Monthly Archives: August 2011

All About Family

Over the last few days we have celebrated a lot of amazing saints. Saturday was the feast of St. Monica, patron of mothers, widows and alcoholics (and one of our family saints), Sunday was the feast day of her son St. Augustine of Hippo, who gave the church such a rich theology and one or two difficulties, such as Limbo, to grapple with. The following day was the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, who died because he dared to preach about the sanctity of marriage and how Herod and his “wife” Herodias  were not married.

Today is the feast of the martyr St. Margaret Clitherow and some of the other women who died for their loyalty to Christ against the onslaught of the Church of England created by Henry and Elizabeth Tudor to serve their own greed for power and wealth.

At the root of the stories for all these saints is the place of the family and the importance of marriage. St. Monica was married to a difficult man who was a pagan and their son grew up to be influenced by his father’s views. He went off into the world, safe in the knowledge that he was a very intelligent young man. He took on a mistress and had a son with her, but had no intention of marrying her. His mother Monica continued to storm the gates of heaven on his behalf and tried to intervene in his life as best she could, in the face of his resistance. But her prayers bore fruit and finally, with the help of that great bishop and saint Ambrose, Augustine returned to the Faith he had been baptised in and became one of the greatest Church fathers we have ever had.

Many mothers who find themselves with difficult children, or children who are drifting from or being pulled from the Faith will turn to St. Monica for her support and prayers. My own St. Bridget of Sweden is another saint for wives, mothers and widows, and she too had a son who went off the rails. It is reported that her husband, the good and holy Ulf appeared to her from purgatory to ask for extra prayers. He explained that he was there because he must expiate the sin of having been too lenient a father and allowing his son to head in the direction of serious sin without properly trying to prevent it.

Just as St. John the Baptist died as a witness to marriage, so in many ways did St. Margaret Clitherow. She was married to a protestant who very patiently paid the fines for her Catholic Faith. But she also helped Catholic mothers deliver their babies and get them baptised by hidden priests, including some Jesuits at a time where being a priest was illegal and attending the Sacraments could get you hung.

In the end Margaret was betrayed by a protestant child she had cared for, which is so tragic. She remained loyal to Christ and would not renounce the Faith. Even though she was nine weeks pregnant she and her unborn child were crushed to death.

In the battle between good and evil we so frequently see the good as those who stand firm for the family life God has designed for us and the evil as those who have destroyed their own family in some way and then set out to destroy others too.

Herod killed John because he was right about Herod’s non-marriage. Henry killed Catholics because they were right about his marriage to Catherine and Elizabeth killed her own cousin because she was Catholic. Elizabeth, who was often referred to (rather horribly) as the virgin queen, because she didn’t wed and because people wanted a replacement to Our Blessed Mother the epitome of family, when she had been removed by the insistence of the crown.

When those in power get greedy they always seem to go after the fabric of the family. They will kill wives and mothers for being Catholic, or do all sorts of things to try and undermine the age old teachings of the Church on the sanctity of the family.

Look at any saint story and almost invariably there is something family based about the story. St. John Bosco was supported in his work with orphans and street children by the hard work and care of his mother, St. Therese the Little Flower is so much part of her family that her parents are beatified.

St. John the Baptist may be considered a proto-martyr but his witness was very much about the family, as he pointed to the Bridegroom who had come, who would raise marriage to a Sacrament when He proclaimed, “What God has put together, let no man put asunder.” It seems to me a great shame that so many Christians have ditched the Sacramental nature of marriage and turned it into a simple contract. The Catholic and Orthodox churches have retained the Sacrament and I believe that some parts of Anglicanism have at least some view of the Sacramental nature of marriage as a covenant.

Even more shamefully in Western Catholicism the understanding of the nature of marriage has slipped to such an extent that contraception and abortion are common and divorce levels are at about the same level as for non-believers. We have some serious work to do.

Timeless Approaches to Prayer by Paul Northam

My friend Paul has written a book called Timeless Approaches to Prayer. Go and have a look.

It’s mainly aimed at young people as part of the Youth Series by Grove publishing. But it’s a short straight forward book that I think has something for young people of any age – even mine.

For one thing, it doesn’t assume that just because you are a Christian that you automatically know how to pray. Even the Apostles had to ask Jesus to teach them how to go about prayer, and that’s how we got the Our Father.

