The truth about that Pope Benedict letter (and the last paragraph they “forgot” to publish)

francis books

The now infamous letter and the “small volumes” written on the Theology of Pope Francis.

So if you haven’t heard by now, the entire world is up in arms regarding a letter sent from Pope Emeritus Benedict to Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications. BXVI wrote the letter in thanks for having received an advance copy of the recently released series of books on the Theology of Pope Francis.

On 12 January, Mgr. Viganò wrote to BXVI, asking him to write something on eleven volumes, in which many theologians speak of the theology of Pope Francis. BXVI replied, stating that these books “contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation…” He then seems to gush as he tells us that Francis is a “man of profound philosophical and theological formation… and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Here is Mgr. Viganò telling us (in Italian) all about it:

Sounds like quite an endorsement hey? – for Francis and for the set of books. I mean, who could possibly give a greater endorsement than BXVI? He is one of the greatest theologians we have ever had.

Many people have been extremely upset by this incident. Despairing bloggers have turned on BXVI calling him a liberal in disguise. I have had priests coming to me in tears about the fact that they feel betrayed by his comments. I have to say I was also shocked when I read it, but something didn’t seem right, and as I opened up social media I was reassured by the massive amount of people – even critics of BXVI and non-Catholics who were saying that this must be false.

Now, I am not particularly educated myself, but you do not have to be a theologian to work out that BXVI and Francis are like chalk and cheese when it comes to, well, everything. It seemed very strange that BXVI – a man of almost infinite theological knowledge and insight, would suggest that there is very little difference between the two Popes. There clearly is. Infact this comment was so out of character that half of Twitter was debating whether BXVI was suffering from senile dementia!

The other thing that struck me as being a bit fishy was the way he seemed to openly chastise those who criticise Francis. This is certainly not the BXVI I met almost 12 months ago. He was the most gentle and meek man you could ever meet: full of joy, always smiling, deeply serene. He simply does not use harsh and hurtful words to criticise the faithful. He never has. He is truly gentle – even when correcting people. We can see this from his 2013 letter to the atheist mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

So what on Earth is going on?


When I met BXVI last year.

Well it seems that Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications, has not been 100% honest with us. You see, he withheld the last paragraph of the letter from the press, which does rather put the entire letter into a different context. Read the entire letter (below) keeping in mind the omitted paragraph (in bold), and you can see that there is much more going on between the lines than we have been led to believe:

From: Benedictus XVI, Pope Emeritus

To: Rev. Lord Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication.

Vatican CITY, 7 February 2018

Most Reverend Monsignor,

I thank you for your kind letter of 12 January and for the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice that Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of special theological or philosophical formation, while I would be only a theorist of theology that would have understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.

The small volumes show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences in style and temperament.

However, I do not feel like writing a short and dense theological page on them because in all my life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also really read. Unfortunately, even for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven volumes in the near future, all the more so because I am already waiting for other commitments.

I am sure he will have understanding and I greet him cordially.


Benedict XVI.


In short – he hasn’t read them! And he does not intend to! He blames his “other commitments” but I truly wonder how packed a schedule a 90 year old man can have!

In reality Mgr. Viganò has spun it. He chose deliberately not to include the final paragraph which puts the letter in a completely different light. In actual fact, the third paragraph completely empties the first two paragraphs and the attempt to credit the endorsement.

There is no doubt here that Mgr. Viganò has manipulated the situation, because he could not manipulate BXVI himself. Ironically, he has also seemed to completely miss the gentle and subtle way BXVI has chosen to defend himself from the bullying. BXVI masterfully deflected the attack with politeness and calmness – showing that he is still mentally absolutely astute. Mgr. Viganò failed to read between the lines, he failed to notice the mastful and subtle irony and now he has made himself look stupid.  Because of him, the entirety of Pope Francis’ profound philosophical and theological knowledge will now be referred to for the rest of time as the “small volumes” LOL!


It is interesting to me that they would chose to use BXVI to prop up Francis in this way. If Francis is such a wonderful theologian, then why would he need the endorsement of another Pope? Surely he can stand on his own two feet without needing to lean on BXVI? Or is his popularity really that low now?

I chuckled a little when I imagined for a second that the tables were turned: Could we really imagine BXVI going to Francis for an endorsement of his next book?! I don’t think so!

