So I was just about to launch my new Padre Pio vestment range, which I have been working EXTREMELY hard on over the summer, when Facebook – my main way of advertising my business – goes and blocks me again.
I think this is the third time in as many months. This time it was from a comment I made on a post roughly 6 months ago in which I was commenting on how the UK Muslim rape gangs only target underage non-muslim white girls. This wasn’t me speculating – this is a well known fact of the Muslim rape gang cases that we have seen all over the UK over the past few years. But for Facebook, this factual information was deemed just too politically incorrect – so they blocked my ‘Carmelite Clare’ account for 7 days. I then set up a completely new account that also got blocked within the hour.
Normally I wouldn’t be too upset, but this time I really was because Facebook has obviously been trawling back through historical posts trying to find things to ban me for and is now watching me. I can only assume that before long Facebook will try to ban me permanently for speaking the truth and proclaiming the Gospel.
I would really like to keep in contact with the Catholic online community I have met over the last 6 years, so please come and follow me on Twitter, Instagram and sign up for my blog here. Also please bookmark my website www.diclara.co.uk If you want to contact me you can always get me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyway… Today, 23rd September, is the feast day of Padre Pio, also known as St. Pio of Pietrelcina – patron saint of Confessors – was a Capuchin friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) By Pope Saint John Paul II.
On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks, pain, and bleeding in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon continued for fifty years, until the end of his life. The blood flowing from the stigmata smelled of perfume or flowers, a phenomenon mentioned in stories of the lives of several saints and often referred to as the odour of sanctity. Though Padre Pio said he would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919, news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world. Padre Pio’s wounds were examined by many people, including physicians.
People who had started rebuilding their lives after World War I, began to see in Padre Pio a symbol of hope. Those close to him attest that he began to manifest several spiritual gifts, including the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment (one account states that Padre Agostino recorded one instance in which Padre Pio was able to subsist for at least 20 days at Verafeno on only the Eucharist without any other nourishment), the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and the fragrance from his wounds. Many people said that when stepping into the confessional with Padre Pio, he was able to tell them their sins before they even said a thing!
A few weeks back, as I was still creating this set and learning more about Padre Pio, I asked him if he would take me on as one on his spiritual children. He reportedly made the promise of waiting on the threshold of heaven until every single one of his spiritual children has entered before him. He also said that when he takes on a new spiritual child, he takes on their entire family as well. This gives me enormous comfort and encouragement.
I hope you too will find out more about Padre Pio. He really is a very special saint. I have really enjoyed creating this vestment set with the big spadey ends on the stole, and the faux pearls. The purple damask material is just wonderful to work with and drapes beautifully. I am bracing myself for a tsunami of orders with this set – so please order soon if you want to get this for your priest for Advent or Christmas.
And now please, help me by visiting my shop at www.diclara.co.uk to see the rest of my vestments, and sharing this post all over Facebook and in all the groups who would be interested in these beautiful vestments, as I am unable to post on Facebook for a week – Thank you, I really appreciate your help.
Walking into Mass late wearing a mantilla is never a good look – especially if you are the only one in your parish who wears one. Of course the perfect accessory to complete this look is a swath of misbehaving children and a lack of visible husband. I guess I’m the girl who has it all! 😀
The older kid’s tooth fell out in Mass and he went into mini hysterics as he bled everywhere – ’twas the “unbloody sacrifice” no longer. The middle one was having a strop because she “didn’t want to love God” and the youngest had escaped into the pew 2 rows in front. I feel resentful that my children are spoiling my time with Jesus at Mass and I feel like a failure of a Mother.
“Jesus help me!”
That night I listen to my Divine Office through the App on my phone while I clean the kitchen. I feel guilty about combining prayer with housework, but I know that if I sit down quietly to do it I will not make it through to the end because I will be asleep because I am so exhausted.
Tuesday morning I do Morning Office in the car on the school run. The older one is fighting with the middle one and I am swearing under my breath because we have been sitting in traffic for over 10 mins. We are going to be late for school – again. I am a 9/10 on the stress levels. I hear bits of the Office – intermittently interrupted with the 3 x table and complaints that the pencilcase that I bought last week is now either lost or broken or something.
On the way home I stop in my favourite supermarket car park (you heard me correctly – I have a favourite car park) play my Rosary App, and smoke my way through the Agony in the Garden and the Scourging at the Pillar. The guilt of smoking leaves me as I realise that my Blessed Mother is showing me through these two mysteries that Jesus knows what anxiety is like, and He also knows exhaustion.
I get to morning Mass and have a quiet time where I can be with Jesus alone. I take enormous comfort in the fact that He wants me to come to Him, and He wants to dwell within me, to be as close to me as possible while I take on the work He has given me – which most of the time I don’t think I can cope with.
