Monthly Archives: March 2012

Another death thanks to ME.

I am still reading Osler’s Web which I highly recommend. It is a massive, well researched tome that should have changed the way medics behave towards people who are desperately ill. It hasn’t and it also hasn’t forced more research.

And so while those who could do something don’t and while ignorance leads to maliciousness yet another young person dies thanks to ME.

And my GP – who is one of the good’uns- wonders why I am so firmly resistant to a dx of ME.

May God recieve her and may she rest in peace and may He pour out His comfort on those who mourn.

Friday Freebie; St Peter Witness to the Resurrection lesson pack

Kalei has posted up my latest lesson pack for Easter. St Peter, Witness to the Resurrection. You will need a Bible to work with on this one.

I have a free bible software that I use, but apparently the owner doesn’t like being linked to. Not sure why. Anyway what I would really love to have is a free Catholic Bible software. Although by searching about I’ve found some good Catholic add-ons for the software I have, it’s been a mighty faff to load ‘em.

If anyone knows of a good, easy to use, well laid out software that’s free or very cheap let me know (Logos is out of my league I’m afraid).

Anyway get yourselves a good translation and have a go at the lesson pack. I’ve included journal/note/prayer sheets for most pages and some lapbook mini’s. I hope it will be a good family one suitable for a mixed age group.

Kalei has written about what the Stations have taught her and offers a lovely copysheet too. Check out her other resources to get ready for Easter.

I AM lunatic liar or God?

Jesus really, really annoys the priests and Pharisees (a lot of them) by saying “Before Abraham was I AM.” Despite Roman Law insisting that the Jews could not execute anyone themselves, they had, mob like, picked up rocks to stone Jesus to death He walked away and somehow escaped this, but why were his enemies so angry and why were they accusing Him of blasphemy?

So many people still talk about Jesus as a nice rabbi who was so humble He wouldn’t dream of saying anything as arrogant as  claiming to be God. The big problem with this theory is Jesus did go around claiming to be God, and that’s why the Temple authorities wanted to stone Him.

It is mainly in John’s Gospel that we find the “I AM” statements of Jesus. These statements are using the Holy Name of God “I AM WHO AM”. (YHWH). Jesus is claiming that Holy Name. He was up front with the Temple authorities so that they can choose whose side they want to be on. He has already warned them strongly that as He has shown them who He is and has preached the truth, that if they reject Him now they will “die in your sins”. This is another one of those terrifying moments when Jesus says things about hell and death. The idea that He was some nice sugary sentimental guy is absurd.

By the time Jesus is standing before the High Priest being tried at night (which was illegal under Jewish law) there was hardly a way the High Priest could pretend he didn’t know who Jesus was.

Just taking John’s Gospel alone we find that Jesus made the “I AM” statement seven times (one of those important Jewish numbers) so He was trying to be as clear as possible. Surely it was for this reason He was saying, “You will die in your sin.” I really can’t think of anything more horrifying to hear from the mouth of Jesus, even if He was using rabbinic hyperbole. (Other than saying of Judas that it would have been better for him never to have been born).

C S Lewis was right. Jesus wasn’t just a nice man, he was either a liar, claiming to be God, or her thought he was God and was mad, or He is God and proved it and  is therefore worthy of our worship and complete love.

We just have to choose.

Videos to remind us what Charlotte Mason was on about.

It’s easy in the hustle and bustle of home education to loose sight of the foundational philosophy of our family and the method that I believe best helps my children learn.

These videos from  International are a wonderful reminder tool for people like me. There are 18 short videos that cover all the basics - actually I think it’s more like 21 – about how children learn and how we as parents and teachers can help them do that.

They have a school by the looks of it that breathes the atmosphere of education as Charlotte Mason would have it.

Even though we are heading more down the workbook route, I think there is a Charlotte Mason edge to the Seton material. But these videos remind me of the side of a good education that isn’t about books, or workbooks, but about learning self discipline, kindness and how to learn.

Wed before Holy Week; Lazarus is so ill he will die.

A runner finds Jesus preaching and healing the sick. The apostles are all with Him as He is making His way to Jerusalem for Passover, although they have not realised He was on His way to Jerusalem. He is not far from Bethany, just south  of Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives.

The runner tells Jesus to come quickly to Bethany, to the house of His dear friend Lazarus as he is so ill he looks close to death.

