My Summer in Nice: 84 people dead, and everyone is concerned about “Burkini rights”.

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By Alison Figueiredo.
We arrived in Nice at the beginning of the summer around June in order to take care of my father who lives here and who suffered a stroke. My four year old son and I alongside my now frail mother faced this enormous challenge head on and with as much courage as we could muster. But without the Catholicism of Nice I perhaps would not have made it through this Summer with so much resting on my shoulders.
I’ve been blessed with this soothing balm. The church bells calling out every day on most streets, the beautiful baroque churches in the old town, the stunning Franciscan monastery in Cimiez where I take refuge after every painful visit with my beloved father, the sung Old Rite masses and daily rosary. Christian Estrosi the Mayor of the Region wished us all a Happy Feast of the Assumption on his FB page. Can we ever imagine a London Mayor doing that?
I feel very at home with Catholicism here. The slow steady rise of French Catholicism has not gone unnoticed in the mainstream either. I love attending Tridentene mass here, full of young families and led by the beautiful Penitents Rouges. Today was particularly special, celebrated by a recently ordained priest. One of 12 ordained in July by Cardinal Burke, 8 of whom were French.
On the 14th July we waited for the traditional fireworks across the road and my son fidgeted with excitement at attending. Then, mercifully as it turns out, he fell asleep. Around 11 I went onto the balcony to clear away plant pots buffeted by the mistral and heard screams I will never forget. The buzzer went repeatedly, I answered but no one responded. My blood ran cold. Something wasn’t right.
After a series of panicked phone calls from family telling us they could see our hallway on Fox News we switched on the TV to see the dark blue entrance of our building filled with screaming people, families and children panicking and clamouring to escape another Islamic terrorist attack. Right on our doorstep. The white lorry used to mow down and kill over 80 people – some of whom were babies still in their pushchairs, came to a stop right outside our building. For a day afterwards we were in lockdown as the army scoped out the underground parking area beneath our building believing a group of terrorists had used it to hide. It was terrifying and for two nights I slept in front of the inside of the front door to block it and protect my mother and child.
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Outside our building: My son watches people lay flowers on the bloodstains.

A month on and Already it’s forgotten by the world. The orphaned children, the many with life changing disabilities, the grief of parents,  the bloodstains which remain across the road and pavement which were never removed, thousands of teddy bears, thousands of Catholic Church candles scattered along the Promenade. The world has already moved on anaesthetised to the violence, Facebook profiles switched back to normal.
The focus at the end of the Summer has turned to the hurt sensibilities of the Muslim community. The anger now directed at Islamophibes. Frankly, realising how close my son and I came to death, having spoken to neighbours traumatised at escaping with their lives and protecting their handicapped daughter, reading the endless lists of global victims after these attacks, I freely admit I’m phobic. Because like Christian Estrosi, I too fear Salafism (an Islamic movement based on a literal reading of the Quran) and have long been familiar with its malign influences on Islam in Europe, it’s insidious grip on Muslim youth and culture. And like many in France, a country battered by a series of attacks, I feel there is next to nothing to convince me that mainstream Islam is anything other than at fault for its very own failure to challenge it. Islam has become more so than ever before a political force waging a cultural war as well as violent jihad. These so called groups challenging Islamophobia are merely Salafism by stealth.
As far back as the 90s the undercurrent of Salafism has reshaped Islam in France. When I undertook a research project on it for my University degree I recall the interviews with Imams conducted in living rooms bereft of furniture, sat cross legged on the floor, dreaming of the Caliphate. I could sense the unease of my Algerian university friend who had abandoned Islam and become an apostate and atheist, expressing endless concern for the religion his parents practised versus that of their increasingly agitated children.
French feminism supported by Muslim women has since mostly swung behind the various veil debates in opposition to the veil, supporting veil bans, in stark contrast to the rest of western feminists. They’ve been rightly vocal about the atrocities committed on women in the suburbs who fail to dress appropriately. They’ve even had the courage to recognise that some women will dress to make a statement of Salafist intent rather than express any element of faith. French Research backs this up.
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Eventually we re-emerged onto the Nice beaches and tried to carry on. The weight of the hospital visits and terrorism meant the beaches and pools were an important break with my son. And that’s when I first noticed the Burqini. A direct flight from Dubai to Nice has increased wealthy Muslim visitors and they bring with them this bizarre woman eviscerating swimsuit. The husbands bear all. Their prepubescent daughters are forced into a similar child’s version which stops at the knees instead of the ankles, while their brothers wear trunks. It is therefore no surprise to me at all to see France challenge this latest cultural drive.
France is hurting after so many grotesque attacks. It is concerned at how to crush the grip of Salafism. It’s politicians broadly represent the views of its citizens rather than working to silence them.
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The imam (of course) who circulated the picture of nuns on the beach has helped create enough confusion that even the vice mayor of Nice wound up ludicrously cornered over the issue of nuns habits and clumsily attempted to bat the issue away. And presumably the Habits of the Penitents Rouges of Nice. But Estrosi, the French Prime Minister and Sarkozy are all crystal clear.

