Saturday, 29 September 2007

Philip of Carpe Canum has been kind enough to award me this 'Excellence in Discipleship' gong.

He is well deserving of his own award which he received from Jackie.

The description of the award from the originating website reads:

Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) it to make more disciples. I'd like to take the opportunity to award five other bloggers with this award and badge for acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. These five all share the message in their own creative ways, and I admire them all for what they do.In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1)this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ. If you know of other deserving recipients of this award, and would like to start a new string, then please post a link to where you've started in in the comments to this post. I would love for many deserving bloggers to be blessed with this recognition.

My five nominations are:

1. Rita of Tigerish Waters

2. Susie a Joyful Catholic

3. Mac of Mulier Fortis (who must get many awards but I love her too).

4. Ebeth- A Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars

5. Esther A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

There are so many good blogs out there. It is hard to choose.

God bless all of you writing and sharing so much information, prayer and faith.

It's Michaelmas

It's the feast of St. Michael and the archangels.

St Michael the archangel
defend us in battle
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray,
And may thou, prince of the heavenly host by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world for the ruin of souls.

Friday, 28 September 2007

The gentle art of learning

I have started term and we are well under way now. I have decided to treat myself to a set of Charlotte Mason books to help me with what she called the "Gentle art of learning". Many homeschoolers use her lovely approach with their children. If she had been a Catholic I think we would be looking at making her a saint.

She believed in what she called 'living books' and encouraging children to read and narrate about what they have read. I have used this approach a lot with my two older children and it has been an immense help with overcoming their dyslexia.
She had a profound understanding of the way children both learned and behaved and shaped her views on education on that.
She recognised the special role and dignity of the mother and her place as primary educator of her children alongside the father of the child.
Her method gives both mother and child a love of learning and an interest in stories and in the beauty of God's creation. Her whole curriculum outlook is Christ centred. He is not a perifery subject, relegated to assembly prayers and RE.
Even at the begginning of the 20th Century when Charlotte was writing she saw the damage state interfernce in education was causing-and that was before the horrendous dumbing down and banality of the National Curriculum and the appalling standards offered in GCSE subjects.
I have one child in school at the moment and am praying I can have him home.
I had to undo a whole lot of damage with the two I pulled out and my oldest son has survived rather than gained from school.
My younger son's girlfriend has left the school I pulled my daughter out of. It is a 'good Catholic' school with high academic achievements and is even listed in the top schools lists. But it teaches Icons and hands out Holy Communion to all the pupils at compulsory Mass. It has teachers that are rude and bully the ones with difficulties and the girls there are abusive to one another on a regular basis.
My daughter's friend still attends and hates it. She bides her time until she can get out.
My son's girlfriend has gone to college now-glad to have left the culture of spite behind. She retains her Catholic faith thanks to her parents who are quietly devout.
Charlotte Mason puts CHrist and Scripture and moral teaching at the heart of her 'school'. She is not in the business of making kids look good acedemically but in making them fit for heaven.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

A call to change and a blessing pt 13

Maryvale was teaching me a great deal. I learned about the Catechism and I learned what was taught in the Catechism. I took the step from understanding authority to understanding how the Church teaches infallibly and what was NOT a pick'n'mix way to do things.

So I was faced then with the question over contraception. I had always known the Church did not approve, but despite having read Humanae Vitae when I was 18 I had never grasped it, not its importance, and no one had explained it to me. In fact I had been told it was merely the pope's opinion.

Every Christian I knew contracepted. It was normal life.

Scott Hahn explained not only what the Church teaches but WHY She teaches as She does. As Karen has pointed out in the comments on the previous post, it destroys the Covenantel nature of the marriage. It is a barrier between husband and wife and between the couple and God.
I was surprised to learn the history and Biblical basis against the use of contraception and to see that no Christian ever accepted it as licit until the Anglican Church decided to allow it in certain circumstances at their Lambeth Conference in 1930.
I read a report in Touchstone recently that suggests this is because many married clergy were already contracpting and they wanted it made licit for their own sake.
Pius XI wrote Casti Connubii in response to the terrible decision by the Church of England.

Dr Janet Smith has an excellent talk on the whole nastiness of contraception.
I'll find her MP3s as well and do a post just on them.

