Monthly Archives: November 2011

For Donna, RIP 2nd Anniversary.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my dear, and much missed friend, Donna.

It is her second anniversary today.

Please remember her daughters in your prayers and all who miss her

The young lady sitting on the bench next to Donna lost her grandmother and another home ed mum soon afterwards. it’s a lot for a child to deal with.

I know many of you are prayer warriors out there :).

With thanks

What mothers give their children.

Some songs are just worth hearing. LOL

First Sunday of Advent. Stirring up a Herman Cake

As Advent begins and we are called to get stirred up and wake up, we are doing something rather traditional here.

We are taking part in a great Herman cake making. This is an old Scandinavian or German or…around those parts, tradition. We are given the sour dough starter by a friend, K in this case. We get the kids to stir and feed the cake over the next ten or so days and then split it into four, one to keep and three parts to hand out with the instructions to other friends. The cake will grow and spread and feed a lot of people. It’s a lovely idea.

I managed to get to Mass this morning, which was great. Paying for it now, but it was worth it. Father preached a rather cryptic homily against the Black Friday approach to Christmas and, having a church full of non-attenders for a Christening, made it abundantly clear how empty life is when God doesn’t get a look in, and buying stuff we can’t afford and don’t need get’s centre stage.

I must admit, this is one of those struggle areas for me. I love watching people open their pressies on Christmas Day and all the excitement and interest that goes with it. For reasons I don’t ever want to blog about, I find Christmas very important, and the idea that the children have and share and enjoy their gifts is a big part of that. I try not to take the focus off whose Birthday it really is, but there is a place for generosity in “stuff” over Christmas, just as a way of reminding each other we don’t take each other for granted. It doesn’t have to be expensive (thankfully) and it shouldn’t be a massive financial burden, but Christmas gifts do have a place at Christmas.

Black Friday with it’s hob nailed boots and sharpened elbows probably doesn’t have a place. And buying cheap or expensive with no regard to the slavery that has often be used to produce the goods at that price ha no place in our Christmas shopping either.

I must admit to a dislike of the “generic gift” thing too, where no thought about the person has been spared. I love trying to find something that is just right for the person I am buying for, even if it’s very simple.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do some Christmas shopping and try and make the season special. So long as we remember that Advent is purple for a reason.

And finally a Happy Liturgical New Year to y’all.

Don’t forget you can get my free Advent lesson pack (part 1) here

Teaching NFP to our teens; when and how? And whether there should be an holistic teaching of NFP as part of family rights and responsibilities.

Talking with a fellow HE mum the other day, I wondered at what point I should be teaching the children not just about NFP, but how to chart.

Obviously, I have taught them (the older ones) what Christ expects of them in terms of chastity, preparation for marriage and marriage itself, but the mechanics of NFP are still, to a large extent, to be taught and learned.

So, when to do it and how? Do I approach the lessons now with my daughter as she is nearly 18? Do I teach the whole kit’n’caboodle to my sons, (aged 20 and 22) or just the bits that will help them help their future spouse? Or do I leave it until they are engaged? That seems a little late. I did wonder about teaching my daughter and getting her to chart for six months just so she had the system, but if her body changes before marriage – and it might – she may need to relearn.

I did wonder about her charting for a while when she was unwell, and we suspected thyroid problems. A chart would have shown it up, but in the end we didn’t get around to it.

So folks, when do you teach yours?

Then there’s the question of which method of NFP to teach. I must admit I think the sympto-thermal method is the most thorough and is excellent at showing health problems and possibly risks to fertility. But the Billings method with symptoms can also be a good aid to spotting health problems, so if a single woman charts, it would really be for health reasons and not fertility or child spacing. I have no doubt that spotting health and fertility problems early is a good thing – getting a doctor to listen, understand and not just prescribe the Pill is a whole new obstacle course.

I am inclined to teach NFP as a complete and graded holistic package, for want of a better word. First of all the children need to know how to eat a healthy diet.

Perhaps the next area I might want to teach is how the endocrine system works. Knowing how hormones are produced and balanced in a healthy person is a massive first step to appreciating the beauty and complexity of fertility, and will hopefully mean my children are well enough educated to avoid the sledge hammer approach of using the Pill to hide, rather than cure, any fertlity problem they might have. Obviously they don’t NEED to know all this to successfully use NFP, but I have met so many women who have problems conceiving or have repeated miscarriages and have no idea how their own body works. Most women I have talked to don’t even know what a Luteul phase is, much less how it might contain the answers to why they miscarried their baby, or can’t get pregnant in the first place.

