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

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

 

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Dear Holy Father,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

A Hebrew Catholic.

New Di Clara Kids Vestment Sets.

Introducing the cutest way possible to foster vocations!

Gothic style Chasuble, Stole and Chalice Veil.

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

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

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

Thanks x

Blue for October, month of the Rosary.

 

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

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

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

Royal Blue Style

Royal Blue Style

Sky Blue

Sky Blue

Navy Blue Flowers

Navy Blue Flowers

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

 

Video: Irish Lesbian ‘married’ couple applauded at Catholic Mass.

 

Two women in a same-sex “marriage” have been applauded during Mass at St Michael’s church, Athy, Diocese of Dublin, while the faithful Catholic who expressed concerns about their leadership roles in the parish has been advised by the clergy to stay away.

As of yesterday, Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan resumed their roles leading the adult and children’s choir at St Michael’s church, and as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, having announced on Kildare radio that they had been ‘forced’ to resign by a fellow parishioner two days earlier.

Anthony Murphy, the editor of The Catholic Voice newspaper, had raised concerns about whether it was appropriate for two lesbians in a same-sex “marriage” to have such public and prominent roles within the parish.

In the presence of five priests and a church packed with many who rarely attend Mass, Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan led the choir in singing “I will follow him” from the film ‘Sister Act’. The two women held hands and bowed as many in the congregation applauded and cheered. This occurred on the sanctuary as the 5 priests processed out at the end of Mass.

Mr. Murphy, editor of the newspaper Catholic Voice, says that he received a death threat during a hate campaign “whipped up” by local Sinn Fein councillors, and has been advised by the local curate and police not to attend Mass at St Michael’s due to concerns about his safety.

“Just an update regarding the situation with the two “married” women in my local parish. They have resigned from their positions in the Church BUT today a mob has been whipped up into a frenzy by among others some of the local councillors and I am now the subject of a pretty intensive hate campaign. One Sinn Fein councillor has been particularly active in this regard and as a result of this incitement I have now received a death threat!! Apparently I am no longer welcome and I have been threatened by members of the local Sinn Fein Party not to go into my local town unless I have a ‘death wish.”

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Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan

Mr. Murphy contacted his parish priest about his concerns about the prominent role of the women in the parish who were so publicly contravening the Church’s clear teaching against same-sex “marriage”, recently reiterated at the Synod on the Family. He did not receive a helpful response from his parish priest. Instead, Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan have claimed that “parish priest Canon Frank McEvoy has been supportive of them” and that they had “not been asked to resign by the clergy”.

“My parish priest sees nothing wrong with two lesbians –who have entered into a same-sex ‘marriage’ — running the parish choir and acting as  Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  In fact, he was quite content for them to hand out invitations to their ‘wedding’ in the church after choir practise! Is it any wonder that the Church is in such a crisis?”.

Mr Murphy told The Irish Times that, because of their relationship, the couple had already resigned positions with the Lay Dominicans Ireland of which Ms Flanagan had been president and Ms O’Donnell was president of its Athy chapter. It was “a similar issue” in Athy parish, he felt.

“The choir is on the altar, almost centre stage with the priest. It’s a very public contradiction [with church teaching banning same-sex marriage]. The church has to decide whether it believes what it teaches,” he said.

The saddest thing about this story is the the two women are being encouraged in their relationship by their priest, rather than receiving help regarding their same-sex attraction. The Catholic church welcomes all people with same-sex attraction and invites them to live a chaste life, along with all others (gay, straight or celibate) who are not married.

If you are experiencing same-sex attraction and would like someone to talk to in a non-judgmental and friendly way, please visit www.couragerc.org

Sources –

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/lesbian-couple-to-retake-church-roles-they-were-forced-to-leave-1.2785746#.V9LS6_CXbTk.twitter

https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/ireland/women-in-same-sex-marriage-applauded-at-mass-in-diocese-of-dublin

The problem of Zombie-Robot parishioners and ‘active participation’.

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Have you ever sat in Mass and felt like this?! I know I have. There have been many times where I have just zoned out. I realise the priest has got to the end of his sermon and I haven’t really heard a word because I was daydreaming.

I suppose it doesn’t help when most other people around you are doing the same thing. To my horror, I realise that I have become one of those legendary Zombie-like parishioners that I used to marvel at as a child.