Anyway I realised we needed to change our practice, but my beloved husband was not at all convinced. We went through a rather difficult phase where I wanted to use NFP and he did not.
I was not sure yet about what being 'open to life' meant. I thought we should still avoid pregnancy, but I was not sure what 'serious reasons' meant. We were skint and I was struggling to maintain a couple of part time jobs, the MA and the family-so I thought we had serious reason enough.
I went to Confession and was told my husband was right and I should not try and use NFP-that Humanae Vitae did not really say that. He pointed out that I should look after the children I had and not try and have any more.

Confused I fell back on my prayer for discernment and having researched some more I stuck to my guns on NFP and after some tape listening he agreed to change to NFP too.
So I charted-but I didn't get any lessons!! But partly my dear fellow NFPers is because the info says its EASY-well yes it is, but that does not take into account the utterly MASSIVE-Gi-
normousness of the shift in thinking from 'contraceptive thinking' to 'thinking with the Church'. It is not easy.

Meanwhile I was busy being terribly holy and telling God He could do with me as He liked.
Raw chicken began to smell really unpleasant and I desperately wanted to eat and even drink Marmite.

Yes-I was pregnant!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Maryvale (story pt 12)

I was a working mother. One of those women feminists rave about who rush off to work leaving their children with the childminder, have a career and come home shattered late at night to look in on sleeping babes, or have "quality time" with their children.

"Quality time" is a con. Children don't want one hour with mum (tired and irritable) -they want mum to be there for them. I wanted to be home with them too-but we were short on finances and I was the one who got the promotion first unfortunately.

At last their dad got his promotion too-going from what then was then E grade to and H grade. I had been looking at all sorts of ways of cutting my work hours and still keeping us financially above water for some time. I think it was this that first lead me to think of teaching. I had done some teaching work in a college and university but now I wondered about getting qualified and maybe even teaching religious studies.
I can't remember where I got the idea that maybe I could apply to the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham. I had known about the place for a while and had even been there long ago while at school, but I am not sure where the idea to apply came from.
I decided I would do a Masters and then possibly a PGCE and then I could teach and be with the children (we had three). It seemed reasonable, but I did not have a named degree. I had been studying with the Open University and had completed a couple of courses including an Advanced Diploma in Special Educational Needs which included level 3 study. I hoped that would help get me accepted.

I applied.
I was invited to an informal chat with a couple of the tutors there. I was asked to write an essay, and then they said they would take my case to a meeting and they would let me know. They made it clear that a Masters was a lot of work and that I would need to make the time for it.

As one of those busy-busy-work-mums I was determined to find a way.
Back home though as I explained it to a friend she was aghast and told me I was mad to even consider it. After her completely negative assessment of my ability to do this I thought I might not go after all-but find some other way to juggle children, financial pressure and work.

I had a couple of sleepness nights and then determined to phone Maryvale and thank them kindly but say I would be pulling out.
That morning the phone rang and it was one of the tutors who had interviewed me. He explained that they had had a special meeting just about me and decided to bend the rules to allow me to study with them and I could start in January!

So there I was listening to this man who had with the other tutor put so much effort in for me and I was going to say 'no thank you'. Obviously I just couldn't. I accepted graciously and as I put the phone down had the strangest feeling that God was quite determined that I would go to Maryvale.

I am not joking- if that phone call had happened even an hour later it would have been too late as I would already have pulled out.

When I started at Maryvale I was hoping to get a better grip on my faith. I had no idea what was about to happen to my life!!
It soon occured to me that nearly everyone in my group was a lot brighter and more acamdemic than I was. If I was going to keep pace I would have to do some serious reading-but that was something I hardly had extra time for on top of essays and the reading just for the course.
I heard about Scott Hahn from someone at Maryvale and found a place that stocked his stuff.
I began to buy tapes.
I listened to tapes and discovered that if I got Sky I could have EWTN radio -so I got Sky and had EWTN radio on at all ours of the day and tapes on in the evening.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned about the Catholic faith, about Scripture and about my own silly ideas that I had never known.
It was not just an excercise in knowing about the faith though. Something Scott Hahn said struck me- knowing about God is not the same as knowing God.
Then the big questions came up and of course the biggest of the big was CONTRACEPTION! (Dum dum der).
We were not really even studying that at the time, but I had all these tapes.
I finally got to grips with not only what the Church teaches on this, but why, and as I had already been led to understand about authority.
God began to work very clearly in my life. We ran out of money and I thought I would have to give up the course. Suddenly I was faced wondering what God wanted of me and whether this Masters was really what He wanted (as opposed to whatever I wanted).
Sr Mary Kate stepped in and her order paid for me to carry on.
In a fit of new found holiness I rushed off to Church and told Him to do with me whatsoever He wished.
Now of course I had a whole list of ideas of what that might be. I had already started volunteering for the Children's Liturgy Group, and working with Catholic children with autism. I thought He would have me doing this sort of thing.
But God heard me say I would do whatever He wanted-and he took me at my word!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Pro-Life Witness in Reparation for Abortion and Prayers for
All Unborn Babies,
Their Mothers and Fathers