I get home refreshed and begin listening to the 3rd and 4th Sorrowful Mysteries. My husband comes in. He is in a bad mood. We argue loudly with the Rosary playing in the background, and then I remember the Crowning with Thorns and summon up all my strength to finally hold my tongue. My husband goes into the other room and I try to contain myself while I listen to the Carrying of the Cross, because my marriage really feels like a cross right now.
As I pull myself together and begin work, I listen to the 5th Sorrowful Mystery – the Crucifixion. I remember to submit my will to God’s will, knowing that He is in control and there is a plan to all this madness, and His Mother is always there to hold my hand.
You see, I used to think that I needed to be quiet and holy to say my prayers. I couldn’t be more wrong. Jesus and His Mother want to be there with me in the dirt and stress and struggle of my ordinary daily life. What sort of fool would I be to keep them out?
“God is found in the pots and pans.” – St Teresa of Avila
Being put in Facebook Jail means I can read my timeline but can’t comment on anything – which is probably a good thing right now because of the plethora of insanity that I am witnessing.
For days now I have seen people condemning racism over and over again on their own timelines. The reason this angers me is that it is so bloody obvious. Of COURSE you are not racist. Neither am I. Nobody on your friends list thinks you are racist – but you still feel the need to put up 5 posts a day confirming it – *just in case* someone might think you are.
Can you not see that you are falling into the white man guilt trap that the left wants you in? This is EXACTLY the reaction the Fake News Media wanted to provoke in you by going completely overboard on the Charlottesville protest. Can you not see that?
You have done nothing wrong. They are making you feel guilty because of the colour of your skin. That, my friend, is racism.
I am fiercely opposed to all forms of racism – including racism against whites. The bizarre thing here is that the racism is coming from white lefties, which only goes to demonstrate the cancerous self loathing the left has for itself.
Their aim is to enslave you into a lifetime of guilt and apology – for things you never did, or would have approved of. It is a way of keeping you down. Being white, and being proud of your country does not make you a Nazi. Following Hitler makes you a Nazi.
The thing I really can’t understand here is the utter contradiction the left is displaying against itself. Take abortion for instance: Hillary Clinton says one of her main idols is Margaret Sanger – founder of Planned Parenthood. But Sanger’s main aim through abortion was eugenics. She wanted to rid the world of the poor, the disabled, and especially “negro’s”. That’s right – she was an out and out racist, a proper one. And the left hail her as some sort of equality demi-goddess. Nothing could be further from the truth.
And here she is giving a rousing speech at a flipping KKK meeting!!!
Margaret Sanger – a darling of modern leftie ideology, was an outspoken white supremacist. You might want to remember that the next time your lefite friends and relatives try to make you feel guilty about, well, everything.
In the United States, the abortion rate for black women is almost 4 times that of white women. 35.6% of all abortions in the U.S. are performed on black women, however, black women make up only about 13% of the female population. On average, 900 black babies are aborted every day in the United States. More than 19 million black babies have been aborted since the 1973 Roe v. Wade. If that is not a holocaust, I don’t know what is. Yet the left seem to overlook all these facts. By supporting Planned Parenthood, they support the vision of white supremacist Margaret Sanger.
The other, and equally disturbing juxtaposed position the left likes to take is its pandering defence of Islam. Muslims always seem to get to be top of the pile in terms of leftism – closely followed of course by Trans. I’ve often wondered who would win in a celebrity death match between Islam and Trans in the imaginary CNN sponsored tournament of “progressive” cage fighting. C’mon… It’s always Islam! 😀
Today a radical Islamist drove his Van of Peace into a crowd of pedestrians in Barcelona, killing at least 13, and injuring over 100. And as prescribed, the media is doing its same old “lone wolf” “mentally ill” “let’s not jump to conclusions” cabaret act. I hear the Eiffel tower, now affectionately known as the Barometer of Terror, has for whatever reason switched its lights off – again. I’m sure some lefties will gather, for whatever reason to light flowers and teddies, and lay bunches of candles – or vice versa…
In the last 30 days there have been 156 Islamic attacks in 26 countries, in which 1105 people were killed and 993 injured. And before I go on, I want to clarify that I am criticising Islam as an Ideology here – I am not criticising Muslims as people, as I believe them to be victims of Islam. Islam *by its very nature* seeks to dominate in the belief that it is superior to all other ideologies. It views non muslims as “kufir” which means infidel, sub-human, less than an animal. And this is a view that is held not just by the radicals, but by the mainstream. Islam teaches Muslims that they are superior to non-Muslims. It is a central tenet of Islam. Now tell me – how is that different to the sick ideology held by white supremacists that everyone is going bat-crazy about right now?
I still haven’t really worked out why the left panders to Islam so much. I find it quite demeaning that the Media always seem to approach Islamic ideology with this sort of pathetic apologetic embarrassment. Why do they not treat it with the same fury and condemnation as they do the ideology of white supremacy? Both groups believe themselves to be superior to non members of their particular group. The same can be said for Orthodox Jews who believe they are ethnically superior. In one school in London, a boy was refused a place on the grounds that he is of mixed Jewish and Italian ethnic origin.