Take a look and leave him a message of support. :)

Science Freebies and the chance for $50. Looks like a good deal to me.

It is often said that great minds think alike – and fools seldom differ, but there’s something telepathic about how Kalei and I have both been busy making science freebies this week!

Kalei offers this excellent resource to help children remember facts about many famous scientists.

Then I added to my History of Science worksets with one on Monsignor Georges-Henri Lemaitre who discovered what was named “The Big Bang” theory.

If that’s not enough Kalei has very generously put forward the chance to win a $50 Amazon.com voucher to spend on those extra bits for the busy homeschool. God and join the competition and see what happens :)

Please pray for the soul of my friend and for her family

My friend Julie died on Sunday. Please pray for her soul and for her family, especially her husband and two young children.

 

Suffering is no excuse.

One of the biggest problems with having a chronic illness with its constant and annoying presence in your life, is the temptation to believe that it mitigates against having to “work out your salvation…”(Philippians 2:12).  It’s too easy to say, “I don’t need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked or help prisoners, (Matthew 25:35 -46) I’m ill and I certainly don’t need to bother with the sick – I am sick.” From that comes the temptation to stop caring, or even noticing that your illness automatically impacts on those around you. Why should you be polite and gentle when it hurts and it’s easier to be snappy and short tempered – even rude. All is mitigated by the fact you are ill. You can let yourself off the responsibility to your family or friends, because you are ill. You think about how ill you are, you talk about how ill you are and make darned sure everyone knows just how ill you are. “Peel me a grape!” you can cry as you indulge in the pity-party. Ugly isn’t it?

Fighting illness is a bit of a tightrope. On the one side you might fall into the snarlyness of all that pain, and on the other is the self-pitying martyr. It can be a difficult  rope to balance on, avoiding falling either way. I am guessing that most of us fall off the rope now and then, and have  to apologise to whoever we fell on. But we have to climb back up and balance some more, looking ahead and being willing to reach out a hand to fellow travellors.

The truth is when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He never wrote any small print saying it was only for the able bodied and well. When He called Israel and said, “I place before you life and death, choose life therefore,”(Duet 30:19) he didn’t say it only to the young and fit. There was no “unless you are already at death’s door, in which case you don’t need to bother,” clause.

All very well, you might say, but if all this suffering, sickness and pain, isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card, what’s it all for? The theology of suffering fills many a great tome, but I think the nutshell version is this, God allows bad stuff to happen and He can and does use it to make good-even better spportunities for us who are suffering.We have a choice though, the life or death one. If we take up the cross that to the world might look like “death” we will really have chosen life, whereas if we spend all our energy trying to dump our cross on others we are really choosing death.

So we accept the suffering, the sickness the pain, the facing of our own mortality, and we do so without becoming self-obsessed or trying to force our suffering on others. That’s the plan. Then God will send people across our path who are also suffering, perhaps the same way as we are, perhaps in a completely different way and we are to love them as He loves us and that love is the agape love, or charity from the Latin – which doesn’t mean dropping a quid in a box, or being nicey” it means giving of ourselves (Passion=to pour out) to help the other people.

Many people might find all that the easy bit. You could be nodding your head and thinking, yes, with God’s grace I am managing all of that.

Now then – what about the business of accepting the help of others? How easy is that? Admitting you can’t do it and actually asking for help? Now, that is truly difficult for some of us.

One day when I was really not well at all, I was faced with not only a full on home ed day with my own children, but I was taking care of someone else’s as well. I couldn’t think straight and I knew I needed help. It took me ages to simply pick up the phone and call my friend Donna and ask her to come over. She lived just around the corner and I knew she would say yes, even though she was going through the most horrific depression and life problems at the time. She came straight over and was wonderful with the children and accepting of my incoherancy. I will always be grateful, but I also think she had a lovely day that day.  She didn’t make a big thing of how wonderful she was. She just did it out of love.

The other difficult negotiation is between knowing when to ask for help or accept the offered help, and giving up on even trying to work through the problem. Part of this comes with not dumping your suffering onto someone and then walking off until the next time it comes to dump. Human dignity demands that we try to behave as human as possible and the most human person is Christ. He’s a hard act to follow, but we are supposed to follow Him.