I think this whole sorry debacle has brought to light the collapse of the communications reform that Francis wanted. Its centralisation is in fact, a reflection of the centralisation of “Bergoglio” in this pontificate. It is all simply an empty failing propaganda machine.

But the piece de resistance comes in the form of a quote by Mgr. Viganò himself in which he describes how the worst kind of fake news stories are not made up out of thin air, but are actually true stories that have been spun:

“Fake news is one of the elements that poisons relationships. These are true-to-life news stories, but the information is in fact unfounded, partial, and not even false. In fake news, the problem is not the non-truthfulness, which is very evident, but the verisimilitude (the appearance of being true or real.)”

– Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretary for Communication (an interview with the Vatican News portal, commenting on the Pope’s message for the 52nd World Communications Day, which will be celebrated next May 13, but a text was released today, as per tradition, for the feast of St. Francis de Sales patron of journalists.)

To end, I would like to answer a question that despairing faithful Catholics ask me all the time: Why doesn’t BXVI come out and say something harsh and critical against Francis?

The answer is simple: That is not his style.

UPDATE!! The Vatican has ADMITTED that they doctored the photo of the letter!! HERE:

Realistic Lent.


I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine yesterday about what we were giving up for lent. He felt the Lord was really calling him to rise at 3am every night and pray the Divine Office as a monk would do. I remarked that this was probably going to interfere with his job because he would be tired during the day, to  which he replied that it would be a sacrifice he would be happy to make (under the guidance of his spiritual director).

I then asked him if he would also be giving up coffee (he really likes coffee). He told me no – he wouldn’t be giving up coffee because that was too weak a fast. Lent demands harsher fasts. I replied that if it coffee was not a big deal to give up, then he would have no problem doing it, right?

No. He was not going to give up his coffee. 🙂

So I suggested he try only giving up his first cup of coffee in the morning…

No. If he gave up his first cup of coffee in the morning then it would be everyone else that would be doing the pennance because he would be so crabby! 😀 (An opportunity to do more penance and hold your tongue perhaps…? 🙂 )

So I suggested he give up another cup of coffee during the day instead…

“No! I’m not giving up my damn coffee!!”

Ok 🙂 I guess it is too easy a fast, huh? 😉

It was becoming apparent that even suggesting giving up even one cup of coffee was making him mad 🙂 I find most people are the same. I guess we all tend to rely on caffeine more than we rely on God – even if we do not want to admit it to ourselves. Of course it does not have to be coffee, but we all have a ‘thing’ or ‘things’ that we are highly attached to already present in our ordinary daily lives. We are so attached to these things that we would literally do ANYTHING other than face our attachment and offer it to God – even invent harsher and more elaborate penances that will make us feel as if we have made sufficient effort during Lent.

But after Lent has ended, we will still be attached to those tiny ‘things’ already present in our ordinary daily lives that we just can’t live without. We will still be attached, so what progress have we made?


Going into Lent this year, let’s identify that tiny ‘thing’ that we just can’t live without. That ‘thing’ that we rely on to satisfy us and keep us in our comfort zone on a daily basis more than we rely on God (who never keeps us in our comfort zone). It could be caffeine, social media, TV, food, porn or whatever – even going to bed on time or not being late for things. Only you know what that ‘thing’ is. That small, supposedly insignificant thing already present in your ordinary daily life.

I guess when we really think about it, that tiny, insignificant cup of coffee that you rely on several times a day, would actually be a MASSIVE fast for you. You can gauge it by how annoyed it makes you feel to think about giving it up!  It takes humility to admit we are so weak.

I personally cannot give up coffee entirely. It is too much for me to realistically and sustainably take on for 6 weeks. So I will give up my first cup each day, and that, quite frankly, is about as much as I can do this year. But I will do it obediently and with my whole heart. Lent is not an endurance test. It is not a diet. It is about love and trust. It is about our willingness to detach ourselves from the things we rely on more than God. It is not the size or style of the fast that God is interested in, but the spiritual effort required from us, and our reliance on Him to sustain us through it.

Little things done with great love…

The important life and death of my baby.


I am still not really ready to write this post. But I want to anyway.

