Let Prayer be your Refuge this Christmas.

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For all you Americans… This is a Christmas pudding. We Brits like to pour brandy all over it and set it on fire when we bring it to the table. It’s awesome! (you wouldn’t understand 😉 )

Depending on your situation, Christmas can be completely overwhelming in different ways.

As a mother of 3 young kids it can get pretty hectic. In years passed I have literally been exhausted to the point of tears – which was a stupid position to let myself get into. It would take one wrong look from my husband and we would end up having a blazing row. I’ll never forget the time about 7 or 8 years ago he ended up calling me a b**ch at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve! I refused to open my presents for 3 DAYS!!! Lol! Thank God those days are over! We survived it, and came through, and the marriage carried on. Anyway it couldn’t have been that bad because I fell pregnant 4 weeks later with our 2nd!

Now we do less, have less, expect less, and Christmas tends to be a much happier time for everyone.

All I’m saying is that Christmas tends to amplify everything – including marriage issues. So just be aware of this and try to give each other a break. Don’t allow Satan to use this time to steal your joy, or use you to steal others joy.

Louis and Zelie Martin pray for us.

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This is a Yule Log. It is totally pagan but it has chocolate and cream so I allow it in our house!

And what about relatives? Find them difficult?! Yes. Everyone does. And the worst thing about it is that your job as a Christian is to try to share the Good news of our savior’s birth with a bunch of lousy atheists who insist on staying in your house, eating your food and telling your children that Christmas is all about the birth of Santa!

I guess the only thing I can say here is to pray to God for patience and charity! Remember that God made them, and wants them to come into a relationship with Him, and He may well be using you as the link to accomplish that. Try to understand that you have no idea what the Holy Spirit might doing within them right now, and that your prayers for them all this year will sure to be making a difference – you have been praying for them all year, right? Now is a good time to start 😉

But what if you don’t have a family? or you can’t be with your family? The other thing that people often find overwhelming at Christmas is loneliness.

Having never been alone at Christmas I can’t really comment on this other to say that I do know what it is to be in a room full of people, and be the loneliest person on the earth. Loneliness doesn’t just strike those who are physically alone. It can strike anyone at anytime of their lives, in any given situation.

What I used to detest here is when I used to pretend. On the outside everything was just fine and dandy, but on the inside I would be lost in the dark, drowning in a sea of lonliness. Those dark days are thankfully over, and it is only now when I look back that I see that that loneliness was from God. He was allowing me to enter deeply into the emptiness  of a society without Him, to see that what was being offered to me by the world would never, ever satisfy me. He was teaching me that I needed Him more than I needed air. Through the agony of my secret silent internal isolation He was preparing me for a relationship with Him.

That loneliness, that longing, was soon to start dissolving with that peace that only He can give. The peace of knowing where you belong, of being truly loved and valued. It is the same peace of a sleeping babe in the arms of its mother.

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This is a pantomime dame. It is the only time of year when parents pay to let their children be entertained by a old man in a dress pretending to be a woman (unless you subscribe to SKY TV and watch “I am Cait” – which I know none of you do of course. Apparently it’s hilarious (the pantomime I mean).

What ever you situation this year let prayer be your refuge. Allow God to use your situation to draw you deeper into relationship with Him. An hours meditation on Luke’s Gospel, 5 mins when you get the luxury of escaping the kids to go to the bathroom! Or just a simple glance up to God – a surge of your heart towards your infinitely powerful creator who comes to you today as a tiny helpless baby born to a teenage girl in a stable.

Mary has known chaos at Christmas entering Bethlehem on a flipping donkey for goodness sake!!! She has know longing and loneliness. She had a complicated marriage situation! Her husband was not the father of her Child. She had relatives some of whom no doubt did not understand her faith. But she also had Jesus.

As she held Him for the first time, as she look into the face of God, and kissed that little sweet face, everything else must have just melted away leaving her with the awe and wonder and glory of a newborn baby, and above all, Love.

I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas this year. Know that I will be remembering you all in my prayers – especially all you priests, giving everything and working so hard! Try not to get overwhelmed, and I look forward to hearing how Christ has made Himself known to you all this Christmas 2015. xx

Gazing at my Father.

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There are none more beautiful words for my ears than the sweet “I love you Mummy” of my children.

Little children have very little self-consciousness when it comes to expressing love. They live their lives as open books and are unashamedly present in each moment. And in this way they are free.

Even as tiny babies before they can speak, they express love by  just beaming at you. And it is simply impossible as a loving parent to break that gaze. You just want that gaze of pure love to go on forever, because the tiny person who is beaming at you, totally reliant on you for absolutely everything, is reciprocating the infinate love you have for them. And from that reciprocated love comes forth joy and  hope and strength and life, that affects not just the two who gaze at each other, but those around them too.

Family life offers endless reflections of the Holy Trinity.

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And just as my baby gazes at me with awe and wonder, I gaze at my heavenly Father with the same awe and wonder, and it pleases Him. It pleases him because in a tiny way I am reciprocating the love He has for me. And that is all He wants. His purpose in creating me was so that I could dwell in Heaven with Him forever. And everyday He offers me new ways to draw closer to Him through the joys and sufferings He brings into my life.

What is the point of reciting long and complicated prayers if your mind is wandering and you are not completely present in the moment? How much more would it please your Heavenly Father if you could just give yourself entirely to Him in that one split second prayer of a brutally honest loving gaze.

Can you do it? Can you gaze at your Father with all the awe and wonder and honesty that your newborn looks at you with? Are you secure enough in your Father’s love for you that you can accept your complete reliance on Him for absolutely everything?

Your Father loves you. And nothing gives Him more pleasure than when you, His little child looks straight at Him with an honest loving gaze that says “I love you”.

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God” – St Therese of Lisieux

“Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curĂ© used to say while praying before the tabernacle…” – CCC 2715

 

The romance of Christmas child vomit.

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There is something actually quite romantic about cleaning up toddler sick together at 11.30pm on Christmas evening. I actually had other ideas of what I would be doing with my husband at that time of night – but it seems that was not to be. Luckily God has granted that my cycle coincides with Christmas perfectly this year, and Christmas is of course 12 days long – so there’s always tonight 😉

Anyway… amidst the tsunami of child vomit and lack of sleep, I was reminded that this was not so far from the truth of what would have been happening on Jesus’s original, 1st or 2nd birthday. Mary, no doubt – like any other mother would have spent many a sleepless night dealing with the normal duties of motherhood: dirty nappies, vomit, teething, bumped heads, lost bedtime toys, you name it…

And by her side would have been Joseph. Amazing, kind Joseph who had committed his life to protect and care for a woman he knew he would never sleep with, and a child who was not biologically his. What kind of man is this?! What kind of love is this?! Joseph – my confirmation name, my son’s middle name. Joseph – always there, but always in the background. Obtaining such graces for our family. Solid, gentle, dependable, selfless Joseph.

So as my husband and I look up at each other over a mountain of wet wipes and antibacterial spray, we smile! Our baby is feeling much better now she has been sick, and really that’s all that matters. Despite the hellish, chronic fatigue ridden, unemployed, emotional roller-coaster of a year we have had, Christmas day has been wonderful. And I am here cleaning up sick with a man who could never love me more than he does right now 🙂

Our baby…

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So cute! (26 weeks) Our baby was sucking its hand and opening and closing its mouth and wriggling all over the place – just the same as its older siblings did at this age!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Jeremiah 1:5

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