“There is, firstly, political Islam, which exploits a religion that is the fact of a few. The burkini is not a religious sign, it is the affirmation in the public space for political Islamism”  – F. Valls – French Prime Minister.

And the president of the Islamic organisations if France makes clear it is not Islamic dress for modesty.
“I say that the Burkini is not part of the Muslim Faith.” – National President of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France
The burqini is not required religious dress. It is a political uniform. It is an act of communautarism as Estrosi went to lengths to indicate.  It is an obvious middle finger to society around them, anti woman in the message it sends just like the chador and niqab – that it is a woman’s responsibility to manage at all times the apparently unrelenting desires of infidel men.
Unlike nuns who submit their lives to God this is about submitting to the will of your husband who lays claim to your body, or pronouncing your admiration for that concept to the world even while women across the world suffer under Salafist groups who mandate it. When this matter is put to debate in Parliament this issue of habits versus burqini will become clearer. I also expect them to address the rise in the chador here for the same reasons. Put simply. These are the simple but worthy values of France and of the West. Accept them.
As I witnessed, but didn’t photograph and share on Twitter, one wife who dipped her feet in the kids pool without the proscribed attire was pulled rudely from the pool by her husband, beaten and made to go change. Another simply got into the kids pool wearing her trainers, which was incredibly unsanitary.
I also strongly suspect the initial incident and outrage was fabricated. A woman in a burqini sits on the beach stones, alone with no husband, not mat, no towel, no bag and is curiously photographed by long zoom lense? Oh please.
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A Burkini set-up?

Yes the police here are heavily armed at the moment so approaching her in the manner that they did was quite wrong.  Frankly though it’s equally outrageous to me to be forced to explain to my son why heavily armed soldiers in full combats need to patrol the Promenade all day long. People getting ants in their pants about the police being armed can hop it. They’re keeping us safe if that’s alright with you.
Catholics addressing the issue of modesty in the face of raunch culture beware, certainly there’s a discussion to be had about how we tackle raunch culture. But the burquni is not the answer. In fact this region is not the bare all anything goes region it once was. I’m curious that no one ever picked up on the story of the young London woman asked to put her bikini top back on with quite the same fury as they did the burqini.
Finally, No-one is suggesting women cannot dress to feel comfortable for the beach. I’ve never had any issues in dressing so that I feel modest, cool, comfortable and able to swim. I don’t need to make a statement to do it. Especially when that statement is frankly as sexualising as nudity. It screams I’m a sexual being – look at me. Highly immodest.
In France various mayors have defied the lower court order entirely and continue to maintain the bans. Particularly here in Nice where Estrosi could not care less about the latest reaction to his temporarily banning photographing the police. Apparently many of the burqa clad families have moved next door to Italy for some peace and quiet because the Italian mayors are more accommodating, where the same families are also now requesting separate beach shower facilities for Muslim women (Nice matin).
Oh Italy! The salafists are winning this war. They’re successfully hoodwinking many Europeans and have them dancing around on their behalves. Don’t be such utter obsequious fools.

Brexit: Round up of the last 3 monumental days…

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Champagne Brexfast!