About 3 weeks ago I had a miscarriage. It was very early – I only knew I was pregnant for about 10 days. But from the moment I saw a positive result on the pregnancy test I loved this child as much as my other 3 children. I immediately consecrated my child to Mary and loved him with all my heart and soul.

Like my other children, this baby was planned and very much wanted. But it did take an almost heroic leap of faith for me to consent to being open to life a 4th time. My husband now works from home, but was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 4 years ago – 3 months after the birth of our 3rd child. He has been unable to work at all for most of the last 4 years. But pretty much as soon as he got his home business up and running we both knew we had to take that leap of faith and try for, perhaps, our last child. I will be 39 this year, and I went into this 4th pregnancy in full knowledge of the toll it was going to take on me physically, and all the risks involved, but we still wanted another baby so much.


On the night I began to miscarry, I told Jesus I was scared about what was going to happen to my baby. He told me “Look Clare, he is either going to be with you, or with Me.” Those words gave me a huge amount of comfort in the very worst of circumstances. Whatever was going to happen, my baby would be safe.

The next few days I just cried and cried. Tears of grief that only the women in this special ‘club’ will understand. A club nobody wants to be a member of. My husband felt disappointed, but did not feel the need to gieve like I was. And that is fine. Everyone handles it differently. But he does respect my grief, and is being extremely supportive.

A few days in and I start with the anger – mainly at God. “So where the F**K is my baby?” Refusal to pray, refusal to receive Him in the Eucharist, storming out halfway through Mass. Worry about how I am going to raise my kids Catholic now I hate God. Worry that I will have to close my business because I will never be able to make another vestment ever again. Paralyzing fear He will take my other kids. Terrible, terrible guilt and loneliness because I cannot bear to be with the God who ‘took my baby’. I still believe in Him, I just HATE Him.

We did not get the chance to baptise our baby… where is he? The church teaches that in the case of unbaptised infants, we must ‘rely on the mercy of God’. The same mercy that permitted my baby to be taken from me? I’m not sure I am interested in that sort of mercy. I no longer have any desire to enter heaven when I didn’t even know where my dead kid is. My plan was to go looking for him after I died. (Can I just make the point here that pastorally speaking, the Church fails spectacularly in reassuring mothers of dead unbaptised infants.)

I asked for prayers and I got them. I can only thank those who have been incredibly patient and loving with me during the last few weeks. I was truly humbled by the huge outpouring of love from the online Catholic community. I have never realised how much I rely on my brothers and sisters love until now.


When the depression hit I knew I had to quit work for a while and the only thing I could think of doing was something physical. So I started going to the Gym 5 days a week. It was a great idea and has really stemmed that depression, and has also given me a great outlet for the anger.

One of the most painful things for me was when people tried to downplay the importance and uniqueness of my baby when they said stuff like “Oh, well, it was very early…” and “obviously not meant to be…” and “you’ll have another one…”. No! I’m sorry, No! My kid WAS, I mean IS important! There will never be another human being like him! He will not be able to be ‘replaced’ with another baby – EVER!

The turning point came for me when a friends teenage son tried to commit suicide twice in one week. I suddenly realised that my child was already safe. He would never be in danger of Hell. He will never suffer, or know sin or pain or sadness or grief. But more than that I realised that my child could possibly intercede for my friends son. I just turned round one day and told my kid “Sweetheart – we’ve got work to do!” But I needed a sign from God that he was in heaven.

My sign came that Sunday evening when I was granted to be with my baby during Mass. Except he was not a baby at all. He was the fullness of who he was as a human being – a young man. Since then he has been with me every day, and will continue to be with me everyday for the rest of my life until he comes to throw his arms round me when I die. I am looking forward to that day immensely, but I have some more stuff to do here first, like raise his other 3 siblings! The relationship I have with him is obviously different from the relationship I have with his siblings, but nonetheless it is a relationship, and it will continue to grow and develop.


Since then I have had other people come to me asking for my son to intercede for them. I have found this rather strange, but moving, and also I think it is helping me reach some sort of level of acceptance of the situation – of which I am still grieving. Everytime someone does ask, it affirms that my sons very short life and death, does have infinite meaning and purpose, and this is extremely important to me. He WAS meant to be.

To have a son already in heaven has built a bridge for me between this life and the next which can never be broken. Heaven no longer feels so far away. The veil that separates this life from the next just got that bit thinner.