Aha! You might say, I’m Catholic, so if this gets too hard I’m off to Mum. And what does she say? “Do whatever He tells you.”  (John 2:5) So no get off the hook there either.

But it’s not fair! you might be tempted to whine, and you might even give into the temptation. Why should I, who lives with constant pain and is slowly loosing more and more abilities and [insert whatever else here] have to be bothered with other people and their problems?

The answer seems to be that it’s in doing whatever He tells us, that makes the cross we have bearable. If everyone lifts together we can all lift and carry the whole load, but if all we do is carry our own bit and moan about it, well it remains too heavy. And remember, He told us that when we do anything for the least of our fellow men, we are doing it for Him. So when we help someone else He will give us the graces to make the whole thing lighter.

So suffering is there to help us get to heaven, not so we can become so self abosorbed we end up in hell.

Solid as a rock.

While Papa Beni – (pope number 265)is out there in Madrid preaching up a storm while standing in the midst of one, (how very apt),  the reading today is about Christ’s plans for His Church.

Jesus has the twelve standing around Him and his asks “Who do people say I am?” (I don’t think this is one the I AM statements, it being a question, but I could be wrong). The apostles come up with some answers. We could come up with even more and fat worse answers. Some say He is Nice Man, Push over Jesus, Therapy Jesus, Accepts-me-as-I-am-and-doesn’t-want-me-to-change-Jesus. Ditch-your-cross-Jesus and Blind-Eye-Jesus. I am sure there are others out there.

Then Jesus asks them “Who do you say that I am?”

Simon the fisherman, brother of Andrew announces, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Now, to be fair, Simon is not the first person to have recognised who Jesus is. Even if we put aside Our Lady, there is still Nathaniel of Cana. But at this moment, God’s chosen moment, Simon speaks up and Jesus acknowledges the truth of the matter, and that God has inspired Simon.

He then does something very God-like. He changes Simon’s name to Peter – or rather to Cephas the Aramaic form of the name. It survives in some Bibles in this form, presumably because even in the Greek it was written in the Aramaic. [God tends to change the name of those He has chosen to do something big-or to form a Covenant with, such as Abram to Abraham and Jacob to Israel]. They are standing in the shadow of the massive rock at Caesarea Philippi, upon which is perched the pagan temple that Herod had so thoughtfully had built to further his political career.

“You are Peter,” says Jesus, “And upon this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the Underworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of Kingdom of heaven, whatsoever you bind on earth is bound and whatsoever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.” (Take a look at Matthew 16:13-20 if you didn’t get to Mass today)

Now, if you were at Mass, or like me, had to do the readings at home, you will have noticed that the first reading is from Isaiah 22:19-23. This reading is the pre-shadowing of what happens between Jesus and Peter.

First of all the old master is dismissed for being corrupt, just as the old priesthood will be dismissed. Then  King Hezekiah who is a type of Christ as he is the immediate fulfilment of Isaiah prophecy that a child would be born – called Eliakim to be his deputy, or Prime Minister. He is entrusted with the robe of authority and receives the keys of the Kingdom. He may open and shut and it will be as he says as he is the peg in the firm place.

But, you might ask, what about those protestants who insist that only Jesus is the rock?

It’s plain from the text and the history of the Church that Jesus isn’t the only rock. Not only is Peter the rock too, but we are told that the Church is the firm foundation, the rock.  However, Jesus is the rock that underpins all of His Church – He is the corner-stone. Even Herod’s pagan temple was built on a rock, which would not have been a firm rock if it hadn’t been formed out of the great rock of the earth.

I have come across some amazing contortions by those who refuse to accept the Scripture as it is written. One woman told how her father insisted Jesus was pointing at Peter when He named Him, but at Himself when he was somehow not handing over the authority.

Then there are those who say Jesus never intended Peter or the apostles to hand on their authority. History, however shows very clearly that they did and that this makes sense in that Christ is a King who continues to rule His Kingdom so there is bound to be more ministers for the Kingdom as there is for any kingdom.

Peter’s first act of binding was at the Council of Jerusalem around the year 50 when he said gentile converts did not need to come to Christ through the Mosaic laws of circumcision and kosher food. He said “Baptism now saves you.”

Book Review: Lourdes by Robert Hugh Benson.

