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

Blue for October, month of the Rosary.

 

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In first century Galilee I would imagine her clothes would not have been particularly colourful. So why is Mother Mary always pictured wearing blue?

Those commissioning art of Mother Mary must have felt that there was no more proof of their devotion than to paint her in the most expensive colour available. And there was no more expensive colour than blue, which could then be derived only from crushing and then making a paste from the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone.Beautiful blue for our Beautiful Mother! A colour fit for the Queen of Heaven!

the-virgin-of-the-grapes-pierre-mignard

Anyway, for October I am focusing on 3 of my blue mantilas. Royal blue, Sky blue and Navy blue. All available at www.diclara.co.uk I offer flat rate shipping worldwide.

Royal Blue Style

Royal Blue Style

Sky Blue

Sky Blue

Navy Blue Flowers

Navy Blue Flowers

I have to say my fave is probably the Royal blue. It is such a nice way to honour Mother Mary during October – the month of the rosary. If you haven’t worn a mantila before I would recommend getting one and praying with it at home until you pluck up enough courage to take it to Adoration and Mass! 😀

 

I’m giving up worrying for Lent.

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I know this pose. The head in hands face to the floor pose. I am doing it all throughout the day at the moment.  My favourite place to do it is probably in the bathroom where no one can see me doing it, except God. I also like to do it in the car (when I’m parked!), in front of my sewing machine, during mass and in my bedroom in the dark.

It achieves nothing. It changes nothing.

I have a lot on my shoulders at the moment. I have become the major bread winner for the time being. I don’t earn enough to cover even half our bills even though I am working all the hours God sends. My husband has not been well at all this last month which I find extremely upsetting. The baby has stopped sleeping in the afternoon and has discovered the word ‘NO!’, which is hilarious but it is just another pressure I can’t cope with.
I don’t want to lose the house. I don’t want my kids to have to change schools. I don’t want my husband to be I’ll for the rest of his life.

I have a lot to worry about at the moment.

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Worry achieves nothing. It changes nothing. The only thing it does is rob me of God’s peace.

I wish I could be brave but I’m afraid I’m not brave at all. If I give the impression I’m coping then that is just God’s strength and grace covering the fact that I am in a constant state of fight or flight. Panick attacks are not fun.

But still… Worry achieves nothing. It changes nothing.

For Lent this year I am determined to let go and let God. I will take my dispair to confession. I will discipline myself to remain in the moment rather than worrying about things that might happen. And I will keep my gaze fixed on Christ crucified, and Christ resurrected.

Recently in prayer I have found it extremely comforting to place my doubting hands into His wounds, and to rest my worrying head upon His chest.
I hold my Mother’s hand as she sees her loved one suffer – knowing the is nothing she can do to ease His pain during His passion. I know how she feels as she carries out her role: to walk along side the one who suffers.

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I remember sometimes to offer my own suffering along with theirs to God for the conversion of sinners, and this brings purpose to what I am going through.

The point is that I’m afraid of suffering. I trust that God is in charge, but I also know that God does permit the worst kind of suffering. And I’m terrified. Satan wants to keep me in that frame of mind.

This lent, if I can manage to give up worrying, I feel it will be one of the biggest spiritual advances I will ever make in my life. But I can’t do it alone. I’m going to ask a local priest to direct me, and I’m going to be relying entirely on the prayers of the incredible Catholic community I am part of.

I’m really beginning to regret asking to be made worthy of sainthood 🙂

Please pray for me.

Faith In Our Families blog round-up 2015. Best year yet!

 

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2015 has been one of the most amazing years of my life. I’ve met some incredible people. I became a Carmelite. I discovered the Mass was not a re-enactment of the last supper – but that I am really at calvary during the ACTUAL crucifixion.  I got sued by a priest who later in the year decided to quit the priesthood. My husband was instantaneously healed from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I started my new vestments business -Di Clara. I met the relatives of St. Therese, and St Louis and Zelie Martin of Lisieux, and I read a bidding prayer at the Vatican!

 

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In January I asked How could I possibly have been so dumb? regarding the Mass. I also decided I was not sure I was ever going to be able to give the sign of peace again. After the tragic Charlie Hebdo  attacks I asked some serious questions regarding free speech and highlighted the violent collision between extreme secularism with extreme Islam. I also ate some old cheese and had a really weird dream. Then I wrote my most popular blog post ever at over 40,000 hits when the Pope outlined several new types of contraception for Catholics. I lamented at the social injustice as 2 Priests were denied joint gym membership, because they were not “In a relationship”! And finally asked why we are sometimes too ashamed to pray?

 

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In February I realised that taking our relationship for granted with our spouse, or with Jesus, was a terrible trap to fall into when I wrote another boring Valentines day, Another boring Mass. I also was a bit cheeky when I beat a lowlife at his own game in a Hilarious conversation between St. Therese of Lisieux and a Facebook scammer! We all had the privilege of learning The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan KieranI was also received into Carmelite formation – and no, I did NOT just become a nun! We also heard the incredible testimony From Gay Pride to True Humility: Joe’s amazing conversion story.

