Friday, 31 August 2007

Methodists and Medjugorje Story pt 9

I was pretty alarmed by what we had found at the Baptist church and having also recently learned that the Presbyterian arm of the URC were happily anti-Semitic I was looking at protestant churches with more of a wary eye than previously.

Just before we left the baptist church we attended a retreat with them. We could only attend for the day but that was more than enough!!
The ministers in a desperate attempt to save the imploding community had booked a weekend in which they offered confession to individuals and then a prayer service complete with exorcism!
They had decided to use the book "Pigs in the Parlour" by a baptist minister as their guide. It just so happened I had already read that book and knew it was poisonous nonsense. Essentially the man who wrote it was a control freak who used 'Satan-is-everywhere' scare tactics to keep his little flock in line. He shows off in the book about an appalling-and quite abusive-exorcism he performed on a little girl. Her parents were having problems with her behaviour that was all.

He also insisted that mental illness, particularly Schizophrenia was a sign of possession.

When we arrived we were immediately told this book was the whole guide for the weekend (though I don't remember it recommending confession).

My husband had already had a bad experience in a church where they had taken it upon themselves to perform exorcisms wherever they thought it needed. A young man with schizophrenia had been treated to a terrifying ordeal during a service that had caused him to rush to find an escape in his fear and confusion at what was being inflicted on him.
Needless to say my husband never went back.

I too had come across exorcism. Sr Mary Kate had sent me on a retreat some years earlier and during the weekend the priest leading the retreat was called away.
When he returned my friend and I asked if all was okay.
He explained quietly that he was the appointed exorcist and so got called out frequently to various hauntings and so on. He explained that he very very rarely needed to do much. If someone genuinely appeared to be possessed then they had to have been through proper psychiatric assessment and the whole thing had to be agreed by the bishop before an exorcism could be performed.
He had been called out that day to a haunted house. Three girls living together reported swinging lights, thumps and flying objects and were frightened. He went to see them. He did not perform even a blessing.
"I told them to get rid of the ouja boards, the cards and that shelf full of books on witchcraft and if it didn't stop after they had rid themselves of the invitations I would go back and bless the house." he told us.

I realised with this baptist church attempt at exorcism that they had no authority-no real guide to how to go about recognising real demons let alone getting rid of them.

The question of authority began to bug me.

Methodist church
I was heavily pregnant with son#2 when we began attending. I hoped to find some answers.
The minister was a woman and this gave me a lot of hope. I really thought a woman would be better-more understanding and better able to answer me.
I longed for the Catholic Church to ordain women-it was wrong (I had decided) not to.

But it soon became apparent that this minister was more confused about her faith than I was. She made contradictory statements and missed out chunks of Scripture that she seemed either not to like, or not to understand.
She was often away.

The little community of Methodists consisted of mainly old ladies and a few older couples. There were no children other than my toddler there. The old women were over the moon to see a family attending and pounced on me demanding to know why we didn't come every week and whether we should set up a creche (for 1 child!!) and so on.
We explained I was Catholic so we went to Mass the other weeks and no we didn't need a creche but thank you all the same.
They harrumphed over my Catholic status but no one said anything overtly anti-Catholic.

Then they invited a guest speaker a few weeks later and he spent the entire service telling us how evil Catholic priests were and how terrible the Catholic Church was.
To this day I don't know why I sat there and did not simply get up and walk out. Bizarrely I thought it would be rude!!

So that was the end of our trip into Methodism.
We went back to going to Mass every week.

Meanwhile at my own church I had come across magazines all about the events at Medjugorje.
I began to get the magazine on a regular basis.
It taught me to say the rosary and so I took up the beads again and tried again.

More importantly the magazines said that Our Lady was telling the seers that the Mass was the most important prayer in the world. Nothing was more important than the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I really wanted to go there and see for myself and prayed about it a lot.
But I got a very strong answer that I was not to go. Why go all the way to Medjugorje when I had a Catholic Church with Christ truly present in the Tabernacle just around the corner?

Medjugorje did not help me answer the questions of authority I was forming; not challenge me on contraception or women priests -my biggest problems with the Church, but it certainly helped point me back to the Eucharist.

I don't have anything to do with it now. The Bishops have condemned it and obedience is importance if we are to grow spiritually.

My husband then discovered another church near where we lived. It was a combination of three churches who had come together to form a new community; URC, CofE and Methodist. We decided to give it a go and we were to stay there for the next 9/10 yrs.

There was little conformity of belief here, and as each minister preached or other people made announcements about faith and Scripture the question constantly on my mind was "How do you know? Why should I believe you and not the other guy?"

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

More Greenbelt

We went to Greenbelt for the day on Monday and met up with our old friends from my husband's old church.

It was a lovely day and it was great to meet up with people we haven't seen for a long time.
In the main arena a very good stage play cum musical was put on by a theatre company who had worked with the children for a couple of days to make the production. It was basically telling the story of 18th century slavery and William Wilberforce.
At the end there was a short film about modern day slavery. Very good.

Then much to everyone's delight a couple of episodes of Shaun the Sheep were shown.

In the Film tent this year they showed Amazing Grace (of course) but also to my surprise Into Great Silence.