I think the first book I read of Benson’s was “Come Rack, Come Rope” which I confess to have found difficult at the time. But I have come to love the way this man writes. If you have never read Lord of the World for example, you have missed a treat.  But the book I am reviewing by Mgr Benson is Lourdes which I think was published around 1914, but there may have been earlier editions.

This is not the story of St. Bernadette. It is the observations that Benson himself made while there on pilgrimage. He was in the privaliged position of being able to directly observe the investigations that took place (and preumably still do) at the medical centre where those who have a claim of miraculous healing would come to have their case scrutinized.

At the beginning of the book he touches on the infamous behaviour of Emile Zola who had refused to believe anything miraculous could happen even when a miracle happened right in front of his eyes. I had heard this story over the years but Benson added a detail I had been unaware of. Zola wrote a book saying the girl who had been healed had relapsed some time later. This was untrue, she remained well, but as Zola wanted to believe that any healings were about some kind of hysteria, it would not do for the girl to have a normal happy life after her healing – so he lied. I was quite shocked to read that, partly because I thought Victorian times-preWWI were more innocent perhaps, and this was so “modern”.

Benson explains some of the healings and gives us a view of the immense suffering and stoical acceptance of suffering that he saw there. He touches on the mystery, that I battle with so often, of how some people are healed and others are not. How is it, he wonders, that God chooses one and passes by another?

He does say he believes that even those who are not physcially healed, receive the spiritual consolation, even healing, required to continue to carry that cross. One thing he seems to have been surprised and perhaps confirmed by, was that the healings tended to take place during Benediction. I suppose we all tend to think that the healings would take place at the grotto, or the baths, but Benson saw the vast majority of the healings that happened while he was there happened as the priest walked among the sick blessing them with the Monstrance containing the Holy Eucharist. It is of course, Christ who heals. This had a sense of the Wedding of Cana for me as I read. Mary asks her son to provide the miracle and then she gives the one commandment we ever see from her “Do whatever He tells you,” and when they do, the miracle occurs.

I was brought up with the story of my grandfather’s extra five or six years that he won through the water of Lourdes. He was given less than a few weeks to live as his throat cancer was in his lungs and elsewhere. After drinking some water from the grotto he began to feel better and went on to live another five to six years – long enough to make an impression on me, who might never otherwise have known him. I took St. Bernadette as my Confirmation saint in gratitude. (My grandad was never Catholic – he was CofE).

Benson discusses some of the theories of his day as to how healings might take place and notes that although there were many people who seemed indeed to have received miraculous cures, that very few such cases met the rigorous standards of the medical board set up to investigate them.

The story that stands out the most to me is the one of the girl with the severely damaged spine. Doctors had been surprised she was even alive with such terrible damge – but she was healed and got up and walked compleltely free of pain.

I went to Lourdes when I was 14. I remember a lot about the place and Benson’s description was strange in its familiarity. I hope one day I could go back…who knows?…

Over a nice cup of tea – mum conversation.

My friend J came over yesterday with her children. While all the children went off to play we had some mum and a cuppa time. We had a quick chat about starting term and as her oldest child and my youngest are about to begin their Home Education “officially” we talked about how or whether to mark their first day of term.

I have bought a pencil case set for all three of the younger ones so that they will start term with a sort of freshness. As it happens both Heleyna and E are already used to the learning business as it happens organically in a home education setting. It’s what Charlotte Mason describes as “education as an atmosphere.” Even so we want to make the first week special for the girls.

J then went on to tell me how a Sky salesman had come to her door trying to sell her the Package. She declined as they have their phone and internet set up thank you. He asked about her TV package.

“We don’t have TV,” she explained.

He was stumped and seeing she is pregnant asked about children.  He noticed the other three coming into the hallway behind her. He then asked her what she would do with her children without a TV. His parting shot to her as he left was that she would find things hard work.

The upshot of this strange little tale, seems to be that the gentleman from Sky believes that parents must have  TV to put their children in front of or else life will be “hard work.” The definite view that adults should be free to do as they please unencumbered by responsibilities towards their own children.

On the same theme really she noted that many parents are longing for the beginning of term so they can finally have their lives back when their children go back to school. I have come across this attitude a lot over the years and I really don’t get it. I have been there when a mother said how much she didn’t want the summer holidays and how the schools were unfair to expect parents to “entertain” the children for 6 weeks. She said it all in front of her children.