Well, We did it! Our proud nation is finally free once again. I’ve been partying for about 3 days now and I just can’t seem to stop!

Apart from getting married or giving birth to my kids, this has been one of the best and most significant few days of my life.

For the first time ever, I can look at my kids future in this country with a real sense of freedom, hope and opportunity, rather than the dread of knowing that they would most likely be persecuted for their faith under the laws of the politically correct neo-Marxist EU.

Everything I fight hard for can be summed up in the referendum result. Freedom, democracy, common sense. I never dreamed I would see it in my lifetime. WE ARE FREE!!

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3 Generation Brexit party!

But I think the best thing is that I know that at least 17 million people feel the same way I do. The sleeping giant has awakened. WE ARE BRITISH! AND BRITAIN IS GREAT!

Top lesson of the day: You have a voice, and your voice counts. And when you find the courage to speak up, you find that millions of other feel the same way. I think this is the first time that a LOT of people feel that their voice is finally being heard.

Unfortunately, this kind of courage can make other people feel, well, sad.

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Some of the people were feeling so sad that they even ventured out of their safe spaces to start an online petition calling for a second referendum. Apparently the first one wasn’t fair enough because they didn’t win.

Unfortunately it seems that their petition wasn’t fair either. They had created computer programmes to sign the petition thousands of times with fake signatures. Apparently 50k came from Vatican City!!! Another 25k came from North Korea!!!

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Of course inevitably there were hilarious counter petitions rising up everywhere including one that was asking for a re-run of the battle of Hastings, and a re-draw of last weeks Euro million lottery!

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I really think it would have been easier on the losing side if they had not all been given prizes throughout their childhoods for *not* winning at school sports day.

But to those who voted Remain and are now saying “Let’s get on with working together to build a great British future…” I have the upmost respect Hats off to you guys!

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The whining quickly turned to anger and insult, and there were calls for older people to not be able to vote ever again because they were, well, old. And that obviously means that their vote doesn’t count.

It’s a shame the young ones forget that their grandparents were the ones who freed this country from the evil of the German National Socialist Party back in 1945.

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The accusations of Bigot and Racist were seemingly forgotten and replaced by “uneducated”. I guess if we do have a second vote (which will never happen!) then the only ones allowed to vote should be readers of The Guardian. In one of the most sickeningly patronising articles I have ever read, The Guardian tells us that Remainers should now consider themselves ‘parents’ to the uneducated proletariat Brexiteers who so desperately need re-educating.

Did I mention that an angry Remainer called me a Xylophone?! I think he meant Xenophobe 😀

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So here is a summary of our first day of freedom:

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The BBC promised me Godzilla and fire from the sky. Where are my huge lizards?! Where are my fireballs?! I’m still waiting…

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And who will be our new Prime Minister? I think I have the solution…

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In all fairness, we must remember that despite the behaviour our brothers and sisters have been displaying recently, they are grieving. Please keep this in mind when interacting with them. This chart may help explain why people do crazy things when they are grieving:

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Today’s second reading said it all for me. It really hit the nail on the head:

Reading 2, Galatians 5:1, 13-18

1 Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery.

13 After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love,

14 since the whole of the Law is summarised in the one commandment: You must love your neighbour as yourself.

15 If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another.

16 Instead, I tell you, be guided by the Spirit, and you will no longer yield to self-indulgence.

17 The desires of self-indulgence are always in opposition to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are in opposition to self-indulgence: they are opposites, one against the other; that is how you are prevented from doing the things that you want to.

18 But when you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

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Ok. Party done. Now time to work on a way forward…

I know the way forward. It supercedes Brexit, Remain, the EU, Prime Ministers and Presidents. It supercedes race, wealth, class and education. It supercedes our entire world and it supercedes us.

This ‘it’ is a ‘who’. And that ‘who’ is Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8

 

Dear LGBT Community, Come to Jesus and know how much you are loved.

