How Tinnitus Prepared me for Carmel.

Tinnitus

I was recently sent a rather snooty message by a diocesan priest who used to be a Trappist monk. He was telling me that it was basically impossible for me to live a contemplative life in the context of a family home. He told me my children would not find my ‘requirement’ for silence much fun. He also told me it was impossible to be a contemplative without silence. I decided not to reply. But I do hope he reads this blog post.

The Lord began preparing me for contemplative life at home 5 and a half years ago – two weeks before Annabel was born – by giving me Tinnitus.

It was nothing other than torture. It was 9 months before I began to have even brief periods of not noticing the noises. At its worst it was louder than the phone ringing. In my left ear I had (and sometimes still have) a Morse-code style beeping. In my right ear there was a high pitched whistle. In my head there was a low pitched rumbling, and every so often I would get a really loud pure-tone that would drown out ALL other outside noise. So I would go completely deaf for a few seconds which was absolutely terrifying.

The worst part was that my brain was registering the noise as an outside threat, which meant that I would experience high levels of anxiety during the day and insomnia at night. I would lie awake at night listening to the noise. I had a new baby which meant that when I did manage to fall asleep, I would soon get woken up again by the noise of a crying baby. Then I would feed her, in the silence of the night, all alone in my prison of noise. Then I would take sleeping pills to knock me out. In the morning I would wake up, and the noise was still there. It never went away.

My husband couldn’t hear the noises going on inside my ears. No-one could hear it except me. It was so loud. I was so alone. I am not over dramatising this – tragically, earlier this year a 47 year old woman chose Euthanasia because she was unable to cope with her Tinnitus.

It was too much. I knew I couldn’t die because I had kids to raise, so just accepted that the rest of my life would be filled with a cacophony of beeping and whistling and rumbling.

As I began to accept and improve, my tinnitus therapist kept asking me if my tinnitus was holding me back in any way in my life. After careful consideration I told her “No, I can still still do everything, but… I would like to be able to pray.” She suggested mindfullness. Initially I found this to be life-changingly helpful. It did help me accept the intense suffering I was experiencing in a calm way, but it soon became apparent that there was a fair bit of *wacky* stuff that accompanied it. So I dropped it. But it did lead me into how my own faith viewed suffering. I kept remembering a line I must have read years before, something about “Joy in suffering”. It took me back to the saint who had claimed me for her own 11 years previously – St Teresa of Avila. I didn’t know why she was making an appearance in my life once more, but all I can tell you is that I felt her with me very strongly throughout that time of noise.

As time passed and my life continued in a strange sort of way. I accepted the noise. I cried because of the noise. I masked the noise with the TV and radio and found relief from the noise in my crying baby and my raucous 3 year old son. I couldn’t pray – or so I thought. I cursed myself for wasting all those quiet moments I had previously. I cursed God for giving me tinnitus. I cried and screamed at Him because I was at my wits end and I couldn’t think because of the noise. I told Him I didn’t understand – that there was no point to this. It wasn’t achieving anything. I begged Him to take it away. But He didn’t.

Usually I feel God very close to me, but at that time it was like He was withdrawn to a distance. I felt as if God had abandoned me, like He was enjoying torturing me. I wanted to hate Him, but I loved Him too much to hate Him. I thought about all this a lot.

The removal of silence from my life changed me. I had to concentrate on not becoming overwhelmed by the noise. I got very good at this. It’s amazing what you can do when you are pushed to the brink. As my anxiety began to decrease I used to experiment by sitting down and facing my noise – instead of trying to run away from it. I would actually sit and listen to it – develop a relationship with it almost. But in hindsight what I was actually doing was finding the deeper silence within myself, the silence of my soul. Teresa was guiding me, I could feel that, but I didn’t quite know how.

No-one on the outside could hear my noise. In fact here were only 2 people who could hear my noise – me and God. And when I would sit and listen to my noise, God would be there too. I began to realise that there must be purpose in all of this, but I didn’t know what that was. I allowed Him to sit with me while I explored my noise, and the place inside it was directing me to. He was in that place. My noise had driven me into the desert. Only me and Him were in that place. I was at the core of who I was in Him, and I found peace there. Not audible peace, but spiritual peace.

I began experimenting with this ‘place’, this desert. I began going there more often. I was not afraid there because He was there. Pretty soon I was finding myself in this place all the time throughout the day. It became totally natural to be in this place of extreme calm and inner silence, while I carried on with looking after the children – with the noise was still ringing in my ears.