Top 5 Catholic Christmas present ideas.

What better way to evangelise to those in laws you love so much than to buy them a Catholic inspired gift! Or perhaps you might want to let your priest know how much he is appreciated? Or even just want it for yourself! 😀

Anyway, here are my top 5 Christmas Gift Ideas from Di Clara.

1. Brown Scapular. (3 styles available)

This is the highest quality hand made scapular on the market today. The Brown Scapular is a wonderful devotion practiced by millions of people worldwide. It carries promises for the one who wears it. In the year 1251, in the town of Aylesford in England, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. She handed him a brown woolen scapular and said, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” She also promised to shorten their stay in purgatory if they should pass from this world still owing some debt of punishment. 3 designs available HERE.

2. Catholic aprons.

Do you have a Catholic who just wont sit down? or perhaps a “Rigid” who doesn’t mind a bit of fun?! Then here is the gift solution you have been looking for. A not very expensive way of making someone smile 🙂

3. 2018 House Blessing.

The perfect Christmas gift for friends and family. Every Catholic home should have one. Epiphany 6th January (also known as Twelfth Night, Theophany, or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of blessing ones house. What does the inscription 20 + C + M + B + 18 mean? The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi — Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar — who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The 3 crowns represent the 3 Kings. The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “18” at the end mark the year.

4. Virgin Mary Tote Bag. (4 colours available)

This bag, besides being beautiful, is a fantastic tool for evangelisation. Believers and non-believers alike will be drawn to the beauty of the design. The perfect opportunity to share the beauty of the Mother Mary with others! 4 designs available HERE.

5. Mantilla.

If you have not yet got your wife a mantilla, do so! Or perhaps ladies, you need to be getting yourself one and giving it to him to wrap! (This is what happens in our house 😉 !) And now we have the brand new Cathedral length mantilla veils. All come with free hair clips and slide and a satin Di Clara carry bag.

Ok and just one more bonus gift…

Priests Chalice Pall.

This is one for your priest. A beautifully embroidered Chalice pall to be used during Mass. A MUST for any Pope Benedict or Padre Pio fan.

Please come and visit for many other unusual and beautiful ideas for Christmas. Available only while stocks last.

Pope Francis’ correction, and the “end of the world”.

As I was doing my sons RE homework the other night I remembered that the book of revelation is about the “end of the world” but in fact a huge amount of Catholic scholars believe it to be the end of Jerusalem and the final sacking of the temple – which really was the end of the world as far as the Jews were concerned.
Of course it was better described as the end of an era – which I think best describes what we are seeing now in the Catholic Church.
With the formal correction issued to Pope Francis made public yesterday, I really feel this is the beginning of the end for the Catholic Church as we know it. I think this is a good thing and it is part of Our Lady’s plan. Just as Jerusalem was sacked and that era ended, I believe this time we are in now is the “end of the world” in terms of the Church. I believe we are now entering the time of “Tribulation” that is mentioned in so many Catholic prophecies ect. and that as a Church we will pass through that time and enter the “Era of Peace” that is also commonly spoke about.
And while yesterday didn’t see the physical world end or fire falling from the sky, perhaps in a strange sort of way Sept 23rd really was the day that the beginning of the end started, as far as this era of the church is concerned anyway…

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

Catholic Pregnant Mum of 5 enters Beauty Pageant!


Laura Beeson

My name is Laura Beeson, I’m a Catholic wife, mother, homemaker, beautician and sometimes singer.  So why did I, at the age of 30, with no previous experience decide to participate in a Mrs. Ohio International Pageant?  Because I wanted to.  

Now, most of my life is filled with doing things for others, and I’m happy to, I know I am serving Christ through my husband and children and volunteer work, but I learned that I don’t need to be so self-sacrificing that I won’t allow myself to have my own experiences.  If it would have been a burden to my family, I wouldn’t have followed through, but I’m frugal and self-sufficient and I’m not too proud to admit that I use YouTube videos to teach me the rest.  

For a while I struggled with guilty feelings about it all, am I just being vain?  Then one day as I contemplated it, I realized, I don’t need to feel bad about the things that bring me joy, because God gave me the interest and talent to be a beautician.  Yes, though it may seem mundane to others, hair and make-up and pretty clothes bring me joy.  And I’d go so far as to say that my Christianity helps me to filter through fads and fashion to see what truly shows beauty and discard what doesn’t, which only makes it more enjoyable.  