We had a good day. I enjoyed chillin' at the Tiny Tea Tent and the kids just enjoyed the sights and chocolate chip cookies.

We had a chat with those running the Iona Community.
Had a look in the book tent,
Heard Chaz'n'Dave singing from somewhere
Noticed that one of the seminars was by that Sister who set up Helen House the children's hospice. I would have liked to hear her speak as I've worked in a children's hospice and loved it.

A stronger Catholic presence could be good there. Lets see more habits and dog collars around the place. Let's see Confession at the counselling tent.
Let's see Catholic books for sale and Catholic papers.
Pro-life topics tackling abortion and euthanasia, stem cell research and adoption.

There's a lot at Greenbelt that worries me.
A couple of years ago some friends found me after they had been to a seminar and wanted to know why John Paul II was so opposed to Liberation Theology. They had been fed a right load of ...anyway they asked me about it and I was fortunate to be able to explain the reality of those suffering under so-called Liberation Theology and how the Holy Father never did like priests with guns etc. They had not been told that side of the story.
A couple of weeks later at my husband's church a girl from some Methodist seminary preached on Lib Theo-obviously Greenbelt inspired and said that no one with any wealth could receive the Gospel. It was only for the poor.

But despite all the problems, there is just something about it, hate it...I bet we'll be there next year.

Sunday, 26 August 2007


We're off to the Greenbelt Festival tomorrow at Cheltenham Racecourse.
It is supposed to be a "Christian" Arts Festival but *sigh* it is really just a political agenda driven get together.
We attended every year back in our protolic days, but as we both got to understand the faith and faced more and more at Greenbelt that ranged from not quite right to downright awful we stopped going. But dh wants to maintain some kind of friendship with his protestant friends from the past so we will go for the day and meet up.

The children enjoy the stuff to look at and the space to run and we get to see some good stuff about overseas charities.
They don't have any pro-life stuff there even though I once asked them about it. No one is interested in dead babies and anyway they support Christian Aid which is do they word it?...reproductive rights.
They have seminars on being gay and how to be a Christian medium. So the kids are banned from seminars-although they roll their eyes at the very idea of wanting to hear that stuff spouted at them.

Rowan Williams has attended and doesn't seem to mind the less than Christian stuff that goes on there.
Recently they were going to allow smoking of cannabis but as a lot of families attend there was such an outcry they decided it was best not- and the police were less than enthusiastic about the idea.

Anyway-Greenbelt plays a rather strange roll in my re-version story. More on that soon.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Children and the concentration of the mind Story Pt8

Someone once said to me that having children helps concentrate the mind. She pointed out how we seem to suddenly change once that fresh newborn is handed to us-the sheer amazement and shocking sense of responsibility falls on us.

We set into the pattern of attending the Baptist church one week and the Catholic church the following week. On some occasions when we went to stay with my husband's parents we attended the United Reformed church. It meant we attended three different churches with three different and quite contradictory views about what the Gospel taught.
Contraception was fine by the baptists (in the church we attended-I know that's not the case all over) and was fine by the URC but I knew the Catholic Church said it was not a good idea-although I didn't know why or that this was a real teaching not a take it or leave it teaching.

Infant baptism was fine with the Catholic Church and the URC-but not the baptists.
Once saved always saved-baptist but not Catholic and God knows what the URC taught on this it seemed a believe whatever you like point.

It was a mess and I wanted to know the truth because now I had a baby and he would need to know.
The biggest point of difference I faced was the matter of the Real Presence. God in His mercy continued to allow me to sense His Presence in the Tabernacle. The sheer emptyness of the Baptist church irritated me. They rarely had communion but when they did it was so obviously just a tiny bit of bread. It was meaningless-even the symbolism was mean in its tinyness.
Communion at both the baptist and URC was almost painful in its emptyness- but it was not something I could discuss with anyone.
So I just carried on.

Things at the baptist church began to deteriorate. There was a lot of tension and nastiness. The couple who had become our ministers were lovely people-but so out of their depth.
I faced a lot of anti-Catholic remarks that were ridiculous; you know the stuff, we worship statues and Mary and we don't know the Bible. A lot came from an ex-Catholic who was divorced and remarried.

In the end we left that church when things plummeted to the point that even church services were interrupted by people having tantrums and storming out.
I was already pregnant with another child and did not want my children exposed to what we saw there.
For a short time we only attended Mass until my husband found a local Methodist church.
I have always had a great respect for John Wesley. I thought this would be a good place to go.

The Catholic church we were attending was huge. I was quite 'liberal' and that was fine because it played to our beliefs-but I knew I needed to get my faith questions answered.

The Methodist Church was a very small community so I thought I would get some questions answered.
I was wrong.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Adult Sunday School

In light of what I have been writing about recently HERE is an excellent article that says what I have been saying-only he says it better.

The UK seems on the whole to be a Catechism-Free-Zone. We need to teach the faith so that we can live the faith.

I have spoken to those who take the children for 'liturgy' who admit they don't know the faith.

I watch people struggle to be good Catholics with hardly any knowledge or support.

As you are seeing from my own journey into the fullness of the faith I was left floundering for years and given erroneous information by priests-let alone fellow laity.

