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.

Bishops making Catholicism more like Protestantism and Islam.

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Here we see the wonderful Bishop Egan of Portsmouth Diocese UK strongly trying to defend the Catholic Church from falling into chaos.

The issue – if you didn’t already know – is that some Bishops are calling for the divorced and re-married to be able to receive Holy Communion. This of course can never happen because a Catholic marriage is valid unto death do us part – unless an annulment is granted.

“Easy” you might say – “The Pope would never allow that to happen!”

Well, officially the Pope has not actually come out in favor of it, but he has also refused to come out and denounce it – despite several high ranking Cardinals and Bishops pleading with him to do so. This leaves the church in a very vulnerable position.

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The strength of the Catholic Church comes from it’s unbroken line of authority. Jesus made Peter the first Pope, and the authority has remained in place for over 200 years. We have the Magesterium – the hierarchy of the Church that keeps belief and teaching centralized and universal. This means that every Catholic, anywhere on earth, will be under the same authority and believe the same thing.

The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘Universal’, and it is this structure of our religion that gives us great strength. We are not at liberty to interpret the scriptures as we please – no, the interpretation has been handed down to us through an unbroken line of Faith, Reason, Scripture and Tradition. You only have to take a look at Protestantism and Islam to see how important this central authority is.

images-2106The Protestant church does not have Tradition as the Catholic church does, but instead allows for personal interpretation of scripture. This allows the individual to take a piece of scripture, and make it fit their wants and needs. It is this personal interpretation that has given rise, amoungst other things, to women priests and the support of active homosexual relationships, which have torn congregations in two in many protestant parishes.

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This freedom of interpretation is also seen within Islam. Like Protestantism, Islam has no central hierarchy, no central interpretation of the holy texts. Within Islam, any man can declare himself an Imam, set up his own Mosque, and effectively declare himself his own Pope. This is why you could have a Mosque at one end of your road full of perfectly nice and peaceful Muslims who ignore the parts of the Qu’ran that say ‘Kill the infidels!’, and a Mosque at the other end of the road in which they stick to the text quite literally and want you dead!

Within both Protestantism and Islam, this ‘freedom’ to interpret the holy texts as one wishes has only led to division, and is the cause of great weakness within the religions.

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Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta

Recently in Malta, the Bishops have taken advantage of the Pope’s silence on the matter of Communion for the divorced and re-married and has made the decision to ALLOW those in a state of adultery to receive Communion based on their own interpretation of whether they feel at peace or not with God.

“a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are [sic] at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist”. – Bishops of Malta.

This puts the average priest in an impossible situation:

Does he obey his Bishop and administer Communion to those in adulterous relationships?

Or does he obey Rome where the teaching still stands that to do so would be mortal sin?

Should the priest have to go against his conscience – and crucially, the central teaching of the Catholic Church, to remain in line with His Bishop? Would he be at fault if he didn’t? Do the Bishops of Malta not see that this is going to divide the Church and make it weak?

The Magisterium of the Church clearly states that:

85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. 86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

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Of course the obviously simple solution to this is for Pope Francis to stand up and clearly re-state the central teaching on Communion for the divorced and re-married.

Why, oh why is he just sitting on the fence, enabling this confusion to continue and causing enormous anxiety to his good and faithful priests?

 

Surviving Advent as a Sinner.

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Cute little baby Jesus, Christmas trees and family gatherings are all the kind of things that give us the warm fuzzies around Advent and Christmas.

The over sentimentality and uber perfectness of TV adverts, and watching your own beautiful children in the school nativity play is enough to make even the most hardened of us cower at the fearful power of purity and innocence.

It is this purity, innocence and stillness of the nativity that, as a sinner, I can find very difficult to deal with. I am aware of my own sin – all too well this year. I am aware of my human weaknesses and can only bury my head in my hands during prayer right now and beg for God’s mercy.

Who the heck can possibly be expected to celebrate the Incarnation when they are suffering from porn addiction, having an affair, a same sex relationship or recovering from an abortion? Well, I’ll tell you who – all of us. We are all sinners. We are all in desperate need of a saviour. And if you think for some reason you do not need to fall on your face at the foot of the manger and beg for mercy from that tiny baby boy, then you have a serious pride problem.