As I began to recover from the tinnitus I did begin to experience times of real silence once more – something I thought would never happen again. During these times of real silence I would sit and just listen to the silence. Beautiful silence. I would let the silence surround me and go in me and through me and touch my heart in a way I didn’t really understand. It was if the peaceful desert my tinnitus had lead me to was now on the outside too. I felt the silence, and God was there.

It was another 5 years before I had any indication whatsoever of why God put me through that period of suffering. But in hindsight it is now obvious to me that there was no better preparation for the life of a secular Carmelite than this. To be a ‘contemplative in the world’ meant I would most likely be surrounded by noise all the time – which I am. I have the noise of the hoover, the children, my husband, the car etc. Are these bad noises? No! They are beautiful noises – they are the sounds of my primary vocation. “Doesn’t it distract you?” No! How can they distract me – they are the point of my focus! “But when do you get time to pray?” I am praying all the time. I can be here in my kitchen making the dinner, and at the same time I am in my desert with my Lord and Creator. And when I do get quiet periods during the day I sit and enjoy the silence – perhaps in a way you cannot understand if you have not had tinnitus. You could be a Trappist monk for 50 years, but I don’t think you really understand or appreciate silence until it has been force-ably taken away from you. Teresa will tell you that.

Last month during our Carmelite studies, I laughed out loud when I discovered that during her life Teresa had tinnitus too!

St Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

St Paul, pray for us.

St Louis de Montfort, pray for us.

Edmund’s Friday F A S T – Family Actions – Spirituality Thoughts

Edmund Adamus

Friday January 23rd, 2015

Transmitting the Faith – hands on!

This week I was facilitating the ground-breaking marriage promotion project “Explore” www.theexploreexperience.co.uk in one of our schools with 150 year-10 boys. To see 5 volunteer married couples sharing their stories of love, joy, sorrow, loss, hope and faith with these young men to inspire them, to one day to aspire to marriage was truly edifying and a privileged apostolate to support.

In one of the sessions where pupils are invited to share what their fears are for the future and the prospect of marriage, one student declared he feared ‘having a daughter!’ You can imagine the levels of amused response. But on reflection, it begs a deeper question about why and from where does the lack of appreciative understanding come from between the sexes at such a tender age, apart from the usual and very natural tensions that exist between boys and girls as they grow up?

Boys will pick up so much about how they ought to treat the opposite sex from the way they see the measure of love and respect shown by their father to their mother. And where that wholesome presence, for whatever reason, isn’t and cannot be present through no one’s fault, it just means that as parents, grandparents and even godparents, we have to ‘up our game’ as they say to increase the amount of time and ways in which we positively interact with the young ones in our life. That interaction is so much of an indispensable contribution to their natural and healthy formation in human sexuality; i.e understanding at a sub-conscious level their being a boy or girl is a gift from God in whose image and likeness they are made.

Making images, creating godly things together – adults and children – is so much a part of this development in flourishing relationships. We all know how satisfying – even if it requires special effort – it can be to have a child help us out in preparing a meal or laying the table or completing some type of chore. How much more rewarding can it be then when we choose to make or create something together that is explicitly religious and spiritual like the family crib or prayer shrine in the home?

To that end, I highly recommend the “Jesse Box” www.thejessebox.com. The Jesse Box is ‘an interactive learning tool that helps the instruction of the faith through the narrative of salvation history. It consists of many Bible stories and events that walk students through God’s saving plan from Creation to Eternal Life. Liturgical year stories are included. After reading and listening to the Scripture passage, the children bring to life the Bible story using arts and crafts.’ The one-off purchase of the Box – £25 from Catholic Truth Society – is well worth it as the follow up storylines and materials to create the other scenes are all downloadable for free. This could be a nice gift for a child preparing for First Holy Communion maybe? Or even a birthday gift or no reason at all.

And I’m joining the social wave! You can now follow me on twitter @edmundadamus.

– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster

Stop your Whining.

This is from a newspaper in 1959 and so awesome i just had to share it with you… I wish someone had told this to me when i was a spoiled whining brat! (not that i would have listened, eh Mum?)

 

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Northland College principle John Tapene has offered the following words from a Judge who regularly deals with youth.

“Always we hear the cry from teenagers ‘What can we do? Where can we go?’. My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no-one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!”