Jesus simply doesn’t rush. He doesn’t jump up and go and see Lazarus, neither does He do as He did for the centurion’s servant and “say the word”. By the time they are heading for Bethany, He has to bluntly tell the apostles that Lazarus is dead.

In the end we know that Jesus is going to raise Lazarus before many witnesses just before He enters Jerusalem to face His Passion.

It is the only time in Christ’s public ministry where He (at first) appears not to answer a prayer – but instead seems to say no, or not answer at all. In the end there is something amazing, that no one could have expected. Perhaps we need to remember that when our prayers don’t seem to be answered.

Today the British Parliament sneak in a Bill for “suicide” for sick and disabled people. I am reading Edith Stein and Companions

In a move that only be described as sneaky and dishonest, there is a Bill being pushed into vote in Parliament today as most MPs leave early for the Easter break. Hoping that the lack of MPs will get the vote through (this can hardly be called democracy), this already failed bill on what is being called “Assisted Suicide” is pushed and pushed. Disabled and sick and elderly people, we are told, don’t want to live. They want the “right to die” (which doesn’t exist) and the “right to die with dignity”(which does). The bill doesn’t push for excellent end of life and palliative care. It doesn’t demand that nurses and medics are fully trained in pain management. There is nothing about expanding the hospice movement or even helping the movement out financially. No, this bill is merely the first giant step to an obligation for sick and expensive disabled people to die.

Edith Stein and her amazing and little known companions all died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz near the Polish border. The gas system was designed originally for the killing of disabled, sick and vulnerable people. It had proved difficult and expensive to shoot so many people. Some soldiers had been a little distressed. People deemed not USEFUL and therefore life unworthy of life were killed. Thousands upon thousands of disabled babies, children and adults were killed for not being useful; for being unworthy. (I can’t help thinking that the reason it has become taboo to mention Hitler or the wholesale slaughter of the innocent he and his cronies implemented is because we want to do the same thing without being noticed. The parallels are stark- no wonder we aren’t to mention them).

In Oregon USA reports are being made that insurance companies are refusing to pay for treatment for seriously ill patients but offering them the cheaper package of assisted suicide instead. In the Netherlands where St Edith Stein and many of her fellow Catholic Jews lived, they now kill sick children without parental consent. Worse still they also kill sick children with parental consent.

In three weeks it is Divine Mercy Sunday. Let us pray.

From this morning’s Divine Office Intro Prayers: (Ps 11(12))

Help, Oh Lord for good men have vanished; truth has gone from the sons of men.

Falsehood they speak one to another, with lying lips, and false heart. May the Lord destroy all lying lips, the tongue that speaks high-sounding words, Those who say “Our tongue is our strength; our lips are our own, who is our master?”

‘For the poor who are oppressed and the needy who groan, I Myself will arise,’ says the Lord, ‘I will grant them the salvation for which they thirst…

It is you O Lord who will take us unto your care and protect us for ever from this generation…

 

Annuciation; questions about Mary.

It’s forty weeks to Christmas!

This is the feast of the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary and told her that she would have the Son of God. He called her “full of Grace,” and she gave her “Fiat”, that is, her consent to whatever God wanted of her.

The first question that often gets asked at this point is ‘how come she gets away with asking how this will be, when poor old Zachariah is struck dumb for 40 weeks (or 41 if you add the 8 days after John’s birth). God isn’t fair is he?’

The answer is that Zachariah, standing in the Holy of Holies before an angel of the Lord says he doesn’t believe it can happen. His wife is beyond child-bearing age. His lack of faith is punished with dumbness and he therefore cannot give the blessing to the people that the High Priest was supposed to give. That must have caused some consternation at the time.

Mary however is asking how she is going to get pregnant. Now this looks like a really silly question when you consider she is betrothed (more than engaged but less than married) to Joseph. The general tradition is that she had made an oath to God to remain His handmaid and therefore a virgin all her life. She wondered if she was somehow to be released from the vow, or if there was some other way she could become pregnant with the Messiah.

Gabriel then explains what will happen- which of course keeps her vow in tact.  It is this that helps St. Augustine and other father’s to see that she had made such a vow. It was very fitting that this should be so. She is now called to be the Mother of God Incarnate and she accepts the call.

OK, you might say, but what about the “brethren of the Lord”?