I vaguely remember hearing something about a poll of parents over TV. A shocking number of parents said they thought letting their children sit and watch TV for hours was good for them.  I am afraid I think they meant that leaving their children in front of the TV was good for them-that is for the parents. Let’s face it – they are not fighting (unless it’s over which channel) and they arent making a mess by playing, and sitting on the sofa ticks all the ‘elf’n’safety boxes. A modern dream.

Now, that’s not to say there are not genuinely good things to watch on TV. We have one, in fact we even have Sky (the bog standard, no extra’s package that they have finally given up trying to get me to improve). But it’s not the baby sitter and I am very strict about how long the children watch it and what they watch on it.  I am still horrified by the memory of the 4 and 5 year olds sitting in the hall of the middle class school I worked out and nearly everyone of them said they watched the truly nasty soap Eastenders, which is frankly unsuitable for adults let alone children.

One major advantage of home education is that most of us have a grip on what screen time and content our children have. When they all get together there is no peer pressure or isolation because one child doesn’t watch the trendy, but toxic programmes or play the right console games.

I am not saying the HE community is full of perfect parents with perfect kids. Far from it. But the imperfections and difficulties are not made worse by the culture, because we do tend to shun it. That doesn’t mean (sadly) that all HEd children grow up to be good adults. We have been burned by bad HEers. But overall, we are up against far less pressure and as we are with our children, who are with each other more often, bad influences can be mitigated.

Free lessons: Marriage part II and other stuff

Kalei has posted my next set of lessons on her blog and website.

So go HERE to see Part II of my lessons on marriage.

She has also posted my “put together and label the parts of a flower” little lesson.

This is my first attempt at a cheapo Montessori type activity. What Dr. Montessori would make of my efforts I dread to think – but it’s worth a try.

Take a look at the rest of the stuff on That Resource Site Blog and WEBSITE

You can also get my lessons from the page Kalei made for my stuff

For those of you interested in using my Marriage lessons, can I suggest that you start with my lesson on the history of the priesthood. It will help (I hope) to place my lessons on marriage in a context. Then follow with part one of the Marriage and Christ as the Bridegroom.

And can I just add an invitation on behalf of Kalie. You will see when you visit That Resource Site that she has an area for “friends” where those of us who can offer resources have our own page designed for us. If you have stuff to share do let her know. It’s a lovely idea that parents can share their talents and interests so that others get to keep to a budget.

The Assumption of OBM / the Dormition of the Theotokos.

I am not an apologist. I am afraid that I just wouldn’t have the patience for it. I truly admire the patience and sheer perseverance of people like Jimmy Akin and Time Staples et al that can over and over again explain the same thing.

It’s the feast day of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother today. The day she was taken bodily to heaven, having worked so hard and suffered so much so that her Son could redeem us.

The Tradition that Our Lady was went to heaven body and soul goes back to the beginning with plenty of Church Father’s writing about it. But there are still some people who get it into their heads that Pope Pius XII suddenly came up with idea and promulgated it out of the blue in 1950. Of course, this is not true. Pius simply sealed the doctrine in Munificentissimus Deus.

We know from the Old Testament that God took two men, Enoch and Elijah, body and soul and they had not died. I don’t actually think the fact that these two men were taken in the way they were is quite the same as how Mary was assumed, although it could be.

The question that is often asked is whether Mary died first or whether, like Elijah she was taken and never died. The Church remains silent on the matter. My personal view, which you can take or leave, is that she did die and then she was resurrected to heaven.

Those who argue against her death first say that death came into the world because of the sin of Adam and Eve and that Mary, the Second Eve did not sin and therefore did not need to die. I think this is a very good argument but the reasons I tentatively disagree (I am still wavering) are that Jesus died and that there is an empty tomb in Ephesus that has a long tradition it was Mary’s. It could be argued that she suffered so much at the foot of the cross that she did not have to die as the first only human to be sinless (Jesus is human and divine of course). While in the West we are still a bit “did she, didn’t she?” about whether Our Lady died

Prophecy has it that Enoch and Elijah will return and will die martyrs before the end, so even they have some sort of destiny that involves dying.

The other reason I think she died first is that she appears to have received her resurrected body. She is the firstborn of the promise Christ made of our resurrection. When Saint John sees her as the Ark of the Covenant (Rev 12) She is magnificent appearing as she a person who has received all the Promises of Christ about the resurrection.