I actually think it is a good thing that the Charlottesville protest has brought white supremacy into the mainstream media with such force, because now, in the name of equality, we can hold the media to account for their response – or lack of response to all other supremacist groups. Perhaps it will make those on the left think, just a little bit, about what they actually do support, and what they don’t. And perhaps it will make you think, just a little bit, if you are being made to feel guilty because of the colour of your skin, and whether you are a victim of racism yourself.
Well, I’m back here in Facebook Jail again. I commented on the disgusting way Gay magazine Pink News referred to 4 year old Prince George as a gay icon. I said how this sort of disgusting behaviour shows once again the link between homosexuality and peadophillia that no-one wants to talk about. I quoted Northern Ireland politician Jim Allister, who was also outraged by the article in Pink News and linked to an article by the BBC covering the story.
I guess if I had said how humourous and witty Pink News was in referring to a 4 year old as a gay icon, there wouldn’t have been a problem.
I’d appreciate it if you could share this as widely as possible so as to let people know I am not ignoring them. I can read messages but can not reply. I’ll hopefully be back on Facebook on Saturday. If you need to reach me you can email me at email@example.com
“…My name is Pearce Tefft, and I am writing to all, with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist.
On Friday night, my son travelled to Charlottesville, Va., and was interviewed by a national news outlet while marching with reported white nationalists, who allegedly went on to kill a person.
I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.
I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.
Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now.
Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast…” – Pearce Tefft.
The sad words of a Father, who has no idea why his son would take part in the Charlottesville protest…
To be fair to his son – Peter Tefft, I have absolutely no idea of what his real views are or whether he is a practising Catholic, despite standing next to that statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the above picture. Many of the Alt-right are Catholic, and very traditionally minded, and not all are racists. I am white, I lean towards the Alt-right and I am a nationalist. I love, and am proud of my country – whats wrong with that? And before you ask, no, I am not racist. Racism goes entirely against my Catholic beliefs. Catholics believe that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. So why would this young, white, straight, Catholic raised man feel the need to take part in such an angry, dramatic protest?
Shall I be the one to say it?…
Everything in popular modern western society is designed and implemented to destroy the young, straight, Christian white man.
He lives in a world of militant feminism, insane political correctness and uncontrolled immigration, where the gay man is lauded upon high, and even higher is the man who has now transitioned into a woman. He lives in a world where he dare not give up his seat on the bus for a woman for fear of being branded demeaning and sexist, but if he doesn’t give up his seat he is also runs the risk of being considered sexist – for whatever reason she decides. He lives in a world where a university is much less likely to offer him a scholarship, because he is a white, straight male.
He lives in a world where fathers are now deemed optional in their children’s lives. He lives in a world where the role of husband – protector and provider – is now carried out by women who earn more than him, and do not want to have his babies – lest their careers suffer. Her body, her choice – he does not get a say about the life or death of his unborn child. He lives in a world where he can be sued, criminally prosecuted and financially ruined for declining to make a wedding cake or hire out a car for a gay wedding because of his religious beliefs. He lives in a world where organised Muslim gangs can rape underage white girls systematically, in full view of the authorities who hush up the crimes and don’t dare prosecute for fear of being called “racist”.
Dare I say that these are not the sort of challenges that his father had to face when he was entering into manhood. I am assuming that Peter Tefft’s father is in his 50’s or 60’s and back when he was a young man, the world was a very, very different place.
Today, the young white, straight, man is on the very, very bottom of the pile in our ‘progressive’ society. In England he is made to feel guilty that the British Empire ever existed. In America, he is expected to feel bad for the fact that 5 or 6 generations ago, some other white people – nothing to do with him, held slaves. How ironic is the fact that the young white man is now born into a slavery of guilt that in the present ‘progressive’ climate he can never be emancipated from. He is told from his very first years that he is no longer wanted or needed in our modern progressive society, and that he should feel bad – all the time.
I truly feel that the protest in Charlottesville was not just a racial protest, but also a MAN protest. These young men have finally found a movement who actually likes them because they are white, straight and male. And tell me – what is their alternative? To be part of a society that tells them the must feel guilty all the time? A society who would hold them in higher regard if they transitioned into a woman?
Now it is time for the older men to stand up and lead with true masculinity, and gather up these young men – and those who protest against them – lest they fall prey to the horrifying ‘progressive’ voices that tell them they are worth less than everybody else, or the equally horrifying supremacist voices that tell them they are better than everybody else.
These young men are correct to be rejecting what modern western society offers them. But they are also in desperate need of strong male leaders who will understand what they are facing, who will be Fathers to them, who will be Fr’s to them… and steer them back onto the correct path of Godly masculinity.