 

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In March I did the 33 day consecration to Our Lady for the first time. I spoke about how How Tinnitus Prepared me for Carmel. I promised NOT to throw eggs at Tina Beattie when she tried to give a lecture at my parish about how awesome same-sex relationships and women priests are. The next day I was thrilled to confirm that due to my blog post she had cancelled her upcoming talk! This lead me on to thinking abut Feminist Rage and the Power of Meekness. With all the shady dealings and kurfuffle surrounding the family synod, I wondered: Imagine if we had Facebook at the time of Vatican 2. I aksed everyone to Please sign this letter in support of the 500 faithful priests, families and our Church. And we saw what it looks like when When God’s Love Hurts.

 

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In April absolutely nothing happened. Except a good friend bought me a couple of books on the history of ecclesiastical vestments, and suggested I should have a bash at making some 🙂

 

Fr-Dan-Fitzpatrick

Fr Dan Fitzpatrick

 

In May I reported that a Catholic Priest Denies Burning Down 17 of the Ugliest Churches Ever Built. I tried to find solutions to being Too busy to pray? I went to visit the relics of Louis and Zelie Martin, and begged them to please help me with my marriage. Following the spineless attitude of the Bishops in regards to gay marriage I asked What is the future for the Catholic Church in Ireland? Then I decided to pull up a couple of heretics on their dodgy theology when Fr James Martin SJ and Fr Dan Fitzpatrick Tweet that the Holy Spirit is Female. How sad. Of course following this Fr Dan Fitzpatrick threatened to sue me! The story ended up going global and was even featured on Church Militant TV! After a good telling off from his Bishop, Fr. Dan published a letter saying he will now NOT sue me – because he’s too poor.

 

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In June I made a Banana Flavoured Altar Cake. I had a major Silent retreat FAIL. And I also retold the time I met Jesus face to face in My Medjugorje Trip, Day 4 – Adoration. Following the gay pride march I discussed how true Dignity comes from God. And as America legalised same-sex marriage and Facebook went rainbow coloured, I asked why everyone was Unfriending each other. Also, Pope Francis formally approved Louis and Zelie Martin – known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux – to be declared saints in October during the Family Synod. They would be the first married couple ever to be canonized together.

 

Marian 5 piece set

 

In July I launched my new vestment making business – Di Clara, and took a look at some of the most horrific vestments ever created in Good vestments, bad vestments. I once again looked to Louis and Zelie Martin and learned about Love and Suffering – a practical lesson. And then was very please to report that Conservative Archbishop Leonard declares personal belief in Medjugorje. And with heavy hearts, me and my husband also started to make plans to live separately because the effects of long term illness on the marriage had become intolerable to live with for both of us on a day to day basis.

 

 

In August I began a novena to Louis and Zelie Martin in desperation for my marriage. I got hundreds of Facebook friends to pray with me as he started the Lightning Process treatment course. Half way through the novena, on the second day of treatment – 11th August (the feast of St. Clare) Nick made a sudden, unexplainable and full recovery from CFS and I was able to give everyone the amazing news that My Husband is WELL!!! The world also saw Over 320 Simultaneous international rallies against the butchers that call themselves Planned Parenthood. And we learned about the 4 different terms the ancient greeks used for the word Love.

 

Kasper Dalek

 

In September I started preparing for the year of mercy by recalling that 17 years ago I took the morning after pill. Today I went to confession. I also talked about what happens When your Baby makes you say Grace in Nando’s. We also learned the terrifying news that German Bishops break with Rome and inaugurate Dalek as their new supreme Pontiff.

I also lost one of my best mates in September. I still have no idea why. I’m still completely gutted 🙁 I wish we could be friends again.

 

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In October I spoke about Fidelity in our relationship to Christ as a priest in Rome decided to publicly leave to be with his boyfriend at the start of the Family Synod. I talked about the indissolubility of the sacraments in  So Un-Baptise me then…!  We took a long hard look at Caitlyn Jenner – the golden calf of gender theory. And stated to realise that The Time of the Lukewarm Church is Over. We also asked the apocalyptic question: 2017 – Are you ready? Oh – and I did a bidding prayer at the Vatican during the canonisation Mass of Louis and Zelie Martin! I also spent the afternoon chatting to the relatives of Louis and Zelie, and their famous daughter – my sister in Carmel – St Therese of Lisieux! That’s one conversation I am never going to forget 🙂 Thank you Louis and Zelie for surprising me and making more than one dream come true for me this year <3

 

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In November I showed how our family celebrates All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. I also finished my Lily And Pomegranate Black 5 piece vestment set. I asked: Ok Jesus, so how exactly am I supposed to love ISIS?Following the second tragically sad ISIS attack of the year aimed at France, I asked some pretty serious questions regarding radical Islam Vs radical secularism in Would you die to protect Western values? I wouldn’t. I began to come to terms with the fact that western society, weakened by generations of cultural Marxism,  is simply not strong enough to cope with the influx of (at least) 60 million muslim migrants in Giving Everything. I finished the month by visiting the Mosque near me that was recently arsoned.