It is also seen that most of the Church Fathers believed Mary died first and in pictures of the Dormition of the Theotokos she is often seen semi-shrouded.

The title Theotokos means God-Bearer, which I think of one of Our Lady’s most beautiful titles. In her appearance at Kibeho in Africa she called herself Mother of the Word, which can be seen as part of her title as Theotokos.

May she keep praying for us. We need it.

Wonderful Day!

We had a truly wonderful day yesterday. My friend Shana and some of her children have been able, thanks to the amazing kindness of a friend, Sue, to be able to come to England! WoW! Sue was extra-kind in arranging for Shana and the children to spend a day with us yesterday. We all went to Cadbury World after lunch and came back for more food and time to chill’n’chat.

I heard a lecture not so long ago where a good Father insisted that real friendships could not be made across the internet. Well, I think yesterday was evidence to the contrary.

We all met via Catholic-Pages about 11 years ago and even when the forum closed we stayed in touch.

The question of whether friendships made over the internet are real or not is one that keeps being asked. I think many confuse the term “virtual reality” that discribes games with high tech interactive ability, with anything that happens online. It seems to me that being in touch with people via email, MSN, Skype and even Facebook can be “real” contact and form real friendships just as letters and postcards back in the day did.

Home Education Freebie: The Catholic Laboratory Podcast. and Catholic Under the Hood

Like most Home Ed mums I’ve been asked on more than one occasion how I intend to teach my children science. (You know the one, it always comes hot on the heals of the “Waddabout socialisation? question).

Well, there is a lot of books and curriculum, especially from Anerica and most of us parents have a secret stash of test tubes and strange chemicals from one or more of those science kits so easily available on the internet.

For older children and adults I really recommend The Catholic Laboratory Podcast.  Eaxh episode has a set of links and resources on the page. You can download the podcasrs from itunes, but I prefer to do so from the site as I can then more easily see what resources go with eaxh episode.

Mr Maxwell, who does the podcasts covers a lot of different aspects of science and its history.

The other podcasts I really recommennd, which I have only discovered recently is Catholic Under the Hood fronted by the rather wonderfully named Father Seraphim Beshoner who is a tutor for the Austrian based school of Franciscan University. His podcasts cover a whole range of topics on history and science.

Fr. Seraphim also offers videocasts via itunes which I haven’t had a chance to look at yet.

So fill up your MP3 player or Kindle or whatever you have – and fill up your brain.

On Being Human.

Once upon a time I heard Dr. Scott Hahn explain how in Genesis the story of creation shows how man was created on the sixth day, the last of all the animals but as he was created on the eve of the Seventh Day it was clear that Man was made on the sixth day but the seventh day was for him- where he would become fully human, living life abundantly. Lovely.

Continue reading

Kindle up on Jimmy Akin and C.S.Lewis

I listen to Catholic Answers quite a bit, and I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Jimmy Akin has an amazing talent as an apologist. He always answers questions clearly, so that even when I’m scrubbing the loo I can get what he’s on about. He has a BLOG and he has a number of books which look very interesting.

I have bought the Kindle edition of The Father’s Know Best which is a good read and not too dense for people like me to understand. As the teachings, writings and activities of the Church Fathers can, and indeed has, filled many volumes this is a short overview but a good one and to help get more depth he has set up The Fathers Know Best website where you will find videos answering various questions and myths surrounding the Father’s.

If that’s not enough Akin for you then he has started his own podcast series in which he answers questions sent in.  They are also available on itunes.

When you plug the Kindle into the computer via the usb you will see three folders marked Documents, Audio and Music. The documents are for books obviously. The audio will take audio books and other mp3 files, so I drop and drag or save directly the files I want to listen to into that. It means you can see what you are listening to and are able to pause, rewind or fast forward as you like.

If you drop the files into music you can listen and read at the same time, but the files are played in the order you dropped them and there’s no way of controlling them once they start.

I have wondered if I could use the music folder for read alouds for the children where they can read and listen to the book at the same time.

That brings me to the C.S. Lewis audio.

First of all there is this fantastic freebie being offered from Ancient Faith Radio. Mp3 recordings of all the Narnia books being read. (h/t Freely Educate) you might also like their podcasts from an Orthodox pov.