My name is Laura Beeson, I’m a Catholic wife, mother, homemaker, beautician and sometimes singer. So why did I, at the age of 30, with no previous experience decide to participate in a Mrs. Ohio International Pageant? Because I wanted to.
Now, most of my life is filled with doing things for others, and I’m happy to, I know I am serving Christ through my husband and children and volunteer work, but I learned that I don’t need to be so self-sacrificing that I won’t allow myself to have my own experiences. If it would have been a burden to my family, I wouldn’t have followed through, but I’m frugal and self-sufficient and I’m not too proud to admit that I use YouTube videos to teach me the rest.
For a while I struggled with guilty feelings about it all, am I just being vain? Then one day as I contemplated it, I realized, I don’t need to feel bad about the things that bring me joy, because God gave me the interest and talent to be a beautician. Yes, though it may seem mundane to others, hair and make-up and pretty clothes bring me joy. And I’d go so far as to say that my Christianity helps me to filter through fads and fashion to see what truly shows beauty and discard what doesn’t, which only makes it more enjoyable.
Originally, I had this grand plan that I would keep it a secret that only my husband would know and after the Pageant is when family or friends would find out. Mostly because I just wanted to do it for myself and didn’t want to come across as attention-seeking. But after learning more about Pageantry, I realized that was unrealistic, of course they want you to promote the pageant, the community you represent, your platform and yourself. That seemed fair.
I had chosen the Couple to Couple League – Natural Family Planning as my platform, since my husband Sean and I are a certified volunteer teaching couple through the organization, this was a wonderful opportunity to promote this uncommon knowledge to other women and couples. I told myself to let go of the pride, don’t worry about what others think, and just do it! So for the six weeks leading up to the Pageant, I promoted myself as Mrs Crawford County through social media and my husband graciously obliged to go along with it all, I love that man.
Now, let me make it clear, not all Pageant systems are created equal, but I liked what I saw within the Mrs. International system.
|What Is Mrs International®?|
|A FAMILY AFFAIR… The International Pageant system has been developed to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments, and commitment to family and marriage. Around the world women are finding this system to be the opportunity to work with their husband and family to become positive role models.|
|Our Mission: “To Make a Difference”|
|Beginning 30 years ago, Mrs. International® was developed to have higher standards than other pageant systems. Each contestant competes in Interview Competition, which is valued for 50% of her overall score, Evening Gown, valued for 25% and Fitness Wear for 25%. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice that she spends the year promoting. Husbands are a direct part of the show, escorting their wives in the Evening Gown competition, and the husband crowns his wife titleholder.|
I’m sure there may be other Pageant Systems that I wouldn’t feel comfortable participating in or promoting, but this is a system where they value family and community work, I can stand with that.
Now, at the time, we had 4 kids, ages 7, 5, 3, & 1, as you can see, our kids have been pretty consistently spaced with the use of Natural Family Planning (NFP). I know, plenty of people look at us and think, “Clearly that method doesn’t work,” but to us, it’s a testament that it has. I’ve always been the “weird” gal who wanted a larger family, but after our 4th was born, I was feeling pretty worn down and in need of a mental and physical break, which NFP assisted us with. I loved and served the family I had, started exercising regularly which did me more good than I realized it would, enjoyed the return to normal hormone levels and the regular body functions that accompany them.
Then, all of a sudden, I found that God had changed my heart unexpectedly and having another baby wasn’t so scary anymore, and in fact, I was interested in another baby. So, we weighed our reasons to postpone pregnancy, and there weren’t too many anymore, I’d be 12 weeks pregnant for the Ohio Pageant and if I won and had to attend the International Pageant, I’d be 6 months along. Basically, I realized that it was more important to be true to myself and allow the possibility of another life than to worry about how I’d look in a gown or how others’ perceived the workings of NFP. So, it was no surprise to me, that I was 12 weeks pregnant for the Pageant, but I had decided to keep it a secret since I didn’t want there to be any wonderings about biased judging, nor had I been to the doctor yet for a check up.
The week leading up to the Pageant I packed my things, made sure I had everything I needed and reminded myself that no matter what, I was going to enjoy myself, because that was the point of me doing this whole thing. If I made a mistake, or didn’t have something I needed, or spoke poorly, I’d let it go quickly and move on with enjoying the experience.
Saturday morning I arrived to the Pageant venue for Orientation to begin at 10 AM, there were 4 categories of ladies competing: Junior Miss, Miss Teen, Miss & Mrs. There were 6 of us in the Mrs. division. Most of the day I fought the feelings of intimidation, I’d see a beautiful woman and before I’d allow myself to think one way or another about her, I’d make myself go over to her and start chatting. And you know what? Making yourself move is the hardest step, but after that, you start to enjoy yourself, because people are interesting! I’ve learned that we women, do ourselves a disservice when we make judgements about other women by what we perceive from their appearance. We miss out on possible friendships, opportunities to serve, or the chance to make ourselves a better well-rounded person. The way a woman looks on the outside, does not speak of who she is as a person.