Originally, I had this grand plan that I would keep it a secret that only my husband would know and after the Pageant is when family or friends would find out.  Mostly because I just wanted to do it for myself and didn’t want to come across as attention-seeking.  But after learning more about Pageantry, I realized that was unrealistic, of course they want you to promote the pageant, the community you represent, your platform and yourself. That seemed fair.  

I had chosen the Couple to Couple League – Natural Family Planning as my platform, since my husband Sean and I are a certified volunteer teaching couple through the organization, this was a wonderful opportunity to promote this uncommon knowledge to other women and couples.  I told myself to let go of the pride, don’t worry about what others think, and just do it!  So for the six weeks leading up to the Pageant, I promoted myself as Mrs Crawford County through social media and my husband graciously obliged to go along with it all, I love that man.   


Now, let me make it clear, not all Pageant systems are created equal, but I liked what I saw within the Mrs. International system.  

What Is Mrs International®?
A FAMILY AFFAIR… The International Pageant system has been developed to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments, and commitment to family and marriage. Around the world women are finding this system to be the opportunity to work with their husband and family to become positive role models.


Our Mission: “To Make a Difference”
Beginning 30 years ago, Mrs. International® was developed to have higher standards than other pageant systems. Each contestant competes in Interview Competition, which is valued for 50% of her overall score, Evening Gown, valued for 25% and Fitness Wear for 25%. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice that she spends the year promoting. Husbands are a direct part of the show, escorting their wives in the Evening Gown competition, and the husband crowns his wife titleholder.

I’m sure there may be other Pageant Systems that I wouldn’t feel comfortable participating in or promoting, but this is a system where they value family and community work, I can stand with that.


Now, at the time, we had 4 kids, ages 7, 5, 3, & 1, as you can see, our kids have been pretty consistently spaced with the use of Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I know, plenty of people look at us and think, “Clearly that method doesn’t work,” but to us, it’s a testament that it has.  I’ve always been the “weird” gal who wanted a larger family, but after our 4th was born, I was feeling pretty worn down and in need of a mental and physical break, which NFP assisted us with.  I loved and served the family I had, started exercising regularly which did me more good than I realized it would, enjoyed the return to normal hormone levels and the regular body functions that accompany them.  

Then, all of a sudden, I found that God had changed my heart unexpectedly and having another baby wasn’t so scary anymore, and in fact, I was interested in another baby. So, we weighed our reasons to postpone pregnancy, and there weren’t too many anymore, I’d be 12 weeks pregnant for the Ohio Pageant and if I won and had to attend the International Pageant, I’d be 6 months along.  Basically, I realized that it was more important to be true to myself and allow the possibility of another life than to worry about how I’d look in a gown or how others’ perceived the workings of NFP.  So, it was no surprise to me, that I was 12 weeks pregnant for the Pageant, but I had decided to keep it a secret since I didn’t want there to be any wonderings about biased judging, nor had I been to the doctor yet for a check up.


The week leading up to the Pageant I packed my things, made sure I had everything I needed and reminded myself that no matter what, I was going to enjoy myself, because that was the point of me doing this whole thing.  If I made a mistake, or didn’t have something I needed, or spoke poorly, I’d let it go quickly and move on with enjoying the experience.

Saturday morning I arrived to the Pageant venue for Orientation to begin at 10 AM, there were 4 categories of ladies competing:  Junior Miss, Miss Teen, Miss & Mrs.  There were 6 of us in the Mrs. division.  Most of the day I fought the feelings of intimidation, I’d see a beautiful woman and before I’d allow myself to think one way or another about her, I’d make myself go over to her and start chatting.  And you know what?  Making yourself move is the hardest step, but after that, you start to enjoy yourself, because people are interesting!  I’ve learned that we women, do ourselves a disservice when we make judgements about other women by what we perceive from their appearance.  We miss out on possible friendships, opportunities to serve, or the chance to make ourselves a better well-rounded person. The way a woman looks on the outside, does not speak of who she is as a person.  