In the USA they have EWTN and from there has grown a number of radio stations and programmes that feed the faithful and teach them the Truth. They cover the spiritual war as well as just teaching the faith. They discuss Pro-Life not just as an 'issue' bit as an active campaign that has borne good fruits.

They help Catholics fight against the pro-death culture in politics.

They are fighting for the rights of the Christians in Iraq.

we have nothing here that even touches on those resources. We need to start something.

Small talks in churches; my dream of a Family Festival every year that gives families the chance to get together and learn and live the faith; radio station for the UK that reaches out to us about the faith HERE in the UK-about our churches, our pro-life campaigns, our education system and so on.

Of course we need to undo a lot of damage done by the Weaving the Web and Icons teachings in schools.

I would love to do some of this. I must remind Father of my offer...

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

On being a Protolic and Forgiveness Story pt 7

Looking back I was so lucky. Hatred can eat your soul and it is so hard to get rid of. It gives you nightmares and makes you feel sick. The constant anger, frustration and sheer bewilderment that some people can call themselves followers of Christ and then behave like best buddies with the other guy. I could not forgive and it was made worse in the run up to our wedding because those who wanted to hurt me upped the ante-telling my husband to be to ditch me.

After our wedding I never saw them again-and for this I am so grateful to God.
It gave me the space I needed to begin the long process of learning to forgive them and find some healing.

Let me reiterate something here-forgiveness for something very serious, that has wounded deeply, takes a long time and often has to be re-repeated. I haven't had nightmares for years, but occasionally things still happen that reignite the whole thing and I have to go back to finding that forgiveness again.

Meanwhile my dh and I were attending two churches. One week we went to the Catholic church and the following week we attended the Baptist church he had found. He was actually United Reformed with Presbyterian roots but the Baptist church suited him at this moment.

The Baptist church had no minister when we joined. He had resigned after being caught in adultery and his wife was divorcing him. The church was friendly enough, but a lot of people were quite hurt. At first I was made welcome.
Soon after we married I fell pregnant.

I think it was this that woke me up to my 'comfortable Christianity' and I thought I needed to make sure I was doing things right. I went to see one of the priests at my parish. I explained that we were attending both churches-his one week and mine the next and would bring the children up in both faiths. Was there a problem with this?

Not at all, he told me cheerfully. In fact his sisters were all married to protestants and doing exactly the same thing. It was a good thing to do.

Meanwhile a couple arrived at the Baptist church to be our ministers. They were lovely, truly holy people and set about trying to mend the church and bring us all back together with Christ. It was to prove a battle for them.

So my son was born and we had him baptised in the Catholic church with the minister attending and doing a reading and then he was dedicated at the Baptist church with Father attending.

I held my son in my arms and knew I was going to have to teach him about Jesus and all that He said and did and what He wanted us to do....and I still was not all that sure what that was.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Picking up protestantism -story Pt 6

I left home, started work and began to meet new people. All those I met who were on fire with their Christianity were protestant.

I met no committed Catholics and no other people of faith either in the next few years.

I moved in with some girls who were attending a local baptist church. One of them was also attending the local Catholic church because her boyfriend was Catholic and she introduced me to it.

At was at this time that I met the man I was to marry, and he too was protestant.

I went through quite a lot of pain over those few years and as I have already mentioned to Karen (Gem of the Ocean) I just could not say the Our Father for a very very long time.
A friend from school got in touch. We had a rather sporadic contact, still do. He tried to offer some help with this situation and I tried to forgive those who had so badly hurt me-but it was to be a very long process in deed.
Some years later he entered seminary and is now a priest and running a couple of parishes.

By the time I got married I thought I had my faith pretty much sorted out, thanks to finding such kind Christians who taught me their version and it seemed to work for them.
So, I stopped believing God was out to get me; but I also stopped believing in mortal sin.
I thought I would try and go back to Confession -but I was not all that bothered about it.
I thought I could get most if not all I needed to know about God and how to have a relationship with Him from Scripture.
I thought contraception was okay-but not abortion.
I thought women should be priests and had been oppressed by the patriarchal church quite long enough thank you.

I thought the Bible was holy-but that there were loads of it that were not all that true and that St Paul had a lot to answer for. And yes, this is what I learned from my protestant friends. I think we always view protestants as thinking the Bible is sacrosanct. Well some do, but many I have known over the years are quite happy to edit it to suit what they would prefer to believe-and I went along with this.

As you can see, I had lost my search for the truth and was now ready to settle for a nice comfortable Christianity. I think I was just getting tired of the quest and the people around me were nice, good people. I was getting married-life was getting better. I did not need to be rocking the boat right then.

But God was on my heels...

Beloved ebed-Melech

It was the reading from Jeremiah today in which Ebed-Melech risked going to the king and asking to take the curmudgeonly old prophet out of the pit.
He duly received permission and pulled Jeremiah out.
I love that Ethiopian servant of the king!

Friday, 17 August 2007

That book and Westminster

I've sent mt complaints about that dreadful book.
I sent a comment about Westminster Cathedral colluding with anti-Catholic film makers.
Sad isn't it? Here we are in a horribly secular society and instead of being able to rely on our own Church authorities here to support us-we are having them fight us too!!
Ah well...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

My Story Pt 5: Attraction-repulsion and other Christians

I would like to pick up on a couple of things I've already been through a bit and answer some question Karen -Gem of the Ocean has asked.