 

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In December I learned that Fr Dan Fitzpatrick had decided to leave the priesthood following a meeting in which his Bishop had unsuccessfully put forward the case for married clergy to the other Bishops of England and Wales.  I also found out about the shocking things that had been going on at Ushaw seminary in The silent problem within priestly formation. I also took a good look at Celibacy and the Priesthood. Then I began to understand that the Christian influences Muhammed was exposed to were Christian heretics in: From Santa Claus to Islam: An Arian Triumph. I was honoured to feature a guest post written by Dr Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass society: Catholic Bishops ask Rome to change Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews – because it is not politically correct enough. And then I spent some time Gazing at my Father. Finally this year I spoke about how I knew a miracle was going to happen regarding my husbands health in “The air feels soft – like Christmas.” and was delighted to announce that after 2 years at home, my husband will be returning to full time work in the new year 🙂

 

Zelie &amp; Louis Martin

I will never be able to thank you enough for your intercession this year, beloved St’s Louis and Zelie Martin.

 

Like I said, this really has been one of the most amazing years of my life. And I cannot express enough how much it means to be able to share what is going on in my life and in my heart with all of you. Of course I do not share everything that goes on in my heart – some things are just for me, but I do share 95% of what goes on in there 🙂 and I hope in some way it can begin to alleviate the isolation that so many of us feel. And besides, this blog is basically my diary – and writing it saves me hundreds of pounds on would-be therapists!!

 

Jesus holding child

 

I love Jesus. I am His child. My whole life is for Him. Without the unceasing help from our beautiful mother Mary I would not know how to follow Him. She guides me on, fully aware of my hopeless limitations and inadequacies. You see, luckily for me God is not looking for perfection, He is looking for us to trust in Him and let go of ourselves. And when we do, our tiny insignificant ordinary lives suddenly become extraordinary, and as we begin to find God in the pots and pans (Teresa of Avila) we suddenly find He is using our prayers and our obedience to move mountains in other peoples lives – usually those closest to us.

Thank you for all your support of the blog this year – you know this is the best Catholic blog out there 😉 and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you!

Clare x

 

2017 – Are you ready?

mother-of-God

I have been wanting to write the ‘2017 post’ for a long time now. For about 10 years I’ve had a gut feeling about that year, but of course gut feelings don’t mean very much do they? But those feelings are still with me and are getting stronger – whatever that means. I also feel things are escalating at an increasingly fast rate now. But again, feelings don’t mean very much, so I’ve been gathering various sources of information that could possibly explain why 2017 feels significant to me.

Firstly It is 100 years since the first apparitions at Fatima. These extraordinary events in 1917 can be seen as ushering in the catastrophic twentieth century. By 1917 the first World War was grinding on with horrors never before imagined by the human race. The lady of Fatima predicted another war if mankind did not repent. This war would be presaged by a heavenly sign. This took place with an amazing display in the night sky across Europe on January 25, 1938–just before Europe was plunged into another war.

The rest of the century would witness untold misery and bloodshed in genocide, atomic warfare, terrorism, famine, natural disaster and the rise of technologies that would poison nature, destroy the family and set humanity on a course of self destruction.

The miraculous nature of the events at Fatima have been affirmed by the church and most of the popes of the last century have had a strong personal and seemingly apocalyptic association with the prophecies given to the three children. The co-incidence of the dates of May 13 (when the apparitions began) and October 13 (when the apparitions ended with the miracle of the sun) are interesting. Pope Piux XII was consecrated bishop on May 13, 1917 – the day of the first apparition and became known as the Fatima Pope. He consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima and made repeated references to the prophecies.

Photograph taken during the “Dance of the Sun” at Fatima on 13 October 1917.

Photograph taken during the “Dance of the Sun” at Fatima on 13 October 1917.

Paul VI met the visionary Sister Lucia and prayed with her on May 13, 1967–on the fiftieth anniversary of the visions. John Paul II was almost killed by an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, and six years later on the seventieth anniversary of the visions went to Fatima to give thanks to the Virgin for saving his life.  Benedict XVI affirmed his belief in the supernatural origin of the visions, visited Sr Lucia, went to Fatima and said “the prophecies of Fatima are by no means completed.” Pope Francis had his papacy dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013 and consecrated the world in a public ceremony on October 13, 2013. He has the image of Fatima in Rome  today to be venerated and plans to visit Fatima in 2017 for the centenary of the events.