 

 

 

Taking a break…

As you may have noticed I have missed the last few weeks Gospel reflections. Sorry about that. I’m afraid I am just so pregnant now and it is also the start of the summer school holiday for my 7 and 3 year old – along with the fact that we are trying to move house and it is 30 degrees!

I have a 50 inch waist! (that is 4 foot 2 inches, or 1 meter 27 cm !!!!!!!) and I still have 2 months to go!

pregnant

I am going to be taking a break from blogging for a while now until after the baby is born.

God bless you all and I’ll see you in a few months!

Clare x

Gay Marriage – What happened in Parliament…

I was overwhelmed to hear the MP’s tell of how much mail they had received on the same-sex marriage issue. They said it was the most they had ever received on one single issue, and the vast, vast majority of it opposed the bill. (Of course those in favour decided not to talk about their bulging mail bags – because that would put them in a position where they would look as if they were IGNORING their constituents!)

But what really struck me yesterday while watching the same-sex marriage debate in parliament was how un-equal the legislation actually is. So much so that David Cameron has actually had the word ‘Equal’  removed from the title of the bill! The main points of inequality are that same-sex marriages do not require fidelity, or even consummation. Therefor, the grounds for divorce are completely different from those of a hetero marriage. And if equality was really the goal then surely civil partnerships should also be offered to hetero couples? (This would however create a situation in which it was legally viable for me to marry my sister! – or even my son! which would probably make the whole thing a laughing stock right?! – but hey, each to their own – we wouldn’t want to discriminate against people who want to marry within their own families would we? After all if the two people really love each other then what’s the problem?!…)

(Here is a lovely pic of the happy couple – just before they formalise their non- faithful, non-consummatory, legally equal, hetero civil wedding-marriage!… Lol! – just kidding!)

Here are some of the MP’s comments opposing the bill from yesterday’s debate:

Tory John Glen (Salisbury) questioned the politics of the move: “By a factor of a least 30 to one my constituents have expressed their opposition to this. The level of disappointment of a much larger minority, as witnessed by the 635,000 who have signed the coalition for marriage petition, is keenly felt and will, in my view, be a highly motivated electoral minority in future elections.”

Senior Tory Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, said: “I will vote against this measure tonight not because I think the world will end if we see it pass but because I have serious misgivings that in spite of the minister’s commendable efforts, recognised by the Church of England, it is impossible to guarantee that religious freedom will not be compromised.”

David Burrowes said he had received death threats about his opposition to the measure and his children had been taunted and told “their dad’s a bigot”. He said he was “very sad” at Mr Cameron’s plan and added: “The redefinition downgrades marriage to a personal relationship not bound by the obligations to society, community and family which have stood the test of time and is an increasingly popular institution.”

Former minister Edward Leigh said the plans were an affront to many traditional Conservatives. “We should be in the business of protecting cherished institutions and our cultural heritage otherwise what, I ask, is a Conservative Party for? Indeed we are alienating people who have voted for us for all their lives, leaving them with no one to vote for.”

Tory former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said the legislation was a “massive change” which “deeply affects the core fabric of our society through the challenge it poses to the whole institution of marriage”.

Conservative Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) said: “It is not possible to redefine marriage. Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any Government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.” It had been suggested, he said, that a civil union bill could be created “that applies to all people irrespective or their sexuality, or their relationships, and that means brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters and brothers and sisters as well”. Sir Roger stressed he did not subscribe to the notion, but added he recognised the merit in the argument.

The size of the vote against the Bill’s second reading indicated that scores of Tory MPs opposed the measure but a number of Labour MPs also spoke against the plans.

Stoke on Trent South MP Robert Flello said: “Civil partnerships are equal to marriage – they might not have the same name but they are equal. “It’s not simply about the love and commitment of the happy couple, as important as that is. If marriage was simply about love and commitment, we would first have to define love as being sexual love otherwise non-sexual relationships based on love and commitment would also have to be treated as marriage if that really were the definition of equality.” Mr Flello said the Bill would create two forms of marriage – traditional marriage and same sex marriage – which were still not “equal” with the plans trying to “engineer cultural equivalence”.

Labour’s Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton) said the Bill would change the very nature of marriage and law and was both “hasty and destructive”.

Dr Sharon James, Coalition For Marriage said “We’re absolutely delighted at the scale of those MPs who voted against this. It’s way more than we thought it would be at the start of our campaign. I’m disturbed to hear many MPs say that people are writing to them to say they disagree with gay marriage, but that they’re wrong. Those MPs are holding their constituents in contempt. However, I was pleased to hear in the parliamentary debate that some MPs talked of being flooded with letters and emails from people against gay marriage, and that those MPs are listening. This isn’t a done deal, it’s the beginning of a parliamentary process.”