I had looked at so many things, arguments, stories and practices in my search for the True God-for the fullness of Truth. A lot of what I tried out was because I met people who introduced me to it, but also because of the way it was dressed up so to speak.

New Age practices are marketed with vibrant colours, posters, gem stones, fabrics. It has a kind of identity with it. There are incense burners, chanting music, stained glass and candles-sound familiar?
Those of us who get into it, get into it because it speaks to something within us. The symbols are real to us.
Our churches ditched the bells, smells, chants and colours and so we went for it all elsewhere.

Modern storytellers understand this and their tents and sets use the same imagery. It's just plain and simple human psychology.

Now Karen asks this:
"But why do people leave? Is it because of what someone DID to them, and they see the Church and its people as hypocritical? Or having tepid faith to begin with, they seize on these incidents as an excuse to "not bother?" I've never expected people in the Church to be sinless - it's unrealistic - and I do believe the Church is a hospital for sinners. And I can't deny John 6 - "Where shall we go?""
I think a lot of people do leave because of what has been done to them. When we are fragile in faith and ignorant of a lot of it we seek the face of Christ in those who claim to be Christians. Be aware of that brothers and sisters in Christ. Many people are NOT going to turn to Scripture to see the Bride of Christ and see past you to Him-they are going to see you and whether He has made you into anything.
My directionlessness and confusion came because I was never shown Christ. I saw cruelty, meanness, spite and hatred-and this from people who basically made it clear they were good holy Catholics with what my friend calls a 'get-into-heaven-free' card.
Once you have a strong faith, know God and know where His Church is-then these people are simply people to pray for. You shake your head and walk away perhaps, but the damage they do to those who are ignorant and frail in faith is deep and long lasting.
Sr Mary Kate was the face of Christ in my life. Her gentleness and real holiness helped me see what Christ could be in my life. I've known her 30ish yrs now, so I know some of her frailties, but I tell you she has never done anything that has truly hidden the love of God.
I stopped going to Confession. I saw those who were being vindictive go to Confession and continue the behaviour-most often on the same day. Then something else happened with Confession where a desperate plea for help was brushed off.
I just couldn't see the point in it.
It wasn't just an excuse because I couldn't be bothered. It was a protest because of a growing level of anger.
Later, once I was safely back in the Church I experienced another one of these 'holy' Catholic people who were actually pretty unpleasant in behaviour and attitude-but with the bulwark of faith under me I was not so unprepared.
Despite what was done-God kept shining a light for me. He sent people who shone their own lights and I could see them and follow.
God works through the people he sends and I think that is why Christ is so strict about those who are stumbling blocks for others.
My friend who has lapsed-yes, she makes 'excuses'-but the damage done to her by other 'holy' people is so great I am surprised she attends any church at all. I am grateful that she does.
I have had to learn that the Church is for the sick. I still find it easier to forgive those who are not Christians. One thing I think about being wounded, is I know I have been a sinner (and still am) but I know a lot of what I did was because I did not have the benifit of Christ and His Church in my life. So I expect those who say they have to be better-far better perhaps-than me. That's the problem. It's one that I am still working on.
Wounds take a long time to heal. It just doesn't help being told to "have faith" or "trust God" or not to make excuses...or whatever other pull-yourself-together-in-a-Christian-sense.
The people who helped me, were just there-acting as Christ like as possible and often, they were silent.


PART 4 just below

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

You know you're a parent when...

You go to a party and spend the time discussing the best nit combs on the market.

You have dinner and instead of people dressing for dinner -you 2 yr old undresses at dinner-and sits naked at the table! ( I have really got to stop her doing that!)

My Reversion Story pt IV

I studied Islam for three years. I have to say that although I began with thinking and even hoping that Islam was the answer I was looking for, it was pretty obvious pretty soon that it was not.
I loved the simplicity of the Pillars-but there were BIG problems with them.
The Salat was short and sweet: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet (or words to that effect)
Then there was the Prayer which was five times a day. I liked the rhythm of that idea and the set movements, words and having a mat to create a holy place wherever you went.
Alms giving-no problem with that.
Hajj or pilgrimage. Every Muslim must make a hajj to Mecca once in his/her lifetime if possible. Now despite being Catholic I had a few problems with this. It was the stone at Mecca itself. It seemed like a daft story-go and visit a stone just because Abraham had something to do with it. Okay so we have relics and if it had been on the same level as that I could have grasped it. But to HAVE to visit it?

Finally there was jihad. Now then, this was years before we had 9/11 or Osama bin Laden. These were the days when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had been forgotten and the Crusades were because of those nasty greedy Christians. But even here I was taught that Jihad was by the sword.
The life of Muhammad is clear-he went around with an army getting things done. This was no inner spiritual battle. Blood got spilt, and a lot of it was innocent blood.

I liked bits of the Qu'ran but the more I studied Muhammad even in pc terms-the more I thought he was a pretty horrible person and no way could I follow him.
The final straw was the killing of the Jewish community when they would not bend to Muhammad's will.

