Padre Pio vestments – and I’m blocked by FB, again.

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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 info@diclara.co.uk

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.

Clare.

 

Smoking my way through the Ave’s.

Nun Smoking Cigarette --- Image by © Norbert Schaefer/Corbis

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

The first time I wore a mantilla…

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Rhoslyn Thomas wears a Di Clara Aubergine Mini Mantilla.

By Rhoslyn Thomas.

The first time it ever occurred to me that I might like to veil, I was 21 and walking home from Mass. I admitted to my friend that I was having thoughts about wearing a mantilla. We both laughed: What was happening to me?! This wasn’t ‘me’ at all. But we had both changed a lot in that last year and we were slowly getting used to the idea of letting God take the reins in our lives.

A few weeks later, I was living about 60km outside of Rome and attending, almost daily, an Old Rite Mass celebrated by the FSSP. I wanted so much to cover my head in Mass, not because anyone ever pressured me, but because I thought it was a beautiful gesture. However, I was very nervous and self-conscious.

Someone had once mentioned veiling to me on pilgrimage. She told me that our hair is our glory and that by covering it, we honor God while we are in His presence, i.e. in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I am ashamed to say that, before this short conversation, I actually thought that women who wore veils were a bit oppressed! As I began to become interested in veiling, I very quickly realized that this assumption could not be further from the truth (if only I could have seen myself now, how I would have laughed!).

The first time I finally worked up the courage to cover my hair during Mass, I was absolutely terrified. I wanted to do it so much, but in my mind I felt everyone was watching me. I sat at the back of the church in Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini in central Rome and tried to forget all my worries.

I actually felt different when I was wearing it. In a very short time, my mantilla came to be a great help to me in concentrating on the Mass and in helping me to differentiate between the outside world and God’s house, where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would take place and where I am in the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

At home, the reaction to my mantilla is almost always overwhelmingly positive. People just realize somehow that it is a very beautiful reverent thing to do in a sacred place. Now it is second nature to me and I would not be without my veil.

For those who are just starting out with veiling, a mini-mantilla might just be the thing for you. It is not as big as a full size mantilla and is also really practical if you are dealing with young kids at Mass. I have promised myself an early Christmas present of a purple one I can wear during Advent!

Until you veil, it’s hard to describe what it will do for you. The best way to find out would be to just try it! If you are feeling nervous then just start wearing it at home while you pray, then you might want to wear it at adoration, and before you know it you will have the desire to wear it every time you step into the church!

Before long, you’ll come to see how much more a veil will be to you than just a piece of material.

For a full range of mantilla veils, I would recommend www.diclara.co.uk who offer flat rate shipping worldwide.

Crowdfunding for Priests/Seminarians and Pope Benedict’s 90th Birthday vestments – Very Exciting!!

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A representation of the back piece of the chasuble including the embroidery and Papal shield at the base.

Di Clara’s main aim is to help restore beauty to the liturgy. It also enables me to provide for my family at the same time. I absolutely love my job! It is such an honour to know that the sacred garments I am making will be used during Mass. I love getting to know and working with priests and seminarians, and also with their families and sponsors/benefactors.

My latest project is something very exciting. I have decided to launch Crowdfunding through Di Clara to help Seminarians, Priests and Parishes fundraise for their chosen vestments. So many people come to me wanting to bring beauty back to the liturgy through beautiful vestments, altar frontals etc. but are unable to commit to a large one off payment. So I decided to offer a solution to this problem by opening up the cost to those who are financially blessed and wish support them.

If you are interested in starting your own Di Clara Crowdfunding campaign just contact me at crowdfunding@diclara.co.uk and I will be able to set up your very own page that you can share on social media.

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A graphic of the embroidery design I created from the statue of Our Lady of Altötting.

The first project to be launched using Di Clara Crowdfunding will be a very special 5 piece set of Roman vestments to be made for  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in celebration of his 90th Birthday in April 2017. It will be a Roman 5 piece set including Chasuble, Stole, Maniple, Chalice Veil and Burse.

I have taken the design from the statue of Our Lady of Altötting – a personal favourite of Pope Benedict. His Papal coat of arms will sit at the base of the Chasuble. The design will be hand embellished with semi-precious stones including fresh water pearls and garnet. I will also be adding some raised gold work where appropriate. This really is going to be a one-off amazing project.

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Our Lady of Altötting.

And YOU can be part of this! Depending on the amount you wish to donate, your name and thank you message to the Holy Father will be embroidered into the lining of the chasuble, forever being encapsulated into his 90th Birthday celebrations.

Please come and be part of this historic celebration HERE and help us thank this great man for all he has done for God’s Holy Catholic Church!

Clare x

www.diclara.co.uk

Celibacy and the Priesthood.

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I was saddened recently to hear the extremely disturbing news of a priest who has recently decided to leave the priesthood to take up with an 18 year old girl. I’m not sure when the girl’s 18th birthday was, but I do know this is not a decision that would have happened over night. I understand he began thinking of leaving several months ago. How long were they involved before he decided to officially leave the priesthood? When did she turn 18?

