Blue for October, month of the Rosary.

 

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In first century Galilee I would imagine her clothes would not have been particularly colourful. So why is Mother Mary always pictured wearing blue?

Those commissioning art of Mother Mary must have felt that there was no more proof of their devotion than to paint her in the most expensive colour available. And there was no more expensive colour than blue, which could then be derived only from crushing and then making a paste from the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone.Beautiful blue for our Beautiful Mother! A colour fit for the Queen of Heaven!

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Anyway, for October I am focusing on 3 of my blue mantilas. Royal blue, Sky blue and Navy blue. All available at www.diclara.co.uk I offer flat rate shipping worldwide.

Royal Blue Style

Royal Blue Style

Sky Blue

Sky Blue

Navy Blue Flowers

Navy Blue Flowers

I have to say my fave is probably the Royal blue. It is such a nice way to honour Mother Mary during October – the month of the rosary. If you haven’t worn a mantila before I would recommend getting one and praying with it at home until you pluck up enough courage to take it to Adoration and Mass! 😀

 

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.

Sorry, you and your kids are not welcome at Adoration.

For the past month i have been trying something new with my 4 year old. In the mornings after dropping my 7 year old at school, me, Annabel -4, and baby Angelica – 9 months, go across the road to the church to pray.

We take rosaries and mantillas and books and other interesting things to look at while we are there. I make Annabel take her shoes off when we go into the church because bare feet are quieter. She knows she has to whisper because Gods house is a special quiet place where we all come to pray. Angelica is an easy baby who is not walking and is usually very quiet apart from letting out the occasional loud “Ba!” which happens to be her best sound at the moment. We blow kisses to the picture of Therese of Lisieux as we walk past. We watched her film together last week and loved it. Annabel has come to love Therese as much as i do and even dresses up as her by putting her blanket over her head as a veil!! Ha! Ha!

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We all go down to the back of the church to Our Lady’s chapel which is well out of the way of the main congregation area. I kneel, the baby sits at my feet and plays with her cloth book or her plastic slinky. Annabel dances around the chapel – in silence – usually with her blanket tied round her head because she is playing Therese of Lisieux. Every so often she comes to sit with me and we cuddle while i continue to pray. She waves and blows kisses to “Mummy Mary” as she dances past her statue. She understands this is home. She understands she is loved here. She understands God is here. She witnesses her mother praying in silence. She sees how much I l value and love prayer.

There are usually 4 or 5 other people in the church praying at that time (our church can hold approx 3000 on a full day). On Monday there are the volunteer cleaners who chat away as they clean, which i feel they really shouldn’t do – especially on the sanctuary – but I’m sure they mean no harm!

On Wednesdays it is Adoration. As usual i take the kids down the back to Our Lady’s chapel so as not to disturb the other people there. From our spot you can just see Jesus in the Eucharist from the back of the Monstrance on top of the altar. I need this time with Jesus desperately. I get so little time with Him. Every so often i bring Annabel close to me and ask her “Look! Who’s that over there?” to which she replies “Jesus!”. My daughter understands the real presence. She blows a kiss and then goes back to playing Therese of Lisieux.

I have noticed a real difference in Annabel over the last month. At bedtime her prayers have changed from being a shopping list of toys that she wants to talking to Jesus who she knows loves her. She now prays from her heart because she knows what real prayer is – a conversation. She has felt the presence of God – i have no doubt of that. This has come about because i have ensured she has had the time and space to feel it in our daily morning trips to the church.

My Medjugorje Trip, Day 4 - Adoration

This morning a dear friend of mine came to talk to me as we were leaving the church. She had been asked to pass on a message by one of the more mature (and i use that word ironically) lady’s of the parish. The message was this:

“Please don’t come to Adoration with your children as they are very distracting and we prefer complete silence.”

I hid my initial shock and hurt and thanked her for passing on the message.

I’m glad i don’t know who this person is because then i would probably have to go and say something to them which would probably result in me having to go to confession, again. And if i do find out who it is, i will have to restrain myself from unleashing the tirade of sarcastic responses that start popping into my shocked and hurt brain:

“So when should i bring my kids to adoration then?”

“Sorry – i didn’t realise we were spoiling your adoration.”

“Perhaps the Lord is calling you to spare a prayer or two for my kids? Or even for me?”

“How many other 4 year old’s do you know who understand the real presence? Most adults don’t even get it!”

“Should we not adore as a community?”

“Perhaps you should tell the Priest we are bothering you?”

“How long have you been talking about me and my children to other people in a negative way behind my back.”

“Why did you not have the courage to come and tell me yourself?”

“Perhaps you should just go to the evening session when we are not there?”

“Does the 20 mins that my kids are here distract you so much? Oh I am sorry – try doing it 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”

“Shall i tell Annabel you said she is not welcome? Or would you like to do it yourself?”

“Do you know how hard i try as a Catholic Mother living in a militant secular culture?”

“How dare you try to stop someone from coming into the presence of Jesus.”

“You are like nearly 80. How much more formation do you need?! My daughter is just at the beginning of her life with Jesus.”

“Have you told Jesus what you told us? Perhaps you should, and see what He has to say about it (you will have plenty of time to do so next Wednesday morning during Adoration.)”

It’s best i don’t find out who it is.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. I will be taking my children to the church to pray as usual. I will also be feeling un-welcomed by a stranger i know is watching me and wishing i wasn’t there. I will pray for them.