Since then I have learned more about this religion from less pc sources. I have less respect for Muhammad than ever.
I love my Muslim friends though and pray for them.
I admire those who are trying to reinvent the faith to be more peaceful-but I think they are going to fail.
Muhammad sent his followers out specifically to kill people. He sent them to attack a merchant caravan, rob it and kill the owner. That's just murder and robbery. And it was done in God's name!

Meanwhile Sr Mary Kate was still with me and I decided to look at the Church -was it really what God wanted me to be part of and should I be a nun?
I have to say this was a mixed up question. What I really wanted was to live with Sr Mary Kate and have her take care of me. I was not called to religious life. Heck, I hardly knew what religion I wanted to be!

Finally I went out into the big wide world and came across various protestant ideas.

Monday, 13 August 2007

My husband's FIRST anniversary

A Year ago today by husband was received into the Church. He took the name John - St John Bosco as his Confirmation saint and received his First Holy Communion. (He has received his first Sacrament of Confession the week before).
I.H.S. Bible 1 I.H.S.
He was sponsored by 'Sr Mary Kate' - more on her later :)

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Before the cock crows

TTony over at the Muniment Room has some excellent letter examples for those of us trying to find the right words to address that 'book' business. It would be nice to see someone with the profile and authority to be willing to lead this fight so we were not left alone each to try and do something-but I don't know who. Damian Thompson is in a very difficult position and is being pretty brave as it is.

Meanwhile before the cock crows Westminster Cathedral have done it again. You can say what you think (politely) here. Scroll down-you'll see it. The Monsignor does not seem to be allowing comments through as yet-but it is still worth letting him know that enabling films that attack the Church is unacceptable.
If like me, you tend to start by being really angry-leave it a while-pray a while and THEN let him know. Feeling Blue Moody

John Kearney is reading the 'book' and letting us know what it says. This will be a great service for those of us writing letters and emails. So do please visit him and take a look.
Also Catholic Action UK have provided details and addresses.

Lets fight this one-we need our CHURCH!

My Re-version Story Pt III

I had prayed for something for a long time and God had apparently ignored this request-but all of a sudden he sent me someone and she has been with me ever since.
I wont use her real name. I'll call her Sister Mary Kate.
She taught me two things that I have kept throughout my life.
"DO NOT BE AFRAID" and her own personal motto "I HAVE CARVED YOU IN THE PALM OF MY HAND." That's Jeremiah again.

Her gentleness and love stopped my prayer not to wake up in the morning. I began to move forward in my search for God. I knew He was real and my understanding of the Real Presence was in tact despite my confusion about everything else.
God in His mercy granted me the sense of His Presence so that I always felt a kind of warmth whenever I was in a church with Him truly there. It meant that protestant churches always seemed 'empty'. It is something I have never lost.
I think I was granted this grace because He was holding on to me as I struggled. I am so grateful for this.

I ditched transcendental meditation and actually picked up a rosary-but I was useless at it and it didn't last long.

At this point I was offered the chance to study Islam.
I jumped at the chance. This could be the answer I was looking for. It could be that the reason my Catholic Faith had never been right for me was because it wasn't true. So I began to study Islam for A'level but more importantly I was ready to become a Muslim if this proved to be true after all.

I had given Buddhism a look over as well during my meditation days-but only a cursory one. It did not appeal to me on so many levels, mainly that I could not respect Buddha for walking past all those people in need and going to just sit under a tree and THINK about it! He was a prince-why didn't he use his position to DO something?
That was my reaction and I never looked back.

Islam was much more attractive and I began to read far more than I needed for just the A'level.
I got hold of an English copy of the Qu'ran and began to read, alongside studying the life of the prophet Mohammad and some work of the Hadiths and Islamic history (yep, the pc version. I did not find out the other bits 'till many years later).

Saturday, 11 August 2007

My Re-version Story Pt II

I have been praying and felt God ask me to write this story. This part of it is so difficult I thought about leaving it out. But I think it might help those who are in the pit-so despite my fear of what people will think of me, I'm going to put it here. After all, it is not for me to be concerned over what people think.


As I reached my teens my life was a mess. I had no proper relationship with God. I did not know who He was and I did not know who I was in relationship to Him. I sensed that everything had a purpose-a reason to exist-but I could not see how I fitted into that.
Transcendental meditation takes you deeper into yourself, and when you are as broken and hurt as I was-that is not such a good idea.

I cannot begin to describe how bad I felt.
Suicide became the obvious option. It's a bizarre state to be in. I became obsessed with the idea that I had to die-that it was my only option and that all I had to do to take back control of some part of my life was work out how to do it.
I did not speak to anyone about these thoughts and plans.
But God reached out to me-though at the time I couldn't tell.
I was told quite coincidentally that suicide is a mortal sin-an act of selfishness-an act of cowardice. I was told that all those who commit suicide go to hell.
Those who were telling me this were the very ones who had led me into the pit so it was difficult to listen, but despite the malice these words were spoken in, there was a grain of truth.

Finally the day came when I decided it was time to do it-to make the decision once and for all.
At that point that speech from Hamlet just ran through my head. I never studied Hamlet so why I knew that little bit is beyond me;

"To be or not to be, that is the question,
Whether it is better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against the seas of troubles and by opposing end them
To die, to sleep-to sleep perchance to dream
Ah there's the rub."

