My high point of the 2016 Olympics – Bikini vs Burkini.

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Nothing illustrates the culture clash of Islam and the west better than a bikini vs burkini olympic volleyball match.

At least the Italian woman has remembered to protect her eyes, hey?! That’s a nice pair of Sunglasses! 😀

I find myself looking at the inappropriateness of both these outfits in regards to the sport being played and wonder which one I actually prefer. I guess if I looked anywhere near as good as the woman on the left then I would probably feel right at home in a pair of dental-floss knickers. But the fact remains that after 3 kids I would probably prefer to heap my fat porridge belly into the outfit on the right. 😀

But seriously, I’m not sure I would be too happy about letting my teenage son watch this match on TV…

Unlike the West, Islam has not passed through a secular sexual revolution. I do not like very much about Islam, but I do appreciate their value of modesty – even if they do take it to the Nth degree.

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And this is probably the time to articulate my pet hate about semi naked women in church. Why?! Why do you not think about what you are wearing?! What are your clothes saying to the men around you – including the priest? Why come to church in hotpants?! Why expose the rest of us to your acres of naked flesh?! Why does my husband have to have your butt in his face when he is trying to pray?!

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And then of course there are the strapless bridesmaids dresses…

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But seriously, more and more these days I am finding that the western sexual revolution has run its sordid course. Modesty has actually become counter cultural in our society, which means like everything else counter cultural, it is going to be attracting those who find themselves disillusioned and unsatisfied with what western secular culture has to offer.

And while the Feminazis brains go into shut down at the sight of this volleyball match due to not knowing which of the women is more oppressed and exploited, someone needs to teach all those people disillusioned and unsatisfied with our hyper sexualised culture about modesty, and religion.

And if the Christians don’t do it, the Muslims will be more than happy to do so.

 

 

The problem with the Church of ‘nice’.

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Perfect family…    …perfect teeth.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect mother. And I don’t pretend to be – anymore.

I fight with my husband and my kids all the time. Most of the time it is over silly little things. They drive me mad. I drive them mad. We all have to live together.

I often used to think that I was doing something wrong. Everyone else seemed to have these perfect ‘nice’ marriages and perfect ‘nice’ families, and my marriage and family were just not like that. It became a point of shame for me that we were not as perfect as other people and really started to get me down.

Satan would whisper things in my ear like “Your marriage is not working… You are not cut out for motherhood… You are failing.” Of course the Father of lies is the master of keeping himself hidden, so I believed that what he was saying was true.

I think the biggest lie I believed was “You are not good enough.” My response to this was to try harder. Mistake.

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*Puke*

The scales began to fall from my eyes when one day a close friend who had the perfect marriage and family confided in me that her husband was obsessed with work and never spent any time at home, and she was in love with another man. She was terrified I would judge her. I didn’t of course because she was my friend and I loved her – but I couldn’t understand how her perfect marriage had got into that state?

I kept her confidence, and marveled at how they managed to keep it together at family events – still projecting the facade that everything was still ‘nice’.

The second eye opener for me was when a family member got divorced. It came as a complete shock for everyone because they seemed to be the perfect couple. It seems there was major troubles within the relationship that no-one knew about.

The third and most painful eye-opener was when I decided to hide my post natal depression. I was so ill, but I was so ashamed of not being as good as all the other mothers – or so I thought at the time. Then I found out that another friend was on antidepressants and that she also felt utterly trapped in the unending cycle of nappies, feeding and crying.

When I recovered from the depression I began to see things in a new light.  I looked at all my friends and their marriages and families and realised that all of us were struggling. It still makes me smile now when I see newly weds, or first time parents desperately trying to convey the ‘nice’ picture of perfect domestic bliss, because I know that Satan will be whispering the exact same thing into their ears as he was into mine. They are gonna have to work it out for themselves just like I did. I wouldn’t have believed it if anyone had tried to tell me anyway…

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*Real life*

This culture of perfection that we all seem to be striving for is based on pride. The fact is that none of us are good enough to carry out God’s plan for our lives. That’s right – I just said we are not good enough. Well, the truth is that we aren’t – and that was the final piece of the puzzle for me.

“I can’t do this Father, but You can. Please, I need You Father, I need You.”