Seeing that it is one hundred years since the events makes one wonder how significant this anniversary in two years’ time is for world history. Also, seeing how the events of 1917 opened up an unprecedented century of evil in the world one is reminded of the vision of Pope Leo XIII in which Satan would be given one hundred years to attempt to destroy the church.

In 1884, after saying Mass on the morning of, according to at least one source, October 13th, as he was leaving the Altar, the 74 year old and frail Pope Leo XIII fell to the ground as if dead. He related that he had experienced a sort of vision, in which he heard two voices, one of which he took to be that of Christ, gentle and kind, and the other that of Satan, guttural and harsh.

Satan said, “I could destroy Your Church if I had the time, and more power over those who give themselves over to my service.” And then Pope Leo heard Christ to answer, “You have the power, you have the time: 100 years.”

Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII

Curiously, the prophet Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser predicted seven ages of the church. The fifth began in 1517 with the Protestant Revolution. This period of tribulation comes to it’s five hundredth anniversary also in the year 2017. This fifth age would culminate in terrible persecution of the church. After that he predicted an era of peace and consolation. Our Lady at Fatima also predicted a period of peace after the difficulties to come.

Will 2017 therefore see some sort of climactic event which surges humanity and the whole world into a new era?

Wait – there’s more…

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

In 3/2 B.C., there occurred a rare triple conjunction of Jupiter (the king planet, through its retrograde motion) and Regulus (the king star). The Magi likely interpreted this rare triple conjunction as a giant neon sign in the heavens blinking KING-KING-KING. This all began at the Jewish New year and all within the constellation of Leo (the lion, a symbol of the tribe of Judah). So it heavily symbolized Jewish King from the tribe of Judah, a clear indication for those familiar with the Messiah. Further, rising right behind Leo was the constellation Virgo, with the sun behind and the moon at her feet.

After this incredible triple conjunction, Jupiter began moving westward in the sky, eventually coming into conjunction with Venus, a planet long symbolically associated with motherhood. The conjunction of the king planet and the motherhood planet was so close, that no man alive had ever seen anything like it and together it formed the brightest object in the sky.

All this symbolism of a Jewish king from Judah and a Virgin was enough to get the well-versed Magi moving to Jerusalem, but you can understand why the average citizen of Jerusalem missed it. Jupiter continued its western movement in the sky until it finally stopped. When it stopped (as seen from Jerusalem), it stopped directly south, directly over the small village of Bethlehem, on December 25 of 2 B.C. This may be easily seen with modern star programs that can show you the night sky on any date in history from any perspective. It is the advent of such computer programs that now allows us to not only look at the past, but to look at the skies of the future.

Given the context of all I just described, it is when we turn our gaze to the heavens of the future that things start to get really interesting.

“A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.” – Revelation 12

The author of Revelation clearly indicates that this vision is one of a sign in heaven or in the sky. What do we see in the sky of the near future?

In 2016, an astronomical event begins and will last nine and a half months:

On November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the King planet) enters into the body (womb) of the constellation Virgo (the virgin).   Jupiter, due its retrograde motion, will spend the next 9 ½ months within the womb of Virgo. This length of time corresponds with gestation period of a normal late-term baby.

After 9 ½ months, Jupiter exits out of the womb of Virgo. Upon Jupiter’s exit (birth), on September 23, 2017, we see the constellation Virgo with the sun rise directly behind it (the woman clothed with the sun). At the feet of Virgo, we find the moon. And upon her head we find a crown of twelve stars, formed by the usual nine stars of the constellation Leo with the addition of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.

Unbelievable right?! And as far as I can determine, this is a unique series of events in the history of mankind with a startling degree of concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12.

So what does it mean, if anything? The obvious and truthful answer is that we simply do not know. That said, we are not entirely without possible context.

virgo and hydra 2

The culmination of these astronomical events occurs just 3 weeks before the 100th anniversary of the great miracle of Fatima, in which the sun “danced” (another heavenly sign), an event that was witnessed by many thousands.

In August 1931, Sister Lucy of Fatima was staying with a friend at Rianjo, Spain. There, Our Lord appeared to Sr. Lucy and He complained the requests of His mother had not been heeded saying, “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.”

And again in another text, Sr. Lucy quoted Our Lord as saying, “They did not wish to heed My request! … Like the King of France, they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.”

Those references to the King of France are very interesting for our discussion as this is an explicit reference to the requests of the Sacred Heart given through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque on June 17, 1689 to the King of France. King Louis XIV and his successors failed to heed Our Lord’s request to publicly consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a result, on June 17, 1789, one hundred years to the day after the request, the National Assembly of the French Revolution rose up and declared itself the government of France and stripped the king of his power. Later, the king lost his head to the revolution.