During Advent we are all called to pray and fast to prepare our hearts for the coming of our saviour. I would suggest giving up something like 1 cup of coffee or 1 cigarette per day. No more than that. Tiny steps. It is not about willpower and it is not about discipline – it is about love. Offer it with the entirety of your heart. Give it to Jesus out of pure love and gratitude for His love.

If you can give up one tiny thing per day, and give it with your whole heart, I guarantee this will be the most life transforming Advent you will ever have.

Prayer, tiny fasting, and of course confession. This is the way for a sinner not just to to survive Advent, but to emerge out the other side as a new creature in Christ.

Let’s do this together.

 

 

Open letter from a “rigid” Hebrew Catholic to Pope Francis.

 

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Dear Holy Father,

There has been a lot of talk lately about Catholics who are “too rigid”.  Those who attend the Latin Mass have been derided for placing love of tradition over love of each other.  Those who follow the traditional teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion have been similarly disparaged.  I can relate to this accusation. I love the Tridentine Mass. I go at almost every opportunity. I, too, struggle with the idea that someone who is objectively living in a mortally sinful relationship should ever receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.

I can also relate to this accusation for another reason.  I am a Hebrew Catholic. That is, I am also Jewish. And as a Jew, I of course have something to say 😉

If ever one group were derided by the Church at large for legalism, it would have to be us.  Stemming from the accusations against the Pharisees in the New Testament, you have to admit, we Jews have faced all sorts of these accusations.  Indeed, are we not the ones who pass by the man on the road, leaving a Samaritan to care for him? Are we not the ones who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel, modern day Pharisees? As a Jew in the Church then, surely it is not surprising that I find myself in this “rigid” category?

The truth is that Jews are often misunderstood in their love of the Law.  So, too, are more traditional Catholics.  Being scrupulous is the plague of anyone trying to be holy, that is true, but attention to detail in keeping the Law, a desire to do what is right, is not the same as scruples, even if they might sometimes creep in.

In Judaism, when someone becomes Torah observant, we say that they are becoming “religious”. There is great rejoicing over this, not because it means people are finally “doing what they are told” and “obeying the Law”, but because they are entering into a deeper relationship with HaShem, or, as you might know him, the Lord.  Becoming religious in Judaism is a romantic experience: you fall madly in love with G-d and you want to do anything to please him.  You become aware of how small you are and how great he is, and how wonderful it is that he has chosen you.

Another way to look at it would be to say that you become more perfectly God’s child. Contrary to popular thought, the idea of G-d being Father did not begin with the earthly Jesus.  True, in knowing the Son we came to know and distinguish the Father of the Trinity properly speaking, but in terms of a paternal relationship, we have had that in Judaism as far back as Moses, if not beyond:

“Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (Deu 32:6 NRSV) and everyone knows that “As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.” (Psa 103:13 NRSV).

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Let us go back to those passages above. Firstly, the accusation of scruples to the Pharisees is actually part of an inner Jewish debate. Look at Tractate Shabbat in the Talmud, and you can see it continued on for centuries.

Holy Father, the first important thing to note is that Christ is not correcting the Jewish Law itself. Rather, he is pointing out that at the heart of Judaism is God’s mercy by which He draws us to Him (a subject you have been focusing on intensely this past year within the church). That it is the Spirit of the Law that really matters because the Law is a tutor, and if you build the fence around the Torah too high, you will not be able to see the commandment, and the purpose of it, itself:

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” (Mat 23:4 NRSV).

In Judaism, this principle is still practiced: when one becomes religious, one keeps the basics of the Torah first and builds up until one is fully observant.  What matters is that you are trying, and you are on the road to holiness.

Finally, on the Good Samaritan, I say this: the priest and the Levite are travelling towards Jericho, not the Temple. Contact with blood is a matter of ritual not moral impurity, and the only need they would have had to worry about contact with it would have been if they were travelling towards the Temple: there is no problem in getting a bit bloody in Judaism. Just make sure you wash in a Mikhveh so you are clean to worship.

In fact, even if they had been travelling towards the Temple, they should still have stopped because the Law tells us to “love our neighbours as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18). Yep, that didn’t originate with Jesus, either! (Except as the Eternal Word, of course!)