It is amazing how the weight of my whole life just lifted off me at that moment. Realising that I was incapable was the most freeing moment of my life because it finally allowed me to rely entirely on God. And for the first time at that moment, it made sense that I should be entirely truthful with other people about how I find marriage and motherhood incredibly difficult at times. If I was ever going to be able to give an authentic witness to the sacrament of Marriage or to motherhood, then I was going to have to let people see that I was not perfect, and that that was ok.

What better witness to the truth is there than letting people see God’s mercy made perfect in my weakness? I am in need of a saviour. I need my Father.

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I bet these nice people don’t sin.

This exact same principle applies to the Church at large. People do not need a perfectly veneered version of the church. In fact I would say that this is probably the most off putting, disingenuous way of presenting things. If you try to give people the Church of ‘nice’ you are leading them to believe that everyone in that church is already perfect. Then they try to be perfect, and fail, and then try to cover up their shame and get totally put off because they can’t live up to your churches unattainably high moral standards. You know – they are probably terrible sinners, just like you are.

People need to see the truth, and the truth is that we as the church are just a big bunch of helpless sinners in need of a saviour. That includes the laity and the clergy. My role in evangelising amounts to nothing more than me being one beggar, telling another beggar where the bread is.

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People aren’t looking for ‘nice’. They are looking for truth. And the truth is that none of us are perfect, yet God still loves us unconditionally and wants us to totally rely on Him, and return to Him again and again through the sacrament of Confession.

It all sounds like gibberish to me.

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Tower of Babel

My priest gave a great Pentecost homily today. He Began by talking about the tower of Babel. The rather over confident (more like arrogant) people of that time wanted to build a tower high enough to reach God – ie. they wanted to control God. When God saw what they were trying to do He confused all their languages. In the confusion and communication breakdown the whole project failed.

Then we have Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descends on the disciples and they suddenly realise they have the ability to speak in all different tongues. They are understood by everyone.

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What struck me about these two situations was the issue of control. The people building the tower of Babel wanted complete control. The fools wanted a relationship with God, but they wanted to be in charge. God wasn’t having any of it! They were completely full of themselves. The tower of Babel and desire to be in control was mans initiative.

In contrast, the disciples had let go of themselves and their own ideas had been filled with the Holy Spirit. They had all received many spiritual gifts – power, if you will, but it was God’s power and they knew and respected that. They were not full of themselves but were full of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was God’s initiative.

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If we take these ideas into the present day we can see that things have not changed so much! Within the Catholic Church we have certain pro-abortion ‘Theologians’, and certain pro-divorce and remarriage Cardinals. We have the pink clergy brigade and the lunacy of the coven of banshee’s that will not stop screeching about female ordination.

Honestly, some of the stuff these guys come out with is so hard to get one’s head around – it would be easier to decipher and translate an army of Minions than it would be to work out what those groups are saying.

All these groups do seem to want a relationship with God, but they want it on their terms. Oh but hang on a minuet, I do too. There were many years I was having a relationship with Christ but refused to stop using contraception. And then there was the phase when I used to use prayer as an escape from the duties of a wife and a mother. That phase must have been rather tiresome for God. I would turn up to pray feeling all holy and excellent, and then I would just run the show and talk, talk, talk and wouldn’t let God get a word in edgeways! I couldn’t risk actually listening to God – He might tell me that the best place to find Him was in the pots and pans! 😉  – (Teresa of Avila).

And then there is the issue of suffering. “I promise I will believe in You God and I’ll never do anything wrong again – just as long as You don’t ask me to suffer in my life, ever. Well maybe a little bit but only as much as I say is ok…” 

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We all try to control God in our subtle little ways. It stems from our chronic lack of trust and chronic lack of humility problem. Yeah, that’s  what was afflicting the Tower of Babel builders, and that’s what affects us today. And when we begin to rely on ourselves in this life we soon find that nothing makes sense – just like the Babel builders did.

But as we see from Pentecost, when we let go of ourselves and our own ideas in complete humility and trust, God can then come and fill that space with His Spirit, and all of a sudden everything makes sense – even the really crazy impossible paradoxical stuff like agape love. We must let go, and let God.

I’m still working on it… 😉

The Jewish roots of the Eucharist.