I remember the droning monotone chorus of the congregation during the creed, the robotic expressionless handshake of peace, the lifeless melody of the organ with literally 2 people singing out of the entire congregation. The ones who used to hit the ESCAPE button and walk out straight after communion – I guess they’d fulfilled their weekly obligation right? And yet we, and the same other people used to turn up week after week and filter up the isle into the same old pews that we almost seemed to be pre-programmed to return to.

A congregation of mindless robots.

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And it wasn’t as if our church wasn’t trying – they got the parishioners involved in the offertory procession, the choir, the readings and bidding prayers, they even got the children to go up onto the sanctuary during the consecration to see up close what the priest was doing. But still, before long it began to dawn on me that I really wasn’t getting anything out of Mass.

By age 13 I had stopped going. I just didn’t see the point. It was so boring. The people there were so boring. The final nail in the liturgical coffin for me was the ‘Teen’ mass. The cringeworthy band with their ‘Rock’ hymns, the priest trying to be cool, the fact that they were trying so hard to include and please us… It was just embarrassing.

I felt quite sorry for them in a way. I could see how hard the few motivated ones were trying to make it work, but it wasn’t cutting it. It didn’t have any interest whatsoever in going to a dead church full of robots. There was nothing in it for me.

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It wasn’t until 5 years later, age 18, when I had my first ridiculously powerful, life changing personal encounter with Jesus after a failed suicide attempt that I began returning to Mass.

Because of that encounter, I suddenly realised that Jesus Christ was real, alive, and truly present in the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist during Mass. In those first few weeks of returning to Church as a young adult, on my own, I remember how the words of the readings and the Holy Gospel would just fly accross the church out of the mouths of the readers and just penetrate my heart like a flaming spear. I remember getting butterflies in my tummy, and my heart racing as I approached Jesus in the Holy Eucharist for the first time in a long time. And I remember the gentle peace of Him, as He surrounded me with reassurance and calm during my first tentative steps of my conversion of heart, that I was wanted and loved by Him.

And yet, I was still surrounded by those loyal, yet long suffering mindless robots that surrounded me as a child. The droning creed, the robotic handshakes, the 2 lonely hymn singers… They were all still there! In some ways I found it quite funny 🙂 but I also found that it broke my heart. I was home, but my family were zombies.

I would just watch them week after week, just going through the motions. It was like they were asleep inside, while my heart was completely on fire for Jesus. I learned pretty quickly that I was not going to fit in.

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After another 10 years or so I began my Catholic studies at Maryvale university, and for the first time ever came accross the term “active participation” in the Vatican 2 document Sacrosanctum conciliumthe Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. I learned here that one of the main aims of the day in and around the 1960’s was to get the laity to participate more in the Mass. I was amazed because I thought the robotic zombie parishioner was a modern phenomenon. It seems not.

The other bombshell I learned was that up until the late 1960’s, the priest always used to say Mass with his back to the congregation!! I couldn’t believe it! Why on earth would he do that? The Mass before the late 1960’s was very different. It was said in Latin, the priest had his back to the congregation, people used to kneel to receive Holy Eucharist and would only receive on the tongue. Women were required to cover their hair in church, members of the congregation would often say rosary during Mass if they didn’t understand the Latin. Things were really different.

I can really understand why people were calling for reform in the church and pushing the idea of the “active participation” of the laity in the Mass. How easy would it be to zone out during Mass if you were just sitting there not even able to understand the language? So the Council Fathers developed this idea of active participation:

“14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.” – Sacrosanctum concilium

Although it was never actually an official part of the reforming documents of Vatican 2, the radically new idea of the priest facing the people began to creep in a few years later. The idea behind this was to make the people in the congregation feel more welcome, more involved and for the first time ever they could see what the priest was doing on the altar. It was all aimed at moving towards this idea of active participation.

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I can totally understand what they were trying to do in the late 1960’s, but 50 years later with obviously dwindling parishes, lack of religious vocations and widespread theological ignorance within the church, the million dollar question is:

Has this radical idea of active participation actually worked?

It was initially implemented to reduce parishioner zombification during Mass. But as i’m sure you will agree, the zombie robots are alive and well and STILL filling our churches today.

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Now, as you have probably heard, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, urged priests and bishops at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London on July 5 to start celebrating Masses ad orientem (with their back to the congregation) beginning on the first Sunday of Advent this year 2016.

This had caused uproar in the more progressive circles of the church as they believe it would take us back 5o years and undermine all the efforts made at active participation since then.