There are many good reasons for teaching and learning NFP. One is, as Michael pointed out IN THIS POST ON STRONG FAMILIES, that the divorce rate among couples who use a natural approach is around 3% which is significantly lower than the over 50% in the general population.

The separation of sex from having babies has helped increase the distructive influence of pornography. The spread of this poison has been enhanced by technology and very poor supervision of children by parents and other adults.

By teaching our children some self respect, and respect of others we can hopefully curb some of this.

Home education free Advent lesson set

Pop over to Kalei’s blog That Resource Site and pick up the first half of my Advent freebie.

I am working away on the second half which I hope will take you through Christmas.

I have designed this for back to back printing so the blank pages are for the lapbooking, copywork and lesson pages.

The main text has note boxes for your own thoughts as you go through this, or might be useful for an older child doing independent study.

I advise you to read this with a Bible at hand.

Enjoy.

Home education; sex ed – things that can not be avoided.

Yet again the government is trying to squeeze through some educational legislation that will enable strangers to talk about sex with very young children, whether the children are ready to have the information or not, and riding over the role of parents again.  But unless parents pick up the baton on this, forced sex ed will happen sooner rather than later.

So what about home education and sex education? It seems to me that sex needs to be taught on a firm foundation of virtue and that there is a kind of natural order to how children will ask and learn about it. In home ed circles whole families interact with each other so all the children see mums expecting babies and babies when they arrive. They will ask questions about how a baby grows in a mummy’s body and as they get older they ask how the baby got there in the first place.

We cannot necessarily “pretty” it up, for want of a better word. They will see mothers who are not married, or who have difficult pregnancies and will ask around those questions too. We answer with gentle but truthful answers that are not overloaded with details a child should not be expected to carry.

What we really must ensure is that our children grow in understanding of their own dignity and have self respect. This will guard against a lot of self destructive behaviour later on. This will grow as part of the parent and children relationships. More and more research is showing that children need a close relationship with a mother and a father.

But even this organic learning will have to have additional learning at some point. I must teach my children about marriage; how God has designed marriage and why. There’s all the interesting biology and chemistry that goes with that too and of course teaching girls to be aware of their own fertility and health with Natural Family Planning.

But there are also the really difficult areas of sex education that need to be faced and tackled. I don’t know many parents who are comfortable with discussing pornography and masturbation, but if we want our children to have a chance of a happy, healthy marriage and family, or vocation to the priesthood, religious or single life, we had better face these topics.

We live in a culture soaked in the message that all sorts of sexual practices harmful to both body and soul, are perfectly acceptable. If we, as parents, don’t tackle these things with our older children, then we can be sure those around them will tackle it for us and with horrible results.

It’s a much more difficult world for our children than for us, but how do we tackle it?

First, I think, we need to have our own eyes open. There’s no point in ignoring what the mass media puts out and pretending our children don’t see it, hear it or have it forced on them, from toddlers upwards. We need to have a sensible approach and a close, loving relationship with our children. This is a good starting point.

I know a mother who undoubtedly protected her pre-teen daughter from rape because her daughter was able to tell her about the man who was grooming her and what he was saying. It’s a horrible thing to have to deal with – but not dealing with it leads to worse horrors.

The statistics on divorce in America show that over 56% of divorces sight pornography as a reason for martial breakdown.  I would add to that the fact that if you spend any time with rape victims you will soon see that pornography has played a strong role in their attacker’s lives.

The way I have tackled this is to teach children from an early age to see all their fellow men as persons with dignity, made in the image of God and with a human connection as we are all children of Adam. This then, leads to reminding older teens that the people who get involved in the porn industry often have had horrible lives and are needing respect and prayer. If it was their sister or brother posing like that, they would be heartbroken. The person IS their sister or brother in humanity and there’s nothing sexy about handing over dignity.

I have also encouraged the older three (aged 22, 20 and nearly 18) to say a prayer for anyone they come across who is doing this. Fortunately I began these “lessons” early enough as one of my sons told me that porn was easily found on the internet on school computers by some of the kids who bypassed the controls. He said teachers did not supervise closely enough.

But it’s easy enough to come across by accident when searching the net – especially, I have found, if I am searching for Biblical themes. Be very careful!

