IT was 6am when the first bells for morning prayer rang out over the valley. After slipping into my work clothes and grabbing a bit of breakfast, I walked up to the main chapel for the first time. There, a little sea of white veils capping blue garments greeted me with their ethereal morning chant. Turning to my left, there He was… Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament in a large Host mounted in a huge monstrance. And, as though seated at His feet (as she surely was many times when she accompanied Him in His mission in life), was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe carved into the stem.
Turning my eyes again toward the nuns and several young novitiates, it was immediately clear that I was standing in the presence of Christ’s Brides, who were singing Him their love song. It is hard for me to put into words, but from that moment on I knew immediately why Heaven was touching earth in this place. Because one of the great Marian signs of her presence is that she leads her children into a deeper, authentic love of Jesus in the Eucharist. She imparts to those who love her, and who adore Him, the flame of love burning in her Immaculate Heart, a flame that burns for her God, and then for all those whom He loves.
Listen to a small recording I captured of morning prayer…
After a few moments of quiet silence, soaking in the profound scene of Christ’s Presence hovering over the valley as though perched over the entire world, I moved on to the worksite. And there, I encountered the second great sign of Mary’s active presence: the fruit of charity. About 80 feet long and forty feet wide, there stood the soup kitchen that my fellow Canadians had begun to build. It was a strange feeling, but I felt like kissing its timbers! This was no ordinary building. This was to be a diner for Christ.
For I was hungry and you gave me food… a stranger and you welcomed me… Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matt 25:35, 40)
I was overwhelmed with joy and the honor that I was able to participate in something so concrete for Jesus in the least of my brothers. This wasn’t like putting money into a collection basket for a visiting missionary in the parish, or sponsoring a child in some far away foreign country… this was tangible… every nail, every board, every tile… it would all eventually cover the head of Christ, hidden in the distressing disguise of the poor.
Yet, something told me that building this soup kitchen was secondary to Our Mother’s call for me to come to Mount Tabor, the name given to this mountain by Mother Lillie. There was a deeper message if not plan that I sensed Our Lady was revealing.
At 11:30am, the bells tolled to signal mid-morning prayer, and then Mass at Noon. Covered in sweat and dust in the 95 Farenheit heat, we made our way back to the Novitiate House that became the Canadian headquarters. Changing into lighter clothing, we made our way to the main chapel. Soon, bells rang out as the Blessed Sacrament was reposed, the nuns bowing deep as though a King was leaving his courtyard. And then Mass began.
And I began to weep. The song of the nuns was so pure, so anointed, so beautiful that I was pierced to the heart, along with several of my companions. In fact, at times during the Mass, and subsequent Masses, it seemed to me as if a large choir was singing behind me, and yet, except for a speaker projecting the three main cantors, all the nuns were in front of me. I kept turning around and looking to see who was behind me, but there was no one (I would not have been surprised to see a choir of angels at one point!). Indeed, for the next twelve days, at each Mass, I physically could not keep from weeping. It was as if the floodgates of Divine Mercy had been opened, and every spiritual blessing in the Heavens was being poured over my heart. cf. Eph. 1:3 It was as Our Lady said it would be before I left Canada: a time of refreshing.
Listen to a small recording of the Hosanna…
THE DRY BONES
And then came the first Mass reading, a reading that sixteen years ago shook me to the core as though it were a prophecy for our times. It became, in fact, a key part of God’s vision for my ministry. I summarize it here:
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and led me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among the bones in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, “Lord GOD, you alone know that.” Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD… (full reading: Ez 37:1-14)
After Mass, exhausted from the graces that overwhelmed my soul, I picked up my pen and diary, and let the dialogue between a Mother and a son continue…
Mama, that first reading today on the bones coming to life… why is it so key to my ministry?
My son, is not the coming to life of these bones that of the New Pentecost, the Flame of Love descending upon poor humanity? When the bones come to life, they will form a vast army for my Son. You, child, are to prepare souls for this great outpouring of the Spirit.
My child, I have brought you to this place, which is the fruit of Fatima. Here is a center of love, an epicenter of grace. From this place will go forth part of God’s army: the anawim, the little ones.
I looked back on the readings again, this time the Psalm. I thought of how much the “dry bones” symbolized God’s People today…. tired, afflicted, the zeal drained out of them like blood from a slain lamb.
They went astray in the desert wilderness; the way to an inhabited city they did not find. Hungry and thirsty, their life was wasting away within them. They cried to the LORD in their distress; from their straits he rescued them. And he led them by a direct way to reach an inhabited city.
Our Lady had more to say about this “city”, but not today. Instead, she began to show me that the day’s Gospel would become the foundation for me, and all my readers, to prepare us for this great outpouring. She wants to teach us anew about the meaning of authentic love…
To be continued…
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National Conference of the
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of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
FRIDAY, SEPT. 30TH – OCT. 1ST, 2016
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|↑1||cf. Eph. 1:3|