I have no idea if this is even an accurate rendering-but it was what went through my head that day- what would the dream be?
My fear of hell overcame my desperate need to die.
I decided to try and leave it up to God-whoever He was.
So each night I prayed not to wake up in the morning.
And each morning to my utter annoyance I woke up.

I cannot remember exactly when I came across Ebed Melech. (Jer 38). I think it might have been in the David Kossoff Bible Stories. But he is a friend.
I don't think he is really thought of as one of the OT saints-but I can't see why not.

He is one of those genuine quiet people. They don't say much, but they do what is right.
He knew it was wrong that Jeremiah had been put in the pit and he went and pulled him out. He made no comment on the smell of the old man or what he looked like. He didn't shout advice from his advantage point of being up there in the sunlight. He just got on with pulling Jeremiah out of the pit.
And I am quite sure his prayers for me helped pull me out of the pit.

SUICIDE and the Church.
Not so long ago I read a column written by a priest which essentially said God understands and not to worry about suicide.
I have not read anything this priest has written since.
He was, I think, trying to comfort those who have family and friends who have committed suicide, but what he actually did was -and as a priest-give permission to go ahead. God is a big softy and he wont mind.
Dangerous and errant nonsense. Thank God I did not read this when I was contemplating such an act.

The Catechism says this:

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

But it goes on to say this:
2282 ....Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

So God does not say it will be okay. It is indeed a mortal sin, but God is merciful and we can never be sure who is in hell.
Those of us who have friends, family and patients who have committed suicide can and indeed should pray for them.

At last I began to crawl out of the pit and I knew that it was God helping me.
I began to see Him in my life and with that came a little light and hope.
I wanted even more to know who He was.

Friday, 10 August 2007

My re-version story

I thought I would tell the story of how I ended up Catholic (again) and where I was and how I got here.
It is a difficult story in places and so I ask in advance-please do not judge me too harshly.

So here goes PART ONE.

I was born and baptised into a Catholic family, but the faith I was taught was very mixed indeed.
God was offered to me as a frightening and vindictive entity who was just waiting for the slightest opportunity to send me to hell. I was often told I was going to hell.
But I was also taught quite early on that Jesus was really there in the Eucharist and although I don't remember (until I was much older) being told that He loved me-I think I sensed somehow that He did.
This meant I had a strange relationship with God; God the Father was out to hurt me and God the Son loved me. Weird.
Meanwhile new age practices had come into our home which led to some stuff best left alone I think. I mention it only because it impacted me in other ways later on.

Despite the difficulties the Faith was there in my life both at home and at school-where there was a much nicer God.
I began my life long love of Scripture quite early by reading David Kossoff's Bible Stories and then later on I read the Children's Catholic Bible, cover to cover.
The God of Scripture was much more real than the God at home or the God at school and I began to wonder who He was exactly.

I sent to secondary school and loved it there. However once again I was met with a rather mixed bag of faith. It was the height of the 'don't-believe-the-Church' and 'Spirit of Vatican II' days so you can imagine what I was exposed to among the tabbards, large ties and brown jumpers.

Confused I turned to Transcendental meditation and even Tarot to try and find answers to my life and my relationship with God-whoever He was.
I became very adept with tarot and rarely got a reading wrong. DO NOT TOUCH THIS STUFF. I know a lot of people do not take it seriously. It is truly poisonous.
I was taught by a woman who ran classes in tarot, ouija, crystals-the whole nasty shabang. She recognised that tarot was dangerous and claiming to be a Chrsitian suggested saying an Our Father over the cards before each reading.
I did this. Of course I had no idea how wicked this was.
I stopped reading the cards and burned them after doing a reading for a friend in which I saw serious back problems. He had none-but the following week ended up in hospt with a very serious kidney condition.
I could not tell whether I had simply seen it coming in the reading or whether there was 'help' in the reading and perhaps even a push to fulfil it from the 'help'.
Fortunately-by God's Grace, my friend recovered and returned to school a few weeks later.

Tarot was not the way to find answers. So I looked for another way.

How Long Oh Lord-How Long?

The Bishops of England and Wales have commissioned and published a book that attacks the Holy Father, attacks the notion of 'family' and speaks of "terrorists" in inverted commas.
I'm not surprised of course. I wish I could be.

The links are Damian Thompson

Mrs Bogle suggest we might like to let Bishop Budd know what we think about this book. He is Bishop of PLYMOUTH

We need to write politely to the bishop and try and keep the justifiable anger and disgust under wraps.

At the point where the Holy Father has asked the Cardinal to stay on for a while after his 75th birthday I can only pray there is a cunning plan afoot.

Fr Aidan Nicholls name is often mentioned by the faithful as a hope for a future Cardinal. I wouldn't wish it on him to be honest. He's an academic-and a great one. But if God calls him, I am sure he would answer.

One day I pray England will be a place where miracles are not so hard to come by.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Elder abuse

Say a prayer for my son and the residents he cares for. There have been allegations of abuse in one of the homes linked to his. This has understandably led to staff in all the homes feeling a bit paranoid.
Worse still-it seems the allegations are true.