If that’s not enough C.S.Lewis for you there is All About C.S.Lewis podcasts to pack into your Kindle (or mp3 player) (h/t Freebie of the Day) These podcasts look at many of the books of C.S.Lewis.

I also recommend the wonderful insights of Peter Kreeft who has free lectures on his site covering Lewis’s writings. I particularly recommend his lecture on “‘Till We Have Faces” and I really do recommend reading the book (although I can’t seem to find a Kindle edition unfortunately)

So there you go. Quite a bit there for all ages. (I think Dr. Kreeft is particularly good for young adults)

Enjoy

Fear and Courage

On Saturday it was the Feast of the Transfiguration; that startling and reeking of symbolism event that happened (according to the Fathers) on Mount Tabor. There Jesus shone brightly, like the sun, and on either side of Him stood Moses-the Law and Elijah-the prophets. Jesus is of course the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus did not take all 12 apostles to witness this, but only Peter, James and John. Peter who would be the first Bishop of Rome – the first Pope. carrying the Keys of the Kingdom -the new Law and James who would be the first Bishop of Jerusalem from whence the old Law came and finally John the new Prophet who would write not only the most deeply theological of the four Gospels but the Book of Revelation and who as the adopted son of Mary would be the first child of the Bridal Church. All fine art depicting this shows the three apostles as falling back in fear and awe. John later writes in Revelation when he saw Christ Resurrected and transfigured that he fell on his face.

I defy anyone to face Christ as He really is and not fall on your knees at the very least.

Then yesterday the Gospel reading showed the apostles in the boat of Peter – the Church- being tossed about and threatened by the stormy sea and the great wind of the storm. They were terrified, fearing that death was too close. Jesus walks out onto the sea and calms the storm. Peter wants to rush to His Lord and with permission, jumps overboard and walks out towards Jesus. Only he looks down and with the fear that overtakes him, begins to sink. Jesus stretches out His hand and Peter is saved and gets back into the boat.

Scott Hahn has a point imho when he says that although Jesus tells Peter he is of little faith, the other lot never even had the faith to step onto the water.

Well, I’m going to admit something: I spend far too much of my faith-time being afraid. I missed Mass (again) because I am too ill (again) and the battle I face now is like the storm – it’s the battle of fear and anger. I am very, very tired of being ill. I want to be well. I want that miracle of the calmed storm. I am not asking to be able to walk on water – just to be able to walk!

The Holy Father said this:

It is an incident whose great significance the Fathers of the Church understood.
The sea symbolises today’s life and the instability of the visible world. The storm indicates the many troubles that oppress man. The boat, instead,
represents the Church built on Christ and led by the Apostles. Jesus wants to educate the disciples to bear with courage the adversities of life, placing
their trust in God, the One who revealed himself to the prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb in “a tiny whispering sound” (1 Kings, 19:12).

In his homily the Holy Father reminds us that we need courage. If there was nothing to be afraid of I suppose we wouldn’t need courage. If there was no storm it would not be so hard to hear the “tiny whispering sound”

We all know that it was the moment Peter took his eyes from Christ that he began to sink. We have to have the courage to look up again and the humility to shout “Lord, save me, I’m sinking!” You see, even that takes courage.

Marriage and weddings.

We went to a wedding on Friday which was really lovely. The couple are committed to Christ and to each other in a way that I am sure “shows” through how they took their vows.

I was listening to Catholic Answers the day before and heard Jason Evert say he had heard a priest preach on marriage. He had said that all marriages have three rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and suffering.

That suffering is part of life and in marriage it is part of the Sacrifice that the husband must make for his wife and she for him. St. Paul teaches that husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the Church – He was crucified for her. The word Passion actually means “to pour out” as Christ poured out Himself in His Precious Blood and the water that finally flowed from His Sacred HEart.

I have never head Ephesians 5 read at any wedding. It is usually avoided because modern thinkers don’t like the idea that wives should be subjects to their husband, but there is just as much avoidance of the role of the husband in the family as it is called (in Catholic tradition) the domestic church.

The vows however, are a reflection of the Gospel message when the couple swear to be married through sickness, health, richer and poorer til death parts them. They swear in God’s name to be faithful together.

The role of marriage according the Church taught from the beginning is that the husband and wife are to bring each other to heaven – dragging each other if necessary. The couple are to be open to life as God calls them and to take very seriously their vocation as parents, the primary carers and educators of the children God gives them.