You can break any law in the Torah to save a life.  The problem was not that they would have been breaking the Law had they stopped, but that they broke it by not stopping.

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Once we understand that the Law itself is not the issue, we see that at the same time as making sure you can still see over the fence, Jesus doesn’t mean you disobey the Law. Of those same Pharisees, he says, “do what they tell you” (Matt 23:3), after all. Indeed, you don’t want the devil jumping over and destroying the garden of your soul, and “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:20 NRSV). And anyone who truly loves God surely desires the latter with all their heart.

Holy Father, faithfulness, strict adherence, is not something contrary to the Gospel spirit.  It is an outpouring of a desire to be with God, just as “becoming religious” is in Judaism. Moreover, it is how we should be. The possibility of over-caution in keeping the Law, and warning against it, is not the same as saying the Law is at fault and can, or should, be broken or changed.  Of course, as Catholics, we believe that the Law is fulfilled in Christ.  I am not saying don’t have your bacon sandwich on Sunday morning! However, let us never forget that it is fulfilled, and so in its new state, we must continue to keep it with all our hearts.

Time will tell what the Church will make of Amoris Laetitia.  Until then, we pray and trust in God.  But please let us end this nonsense over faithfulness to Tradition and Church teaching is blind “rigidity”. It isn’t.  In the same way Jews are blamed for being rigid, but are, in fact simply doing everything to please God for the love of Him, so, too are those of us Catholics who are standing firm on Church teaching, and entering more deeply into the faith through an immensely enriching liturgy.

Yours sincerely,

A Hebrew Catholic.

New Di Clara Kids Vestment Sets.

Introducing the cutest way possible to foster vocations!

Gothic style Chasuble, Stole and Chalice Veil.

Made with REAL vestment orphrey bands, a real Di Clara label and exquisite embroidery, this childs vestment set is the closest thing your son will get to a real set of vestments before he becomes a real priest!

Children learn through play, and this is the perfect way for parents or First Holy Communion catechists to foster vocations and teach children about the different liturgical colours, different parts of the Mass and what happens on the altar.

I have a limited number of these before Christmas – I only have 1 set left of the Red and the Purple right now, so please buy now if you are interested to avoid disappointment. And please share with anyone who you think might be interested!

Thanks x

Catholic Mom votes Trump: “My voice does not deserve to be shamed”.

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Suzy Clark Carlisle is a Gainesville, Florida-based writer, dedicated wife and mother, and proud Catholic. In a post on her blog, she shares her reflections on why she, like millions of other women, voted for President-elect Donald Trump.

From her blog:

I am white. I am a woman. I am a college graduate. I am upper middle class. I am a Christian. I am a conservative. But here’s what I am NOT: I am not a racist. I am not a homophobe. I am not a xenophobe. I am not a sexist. You know what else I am not? STUPID. Being a conservative white lady doesn’t make me a moron just because that’s not what the cool kids are into. Politically conservative does not equal hate. I am highly insulted that the media is “blaming” me for getting Trump elected. I am also highly insulted that the media, and even some of my more liberal leaning peers and relatives, are insinuating that I am a racist homophobe because I voted for Trump.

…………..

So, in closing, he won people. He won fair and square whether you like it or not. If you are an American citizen, he IS your president. No amount of hashtags or tweets can change the constitution so you’re wasting your thumb strength. Redirect your energy to being the change you want to see in this country. I am a patriot. I love my country. I value the gift of freedom and the chance to have my voice heard. But my voice does not deserve to be shamed. That, my friends, is just plain un-American.

Read the rest here

 

Cardinal Dolan sits next to Hillary at Catholic charity dinner – fails to address her partial birth abortion comment, days after he speaks at the Bishop’s Respect Life dinner.

Watching Hillary Clinton coldly and unapologetically advocating partial birth abortion on live TV in front of millions of people was probably one of the most chillingly evil things I’ve ever witnessed.

She also promised to stand with America’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, who have been exposed as selling and making a profit from dismembered babies body parts.