It is not possible to know the relevance of this 100-year allusion or to know if and when the clock may have started ticking, but it is certainly interesting and relevant in this context. And let’s not forget the vision of Pope Leo XIII.

I must also note that the date the astronomical event begins on 20th November 2016, is the Feast of Christ the King. It is also the very day that Pope Francis’ declared “Year of Mercy”, comes to an end.

So what does all of this mean? Nothing, quite frankly – after all, I could walk out my door tomorrow morning and get struck by lightning or hit by a bus. Coming face-to-face with our creator is a certainty for all of us one day. But all this does make me wonder if following the Year of Mercy in 2016, we will be having the Year of Justice in 2017?

And I haven’t even begun to talk about the 3 days of darkness, or the (so far neither approved or condemned) 10 secrets of Medjugorje yet…

Blessed candles: Check.

Salt and Holy water: Check.

Been to Confession: Check.

Daily Rosary and fasting for the conversion of the world: Check, but I really need to do this one more…

Sources:

2017, Fatima and the End of the World

http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2127-apocalypse-now-another-great-sign-rises-in-the-heavens

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.

Fidelity.

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As you begin reading this blog post you may think it is going to be about faithfulness in marriage. Well its not. It is faithfulness in another relationship: our relationship with Christ.

You see, our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven (Baltimore catechism). In fact He considers our relationship with Him to be so atomically crucial that he made it the subject of His first commandment:

1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.

God wants to be in First Place in our lives. But He wont force us. It is up to us to put Him in first place. And if He is not in the First Place in our lives, then what or who is? Because what ever or who ever it is, has become an idol. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God (CCC 2113).

I think perhaps the most difficult area to recognise idolatry is in the relationships we have with other human beings. I know that in my life I have certainly been involved in friendships and relationships that were not right in the eyes of God. And I knew it. But I didn’t want to let the other person go. That person was fulfilling a seriously deep seated need in me. I guess this is why I feel pity for Monsignor Krysztof Charamsa.

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Many comments I have read concerning this man have been derogatory at best. People refuse to see beyond the brazen arrogance and disrespect that he flaunts, as he cheerfully chassis along like an 18 year old débutante at her coming out party. And of course that is exactly how he planned and wanted to be seen on the eve of the family synod. But if you look deeper within, you simply see a priest struggling with celibacy, and giving into same sex attraction. It’s nothing more than that.

When asked how he went from denial to being happy about being gay he replied: “Through study, prayer and reflection. A dialogue with God and the study of theology, philosophy and science were crucial. Moreover, I now have a partner who has helped me transform my fears into the power of love… There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on.”

This says to me that Krysztof Charamsa definitely does still have a relationship with God, it’s just that it is all on his terms. His understanding of the word love doesn’t really seem to be reflecting Christ crucified. And his last sentence clearly shows that the day did come when he finally decided to put down his cross and champion his own wants and desires.

Without a doubt he has been given a very heavy cross to bear in the form of SSA, but quite frankly that doesn’t really matter anyway because when he entered the priesthood he freely chose a life of celibacy! I feel so sad that rather than abandoning himself entirely to God, he has instead spent years convincing himself that he is in the right and the church is in the wrong. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that there is something wrong somewhere in his relationship with Christ. The fidelity is gone.

We live in a culture in which we constantly search to satisfy our every need. And we expect others to do that for us: physically, financially, mentally, sexually, emotionally and spiritually. Oh what a life of utilitarian ecstasy! But the truth is that not one person on this entire planet will ever, ever be able to fill that God shaped hole in your heart. Not your spouse, or your kids, or your friends or your parents or anyone. No-one can take the place of God in our lives. But we quite often expect them to. We elevate people way beyond their ‘pay grades’ in terms of satisfying us. In actual fact all we are doing is making them into false idols. Is it any wonder so many marriages fail now? We are actually expecting our spouses to satisfy us in the way that only God can!

Let me tell you something: Your spouse is not God! Your gay partner is not God! Your kids are not God! Your friends are not God! If God does not come first in your relationships with others then something is wrong. If we make each other into false idols then what does that do to our relationship with Christ? The fidelity is gone.

You see, our God is a jealous God. He wants to be in First Place in our lives because ultimately our eternal destiny lies with Him. But He wont force us, because you can’t force love. Love is a choice. Love is the cross.

Of course the ultimate example of fidelity to God the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is Mary. She describes herself as the handmaid of the Lord – His loyal and obedient servant. And as she took up her own crosses in her life, followed her Son to calvary and stood at the foot of His cross, she showed us how to put God first. Which is why I ask her now to take me, and Krysztof Charamsa under her sweet mantle and gently lead us back into a correct relationship of fidelity with her Son.

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Our Lady’s Birthday and Christmas Cake.

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A beautiful friend, whom I love dearly, reminded me the other day that if I didn’t make my Christmas cake FROM SCRATCH at least 4 months in advance of the big day, then I might as well just stamp a big FAIL sign across my head as a wife and mother.