However I think they have got the wrong end of the stick here…

I think that it is pretty safe to say now that the active participation thing has not worked as intended. In all honestly, I think it has backfired massively and has actually drawn the people even further away from participating actively.

You see, the active participation that occurs currently is focused on outward signs and physical gestures. But this is not what active participation is meant to be. The true meaning is for the persons spirit to be actively involved in the mass, not though superficial things like carrying the offertory gifts, but to carry out our Baptismal ‘priestly’ role by offering our entire lives to God as Christ did on the Cross.

Of course it was never explained to me as a kid – or even as an adult that we are actually present at Calvary in real time during Mass. I never knew that. I also never realised that the Mass is something that is directed at God – not at the people. I never knew. The first time I realised that was during my first ever Tridentine (Traditional Latin) Mass where the priest had His back to me. When he lifted up the consecrated host with his back to me, I suddenly realised that Mass was not all about me. It was all about God.

We all face God. The priests offers the sacrifice on our behalf. Man is not the centre of the liturgy – Christ is.

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During Mass, by right and duty of my Baptism, my job is to offer my whole life – joined to the eternal sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, to God.

Why oh why did no-one ever tell me this? How can anyone possibly be luke warm during Mass armed with this knowledge? THIS is the active participation that we are meant to be carrying out during Mass – not joining the priest on the sanctuary or clapping during the Gloria.

I can see now that all those external participations actually served as distractions that drew my attention away from what I should really have been concentrating on internally. Even the priest himself can become a distraction during Mass – especially if he is young and handsome (yes, this has happened to me before during Mass *cringe*).

So to cut a very long argument short – I can totally see where Cardinal Sarah is coming from. He is trying to move the focus of the Mass back to where it should be – onto Christ, and eliminate the many distractions that have crept into the liturgy over the years. He is also trying to educate us as to the real meaning of “active participation”.

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There is one last thing…

Offering Mass this way would also be a wonderfully unitive thing to do with the Eastern Churches. They all offer Mass with the priest having his back to the congregation – they never changed. And as with everything in Catholic culture, this posture is highly symbolic. I spoke to my Byzantine friend who put it perfectly:

“Every movement in the Liturgy is symbolic. For instance, we face west during the exorcism part of the Baptism ceremony and then turn to the east (the altar) to declare our allegiance to Christ. It seems strange that the priest would face west to lead us in prayer/speaking to God on our behalf.”

Yes, that does seem strange when she puts it like that doesn’t it? I’m going to have to think more about that last part very, very carefully.

 

 

The Gay Mass – Inclusive, or Liturgical Apartheid?

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From the Brentwood Cathedral Facebook Page.

Brentwood Cathedral in Essex, UK is due to hold a Mass on March 13th 2016 specifically for gay, lesbian and transgender people and their families. The event has been billed as an outreach to the gay community as part of the year of mercy. But I am wondering if this really is the right approach?

I suppose if we are promoting the un-holy trinity of diversity, inclusion and equality, then the week after this they should really be singling out another group of sinners to invite to their own special mass. Will next week’s mass be specifically for thieves and their families? Liars and their families? Or those who have a problem with masturbation, and their families?! (I wonder what sort of a turnout you would get at that mass?! – not many I bet!)

The point I am trying to make is that sin is something we should naturally feel a healthy sense of shame for. This is why Confession is confidential. This Mass on the 13th is almost being presented like being affected by homosexuality is something to be celebrated – or at least normalised. And while I am a firm believer in accepting the sinner, not the sin, I do feel here that the emphasis of the whole day is way off the mark.

I spoke to my chaste catholic gay friend about this and asked his opinion:

“No. It’s wrong. It’s stupid. It’s like a voluntary liturgical apartheid.” He said. “I went to one of the gay masses one time when I lived in Chicago. The pews were 90% male. They took the kiss of peace literally: Partners kissed each other, on the lips, in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. The homily? You’d never know you were at mass; The priest made no attempt to weave the readings or Gospel into a message specific to that particular flock. There were no calls to heroic sainthood amidst a decadent culture, etc. It was “just another mass.” Everyone (except me) went up for Communion.”