It does raise the alarm bells for some extremely serious safeguarding issues that I very strongly hope are being fully investigated by his Bishop. God only knows what her parents are going through right now.

My hope is that he has the best intentions for this girl and has decided to do the right thing by her and marry her. Perhaps the obvious age gap will not cause a problem? Who am I to judge? After all she is an adult now – just, and legally able to make her own decisions. But then again, at 18, I was extremely naïve and vulnerable and an older man did take advantage of me.

I hope that his Fatherly background will ground them both solidly in the understanding of God’s plan for marriage and family and they will be able to live out this extremely important vocation for the rest of their lives. I hope he is making chastity a priority right now. But then again – I hear he is a supporter of gay marriage, and other equally false theological notions.

Somehow, his dodgy theology and his dodgy actions seem to complement each other perfectly. The man needs prayers. And so does that 18 year old kid.

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I’ve had long discussions recently regarding priestly celibacy. Personally I think it is a difficult argument to make when I see married Anglican convert priests often doing a better job than some of the celibate priests I know. These men are living proof that the duality of vocations is possible, and many of them describe the two vocations as complimenting each other rather than opposing:

“I am a Catholic (Anglican convert) priest, with lots of children, and a long happy marriage. My parish has 1,000 parishioners on a Sunday who appear very happy and cared for. I work extremely hard at both vocations and I understand the celibacy discipline. But my vocations aren’t in competition but are complimentary to the other. I not less committed to either. Both have sacramental graces and responsibilities attached to them.

I have a wife who is 100% behind me and children who are gracious in sharing me. It’s all of grace and I claim no power in it. I have to rely fully on God and listen to my wife, children and parishioners. It’s not always easy but when is either marriage or priesthood easy? It’s grace.”

However the beauty and incredible witness of celibacy are not to be overlooked:

“Besides all the practical benefits of a celibate priestly class there’s something even more important. The world is obsessed with sex and its advertisement, for the world it is the be all and end all. Celibacy shows the radical nature of the Faith, without it, not just the priesthood, but the whole faith would become something bland. It would be seen as just another part of life, when it is supposed to be life.

There’s also the added advantage of dealing with people that are having difficulties in relationships e.g., I was talking to a man suffering from SSA the other day and was able to talk to him about the heroic virtues without looking two faced. In other words, “We priests and religious can live life without sex or emotional relationships that involve intimacy and God will give you the grace to do it too!” It would be a very different case if I was married with four children.”

The fact that the other rites within the Catholic Church successfully have married priests and the fact that our Roman rite has not always required celibacy also makes the argument for celibacy more difficult. It would be naïve to think that the celibacy requirement did not have a lot to do with keeping money within the church rather than it going to widows of priests – but I’m sure the Roman Church would never be so materialistic, would it?

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I guess the best explanation I can understand is that a priest is called to love all equally with everything he can give, and in this way he is required to forgo exclusive relationships. I guess several decades ago when priests lived in community this would be good. The community would be the ‘family’ of the priest and stop him from having to endure isolation and all the temptations that come with that. But nowadays priests are more and more living alone. I’m not sure this is a good thing. Jesus always sent the disciples out in pairs, He didn’t expect anyone to go it alone.

And then there are the wonderful ex-priests I know who left to get married. Given the chance I know they would still be excellent priests today. Their decision to leave must have been agonising.

There is also the issue of older Deacons whose families have grown up and left home. They are already successfully dedicating themselves to their parishes. Would it not be reasonable for them to become Fr’s if they felt the calling? I know of one such deacon who did just this after his wife died. His adult children support him totally. But this situation is of course completely different to that of a young man with young children.

The jury is out for me on the issue of priestly celibacy. I can see major benefits and disadvantages to both states. And after all, it is a discipline not a doctrinal issue which means that it can be changed at any time. But I must say that I hold the deepest respect for those of you who are celibate priests, and who have given everything to serve God’s church. I pray for you everyday.

I must also make it crystal clear – in my eyes, an adult male leaving the priesthood to be with an 18 year old kid has very little to do with the issue of celibacy, and much more to do with the issue of sexual abuse.

Fr James Martin SJ and Fr Dan Fitzpatrick Tweet that the Holy Spirit is Female. How sad.

Let’s start by getting one thing straight shall we? The Holy Spirit is not a boy. It is not a girl. It is a spirit. But let’s also remember that as human beings we have limited ways of expressing our understanding and knowledge of God. Our language is not perfect. And even with our male and female nouns and pronouns we still often struggle to correctly describe certain theological things.

However…

Our limited non-perfect attempts at expression do not give us the right to skew the truth to what we would prefer it to look like. A misplaced word or phrase has massive connotations for certain situations – especially theological ones, and can completely change the meaning of a certain word and the proper teaching behind it. In short – it is not difficult to lead people down the wrong path.