So you see, David Cameron now has a huge problem. The majority of his own party (approx. 140) voted against him last night. and about another 75 conservatives abstained. This was a much larger opposition than anyone was expecting. It now causes Davy Boy a real problem. And it is a problem that is not going to go away. How long do you think it will be before we start to hear shouts of no confidence coming from the bowels of the conservative party?! Tread carefully David – you’re on thin ice.

“I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appals me.”

Great article…

By  A N Wilson

PUBLISHED: 23:24, 4 January  2013 |  UPDATED: 19:03,  7 January 2013

Humorous: In the view of poet Philip Larkin, the Sexual Revolution started 50 years agoHumorous: In the view of poet Philip Larkin, the Sexual  Revolution started 50 years ago

The Sexual Revolution started 50 years ago.  At least, that was the view of the poet Philip Larkin, who wrote:

‘Sexual intercourse began In nineteen sixty-three. Between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first  LP.’

Probably when today’s students read this  poem, they understand the reference to the Beatles first LP, but need a bit of  help with ‘the Chatterley ban’. D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s  Lover, had been banned for obscenity, and all the liberal-minded ‘great and the  good’ — novelists, professors of literature, an Anglican bishop and sociologists  — trooped to the Old Bailey to explain to a learned judge why Penguin Books  should be allowed to publish it. To my mind, Lawrence’s account of how a  sex-starved rich woman romps naked in the woods with her husband’s gamekeeper is  risible. It is hard to read the accounts of them  cavorting in the rain, and sticking wild flowers in one another’s pubic hair,  without laughing.

Yet the great English Literature professors  of the Fifties and Sixties spoke of Lady C in the same breath as the most  wonderful writings of the world, and the Chatterley trial in 1960 marked a major  watershed. The prosecuting counsel, Mr Mervyn  Griffith-Jones, lost the case when he shot himself in the foot by asking the  jury whether they considered Lawrence’s bizarre novel was something they would  wish their wives or servants to read. By putting the question in that way and  referring to ‘servants’, he seemed to suggest that being loyal to one partner  was as outmoded as having a butler and a parlour-maid.

With the ban lifted, Lawrence’s book became  the best-selling novel of the early Sixties. And by the end of the decade,  hippies with flowers in their hair, or would-be hippies, were practising free  love Chatterley-style. Those who could not classify themselves as hippies looked  on a bit wistfully. Of course, Larkin — born in 1922 — was being  ironical and humorous. But the 1960s were a turning-point, and the decade did  undoubtedly herald the Sexual Revolution.

I was born in 1950, 28 years after Larkin.  And far from being ‘rather late for me’, the revolutionary doctrines of the  Sixties were all readily adopted by me and countless  others. From being schoolboys who read Lady  Chatterley under the sheets, to teenagers and young men who had the Rolling  Stones reverberating in our ears, we had no intention of being stuffy like our  parents. The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women  in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex. We  were saying goodbye to what Larkin (in that poem) called ‘A shame that started  at sixteen / And spread to everything.’
The Sixties: Teenagers and young men who had the Rolling Stones (pictured in 1964) reverberating in their ears had no intention of being stuffy like their parentsThe Sixties: Teenagers and young men who had the Rolling  Stones (pictured in 1964) reverberating in their ears had no intention of being  stuffy like their parents

But if the propagators of the Sexual  Revolution had been able to fast-forward 50 years, what would they have expected  to see? Surely not the shocking statistics about today’s sexual habits in the UK  which are available for all to study. In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried  out, a small rise on the previous year, and about seven per cent more than a  decade ago. Ninety-six per cent of these abortions were  funded by the NHS, i.e. by you and me, the taxpayer. One per cent of these were  performed because the would-be parents feared the child would be born  handicapped in some way. Forty-seven per cent were so-called medical abortions,  carried out because the health of mother and child were at  risk. The term ‘medical abortion’ is very widely  applied and covers the psychological ‘health’ of the patient. But even if you concede that a little less  than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that  more than 90,000 foetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a  means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away  because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way  inconvenient.