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob (well, they used a different word, but I won’t repeat it here) but once they got to know me, they say that word doesn’t describe me at all, whew, that’s a relief!  I don’t know why I’ve come across that way, but I think that’s helped me to develop myself into being more friendly than the stand-off-ish route I used to take when meeting others.  


Our interviews were with five different judges for five minutes each, the questions varied from “What are your plans if you win?” to “If you were an animal, what would you be?”  I’d say it went well, and a hippo was my answer.  Most of the day was filled with covering what was expected of us and practicing as best we could for the Performance Pageant the next day.

Luckily, on Sunday morning I was able to find a Catholic Church that held a 7 AM mass that was only about a 15 minute drive from the Pageant venue, because we were expected to arrive by 8:20 AM and were not permitted to leave the building for the rest of the day.  The day was filled with rehearsal, hair & make up and more rehearsal before the show began at 5 PM.  

I’d say I kept up with the “pros” just fine, I didn’t forget my name, I didn’t trip on stage, or stammer for words during the Fish Bowl question.  I did realize after one portion that I had forgotten to look at the judges, so I knew I didn’t have a perfect score, but I planned to do the best I could for the remainder of the event.  I ate pizza while waiting to showcase my Fitness Wear in the changing room, clearly I took it all very seriously.  And the best part was my wonderful husband got to escort me across the stage in my evening gown, looking quite dapper himself.  


I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the wonderful Teri Grothaus won the title of Mrs. Ohio International, she’s a CNP who goes on mission trips to Guatemala and collects bottles of vitamins to distribute to the children there, and I think it’s safe to say we knew almost immediately we were kindred spirits.  She’s a gem, and this week I’m cheering her on as she competes in the Mrs. International Pageant representing our state of Ohio!

Looking in retrospect, I’m happy about it all:  that I did it, that I informed others about NFP, that I could show my kids that you can enjoy the things you lose at, that it helped me to develop in characteristic ways I had let slack.  

So, would I do it again?  To my delighted surprise, the answer is yes.  Will I?  I don’t know, maybe.  That’s what I love about life, I don’t have to make definitive answers about the future, because I don’t know what God has planned, but if I leave myself open to the possibilities, then I haven’t limited myself.  Whether I do or don’t, I’ll strap on the Breastplate of Christ and go about my way, hopefully letting Him carry me into unlikely places and sharing uncommon things in the world around me.

– Laura Beeson

What is modesty anyway?

modestyI was trying to write this post on modesty, and then I realised I was way too cheeky. So I scrapped the first version and am now re-writing the post from the position of someone who struggles with modesty.

I’m 38 now, overweight and knackered from my 3 kids – which helps. It was much more of a struggle when I was younger and totally hot and had loads of energy. In someways it is actually a relief to be too tired to be bothered about how I look, and all that male attention I used to get is really the last thing I want nowadays. However, I’m not dead yet. I think it is important to look nice. But there is a difference between looking nice and looking sexy.


The truth is, if you are a woman and you have a pulse, men are going to find you attractive. It took me many years and many prayers before it dawned on me that being a woman comes with a huge amount of responsibility. It also helped when I started to learn about how porn effects a mans brain to the point where it can quite easily become a fully fledged addiction. Suddenly the smug ego trip I used to get from all the attention changed into the horrifying emptiness of the thought that some of those men would actually be aiming for holiness and I was causing them to stumble.

I started to think about how I was dressing, but quickly realised that modesty is much, much more than just the clothes we wear. It is attitude, behaviour, motivation. Lets face it – it is possible to be covered up from head to toe and still lick an ice-lolly in an immodest way. You see my point?

It is possible to wear a burka, a space suit or bin bag and STILL flash that smile and bat those eyelashes. Modesty is not just about how we present ourselves on the outside, but also what out motivations are on the inside.

I wanted to be desired by the men and envied by the women. But it was all very much under the surface. I don’t think I was even totally aware of it myself. I wanted attention. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel loved and adored. I wanted to feel successful. Modern western society taught me that I would gain these things by being sexually appealing.

But my desires were not fulled by love or goodness. They were fulled by fear. The truth is that I had a self esteem problem. Deep down I didn’t believe I was special, or lovable, and so what I was trying to do was to prove to myself that I was. The problem was that the attention I was getting from men was not fulled by love or goodness either – it was fulled by lust, which meant that I was never finding the attention and love I so desperately needed – which only made me try harder to find it by becoming more and more appealing. It is a vicious circle – and it only gets harder as we age.