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob (well, they used a different word, but I won’t repeat it here) but once they got to know me, they say that word doesn’t describe me at all, whew, that’s a relief! I don’t know why I’ve come across that way, but I think that’s helped me to develop myself into being more friendly than the stand-off-ish route I used to take when meeting others.
Our interviews were with five different judges for five minutes each, the questions varied from “What are your plans if you win?” to “If you were an animal, what would you be?” I’d say it went well, and a hippo was my answer. Most of the day was filled with covering what was expected of us and practicing as best we could for the Performance Pageant the next day.
Luckily, on Sunday morning I was able to find a Catholic Church that held a 7 AM mass that was only about a 15 minute drive from the Pageant venue, because we were expected to arrive by 8:20 AM and were not permitted to leave the building for the rest of the day. The day was filled with rehearsal, hair & make up and more rehearsal before the show began at 5 PM.
I’d say I kept up with the “pros” just fine, I didn’t forget my name, I didn’t trip on stage, or stammer for words during the Fish Bowl question. I did realize after one portion that I had forgotten to look at the judges, so I knew I didn’t have a perfect score, but I planned to do the best I could for the remainder of the event. I ate pizza while waiting to showcase my Fitness Wear in the changing room, clearly I took it all very seriously. And the best part was my wonderful husband got to escort me across the stage in my evening gown, looking quite dapper himself.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the wonderful Teri Grothaus won the title of Mrs. Ohio International, she’s a CNP who goes on mission trips to Guatemala and collects bottles of vitamins to distribute to the children there, and I think it’s safe to say we knew almost immediately we were kindred spirits. She’s a gem, and this week I’m cheering her on as she competes in the Mrs. International Pageant representing our state of Ohio!
Looking in retrospect, I’m happy about it all: that I did it, that I informed others about NFP, that I could show my kids that you can enjoy the things you lose at, that it helped me to develop in characteristic ways I had let slack.
So, would I do it again? To my delighted surprise, the answer is yes. Will I? I don’t know, maybe. That’s what I love about life, I don’t have to make definitive answers about the future, because I don’t know what God has planned, but if I leave myself open to the possibilities, then I haven’t limited myself. Whether I do or don’t, I’ll strap on the Breastplate of Christ and go about my way, hopefully letting Him carry me into unlikely places and sharing uncommon things in the world around me.
– Laura Beeson
I was trying to write this post on modesty, and then I realised I was way too cheeky. So I scrapped the first version and am now re-writing the post from the position of someone who struggles with modesty.
I’m 38 now, overweight and knackered from my 3 kids – which helps. It was much more of a struggle when I was younger and totally hot and had loads of energy. In someways it is actually a relief to be too tired to be bothered about how I look, and all that male attention I used to get is really the last thing I want nowadays. However, I’m not dead yet. I think it is important to look nice. But there is a difference between looking nice and looking sexy.
The truth is, if you are a woman and you have a pulse, men are going to find you attractive. It took me many years and many prayers before it dawned on me that being a woman comes with a huge amount of responsibility. It also helped when I started to learn about how porn effects a mans brain to the point where it can quite easily become a fully fledged addiction. Suddenly the smug ego trip I used to get from all the attention changed into the horrifying emptiness of the thought that some of those men would actually be aiming for holiness and I was causing them to stumble.
I started to think about how I was dressing, but quickly realised that modesty is much, much more than just the clothes we wear. It is attitude, behaviour, motivation. Lets face it – it is possible to be covered up from head to toe and still lick an ice-lolly in an immodest way. You see my point?
It is possible to wear a burka, a space suit or bin bag and STILL flash that smile and bat those eyelashes. Modesty is not just about how we present ourselves on the outside, but also what out motivations are on the inside.
I wanted to be desired by the men and envied by the women. But it was all very much under the surface. I don’t think I was even totally aware of it myself. I wanted attention. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel loved and adored. I wanted to feel successful. Modern western society taught me that I would gain these things by being sexually appealing.
But my desires were not fulled by love or goodness. They were fulled by fear. The truth is that I had a self esteem problem. Deep down I didn’t believe I was special, or lovable, and so what I was trying to do was to prove to myself that I was. The problem was that the attention I was getting from men was not fulled by love or goodness either – it was fulled by lust, which meant that I was never finding the attention and love I so desperately needed – which only made me try harder to find it by becoming more and more appealing. It is a vicious circle – and it only gets harder as we age.