Lazy: When women neglected to take the Pill, there seemed all the more reason to use abortion as a form of birth controlLazy: When women neglected to take the Pill, there  seemed all the more reason to use abortion as a form of birth control

The Pill, far from reducing the numbers of  unwanted pregnancies, actually led to more. When women neglected to take the Pill, there  seemed all the more reason to use abortion as a form of birth  control. Despite the fact that, in the wake of the  Aids crisis, people were urged to use condoms and to indulge in safe-sex, the  message did not appear to get through. In the past few years, sexually transmitted  diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young  people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and other diseases, many of  them unaware they were infected until after they had been sexually active with a  number of partners.

The divorce statistics tell another miserable  story. About one third of marriages in Britain end in divorce. And because many  couples do not marry at all before splitting up, the number of broken homes is  even greater. This time of year is when the painfulness of  family break-up is felt most acutely. January 3 has been nicknamed ‘divorce day’  by lawyers. In a moving article in the Mail recently, Lowri Turner, a  twice-divorced mother of three children, wrote about the pain of waking up on  Christmas morning without her children. She looks at the presents under the  tree, with no children to open them, and thinks: ‘This isn’t the way things are  supposed to be.’

Every parent who has been through the often  self-inflicted hell of divorce will know what she means. So will the thousands of children this  Christmas who spent the day with only one parent — and often with that parent’s  new ‘partner’ whom they hate. I hold up my hands. I have been divorced.  Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the  liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was  concerned.

I made myself and dozens of people extremely  unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am  absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed  together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the  marriage bed. There were long periods when they found  marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching  irritation  and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply  dependent upon one  another in old age, and in an imperfect but  recognisable way, an object lesson  in the meaning of the word ‘love’.

Happiness: The GfK's most recent poll shows most of us feel that what will make us very happy is having a long-lasting, stable relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong marriageHappiness: The GfK’s most recent poll shows most of us  feel that what will make us very happy is having a long-lasting, stable  relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong  marriage.

Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinon Poll  conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very  happy to very unhappy. In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very  happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very  happy’, and the figures are falling. More than half of those questioned in the  GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them  happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with  only a quarter of singles.

The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had  the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature;  it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human  beings. It made nearly everyone feel that they were  free, or free-er, than their parents had been — free to smoke pot, free to sleep  around, free to pursue the passing dream of what felt, at the time, like  overwhelming love — an emotion which very seldom lasts, and a word which is  meaningless unless its definition includes commitment.  How easy it was to dismiss old-fashioned  sexual morality as ‘suburban’, as a prison for the human soul. How easy it was  to laugh at the ‘prudes’ who questioned the wisdom of what was happening in the  Sexual Revolution.

About one-third of marriages in Britain end in divorceAbout one-third of marriages in Britain end in  divorce

Yet, as the opinion poll shows, most of us  feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with  a succession of lovers. In fact, it is having a long-lasting, stable  relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong  marriage.

An amusing Victorian historian, John Seeley,  said the British Empire had been acquired in ‘a fit of absence of mind’. He  meant that no one sat down and planned for the British to take over large parts  of Asia and Africa: it was more a case of one thing leading to another. In many  ways, the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties and Seventies in Britain was a bit  like this. People became more prosperous. People were  living longer. The old-fashioned concept of staying in the same marriage and the  same job all your life suddenly seemed so, so boring. But in the Forties and Fifties, divorce had  not been an option for most people because it was so very expensive, in terms of  economic as well as emotional cost. So people slogged through their unhappy  phases and came out at the other end.

It is easy to see, then, if the tempting  option of escaping a boring marriage was presented, that so many people were  prone to take the adventurous chance of a new partner, a new way of  life. But the Sexual Revolution was not, of course,  all accidental. Not a bit of it. Many of the most influential opinion-formers of  the age were doing their best to undermine all traditional morality, and  especially the traditional morality of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which has  always taught that marriage is for life.

A decade on from the Chatterley trial, in  1971, an ‘alternative’ magazine called Oz, written by the Australian Richard  Neville and his mates, was had up, not for obscenity, but for ‘conspiracy to  debauch and corrupt the morals of children’. What brought the authors into trouble was  ‘The School Kids’ Issue’, which depicted Rupert Bear in a state of arousal, and  which carried many obscene adverts. The three perpetrators of the filth were sent  to prison, but the sentence was quashed on appeal.