29th September
27th October
24th November
From 3-4pm

We will be standing at the entrance of the John Radcliffe hospital for an hour of peaceful witness – please join us and bring a friend.
Refreshments available in the hall afterwards.

Headley Way, Headington, Oxford
We meet outside St Anthony of Padua RC Church.

Amanda Lewin:

Amanda does great work in Oxford, please support her with your prayers if you cannot be there.
Here is a photo of my youngest daughter when she was 12 weeks gest. I loved her then as much as I love her now.
How many mums would choose to kill their chidl is they saw the scan?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

On Priestesses and Authority pt 11

My questions over why a woman could not be ordained were not answered all in one go. In fact it wasn't until I went to Maryvale some years later that I received a full understanding of the nature and history of the priesthood and the role of father.

After reading Lavinia Byrne's book and the Pope's words I was initially faced with the question of the Pope's authority.

So I began by trying to find out WHAT authority really means because I had always believed it meant being in charge and being able to do and say whatever you liked and bully those under you to do what you like. Partly this was because I had experienced authority in this way, but also because this was part of the feminist construct of the place of men.

I had become more an more drawn into the feminist view of things in which women are seen very much as victims trying to separate themselves from men in authority and where the word 'patriarchal' meant abuse of power.

You can see the mess my thought processes were in-the meaning of words had been changed and so a whole false construct had been built to make women angry and rather silly about being victims even when frankly we were not.

I was not sure where to go to find my answer to authority within the Church and what the Pope was allowed to do, so I started with Scripture.There was quite a lot in Scripture! Laugh I simply had never noticed it before. There was Jesus handing over the keys to the Kingdom to Peter and telling him "On this rock I will build My Church,"-not you can build your church. So Peter and the apostles were given authority to bind and loose, but only in as much as God allowed.I got this pretty quickly, even before looking into the Old Testament narratives that showed the roots of the New Testament Church.

I began to understand that just as in Isaiah 22:22 the Prime Minister only had what authority the king gave him, so it is with the apostles building the Church.
So the Holy Father believed that God was not allowing him to ordain women. The 'Author' did not give him the authority to do so. I mulled this over for quite a while as it was a new way of looking at authority for me. This was not about power-do what you like; but about genuine leadership with humility.
I was helped to understand this better because I had become a ward sister. I was in charge of the ward-and because of the way the hospital ran I was sometimes in charge of the whole hospital for a shift or a night.
I had learned immediately that being in charge is a great responsibility-not an opportunity to wield power. Moreover I had seen in the structure of the NHS that those who used their position to do what they liked were very, very bad managers and made terrible mistakes.
At this point I began the difficult process of accepting I might just have been wrong about women priests. I began to realise that the Pope could not ordain women if Jesus did not allow it-but I still did not know WHY Jesus would not allow it.
Finally at Maryvale (and how I got there is a story in itself) I got the answer to this because I spent a small fortune of Scott Hahn tapes, books and downloads. I have my 'wall of Hahn' above the piano to this day. Books Books Books Books Books Books Books .

Scott Hahn explains the history of the priesthood from Adam, through Melchizedek and then shows how the priesthood was taken from the father and first born son and given only to the father's and first born sons of the tribe of Levi after the Golden Calf incident.
He explained how the offering of sacrifice was the central role of a priest-whether it was the offering of a lamb like Abel, or bread and wine like Melchizedek. The sacrifice the Levitical priests offered were the animals Israel had been all too tempted to worship as their pagan neighbours did.
Liturgy and sacrifice were the centre of the life of Israel in the Promised Land. It was sometime later that I finally read The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
My understanding of the nature of the priesthood took time. I learned that Jesus established a renewed priesthood of Melchizedek-a priesthood of first born sons who stand in Persona Christie-in the person of THE First Born Son. Each priest was a father and husband offering the eternal sacrifice to the Father from the Bridegroom for the Bride, His Church.
This realisation was stunning to me, and it answered my question about the nature of authority in a deeper way.
I had never understood fully the role of a husband (bridegroom) and father, but in the depth of the family model of the Church I began to see.
This was a long process and took a few years, and I was faced with the unpleasant business of having to admit I was wrong and change my mind.
But I had to.
Then it occurred to me, if I was wrong about women priests-what else was I wrong about?