Very excited to introduce my mum – Julie Brook who has been reading the amazing book ‘Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist’ by Brandt Pitre, and has written this great article for Faith in our Families…

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By Julie Brook

Did you know that the Jews had Sacred Bread which the priests elevated in the Temple before the people every Sabbath saying, ‘Behold God’s love for you’? Or that at every Passover the sacrificial lambs were fixed on a kind of crucifix? Or that the Jews were expecting a new Exodus? Or that a cup of wine was missing at the Last Supper?

Did you think that the Jews were expecting a political figure? What they were really waiting for was the restoration of Israel in a new Exodus. The first Exodus ensured the freedom of the Jews to worship God. By sacrificing on Mount Sinai Moses and the people sealed their Covenant relationship with God concluding the ritual with a great feast. Soon afterwards the Jews broke the Covenant by worshipping the Golden Calf but a thousand years later the prophet Jeremiah foretold a new, everlasting Covenant.

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After the Exodus the Jews built a Tabernacle as the central point of God’s presence in their midst. It was a small, moveable building, the dwelling place of God on earth. The later Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was permanent and far more splendid but it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 537BC. King Cyrus of Persia permitted it to be rebuilt but it never regained its splendor.

The prophets now forecast a new Covenant, a new Temple that God would build in the age of salvation at the time of a new Exodus. It would bring both Jews and Gentiles into a new Promised Land which they would possess forever. The new Moses would be a Messiah, a king, prophet and miracle-worker who would rain down bread from heaven. Redemption would take place on a Passover night and a new Covenant would end in a heavenly banquet.

This new Exodus would need a new Passover. The procedure for the first Passover was as follows: first, sacrificing an unblemished male lamb (a priestly action), spreading the blood of the lamb on the doorposts (averting the angel of death), and to complete the sacrifice, eating the lamb and finally keeping the Passover as a Remembrance.

Fifteen centuries later, at the time of Jesus, the lamb had to be sacrificed in the Temple and eaten in Jerusalem. The Jews would drive a thin smooth stave of wood through the shoulders of the lamb in order to hang it and skin it. Another spit would transfix it right through from the lower parts right up to the head. Jesus would have gone up to Jerusalem every year and seen lambs bled and crucified – thus prefiguring his own death.

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The last supper

There are similarities between the Last Supper and the traditional Passover which took place in Jerusalem after sunset on Passover night; wine was drunk, the meaning of the bread was explained and a final hymn was sung. The father of the family led the ceremony and explained the meaning of the lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs (which fulfilled God’s original command to keep the Passover as a day of ‘Remembrance’).

Jesus, however, acted as host and leader of the Apostles, not as their father. He focused on the New Covenant rather than on the events of the first Exodus. Without mentioning the body and blood of the Passover lamb he spoke of his own body and blood while handling the traditional food – bread and wine – stating ‘This is my Body’ and ‘ This is my Blood’, and commanding the Apostles to  ‘Do this in memory of me.’ Thus, Jesus deliberately changed the format.

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Manna in the desert

The manna in the desert was a miraculous bread from heaven. It appeared in the same quantity, about one litre, never lasted for more than one day, was provided for forty years and stopped the day after the Israelites reached the Promised Land. Some of the manna was preserved in the Temple as being holy, from God. The Jews came to believe that this bread existed in heaven before the world began, and it would return to earth again one day at the new Exodus with the Messiah.

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Bread of the Presence

The holy bread in the Temple – the Bread of the Presence – was in the form of twelve cakes for the twelve tribes of Israel; with the wine offering it was the sign of God’s Presence, his Holy Face, an everlasting Covenant, offered by the High Priest and eaten by priests in Jerusalem. At the Last Supper there were twelve apostles, there was the Bread and Wine of Jesus’ presence, offered by Jesus himself in a new Covenant and eaten by the Apostles (now priests).

The Last Supper was not just a new Passover, or new Manna; it was also the institution of the new Bread and Wine of the Presence i.e. Jesus. Like the priests in the Temple before him, Jesus was saying, ‘Behold God’s love for you’. A mandatory part of the Jewish Passover was the four cups of wine. The first cup was blessed before the food was brought in. The second was drunk after the father’s telling of the Exodus story. After the meal started the third cup was blessed and drunk, and the concluding rites were the singing of the Psalms and the drinking of the fourth cup. It was forbidden to drink any wine between the third and fourth cup.

