Thursday, 28 February 2008

Free Will, mitigation and victimhood

Most Christians accept that God has given us free will to go with our conscience. We are to form our conscience and then make acts of our will in conformity with God's Will. Of course we have a tendency towards sin, even after the Sacrament of Baptism; that scar of original sin called concupiscence.

So we sin.

The mess that people make of their lives often have truly mitigating circumstances. But I truly do not believe that mitigation is an excuse.

There has been a recent case in the news of a man who killed a number of prostitutes. He is now threatening suicide from prison. His girlfriend seems to think she is partially to blame somehow and his family are all rushing to the cruddy MSM with stories of how this poor benighted man was abused as a child and that's why he became a murderer, in a kind of, he couldn't help it, it was inevitable kind of way.

How can someone repent when everyone says, it wasn't your fault- you're a victim?

How can people who are abused rise above what has happened to them when encouraged only to see themselves as a victim?

My older children were hurt by a young man some years ago. He was set on doing serious damage to one of them in a way that still makes me feel sick. Fortunately I found out before it was too late.

I forgive him. He isn't sorry of course, but I see he is the way he is because his father is detached and doesn't 'father' his children and the mother has enabled and colluded with her son's behaviour rather than trying to stop it. It's her behaviour I find hard to forgive because she chose to let her children behave like that and by not dealing with it; by actually enabling the bad behaviour, she allowed her children, and particularly her son to put other children at serious risk.

We are all wounded, broken people in some way. But we are all called to properly fulfil whatever task God calls us too.
I swore an oath when I was young that I would never do to any children I had, what was being done to me. I kept my promise. I am not a perfect parent and I doubt we would make it into the Dr Ray book of excellent parents; but I really don't think a bad childhood is going to stand as an excuse on the Last Day, I really don't.

Monday, 25 February 2008

St Michael thrust your sword into Molech!

Both Fr Ray and Paul (OTSOA) have posted on the poor mother Emma, who has committed suicide after aborting her twins. The Telegraph carries the story. Shockingly there seems little concern at the almost non-existant standard of counselling this mother was offered either before or after the "procedure".

The babies were 8wks gest like the one in this picture.

So many mothers like Emma go through this, and afterwards there is no one to turn to. One day, not long after I had moved into the nurses home where I would live to do my training I came to the girl in the next room and found her sitting alone in semi-darkness crying. She told me, something apparently no one knew. She had become pregnant some 5 years earlier when she was 16. Her boyfriend had freaked out and she was terrified to tell her parents. So, completely alone, she had gone for an abortion. "He would have been 5 today" she told me. She knew when he was due-mother's do-and his loss had burned a hole in her heart. I sat with her and she cried.
In Oxford every month 20/25 people gather. The next meeting is:
29th March 3pm
St Anthony of Padua Church Oxford.
Also don't foret that there is ADORATION every
Wednesday from 7pm
at SS Joseph and Helen
Kings Norton Birmingham.
For those who can't attend either; light a little candle and say a prayer. Let's get St Michael to cast Molech into the deepest pit. He has too many temples and is doing too much trade.

Living water in the desert.

This weekend has fitted together rather nicely from a 'God' point of view. First I got the out of the blue opportunity to go to adoration for a few minutes and actually pray without distractions and then we found a church that does evening Confessions on a Saturday. So as soon as the Artist got home from work we piled into the car and headed off. We got the times wrong and arrived when Mass was on.
We slipped in at the back.

The church is HIDEOUS. It's one of those in the round, plain brick, things with tiny (and rather ugly) windows high up under the roof. The Tabernacle is hidden away so you can't see it. There's a huge and really horrible iron swirly statue of Jesus behind the altar. But in contrast there was a simple and elegant wooden carving of the Madonna and child and an equally beautiful wooden carving of the saint of the church.
The side chapel is of glass with each panel etched with a scene from the life of the saint, done beautifully and this chapel where the tabernacle would otherwise be hidden they hold perpetual Adoration!
Up on the altar the priest was dressed in traditional vestments and saying the NO Mass with deep dignity and respect.
Here was living water in the desert.
After Mass the same priest came to hear our Confessions. We were the only ones this time but a lady from the Church had advised me to get in quickly as there is usually quite a queue. This means we were there on a quiet night; people DO receive the Sacrament there.
After Confession I went into the Adoration chapel while the biggies looked after the smalls and had a couple of minutes before I was needed by a hungry baby.
So there I was, for the second day in succession-staring up at Our Lord and He stared back. This is a church that has produced a significan number of vocations for the priesthood and religious life.
I am looking forward to going there again and sitting there in the ugly dry desert with the Living Water.