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Orlando 2016

Dear LGBT community,

Come to Jesus and know how much you are loved. Every Christian is a sinner. The Church is just made up of a whole bunch of sinners in need of a saviour. So if you are a sinner too, you are gonna fit in just fine! Jesus doesn’t like people who point fingers at other people’s sin. When he saved a young woman from being stoned to death he looked at the crowed of accusers around her and told them:

“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”” – (John 8:7)

Let me tell you about God…

God loves His children UNCONDITIONALLY. He loves you and me so much that He sent His only son Jesus to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins. He did this because He wants you and me to be with Him for all eternity after we die. He created you unique, special, beautiful, one of a kind.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” – (Luke 12:7)

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you God, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” – (Psalm 139)

Come and find out more about this love.

We are all sinners. Jesus wants to forgive us and set us free. He wants us to see ourselves through His eyes, so we can realise how much we are loved. Not once we decide to leave our old lives behind and follow Him, but RIGHT NOW. He loves you RIGHT NOW.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – (Romans 5:8)

Come to Jesus. Come and find out about how much He loves you. Come and find out about His mercy and forgiveness.

The terror attack in Orlando was a hate crime. It was carried out by a man who had learned to hate himself. He believed his religion hated him because he too was experiencing same-sex attraction.

If only he could have known the truth about how much he was loved by Jesus – even in the depths of his hate and despair, he was still loved. He didn’t know how much He was loved.

It is too late now. I commit him, and all those who were killed in the club that night to the mercy of God. They all now stand face to face with their creator. One day, we all will stand face to face with our creator.

You are angry, of course. But please don’t let that anger grow into hate. Instead come and learn about Love as you have never known it before.

God has a plan for your life. He wants you back. Turn to Jesus now and begin the most incredible relationship of your life.

Jesus, I don’t know who you are. Everything I’ve been taught about you doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. How can you love me when I am a sinner? How can you do that? I have turned my back on God many times  in my life Jesus. I want to come to you. Help me come to you and give my heart to you. I want to know who I am through your eyes. I want to know about Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness. I want to know how much you love me.

For all those affected by same-sex attraction please visit https://couragerc.org/

 

The problem with the Church of ‘nice’.

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Perfect family…    …perfect teeth.

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

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

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

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

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

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*Puke*

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

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

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

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

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

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*Real life*

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

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

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

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

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I bet these nice people don’t sin.

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

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

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

Why didn’t they just shoot the boy? – Harambe and our contraceptive mentality.

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One monkey gets shot and everyone goes ape. Seriously, the amount of hate and judgment I have seen directed towards the mother of the little boy who managed to sneak into the Gorilla’s enclosure is just flabbergasting. I’ve seen a petition with over 150,000 signatures who are all calling for “Justice for Harambe” although no-one really knows what that means.

Many are blaming the mother for not supergluing the 4 year old to her side. I’m sure if she thought there was any risk at all of her son being able to breach the fence of the gorilla enclosure then she would have. Perhaps the haters need to be looking at the fact that the security at the gorilla enclosure was so weak it was foiled by a 4 year old? If I were the parents i’d be suing the zoo quite frankly.

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And then there is the fact that Harambe is a wild animal kept in captivity so that some people can gawp at him, and others can make money from people gawping at him. I’m sure when God made the majestic and extremely powerful Harambe, He didn’t intend him to spend his life in a zoo. I’m sure God intended him to live in the wild. But we love to control things don’t we…?

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The out-pouring of emotion and grief over Harambe reminds me of the death of Princess Diana (stick with me on this one…!) Harambe and Diana were both gawped at by people. Diana was held captive in her own media prison – never being able to leave the house without Paparazzi, never having a moments privacy. People paid good money to view every aspect of her life. She was a spectacle for our entertainment – just like Harambe.

When she died there was one of the biggest outpourings of grief i’ve ever seen. Why? I never understood why? Yesterday you were happy to gawp at this person and revel in her lack of privacy, and now you are mourning her death like she was your own mother. I think what we were witnessing was the widespread grief of death itself. We cannot control death. Perhaps there was also an element of guilt there for gawping for all those years?

Perhaps people are also feeling guilt for Harambe? I’m sure some are. But many more are just feeling plain old rage. The rage, I believe also stems from this lack of ability to control. We love to control everything. St JPII called this the ‘contraceptive mentality’.