A strong prayer life is vitally important. I also encourage the children to keep holy pictures near their computer screens. It is far less tempting to click that link when the Pantocrator is staring at you, or the Blessed Mother.  :)

Chastity rings have been another great help for us – an outward sign of the prayed for grace. It’s a little reminder.

Tackle alcohol consumption properly. Don’t turn a blind eye when your teen comes home drunk. Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed. Drinking too much leads to all sorts of other sins and problems.

What if your child/adult fails and sins? Then make sure you are willing to listen or even challenge them. Forgive them and help them get back on the straight and narrow. Make sure they can get to Confession and to a different priest if they are chicken about confessing those sins to the parish priest who knows them.

Those of us who home educate have a somewhat easier time of it than parents whose children are in school. We see our children more closely, simply because we are with them. They tell us more, because we are there. Parenting schooled children is much harder and often we don’t get the pertinent information until well after the fact. Pornography is in schools, brought in on mobile phones and other gadgets. Do not naively believe your child wont see this stuff. In fact, if you are trying to bring up a good kid, they are likely to be targeted by those who carry this stuff around.

Finally I would say this. The culture is toxic in the extreme. As parents we have  much more difficult task these days than our parents or their parents had. But we must face it and do it. we must be aware of what our children are doing. Nevertheless, if you listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi long enough you will hear good parents who have genuinely tried their best, phone in about children who have seriously gone astray. It does happen. I saw it in my professional days too. Free will is just that, free will, and no matter how much we offer our children, there may be one or even two who go wildly astray. We must face that head on too, if it happens.

Strong families built strong economies, and weak families wreak havoc.

As the economies of the Western world sink lower and lower, some of those voices that have so long been ignored are finally getting a platform. There has been a meeting in Rome to look at the place of the family in economics. It has been known for a long time that countries need strong, mutually supportive families for the economy to be strong.

Continue reading

World Diabetes Day

It’s world diabetes day, when we hope people will take note of diabetes and try and learn a little about it.

Back at the turn of the 20th century doctors knew that there was diabetes, but they had not worked out there were more than one kind. The starvation diet was used as a cure all – and it certainly did help lots of very over weight diabetics at the time. Children and thin adults tended to just die.

The starvation diet consisted of black coffee and whiskey or boulon and then vegetables were gradually introduced until the patient was sent home on 2000 calories a day (not starvation obviously).

Although insulin began to be used in the early 1920s which helped prevent quite so many people dying. It wasn’t until 1935 that the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes was discovered by Sir Harold Percival, who published his findings in The Lancet in 1936. Type 1 was thought to be mainly in children and youngsters and was nick named “juvenile diabetes”.

These days 10% of diabetics are type 1 and must use insulin to regulate their body sugars and stay alive. The other 90% have type 2, which sometimes gets so difficult to manage that the person will become insulin dependant.

St Anthony of Padua who died of his diabetes is a patron saint for Diabetics. I have read that  st. Josemaria Escriva is another saint for diabetics.

There’s a lot of difficulties for people with type 1, trying to stay on top of their insulin and glucose and keep those nasty keytones at bay. Spare a thought and a prayer for all diabetics today.

Saints Anthony and Josemaria ora pro nobis

 

 

Home Education – how to swing a cat, or Space, the final frontier.

Visit any proper Home education or homeschooling blog and you will often find posts wherein the mother displays her glorious organisation system. Bookshelves that reach to the ceiling, stacked neatly with size arranged educational tomes, followed by colour coordinated draw and box systems for workbooks, equipment and bits. Each draw is neatly labelled and all the children know exactly where their pencils are at all times. Some homes even have a classroom!

It’s awful isn’t it? I groan in the pits of mother-home ed-failureness. I don’t think I will ever reach those levels of colour scheme pristineness. My children will always lose pencils and chew their rubbers. There will always be Lego,including a disturbing number of headless Lego men,  beads and an astonishing number of marbles scattered around my house. Such is life. Such is our life anyway.

But we don’t live in absolute chaos either (well there are occasions, but they are just occasions honestly).  So here is how I get the learning organised, stored and done.

The bookshelves are indeed packed and stacked with curriculum, workbooks and chocolate tins full of manipulatives, attribute blocks and laminated sentence strips. We have a low level storage thing from which I have removed the draws, thus making another bookcase and then I admit I have made bookcases and storage shelves out of cardboard boxes, which I have covered with paper or a small rug to hide (not all that well) the fact that my furniture is just a pile cardboard.