The 'alternative' magazine called Oz, written by the Australian Richard Neville (pictured) and his mates, was had up for 'conspiracy to debauch and corrupt the morals of children'The ‘alternative’ magazine called Oz, written by the  Australian Richard Neville (pictured) and his mates, was had up for ‘conspiracy  to debauch and corrupt the morals of children. Their defender was none other than dear old  Mr Rumpole of the Bailey, John Mortimer QC — warming to the role of the nation’s  teddy bear. He said that if you were a ‘writer’, you  should be allowed to describe any activity, however depraved. Obscenity could not be defined or  identified. And it was positively good for us to be outraged from time to  time.  Even the Left-leaning liberal Noel Annan,  provost of King’s College, Cambridge, suggested this was nonsense. He remarked  that it was impossible to think of any civilisation in history that fitted  Mortimer’s propositions.  But when the Oz Three were released from  prison, the Chattering Classes all rejoiced.

Of course, this was the era when the BBC was  turning a blind eye to the predatory activities of Jimmy Savile, and when the  entire artistic and academic establishment was swayed by the ideas which John  Mortimer presented to the Court of Appeal: namely that old-fashioned ideas of  sexual morality were dead. Moribund. Over. From now on, anything goes — and it was  ‘repressive’ to teach children otherwise.

The wackier clerics of the Church of England,  the pundits of the BBC, the groovier representatives of the educational  establishment, the liberal Press, have all, since the Sexual Revolution began,  gone along with the notion that a relaxation of sexual morality will lead to a  more enlightened and happy society. This was despite the fact that all the  evidence around us demonstrates that the exact opposite is the  case.

In the Fifties, the era when people were  supposedly ‘repressed’, we were actually much happier than we have been more  recently — in an era when confused young people have been invited to make up  their own sexual morals as they went along. The old American cliché is that you can’t put  the toothpaste back in the tube; and it is usually a metaphor used to suggest  that it is impossible to turn the clock back in matters of public behaviour and  morality. Actually, you know, I think that is wrong.

One of the brilliantly funny things  about  the TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous was that the drunken,  chain-smoking, sexually  promiscuous old harridans Edina Monsoon (played  by Jennifer Saunders) and her  friend Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are despised  by the puritanical Saffy — Eddie’s  daughter.

The TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous featured the drunken, chain-smoking, sexually promiscuous old harridans Edina Monsoon (played by Jennifer Saunders, left) and her friend Patsy (Joanna Lumley)The TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous featured the drunken,  chain-smoking, sexually promiscuous old harridans Edina Monsoon (played by  Jennifer Saunders, left) and her friend Patsy (Joanna Lumley)

A small backlash has already definitely  occurred against that generation. I have not conducted a scientific survey, but  my impression, based on anecdotal evidence and the lives of the children of my  contemporaries, is that they are far less badly behaved, and far more sensible,  than we were.My guess is that the backlash will be even  greater in the wake of the whole Jimmy Savile affair, and in reaction against  the miserable world which my generation has handed on to our children — with our  confused sexual morality, and our broken homes.

Our generation, who started to grow up  ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP’ got it all so  horribly wrong.We ignored the obvious fact that moral  conventions develop in human societies for a reason.We may have thought it was ‘hypocritical’ to  condemn any form of sexual behaviour, and we may have dismissed the undoubted  happiness felt by married people as stuffy, repressed and old  hat.

But we were wrong, wrong,  wrong. Two generations have grown up — comprising  children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and  impulses before family stability and the needs of their  children. However, I don’t think this behaviour can  last much longer. The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused  by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive  rethink.  At least, let’s hope so.

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50 Golden years of Marriage!

My parents will be celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary later this year. I wrote them this poem…

 

How has your marriage, lasted for so long?

 

How has your marriage, lasted for so long?

Is it that mum is always right? – Or that Dad is never wrong?

Is it because you’ve never had to face financial strain?

Or worry how you are going to pay the bills this month again?

Perhaps it’s ‘cause your 7 kids have always been such angels!

Never testing you to the brink, whilst sitting round your table!

It must be ‘cause you’re never ill, and never suffer stress,

I know! It’s ‘cause the blooming house has never been a mess!

 

How has your marriage, lasted for so long?

How have you managed to stay where you belong?

Perhaps it’s ‘cause you realise that marriage isn’t just –

A soppy gooey feeling, of rainbows, hearts and lust!

Perhaps you realise marriage is not just based on ‘2’

But that promise that you made, affect’s those close to you.

At every stage throughout our lives, there’s always been ‘Mum and Dad’,

A pillar of strength for all your kids – in good times and in bad.