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Our desire to control things leads us eventually to do absolutely anything to remain in control. We want all the benefits and pleasures we can lay our hands on – and none of the responsibility or consequences. As human beings we take this desire for control to the very limit through murdering our own children through abortion. We MUST remain in control.

So when our control of a 400lb wild animal we are holding hostage is compromised by a 4 year old boy and we have to shoot the animal to remain in control,  everyone blames the boy (and his mother).

“She should have been keeping better control of him!” That’s right – there is no room for accidents or anomalies or mistakes in our contraceptive culture. No room at all. In fact, I’m starting to believe that there would have been less of a hyper emotional outcry from the self-loathing haters if the zoo keeper had just shot the boy (and his mother of course…). Then we could all just keep looking at the funny monkey and gawp at how big and strong he is, and how clever we are for controlling him.

People are so stupid…

It all sounds like gibberish to me.

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Tower of Babel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ha!Ha!

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

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

I’m still working on it… 😉

The Holy Spirit’s prefered pronouns.

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Fr James Martin SJ once again managed to deeply offend the Holy Spirit today by using the gender pronoun ‘her’.

I find it terribly sad that in these triumphant days of political correctness, diversity and gender neutrality, that a leader in ‘progressive’ Catholic theology such as Fr James Martin SJ could be quite so narrow minded and discriminatory.

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Why does he feel the need to confine the Holy Spirit to a specific gender? By the fact that the Holy Spirit is referred to in the Old Testament using the Hebrew female noun ‘ruah‘ as well as the male noun ‘elohim‘ surely proves that the Holy Spirit is gender fluid? The greek word for the Holy Spirit ‘pneuma‘ is actually gender-neutral. Surely this is a much more progressive way of speaking about the Holy Spirit?

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Perhaps Fr James Martin SJ would like to step out of his uber traditional constrictive gender mentality and stop offending the Trans and Non-Binary communities? I feel he would benefit from spending some time amongst these communities to see that a person can truly exist without the need for rigid gender classification.

I’m in no doubt that the Holy Spirit’s prefered pronoun would be ‘Ze’. When we talk about Zir in this way we offend no-one, and do not restrict Zir to any limits. We acknowledge the fluidity and creativeness Ze is capable of in Zir non-genitalic/genderless form.

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Oh but wait just a second… “Gender ideology is demonic!” Pope Francis insists. He says that it militates against “the order of creation.” He sees it as so toxic, so destructive, that he has compared gender ideology to “the educational policies of Hitler.

Hmmm. Problemo.

Ok sorry Fr James Martin SJ, I guess if you want to remain in good standing with the church you can’t use gender neutral pronouns after all. But I guess that also applies to the fact that you are still calling the Holy Spirit ‘her’ too.

Have you ever heard of a book called The Catechism of the Catholic Church? It’s really good!

The risk of a tender heart.

 

Dear Jesus,

I want to talk about tenderness of heart.
The more and more I dwell on it, I think tenderness of heart is the key to understanding the Christian message. What else is there?! If our hearts are tender then we will be able to receive and give love and more importantly – understand the paradoxical nature of love.
If our hearts are hard then we are literally unable to give, receive or understand love. Only a tender heart can give beyond what reason says it can give. Only a tender heart can suffer without resentment or unhappiness.
A tender heart is also able to open to receive the love that is beyond reason. A tender heart knows faith, and does not require explanation – because a tender heart understands that love cannot be scientifically explained, only given and received.
It is when our hearts become hard that explanation is required, and no answer will suffice because there is no answer except love itself. If your heart is not tender enough to give or receive love then you will never be able to understand it!
We are all born with beautifully open tender hearts. But life and people wound us – and a wounded heart can become defensive. Love requires risk, and to the wounded heart this risk can often seem too much to bear, and the heart then turns in on itself and becomes hard and cold.
The other thing that wounds a tender heart is sin. Regular exposure to sin hardens our hearts by allowing the sin to become normalised.
I often think that certain sins are appealing to people who may have been wounded in a specific area, because the hardening of the heart can actually help dull the pain associated with the initial wounding – hardening the heart even more. I have noticed this pattern in my own life.
The price paid for a tender heart is that I will feel pain. This is the price of love. Love and suffering cannot be separated. And certainly in my case this has been the cause of my hardening of heart. To regain that tenderness requires me to soften myself so that pain can be realised and then be given to You. It is only once I have surrendered my pain that You are able to take it away from me and then heal my wounded heart.
Can tenderness of heart ever be regained? Yes, I believe so. Because nothing is impossible for God. But one thing is sure, and that is that without tenderness of heart, I will never be capable of receiving the fullness of Your love. And I can never give to others what I have not received myself. So Jesus please, help me to examine my own tenderness of heart, and then receive from You the healing and softening that I require, so that I can reach other hearts with the tenderness I have received from You.
I love You Jesus.