Then when we got home there was a message on the answer machine from Sr 'Mary Kate' saying she had some help for my oldest.
Then the readings yesterday were about Christ meeting the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob and offering her living water. I felt like that woman. I feel I have been offered a mini-retreat when I otherwise couldn't have hoped for one.

Then we got another call from Sr 'Mary Kate'. A lovely, holy priest I knew as a child is offering my big lad some money towards his hope to go to Franciscan University Steubenville.
Keep praying my friends. I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope there!
God bless you all through Lent.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Adoration-just for a few minutes.

My parish priest is, according to my dh "refreshingly uncharismatic". He seems to struggle at times with his role and certainly with the pastoral side of things; but quietly he is doing great things in our parish. For Lent we have the usual extras of Stations of the Cross, but yesterday there was a day of Exposition to pray for vocations. Apparently Father had a bit of a battle to get people to sign up for it, but he must have achieved the full sheet because it went ahead.
My friend (I have mentioned her before, the single mum) came over and asked if I would like to go. I was able to leave the little ones with dh and we drove to church.
The church was quiet. One lady knelt in a pew, praying and watching. In the darkness of the cool building there was a place ablaze with candle flame. The monstrance and Our Lord stood in the centre of the altar surrounded by candles.
It's a long time since I had the opportunity to adore like this. I said a rosary without interruption! I was able to pray hard-to put a whole load of stuff at the feet of the Lord.
Neither of us had much time. I don't think we spent more than 20mins there-but it was wonderful, peaceful, healing.
If you get the chance to do this-go.
We've finally found a church near by that offers Confession in the evening so we can all go tonight when The Artist finishes work.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

China not so cool in Hollywood

Marie and Ginny have blogged on this. China's economy is growing quickly and Western countries such as Britain and the USA have been quick to cash in on this as wages over there are low. Gordan Brown has been able to ignore the appalling human rights abuses as he cosies up to the poisonous dragon. In the USA Martell have already been badly burned by their enjoyment of cheap Chinese production.

Now that Steven Spielberg has pulled out of the Olympic Games preparation over China's involvment in the slaughter of Dafur in Sudan the MSM has begun to sit up and take notice. I am a bit bewildered by Mr. Spielberg's sudden move as WAY before the Olympics were even offered to Beijing (something else that leaves me bewildered) China had a grim record on human rights abuses. China's own people live in fear and ask the Tibetans about freedom. How about Tiawan? Is that a new problem? Hardly!
We need to pray, we need to protest and we need to NOT WATCH the games. If no one watched the Games think of the loss of advertising revenue. If no one went, they would loose face, kudos and loads of money. Would that sacrifice be too great?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

How Firm a Foundation

I've only just started reading this apologetics novel by Marcus Grodi, so it's a bit early to write a review, but I am loving it.

Interestingly it is giving me an insight into protestant anti-Catholicism that I have never understood. I remember when Scott Hahn talked about his conversion how he talked about his honest belief that Catholics needed to be saved. I was quite shocked at the time. How could anyone-especially someone as obviously intelligent as Dr Hahn-believe something like that?

What I find so fascinating in reading about the beliefs of the characters in the book is how they came by those beliefs. I don't want to spoil the book for those of you who are going to buy it so I will try and talk about this without going into too much detail, but I have been surprised at the similarity in my own faith journey. It must be the same for many of us. We don't get knocked off our horse like St Paul, and get an audience with The Lamb Himself- we get our understanding of the Faith from other people. We are then left to discern just how firm a foundation for our whole life that might be. We are not left alone with that discernment of course, God will guide if we let Him, and I think He expects us to question and seek-or how can we ever be sure the Faith we have is True?

I have seen many anti-Catholic apologists online who are seem lacking in charity-to put it mildly. Yet Dr Hahn, and many other Catholic converts say they too were anti-Catholic in all charity. I could never understand HOW they came to believe this, if they were truly followers of Christ. In the book Marcus Grodi explores some of this, and the stories are believable, I think because he has based them on real stories. I am getting a better understanding and perhaps it will make me a little less irritable when I see anti-Catholics spouting what I always assumed they could not possibly believe was true, in the future.

Dr Hahn was genuinely seeking the Kingdom though, and I reckon he found it Happy . Even so, I love the conversation he had with his mum when she asked "But you could be wrong couldn't you?" And he replied, "Yes mum, I could be wrong."

It is something that still bugs at me despite the long winded journey of my own conversion, that despite it all, what if I am wrong?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Persistance, Parenting and Persperation.