 

How has your marriage, lasted for so long?

These 50 Golden years, what has kept you strong?

Perhaps you’ve never disagreed (I can’t imagine how?!)

But as a child I never saw you fight, and never heard you row.

These things you don’t appreciate until you have your own

And find yourself wanting to provide, a very happy home.

So when we’re having hard times, and feel we can’t go on,

We’ll draw strength from the example of our loving Dad and Mum.

Sandy Hook

Please pray for all the families connected to the Sandy Hook tragedy. When we can’t find the words ourselves, sometimes others can say it for us…

In loving memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Children

Twenty new stars dancing in the night, they lead the way to Never-land, the second star on the right.
Twenty sweet voices float on the breeze, now cherubs who giggle, tickle, and tease.
Twenty doll faces, gone far too soon, leap merrily with the cow, who jumped over the moon.
Twenty first kisses never to be shared, “Eternally innocent.” the heavens declare.
Love never loved, stories never to be told, hearts never broken, children never to be old.
Dreams never dreamed, songs never sung, our hearts are heavy, our heads are hung.
We must not forget, six more gave their lives, heroes in the form of sisters, mothers, and wives.
All across the country hearts shattered and broke, we collectively prayed it was some cruel awful joke.
Our thoughts go out to the families, friends, and community, we wish them love, peace, and unity.
Tonight, hold your children just a little more snug, bury your face in their necks and cherish this hug.
Be careful not to let these moments slip past. You just never know when it might be your last.

 

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
with tiny lights, like heavens stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
but the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring;
for it’s beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me. I can see the pain in your heart,
but I am not so far away. We really aren’t apart.
So, be happy for me dear ones,
for you know, I’m spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

– Unknown

All Saints Day Cookies!

We had great fun this year making All Saints cookies!

My son chose to do St. Isidore – the patron saint of ‘not wanting to do your homework’ !

My 3-year-old daughter decided to do ‘St. Gingerbread-man’ ! (I decided not to argue with this comment until my son started singing “Pray! Pray! as fast as you can, you can’t catch me – I’m St. Gingerbread-man!”)

I would have liked to have shown you their efforts, but unfortunately both St. Isidore and St. Gingerbread-man were both suddenly martyred (eaten!) earlier on this afternoon. There is always next year!

Here are some that I made. There is a prize for the person who guesses all the names correctly!…

Funny! Funny! Funny! True real life Catholic stories.

~1~

Ian McShane eat your heart out!

Teaching very young children Bible stories is great fun! Especially when a few days later, you hear them casting their bath toys in the role of Judas Iscariot and the Chief Priests! I don’t know how the orange horse got the part of Judas, all I do remember is hearing him exclaim loudly “I WANT MY 30 PIECES OF SILVER!”.

We had also been learning about Adam and Eve and the how God punished the evil serpent. A few days later my 3-year-old was getting under my feet while I was trying to make dinner so I told him “Right that’s it! Just go out into the garden and play!” He stormed off pushing Daddy out the way telling him “I’m going out into the garden to crawl on my belly!”

~2~

  Kitchen holy water dispenser.

It always makes me laugh when you lift a toddler up to reach the holy water font out side church. They always seem to stick just their index finger into the holy water and then pop their finger straight into their mouths!

One time at home, I was hiding round the corner watching my son climb up for the first time and get his own cup to get himself a drink. He didn’t realise I was watching him. He managed all by himself to fill the cup from the water dispenser in our fridge. Then he had a quick look round to check that no-one was watching, dipped his hand into his spider-man cup and proceeded to make the sign of the cross and bless himself! Bless his little heart – I never told him I saw him do it!

~3~

Peas, Grapes and Eagles.

It’s really hard trying to get your kids to sit still long enough to say prayers at bedtime. It’s even harder keeping a straight face when every time your daughter starts the ‘Hail Mary’ she declares our blessed Mother ‘Full of grapes’!

It is equally difficult when you are offered the ‘sign of peas’ at Mass.

But I have never had to bite my lip harder than when at the end of the ‘Our Father’ my son asked God to ‘…deliver us from all eagles, Amen.’!

~4~

Thomas and James. 