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A Partial Birth Abortion is performed by the baby being delivered feet first. The abortionist will then cut the spinal cord at the back of the baby’s neck while her head is still inside her mother. The abortionist will then use an instrument to suck out the baby’s brains before finally delivering her head, which may or may not still be attached to her body – depending on the severity of force used by the abortionist.

Donald Trump said “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip it out of the womb of the mother, just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Al Smith Catholic Charity dinner last night.

Last night both candidates were guests at the Alfred E. Smith Catholic charities dinner. While the tradition of the Alfred E. Smith dinner to invite the Republican and Democrat nominee to raise money for charity is admirable, it was disturbing to see Cardinal Dolan laughing and joking with Hillary Clinton less than twenty-four hours after Hillary announced she supports abortion up to the moment of birth.  Worse, when he spoke at the end, he made a vague oblique reference to the life of the unborn when he said some of the money raised would help poor women give birth.

I understand that the dinner is to raise money and everyone tries to be civil, but both Trump and Hillary took shots at each other as if it were a campaign rally.  Certainly, Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of the Diocese of New York, traditionally viewed as the spokesman for the Catholic Church in the United States, could and should have spoken in plain language that it is wrong to kill the unborn.  He should have said killing an unborn child minutes before the child is born is infanticide, immoral, and an intrinsic evil according the Catholic Church.

I find it ironic that on Monday night this week Cardinal Dolan was speaking at The Bishop’s Respect Life dinner for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

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What stopped the Cardinal from saying something in defense of the unborn? Was he afraid of spoiling a posh dinner? Is he afraid of offending people? Or is it that he knows that many of the extremely rich and powerful catholics in that room support Hillary and her pro-choice stance, and he doesn’t want to upset them?

Personally, if it was me, I would have waited for that moment between the main course and dessert. I would have got up and simply said “If you vote for Hillary Clinton, then you have the innocent blood of the unborn on your hands. Enjoy your dessert!”

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Sources: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/10/al_smith_dinner_cardinal_dolan_fails_to_speak_against_abortion.html#ixzz4NiuY1xiM

Clinging onto Christ on top of a 20ft pole.

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St Simeon Stylites was a fifth century monk who set off a trend for hermits to live on top of pillars. Totally bonkers, right?! I remember being told this story as a 7 year old and just collapsing with irreverent laughter wondering how he managed to go to the bathroom😀

Little did I know he was to become on of the most important saints in my life. In fact I had completely forgotten about him until I had a conversation with my Byzantine friend today. 

St Simeon climbed his pillar in AD412 to get away from the hordes of disciples and onlookers who came to visit him, having heard reports of his already extreme self-denying lifestyle. He once survived Lent without eating or drinking anything, and followed this achievement up by standing stock still until he collapsed.

He spent the rest of his life on a succession of ever higher pillars, to get away from the crowds who continued to visit him, with supplies delivered by village boys climbing up to the top.

After he died, his fame spread and he spawned scores of imitators, known as Stylites from the Greek word for pillar, “style”.

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The remains of St Simeon’s pillar before the airstrike.

 

The monastery which houses the remains of his pillar north-west of Aleppo, has been a tourist attraction for centuries, and has come under the control of different groups in the civil war. Tragically in May this year an airstrike hit the monastery and damaged the remains of his pillar.

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It is such a shame as I really would have like to visit it one day. I’m not sure that I ever will now.

The reason he has become one of the most important saints in my life is because of the pillar. It is such a vulnerable position to be in – stuck on top of a pillar. But spiritually speaking this is exactly the place in which Christ is calling us to be.

Christ stands with us on the pillar and all we can do is to cling to Him as tight as we can and rely on him for absolutely everything. If we let go we are in immediate danger. If we cling on He wraps us in His embrace. It’s a no-brainer!😀

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St Simeon Stylites in Minecraft made by my 7 year old!

So up until this point I have been listening in the desert. But I guess that wasn’t enough. Now it seems I am stuck on top of a 20ft pole!😀

My need to cling, and to be held in God’s embrace has been something I have wanted desperately for a long time, but I didn’t know how to do it. Now I know. It was that place of complete trust, and total vulnerability and reliance on Him that I needed to get to.

And now i’m here I don’t think i’ll be coming down any time soon🙂

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! 😀