Of course there is nothing at all in either Scripture or tradition that suggests that Mary had other children than Jesus. There is a tradition based from the Evangelium of James that St. Joseph had children from a first marriage, but even that has not taken off a tradition throughout the Church.

The brothers of the Lord we see are the sons of Mary and Cleopas and of Mary Salome and Zebedee. There is a traditional family tree that shows how Mary Salome and Mary of Cleopas were related to Mary the Blessed Mother and therefore all their children were “brethren”. As Fr. Mitch Pacwa SJ and others who know both Aramaic and Hebrew point out, there is not set of words for extended family and so even today people will speak of uncles and cousins as brothers and sisters.  (I actually think this is a rather lovely aspect of these languages).

It hasn’t been easy to extrapolate who the father’s of all the James mentioned in Scripture might be. the biggest question has been over whether Mary of Cleopas was married to Alpheus before Cleopas or where Alpheus is simply another name Cleopas held (Much as St. Matthew was also called Levi). There has never been a tradition that Mary had other children. But could she have?

Mary has a special role in Scripture. She is called to be the Christ bearer, the Theotokos in Greek. As Christ is the second Adam so she is the second Eve, born without the loss of Grace – original sin – incured by the sin of Adam and Eve. Mary does have free will, just as all have from the time of Adam. She remains true to God though, freely choosing not to sin as she freely chose to give her Fiat to the angel.

In carrying the Christ child she is the second Ark of the Covenant. Only she is more holy than the first Ark. She carries the God Incarnate inside her whereas the Ark of the old Covenant carried manna, the tablets of the Law and Aaron’s staff (symbol of his priesthood). All these are precursors, types and symbols of what Mary and Jesus really are.

The Ark of the Covenant is the holiest object known in Israel. It was so holy that no one but the High Priest could touch it, and we all remember the story of two men who touched the Ark and immediately dropped dead.  No one could touch what was consecrated so completely to God.

So Mary could not have had other children as there is no way Joseph would have dared have children with the woman who was the Mother of God, Ark of the Covemant. She had received her child from God, by being covered with the Holy Spirit. She belonged completely to God then.  Her womb had been the place for the Incarnation and was therefore sacred so it would not be fitting for another child to dwell there.

The question over Our Lady’s perpetual virginity began around the 4th century and was answered by St. Jerome.

I think the root of the constant questioning of her perpetual virginity these days is based not only in a profound lack of Scriptural knowledge but in a loss of the understanding of the sacred – what is holy and set aside. Worse still I think the constant harping about her virginity is based in a bizarre view that sex is the be all and end all of life.  And a subtle, but nevertheless very present, undermining of the belief in the Incarnation itself.

What did you do with the children I gave you?

I can’t help thinking that the first thing Jesus will be saying to all of us parents when we arrive for the Particular Judgement is “What did you do with the children I gave you?”

Sadly, I think a great many of us will feel the burn on this one. (Or am I projecting there?) I can’t be the only one who has made some pretty awful decisions on child care, education and just general upbringing of children. Of course our children have free will and up to a point that means that no matter what we do to them or around them, the choice is their’s. But the fact remains that God gives us children as a means for us and them to get to heaven.

I really believe that trying to be a good parent today in the English speaking parts of the world is the most difficult it has ever been.  In order to bring our children up to be good adults we have to navigate them and us through a truly toxic culture in which children are not at all respected and where some teachers are insisting schools are better parents than parents. Sadly there is some justification for this view. I still remember that music session I sat through with nearly 90 children aged 4 to 5.  The musicians played some tunes the little ones could easily guess and then played some they didn’t think the children would recognise, including the Eastenders theme tune. The children were shouting it out almost immediately.  Obviously taken aback the musicians asked how many children actually watched Eastenders and nearly every child there raised their hand.

Thank God I’m not that slack a parent, you might be thinking. But that only makes being a good parent harder. We can so easily sit back comfortably congratulating ourselves that we aren’t that bad, that we miss the goal of being good parents by a mile. When we really look at what is being asked of us, what those promises we made before God as our children received Baptism, really mean – it is truly scary! (At least I think so). Fighting the culture is a spiritual battle and trying to keep our kids from drinking the very poisonous Kool Aid is a day on day battle.

Pray and pray for discernment, so that we can judge properly what media is safe, whether what TV they watch, what gadgets and games they have or don’t have and what books they read.