He went on to describe the culture that had sprung up around the so called ‘gay mass’:

“After that mass, many of the guys go to a local gay bar for ‘Show Tunes Night’ to get drunk, lust after other men, and try to hook-up. Right after mass. I’m still ‘friends’ with guys on Facebook who post about this. ‘Fabulous mass! Time for a martini bitches!’ So, yeah. I’m not a fan of the ‘gay masses’. You genuflect to the Church; the Church does NOT genuflect to you.”

I think his last sentence makes a really important point. Is it really the correct attitude of the church to bend over backwards to accommodate a particular group of sinners and make them feel special and elite? Is that really the way to a true conversion of heart? It seems to me that there is real danger in this approach as it could lead the sinner to believe that not just he is accepted by the church, but his lifestyle is accepted by the church. This eliminates the need for repentance and forgiveness. Is this mercy?

I can sort of understand the mind-set behind just getting them through the door, but it kinds seems like they are being invited there under false pretences. And I understand the one step at a time mentality, but one has to be extremely careful this doesn’t slip into the ugly guise of the dreaded Gradualism.

Should we reach out with mercy AND truth to those who have SSA? Absolutely. Should we create a ghetto for them? No. The church has never turned away repentant sinners, never. And it never will. I am worried that this gay mass, rather than leading people to repentance and forgiveness, is instead leading people to believe that the Year of Mercy is all about saying that certain sins are no longer sinful. In essence it is leading people to believe that the Year of Mercy is all about letting people off the hook.

My gay friend went on to tell me:

“A priest here who hosts a 1-hour call-in radio show makes the comparison: If we’re in the woods, and I see a bear come up behind you, BUT I don’t say anything to you, because I don’t want to upset or offend you, then the bear attacks you and you DIE, I am NOT being ‘merciful’! ”

I asked my friend what his approach would be instead?

“There IS an apostolate in the Church called Courage for homosexual men & women. There’s a branch here in Chicago, and their website shows 2 in London: https://couragerc.org/  I did not hear about Courage at the gay mass I attended in Chicago; I heard about it from a priest, in the confessional, at a parish that shines as a model of fidelity & obedience and doesn’t pander to the culture. Thanks be to God if your diocese offers that “gay mass” for the conversion of sinners, if they preach: “YOU are not a bad person, but your ACTIONS are evil, and God will grant you mercy IF you repent and sin no more,” but how often do we hear that?”

It seems pretty obvious to me. We are all sinners right? So why do the organisers of the Brentwood mass on the 13th seem to be promoting it as a celebration? My friend had an opinion on this also:

“I would probably say, it’s homosexuals or sodomite allies INSIDE the Church behind this, trying to subvert the faith from within, lasso-in their compatriots with a special mass, again, segregating them as ‘special’ and ‘elite’.”

I guess this though was in the back of all our minds right? I hope to God he is wrong on this, but as far as I can see it comes down to 1 of 2 possibilities:

Either the organisers of this mass are incredibly naïve in their approach to getting sinners to repent, or they have no intention of inviting them to repent and are instead treating the day as a celebration of “love” in all its forms.

Lord have mercy.

 

Old and New Lent.

 This year I have been lucky enough to be asked to make two very different Lent sets.

The first is a traditional Roman style with and old-gold look. The second is a more modern full gothic style with white and silver. Both sets use the same purple damask material but look entirely different in their finishes.

The gothic set uses a Celtic embroidery which, like many Celtic knots, uses a triangle pattern to represent the Holy Trinity. This is most appropriate as the parish I made this for is called Holy Trinity parish and this just happens to be the parish logo. It is wonderful to be able to personalise vestments in this way. This set was bought for the priest by a parishioner. In fact, they was so impressed they have approached a guild within the parish to fund further sets in the same style!

You will notice also on the back right down at the base there is a coat of arms. This is the diocesan shield for Edmonton, Canada.

The Roman style vestments have the IHS symbol which are not tied to any particular parish. This was bought by a priest in the UK. It is not unusual for priests to move parish, so this set will be appropriate for use in any parish he might visit, or be resident in.

Both styles start at around £600 depending on material and embroidery.

Are you interested in bringing beautiful vestments back into your parish? Please contact me for a chat and I’ll see what I can do for you!

Email Clare at: info@diclara.co.uk

And please visit the website: www.diclara.co.uk

Today is my 2nd anniversary of becoming a priest.

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By Fr. Simon Dray

Today is my 2nd anniversary of becoming a priest.

We might ask, ‘what do you do as a priest?’, but in this 2nd year of priesthood there’s been a deeper appreciation that priesthood is less about ‘doing’ and more about ‘being’.