We do not have a set room for learning. A lot of the time it depends on what we are doing and how warm or cold it is. We have a pop up tent and a little red table that a friend gave me for those balmy summer days, (all three of them), or we might pack up and go and learn in the park. We spend more time in the living room in the Winter because it is warmer there than most other rooms. We use the dining room for craft, art or big group work.

The moving around can mean moving stuff around quite a bit. So each of my children has a “learning box“. I have bought these, rather than reuse parcel boxes, as they are tough boxes and have lasted well. Each of the younger children have one that will take a days work easily and can be carried to anywhere they might want to set up for a bit of learning.

It does mean that each morning I am setting the boxes up, but sometimes we just repack as we go along depending on what needs tweaking or changing for another day.

OK, I am going to admit that the learning box would work much better if I was better at sorting out what was to stay in the box and what should go back on the bookshelves. I am also beginning to think a bigger box might be better, especially for Ronan, but then his box wouldn’t fit in it’s little space and he wouldn’t be able to carry it.

My friend has rucksacks for her children’s learning stuff which they bring here for joint learning times.

The main disadvantage is, you do tend to need to know what the learning for that day entails. It doesn’t stop rabbit trails and moments of inspiration, but I think it could curb it. For us the workbook type work happens in the morning and the craft, experiments, cooking, art etc. happens in the afternoons, usually.

We have one of those high chairs that converts into a chair and table. This has proved to be much more useful than you might imagine. Apart from the size meaning Heleyna still uses it for meals so she doesn’t become a table-chinner, there is the fact that other babies and toddlers use it. Then when we are doing learning time it becomes the chair and table, either for Heleyna to sit next to me and work or for their keyboard lessons with Musical Adventure.

We have no attic or garage for storage, so “stuff” gets stored around the house. I do try and have a system, where what we are using now is easy to get hold of, and other stuff is stored around bedrooms, or lent out.

The floor level books are for the children to use as and when they want to. The higher up stuff is what I need to get down for them. I try to remember to rotate the books between the higher shelves and the floor level ones – but I am not that good at it.

Our final, and as far as the three younger ones are concerned, most important home education equipment is a large sofa and cuddly blankets. We tend to finish off most days of learning with read alouds.

Here are pics of my messy organisation – you wont find such photos in those posh magazines or those proper home ed sites – I home ed improperly hehehe.

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Hope this helps Janine :)

Home Education – the long and short view.

Some time ago a parent on a list I am part was asking the usual questions about whether she should consider home educating her child. One area that she was particularly concerned about was how and whether her children would sit exams, GCSEs and A’levels in particular. It turned out as the conversation went on that the oldest child was around 4 yrs old. It made the question difficult to answer. A lot can happen between now and then and in the world of exams and accreditation a lot can happen very quickly. Nevertheless this parent wanted some kind of long term plan to be sure that she was doing the right thing.

Most home educating families have a “nothing in stone” approach. Things change, families face all sorts of events, and tragedies that will mean rethinking how and even when learning takes place.

Some of us have faced the very real possibility that our children might HAVE to go to school because we might be either not there at all or so incapacitated that we couldn’t HE any longer. There are also parents who face the battle of serious mental illness which, might leave them able to home educate for years but a relapse might put them in hospital for a long time.

We educate with an eye to what they might face should they have to go to school. I don’t think that means many of us follow the National Curriculum, but we do make sure our children are getting the very best education we can possibly provide for them, so that they have a good head start, should they even end up under the NC.

I suppose the other thing about being ill, or facing the possibility of death or serious disablement is that as Christian mothers we know we are supposed to be doing all we can to get ourselves and our children through those pearly gates. if we don’t do our very best at the role God has given us, we’ll have some answerin’ to do.

The question is, does the fact that we faced/face aspects of life that perhaps some other home educating families don’t or haven’t yet, effect or even determine the way we home educate now?

In some ways I think the answer is yes. One area I have considered is that I want my children to form a habit of self-discipline over their learning so that should they need to, they can continue with someone else who might not be able to put the time and effort in as a mother does. Umm, it’s something we are working on. But seeing Alex and Iona do it, I know it’s possible. Just keep at it, one day at a time.

 

NFP and some interesting science on sexual maturity.

