Friday, 30 May 2008

Someone's getting married tomorrow, keep her in your prayers!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Vocation (6) UK Nuns and Sisters

O Sacred Heart, our home lies deep in thee
On earth thou art an exile’s rest
In heaven the glory of the blest
O Sacred Heart.

A project for a rainy day: catalogue all the convents in the UK that have working websites/blogs as of May 2008. I've included nuns and sisters and I'm sure the list is far from complete. If any Anglican orders have slipped on, I feel it would be churlish to remove them from the list. And yes I know tomorrow is a day of prayers for priests....this is not intended as a snub to them although I know many who are terrified of women religious. All need our support and prayers.

Poor Clares
Poor Clare Colettine Sisters in N Wales
Poor Clares at Woodchester
Poor Clares at Arundel

Cistercians at Whitland in Wales
Bernardine Cistercians in Stroud and Carnforth

Benedictine's of Minster Abbey nr Ramsgate
Benedictine's at Colwich
Benedictine's of St Cecelia's Ryde Isle of Wight
Tyburn Convent London
Benedictines of Turvey Abbey Bedfordshire
Benedictine's at Curzon Park Chester
Grace and Compassion Benedictines UK wide

Dominican Sisters of St Joseph Lymington
Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena Bushey and Stone

General Information about Discalced Carmelite Convents in the UK
Carmelites at Wolverhampton
Carmel of Our Lady of Walsingham Langham
Carmel at Dysart Kirkaldy

Canonesses of St Augustine of the Mercy of Jesus Boarbank Hall

Cenacle sisters
Sisters of Our Lady of Sion
Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
Franciscan Missionary Sisters in Littlehampton
Daughters of Mary and Joseph
Fransiscan Sisters of the Third Order Regular UK wide
Holy Family of Bordeaux UK wide
Infant Jesus Sisters Wolverhampton
Ursuline Sisters UK wide
Congregations "founded" by Mary Ward Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary Loreto Sisters
Sisters of the Gospel of Life Glasgow
Little Sisters of the Poor Greenock and the World
Presentation Sisters Huddersfield Nottingham and Manchester
Sisters of St Joseph of Peace
Ursulines of Jesus Islington

Feel free to reply to me if I've left one of your favourites off the list and please pray for those discerning a vocation to the religious life and pray for those who may have an influence over their calling.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Corpus Christi

I couldn't let this great feast pass without writing something.

Formal Eucharistic Adoration just doesn't happen in these parts, and whilst any hunger for adoration should be less than the hunger to partake in the Mass, the two complement each other and its absence from the spiritual life of our community is far from a blessing. The feast of Corpus Christi should be celebrated as the proud summit of our mature Faith, Hope and Love.

I got to thinking about all the special moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament during my life. The following is one such occasion about five years ago. My husband, myself and my Mother-in-Law had set off on our own mini pilgrimage to Lourdes. MIL had always wanted to go and we were then in a position to take her. We stopped in one of the older river bank hotels full of statues of saints, pictures of the Sacred Heart and coach loads of Germans.

We spent most of our time there wheeling MIL round the places that could be reached by wheelchair powered by husband. We liked the little Stations of the Cross on the river bank and it will always be a cherished memory; the three of us saying the stations with no-one else around and only the sound of the river and the birds to complement our prayers.

Exposition in the tent near by was equally prayerful and we would join the back of the procession from the tent to Benediction in the giant underground Basilica of St Pius X. I like the basilica, it is cool in the mad heat of midsummer in Lourdes. I think it is a perfect setting for Benediction.

Photo credit: Br Lawrence Lew OP

Where else in the world would a smiling Swiss teenager without uttering a word, whisk your MIL away from you and make sure she was parked with great dignity, right by the altar and the Bishop who was leading the Benediction? There are times when unforgiving concrete becomes the most wonderful thing to kneel on in Adoration. The Basilica is supposed to represent an upturned boat, to me it is like being in the belly of Jonah's whale; saved by the Grace of God yet still so expectant of the future. It is so humbling, kneeling there in adoration with thousands of others from all over the world, the sick, the elderly, the dying and those carrying burdens only God knows about.