What makes it so much harder is the astonishing fact that even though even the MSM has picked up on the dangers of computers in bedrooms and mobile phones and itouch in the hands of little ones – parents STILL do this. WHY? And then when a parent trying to be good and do what is best for her children removes the tech or refuses the TV programme she is almost inevitably faced with the come back, “But everyone else is doing it!” And of course the kids are RIGHT.

I am in the gentle lull between having adult children and children who haven’t reached the “difficult” phase yet. I hope that the fact they are home educated will put off the “difficult” phase. But they see plenty of children who live what Dr. Ray Guarendi calls “worldly” lives that it wont be long before I, like a couple of my friends, am facing the “But everyone else is doing it!” conversations. But I have had those conversations with the older ones in the past (especially over TV) and don’t doubt it will happen again.

I truly hope and pray that my children make good life decisions and that all of them are saved in the end. But I can’t help thinking that when mums and dads of my generation are facing our particular and even general judgement, that we can ask for massive mitigating circumstances. I do wish it was easier.

Don’t slacken for a moment, there’s a lion outside the door. (1 Pet 5:8)

March for Religious Freedom

All over the United States today people are out marching to retain religious freedom.  No Government should be taking away people’s actual right while making up “rights” that never have and never will exist.

You can pick up info at The Anchoress  which she appears to be keeping updated.

Other places include Orthodox News

There is more around the web but I reckon the full news will be in tomorrow once the March is over.

This is a vitally important issue.  The Church has been attacked over and over in her 2000 years and anyone who reads history knows what this kind of Government activity will eventually lead to. Pray and be ready.

UPDATE Great turnout.

Check out these links HERE and the Anchoress here. So many people HERE

Meanwhile I learn that the British Govt have scheduled a “debate” to use the word loosly on what is called Assisted Suicide. Those who want to see the elderly, sick and disabled killed off lost the last battle so they have sneakily brought the issue back just as Parlaiament closes for Easter to try and tip the vote when many MPs wont be there.

No one with even a modicum of sense and a knowledge of not only history but what is happening right now in places like Oregan, can pretend this is anything other than an OBLIGATION to DIE being forced onto those who are deemed no longer useful.

If you are not praying, start now.

 

 

Home Education, Biology; human body.

I posted about our project in making and putting together the organs of the human body.

We have made the boy and will be making the girl, but also we have found two great skeletons to make; a child and and adult from Eskeletons.

Are Stay at Home Mothers wasting their education or using it to the enth degree?

This article in the Daily Mail was brought to my attention. One of the mothers mentioned is home educating her children. There was a time when such a deeply stupid question would never have been asked, but we have sunk so far from the days when motherhood was regardless as a great calling, a great vocation, that mothers who do not hand their children over to institutions or strangers soon after birth must defend themselves.

There are a number of strange issues with the article, not least the fascinating way the photos have come across. The first two mothers look happy and settled, attached to their children, while the woman in the red dress looks like she doesn’t want to be with her son. She in fact is the one who astonishingly said she is bored “watching Cbeebies all day.” I bet her son is bored too! If someone who is supposed to be highly educated thinks being a parent means sitting in front of the TV all day, what is the definition of “educated” I have to ask?

It’s a sad fact that the culture today has so massively undermined the important role of motherhood, and almost eradicated the role of the father, that this question is asked as though it is a sensible question. It seems to me this is all part of the undermining of the Sacrament of Marriage that began in the early years of the 20th Century.

Mothers and fathers who stay home and don’t put their babies and toddlers into institutional care are trying to ensure their children have a healthy attachment which will mean they have the opportunity to acquire language and then learn it fully; to learn early social skills while being happy and safe and are then in a good position to better cope should they go to school and have better life outcomes in general and especially mental health. Those of us who are doing this with and for our children are not wasting our education, we are using and fulfilling it.

I did face the “But you’ll be wasting all that education and all those skills,” mantra when I began the process of giving up nursing to try and be home more, because my children needed it. I was even shunned. I remember being at the park with the children with my husband when someone who knew us both met us. On learning that I was now a stay home mother he simply ignored me for the rest of the conversation. No eye contact – nothing.

If I can teach my children not to treat other people based on their job prospects (as Jesus actually demanded) but to treat all people with respect, I will have done something good!