For those in a position of power or trust, this is an incredibly important issue. It is so important for the Pope that he has his own personal moral theologian who oversees every written speech, homily and even his Tweets.

Speaking of Tweets…

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Hmmm. For those of you who don’t know Fr. James Martin, he is an extremely well known Jesuit in America who has written plenty of books and has a very large social media following. His views are vague and liberal. He is not particularly concerned with upholding the truths of the catholic faith but instead is interested in discussing issues like gay marriage, women’s ordination ect… He leaves the content of his posts ‘open’ but does not step in to correct the ordinary person in the pew when they reply to his Facebook posts with comments like:

“Thank you, Fr. Jim for your post. My wife and I are remarried divorced Catholics who anxiously await some change in the Church’s position on people like us. More importantly, though, we have a number of gay and lesbian friends including two married male couples each of whose love for each other could serve as an example to many couples, both heterosexual and homosexual! I pray that the day will come when all of us can be completely reunited within the Church we love and were raised in! God bless you.”

“It was such an honor to obtain a secular appointment to officiate at legal marriages. I have only presided over one: the civil marriage of two wonderful gay friends who have been in a committed relationship for more than 30 years. I know the church would not approve of my doing this, but my conscience and the Holy Spirit said that their union must be legal and blessed.”

Well, I guess if the Holy Spirit told you it was ok to go against church teachings then ‘she’ is right! (Goodness gracious me…)

But every so often priests like this get a little too big for their liberal boots and end up making a big boo-boo. By calling the Holy Spirit ‘her’ based on the ancient Hebrew term ‘ruach’ is one of these big boo-boo’s. Now I am not an ancient Hebrew expert myself – but I have a few friends who are, and I showed them this tweet (hiding Fr. James’ identity) and asked them to give me their honest opinion:

“Hilarious. Just another modern sort suffering from theological confusion. Who said that? According to Strong’s concordance it is a feminine noun. However, in Gen 1:2 it is used with a masculine noun (elohim). It is a fascinating usage. Ruach (feminine) Elohim (masculine plural). Literally translated as Spirit of Gods. The Rabbis are still working that one out.

The Holy Spirit is pure spirit and does not have gender. Gender is of the material creaturely realm. Angels and God do not have gender (though the Son does because he has a body!!). Digressing slightly, the Son is often referred to as the Wisdom of God, but the book of Wisdom refers to wisdom in the feminine! The word ‘Spirit’ as ruach feminine noun, but it does not mean it applies exclusively to women, as per English language. Hebrew is ancient and thus has different rules to English, so he cannot apply the same rules.

The New Testament word is ‘pneuma’ which is a neutral noun. The only phrase I can find where Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit using gender is John 15:26, ‘The advocate…he will…’ Either way, the Holy Spirit is ‘Elohim’ which is specifically masculine, and God is always referred to in the masculine, thus we should always speak of God like that.”

So it seems Fr James either needs to brush up on his ancient biblical nouns, or he knows quite well that what he was saying was a load of old nonsense. But either way – he knew very well to begin with that the church does not refer to the Holy Spirit as a female.

A comment like this has consequences theologically. I mean – what does it mean for Our Lady? Would it make her part of some sort of life giving same-sex union with a female holy spirit? Does that mean that Jesus had 2 mums? What would this sort of idea mean to someone who was not so well educated in theological terms and was dealing with same-sex attraction themselves? Would they feel that because a priest was saying this it was giving them the affirmation they were seeking that a same-sex union, even a same-sex family was ok? It might. I certainly can’t find anything Fr James has ever written saying that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman (correct me if I’m wrong here).

He is leading the people of God down the wrong path.

He is also leading younger priests down the wrong path.

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Hmmm. Again I went to a friend who has studied both theology and ancient Hebrew and asked them (without revealing Fr Dan’s identity) to give an opinion on this statement:

“First premise is wrong. The Holy Trinity NEVER acts alone – and to say the main way we relate to God is through the Spirit is to misunderstand the Spirit’s role is to lead us to the Father, by leading us to Jesus, who is the perfect image of the Father. Seems also to downplay the objectivity of the Holy Eucharist which is a tangible participation in the real Body and Blood of Christ – hardly and insignificant relation to God, rather a particularly intimate one.

Second point is that the gender of verbs really does not get you very far – the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son – being the love between them, being the glory of Jesus – therefore to posit a kind of competing feminine identity for the creative/salvific mission of God is – heresy. We in fact are the feminine – we are the receptive ones to the Spirit. This is a very dangerous and confused idea – and comes from someone with only a superficial understanding of both language and theology.”