If I am honest, I do still struggle with modesty, not so much in a sexual way now, but in a reality kind of way. Even now I still have echos of those deep fears that I am somehow not appealing enough as a person, and it is all too easy to paint that smile on and present a version of myself on social media that is more appealing than the real person sitting behind the keyboard. You do it too…

I am finding that the more I meditate on how Christ sees me, the less concerned I am becoming about how other people see me – or even how I see myself. Ironically, I have trouble accepting His love. Perhaps because I still don’t really believe I am worthy of it – which of course I am not, but He chooses to give it to me anyway. I hold my crucifix and still can’t figure that one out.  With Him there is no need to try. There is no need for hair dye or botox or breast implants. He created me – He knows all my flaws, inside and out, and He still loves me. For some reason I find that extremely painful and overwhelming and often find myself holding my crucifix and wiping my tears. But I guess healing does hurt sometimes.

And the real punchline here is that my whole life – while I have been trying my hardest to get peoples attention left right and centre, I missed the fact that He was there all along trying to get mine.


Giving more in the bedroom – Catholic style :)


Luke 21:1-4

21 He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

This wonderful piece of scripture illustrated perfectly how I teach people how to fast. Often people approach fasting as a rule bound endurance test in which discipline reigns supreme and we all feel awful and end up just hating fasting – or simply give up.

The way I approach fasting is to encourage people to give up just 1 cup of coffee in the morning, but to do it out of pure love for God, in conjunction with a short prayer. You see, fasting is all about love. It is about how much we are willing to give. How much we are willing to joyfully suffer is the measure of our love (God never enjoys a grumpy faster! 😀 ).

Love and suffering go hand in hand and can never be separated. This is such a fundamental truth of Christianity, illustrated perfectly by Christ on the cross, that it can very quickly become overwhelming. My approach is very much based on the spirituality of St Therese of Lisieux: little things done with great love. If we can understand the concept of the indissolubility of love and suffering in the smallest thing, then we can begin to apply it to bigger things in our lives.


The absolute key element is that we must be very honest with ourselves about how much we are able to give at this point in our lives. If we are holding back, then we are holding back our love and we will never grow closer to God. If we are giving too much, then we are going to burnout and become resentful about giving any more. Both of these polarised stances are as harmful as each other. Balance is the key. Honesty, patience and compassion towards ourselves, and support from a faithful and experienced spiritual director who knows us and how much we can cope with.

The poor widow got this exactly right. She un-begrudgingly gave all she could give, and it was the right amount. Of course we don’t know this woman’s circumstances outside of this story. She may have had family or friends supporting her. She may have been relying entirely on God to provide for her needs. I very much doubt Jesus would have approved so strongly of her generosity if it meant she was going to make herself ill, or cause her not to be able to cope. She realistically gave all she could at that time in her life.

Some of my friends and family know that I fast. They don’t get why! I try explaining but their hearts are just not in the right place to understand about how I want to reciprocate the enormous love shown to me by Jesus on the Cross, with little acts of self sacrifice – and I respect that. Everyone is at a different stage. I’m sure they are stronger in other areas where I am very weak.


It struck me this morning that this story, and the way it relates to fasting can also be applied perfectly to the Catholic Churches teaching on married couples being open to life.

Of course the norm in our secular society is to use artificial contraception. We used artificial contraception for the first 5 years of our marriage. But the Church teaches that this way of having sex causes us to hold back our love. Love, in a Catholic marriage is about the entire self giving of ones self to the other – and to God. This is probably one of the hardest teachings we will ever face because it cuts down to the very core of who we are as people and our need to love and to be loved. Also, artificial contraception gives the impression that sex is something that we have the right to control and use as we please. This view is so normalised now within our secular society that being open to life and having a large family is sadly regarded as odd.

What I find so sad is that people using artificial contraception just don’t know what they are missing out on. Having lived both lifestyles, I can absolutely attest to the fact that being open to life is so, so much better. It is healthier, more natural, teaches you and your husband respect for your body and your fertility, empowers you to be able to discuss marriage, sex and babies in a much more open and giving way with God as the boss. But that is not to say that it is easy. It took me about 6 years to get to the stage where I could peacefully and happily be open to life.