Our children are the future of the country we live in. Even from a purely political point of view, well brought up children who are able to hold down a job and show a sense of responsibility has to be worth something to the economy.  The fact that Mrs Thatcher didn’t want to support stay at home mothers is indicative of the astonishing shallowness of thought and economic understanding of politicians.

There has been plenty of written reports from as far back as Victorian times that show the importance for child development of a bonding between babies and their mother and having a mum and dad around for you. Mothers in particular were recognised as having a fundamentally important role in the forming of children so that they could grow healthy as possible and able to attain their potential in adulthood.

Back when I had to work for money, it was very difficult to be there for the children whenever they needed me. It was very difficult to be there when they were ill and I was constantly torn between my responsibilities to my children and the responsibilities at work. I really don’t envy any mother who goes through this – and I would seriously wonder at the conscience of a mother who isn’t pained by these situations.

We really need to fight for a return to the proper respect for mothers, especially those who also care for elderly or vulnerable relatives. Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to support such hard working, solid women, without whom this country would have collapsed a long time ago, is simply a sign of how uneducated she was (and most Oxford grad politicians are no better).

Home Education; A Day in the life

A typical Tuesday.

It’s about 7:20am and I am drinking coffee and going the careful stretches that will unlock my body so I can get out of bed and put the weight on my feet.  This varies from, almost immediately to half an hour, but at last I can walk around.

I come downstairs and clean the kitchen, sort out any washing left from the day before and set out the children’s work for the day, including the keyboard.

Morning prayer with rest of coffee.

Sort out breakfast and drinks for Heleyna. The other two usually sort themselves out.

Music lessons begin. One child at a time sits with the keyboard in front of the TV where my very broken laptop is plugged in. It still works for these lessons though. We are using the Adventus Piano software with the monthly subscription.

Start Heleyna’s lessons with her. We usually start with Funnix (which I got free but I think you have to pay now) and then More.Starfall  (subscription) or Starfall (Free). I’ve printed up the workbooks and reading books from the download centre.

The other two finish music lessons and start independant work, which includes Language Arts and Maths (MUS and Life of Fred) Ronan was really pleased with himself for finishing MUS Beta today. He starts Gamma on Thursday. Once I finished the first lessons with Heleyna they can come and ask for help.

I hear Ronan Read and we work on his Religion 3 together and the Ignatius story.

Then back to Heleyna for her Visual Perseptual Skills and Early Literacy .

Avila comes for her Faith and Life lesson Jesus Our Life (She is working above grade on this) She then reads to me.

The shopping arrives and then Ronan spends some time making the adult sized skeleton we are working on.

Then it’s time for Map Work together.

Ronan goes to start putting the lunch together and I have a moment to watch the DVD lesson 13 for Song School Greek, so I can get the words right! (for once!)

The children have lunch and I do some sorting and tidying and make a lovely cuppa. I clean the kitchen and grab some lunch.

Set up for next lessons. The children come and sing some songs in Song School Greek and then it’s out with the teddy counters and inhalers to do a visual history lesson with Our Catholic Legacy. (Today Seretide was Henry II and Qvar was Thomas a Becket. The other inhalers were Lords while the bears were jurers, criminals and  common folk.)

Finally lessons are over and we all get a bit of a break. I start plans for the next day. Then there’s some housework to do.

The girls get themselves ready for ballet, while I ensure we have all we beed in the ballet bag. and then we leave for the lessons. One of the boys gets my powerchair out through the not so wide front door and I’m ready to roll.

Iona cooks on a Tuesday as I take the girls.

We get back and Al returns from work. We eat together as a family – which is very important. Then there’s story time or quiet time or a DVD and then it’s bedtime for the younger three. Daddy says prayers with them and Roni is allowed reading time in bed.

Then it’s time with the biggies and a bit of reading before bed. And that’s a day in the life of us lot.

Alex has finished his portfolio!

 

Click picture and check out the portfolio

 

Introduce the Tsujisoi and the NHS will improve.

I have finished reading A Song for Nagasaki and recommend the book very highly. There’s lots to write about in the story of Dr Takashi Nagai but here is one idea I thought would be very good for the NHS and other hospitals.

There is a Japanese custom in which a person called a Tsujisoi goes to the hospital with the patient and sits with them, feeding them, keeping them comfortable and bringing water or whatever they need. The Tsujisoi was usually a family member, but if this wasn’t possible a neighbour or elder would take on the role. So when the young Dr. Nagai became very ill and needed hospital treatment an elderly lady came to sit with him as his own family lived a very long way away. When the doctor’s future wife Midori became seriously ill, her mother went with her to the hospital to be her Tsujisoi.

