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 ūüėČ )

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 ūüėČ

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

This is my Body…

I stepped out of the shower this morning and¬†accidentally¬†stepped onto the bathroom scales. I wish i hadn’t. Then i¬†accidentally¬†took a long hard look at myself in the full length mirror. I wish i hadn’t. Uggghhh! After 3 kids, things are just not quite what they used to be – by a long shot.

Then i found these old photos of myself. This is me in my early 20’s¬†before¬†i started having babies:

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I was a babe. A total babe. I WAS THIN.

I don’t look like that any more. Now i look like this:

            

Well, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration – but that is how i feel most of the time. I have put on a stone with each child and try as i might, the stress and the exhaustion just keep getting in the way of the healthy eating and the exercise. Not that my husband minds at all – he says the wobbly bits are the best bits!

While i was staring at my full length reflection I thought about 3 things:

1. “I am turning 35 this year.”

2. “Perhaps i should get one of those mirrors you find at the fairground that make you look really tall and skinny?¬†(Then my head and my feet will be¬†enormous¬†but the bit in the middle will be tiny! – Great idea!)

3. “This¬†is my body.”

Then my perception of myself changed. Hidden within the finger-thick tiger stripes on my big fat belly i found a certain dignity. Those stripes are there because my husband and i created 3 new lives and they grew in my belly. They are a permanent reminder of the 3 most precious things in my life, and of the humbling fact that God asked me to take part in creation along side Him. Then another thought struck me:

There is no pregnancy in Heaven.

Angels do not have the ability to reproduce. And in Matthew 22:30 Jesus tells us that the humans in Heaven do not marry – which would rule out the chance of pregnancy:¬†At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”¬†–¬†Matthew 22:30¬†It seems that God has reserved creating new life for this world alone. What an honour…

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No. 1 – Alex

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No. 2 – Annabel

No. 3 - Angelica

No. 3 – Angelica

And this is what you get:

Angelica – 30 mins old

Each one  a miracle. I have used my body well. I have taken part in creation. My stripes are that of a tiger! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

I am able to say joyfully to my Husband: “This is my body – which has been given up for¬†you.”

I am able to say¬†joyfully to my children: “This is my body – which has been given up for¬†you.”

And I am able to say¬†joyfully¬†to Jesus: “This is my body – which has been given up for¬†You.”

Funnily enough Jesus says something very similar to me every time I encounter Him at Mass…