My diary’s still full, but a priest is meant to be an ‘alter Christus’ ‘another Christ to the world’. Through the Priesthood, Christ the head continues to make himself present to his body, the Church.

The priest accompanies those carrying heavy crosses – people who do so with great humility and love despite their burdens. I initially thought, ‘at the very least I can pray and offer Mass for their intentions’.

Another priest corrected me, saying ‘no saying Mass is the most we can ever do because we are priests’. The Mass isn’t something that we (collectively) do. It remains Christ’s work of our redemption. He told us when he is ‘lifted up he will draw all men to himself’. In the Eucharist he does exactly that, so it’s the highest prayer we can offer for someone.

When the priest pronounces ‘this is my body… this is my blood’, they aren’t merely the words of the Institution Narrative, but of Consecration because it’s Christ, the Word of God who is speaking them!

In the same way, ‘Do this in memory of me’, means we aren’t re-enacting an ancient historical event, but are once again drawn into his saving passion, death and resurrection. God gives us back our life; one that endures for the eternal life.

Dying on a cross is humiliating and lonely. Those closest to Christ had betrayed, denied and deserted him. Only John, the beloved disciple, his Blessed Mother and the other women took station with him. In the Eucharist, Christ as God, finds a way never to be alone on the cross.

That’s why we go to Sunday Mass and why it matters if we choose to be absent because it means we’re missing from the foot of the cross – again! Coming to Mass makes us like the ‘beloved disciple’ and we stand by him as he gives his life as a ransom for many.

Only the fruit of the cross can sustain the Christian life as it gives us the grace to be faithful to Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Bishop Richard, at Festival 50, said, ‘we need priests, for unless our communities have at their centre the celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass, they will not be Catholic communities in the true sense’.

We must get real! If we want priests we can’t sit around waiting for the bishop to send us one. Indeed, it’s the other way round – we must send, from this community, our sons, brothers and nephews so he can ordain them!

Priestly vocations come from practising Catholic families. Pray that tonight we go home and make the Eucharist and Priesthood a priority for our family discussions and prayer.

Pray for priests. Pray for this priest, and for all Catholic priests all around the world.

Another boring Valentines day, Another boring Mass.

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Last week I was visiting a church near to us. I went into the sacristy before Mass to speak to a friend of mine. She was busy getting things ready for Mass and was showing me where all the vestments and altar linens were kept. She asked me if I would like to serve Mass that day. With a heavy heart I said “No, thanks. I’m a girl!”

That threw me a little bit and it wasn’t until i got home later that day that I realised that something very, very disturbing indeed was going on in that sacristy. The used altar cloths – the corporals, and the purificators used by the priests and the ministers of Holy Communion were not being properly rinsed after Mass. Instead they were being tossed straight into an old cardboard box where they would wait to be picked up by the cleaners and put through the washing machine. This meant that small parts of our Lord’s body and precious blood were getting washed down the drain. With our Lord’s body and blood on this linen, this old cardboard box shoved under the sink was in-fact acting as a tabernacle.

I spoke to a priest friend about this and he told me that there is no way in the world this should be happening. I was horrified. I felt sick to my stomach. I was so distressed by this that I didn’t sleep that night. How could this possibly be happening? Did no-one realise what was happening? Did no-one care?

In the morning I cancelled all my plans for that day and set about buying the things that were needed to set this situation right. I bought a glass bowl that the linens could be soaked in, a clothes dryer they could be hung out on, I replaced the old cardboard box with a plastic crate and put instructions for the priests and ministers of Holy Communion explaining how the linens needed to be rinsed by the priest before going into the laundry. I spoke to the sacristan that morning who had never really considered what was happening but agreed with me that it could not continue. I spoke to some of the priests who agreed with me that it could not continue.  I set up all the stuff in the sacristy and said the chaplet of Divine Mercy, begging forgiveness for the way His body and precious blood had been treated. I went home feeling uneasy – but better.

That night I sent an email to the priests of that parish explaining what I had done and also saying “… although there are many clubs, groups and initiatives within the parish, the central focus should always be Jesus in the Eucharist. And if we cannot get respect for Jesus in the Eucharist right, then any other work we do is quite frankly useless…”

I spoke to another priest friend that night and told him about the situation. He was embarrassed to say that he had also been failing to rinse the altar cloths properly after Mass, but that he would not be making that mistake again. It started to dawn on me that this was probably not a one off situation. My heart sank. No, it broke.