I have been listening to past programs from the Catholic Lab Podcast where Mr Maxwell goes through the science of the Theology of the Body. There’s some fascinating research going on at the moment, which is going very far indeed to vindicate the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI, who of course was only reiterating 2000 years of teaching. Truth doesn’t change.

Anyway one area of research I have been interested in is the research on early menarche and it’s causes. THIS is a short pdf summary of some of the research. More and more evidence is building up to show that girls need a good close relationship with their father for them to have periods at a healthy age, and remain healthy. There is evidence that girls who grow up without a father or with an emotionally distant father will start their physical sexual maturation much earlier than girls in healthy relationships with their father.

It has been found that in the 19thC the average age for a first period was around 16, nowadays it is 13 and girls with absent or distant fathers start much earlier. Evidence is building that shows girls who start earlier will often start sexual activity earlier too and are at a very high chance of teen pregnancy.

Other views about the increase in early menarche link it to environmental factors such as hormones used in raising beef and dairy cattle, and the fact that chemical contraception leaves synthetic estrogens in the water supply. Going by how the research is going the “absent/distant father” factor looks strong, but as life is always more complicated than that there is probably some factors that include food and the concerning problem of artificial estrogens being pumped through the water supply.

UPDATE

On a slightly different note this article and discussion on whether NFP can ever be equated with what has been called “contraceptive mentality,” is very good.

Books, reviews and what do I have on my Kindle?

READ ALOUDS

I am reading The Secret Garden by F H Burnett to the children. They really love it. Heleyna isn’t so interested but the other two have really taken to it. (Ages 8 and 6). It’s free and so far there have been no glitches with it.

I am also reading Saint Edith Stein by Mary Lea Hill FSP. They are enjoying this too It has short chapters and good illustrations. My only minor quibble is that we are already on Chapter 6 and there is still no mention that this is a Jewish family. I’m not sure why this is. It seems more strange when you consider that the primary reason Edith and her sister were shipped off by the Nazi’s was their Jewishness. I’ll try and remember to review this book when we’ve finished it.

For self reading, Ronan (age 8 gr 3 yr 4) is still reading Treasure Island with the Librivox audio as a read along. He has started Emil and the Detectives, which he says he likes better.

Avila (age 4 gr 1 yr 2) is reading Tomie DePaola’s On My Way. She loves these stories, as Roni did when he read them.

I have just read Michael O’Brien’s The Island of the World. I think reviews by people who can word-weave more neatly and beautifully than me should review this astonishingly stunning book. I saw one reviewer describe O’Brien as the “Dostoyevsky of the West,” and I think that is an accurate view.

I must confess that although I have read lots and lots of O’Brien, I got so bogged in Sophia House I decided to give up on him. I don’t know what made me decide to read Island of the World, but whatever it was, I am grateful.

This book takes the tired old cliché of life journey’s and sets it free. The story of Josip Lasta (I came to the conclusion that Lasta means Bird; does anyone know if it does mean that?) Josip begins life in a little village in Croatia called “Fields of Heaven”. He is loved and safe, at a time when WWII is ending and the great scourge is being released over East Europe. There isn’t a lot of politics in the book, as the story is about Josip and how he finds forgiveness, peace and redemption. Through the intense suffering of this man we see a kind of death and resurrection from the outpouring of blood.

The book is woven on a light frame of the Odyssey and the Iliad, as Josip is pulled from the fields of heaven and plunged into hell, and as the storm abates he finds a way out of the madness thanks to the kindness and love that others give him. I think the moment that I remember most is the old lady with a goat who offers milk and bread to the starving escaped prisoner.

Oranges come up again and again as a motif, bitter and sweet and bright as the sun they are a way-food that helps Josip move on and on as he walks the world. Swallows and dolphins are the main motifs but for me the oranges seemed more important in some way.

What can I say? Read this book. It is one of the very few books I have read that really matters. It’s a book that will wake you up.

Around the web, some amazing stuff, some nonesense and some dispicable politics.

I am sure most of you who read this blog are reading proper blogs with all the information that the MSM ignore explaining how Christians, especially our Eastern Rite Catholic brothers and sisters are being murdered and attacked in Islamic countries. The recent slaughter of Maronite Catholics in Egypt being only the latest in a long line of atrocities by Muslims against Christians.

Those of you who support Aid To The Church In Need will likely have read the reports about the systematic murder of Christians in many parts of the world. It always leaves me with a wry smile when I see people in the West asking if we are about to suffer another major persecution. Yep, it’s happening right now. Will it reach us in the West? I dunno, very probably, so we had better be praying and getting ready, as we should anyway; but lets not lose sight of those suffering right now.