If I am honest, I do still struggle with modesty, not so much in a sexual way now, but in a reality kind of way. Even now I still have echos of those deep fears that I am somehow not appealing enough as a person, and it is all too easy to paint that smile on and present a version of myself on social media that is more appealing than the real person sitting behind the keyboard. You do it too…
I am finding that the more I meditate on how Christ sees me, the less concerned I am becoming about how other people see me – or even how I see myself. Ironically, I have trouble accepting His love. Perhaps because I still don’t really believe I am worthy of it – which of course I am not, but He chooses to give it to me anyway. I hold my crucifix and still can’t figure that one out. With Him there is no need to try. There is no need for hair dye or botox or breast implants. He created me – He knows all my flaws, inside and out, and He still loves me. For some reason I find that extremely painful and overwhelming and often find myself holding my crucifix and wiping my tears. But I guess healing does hurt sometimes.
And the real punchline here is that my whole life – while I have been trying my hardest to get peoples attention left right and centre, I missed the fact that He was there all along trying to get mine.
(Fr Dominc Howarth compares St Elizabeth to the LGBT movement at 6 mins into the video.)
Here we have Fr Dominic Howarth preaching for the official Lourdes 2017 Centenary commemoration Mass. He is from Brentwood diocese UK and is the Episcopal Vicar for Formation. He is in charge of Catechesis and Youth. This event was the diocesan pilgrimage, and the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service had 200 young people on the trip.
Fr Howarth is also one of the founders of “Flame” the largest UK youth conference who’s main speaker was pro gay, pro women’s ordination Fr Timothy Radcliffe. He also presided at the “Gay Mass” at Brentwood Cathedral in 2016. I have been told that he is regarded by the Bishops conference of England a Wales to be leading figure as regards to Catholic Youth.
In the above homily, Fr Howarth talks about loneliness and how St Elizabeth would have been shunned for being barren – which at that time was considered a disgrace. At 6 mins into the video he compares St Elizabeth’s experience of being shunned to that of today’s LGBT community. Personally I find this quite odd, as Fr Howarth seems to not understand that homosexuality is in fact lauded by our society today. I also find it quite odd that a priest would compare a saint to the LGBT community – especially with no clear explanation of what the churches teaching on homosexuality actually is.
I showed the video to a few young Catholics and asked for their opinion:
“…The problem is this: before the 19th century there was no concept of LGBT identity, only homosexual sex acts. This is how the Catholic Church still views this. Shunning sinners, whether they be tax-collectors, prostitutes or homosexuals, is wrong and un-Christian. The problem is that nowadays the act and the person are an identity group. So when this priest compares the shunning of gays to the shunning of St Elizabeth, he’s implying that we should accept homosexual sex as non-sinful. I think that homosexuals shouldn’t be prosecuted or persecuted, but what they do is still wrong. Finally, I notice that the trend in the RC Church is to try and compromise with the postmodern culture. It’s as if all these clergy think that by embracing the buzz words of our era they’ll attract more people. Compromise on the truth never works.” – Lewis age 23.
“…St Elizabeth chose to be outside of the world and to live far from it contrary to what the priest makes out and Mary by making the journey to Elizabeth with Christ in her womb makes the first Eucharistic procession. So if anything Elizabeth is about the sanctity of life, So quite the reverse of the LGBT movement. Therefore Mary and Elisabeth are all about child bearing and life whereas the LGBT movement impedes life by their promotion of such people who by the nature of their relationships are closed to life.” – Brad, age 25.
“…Ok, he is comparing two things that are very different from one another. St. Elizabeth’s barrenness, at the time, was seen as a curse, because in those days maladies such as that, including blindness, infirmity, etc, were all viewed as punishments that God had inflicted on people throughout the Old Testament. You cannot compare St. Elizabeth’s barrenness to the LGBT.
Those in the LGBT are living in sin, Elizabeth was not, she was an instrument through which God moved to make the way for His Son’s arrival. The LGBT may, yes, be lonely, but their loneliness stems from living in sin.
We must pray for the those living in sin, yes, pray for God’ Mercy upon them and that they will cease to live in sin and enter God’s Grace. If they approach us for help we should, as Catholics, offer it, but we cannot condone their blatant sinful lifestyle.” – Mary, age 27.
“…Okay. Elizabeth was shunned because she was barren, but yet it wasn’t because of a moral issue, rather it was because God had a greater plan: she later gave birth to St. John the Baptist. Active homosexual activity, on the other hand, is a moral issue of great depravity and has caused great damage. Those participating in it must be refused Communion for the sake of their souls and so as to not cause scandal. To receive Communion one must be in Communion, and those not in Communion must be called, with love, to repentance.” – Josh, age 18 (discerning the Priesthood).
“…I went ahead and watched the entire homily up to that point. I find it a bit odd because generally you can tell from the get-go what sort of homily you’re in for. If the priest in question supports a certain vaguely-heretical position it’s usually fairly obvious, but in this case there wasn’t an abundance of buzzwords like there usually would be. I think it’s an unfair comparison to draw a parallel between Elizabeth and the LGBT movement. For many reasons, but especially because being unable to conceive when you are actually in a morally-acceptable marriage which you are faithful to is not remotely a sin, and unless you are definitely making clear that you refer only to people who deal with same-sex attraction who are punished or mistreated DESPITE trying their hardest to overcome their shortcomings, it’s at best vastly irresponsible to compare the two, and at worst outright manipulation.