Marriage is a public institution. Strong, healthy marriages are the root and foundation of a strong, healthy society. In marriage the children are taught how to be good people, offering something worthwhile to society. The Church is strict that a valid marriage is based on the choice of the couple to be married. It must be a choice freely made. Love itself is a choice, not merely a feeling. Each day, no matter how we might feel, we are called to love the other – pouring ourselves out for one another.

I went through a bit of a phase when I thought I would like to be a wedding planner. Then I watched a series on TV following the work of a wedding planner and I decided I couldn’t do anything so gruelling. I can’t remember if it was this woman or another planner who said she had met many women who were ready for a wedding, but few were ready to be married.

Al wondered if we were a bit of a ‘sign’ at the wedding. We have been married for over 22 years and it’s pretty obvious – what with the wheelchair and all – that we are doing it through the “sickness” bit. I hope that was, as he suggests, an inspritation rather than a moment of “I couldn’t cope with that!” (lol)

Fortunately for society there are people, like the couple we saw on Friday, who are ready for marriage and we hope and pray that as they pour themselves out in the marriage that it will bear much fruit and bring all in that family to heaven.

 

Happy Borthday Alex ( or Aggix as the little’uns like to say)

sterday Alex celebrated being 20. When he got home from work there was a room full of children and mums to regale him with a rather painful rendition of “Happy Birthday” causing him to flee to the kitchen for   a comforting cup of tea. (Tea is the panacea even for birthdays).

His pressie which we have all given a little towards (although he paid for more than half himself) is his friend’s old (relatively) ipad 1. Now, I think this is just a very snazzy toy – but Alex insists it has many a practicle application, including more digital art for him to have a go at.

Heleyna and I made his cake and Ronan butter iced it. Avila was pleased it was gluten free so she could have some.Happy Birthday

It’s In His Kiss.

Some time ago dh wanted a copy of Grace Before Meals as he was interested in how the book encouraged family eating together to improve family life. There are some pretty good recipes too. (No, dh has not cooked any.)

The author of the book Fr.Patalinghug also talks about the importance of beauty and the theology of beauty. Listening to him on Catholic Answers he talked about how when we kiss, we are expressing a kind of “being fed” sort of love. Patrick Coffin the anchor for the programme commented about how we tend to say things like “I want to eat you up,” to babies. Then Father Patalinghug  explained where kissing comes into the Liturgy.

It’s something I have never thought much about before. It happens at every Mass and it’s just part of the process.  He talked of how the priest kisses the stole before putting it on, that he kisses the Gospel before reading it because this is the Word of God and that although he doesn’t kiss the Eucharist, he does kiss the altar (and anyway he consumes the Eucharist). Then he said that the kiss of peace was originally meant to be a kiss as this is the family, the body of Christ.

The symbolism of the kiss as giving and receiving love makes the kiss Judas gave Jesus even more sorrowful and traitorous, in that he would have had true love from Christ, if only he had allowed Him to, for Christ did not kiss Judas as he was arrested then and there.

I shall stop taking so much liturgical practice for granted.

Some interesting facts about l*p dancers.

I’ve taken out the “a” to prevent unwanted searches finding this blog.

Anyway, I was listening to Ian Maxwell’s CathLab episode about the Theology of the Body when he mentioned some interesting research about how women give off certain pheramones during a normal cycle. It is pretty well known that women, in particular, give off chemicals that bond her to the man she has had sex with, but there is research that shows that a woman is more sexually attractive when she is fertile.

To test this theory some scientists in California got a group of lap dancers to make a record of tips their earned over two months. They found that the girls earned substantially more over the five days of their highest fertility and much less when not fertile. The girls who were using chemical contraception earned less throughtout the two months.

Take a look and listen to the whole podcast

I heard some interesting info about fertility a couple of weeks ago on some audio something or other. A doctor (obgyn I think) who commented about fertility in women pointed out that after age 35 a woman’s fertility level drops considerably – so leaving that baby ’til the career is set up is not such a good idea. She went on to say that after the age of 45 a woman’s chance of getting pregnant drops to 1%. The upshot is she advises wives to have babies when your body is ready to avoid the horrible heartache of infertility and the just as horrible fertility treatments- most of which have terrible success rates.