Luke 22: 14 – 20 mentions only two cups. The first of these was drunk by the Apostles and Jesus said, ‘…I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ The second cup mentioned came after supper, so it was the traditional third cup. This was the moment when Jesus said, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new Covenant in my blood.’ The psalm was sung and they all went out to Gethsemane. There is no mention here of the fourth cup, and yet the Passover was not complete without it.

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A soldier offers Jesus wine with myrrh.

Imagine the bewilderment of the apostles. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed three times about the cup he must drink. This must be the fourth cup. On the cross Jesus was offered wine and myrrh, a traditional act of mercy to dull the pain of crucifixion, but Jesus refused it. Later he cried out, ‘I thirst’, thus asking for a drink, and was offered vinegar (sour wine) which he accepted. He then said, ‘It is finished’. This was the fourth cup, taken at the very moment of death.

By vowing not to drink the last cup at the Last Supper, Jesus extended his last Passover meal to include his own death, so uniting the Last Supper to his death on the cross. No Passover meal was complete without the eating of the lamb; now Jesus’ disciples might understand his insistence (John 6:35 – 58) that in order to have life we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is the Body and Blood of the resurrected Jesus, holy indeed and the source of everlasting life.

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brandt Pitre. Doubleday.  ISBN 978-0-385-53184-9

 

When God heaps crap on your life.

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Some smiting taking place here.

Well, as you know I am trying to give up worrying for lent. I have discovered so far that beauty has an important role to play in this as it reminds us that God is bigger than us and that He is good.

The next thing I am beginning to realise is how little time I spend praising God. Beauty inspires us to praise Him. But praising Him when we are going through a trial or period of suffering is not so straight forward. After all – why would I want to praise a God who is allowing me to suffer? Sometimes I think my bad attitude lends itself much more naturally to just lamenting about the fact that I generally feel so smited. I’d much rather just attend my own pity party.

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This sort of question about suffering cuts through to the real depths of our faith. I suppose the first answer here is to recognise that God allowed his Son to suffer. Does that make God a bad God? No, because through the suffering of His son is revealed our redemption, and God’s incredible love for us sinners.  Suffering, in accordance with God’s plan, achieves stuff.

Does it?

Yes. But we often can’t always see how or what it is achieving until we have come the other side of it. Then we can look back and realise how much we have grown.

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But it’s not easy, is it?

No. It’s not.

In my own experience  over the last two years I feel like I have been completely stripped back down to the bone in every area of my being: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. God has then taken my bones and ground them down into dust – just to make sure He is getting His point across properly 😉

But  perhaps He is right? (Of course He’s right – He’s God!) But seriously, there must be a plan in all this right? That is what separates those with faith from those with no faith. I couldn’t imagine facing lifes trials with no faith in God’s plan because then the suffering would just be meaningless. In that frame of mind there is the opportunity to find utter despair. But with faith there is always hope – and openmindedness.

I had a rather good plan for my life. It involved us having lots of cash and a nice big house and a nice big car and me not having to work. And we were doing that. But it seemed that for all our hard work and planning, God had a different plan.

It seems that God thought it was much more important for my husband to have the opportunity to spend much more time with the children, to reassess where his life was taking him, and also to test our marriage and our faith in Him. I guess we were lacking in several areas right?!

Well, I was. I have never taken responsibility for myself as an adult. I absolutely made an Idol of my husband who has basically looked after me like a Dad for the last 17 years. That has to change right? God wants to be in first place in my life. And He wants me to live according to His will. It seems that for all my good intentions I was still living according to my will.

I guess my lack of praise to God only illuminates the self centred nature of my heart. My bad. I didn’t realise quite how little room I has given Him. I claim to love Him, yet when it comes to the crunch I am not happy to do His will. I guess sometimes God has to strip us back down to our bear selves and then crush our bones to be able to revive and rebuild them in His image. If I would just co-operate… the whole procedure would be a lot less painful for the both of us!

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This is me.

Psalm 51 says it well:

“…Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. Purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you. O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness….” – Psalm 51

There is also my favorite Gospel, Luke 13:6-9, The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree:

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

In a nutshell, this Gospel tells us that if you are not producing enough good fruit, then God will heap a load of crap onto your life and agitate you until you do.