Japanese culture back then was very family oriented. It interested me to see that as Dr Nagai moved from Shinto with it’s elements of Buddhism and Confucian philosophy, through to material scientism and atheism, and finally to Catholicism, the one part of his life that remained solid was the traditional love and respect of family.

If we were to introduce something like this into the British health service we would have to actually train people to treat the sick with kindness and patience. We would have to teach people how to feed a sick person, see to their comfort and ensure they are properly hydrated. Perhaps we could teach these Tsujisoi the Tea Ceremony as well. Then they would learn the importance of a good cuppa, which both the Chinese and Japanese understood to have medicinal uses (Green tea especially). A cup of tea has a relaxing and companionable aspect which must be helpful to the healing process surely.

There is something in the way Fr. Glynn writes that shows his love for the culture of the people he spent more than twenty years living among. His description of their treatment of one another exemplifies a deep understanding of the inherent dignity of the person. This coupled with a deep respect and even worship of ancestors, in Shinto, made their love and care of family deep rooted.

How astonishingly tragic that the militaristic take over of Japan led some of her people to behave in direct contradiction of the deep respect that was rooted in their culture.  We too, once had a culture, born out of our Christianity, that had a deep rooted understanding of the importance of family and the inherent dignity of the human person. All that is swept away now as we plunge headlong into a world where strong adults make up rights for themselves and trample the inherent rights of the little ones.

An army of tea making Tsujisoi with their kind words and quick ability to see the needs of their patient, could actually save us all a lot of money as well cared for, properly hydrated and fed people recover much more quickly than those left in distress to starve and dehydrate. We just have to bring back a bit of simple human kindness.

 

Home Education Friday Freebies

Kalei has posted my quick flashcard set of all the Catholic Rites I could find. There are way more than I’d realised. At some point I do hope to get back to the Rites and try and put something together about some of the saints from each Rite – if possible. As we have been learning about St. Josaphat via Ronan’s English from Seton book, perhaps I will start with him. Anyway, that’s for later.

Check out a new contributer to Kalei’s site as well. She looks set to have some excellent resources for your delectation.

Words of Dr. Takashi Nagai – for doctors to consider.

Those words in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who weep” should be taken literally by doctors. A real doctor suffers with each patient. If the patient is frightened of dying, so is the doctor. When the patient at long last gets well and says, “Thank you,” the doctor responds, “Thank you.”

If your patient is an old man, you treat him as your own father; if the patient is a child, as your own child…Each patient becomes your brother, your sister, your mother, for whom you drop everything else.

You anxiously reexamine those tests and x-rays. you pore over the medical chart, leaving no stone unturned…

How mistaken I was as a young doctor when I thought medical practice was a matter of medical technique.

That would make a doctor a body mechanic!

No! A doctor must be a person who feels in his own body and spirit all that the patient suffers in body and spirit…I have come to understand that medicine is a vocation…

Dr Takashi Nagai quoted by Fr Paul Glynn in “A Song for Nagasaki

Out ‘n’ About with transport problems.

We went to Think Tank today. It was a great day and all the children really enjoyed themselves. We managed to circumnavigate the school kids and found an empty area to have lunch.

I am however, faced with a few transport problems. We took a taxi and had to take my shove it wheelchair. I can’t find a taxi firm able to take a powerchair and the children. One firm offered me two taxi’s but the journey there would have been £24! Fortunately Think Tank is smooth and flat with big lifts. Alex came along and it wasn’t too difficult.

My next task is to try and get the powerchair onto a train. If we can get the hang of that – and I think we should be able to – then perhaps trips out will be less hassle and cheaper.  I am learning that being disabled with children is considered so rare that there is no set up for such an eventuality. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Meanwhile our car was nicked yesterday. Why anyone would want at 16 yr old Japanese import shed on wheels, is a bit of a mystery. But it’s gone. Someone, kindly, handed in my blue badge, so I can get that back. I am touched by the kindness of some people.

