joy,
than all their corn and new wine.

Oh my Jesus, there can be no greater happiness than to be in Your Eucharistic Presence, to look upon You face to Face. What joy is this, my God, as Your eyes meet mine, and I am lost in Your Loving Gaze!

Truly, the Light of Your Face shines on me when I am in Your Presence. I can close my eyes and experience the transcendent beauty emanating from Your Most Adorable Face, purifying my entire being with Its Radiance.

I rejoice in that most tender and beautiful Divine Glance, and my heart soars in wonder at Your Immense Love for me.

The Joy of Your Presence makes all of the earth’s riches seem as nothing. In the depths of my heart, You place a secret peace which nothing can destroy.

Lay me down upon Your Heart…..

                                                                                               

 Jesus, my All,
lay me upon Your Heart,
for I am so very weary.
May I rest awhile in You,
in Your Heart so Pure,
in the Shelter of Your Love?

Lay me down my Jesus;
draw me close to You,
where I will find again
all life seems to have
used up in me.

Everything I thought lost
is not really lost at all.
Both my joys and sufferings
Are but instruments for good
in Your Sacred Hands.

Ah, how kind You are,
I know it well.
You are the Love I yearn for.
My poor little life
is precious to You,
and that so charms me,
O King of kings!

I am free and loved,
because there is nothing
I could possibly give
or do for You.
You want only my heart,
my gaze fixed on You.

How Pure is Your Love!
The world tugs and pulls me,
but You gather me up
How sweet and peaceful is Your Love.
I long for You, my unseen,
Beautiful One.

Lay me down upon Your breast,
my sweet Jesus.
Let me pass what remains
of life
in the safe and loving warmth
of Your embrace.

The Dream……

Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But He was in the stern, His head on the cushion, asleep. Mark 4:37-39

I especially love Mark’s account of the calming of the storm on the lake, because it includes the lovely little detail of Jesus resting His head on the cushion

O Son of God, asleep in the boat, Your Sacred Head resting upon a cushion — like us, You sought a bit of comfort. 

O how beautiful You are, Divine Jesus.  I love to sit and contemplate Your Holy Countenance at rest.  Sweet and Innocent Lamb of God, You are breathtaking, and I cannot turn my eyes away.

Gently, I reach out to brush back your damp hair so that I may drink in all the Beauty of Your Face.

I find myself wondering what You are dreaming about.  You look so peaceful.  O, I hope it is a lovely dream.  Perhaps You are dreaming of all who will one day love You and sing Your praises forever.

Are you dreaming of the great Saints and Martyrs who will live lives of heroic virtue, and even die for love of you?  Are you dreaming of Your Home in Heaven?

My Jesus, do I dare hope that You are dreaming of me?

The wind has picked up and a huge storm is moving into my life, but I must not wake You.   I recall Your words to Your disciples:  “Why are you frightened?  Have you still no faith?”

Increase my faith, O dearest Jesus!

“I sleep, but My Heart is awake.” (Song of Songs 5:2)  Your Heart hears my unspoken prayers.

Our boat is tossed about.  I can scarcely hold on.  I come closer, and snuggle next to You, resting my head upon Your Heart.  I close my eyes.  The waves wash over us.  I feel Your Closeness.  “I will not wake Him,”  I whisper to myself.  And I too drift off to peaceful sleep…….

“His left arm is under my head,
His right embraces me.” (Song of Songs 2:6)

 

 ………Some years ago, I often liked to ask Jesus what He dreamed about while on earth.  I never expected an answer, of course.  But one weekend, I went to a huge Marian Conference in New Orleans.  There were thousands of people there praising and worshiping God.  The Masses were beautiful.  There was an adoration chapel set up, and Our Blessed Lady was honored with beautiful words, prayers and an abundance of flowers.

I felt I had died and gone to Heaven, but the best was yet to come.  On Sunday evening, suddenly I heard the steady ringing of bells from a distance while the choir began to exquisitely sing “Crown Him with many Crowns.”  Then I saw the procession of white vested priests start down the aisle, amidst clouds of incense, and as the bells grew louder, I saw Him.  He was being carried in a ciborium swaddled in white, surrounded by candles.

But what took my breath away were His people.  As the procession passed each row in this immense conference center, all of the people bowed to the ground.  Row after row fell on their faces before Him.  As I watched with tears filling my eyes, awaiting His approach, I thought, “Oh, this must be what Heaven is like.”

And, unexpectedly, astonishingly, I heard a clear and tender voice whisper to my heart,

THIS is one of My Dreams! 

Tuesday Adoration – perfectly timed

Just the other night I was thinking about how life has been pretty much humming along for the past year or so.  A bump or two in the road here and there, but otherwise, pretty peaceful — especially in contrast to the past dozen or so years.

Those were loaded with some heavy-duty crosses, like my husband losing his job -right after we’d built a brand new house, and having to work 5 hours away from home for three years (commuting back and forth on weekends.) 

This happened in the midst of my sister and me moving our parents out of their home of fifty years in New Orleans, to a house in our town so that we could look after them.  We did so for five years, until they both died in 2008, only 13 days apart.

I won’t go into the many other humdinger crosses that fell upon me during those years.  I know everyone has similar stories to tell.

However, as I mentioned above, it has been uncharacteristically serene around here for way longer than usual.

Now, be careful what you think about.  You see, God was listening.  God also knew that I had recently written a post entitled:  Suffering, get it while you can.

He wasn’t about to let me get away with that one.  So this morning I had some news that is really quite devastating.  It is a situation out of my control, and yet I feel the blows keenly. 

I can only watch and pray.  And that is why I was so very grateful that God sent this cross today, when I knew I would have two precious hours in His Presence, followed by Holy Mass and Communion.

Today at least, I have had a wonderful sense of peace, and even joy, in spite of the circumstances.  I don’t know if those gifts will endure or not.  But I feel strong.

A few years ago, I saw a movie about warriors back in ancient times.  It was some obscure movie my husband found.  These men had no fear.  They plunged right into battle without hesitation.

I wondered how they did it, how they managed not to be afraid.  Then it occurred to me that they had gone into battle so many times and survived, that they didn’t think about dying.  They expected each battle to end like the last.  They would be victorious.

The battle-ready warriors taught me something about suffering.  When you have suffered many things, and still came though it all with joy and peace in the end, then you don’t fear the next time as much.  You know Who your Strength is; Who your Rock is; Who comforts you; Who knows your limits; you know the One Whose Love carries you through to the other side –to the green pastures and the still waters.

You learn that you don’t have to be strong, because He is Everything.  And you won’t die, because the only death is to lose HIM.