There are some bad practice in these places due to lack of staff that inevitably lead to this kind of thing.
Having quite a bit of experience in this area I am able to offer a kind of supervision to my son to help him keep his eye on the respect owed even to the most difficult residents and their vulnerable state.

He has not seen any abuse thank God, but the whole thing hangs like a cloud over the home.

clarification on smacking

I think I better clarify my 'smacking' post. I do not want to give the impression I think parents should smack. That's just as bad as saying they shouldn't.
Parents have a right and duty to educate and discipline their children. As parents we all have the right to choose what mode that education and discipline should take.

My comments on misuse of language were aimed at the media.
I recommend Dr Ray Guarendi's commentary on these matters. He has ten adopted children and I get the impression smacking is either not or like us rarely used in his household. He has had some very challenging children to deal with-most notably neglected four year old twins. I admire his wife in particular on this one.

Hope that clarifies my position.
Now then, must go and get my two year old off the naughty step....

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

What's in a name

Having returned to the Church I am now seeking my White Stone Name (Rev 2:17). Some time ago I watched the BBC short series The Monastery. During that series one of the men had a talk with his spiritual director. He was one of the greatly wounded (as were all who went there) and his experience before Christ was a difficult process towards healing. In the middle of this gentle talk father reached into his pocket and pulled out a small white stone which he placed in the other man's hand. He explained that this was a symbol of the true name this man could receive from God.
It hit me hard that moment. My own wounds were still very sore and I was struggling with not knowing who God wanted me to be. It was as though a gentle voice whispered through my screaming pain; "You too could have a white stone name."
So here I am-seeking it.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Discipline and the Sacrament of Confession

The Good Lord in His infinite mercy has given us the gift of His Sacraments. One of those is the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation.
As parents this is a brilliant gift of grace that can help us with our families, not just our spouse and children but the inlaws as well. Winky
We have to train our children how to go to Confession, and how to properly use the graces God offers through that Sacrament.
But of course Confession is not a way of getting away with it. I know some protestants think this-mind you, I have also come across some Catholics who treat Confession like this.
Going to Confession is just part of the process.
I can remember one of my children who had been naughty towards his sister being taken to Confession. I helped him examine his conscience so he went in and confessed his sins.
On coming out of church I was telling him how he now had to stop this behaviour because he had told God he was sorry.
"But I enjoy doing it!" cried my little horror.
He never did do it again, but this was more because he would have to apologise to his sister and re-confess each the sin. He was only just beginning his confessional career and Father was a softie, but having to apologise and make up for his behaviour at home sure helped him stop doing it.
Confession AND reparation is important.
I don't see how we can expect full absolution if we are not prepared to apologise to those we have hurt. It's much easier to mutter a Hail Mary than to go to the person we have hurt and humbly say sorry.
I think it encourages bad behaviour in children when parents have a 'no consequences let Confession deal with it' approach. Priests are not asked to bring our children up-we are.

Discipline and the Swedish smacking ban

Fr Tim has a link to a new website which is set up with the rights of parents in mind. “It supports the rights and responsibilities of parents to protect and guide their children and to bring them up in a reasonable manner, according to their religious and philosophical convictions.”
In the UK there are massive moves to undermine further the rights of both parents and children.
The ridiculous anti-smacking campaign being one of the more poisonous examples.
Those who are against smacking a naughty child are always quick to be dishonest in their use of language. (Perhaps they should read Josef Piepers little book “Abuse of Language Abuse of Power”). They use words such as “hit”, “Beat” “violence” when what they really mean is a smack on the back of a child’s hand as an act of discipline.

Then they jump up and down saying that the ban has worked well in Sweden where smacking was made illegal in 1979. The truth of course is very different. While Joan Durrant of Save the Children has been rather selective it seems in her findings of this “success” there appears to have been a 489% increase in child abuse in Sweden since the ban. Now this could be explained by a number of variables-but those explanations are yet to be found so to say Sweden is a model of no-smacking is premature at the very least.
Dr Larzelere shows that the very same material Durrent uses to show such a success for the ban shows a significant increase in child on child abuse.
The doctor goes on to look at the alarming increase in looked after children in Sweden and compares this to those numbers in the UK and other countries. I want to address that issue later.

Parents have a right and duty to properly discipline our children and there are a number of ways to go about this. Smacking is a viable tool in the discipline of a child.
Screaming, shouting and swearing and name calling on the other hand is not.
Okay, we all shout now and again, but I mean constant bellowing. It’s not discipline anyway, it’s just venting.

I would rather be with a parent who gives a smack when needed than a parent who seems oblivious to their children’s horrible behaviour. I will never cease to be amazed by those who either ignore bad behaviour or make excuses and collude with it. Those same parents will then turn on the parents of the victim child with a bullying and even dishonest attitude rather than deal with their child’s behaviour.
Ask a teacher about this!

It seems to me that if we are to stop the government coming into our homes, we have to take back the reins of our families and remember, especially as Catholics, we have to be a light. Our children need to show respect to others, behave politely and treat younger children with consideration. And most of all they need to be honest.

It’s never too late to start. It’s a lot harder if you start late-but it can be done.
Be honest about your children’s behaviour.
So break out the naughty step, the corner, the apology letters, the privilege losses, the essays and the ‘go to your room’ stuff. It does pay off in the end.