Oh dear. So here you have a young guy – not even been a priest for 2 years, and he is being led astray by the nonsense of a much older and more experienced priest – whom I’m sure he trusts. However, Fr Dan also knows full well that the church has never referred to the Holy Spirit as a female. It kills me to see priests go astray like this – especially young priests. I pray and fast too much for priests to let them throw themselves into Satan’s arms like this. If they don’t like or agree with what the Catholic church teaches them why stay in the Catholic Church? There are plenty of Protestant churches where you can believe whatever the hell you like – go and join one of them. The Catholic church requires solid faithful priests with strong backbones, not lily-livered flannels who’s limp theology destroys the church from within. What’s going on with these guys?

Do they think that by throwing a bit of ancient Hebrew around they are sounding clever? Do they think they have suddenly found a new and incredibly ‘inclusive and diverse’ theology that the church must have inadvertently missed for the last 2000 years? Trying to make the faith ‘acceptable’ to today’s politically correct culture of death? Are they trying to look cool and clever?! Or are they just trying to forward their own warped theological ideas of what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like?

I contacted both priests today and explained the female/male noun thing and asked them for and explanation. Neither of them admitted error. In fact quite the opposite – although Fr James Martin SJ did delete the Holy Spirit quote from his Twitter feed when he realised it actually made him look a complete um… twit.

Here is another post both these guys shared:

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Worrying isn’t it? And as you can see from the comments, no attempt was made to correct this pseudo idea of ‘Love’ that is being floated around. The person in the pew has been left in error.

If our priests do not believe in the teachings of the church, is it any wonder that the people of God go astray. Maybe we should ask Ireland… When the shepherds lose their way, the sheep perish in the desert.

I’ll leave you with the well known Patrick Swayze liberal hymn to the Holy Spirit “She’s like the wind” (I’m just kidding! Bad joke – I know! – Keep smiling people 🙂 )

Too busy to pray?

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My Carmelite formation director has asked me to share a few ways in which prayer is part of my ordinary daily life:

“Our charism is very focused on prayer, with Mary as our model in prayer and meditation. Our Carmelite constitutions tell us that ‘Mary preserves in her heart the life and actions of her Son and meditates on them, this is contemplation’. I would be really interested to hear any thoughts you have on prayer and contemplation, because for someone with 3 kids who hasn’t a moment to herself, you would have to be even more creative than the rest of us to be able to do this! – and yet it is possible.”

So lets have a think…. Hmmmm…..

What is Prayer?

Well I guess the first thing is to make very clear what prayer is. St Therese tells us that “Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God.” And it really is as simple as that. At any time, in any situation, I am able to raise my mind and heart to God – either in thanksgiving and praise, contrite and sorrowful, anger and frustration or just simply resting in His peace.

Do not prepare to pray – Just do it!

I think it’s important to say that I don’t prepare to pray. I just pray. I think a lot of people make the mistake of waiting until they are in the ‘right’ frame of mind before they pray. This is a complete waste of time. If I am angry and frustrated then THAT is the time I need to talk to God. He wants me at THAT very moment. I don’t try to hide my negative emotions from God! I Don’t try to present myself during prayer as being on my best behaviour! God sees me ALL the time. He knows my every thought – so why not go to Him just as I am? I cry, kick and scream, I tell Him it’s not fair. I beg Him for His unending mercy. I open my heart to Him, because it is only when I let Him in to my heart that He can actually work with me. Be honest – He knows you are not perfect and He doesn’t expect you to be.

I usually have one of these prayer tantrums at least once a day. I’m a drama queen – what can I say?!

Tell Him you love Him – and mean it.

During a trip to Medjugorje in 2005 I had a very powerful encounter with Jesus during Adoration. He came from the Eucharist and stood beside me and placed His hand inside my chest and onto my heart. He said to me “Clare, you need to come to me everyday and tell Me that you love Me.” He was referring to Himself in the Eucharist.

Now this may sound easy, but to be honest – it’s not. Because for me to say “I love you” I have to mean it. There has to be nothing separating me from Him. There have been some days where I have really struggled to say it. There have been days where i have been unable to say it – and this has illuminated the sin that is separating me from Him. Quite often I say it almost begrudgingly – all too aware of what He is asking me to give up, to leave behind, so that I am able to say it to Him. But there are also the days when it is easy to love Him. And i rest in His love like baby in her Fathers loving arms – and I could literally stay there all day!

Go to daily Mass.

I started going to daily Mass about 10 years ago. It changed my life. The end.

I am able to get to the 9am Mass on my way home from the morning school run. If I have the baby with me we sit with my parents, or sometimes out the back if she is noisy. I have the mass reading downloaded onto my Kindle from Universalis so even if she is screaming i can still follow what is being said. Also, having the responsorial psalm on your Kindle means that it is almost impossible to forget the response after the first time you have said it! (It’s early! My brain doesn’t wake up before 10am!)

Divine Office

As a secular Carmelite I am expected to say at least the morning and evening prayer of the Divine Office each day. But with 3 kids that is not always straight forward. There are days where I simply do not have 20 or even 10 mins to sit quietly to read it. So instead I use divineoffice.org and listen to the prayers instead of reading them. Morning prayer gets played in the car during the school run. A by-product of this is that my 8 year old has started joining in with it! He is listening to the psalms and he knows how to join in with the responses!