I don’t believe any people who experience same sex attraction, or even those who act on it, should be physically harmed in any way by anyone solely for being that way, but I also do not believe that homosexuality is a good thing that should be celebrated, and I adhere to church teachings which says that homosexuality is a sin and should be related to as such; with those who are in its grasp treated with the truth they deserve to hear from their priests. It’s unclear to me whether the priest in this video is appealing to current events because he believes that’s what young people are interested in, or whether it’s because he has his own agenda he’s attempting to push, but I’m forced to assume that there is some sort of idea behind it that has some issues.” – Emily, age 19.
“…I never like it when clergy use the term “LGBT”. They allow themselves to be drawn into a battle of semantics and allow enemies of the Church to set the terms of any debate. Secondly, his comparison to Elizabeth is a non-sequitur. If she was excluded it wasn’t because of her lifestyle choices – you don’t choose to be barren but you can choose not to live in sin. There is a gap in the market for someone to explain the Catholic teaching on homosexuality but it seems everyone would rather blur the lines. That merely ignores the inherent dignity of the person and will never be adequate. The other thing I find with “trendy” priests is that they want to portray the Church as “tolerant and loving” by pretending hard teachings don’t exist and papering over them. Nothing is more merciful than the truth. As a cleric, his responsibility is that much greater as he is speaking from the pulpit and is in persona Christi. Time for many priests to live up to that higher standard both in their lives and their preaching.” – Daniel, age 27.
It strikes me that Fr Howarth might want to re-assess if he is actually in touch with what young Catholics want and need. I’m sure he had the best of intentions, but his heavily left-wing “church of nice” approach clearly isn’t cutting it. It is becoming more and more apparent that Catholic youth today are much more socially conservative, and much more solid in their faith than their parents and grandparents generations. This is a fact that those in charge seem to be either completely unaware of – or are choosing to ignore. Either way, it is quite embarrassing for Fr. Howarth that the “youth of today” should be (correctly) pulling him up on his social morality and theology. But isn’t it wonderful to see how intelligent, faithful and passionate our young Catholics are?!
I’m not sure if Fr Howarth’s Bishop has been informed of the above sermon. And especially if you are a young catholic – perhaps you would like to email Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood Diocese firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him what you think of Fr Howarth’s homily, and also what you would want from a Youth Ministry.
21 He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
This wonderful piece of scripture illustrated perfectly how I teach people how to fast. Often people approach fasting as a rule bound endurance test in which discipline reigns supreme and we all feel awful and end up just hating fasting – or simply give up.
The way I approach fasting is to encourage people to give up just 1 cup of coffee in the morning, but to do it out of pure love for God, in conjunction with a short prayer. You see, fasting is all about love. It is about how much we are willing to give. How much we are willing to joyfully suffer is the measure of our love (God never enjoys a grumpy faster! 😀 ).
Love and suffering go hand in hand and can never be separated. This is such a fundamental truth of Christianity, illustrated perfectly by Christ on the cross, that it can very quickly become overwhelming. My approach is very much based on the spirituality of St Therese of Lisieux: little things done with great love. If we can understand the concept of the indissolubility of love and suffering in the smallest thing, then we can begin to apply it to bigger things in our lives.
The absolute key element is that we must be very honest with ourselves about how much we are able to give at this point in our lives. If we are holding back, then we are holding back our love and we will never grow closer to God. If we are giving too much, then we are going to burnout and become resentful about giving any more. Both of these polarised stances are as harmful as each other. Balance is the key. Honesty, patience and compassion towards ourselves, and support from a faithful and experienced spiritual director who knows us and how much we can cope with.
The poor widow got this exactly right. She un-begrudgingly gave all she could give, and it was the right amount. Of course we don’t know this woman’s circumstances outside of this story. She may have had family or friends supporting her. She may have been relying entirely on God to provide for her needs. I very much doubt Jesus would have approved so strongly of her generosity if it meant she was going to make herself ill, or cause her not to be able to cope. She realistically gave all she could at that time in her life.
Some of my friends and family know that I fast. They don’t get why! I try explaining but their hearts are just not in the right place to understand about how I want to reciprocate the enormous love shown to me by Jesus on the Cross, with little acts of self sacrifice – and I respect that. Everyone is at a different stage. I’m sure they are stronger in other areas where I am very weak.
It struck me this morning that this story, and the way it relates to fasting can also be applied perfectly to the Catholic Churches teaching on married couples being open to life.
