Omgosh I did a bidding prayer at the Vatican!

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I’m writing this at Fiumicino airport on my phone so I hope it is going to present itself ok?!  Let’s try…

Well… Yesterday I read a bidding prayer at the Vatican, during the canonisation Mass of Louis and Zelie Martin – the parents of St Therese of Lisieux.

This all came about because I am a secular Carmelite. My formation director is friends with one of the Carmelite friars in Rome who happens to be the assistant to the General Procurator (the guy who investigates the miracles attributed to possible saints) and he was looking for an English speaker to do one of the bidding prayers. So she gave him my email address!

We had a practise on the Saturday, but I actually missed our practice slot because I was too busy chatting. Typical me. But in my defence I was chatting to the relatives of Louis and Zellie Martin, and Therese of Lisieux! (but that’s another blog post I am yet to write).

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I was just so happy to be there watching all the preparations to be honest. Let me tell you this: a Papal Mass is one big choreography. It was fascinating to see the organisation going on in several different languages. Lucky for me most people spoke at least basic English, because I can’t speak a word of any other language. I struggle enough with English frankly! But it didn’t matter. There is always someone who is available for a bit of impromptu translation. But I did at least get to go and stand at the Ambo and freak out at how many chairs there were!

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Sunday morning I arrived at St Peters square at 7.45am and there was already hundreds of people queuing to get in. Lucky I had a ‘special’ ticket and was able to go straight through up into the VIP area.  There I met the rest of the bidding prayer crew.

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We were able to have a run through but I have to say, I wasn’t really nervous, just really, really excited!

Then Mass started. We were sitting pretty much in the front row. There were just two suits in front of us who I assume were security, with black briefcases that I assume contained lots of guns and stuff. Seriously – I think we had the best seats in the house.

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Pope Francis seemed to me to be a Father under enormous pressure, who desperately needs the prayers and support of Mother church. It’s not an easy marriage at the moment. I don’t envy his job one bit.

He declared Louis and Zélie Martin saints. The first married couple ever to be canonised together. May they watch over, and be a tangible source of help to all married couples and families.

So then, after the homily, came the moment of truth for me. Bidding prayer time. I’m very happy to report that I managed NOT to trip up, fluff my lines or do a Marilyn Munroe with my dress.

Click to view video.

After Mass their was opportunity to get a quick photo of Papa Franko in the Popemobile.

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He usually takes about 20 minutes to drive around the whole of St Peters square and kiss babies ect. But his drive was cut rather short that day. Probably because he needed to get home pronto to watch Argentina destroy Ireland in the rugby (just kidding!).

The crowd was estimated at about 80k, and spilled out into the roads surrounding St Peters square.

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And I even managed to get a pic of the gorgeous altar frontal – for research purposes only 😉

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Then I had to leg it before security rolled me up in the red carpet and threw me out! Ha!ha!

It was an INCREDIBLE day. Probably one of the best days of my life. I’m in no doubt that my Carmelite sister St. Therese orchestrated all of this for me on her parents big day! I’m forever in her debt. <3

I prayed for you all, and all your intentions xxx

“Dear Louis and Zelie, please help me with my marriage.”

Zelie & Louis Martin

When I heard the relics of Louis and Zelie Martin were coming to the UK I immediately knew I had to go visit them. Their youngest daughter – St Therese of Lisieux was the one who guided me into Carmel. She has become one of my best friends (yes – some of my best friends are actually dead 😉 ) and to be able to ‘meet’ her parents was a very special honour for me as a secular Carmelite. They had 9 children, 4 of whom tragically died in childhood. They were married for 19 years until Zelie died from breast cancer when little Therese was just 4 years old.

Their relics were on display at Portsmouth cathedral UK. Bishop Egan said Mass and gave a superb homily reminding us all that no man has the authority to change Christ’s teaching on marriage.

There was also time for quiet reflection. And I found myself praying the only prayer I could think of: “Please help me with my marriage…”

Next week Nick and I will have been married for 15 years. The last 18 months have been really, really hard. Nick was diagnosed with CFS when our 3rd child was just 4 months old, and has not been at work since then. We have no idea when or if he will recover. We do not have an income. I now take the kids on holiday on my own. I didn’t chose this and neither did he. I cannot stand to watch him suffer.

But it’s not all bad…

How many fathers do you know who get to spend everyday with their baby? How many fathers do you know who are their for their kids everyday when they get home from school, eat dinner together everyday, read bedtime stories everyday? (I must just add that as husband and wife, being together in close proximity 24/7 has its um… challenges – like refraining from killing each other 😉 )

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“Please help me with my marriage…” I would like to think that after 15 years of wife-ing, I was getting pretty good at it. But I’m afraid I still struggle with my vocation every single day. And so does he. It’s not always a bed of roses.