I’m only kidding! There is of course absolutely nothing wrong with buying your Christmas cake – which is exactly what I have done every year since I got married. But this year I have found myself rather more organised than I have ever been, and so decided to follow my friends advice and have a bash at making my own Christmas cake – from scratch!

Lets face it, it is MUCH more expensive to make your own cake, but I am promised wholeheartedly that there is no comparison to a shop bought one.

Today is 8th September: the day Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary’s birthday. The readings at mass this morning were all about the birth of Christ. It got me thinking that today was the perfect day to begin soaking the dried fruit to make the Christmas cake. I hope I can remember to be this organised every year from now on. (Ha! I seriously doubt it!).

I am loosely following a recipe from The Pink Whisk but changed it a little to incorporate pretty much all the dried fruit in the entire world. In my cake there will be Sultanas, Currants, Raisins, Cranberries, Cherries, Dates, Figs, Prunes, Mixed peel, Apricots, juice and rind from an orange and lemon, Rum, Brandy and brown sugar. I also used Cinnamon, Allspice, Mixed Spice and ground Cloves.

Of course having failed weights and measures at school I was extremely grateful to have the help of my mathematical genius 9 year old who sorted out all the quantities for me 🙂

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All you do at this stage is to chop up all the fruit, mix it in with the liquid and stick it in a big airtight container until “stir up Sunday” (Christ the King) at the end of November. But you know what? It was great to start the new school term doing something really fun in preparation for Christmas – even if it is a long way off.

I think anticipation is a lost thrill in our modern world. People don’t have to wait for anything nowadays which is a shame really. Sometimes the anticipation can be as exciting as the main event itself, and certainly adds to the glory at the end of the waiting time. It also strikes me that waiting in anticipation creates the right mood for contemplating the feast of Christmas.

During any pregnancy there is the feeling of anticipation, but how much more was there for the birth of the Messiah?! The Jews had been anticipating His arrival for almost 2000 years! “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

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Each night for a week we will stir the fruit to make sure it all gets a good soaking. Then we will stir it once a week until Stir up Sunday. By that time it will have soaked up enough Rum and Brandy to warrant living in it’s own drinks cabinet.

I love Christmas!

Too busy to pray?

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My Carmelite formation director has asked me to share a few ways in which prayer is part of my ordinary daily life:

“Our charism is very focused on prayer, with Mary as our model in prayer and meditation. Our Carmelite constitutions tell us that ‘Mary preserves in her heart the life and actions of her Son and meditates on them, this is contemplation’. I would be really interested to hear any thoughts you have on prayer and contemplation, because for someone with 3 kids who hasn’t a moment to herself, you would have to be even more creative than the rest of us to be able to do this! – and yet it is possible.”

So lets have a think…. Hmmmm…..

What is Prayer?

Well I guess the first thing is to make very clear what prayer is. St Therese tells us that “Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God.” And it really is as simple as that. At any time, in any situation, I am able to raise my mind and heart to God – either in thanksgiving and praise, contrite and sorrowful, anger and frustration or just simply resting in His peace.

Do not prepare to pray – Just do it!

I think it’s important to say that I don’t prepare to pray. I just pray. I think a lot of people make the mistake of waiting until they are in the ‘right’ frame of mind before they pray. This is a complete waste of time. If I am angry and frustrated then THAT is the time I need to talk to God. He wants me at THAT very moment. I don’t try to hide my negative emotions from God! I Don’t try to present myself during prayer as being on my best behaviour! God sees me ALL the time. He knows my every thought – so why not go to Him just as I am? I cry, kick and scream, I tell Him it’s not fair. I beg Him for His unending mercy. I open my heart to Him, because it is only when I let Him in to my heart that He can actually work with me. Be honest – He knows you are not perfect and He doesn’t expect you to be.

I usually have one of these prayer tantrums at least once a day. I’m a drama queen – what can I say?!

Tell Him you love Him – and mean it.

During a trip to Medjugorje in 2005 I had a very powerful encounter with Jesus during Adoration. He came from the Eucharist and stood beside me and placed His hand inside my chest and onto my heart. He said to me “Clare, you need to come to me everyday and tell Me that you love Me.” He was referring to Himself in the Eucharist.

Now this may sound easy, but to be honest – it’s not. Because for me to say “I love you” I have to mean it. There has to be nothing separating me from Him. There have been some days where I have really struggled to say it. There have been days where i have been unable to say it – and this has illuminated the sin that is separating me from Him. Quite often I say it almost begrudgingly – all too aware of what He is asking me to give up, to leave behind, so that I am able to say it to Him. But there are also the days when it is easy to love Him. And i rest in His love like baby in her Fathers loving arms – and I could literally stay there all day!

Go to daily Mass.