As far as I am aware the person on this planet who is considered the most powerful leader, a leader of people who are supposed to be brave and free, is the President of the United States. So, when Obama gets the golden opportunity to meet with the Maronite Patriarch and speak out against the abuse of his people you would think he would grab at the chance. After all the silence of David Cameron here and before him Gordon Brown has been deafening. Obama could have stood up as a hero. Well he didn’t. And why? Because he didn’t want to offend the Muslim Brotherhood. I can’t quite believe even Obama stoops that low.

I still remember Jack(boot) Straw here in the UK lieing about the murder of Chaldean Catholics in Iraq.

We have deliberately excised history, and so we repeat it, over and over.

The next thing I found in my net wonderings is this testimony by the amazing Giana Jesson on her survival of abortion. She survived to tell of it. Someone once told the author Michael O’Brien that God always leaves a witness. He had survived the slaughter in Croatia I think. Here she is:

This is more than worth a few minutes of your time.

And while I’m in discussion over how science works, or doesn’t and whether YEC is dangerous or not, there this interesting report about how showing real science and admitting to it can cause a ruckas. I must admit to a semi-respect for Discovery. It doesn’t seem quite as silly as poor old NG, that has gone to the doomalist-pop dogs.

Oh and finally, the TES writes another screed against home ed. Yawn.

The return of the YEC

I wrote about the attack by BBC darling David Attenborough on YECs, and two comments just arrived to prove my point

I like the subtle way they assume that because I am just a mum I might never have read any research or done any. Funny that.

I still don’t get it.

All sort of places to visit once you pop your clogs.

limbo of the Fathers by Domenico Beccafumi

As it’s November I thought I might speculate about where various people get to go either to stay or visit after death.

We know from Scripture and Tradition that when Adam and Eve sinned and got evicted from the Garden that the gates of heaven were closed to them. Until the coming of Christ and His Salvific act we were locked out.
Before Jesus came there were plenty of very good and holy men in among the people of Israel and probably quite a few pagans who had tried to live good lives.
So where did they go?
Where did Elijah go when he was assumed in that fiery chariot? Where was Enoch taken to?
According to Tradition there was a place for the dead, the Limbo of the Fathers as it was called. This was not heaven but it was a paradise where those who had died could await the opening of heaven.
Jesus tells the story of Dives and Lazarus. When Lazarus dies he is held in what Jesus called “The bosom of Abraham.” This would seem to be the Limbo where Lazarus awaits heaven.
Jewish Tradition had it that there was heaven, Sheol and Gehenna.  Now we see from Scripture and history that Gehenna was a place on earth. It was the accursed place where the evil king Manasseh, having apostasised from his Jewish faith, sacrificed his children to Molech for riches and power. In the time of Jesus it was a burning heap of rubbish, and as such was a symbol or metaphor for hell.
Apparently Sheol was thought to be a place beneath the Temple where the souls of the dead went, but as the Greek word used is Hades, it seems more like the murky land of a sort of purgatory, not the Limbo of the Fathers or Bosom of Abraham.
Jesus died for us and rose again and the gates of heaven were opened wide. On Holy Saturday we celebrate what is rather misleadingly called The Harrowing of Hell. It was Hell that was harrowed, it was this other place, Sheol and/or the Bosom of Abraham/Limbo of the Fathers. All those who had waited so long as so patiently were welcomed into heaven. In art and tradition (small t tradition) Adam and Eve are the first to be called from their graves.
So, I wonder now, do any of these places external to heaven but not hell and not purgatory still exist? Or are they part of purgatory?
And where are Enoch and Elijah?
We know that heaven is for those who are perfect and at the Resurrection will be where the perfect with their resurrected bodies will live. We know that Our Blessed Mother has her resurrected body, from the Assumption. It would also explain how her appearances to people are more “solid” for want of a better word, than those of other saints.
But neither Enoch nor Elijah have died or received their resurrected bodies yet. So are they in the Paradise – Limbo of the Fathers? How much of the Beatific Vision have they already had? I don’t suppose there are answers to these questions at this point.
Interestingly I notice that just about everyone who has received either visions or visits to purgatory or visits of people from purgatory report on the matter as though, like Dante’s epic, there are chambers and grades that souls work through. The final chamber or circle or whatever is like paradise, but not yet within the full Presence. People in this place sometimes get permission to visit those who have prayed and offered for them and say thank you. I like that :)
I suppose I can’t  miss out dear Saint Augustine’s view that there may be a Limbo of the unbaptised. This is one of those things that has caused many of us mothers who have miscarried babies to struggle. Thankfully the Church has said that we leave our unbaptised children in the Mercy of God. Whether the Baptism of desire works from parent to child isn’t decided on I suppose.
We do know in the very end there are only death, judgement, heaven and hell. So I suppose that even if these other places do still exist for any reason that in the end, they wont – and that has to include St Augustine’s Limbo, if it’s there.