The subject during the Children’s liturgy at Mass was ‘doubting Thomas’. “Who was Thomas’ friend?” the teacher asked. My 2-year-old put up his hand and shouted out “James!”. “Well done!” said the teacher obviously impressed that I had been trying to teach my son all the names of the apostles (not!). But now it was time for a harder question “And how many James’ were their?”. “There were 2!” Shouted my young son. Everyone looked round in amazement at how well-educated this young toddler was. It was only when I got home that I realised what was going on in his little mind: Thomas (the tank engine) had a friend called James, and James’ engine number was 2! (it actually wasn’t but my son obviously thought it was 2 and besides who cares – it was the right answer wasn’t it?!)

~5~

 
Is there any coming back from this?

It was the rare occasion that me and my husband actually made it out to the cinema. We were late of course – the film had already started and our seats were right at the front. I was a little stressed and quite tired and when I got to row C, (for some un-known and mind-boggling reason) I GENUFLECTED before entering my row! So tell me – how does one recover socially in this type of situation?! So many thoughts were going through my mind: “Its dark – did anyone actually notice? Of course they noticed – they think you are a complete fruit cake!” “Did they think I was genuflecting at them personally? – this would be embarrassing and quite unnerving for them as I was going to have to sit next to the people I had just worshiped for the next 2 hours!” “Is my husband going to make the same mistake? Should I warn him not to? No, no, don’t do that – it will just draw attention to the fact that you are a complete fruit cake!” “Should I just genuflect again and leave?” In the end I just smiled politely like nothing was out of the ordinary, took my place in row C like nothing had happened. I said nothing about it – and nobody asked me anything! (probably because they didn’t want to upset the mad woman sitting next to them.)


 ~6~

Sexy knickers mantilla.

My Husband was giving his Greek friend a lift home when his friend suddenly noticed something on the back seat of the car. “Um, I think your wife left her knickers in the back of the car.” “What?!” exclaimed my husband. “oh! no, that is her mantilla!” he tried to explain. “What’s a mantilla?! (wink, wink)” said his Greek friend. “No, no its to protect her modesty.” said my husband. “I bet it is! you lucky guy!” said his Greek friend. “No! no! you don’t understand!”.

Too late. The damage is done. Now not only does everybody think I own a pair of racy lacy black knickers – but they are also under the assumption that me and my husband carry out our nuptial unions IN THE CAR!!! (This is doing nothing for my reputation.)

 ~7~

More tea, your Grace?

We were honoured one evening by an impromptus visit from our local BISHOP (not the one in the parish I am living in now – before you ask!) I was not expecting this visit and it caught me a little off guard. I told him to come in and offered to make him a cup of tea. “oh yes please!” was his reply. I went into the kitchen while my husband and baby son made conversation with the BISHOP. To my horror I realised I had run out of milk. “What am I going to do?” I thought “I can’t just offer him nothing – he’s the BISHOP!” I could tell conversation was wearing a little thin in the other room so I had to act soon. The kettle had boiled, the tea bag was in the cup, the biscuits were on the tray. Then I panicked. I grabbed a carton of baby formula and poured it into the BISHOP’S tea. Horrified with my self I took a sip of the BISHOP’S tea to test whether he was going to notice (or more to the point whether I was going to get away with it!) It tasted fine. So I gave it to him. He didn’t notice a thing. Then (the most painful part) I had to sit across the table from him while he drank the whole thing – every second racked with fear and anxiety that the BISHOP was going to somehow find out what I had done. The thoughts started racing through my mind again: “Can I get excommunicated for this?” “It’s lucky you are using formula this time and not breast-feeding!” “Is this technically classed as poisoning a BISHOP?” “Well he is drinking it all up like a good boy!” “Don’t laugh. For Gods sake don’t laugh. It’s NOT funny.”

A few days later I felt so guilty about this that I actually decided to go to confession about it. To my utter horror, on the other side of the confessional was (yep, you guessed it!) the BISHOP! What do I do now? The thoughts come flooding in: “Quick – make up another sin to talk about! No, don’t do that he’ll know you are lying – and besides it is a SIN to lie in confession isn’t it?” “Should I just genuflect again and leave?” – (horrific memories of the cinema incident flood back to haunt me). “Just tell him, but stay behind the curtain and pretend it’s not really you. He can’t tell you off for coming to confession and besides, he is bound NEVER to discuss anything that is said in the confessional – NOT EVEN TO YOU!

Did I confess? – I’m not going to tell you!

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Lots of love, and God bless you!

Clare x

ps. To view more real life stories please visit http://www.conversiondiary.com/2012/10/7-quick-takes-friday-vol-193.html