And on that note… enjoy your day 🙂

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The Litany of Humility.

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This is one of the best prayers I have ever come across. We cannot change without humility. Let us pray this Lent that we can let go, and let God change us where we need it. Take courage! Amen.

Litany of Humility.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

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 curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle…” – CCC 2715

 

The Jesse Tree – A family guide through the season of Advent.

My dear friend Lynne has just finished her new book. It looks amazing for those of us with young families. I ordered my copy today! You can order your copy HERE and please come and like the Jesse Tree FACEBOOK PAGE

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By Lynne Drozdik Wardach

When I undertook the task of compiling material for this book, in no way did I ever envision it as a finished product. As any young Catholic mother, I strove constantly to weave the threads of the faith into the fabric of our daily lives wherever I was able. With the shopping, and baking, and wrapping, and visiting and every other secular activity that seemed to occupy the minds of my little disciples at Christmas time, it occurred to me that the preparation for the season seemed the perfect time to do just that, but how?

I began my search and fell upon the concept of the Jesse Tree. This was quite a novel idea to me at the time and reading the Old Testament scripture stories was something my children enjoyed already. As the advent season approached that year, I made a small list of their favorite stories, pulled out my parents’ old Christmas tree and set it up in the family room. We began with the creation of the world that year and my two oldest made little earths from some modeling clay, just as God would have done when He sculpted our world. We spoke of how God must have felt that day as He did so. “Do you think He ever mushed the world back up into a ball like that and started over, like you just did?” “Don’t forget those polar ice caps! Where do polar bears live?” My son made all the planets and the stars too as he loved to look at them at night. So much to learn! We ran a loop of string through each one, and tagged it with the child’s name and the year it was made.

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“Don’t forget those polar ice caps!”

These precious creations are beloved still and grace our tree every year when these same little disciples, now adults themselves mind you, rush to the box to search for them. We talk now about those little lessons that went with each ornament, more deeply and practically now, of course. They remember all the little talking points I used when I was their primary teacher of life, illustrating God’s point for my little disciples. It was my goal at the time that they not forget any of them, so I wrote them all down at night after they went to sleep. This, dear parents…THIS is why I worked so hard compile it all and share this advent adventure with you.

At that time, my own mother looked me in the eye and tearfully and somewhat prophetically told me that THIS was the happiest time of my life. This was the busiest, craziest, messiest, most emotional time with five small children all clamoring for my attention, but it was wonderful! She was so very right. This activity was more to my family than just catechesis; it took those teaching points and attached precious memories that hopefully will live on in them when God entrusts them with their very own little disciples. Perhaps they will remember me too!

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Now, to speak practically, it took me over fifteen years to write the material in this book. You may notice that there are 40 lessons. We are a Byzantine rite Catholic family, so for us the pre-Christmas preparatory season begins on November 15. It is called Philipovka, or St. Philip’s fast, because it begins the day after the feast of St. Philip and lasts for 40 days until Christmas. We realize this is much more material than the average Christian family might use in their own home as they celebrate Advent, but bear in mind that you need not use it every day to be practical. Some families may choose to do the even days one year, and the odd days the next. Some may do one per week, skipping around the lessons as they like and do more over the next several years.

In my own family, we did this, and found that as the children grew, it became more practical to review the story and the lesson and then let them search for past ornaments, now keepsakes, that they had made to adorn the tree. It may also be the case that the tree itself may be difficult to display due to space and size. A friend of mine has solved this dilemma by copying and laminating the icon that accompanies each lesson, and crafting that into a flat ornament to tack to a wall in her kitchen, in the form of a tree. Each family will come to use this book as it suits them best.

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This book is intended to help each family develop a greater understanding of salvation history over the span of many years. The ways in which each family will use this material will also evolve over time and grow and change as the little disciples in the family grow and change. Use this in whatever way works best for you! I hope that it becomes a beloved tradition in your domestic church and that it brings your family as much joy as it has brought to mine.