Nearly 19yrs ago when I was about to have my first baby, I knew ONE thing about parenting and that was that I didn't know how to do it! Meanwhile somewhere near by another young mum was facing the same fears, and she was more alone with them than I, for she not only had no mother to support her, but no husband either. Her son and my son are friends now and we have both survived bringing them to adulthood. (Just!).

She sacrificed hugely to ensure her son grew up to be the fine, honest and caring young man that he is. She has not so much as had a date since she was left by her son's father. She has brought him to Mass, taught him the Faith and ensured he has stayed on the straight and narrow, even when he has tried to step off it at times. This young man is, quite rightly, proud of his mum.

Even as our boys reach the age of 19, we don't just wash our hands and say, 'You're on your own now.' I have been surprised and a little alarmed at the number of parents with younger children who think I must be pleased to have 'finished' with at least one (and some of them think I only need parent the 3 smalls).

Physcially toddlers are more demanding, what with all those tantrums, time out, and toys; but teens are more emotionally demanding, and while everyone thinks its the little ones that need so much protection, having a 14yr old daughter has taught me a whole lot more about protection.

I have a friend who has 4 boys the youngest is 15 and the oldest is in his twenties. All of them are perfect gentlemen-a rare thing today. They are known in our parish for their reliability, integrity and good sense. She and her husband have worked hard to ensure their children have grown up like this. Families like this don't just happen- there has to be a lot of hard, hard work to ensure those boys learn respect, honesty and the importance of their Faith.

I have just finished reading "Back To The Family" by Dr Ray Guarendi and David Eich in which they looked at 100 of America's "Excellent" families. The first thing that struck me, in reading about these families was the genuine humility of the parents. Not one of them put themselves forward for this label -they had all been chosen externally, mainly by teachers. I think just about all the families had faced at least one crisis, but they had come through. They coped because they were prepared to support one another and because long-term consistant, persistant discipline. They didn't give up, no matter how tough it got.

Interestingly all the families were Christian. When Dr. Ray wrote about the faith the families had that held them together and rooted their values he had problems with the publishers. But it was clear from reading the book that Grace was running through these families. As parents our ultimate goal is surely to get our kids into heaven. We need to work very hard to do this and use every ounce of grace available to us.

Parenting is about persistance and persperation and sometimes (often even) downroight exhuation-but in the end I want my children to be like the adults in that book. If my kids don't make it to heaven, how will I?

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Lent balm

Some time ago-probably around the time Superhero was born, I got out of the habit of reading Divine Office. I did miss it, but life was just so busy and then more babies came and things certainly didn't get any quieter-just getting a couple of garbled decades of the rosary was sometimes a challenge like climbing Everest.

It's Lent and I have been thinking for a while I just wanted to get back to Divine Office. So I decided to try. I'm using Universalis as it's on the computer and has no fragile pages to be attacked by small people. I can read it in dim light with a baby attached to me and I actually get it done!

Divine Office is balm for the soul. I hadn't realised how much I missed it until I started saying it again. If you get the chance-I recommend it, even if you can only do one session now and again.
I am also going to spend a bit of proper time on Spe Salvi which so far I have only sped read.

And finally I am going to try and fit in reading Marcus Grodi's new novel 'How Firm A Foundation'

Oh, and in case you think you're thinking all that sounds a bit cushy (and I guess it does), yes, I am giving stuff up, not spinach (yuk).

Friday, 8 February 2008

Bloggers of the world..!

Karen that rare Gem of the Ocean and Esther Aloha! have both kindly tagged me as a blogger of the world.

I am now to tag other blogs from around the world that I enjoy:

SwissMiss of St Pauls Minnasota. Yes I know, Karen already tagged her-but I do too.

Philip of Carpe Canem who being on his hols could be a blogger anywhere in the world.

Ma Beck's Ward Wide Web. Her work helps get people around the world.

Susie the Joyful Catholic who not only has great insight she knows Dr Ray!

Rita's Tigerish Waters are to the West of me

UKOK's place which is somewhere near me I think.

There are so many good blogs.

I have learned a great deal from blog reading. It's a great way for someone like me who has little uninterrupted time in the day to grab snippets of information that is useful, like the post Fr Ray did about bee keepers in Tudor times. It is also where I have met people I can comfortably be Catholic with.

God bless

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Parents-take back your responsibility!