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The next morning I got a call from the parish manager. She had removed all the stuff I had put into the sacristy and proceeded to call me a “very naughty girl” for acting without getting specific permission from the parish priest (who’s day off it was yesterday). I apologised and said that in any other circumstance I would agree with her, but on the issue of the blessed sacrament being disrespected then I’m afraid I had no other choice than to act that day. She asked me who was in charge of the parish. I said Christ. She disagreed with me! It seems that by not following strict parish protocol I had somehow offended her to the point of undoing time and space. She was more concerned with the fact that I hadn’t got an email reply from the parish priest, than she was about our Lord’s body and precious blood getting washed down the drain. I told a priest friend about this and he told me not to worry too much. He said “Clare, if she had been around on the morning of the resurrection she would have complained to Jesus that He had left cloths in the tomb!”

So now what was I to do? I sent a letter of apology to the priests:

“…I’m very sorry if I have caused any offence by trying to sort out the used linen situation in the sacristy.
The parish manager called me today and explained that under no circumstances must I act without the approval of the Parish Priest.
I understand and agree with this, but in this circumstance my responsibility was to my Lord. I’m afraid once I found out what was happening, I knew the situation needed rectifying that day. I simply could not be responsible for His Body or Precious Blood being disrespected in that way for a second longer.
I was also aware that if anyone else was to find out what was happening it would cause great embarrassment to the parish.
I’m sorry if I have caused distress, and of course it is up to the parish priest if he wants the linen situation to continue in the way it was? But I assumed that he would have been as horrified as me…”

I just couldn’t understand how the parish priest was letting this happen? Either he didn’t know he was supposed to be doing this – which is a FAIL. Or he did know he was supposed to be doing this but wasn’t bothering – FAIL. Or even worse, he didn’t believe those altar cloths were carrying our Lord’s body or precious blood – MAJOR FAIL.

How was it possible, I thought, that the relationship this priest has with Jesus (assuming he has one) has got so dry, so mundane. How is it possible that his heart has become so cold that he is not moved to tears by this situation like I am?

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And then my husband asked me a question: “Sooooo honey! What shall we do for valentines day this year? Hot crazy sex under the stars? A mad shopping weekend in Paris? A hot air balloon ride over the Pyramids? Or shall we just do what we’ve done every year for the last decade and get a take-away and watch Arnold Schwarzenegga movies?”

“Meh.” I replied. It kinda struck me at that point that I had probably been judging that poor priest unfairly.

Let me be the first to admit that I take my spouse for granted – everyday. We have been married for 15 years. And anyone who has been married for more than about 5 minuets will agree with me that the mind blowing-ness of well, everything tends to wear off pretty soon – well day-to-day at least. Eating dinner together every night, having sex, watching films, conversation, all gets a bit, blah. And of course the relationship will go through good patches and bad patches. And in the bad patches we would rather just not be around each other at all to be honest, but we have made a life long commitment so we just get on with it.

Now who am I to say that this priest is not going through a bad patch in his relationship with Jesus? And who am I to say whether the relationship has just got a bit, blah? This good and faithful priest has said mass pretty much at least once EVERYDAY for the last 40 years or so. And that is besides all his other duties. I can’t even say whether I have the backbone to survive marriage for 40 years?! Who knows? The thought sends shivers down my spine to be honest (and my poor husbands too he!he!).

But, I am also a mother. And if it was my son’s blood on that cloth, and I was standing I the sacristy after Mass, you can bet your bottom dollar the priest would not be throwing that altar linen into a beat up old cardboard box. And for us as laity, do we prepare properly every time we receive Jesus? Or has that become routine too? Forgive us Mother Mary, for routinely disrespecting your Son in this way.

In hindsight I would have approached this whole situation differently by going straight to the parish priest and bringing up the subject with gentleness and compassion. But instead I just reacted, all be it justifiably, but it has still resulted in a massive evangelisation FAIL on my part in regards to the needs of the priest. Now, somehow, I have got to find a way to sort it all out “…That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

Finally, may I ask all the priests who read this blog to have a think about if this is a situation that is going on in your sacristy? If it is, please, please take steps to ensure the Blessed Sacrament is not washed down the drain. And know that I am praying for you. I love you, and I understand that a lifelong vocation is not easy, but it is worth it.