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Evoked Potentials

Thank you to everyone for your prayers.

I spent Friday afternoon at the hospital having evoked potential tests done. It was quite interesting. The first test was a visual test. A number of wires were glued to my head and attached to a computer and I was sat in a chair facing a small TV screen with a red spot selotaped to the middle.
I had one eye covered at a time and had to watch the red dot while a black and white chequerboard was flashed on the screen.

You would be surprised at how difficult that was to do! I got the hang of it though-or at least I think I did.
After that they moved the wires slightly and put on my arm just beneath the elbow. Then a two prong thingy was used to put an electric pulse to the median nerve until my thumb twitched.
Then the same was done on the other arm. I was quite surprised that on my 'bad' side I didn't feel much, but it actually hurt on my good side.
I then had to lie down and the same was done to my legs and then I had to wear some ear phones and listen to clicks in each ear.
They are measuring the time it takes for the nerve to take the response to my brain. If there is a difference it can show damage to the nerves, that does not always show up on MRI's.
I have to wait for the results now. The neuro man said about two weeks-but this is the NHS so I am not holding my breath.
The doctor I have at the moment is a locum and he is very good-I hope he stays around for a while. Neuro problems are long winded and long term. It makes life more difficult when no doctor stays around for more than six months!
I am hoping for a proper dx at last...but I know that is not always possible.
This is an area in my life I find very difficult to pray about as I tend to get a bit angry with God over it. I try to remember the wisdom of Blessed Margaret of Castello on these occasions and accept that although God loved her very much-He did not heal her and back then she would not have had the comfort of a diagnoses and treatment either.
I am not unhappy and I do not feel sorry for myself (most of the time), but there are days when it is a bit of a challenge.

Anyway that's evoked potentials for you- electric shocks to make the jelly babies in my brain (as the kids insist I have) jump about.
And hopefully the jelly baby responses will tell the docs why I'm a crip.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Evoked potentials - say a prayer

I'm spending this afternoon at hospital having evoked potentials tests; visual, brainstem and sensory.
Say a quick prayer for me please.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

New churches and Women's ordination Story pt 10

We began attending the new church with my husband. We were made very welcome and I did not get the usual anti-Catholic remarks. There was a vibrant Sunday School and a strong sense of community here. We made friends and felt quite comfortable.

Meanwhile I had another baby and grieved the death of my mother-in-law. The end of this pregnancy proved very difficult and I spent over a month in hospital. The doctor had seen the cord around my daughter's neck and were worried she might die if I went into labour without supervision. I was having medium contractions every half hour so I had to stay in hospt.

My husband asked my parish priest to visit me and bring me Communion, explaining the difficult situation I was in-and he refused.

But we received plenty of support from my husband's church.

After other similar events I began to think Christ was there-rather than at the Catholic church.

At last I thought I had found the general idea of Christianity. It was in the goodness and kindness of the people of my husband's church, where there was friendship and where we helped each other. Surely this was more like the Church Jesus established, I thought, than the big impersonal Catholic church where the priest wont speak to you if you aren't pushing money into his hand.

So I went to Confession for what I decided was the last time and told the priest there I was intending to leave and I'd be attending my husband's church.

He asked if someone could come and see me and talk to me first. I agreed.

A few weeks later an older lady kindly came to visit me. She had no more understanding of the Catholic church than I did and could not answer any of my questions. She must have felt awful-but I was touched that she had been willing to try and help.

We continued to attend the Catholic church while I continued to struggle with questions.

We moved house and I found a Catholic church very close to our new home. As my work commitments changed I was able to attend Mass during the week on occasions. We continued to attend Mass at our normal parish for a while though because we were used to it.

However my new parish priest made the effort to meet me and even came to visit me to make us welcome! I was very impressed with this.

Evangelisation is often just about treating people as though they matter-with the love of Christ.