Jesus said the only sign given to the "unfaithful generation that asks for a sign" is the "sign of the Prophet Jonah". Well there we all were, in the belly of the whale meditating on our salvation. Oh how much more than a sign or symbol is the Blessed Sacrament, it is our very life!

Friday, 23 May 2008

World Day of Prayer for China

The Holy Father has declared May 24th World Day of Prayer for China. Below I have printed the general intercessions for this from the Poor Clare Colettine Sisters in N. Wales.

Today the Holy Father has asked us to pray for our brothers and sisters in China. It is the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians; in Shanghai, Our Lady of Sheshan. As we pray we ask her to lift the Church as she lifts the Christchild beyond the reach of the Dragon.

We pray for the Church in China, divided between ten million loyal underground Catholics who have been faithful to the unity of the Church under Peter and for four million Chinese ‘Patriotic’ Catholics who, though they have compromised with the state, yet seek reconciliation.
We make the prayer of Christ our own; Lord, that they may be one.

Response: shi tamen he-er-wei-yi  使他们合而为一

We pray for our beloved father, Benedict XVI, who has proclaimed an indulgence for those praying for the Chinese Church on this day, even if they are hindered from travelling to Shanghai; may the whole people of God grow in the Lord’s love.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We remember our Chinese confessors who are suffering imprisonment and torture even as we pray that they may be one.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for all the priests of the Diocese of Shanghai who are loyal to our Holy Father, and who now have soldiers guarding their presbyteries so that they cannot to to Sheshan or organise their faithful to attend; that they may be one.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for the loyal Catholic laity who are aware that if they are recognised while attempting to attend the Patriotic celebrations at Sheshan, will be arrested, that they may be one.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for the bishops of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association who have betrayed fellow believers to imprisonment, that they may find forgiveness and that they may be one.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for the Chinese government that they may abandon their neurotic fears of Christianity for common sense, that they may discover and become one in the truth.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for the victims of the earthquake, the violent repression in Tibet and elsewhere, that those who have died may discover the Lord and be one with Him.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We pray for the Beijing Olympic Games that somehow, despite all that has gone before, the Lord may use it to advance freedom of the Chinese people, that they may be one in their search for justice.
Shi tamen he-er-wei-yi

We now lay be fore the Mother of God the prayer our Father Benedict has offered for this occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.

We come before you today to implore your protection.

Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.

You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross.

Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.

Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love.

May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.

Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Click here for the Cardinal Kung Foundation

Thursday, 22 May 2008

St Rita, Pray for us!

In our diocese, today is the feast of my patron, St Rita of Cascia.

Glorious St Rita, you who have obtained from the Lord favours which seemed impossible and who have become known as the Advocate of the Helpless,
Pray for us.

She is first and foremost a peacemaker, in families and in hearts.

There are two excellent posts on her here (Terry Nelson) and here (Vultus Christi)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Future ?

We in the UK find ourselves staring into an abyss of bleakness and horror after the recent voting in the House of Commons, by our elected representatives. I start with a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

In the future are we as Catholics going to have to refuse treatments developed as a result of these horrific genetic experiments? Are we going to be under pressure to have "saviour siblings" to help children born to us with "genetic defects"? The world will not understand us. Are we going to the Amish or Jehovas Witness of the future in our refusal to entertain certain technological/medical advances on the grounds of their being morally wrong in our eyes. Will the Bishops be our teachers, will they provide clear authoritative teaching, will they help (and help us to help) those in difficult situations? We must pray for good leadership from those whose words and actions we so desperately need for guidance and consolation. I am so utterly out of my depth when it comes to genetics and biology, I cannot use science to talk reasonably with those who think that science has all the answers.

Some verses from Prayer Before Birth by Louis MacNeice. You'll be thinking I don't read anyone else, you'd be wrong, but somehow he finds the words when I can't.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs drug me, with wise lures lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; o hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Henry VI

Poor unfortunate Henry VI of England (and the only English monarch to be crowned King of France), I've always had a soft spot for him. Maybe it is the way kingship seemed to weigh so heavy on him, maybe it was the way he seemed so keen to avoid conflict and always ended up in it, maybe it was his bouts of insanity. Maybe it is just his piety and the strength of his faith despite his weaknesses in matters like politics and governance.