Evening prayer usually gets played on my laptop while i am making the dinner or feeding the baby. Prayer and house work go together perfectly in my opinion, proving that it is entirely possible to be Martha and Mary at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to concentrate, but i always get one or two lines that touch my heart. And to be honest – that is enough for me.

During night prayer (my favourite) i sometimes just sit on the sofa and listen, and sometimes when i have some energy to do stuff in the evenings, i like sewing. And I can tell you this – there is no better past time for contemplation than sewing (other than perhaps jigsaw puzzles – but i only do that on the nights when i am feeling really rock and roll 😉 !!!!)

Contemplation in Motherhood

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25: 35-40

It is not always easy to see Christ in one’s kids! But the fact is He is there present in each of them. It is even harder to see Christ in one’s husband! But He is there too! This in itself is contemplation enough for one day (my goodness!). I’ll tell you something: You do not know what it means to keep watch with Christ until you have a little one who is teething and just wants to be held, every night, until 3am. Poor little sausage!

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I also try to say the Rosary every day as part of my promise to wear the brown scapular. Again – this is a good one for the car. I have the interactive rosary downloaded onto my phone, so i can play that wherever I am. I even have a speaker in my bathroom that sticks onto the wall so that i can listen to the office or the rosary while i am in the shower!

So there we go. A few ways i am managing to make prayer part of my normal daily life. I don’t manage it everyday – sometimes it is just impossible, but i do manage it most days. And to be honest – it’s just become second nature. It is possible.

If the desire to pray is there, then you will find a way.

Catholic Priest Denies Burning Down 17 of the Ugliest Churches Ever Built.

Polish born Fr. Pileov Ash.

Polish born Fr. Pileov Ash.

Police are questioning a 38 year old Catholic priest on charges of arson after 17 out of 18 churches he was stationed at burned to the ground over a 13 year period. Polish born Fr. Pileov Ash denies the charges saying that the events are an “unexplainable co-incidence”.

As part of the interrogation process, Fr. Ash has been asked to take a lie detector test while being exposed to a series of slides – each containing photographs of some of the churches he was stationed at before the fires took place.

“Fr. Ash, please could you tell us a little about each of these churches?”

St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Austria.

St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Austria.

“Oh yes! I remember this one – there was so much glass used in the design of this building. It used to heat up like a greenhouse. Sometimes temperatures would reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I felt so sorry for the congregation. They reminded me of trapped ants getting frazzled under a magnifying glass. One time a woman’s hair set on fire – just like that! Spontaneously combusted. I think it was a weave…”

Catholic Cathedral of Brasilia.

Catholic Cathedral of Brasilia.

“Ahhhh! Brazillia. I always said those candle stands looked dodgy. They wobbled if you looked at them. Really, really wobbley. In hindsight i should have done more to fix them than just jamming a folded up parish newsletter under one of the feet. Live and learn I guess?!”

L'église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay, France. And 'Mater' from Disney's Cars.

L’église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay, France. And ‘Mater’ from Disney’s Cars.

“To model a church on a Disney character is something I never really understood to be honest. Especially one that has a petrol engine. Petrol = fire. That’s all I have to say.”

Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Vienna.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Vienna.

“Jesus wept… *long deep sigh* The architecture of the 1970’s was as stupid and ugly as its theology… *another long deep sigh* Forgive them Father, They didn’t know what they were doing… *yet another long deep sigh*

Santa Monica Catholic Church, Spain. And a Spaceship.

Santa Monica Catholic Church, Spain. And a Spaceship.

“I have no idea how the fire started, but at its peak there were flames literally shooting out of the windows at the back. It reminded me of an episode of StarTrek from 1968 where the Klingon’s were attempting to jump to warp speed. I almost expected the entire building to lift off and boldly go where no man has gone before.”

San Paolo Catholic Church, Italy.

San Paolo Catholic Church, Italy.

“Forensics traced the source of this fire back to the sacristy. That didn’t surprise me at all. There was just so much polyester in there. At night you could hear crackling and literally see sparks as the low quality vestments brushed against each other. The levels of static electricity in that place were OFF THE CHART. Vanpoulles has got a lot to answer for.”

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, England.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, England.

“The Metropolitan famously has the nickname ‘The Chimney’. You can see why. The place was literally one big furnace. An accident waiting to happen if you ask me. White smoke was bellowing out of the top like a new Pope had just been chosen! I guess that’s why all the people were clapping and cheering?”

Iglesia de la Consolación, Spain.

Iglesia de la Consolación, Spain.

“This one deserved to die. I hated it. It was so ugly, so embarrassing, so rectangle, so depressing. It actually made me ashamed to be a Catholic. Not that I started the fire of course – you understand that right? Are you recording this?”

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, California.

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, California.