Friends With Christ and other places around the blogosphere have picked up the increasingly sinister and bullying tactics of this Government to undermine the welfare of children through pushing morally abhorant propaganda into the classroom as well as attacking Catholic schools for being 'Catholic'. While the acedemic standards of schools has plummeted so far that Universities have been setting up basic literacy skills sessions for first year undergraduates, and while young people are faced with massive difficulties finding work when they leave school-the Govt is obsessed with sex.
When my children were in school I felt powerless against the tide of stupidity that they were faced with. I spent a lot of time and energy re-teaching them at home, correcting mistakes in science and history or filling in the gaps so they got the context of some events. When it came to sex ed I had to teach the Truth because the Catholic school the boys attended offered contraceptive advice and a film that had a cartoon of a couple having sex while on the black board the words "The Church says sex is for marriage" was the full extent of the Catholic teaching.
Then I spent ages putting right what they were learning from ICONS the RE programme and that peeked with my oldest who was taught to refer to the Holy Spirit as 'She'!!!
Meanwhile most of the parents I knew didn't care that this was the standard of education their children were receiving. It was no worse than anywhere else. The children could jump through the acedemic hoops by doing their homework (regardless of whether that homework taught them anything or not) and sitting exams.
'Caring' parents were those who no matter how badly behaved or utterly miserable their child was at least ensured he got the correct grades at GCSE. If he stopped going to Mass and was getting involved with drinking, telling lies and being dishonest, so what? It wont affect him getting into Uni. These were the parents who complained about every holiday and loathed the summer ones.
The Govt has been able to take over our children's lives because WE the PARENTS have handed our children over!
This quote from Friends with Christ:
"So, it is already late in the day, but how can we rebuild a climate and a culture in which parents recover their primary role as educators of their children? First of
all, I think that quite a bit of personal interest and initiative by parents is necessary; an interest and initiative whereby parents actively seek to build a culture and a way of life for themselves and their families in which they embrace their God-given
mission to form and guide a family."
How can we?
A lot of parents are taking personal interest. A friend of mine has done much the same as I did. She has a tutor to help undue some of the damage of poor teaching in the school and she knows enough about the faith to have kept all four of her boys Catholic so far. The older 3 are in University now and are a credit to her and her husband.
Many of us homeschool-and that choice is increasing rapidly in this country. It is something the Govt is unhappy about and there are moves to either stop us or try and force their propaganda on us. Bizarrely the first thing they want to force on us is...yep, sex ed! Are they just weird or what?
As some of you may have noticed I am a great fan of Dr Ray Guarendi who on more than one occasion has said the 'cult of the expert' has stripped parents of their strength and sense of responsibility. He wrote "You're A Better Parent Than You Think" partly in answer to this. Meanwhile Dr William Coulson is out there apoloising for the devastating effects his work with Dr Carl Rogers had on schools and the monastic institutions of the Catholic Church.
Parenting is about SACRIFICE not 'How does it feel for you'. Even at the height of my career with 'Warm, empathic, non-judgemental, unconditional positive regard' ringing in my ears, I never believed a word of it. While idiots wandered around complaining about 'Catholic guilt', I was nursing a bunch of people with no discernable mental illness who were simply wrapped up in 'How does it feel for MEEEEE' rather than how does my horrible behaviour feel to the other poor sod?
Guilt! Ha!
My generation of parents need to learn from this mess. We have to take back our responsibilities as parents; face up to the mistakes we may have made and try and put things right. We need to remember that if we produce kids who cheat, lie, steal, fornicate, get drunk and throw up in the street etc. that WE have produced those children; we are still parents and we need to do something about it. We need to remember that our children's bad behaviour effects others for good or ill.
There is simply no point in complaining about the Govt trying to nanny our children in the worst possible way if we let them-because we aren't bothered enough.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Conversation with a 4yr old

I praised the Superhero (4yrs) and the Tornado(3yrs) for the way they are including the Blubbernugget (1omths) in their play.

Superhero: "Mum, when can we have another baby?"
Husband: choke, splutter, "Well, I don't think we..."
Mum (me) "Well, I don't know darling. We will have to consider that."
Superhero: "But God has lots more twinkle's in His eye doesn't He? Can't He give us another one?"
Mum-thinking quickly! "I think we will have to pray about that and ask God what He wants to do."
Superhero: "So we could have another baby?"
Mum. "God might decide He wants to give His twinkles to other people now..."
Superhero: "But we could have another baby."
Mum (weakly) "Possibly."
Superhero nods and runs off.

My poor, and at this point rather pale, husband felt I should simply have said "No" and not offered hope like that. But I pointed out that although it seems as though the obstacles to us having any more children are MASSIVE at the moment- God can do whatever he likes.

Trying to work out what He wants and what is right thing to there's the challenge!!