I started going to daily Mass about 10 years ago. It changed my life. The end.

I am able to get to the 9am Mass on my way home from the morning school run. If I have the baby with me we sit with my parents, or sometimes out the back if she is noisy. I have the mass reading downloaded onto my Kindle from Universalis so even if she is screaming i can still follow what is being said. Also, having the responsorial psalm on your Kindle means that it is almost impossible to forget the response after the first time you have said it! (It’s early! My brain doesn’t wake up before 10am!)

Divine Office

As a secular Carmelite I am expected to say at least the morning and evening prayer of the Divine Office each day. But with 3 kids that is not always straight forward. There are days where I simply do not have 20 or even 10 mins to sit quietly to read it. So instead I use divineoffice.org and listen to the prayers instead of reading them. Morning prayer gets played in the car during the school run. A by-product of this is that my 8 year old has started joining in with it! He is listening to the psalms and he knows how to join in with the responses!

Evening prayer usually gets played on my laptop while i am making the dinner or feeding the baby. Prayer and house work go together perfectly in my opinion, proving that it is entirely possible to be Martha and Mary at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to concentrate, but i always get one or two lines that touch my heart. And to be honest – that is enough for me.

During night prayer (my favourite) i sometimes just sit on the sofa and listen, and sometimes when i have some energy to do stuff in the evenings, i like sewing. And I can tell you this – there is no better past time for contemplation than sewing (other than perhaps jigsaw puzzles – but i only do that on the nights when i am feeling really rock and roll 😉 !!!!)

Contemplation in Motherhood

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25: 35-40

It is not always easy to see Christ in one’s kids! But the fact is He is there present in each of them. It is even harder to see Christ in one’s husband! But He is there too! This in itself is contemplation enough for one day (my goodness!). I’ll tell you something: You do not know what it means to keep watch with Christ until you have a little one who is teething and just wants to be held, every night, until 3am. Poor little sausage!

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I also try to say the Rosary every day as part of my promise to wear the brown scapular. Again – this is a good one for the car. I have the interactive rosary downloaded onto my phone, so i can play that wherever I am. I even have a speaker in my bathroom that sticks onto the wall so that i can listen to the office or the rosary while i am in the shower!

So there we go. A few ways i am managing to make prayer part of my normal daily life. I don’t manage it everyday – sometimes it is just impossible, but i do manage it most days. And to be honest – it’s just become second nature. It is possible.

If the desire to pray is there, then you will find a way.

When God’s Love Hurts.

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Fulton, before the accident.

When God’s Love Hurts – By Cassandra Poppe

“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for,whatever we do, the cross holds us tight — we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven? But, on the contrary, most men turn their backs upon crosses, and fly before them. The more they run, the more the cross pursues them, the more it strikes and crushes them with burdens. . . . If you were wise, you would go to meet it like Saint Andrew, who said, when he saw the cross prepared for him and raised up into the air, “Hail O good cross! O admirable cross! O desirable cross! receive me into thine arms, withdraw me from among men, and restore me to my Master, who redeemed me through thee. “ — St John Vianney

Crosses. Suffering. The human race has been plagued with hardship ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve desired more than the goodness God had already given them. And from that point on, most viewed suffering as a punishment from God – until that first Good Friday when Our Lord transformed punishment into a blessing. It seems natural for us to try to alleviate hardships when they come. A painkiller, a massage, an adjustment to the thermostat. How many little things do we do each day, each hour, to tweak the comfort level around ourselves? As these first 2 paragraphs were written, I have already adjusted my posture, scratched an itch and taken a sip of my drink. All actions taken almost without thinking and all done to increase my comfort.

But what happens when our discomfort becomes full blown suffering? Suddenly our pleasure and comfort seeking instincts are challenged and no matter what remedies we try, our suffering is not eased. Cancer. The loss of a loved one. Crippling persecution. An accident. These crosses do not refine and perfect our souls in little ways, as the everyday annoyances in life can. No. These crosses are life changing, redirecting our souls directly towards Calvary, to bring about in us a profoundly holy transformation. But only if we are able to see the love that is hidden within the cross.

While we may not cheerfully embrace our crosses, our Catholic faith teaches us of the immense value in suffering. We have Crucifixes to remind us of Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice, inspiring us to mortify ourselves for love of Him. We understand that suffering is a part of life and a tool we must use well for the sanctification of our soul. Others avoid suffering, seeing it as either a punishment or from Satan.

And while this view may be correct in certain circumstances, we must always remember that all suffering is allowed by Our Lord. If He allows it to happen, we must treat it as an invaluable opportunity to grow in holiness, and give glory to God. No matter what. I do not say this lightly, as it is indeed both a joy and a burden to be trusted by Our Lord. He requires much of those He loves – sometimes more than we think we can handle. But we may rest in the fact that as long as we remain firmly at His side and under the loving watch of Our Lady, all things are possible.