I was aware that Henry VII had long fought his cause for sainthood and that his tomb at St George's chapel Windsor was like the Lourdes of its day, full of empty crutches due to the number of miraculous cures attributed to his intercession. I was also aware that his cause floundered in the reign of Henry VIII for fairly obvious reasons. What is didn't realise is that the cause was still being progressed as late as 1926. I found a prayer card at MIL's flat with an Imprematur from Thomas Henshaw, Bishop of Salford at that time. The card reads:

In furtherance of the cause of
King Henry VI

O God, Who didst choose Thy servant King Henry to be a pattern of innocence and most patient meekness, a lover of the priesthood and a patron of godly learning; and Who hast, as we confidently hope, restored to him in heaven the crown which he lost on earth; grant we beseech Thee, that for Thy greater glory and the salvation of souls he may be glorified on earth as in heaven.

Moved by that faith and loyalty towards the Holy See, which he ever showed in the hour when its privileges were in most danger, we humbly beg this favour through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God world without end. Amen.

King Henry VI
Born December 6th 1421
Began to reign, September 1st 1422
Deposed March 4th 1461
Restored October 9th 1470
Murdered May 21st-22nd 1471

I can only assume that with the advent of the second world war, his being an innocent and a pacifist, meant his cause waned once again.

I wonder what he makes of the old boys from the school he founded, David Cameron and Boris Johnson? I wonder what he makes of this "royal wedding" next to his very bones and the lady's renunciation of the Catholic faith?

For your interest, here is comment on the Autumn Kelly wedding from a blogging canon layer.

Sunday, 18 May 2008


A prayer from James Mawdsley's Ecce Mater Tua blog.

A prayer for Burma

Dear God, beyond our understanding, You bring good from evil. In Your economy nothing is allowed except that it will lead to good. The greatest evil was the murder of Your Son—and the greatest good came from it. Holy Trinity, help us.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Prayer to the Trinity

O my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

O my Christ, whom I love, crucified by love, fain would I be the bride of Your Heart; fain would I cover You with glory and love You...until I die of very love! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to "clothe me with Yourself," to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Enter my soul as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so hold me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, "come upon me," and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery. And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; "cover her with Your shadow," seeing in her only the "Beloved in whom You are well pleased."

O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity O.C.D (Nov 1904)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Living the Faith

I'm grateful for all the positive comments regarding my last post. On Sunday we were unable to attend Mass at our own church and went some miles to another church in another diocese. Does it ever happen to you that you blog about something, then all of a sudden you have to stand by what you have written; living your faith as well as just writing about it?

The Mass we attended was beautiful; Mass is beautiful, period. However, the music was provided by a lady with guitar, she was a competent singer and player and everything was pitched so that it could be sung along with by those of us over 12 years of age. Unfortunately her choice was dismal. We had an offertory "hymn" called "She sits like a bird", this being the nearest thing heresy I think I'd heard in a Catholic church, how can the Holy Spirit be female if the Church is the Bride of Christ? Being struck low with intense pain from irritable bowel syndrome (when will I learn to lay off the vegetables) this only added to the pain. My husband just muttered "Oh dear" and the lady in front of me had her head in her hands and her eyes shut during this. However, further anguish was caused when the Agnus Dei was replaced with:

Jesus, glorious brightness, flame of love
Jesus, filling hearts and minds with life
Hear our prayer have mercy,
Hear our prayer have mercy
Give us your peace


A jolly tune to take away any idea that the Mass is a sacrifice.

So what was my response? Am I a hypocrite? Did I pray fervently for this guitar strumming lady and her parish? God alone knows the true nature of my response.

We take an elderly couple to Mass each week and the choices of music provoked an interesting conversation on the way home. My husband and I were in full adult catechesis mode, we are really growing to love and cherish that couple, Pentecost is wonderful!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Just a polite word to anyone who cares to listen....

Dear All,

I am not happy. Several blogs, some written by bloggers I have the greatest respect for, have been posting about a Mass with a decidedly dodgy and unsettling approach to the sacred liturgy. I think it has been referred to as the "Mr Potatohead mass". Whilst the celebration falls short of what I would consider a "foretaste of the banquet of heaven", the individuals are sincere in what they are doing. I am not happy with some of the very smug comments that have surfaced which make the Catholic bloggers look like a bunch of stuck-up, spoilt brats. "OOOh look at the age of them, tee hee, our TLMs are so full of young people, these old dinosaurs are on their last legs, aren't they pathetic".