“Now this one was the fault of the architect. Who in their right mind would create a window that long at the front of the building? When opened, the whole place acted like a giant bellows. It created a back-draft that whipped up the votive candles in their pastel coloured glass holders into an inferno the likes of which I have never seen before – or since. The front doors burst open and several giant fireballs shot out. It was like watching a huge angry metal dragon with indigestion.”

Catedral Basílica Menor Nossa Senhora da Glória in Maringá, Brazil.

Catedral Basílica Menor Nossa Senhora da Glória in Maringá, Brazil.

“This one reminded me so much of a witches hat. You know what they used to do with witches in the middle ages? They used to burn them. Oh yes, they used to burn them. WHAAAAAaaaaaaa!!!!”

St. Anne's Church, England

St. Anne’s Church, England

“Now this was such a shame. I was trying to make a cup of tea and I accidentally left the large box of PG Tip’s on the gas stove. It wouldn’t have been a problem except that the gas stove was on at the time. I had also left a pan of hot oil on the boil and accidentally tossed my lit cigarette end into the bin – which was located just underneath the 1960’s purple paisley patterned nylon curtains. Silly me! Silly, silly me!”

Christus, Hoffnung der Welt in Donau City, Austria.

Christus, Hoffnung der Welt in Donau City, Austria.

“Oh c’mon! It’s a giant microwave! What did you expect?!”

Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp in Ronchamp, France.

Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp in Ronchamp, France.

“Seriously, I was only at this parish for 2 weeks when the accident happened. The best person to speak to about this is the 94 year old permanent Deacon based in that parish. Go and speak to him. His name is Offring – Deacon Burt Offring.”

Kappal Matha Church in Uvari, India. (This. Really. Is. A. Catholic. Church.)

Kappal Matha Church in Uvari, India.
(This. Really. Is. A. Catholic. Church.)

Fr. Ash remained silent when shown this slide, but detectives did notice that his heart rate went up to almost 190 bpm and he started sweating profusely and omitted a low growling noise.

The Vatican has responded through the Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission, saying that Fr. Ash and Deacon Offring are obviously innocent of any crime. “The real crime” they say “is that these monstrosities were allowed to be built in the first place.”

Sources in Rome also report that in a highly unusaul move, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has recommended Fr. Ash and Deacon Offring for immediate canonisation stating that “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” and that “The fire of the Holy Spirit moves where it will.” He went onto to say that it was “Miraculous” that not a single person was hurt in any of the fires and that God has obviously chosen these two men to “clear the way” for new architects that want to restore the “dignity, beauty and reverence” that has been disregarded in Catholic architecture over the last two generations.

The case continues…

When God’s Love Hurts.

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Fulton, before the accident.

When God’s Love Hurts – By Cassandra Poppe

“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for,whatever we do, the cross holds us tight — we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven? But, on the contrary, most men turn their backs upon crosses, and fly before them. The more they run, the more the cross pursues them, the more it strikes and crushes them with burdens. . . . If you were wise, you would go to meet it like Saint Andrew, who said, when he saw the cross prepared for him and raised up into the air, “Hail O good cross! O admirable cross! O desirable cross! receive me into thine arms, withdraw me from among men, and restore me to my Master, who redeemed me through thee. “ — St John Vianney

Crosses. Suffering. The human race has been plagued with hardship ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve desired more than the goodness God had already given them. And from that point on, most viewed suffering as a punishment from God – until that first Good Friday when Our Lord transformed punishment into a blessing. It seems natural for us to try to alleviate hardships when they come. A painkiller, a massage, an adjustment to the thermostat. How many little things do we do each day, each hour, to tweak the comfort level around ourselves? As these first 2 paragraphs were written, I have already adjusted my posture, scratched an itch and taken a sip of my drink. All actions taken almost without thinking and all done to increase my comfort.

But what happens when our discomfort becomes full blown suffering? Suddenly our pleasure and comfort seeking instincts are challenged and no matter what remedies we try, our suffering is not eased. Cancer. The loss of a loved one. Crippling persecution. An accident. These crosses do not refine and perfect our souls in little ways, as the everyday annoyances in life can. No. These crosses are life changing, redirecting our souls directly towards Calvary, to bring about in us a profoundly holy transformation. But only if we are able to see the love that is hidden within the cross.

While we may not cheerfully embrace our crosses, our Catholic faith teaches us of the immense value in suffering. We have Crucifixes to remind us of Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice, inspiring us to mortify ourselves for love of Him. We understand that suffering is a part of life and a tool we must use well for the sanctification of our soul. Others avoid suffering, seeing it as either a punishment or from Satan.

And while this view may be correct in certain circumstances, we must always remember that all suffering is allowed by Our Lord. If He allows it to happen, we must treat it as an invaluable opportunity to grow in holiness, and give glory to God. No matter what. I do not say this lightly, as it is indeed both a joy and a burden to be trusted by Our Lord. He requires much of those He loves – sometimes more than we think we can handle. But we may rest in the fact that as long as we remain firmly at His side and under the loving watch of Our Lady, all things are possible.