Image result for natural family planning

Just like with fasting, I was struggling with how much I was willing to give – how much I could give at that point in my life. This is why I say it really is a lifestyle, rather than just a part of ones life. As I prayed about being open to life, I found myself beginning to prioritise different things in my life, giving things up, re-ordering things. I found myself deciding that at this point in my life, remaining open to life was more important to me than having a career. That is not to say that I gave up my job – but only that it now ranked less important on my list of priorities. Of course at this time in our lives my husband had a good job and there was not real need for me to work – so I was in a position to be able to give that up. I was also lucky enough to have a husband who was also keen to be open to life. Many people don’t have this. We were both in good health and had support from my parents. Many people don’t have this either. But most crucially, I wanted to give more – just like I wanted to fast. I was at that stage in my spiritual life where I could feel God calling me to do this.

The rewards that came to the marriage from us both giving more came as a complete surprise to both of us. Rather than “What am I getting out of this marriage?” it changed to “What more can I give to this marriage?”. All 3 of our children were planned. In fact our second and third child were conceived quickly using NFP to determine when I was at peak ovulation. Our first child took over a year because we hadn’t learned about my cycle at that point and obviously didn’t know what the heck we were doing! 😀


But it wasn’t always easy to get into the giving mindset. I don’t have easy pregnancies. I get very sick and very big and very tired. I really do not like being pregnant very much at all. My first experience of birth was very traumatising and I swore blind after that that I could never have another child because I could just never go through that again. The day after our first child was born my Father in law died, and my husband started a new job. We grieved all through our first days of becoming parents. It was awful. My husband was not able to get into the Father role emotionally for over a year. I had to do it on my own.

After my first two children I had crushing post natal depression. After my second I got 9 months of 24/7 tinnitus. We went through the most horrendous time as a couple. I really felt overwhelmed a lot of the time and that I wasn’t really coping or doing a good job as a Mum. I got mastitis after all 3 and couldn’t breastfeed – and I know that if I have another baby I will get it again because that is just how my body is made. And through all these times I struggled agonisingly with being open to life.

We often failed to stick to the teaching, not out of pure selfishness or greed or lust, but out of not being able to cope with the stress and the pressure of normal life, and the need to be loved and comforted by each other. I often felt like a terrible failure at these times – which was the totally wrong outlook. We are only human. Just as in fasting – you can only give your all. Any more than that and you start to make yourself ill, or resentful about giving more. And lets not underestimate for a second the damage that is caused by unchecked resentment in the bedroom, or the rest of the marriage. For some people, even giving up one cup of coffee is a struggle, and you simply cannot ask anymore of them at that stage in their life if they are truly giving their all. We are all at different stages.

IT IS OK TO STRUGGLE! Struggling means that the desire to live the teaching is there, even if you are not quite able to do it yet. My advice to this would be exactly what I would say about fasting: be patient and compassionate with yourself, take it to confession and let it go, and keep going 🙂 What would make it easier for you to be open to life? What would make it possible for you to be able to give more? Have you ever tried the Little Way Of Fasting?

Image result for couple with baby

There is one last thing…

The Catholic church teaches that “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness” CCC 2368

It is possible to use NFP with an artificial contraception mindset. That is to say that there is no good reason why you should be avoiding having another child right now. Reasons for this would be based upon a couple preferring a smaller family and a more comfortable lifestyle. This totally goes against the philosophy of being open to life and certainly is not giving your all. In terms of fasting this would be like giving up your cup of coffee in the morning, but having a cup of tea instead – you really arn’t giving anything.

Of course that is not to say that people do have very real reasons to avoid pregnancy. The mothers life might be at risk from another pregnancy for example. In my case, my husband is sick and unable to work which has put me in the position of breadwinner. I can honestly say that I am at the limit of what I can give right now. And that’s ok 🙂

It is all about love. How much are we willing to love? How much are we willing to give? Be it fasting or being open to life, the same rule applies: We must never give begrudgingly, and just like the poor widow, God does not expect me to give anymore than my absolute all. We are all a work in progress 🙂

Keep giving! 🙂

The first time I wore a mantilla…

Rhoslyn small

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 who offer flat rate shipping worldwide.