Monday, 6 August 2007

St Paul on motherhood and avoiding contraception

St Paul wrote to his great friend Timothy (1 Tim 2:15) that a woman can be saved through having children. It is in her role as mother that a woman can work out her salvation in fear and trembling, learning to make sacrifices for her children, for her family.
The whole of Scripture treats children as a great blessing and the more children the more blessed parents are.
St Paul goes on to warn the people of the church of Galatia that they should not be using 'pharmakeia' the potions available for the prevention of children. He does this in the context of teaching against the sin of lust in all its permutations. Even then it was obvious to St Paul that contracpetion went with the sins of lust and lack of love for one another.

St John also teaches against this in the Book of Revelation (9:21)
The potions tended to be made available by the pagans and often included some form of magic to help prevent the babies.
I don't think much has changed. There is a sort of superstition that contraception will make everything so much easier and God can stay out of the bedroom.

It was NFP awareness week-but I wasn't aware.

Apparently it was NFP awareness week at the end of July-but I missed it. It's never too late to speak about Natural Family Planning though so here's a post.

As I've mentioned before you can chart on Fertility Friend They are set up specifically for couples trying to have a baby, but I you can use it for spacing as well.

On the 25th July 1968 Pope Paul VI promulgated the document Humanae Vitae which continued the 2000yr teaching of the Catholic Church on openness to Life, the sanctity of marriage and the intrinsic evil of contraception.
He propehetically pointed out the damage that contraception would do to women, to marriage and to children- and of course 40yrs later we can see how right he was.

God has given women a natural cycle that not only tells us when we can conceive, but sends out signals about our general health and ability to keep a pregnancy.

With NFP couples pray and ask discernment for when to conceive each child and when we might have a good reason to avoid pregnancy. We recognise that every child, even those we lose through miscarriage or still birth are a gift from God with a purpose for their existence.
Being open to life means trusting God fully. It means that if God wants us to have a baby, we accept that precious gift with open heart and open mind.
It also means that if He chooses to withold that gift, we accept His will -while continuing in prayer and perseverence.
I am not saying we should accept infertility and do nothing about it-but there are moral and immoral ways of dealing with infertility.
In the end as they say in AA we have to let go and let God.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Oh dear-broken ciborium

Unfortunately my son broke father's ciborium today. It was a stoneware one and he tripped and fell on the marble steps and it has smashed. Fortunately it was empty at the time.

I guess this is the main reason the Church says the utensils should be made of precious metals-not just for the glory of God, but because they don't break.

Parents protect our children.

I've just received the August edition of the Education Otherwise magazine. In it there are articles that look at how the government here in the UK is trying to curb the rights and freedoms of parents to educate and care for our own children. EO is calling for us to stand up for ourselves and to fight to keep our rights and protect our children.

We look at Germany where home schooling was made illegal by Hitler and the law has remained. There families must leave the country or face persecution if they are to maintain their rights.

We have seen recently that a govt publication has been pulled after it was finally seen over the Internet telling parents how to sexually molest their toddlers!

But this publication has been out there and widely distributed for over 7yrs with NO parental outcry. Why would German parents be so quiet and apathetic about something so damaging to their children?

I do not think it is much different here in the UK (though I get the impression American Christian parents would and do fight this stuff). So much is pushed on our children that is bad for them spiritually and robs them of their innocence under the guise of 'education' or entertainment. We must fight back.

We must also as parents be there for our children when others encroach on their innocence. I am so grateful to God that he has allowed me to be home now full time. An incident occurred in my own family where I know if I had been working full time I would never have picked up on it until perhaps it was too late. Being there meant I could protect my child.

I beg you parents don't ever let your guard down. Don't assume that because someone says they are Catholic that means they are going to act Catholic.
As Dr Ray says 'Hold your kids tightly...'

This is our vocation.

The Year of St. Paul

From June 2008 to June 2009 is the Year of St. Paul. The Holy Father has called this year to commemorate one of the most important saints of the Church 2000th birthyear.

Paul was born in Tarsus (in Turkey) in the year 8 into a family of tent makers. He was of the tribe of Benjamin from which King Saul had come and was it seems named Saul after the king.

Paul was a Pharisee and a student of the great Rabbon Gamaliel.

There's lots to say about him-and as it is his year I will be saying lots.

You have been warned.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

busy: need a break! LOL

Dreaming It seems to me the holidays are busier than term time!
I'm shattered-pain is through the roof-I need a break.
Sleepy This is me blogging...LOL..

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Will Latin save Britain?

Al Kresta interviewed Philip Jenkins recently. He believes that all is not lost as far as the Christian and (perhaps particuloarly) the Catholic Church is concerned in Europe. I'm not sure I am convinced by all Dr Jenkins says but he did raise some fasinatin facts about areas of Britain.
He talks of the rise in Carrabean, Asian and African Catholics coming into the country. He then went on to mention a church soewhere he did not name that was about to close because it only had 50 worshippers left. It then advertised a Mass in Portugese and suddenly it was a thriving parish of 1500 attendees.

So, I am thinking that with the Motu Proprio now out-if even the Novus Ordo could be offered in Latin then people of whatever native language could all attend Mass together. Could we fill churches and rebuild communities with Latin?