When Our Lord redirected our lives that fateful January morning, I felt it more than I heard it. That deep percussion-like boom one hears when a firework is sent skyward, before it explodes. This was immediately followed by my husband’s unintelligible cry. Flying to the kitchen window, I saw what will haunt me forever. My four year old little boy was slowly moving away from the burn barrel, completely engulfed in flames from his waist to his head. His hands were clenched at his sides, moving them up towards his face in slow motion, pieces of his fleece jacket peeling away and falling behind him.

What followed could rival the goriest scenes in a horror movie. Grey, cadaverous forehead. Deformed ears. Skin still bubbling from the heat trapped within. Long strands of flesh hanging from little hands and arms like a partially unwrapped mummy rising from its tomb. Shrieks of pain. Tears of terror. As my son was laid at my feet on the kitchen floor, I collapsed before him, unable to do anything for him before the ambulance arrived. And so I prayed. The two prayers that came to me were, “Mother of God, be with us,” and “Thy will be done.” And looking back, I understand why.

From that moment on, Our Sorrowful Mother took me as her child, showing me that sometime God’s love looks very ugly on the surface. I had gotten a taste of this truth before, when my husband and I struggled to make our marriage work, and again when I cared for my father in his home as he died of cancer. But this by far was the most crippling form of suffering I could have endured. I wanted to take on Fulton’s burns as my own. “Lord, let me suffer these pains for You!” I prayed. “He is too little!” But I see now how that would have been the easy route for me. I already understood redemptive suffering, binding physical pains to the wounds of Our Lord on the Cross as an offering of love. But I could not do that for my son. This emotional anguish was new – and so instead of suffering with Our Lord, I suffered at the foot of Fulton’s cross with Our Lady. If she saw the love hidden within the Our Lord’s Cross, surely I could find the love in Fulton’s suffering. And that is what I needed to find. Otherwise, his suffering made no sense. I did not want to be a bystander on Calvary, disgusted by the scene before me, or to be one to rage against God amid the pain.

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I have known far too many bitter souls in my life who, do not take the time to examine their crosses and embrace them for the gift they are. Help me find the gifts, Sweet Mary. Help me find the love! And what love there was! Just as word spread of Christ’s suffering and brought about conversions, so too did Fulton’s suffering inspire others to the faith. I received letters from people who have returning to a life of prayer because of Fulton’s powerful story. Some grasped for the first time what it means to ‘offer it up’ and embraced their own crosses with a new found love for God. They saw through Fulton’s and my experience, that love cannot be complete without some form of willing suffering or sacrifice, choosing to participate in God’s plan through the cross laid upon their shoulders, even when they could not yet see the love.

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Truly, His call to take up our crosses and follow Him was a call to suffer for Him that others may be saved. And for the first time I understood the words of St. Paul when he said, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col. 1:24) when hearts previously unmoved by Christ’s Passion were moved by the sufferings of a little boy. Praise God!

Two years after the accident, the love continues to reveal itself. Patients in the hospital are learning Fulton’s ‘brave breath’ techniques to help them get through the pain. His burn cards, a social reintegration solution we invented together, have given confidence to other burn patients who are struggling with re-entering society. And his mere presence in restaurants or the mall have brought people to tears, once they talk to him and see how strong he is. He has brought hope and healing to adults who suffered various crosses in silence, inspired for the first time to face their own past hurts. His scars show them their own woundedness, and come to realize their scars are proof of their strength, not their weakness.

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Fulton, through the cross he carries and the scars he bears, has touched far more souls than he ever could have before the accident. And only in Eternity will we know how many hearts he helped return to the Church and into the loving arms of Our Father. Please Lord, may I be numbered among them, for I have learned so much.

My trials have taught me that every crisis forces one to redirect his life. We are handed a cross, designed especially for us, and asked to choose. We cannot choose whether we will take the cross. No. The cross is ours to bear no matter what. But we can freely choose how we respond to it.

Do we accept that cross and prayerfully carry it to its completion? Do we give hope to others along the way? Or do we curse our cross as it grows in weight and model for others how to stumble and rage against the One who gifted us?

I have tried both responses to the carefully chosen crosses Our Lord has sent me in my life. I can assure you that while cursing those things in our lives that cause us to suffer may feel more natural, embracing our suffering is by far the easier response, for it is the only response that coincides with God’s will.

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My prayer for you this Holy Week is that you open your heart to the cross God has given you and cherish it as a priceless gift. Just as Christ’s Passion draws hearts to love Him more, may you draw others closer to Our Lord through your suffering. Praise His name through your pain. May God be glorified through you!

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:3-4

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Fulton’s next big surgery is coming up on April 14th 2015. Please pray for Fulton! Come and see his progress on his Facebook page ‘Pray For Fulton’

Cassandra Poppe’s blog is Let us kneel

Imagine if we had Facebook at the time of Vatican 2.

another Vatican Council

Imagine if Facebook and Twitter had been around at the time just after the Second Vatican Council. The 16 documents had been written and published and the church was looking at a bright new future, secure in the truth and tradition that the church has always had.