Of course the norm in our secular society is to use artificial contraception. We used artificial contraception for the first 5 years of our marriage. But the Church teaches that this way of having sex causes us to hold back our love. Love, in a Catholic marriage is about the entire self giving of ones self to the other – and to God. This is probably one of the hardest teachings we will ever face because it cuts down to the very core of who we are as people and our need to love and to be loved. Also, artificial contraception gives the impression that sex is something that we have the right to control and use as we please. This view is so normalised now within our secular society that being open to life and having a large family is sadly regarded as odd.
What I find so sad is that people using artificial contraception just don’t know what they are missing out on. Having lived both lifestyles, I can absolutely attest to the fact that being open to life is so, so much better. It is healthier, more natural, teaches you and your husband respect for your body and your fertility, empowers you to be able to discuss marriage, sex and babies in a much more open and giving way with God as the boss. But that is not to say that it is easy. It took me about 6 years to get to the stage where I could peacefully and happily be open to life.
Just like with fasting, I was struggling with how much I was willing to give – how much I could give at that point in my life. This is why I say it really is a lifestyle, rather than just a part of ones life. As I prayed about being open to life, I found myself beginning to prioritise different things in my life, giving things up, re-ordering things. I found myself deciding that at this point in my life, remaining open to life was more important to me than having a career. That is not to say that I gave up my job – but only that it now ranked less important on my list of priorities. Of course at this time in our lives my husband had a good job and there was not real need for me to work – so I was in a position to be able to give that up. I was also lucky enough to have a husband who was also keen to be open to life. Many people don’t have this. We were both in good health and had support from my parents. Many people don’t have this either. But most crucially, I wanted to give more – just like I wanted to fast. I was at that stage in my spiritual life where I could feel God calling me to do this.
The rewards that came to the marriage from us both giving more came as a complete surprise to both of us. Rather than “What am I getting out of this marriage?” it changed to “What more can I give to this marriage?”. All 3 of our children were planned. In fact our second and third child were conceived quickly using NFP to determine when I was at peak ovulation. Our first child took over a year because we hadn’t learned about my cycle at that point and obviously didn’t know what the heck we were doing! 😀
But it wasn’t always easy to get into the giving mindset. I don’t have easy pregnancies. I get very sick and very big and very tired. I really do not like being pregnant very much at all. My first experience of birth was very traumatising and I swore blind after that that I could never have another child because I could just never go through that again. The day after our first child was born my Father in law died, and my husband started a new job. We grieved all through our first days of becoming parents. It was awful. My husband was not able to get into the Father role emotionally for over a year. I had to do it on my own.
After my first two children I had crushing post natal depression. After my second I got 9 months of 24/7 tinnitus. We went through the most horrendous time as a couple. I really felt overwhelmed a lot of the time and that I wasn’t really coping or doing a good job as a Mum. I got mastitis after all 3 and couldn’t breastfeed – and I know that if I have another baby I will get it again because that is just how my body is made. And through all these times I struggled agonisingly with being open to life.
We often failed to stick to the teaching, not out of pure selfishness or greed or lust, but out of not being able to cope with the stress and the pressure of normal life, and the need to be loved and comforted by each other. I often felt like a terrible failure at these times – which was the totally wrong outlook. We are only human. Just as in fasting – you can only give your all. Any more than that and you start to make yourself ill, or resentful about giving more. And lets not underestimate for a second the damage that is caused by unchecked resentment in the bedroom, or the rest of the marriage. For some people, even giving up one cup of coffee is a struggle, and you simply cannot ask anymore of them at that stage in their life if they are truly giving their all. We are all at different stages.
IT IS OK TO STRUGGLE! Struggling means that the desire to live the teaching is there, even if you are not quite able to do it yet. My advice to this would be exactly what I would say about fasting: be patient and compassionate with yourself, take it to confession and let it go, and keep going 🙂 What would make it easier for you to be open to life? What would make it possible for you to be able to give more? Have you ever tried the Little Way Of Fasting?
There is one last thing…
The Catholic church teaches that “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness” CCC 2368
It is possible to use NFP with an artificial contraception mindset. That is to say that there is no good reason why you should be avoiding having another child right now. Reasons for this would be based upon a couple preferring a smaller family and a more comfortable lifestyle. This totally goes against the philosophy of being open to life and certainly is not giving your all. In terms of fasting this would be like giving up your cup of coffee in the morning, but having a cup of tea instead – you really arn’t giving anything.
Of course that is not to say that people do have very real reasons to avoid pregnancy. The mothers life might be at risk from another pregnancy for example. In my case, my husband is sick and unable to work which has put me in the position of breadwinner. I can honestly say that I am at the limit of what I can give right now. And that’s ok 🙂
It is all about love. How much are we willing to love? How much are we willing to give? Be it fasting or being open to life, the same rule applies: We must never give begrudgingly, and just like the poor widow, God does not expect me to give anymore than my absolute all. We are all a work in progress 🙂
Keep giving! 🙂