God bless! Lynne x

Lynne Drozdik Wardach

Lynne Drozdik Wardach

The themes each day include reading the account from scripture as a family, a lesson for the children and making a Commemorative Ornament.
November 15    Introduction to the Jesse Tree
November 16    The Creation and Fall of the Angels
November 17    The Creation of the Earth
November 18    The Creation of Adam and Eve
November 19    The First Sin
November 20    Cain and Abel
November 21    Noah and the Great Flood
November 22    The Tower of Babel
November 23    Abraham
November 24    The Three Visitors
November 25    The Offering of Isaac
November 26    Jacob
November 27    Joseph
November 28    Moses
November 29    The Passover and Exodus
November 30    The Parting of the Red Sea
December 1    The Ten Commandments
December 2    Joshua and the Fall of Jericho
December 3    Gideon
December 4    Ruth
December 5    Samuel
December 6    David and Goliath
December 7    David the Shepherd
December 8    Elijah
December 9    Esther
December 10    Isaiah
December 11    Jeremiah
December 12    Micah
December 13    Habbakuk
December 14    Nehemiah
December 15    The Three Brave Youths
December 16    Daniel in the Lion’s Den
December 17    Jonah and the Whale
December 18    The Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel
December 19    Elizabeth and Zaccharias
December 20    The Visitation
December 21    John the Baptist
December 22    Joseph
December 23    The Magi
December 24    Jesus:  The Birth of the Messiah
December 25    Christ is Born!

You can order your copy HERE and please come and like the Jesse Tree FACEBOOK PAGE

The Time of the Lukewarm Church is Over.

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St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher.

Many are feeling discouraged or even despair that many cardinals – including Vincent Nichols, are supportive of the notion that individuals should be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not they should receive our Lord in the Eucharist despite being in a state of mortal sin. But I am beginning to see something else I never dreamed I would see so soon in my lifetime.

Every time I check my Facebook or Twitter feed, every faithful catholic blog I read, every faithful priest, or lay person I come across is suddenly, all at once proclaiming the truth of the indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage, the healing freedom of the sacrament of Confession and our Lord’s real presence in the sacrament of Holy Eucharist.

Whether it be a gentle line or two in their own twitter feeds, or a reply correcting a heretic spreading false messages of fake mercy, the faithful are fighting tooth and nail to shout the truth of the Catholic church from the rooftops.

Most are delivering it in a gentle but firm way, and those who are finding themselves consumed by frustration and passion are learning quickly the correct, informed, prayerful composed approach with which to deliver the truth.

Before the Synod I had NEVER heard a priest speak on contraception, adultery, homosexuality or even marriage in general. Now that is all I seem to be hearing! It seems to me that the Holy Spirit has found a voice in the faithful who are no longer afraid to speak the truth in these matters. Yes, you will lose some friends, you might lose family, you will definitely lose members of your congregation, but the time of the lukewarm church is over. It is time to decide to live for radically for Christ – or just get out.

Now is the time for a strong, faithful church full of people in love with Jesus Christ, living radically counter-cultural prayerful lives in which the Gospel can be clearly witnessed by those around them in the normal day to day aspects of their daily living. Now is the time for those who wish to step courageously out onto the road to holiness – to sainthood – even to martyrdom: dying to themselves so they can live more fully for Christ.

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

This synod really is the last roll of the dice for the likes of Kasper and his cronies. In 5 or 10 years the majority of the Spirit of Vatican 2 generation will be dead, and that shameful period in the life of the church will become history. But I am 35, and I am strong. My relationship/prayer life with Jesus and His Mother is strong. My kids are being brought up secure in the truth. We are the future of the church.

God gave me a big mouth and I’m not afraid to use it! Ha!Ha! I am not afraid of proclaiming the truth – whatever the cost 🙂  Truth is absolute. You can’t have versions of the truth. That is called Relativism and had been condemned as one of the biggest evils of the 20th century. ++Vincent Nichols it seems is afraid of this absolute truth. Remember how he reacted when the 500 priests asked him to re-affirm the churches teaching on marriage? He panicked. He faltered. Why? Because he knows that there is very little he can do to stop the power of the Holy Spirit moving among his priests 🙂

Priests, Bishops, Deacons, Nuns, Mothers, Fathers, Husbands, Wives, Children… Do Not Be Afraid! Ha!Ha! Pray. Become the saints of tomorrow. Do not be afraid to choose the road to holiness. Once you step onto it you will find you will never walk it alone.

Pray, proclaim the truth, live the Gospel. Do Not Be Afraid! Begin to usher in the new springtime of the Catholic Church.

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us.

Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us.