When Our Lord redirected our lives that fateful January morning, I felt it more than I heard it. That deep percussion-like boom one hears when a firework is sent skyward, before it explodes. This was immediately followed by my husband’s unintelligible cry. Flying to the kitchen window, I saw what will haunt me forever. My four year old little boy was slowly moving away from the burn barrel, completely engulfed in flames from his waist to his head. His hands were clenched at his sides, moving them up towards his face in slow motion, pieces of his fleece jacket peeling away and falling behind him.

What followed could rival the goriest scenes in a horror movie. Grey, cadaverous forehead. Deformed ears. Skin still bubbling from the heat trapped within. Long strands of flesh hanging from little hands and arms like a partially unwrapped mummy rising from its tomb. Shrieks of pain. Tears of terror. As my son was laid at my feet on the kitchen floor, I collapsed before him, unable to do anything for him before the ambulance arrived. And so I prayed. The two prayers that came to me were, “Mother of God, be with us,” and “Thy will be done.” And looking back, I understand why.

From that moment on, Our Sorrowful Mother took me as her child, showing me that sometime God’s love looks very ugly on the surface. I had gotten a taste of this truth before, when my husband and I struggled to make our marriage work, and again when I cared for my father in his home as he died of cancer. But this by far was the most crippling form of suffering I could have endured. I wanted to take on Fulton’s burns as my own. “Lord, let me suffer these pains for You!” I prayed. “He is too little!” But I see now how that would have been the easy route for me. I already understood redemptive suffering, binding physical pains to the wounds of Our Lord on the Cross as an offering of love. But I could not do that for my son. This emotional anguish was new – and so instead of suffering with Our Lord, I suffered at the foot of Fulton’s cross with Our Lady. If she saw the love hidden within the Our Lord’s Cross, surely I could find the love in Fulton’s suffering. And that is what I needed to find. Otherwise, his suffering made no sense. I did not want to be a bystander on Calvary, disgusted by the scene before me, or to be one to rage against God amid the pain.

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I have known far too many bitter souls in my life who, do not take the time to examine their crosses and embrace them for the gift they are. Help me find the gifts, Sweet Mary. Help me find the love! And what love there was! Just as word spread of Christ’s suffering and brought about conversions, so too did Fulton’s suffering inspire others to the faith. I received letters from people who have returning to a life of prayer because of Fulton’s powerful story. Some grasped for the first time what it means to ‘offer it up’ and embraced their own crosses with a new found love for God. They saw through Fulton’s and my experience, that love cannot be complete without some form of willing suffering or sacrifice, choosing to participate in God’s plan through the cross laid upon their shoulders, even when they could not yet see the love.

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Truly, His call to take up our crosses and follow Him was a call to suffer for Him that others may be saved. And for the first time I understood the words of St. Paul when he said, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col. 1:24) when hearts previously unmoved by Christ’s Passion were moved by the sufferings of a little boy. Praise God!

Two years after the accident, the love continues to reveal itself. Patients in the hospital are learning Fulton’s ‘brave breath’ techniques to help them get through the pain. His burn cards, a social reintegration solution we invented together, have given confidence to other burn patients who are struggling with re-entering society. And his mere presence in restaurants or the mall have brought people to tears, once they talk to him and see how strong he is. He has brought hope and healing to adults who suffered various crosses in silence, inspired for the first time to face their own past hurts. His scars show them their own woundedness, and come to realize their scars are proof of their strength, not their weakness.

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Fulton, through the cross he carries and the scars he bears, has touched far more souls than he ever could have before the accident. And only in Eternity will we know how many hearts he helped return to the Church and into the loving arms of Our Father. Please Lord, may I be numbered among them, for I have learned so much.

My trials have taught me that every crisis forces one to redirect his life. We are handed a cross, designed especially for us, and asked to choose. We cannot choose whether we will take the cross. No. The cross is ours to bear no matter what. But we can freely choose how we respond to it.

Do we accept that cross and prayerfully carry it to its completion? Do we give hope to others along the way? Or do we curse our cross as it grows in weight and model for others how to stumble and rage against the One who gifted us?

I have tried both responses to the carefully chosen crosses Our Lord has sent me in my life. I can assure you that while cursing those things in our lives that cause us to suffer may feel more natural, embracing our suffering is by far the easier response, for it is the only response that coincides with God’s will.

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My prayer for you this Holy Week is that you open your heart to the cross God has given you and cherish it as a priceless gift. Just as Christ’s Passion draws hearts to love Him more, may you draw others closer to Our Lord through your suffering. Praise His name through your pain. May God be glorified through you!

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:3-4

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Fulton’s next big surgery is coming up on April 14th 2015. Please pray for Fulton! Come and see his progress on his Facebook page ‘Pray For Fulton’

Cassandra Poppe’s blog is Let us kneel