Eucharistic Adoration – Society’s Ultimate Rebellion

One of the greatest weaknesses of todays society, and one of the greatest sadnesses of our time  is the dehumanisation of us all.  If you take a step back and try to look upon your life from the outside it can look a little something like this:

Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 of us will at some point in our lives suffer with low self-worth, anxiety and depression? And even worse than this is the fact that we constantly sedate ourselves to this pain with a self prescribed diet of mindless entertainment and quick fixes. Is there really no way out? Is this really how life is meant to be? Am i really nothing more than a rat in this horrible unending race? Is that what we are – a race of rats?!

Please, please please please do not believe that this conveyor belt drone like existence is how God wants you to spend the rest of your life. You are unique. You are amazing. You are loved. Before He formed us in the womb He knew us. Luke 12:7 tells us that “…even the hairs of your head are all counted…”.

Psalm 139 tells us :

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.

We are Fearfully and Wonderfully made. And more than that God had already written His plan for each and every single day of our lives as His eyes beheld our unformed substance. Wow!  

God has a plan for your life. 

Eucharistic Adoration is (viewed through the eyes of todays society) completely bonkers. You are not producing anything. You are not gaining anything. You are not entertaining yourself. In fact i would go as far as to say that Eucharistic Adoration is society’s ultimate rebellion. When we spend time in silence with our creator we begin to realise who we really are . We begin to see ourselves as He sees us, and realise that He never intended us to be a number – a rat in a rat race. We begin to realise that we are unique, we are amazing and we are loved.

Mother Teresa puts it like this: 

“That is why I encourage you to make your Holy Hour (of Adoration) through Mary, the cause of our joy, and you may discover that no where on earth are you more welcomed, no where on earth are you more loved, than by Jesus, living and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make you soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.”
 
“When you look at the crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you NOW. I beg the Blessed Mother to touch the hearts of all Parish priests that they may have Eucharistic Adoration in their parishes, and that it may spread throughout the entire world! – Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
 

My Medjugorje Trip, Day 4 – Adoration

This is my personal experience of, and witness to Medjugorje. I would like you to share this post to draw more attention to the best place on earth, so that others may have the opportunity to fall in love with Medugorje, Mother Mary, and ultimately Her beloved Son Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Medj has not currently been approved or condemned. We wait for the pope to speak on this issue.

Day 4…

I was introduced to Adoration on my 3rd trip to Medjugorje about 8 years ago. That evening, during an incredibly powerful and beautiful experience of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist, my ‘love affair’ with Jesus (especially through the eucharist) began.

Earlier that day we had listened to a talk from one of the visionaries telling us to ‘pray with our hearts’. (I had actually been doing this for years, but in a very negative way. I spent most of my teenage years telling God how much i hated Him. I always believed in Him – but i was just so angry with Him. Then one day i heard the words “Clare, I’ve never forced you to believe in me.” This was the beginning of my conversion.)

So there i was in St. James’ church trying to think of what to say to Jesus during Adoration – but all i had in my mind was a load of old nonsense! So i said “Well here you go – take it! This is whats in my mind – you can have it, that’s all i can do!”

At that point i was suddenly struck still and (with my heart – not my eyes) i saw a hand come out from the Eucharist and come right over to me and then go into my chest and onto my heart. Then i was aware of Jesus standing right next to me – it was of course his hand. I could not see him with my eyes, but it was the same as if you were standing right next to someone and you had your eyes closed. You are aware of their breathing and their presence but you can’t see them.

Then He began to press on my heart with His hand. I thought i was going to fall down but managed to hang onto the bench in front of me. I could hardly breathe. Then He pressed further and i could feel Him looking at me, gently but intensely, right up close to the left hand side of my face.

Then i heard the words “Clare, you have to come to me – everyday – and tell Me that you love Me.” He was referring to Himself in the Eucharist. All this time i was totally aware of (a better word would be ‘bathed’) in the complete awe, wonder and majesty that is God. I was aware that when the Eucharist is present on the altar during Mass or Adoration there is no separation between heaven and earth. Both places exsist at the same time in the same place. I looked up and was aware that the whole church was filled floor to ceiling with saints and angels – the whole of heaven. They were singing along with the congregation present. Church triumphant and church militant in perfect unison.

After all this, Jesus stayed for a few moments more, and then took the pressure off my heart and then left.

Now you can begin to understand why from that point on my heart would not let me accept Holy Communion in any other way than directly onto my tongue. Sometimes my heart does still burn within me, especially during mass or at adoration, but it is only a shadow of what i felt on that day back in 2004.
Having no idea of what actually happened to me, and having no real way to express it (if i ever did try to articulate it i would have burst into tears) I kept this experience to myself for 8 years. The only reason i tell you now is that you too may know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.

The adoration service in Medjugorje is usually attended by approximately 10,000 people several times a week. In the summer it is held outside at the back of the church under the stars. It is quiet, gentle, still, silent adoration that has short reflections read out in several different languages. The atmosphere is full of love and gentleness. Jesus is present on the altar in a larger than normal host approximately 30cm – in a huge splendid gold monstrance. There is a large screen to the side of the altar giving a close up view of the eucharist. Today I still find adoration to be an incredibly personal and tender experience. One in which I can draw closer to Jesus in a calm,  un-hurried way. Adoration is an essential part of my relationship with Jesus. It is our time together. Where we share what is in our hearts.
I would encourage everyone to find out what time adoration is happening in your local parish and take some time to spend with Jesus.
Adoration here in Medjugorje is of course, wonderful! Wish you could be here? You almost can! This is live streamed via http://medjugorje.ie/live_streaming_video.html Please, check it out. Spend some time with the Lord in this way.