However, there were those in positions of power at the time who chose to misinterpret or ignore what was said in the documents and instead chose to forward their own agenda of what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like, under the umbrella term “The Spirit of Vatican 2”.

I’m talking about things like communion in the hand and the removal of altar rails, altar girls, the priest facing the people all the time (which was never actually intended), lack of metanoia (the priest calling the people to repent & believe the Gospel), closely followed by the idea of “primacy of conscience” (all things are relative and sin is only what you consider sinful), which no doubt lead to the crisis in the sacrament of confession we have had for the past 2 generations.

Also, the way catechises completely changed from solid rudimentary teaching (which some considered indoctrination) to quite frankly – a complete ‘free for all’ in what ever you fancied at the time. Holding hands or copying the priest by having hands out stretched during the Our Father, Bringing things to the altar at the offertory that are not bread and wine. The ditching of sacred music and architecture for more ‘up to date’ er… things. The dreaded liturgical dance…

Churches designed like Theatres, and most importantly – a congregation that over time has learned to demand entertainment during Mass, and priests who have fallen into the role of entertainers ect ect ect…

Liturgical-Dance

Imagine the difference if the layity had the power of social media back then. I don’t think I am exaggerating in saying that if we did, the church may look very different to how it does now.

The point I am trying to make is that these changes did not happened over night in an open and transparent way. Instead they have been quietly and slyly instituted by those in power, and have over time, gradually been accepted as being the norm – which of course they are not, and never have been. And of course, as an average lay person back then with little or no access to the 16 documents, and no real way of voicing your concerns (other than to go to your bishop – who most likely instituted these changes in the first place) then what could you do? Not much.

I suppose you could have gone to the catholic press, but before you do that i guess you really have to ask yourself: Who owns and directs the catholic press? 🙂

Now, fast forward to today. We are possibly on the brink of a massive crisis in the church in regards to communion for the divorced and re-married. We have those in positions of power ie. Kasper trying to normalise adultery under the guise of ‘mercy’. And in contrast we have the 500 faithful UK priests who have signed a letter urging those attending this year’s family synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage. Good move boys! Good move!

And while it is a sad day when priests have to band together to defend the faith against other clergy who want to change things, I can also see that the battle ground and weapons of war being displayed here are signifying a major change in the way the hierarchy has done things in the past, and will be able to do things (or not) in the future.

I’m talking about 2 things in particular: Transparency and Accountability.

Now, disturbingly, one signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

Following this, a statement has been released by spokesman for Cardinal Nichols (who is not happy about the letter) saying that the press was not the medium for conducting dialogue of this sort: “The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the Bishops. Pope Francis has asked for a period of spiritual discernment. This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”  The Cardinal refers to ‘channels of communication’ that, in reality (if you ask any decent faithful priest) are either blocked or permit only one-way traffic.

I know several of the priests on that list and I can tell you now that they would rather not have to publicly defend the faith against those higher up the chain who seem intent on changing it – but what choice do they have? The fact that they have had to take this course of action tells us that they obviously feel they are not being listened to by those in charge. One can only imagine the level of frustration (and patience) that these good men have experienced over the years.

So what exactly have these 500 priests done? They have used the power of Transparency to call out those who are trying to quietly and slyly institute these changes. They are bringing it out into the open for all to see. It is in the press, it is all over social media. People all around the world are linking up, talking to each other about what is happening, what is trying to happen and what should not happen. The truth will out… Good move boys! Good move!

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In a world of Facebook and Twitter there is really no where to hide any more. Things can no longer be quietly and slyly instituted without people noticing, until they are regarded as ‘normal’. We all have access to the Vatican documents, the CCC and the history books and we can educate ourselves as to what has been happening and where things have gone wrong. And then we can tell others about it.

The faithful have a voice now, a strong voice and these 500 priests have used this new weapon very effectively in defending the faith. With the power of social media, bloggers, groups and online communities, the role of the ordinary priest and the layity has changed forever. We are able to speak the truth, and to call out heresy, false teaching and those who teach it. When issues are brought out into the open for all the world to see, it forces those in power out into the daylight so they can stand up and be held accountable for what they say they believe.

What those 500 priests have really done is to say ‘Here we are, solid in the truth’. Now the very public question for those who did not sign the letter, and those attending the synod later this year is: Where do you stand?

There is now a petition to support those 500 priests. Please click HERE to sign it.

The truth cannot be suppressed. The Holy Spirit will never be suppressed. The days of being able to masquerade false ideas as the truth are over.

TRUTH-CAGED-LION

Sources:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/03/24/nearly-500-priests-in-england-and-wales-urge-synod-to-stand-firm-on-communion-for-the-remarried/

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/03/cardinal-nichols-attempts-to-silence-faithful-priests-this-will-backfire/