Did Voris just become our mascot for the Year of Mercy?

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I was very moved to see Michael Voris confess to his gay past a few days ago. I’m sure this must have been a very difficult thing for him to do, but I have to say – I think it is probably the best thing that has ever come out of Church Militant TV.

It explains a lot. The ruthless style journalism, the depth of revulsion – verging on hatred, of all things flimsy and unorthodox within the church, the hair… 😉

I think that when someone has lived in the depths of sin for so many years, the freedom that comes with confession and conversion is so life transforming that it is a pretty natural reaction to want to reject all sin with such dramatic force.

Mr Voris has often come across as rather cold and judgmental. But in the light of his recent revelations it is possible to see now that his motivations were not “holier than thou” but much more likely an impassioned revulsion at his own sinful past.

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The reason Mr Voris has brought his past to light was because he claims that New York diocese was “…collecting and preparing to quietly filter out details of my past life with the aim of publicly discrediting me, this apostolate and the work here.” 

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told the Catholic Herald: “It is absolutely, 100 per cent untrue that the archdiocese was collecting and preparing to release anything concerning him personally or his website.”

Hmmm… difficult to say what really happened. I don’t think Mr. Voris would have revealed his past unless he really did think New York diocese was going to try to use it to discredit him. But if he was really smart, he would have allowed them to go ahead and do it – and basically give themselves enough rope to hang themselves with. As it stands now it is very difficult to prove that was the diocese intention.

In recent years New York diocese and Cardinal Dolan have been sued by Catholic parishioners accusing them of covering up for a homosexual priest Fr. Peter Miqueli, who stole millions from parishes to finance a sadomasochistic sex life with his gay-for-pay prostitute.

There was also the decision of Cardinal Dolan to head the 2015 St Patrick’s day parade despite the inclusion of a gay activist group, and the exclusion of a pro-life group. Mr Voris actually questioned Cardinal Dolan on this issue, at the parade itself. It feels very different now to watch this in the light of Mr. Voris’ past. I really think he is extremely brave as this is obviously an issue that is very close to his heart.

Cardinal Dolan recently wrote: “And…the Pontiff who has proclaimed a Year of Mercy, urging us, like a prophet of the Old Testament, like Jesus, like the apostles, like the saints, to ask Jesus for His mercy in our prayer, in the sacrament, and then to show this mercy to others.”

How ironic that those who claim to offer Christ’s mercy, seem to be perfectly alright with a gay activist group being part of their parade, but allegedly try to use the homosexual sins of a man’s past to try to discredit his reputation. While on the other hand we have a man who is renowned for being ruthless and apparently judgmental, now standing as a perfect example of what Christ’s mercy really looks like.

What better Christian witness is there than being a forgiven sinner? 🙂

What the diocese of New York has perhaps overlooked is that fact that there is nothing shameful about turning away from a sinful past.

Personally I think that this is the best thing that Mr. Voris has ever published. And I am excited to see how he will now continue with his ministry, because now he has revealed his need for confession, compassion and understanding, we will never see Church Militant in the same light again.

God’s love and mercy is made perfect in our vulnerability and weakness.

The Jewish roots of the Eucharist.

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

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By Julie Brook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The last supper

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

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

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Manna in the desert

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

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Bread of the Presence

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

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

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

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A soldier offers Jesus wine with myrrh.

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

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

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

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