Daily Mass became very important to me-balm for my battered soul. Given a choice I could just sit there in the quiet church in front of the Tabernacle all day. But I had children and work commitments.LOL.

We began attending this church on Sunday's as well. We had to walk past it to go to my husband's church and as much as I liked it there, I began to feel a strong pull every time we had to walk past my church. I wanted to go to Mass more than I wanted to sit through a service.

Why can't women be priests?

I was a great supporter of the idea that women should be ordained. It was only fair, I thought. Women could be just as good at pastoral work, caring for others, and why did it need to be a man to offer the Sacraments?

When the argument hit the mainstream with the Anglican communion deciding to ordain women I was all for it. BUT I still really wanted to understand WHY women were not allowed to be ordained.

Unfortunately I did not see anyone from the Anglican side of things make a sensible and well thought out statement to explain the all male priesthood. Terms like 'persona Christie' were banded about, but without any background explanation.

We went to Greenbelt as always and the argument raged there too-but of course it was all pro-women's ordination.

In the book tent was what I thought would be the answer; Lavinia Byrne, apparently a Catholic had written a book called Women at the Altar.
This book goes into great detail about how there were women priests and even bishops in the early Church. Those of you who know history will know what a lot of nonsense this is - but I did not know much history at that point and although there were one or two moments when I thought things did not add up-I was hoping she was right, so I did not follow up too much.
So having spent the whole of her book explaining the reasons from a feminist construct that women should be ordained-and in fact had been ordained until the patriarchal power grabbing men got to cover it up-she put the document by John Paul II at the back of her book. It was there as an afterthought, as a proof text of how this authoritarian pope was laying down the law.

I read ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS at the back of this book.
The words that jumped out at me were " declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women..." (my bolding)
Here was the pope saying he simply did not have the authority to change Church teaching on this; he was constrained and was not able to simply do whatever he liked, or whatever others might like him to do.
I was shocked.
It wasn't the Church's fault women could not be ordained-it was God's!

I was not all that willing to give up being right yet. I had to find out more.

Monday, 10 September 2007

My daughter has been baptised.

Yesterday at Mass my youngest child was baptised.

We had a visiting priest who made the event very special and reminded the parishioners just what baptism is for. He talked about Original Sin and how my daughter would be cleansed of it and brought into the body of Christ.

Father made it very clear how important our promises as parents and godparents are. We are promising God and my daughter that we will bring her up in the faith.

He anointed her chest, and her head and poured a great deal of water over her. I think he really wanted to make sure all that original sin got washed away.

As many of our friends and family are not Catholic or are lapsed this was a wonderful moment for evangelising and I was touched that Father used it so well. He pointed out that we need to put Christ first in our lives and that could mean giving up things that are bad for us, but which we rather like. He used the Gospel from the previous weeks showing the continuous thread of the Lectionary- saying even if our families disapprove we must answer God's call.

Afterwards we went for a little party. Sr 'Mary Kate' could only stay a short time; nuns work so hard and she had something to get back to.
May I ask you to pray for her sister who is having a lung biopsy today. It is a scary time as you can well imagine.

We had a beautiful day-and I might even go public and post some least I'm thinking about it.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

I can drive!!

WHEY-HEY! Roll I went out for a 2hr driving lesson in a crip-adapted car today. The instructor said I was a good driver (thank you very much) and that I should not have any problems.
It does feel pretty weird driving with just a left foot and left hand, and I was tempted to use my right foot a couple of times, but I soon got used to it. Being an automatic, I found the lack of clutch a bit odd-but again I soon got used to it.

I haven't driven for nearly 5 yrs since I became disabled and I thought I would have forgotten how, but the instructor told me, "Once a driver, always a driver," and it soon came back to me.
I've booked another lesson in Oct just be sure though; cautious as ever.

The car goes into the garage (a specialist place just north of Leeds) on 22nd Oct for the special adjustments to be made and then I'll be driving! Convertible Female

Monday, 3 September 2007

Light blogging

It's a busy week. I have just set up a new blog for the home school group I belong to.

I have my youngest one's Christening to prepare for-please keep her in your prayers as she will be baptised at Mass on Sunday. Silver Cross

I am timetabling and prepping for the new Home ed term. Studying

And I have loads of crab apples that need to be turned to jelly before they go bad. Apple

So I wont be blogging much this week.