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!


Anonymous said...

Oh i did that once upon a time!

gemoftheocean said...


And, BTW, I thought Scott Hahn's explanation of why Catholic shouldn't use artificial birth control was the best explanation I ever saw. i.e. it essentially destroys the covenant renewal act.