How it is possible for us to have got married age 20 with 1 days preparation, and then keep that marriage together through thick and thin in every possible scenario for 15 years I just don’t know. I can only put it down to the fact that Jesus is present in our sacrament of marriage. We have tried to split up a few times but we just couldn’t do it 🙂

On one occasion I remember desperately wanting to leave but wrestling with the fact that if I left, I would have to deny Christ – and I just couldn’t do it 🙂 In the end it wasn’t feelings towards my husband that kept me in my marriage, it wasn’t even the fact that I believe children need to grow up with their mother and father present, but it was the fact that Jesus had given His whole life for me on the cross, and now He was asking me to give my whole life for Him by staying obediently in my marriage vows. It was at that moment about 8 years ago that Christ became first place in my marriage.

Louis and Zelie were terrific examples of this. They had Christ in first place in their marriage from the very start. They obviously adored each other, but crucially they did not idolise each other. Christ came first.

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Gosh! What a lesson this is for us today! How many people idolise their spouse, putting them above God? Many, I would say. And it’s not fair, because when you put your spouse first (above God) you are burdening them with a role they can not possibly ever live up to. Your spouse will NEVER be able to fill that God shaped hole in your heart. And it is completely unrealistic and unfair to expect them to. And when you begin to realise that your spouse is not ‘fulfilling’ you like you would like then you actually begin to blame them for it! Crazy isn’t it?!

Personally I’m convinced that this is the reason that so many marriages are failing now. People are expecting their spouse to fulfil the parts of them that only God can fulfil.

By putting Christ first in their marriage, Louis and Zelie kept their marriage holy, and also set the example for their 5 surviving daughters who all went on to become Carmelite nuns. What an amazing couple. What an outstanding example.

Dear Louis and Zelie, please help me with my marriage.

Hilarious conversation between St. Therese of Lisieux and a Facebook scammer!

On Facebook this is my profile pic:

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It is a picture of St Therese of Lisieux. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a personal message telling me this:

“Hello. How are you doing? nice to meet you my dear i got Attracted in your good looking profile and really wish if we can be friend.” 

It was from this guy: 

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It didn’t take me 5 seconds to work out that this guy – Jordan Caihoun was a scammer.
The next day he contacted me again! And this time I though it was time to have a little fun…

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “Hello”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “Hi”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “how are you?”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “Good thanks!”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “Thanks a lot my dear friend for your reply and it is my pleasure having you as my friend, and what name should i call you often.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “St. Therese, but my friends call me ‘little flower’.”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “Knowing one another is a gradual process and here are few things I think you should know about me, I am an American Citizen and also an American soldier and before I was serving in the American Army base in United State but right now I am leading a troop in Qabul, Kandahar, Afghanistan, I am serving in the military of the 3rd Infantry Division in Qabul, Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “I am a Carmelite saint who lived in the late 1800’s in Lisieux, France. Do you like roses?”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “so much”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “So do I ! I like to obtain graces for people and send them as a shower of roses to those who pray with me!”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “Actually I entered facebook because I am searching for a wife, my wife died 6 years ago and left me with 1 son Because of the nature of my job I can not get the chance and time to meet people out side so I decided to use this media because I have promised my kid that I must get a wife and step mother for her soon. Please let me know if you will be ready to spend the rest of your life with me and if you think it cannot work for us that will not be any problem we can just be very close friends okay. I wait for your reply.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “Well, I have taken a life long vow of celibacy – so that might be an issue I suppose?”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “building relationship is a gradual process but falling in love is just for second. My sweet darling your status will not stop me from loving you, i believe in the inner most beauty of a woman which i believe you posses.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “The innermost beauty is that of total submission to His will. And I desire to suffer to bring all sinners back into His love! Even you ;)”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “Honey I know we don’t see each other yet,but I want you to agree with me that true love is addicted and distance cannot stop us when we are deeply and truly in love. So please give me a chance to love you more because I feel some thing strong here for you as love and I believe I will make you a total woman and give you love that you will like and you never did before.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “That love you speak of is real! So real! And I have found my love in the desert of Carmel! My love, my Lord, is everything to me. No love is greater than the love I have for my Lord!”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “the love of the lord is the greatest”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “I think it is the little things in life that are important, don’t you agree?”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “yea i strongly believe you”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “Sometimes just a smile or a kind word is enough to lift a despondent soul. What do you think?”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “I am ready to entrust my treasures into your care If you make me believe in you to prove my love to you baby.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “What is your name?”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “My full names is Jordan Caihoun, an American National and I am still in Afghanistan but will be going back to my country soon.”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “No, your real name. Don’t be scared – I won’t judge you. My name is Clare 🙂 I want to pray for you, for your life, so you can find a good job and stop living this Facebook lie. That is no good for you.”

10996539_1386336561679522_4940367648327555666_n “So nice to have you as my new friend and pray that the almighty God will help us have a mutual friendship that will profit us in future…”

Therese_von_Lisieux (1) “Let me pray for you. Tomorrow I will offer my prayers and fasting for you. But tell me your name my friend, please…”

And at this point, Jordan Caihoun suddenly de-friended me. God bless him! And God forgive my mischievous nature 😉