My dear brothers and sisters, rather than laugh at these people, we should be praying for their souls. We should be storming heaven with prayers for them. They are victims of bad catechesis and victims of the sick, corrupt world they grew up in. A world that thought "Elanor Rigby" was a good song, a world that thought it had all the answers, a world of revolution and nihilism masquerading as love and truth. These souls grew up looking at the elderly with their mantillas and rosaries and thinking they were dinosaurs on their last legs. These souls thought they had the answers; the Elanor Rigby's and Father Mackenzie's of this world were to be consigned to the past, they were pathetic and lonely and history.

How sad, how deeply sad. It is the very fact that we keep on forgetting the bigger picture; the saving of souls, and our life in the world to come...that we keep repeating this cycle of crass stupidity.

The elderly deserve better catechesis and preparation for death than they get. What are we doing about it? Are those who take part in these dodgy liturgies just to be an object of derision on you-tube? How utterly un-Christian, how low can we get?

It is for us who are strong to bear with the susceptibilities of the weaker ones, and not please ourselves. Each of us must consider his neighbour's good, so that we support one another. Christ did not indulge his own feelings, either; indeed, as scripture says: The insults of those who insult you fall on me. And all these things which were written so long ago were written so that we, learning perseverance and the encouragement which the scriptures give, should have hope. Now the God of perseverance and encouragement give you all the same purpose, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that you may together give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one heart.
Romans 15: 1-6

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Mother in Law

My mother in law has asked us to pray for her tonight so I invite you to join us and pray especially for all the elderly who find themselves alone and frightened, no matter whether what frightens them is real or imaginary.

MIL is the sweetest lady, if you were to meet her. She is nearly 90 and is one of the gentlest and meekest ladies you could ever meet. Unfortunately she somewhat overdoes the meek, she believes she is not good enough for anybody's company, she believes nobody could possibly be interested in her, she believes she never has anything interesting to say. Unfortunately this springs over into her spiritual life too. She believes she is not good enough to say the rosary because she loses her concentration (don't we all), she often thinks God is punishing her for her silliness.

Personally I think she has suffered from depression for most of her adult life and it has never been properly diagnosed. She is a very good actor in front of doctors, she is always "fine" when they are around, and they are never wiley enough to dig deeper.

In the midst of all this she clings to the Infant of Prague, saying his chaplet each day, and He gives her such graces, only often she gets so self-absorbed and despondent, she can't recognise them.

Just seen this bit of wisdom on the Ty Mam Duw (Poor Clare Colletine sisters) site that I link to on the side of this blog. It is about praying for people and couldn't be more timely.

* Ask the Lord if you may pray for this person or situation.

* Listen to what he tells you.

* Adore the Lord.

* Intercede for the person, simply and straightforwardly - God has the details.

* Leave yourself and any personal investment you may have in the situation to one side; want only God’s goodness to be manifest.

* Do not tell the Lord what to do; let him tell you.

* Thank him.


Thursday, 1 May 2008

The car infront contains a daydreamer..

Dear reader, have I told you that I live in one of the most beautiful parts of England? It may have slipped my mind of late to tell you that I am surrounded by rolling hills, deafened by bird song, intoxicated by some of the freshest air this country can provide and mesmerised by a thousand shades of brilliant green.

Now that I have resigned from my job, and am moving elsewhere (not half as nice), everything looks extra beautiful, extra fresh and extra special. I must be a fool. I'm also uprooting my husband from his work and friends, and this hurts like hell. Part of me is longing to stay here, but this is just not practical.

Driving home from work and feeling sorry for myself, it dawned on me that I'm still not putting all my trust in Our Lord. I was so far from the graces He can bestow on me because the longings I have for this green and pleasant land felt stronger that the desire to love and serve Our Lord. Oh how we mess up our minds and confuse our hearts! It is so easy to forget just how simple and beautiful life is.

Keep our eyes on the road and our hearts at the foot of the cross.