Suffering, Grace and Purgatory

In preparation for November, and sort of by accident, I’ve been reading some books and other stuff about purgatory. I read Hungry Souls which chronicles some well documented incidences of people having various kinds of contact with souls in purgatory. I noticed some of the reviews of this book state the reader was frightened by the stories. Some are quite disturbing and even a bit “spooky” for want of a better word, but there is so much hope and so much of God’s grace shown in these stories that I couldn’t be afraid.

There are times when I think the author gets a little too colourful, but he is does give word for word dialogue and refers to all his sources.  I thought the book was pretty good and a healthy reminder of what we are called to as Christians.

One of the things that this books and others makes clear is that the Church is One (as the Creed reminds us) She may be in three parts, Militant – us lot on earth, suffering – those in purgatory and Triumphant – those in heaven, but we all work together with God’s Grace to serve one another. I really love that. The suffering of those of us here can help our loved ones in purgatory, who suffer more than us in one way and, I think less than us in an other. They surely suffer less than us in that they know their suffering has purpose and that they are surely saved and will soon see God in heaven. They pray for us, and our friends in heaven add their prayers, and a huge network of love and prayer goes up before the throne of God. It’s marvellous.

Nothing unclean can come into God’s Holy, Holy, Holy presence. We often seem to forget that. I think Mthr Angelica reminds us of that when she ensured only the very best materials were used in the Church she had built. Much like St Francis of Assisi, the joyful beggar who lived and dressed in poverty but made sure the best gold jewels and materials were used for God. We must make ourselves as pure as the gold of the Chalice if we want to be before God. St. Paul describes purgatory as “like fire” where we are cleansed but suffer loss.

As the Church is One then the suffering we have now can be part of our fire now; can begin the cleansing process and can help our loved ones, and even people we have never met who are suffering the fires of purgatory.

I have been interested to see that all the accounts of people receiving visits from the holy souls, even saints, usually see someone they either know or are related to. I think the young monk Saint Pio saw may be an exception, although maybe the saint knew him in some way.

St Catherine of Genoa is one of the best known saints who had a close relationship with the souls in purgatory, but there is a whole list of other saints who were granted visions or visits there to help us all remember to pray for our loved ones as they get ready to see God.

Jesus warned us in His Parable of the Wedding Feast that we had better be wearing the wedding clothes. If we think we will get to the Wedding Feast in dirty linen we will soon be thrown out. We must be prepared to clean up properly first.

One of the blessings of life is that as purgatory is a state, rather than a place, or a state as well as a place, we can burn off some of that straw here on earth.  So,  as the old Irish mums used to tell us, “Offer it up.” And don’t forget a bit of fasting and abstinence helps too.

Happy All Souls. May God grant them all eternal rest.

Pumpkins and saints. Strange combination, but we don’t mind.

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We had a quiet little Halloween/All Saints/All Souls/Pumpkin get together yesterday. The children made little sweets and then carved pumpkins or made paper lanterns. Then they chose someone they loved who had died recently and wrote a little prayer for them.

We took the prayers with us to Mass this morning and left them at the foot of the altar.

They carved the pumpkins into silly faces and Heleyna, although she had made a paper lantern, carved a face into a pepper as well. It glows rather nicely with a tea light inside it.

Back to some “formal” learning today and they will do a little tomorrow morning before everyone arrives.  I want Thursday to be a head down and getting on with it day.

Friday’s have been our little group History and Art days but that looks set to change. So this Friday will be for Heleyna and her friends to do some joint work in science, maths and Sign Language. Then I’ll sort out with K how she can get here with her children around all the meetings and appointments that come with fostering.

All change. We can easily shift and rearrange. It’s one of those little home ed advantages that we don’t tend to notice very often.