The Bride and the Temple (pt II)

The alternative Gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Lent this year was the story of Jesus (the Bridegroom) meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. Look at the Old Testament and you will see many incidents in which marriage and wells come together. (eg. Rebecca and the servant for Isaac, Moses and Zipporah) Jesus here meets a woman who hardly seems suitable bride material. She has had quite a life with five husbands and worse still, she is Samaritan. Jesus is a Jewish man, and generally would be regarded as a Pharisee in His beliefs and teaching. Those who wrote Scripture used the Septuagint most of the time. The Samaritans only accepted the Torah. Everything else was up for grabs. They were considered “mixed” by the Jews and there was quite an enmity between them.

Jesus meets her at the well of Jacob and promises her living water and tells her about herself – just as Adonai has told Israel how she wondered off with other men. Just as Hosea welcomes back his adulterous bride, so God had tried to welcome back Israel. “I hate divorce,” He had said.

This is how all Israel, and not just the Jews, will be restored. Through the Bride that the Bridegroom establishes and pours out His lifeblood for.

St Peter is often referred to as a Prime Minister to Christ the King – and that is true for Jesus, in giving Peter the keys of the Kingdom and passing His authority to Peter and the apostles did act as King and made Peter PM in the same way that Hezekiah (who was the first fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy) made Eliakim prime minister (Is. 22:15-25). But Peter is also the Best Man of the groom.

Jesus is amazingly forthright with this woman. She asks Him if He is the promised prophet. Even though they only have the Torah (Pentetuech of five books) the Samaritans too are awaiting the Messiah. Jesus replies with one of His “I AM” statements as He says, “I AM He.”  We can often skim over these words and miss the astonishing meaning. The only Person who refers to Himself as “I AM” is God. He told Moses, “I AM WHO AM” from the burning bush.

There is no false humility here. Jesus is telling her exactly who He is as, a Bridegroom would reveal Himself to the bride. Salvation is from the Jews, He reminds her, but He is also calling her home.

The Bride and the Temple. (pt I)

The Cleansing of the Temple by Ippolito Scarzella !550-1620

In reply to the admittedly rather pompous What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD?) logo thing, many people say, “Get angry and turn over a few tables.”  But in the satisfaction of a clever, and likely justifiable response, we mustn’t lose sight of what Jesus was up to when He made a whip, and threw out the money changers.

There are a number of alternative readings for today, and the alternative Gospel reading is about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. At first it seems the two readings have absolutely nothing in common, but when we look a bit closer, and go a bit deeper, we are returned to the repeating theme of Jesus as the Bridegroom.

I know, I do have a great interest in Christ as Bridegroom, but the theme is so strong throughout Scripture both Old and New Testament, that I think we need to look at it.

The Temple is built on the model of a man and a garden; it was the place where Israel would call God Adonai (Beloved husband). But Israel blew it and was scattered among the gentiles and the Temple was destroyed. By the time Jesus comes to the Temple there is only Judea, made up of Judah (Jesus’ Tribe) and Benjamin, with some Levites (Jesus also had the Levitical priesthood in His family) and a few scattered Israelites, here and there. The new Temple is magnificent, perhaps not as magnificent as Solomon’s but pretty stunning nevertheless. If we look at it through the eyes of typology, Solomon was a type of Christ as he built the Temple and a type of antichrist when he abandoned it for the gods of his numerous wives.

Herod the Great was an actual antichrist as he actively sought to kill the baby Jesus. His temple may have been magnificent on the outside, but with holy of holies was cold and empty.

But it was still God’s house and people came to pray there. The court of Israel would be full of Jewish men and the court of women would have the women and children behind the grill. beyond that was the court of the gentiles, where those who were not Jewish but had a love of God could come and pray. Even so there were signs warning the gentile worshipper he could not move further into the temple on pain of death. So the court of the Gentiles was all he had. And it was in this court that the money changers and animal sellers had set up their market.  If you want to make people quite sure they are not welcome, fill up their prayer space with cacophony and animal poo. There was undoubtedly some dodgy dealing going on as well.

Jesus was angry. As the bridegroom seeing His bride mistreated or turned to prostitution, He cleaned house for her.  There is even some speculation that He may have done this more than once. Just as the wives are sweeping and cleaning house ready for Passover, so Jesus does the same, making space for the Gentiles to be welcomed home like the prodigal son.

The authorities of the Temple; those who sit in and around the seat of Moses, with the priesthood God gave them in the desert after the Golden Calf incident – are standing firm against the Bridegroom. They may not have made a golden calf like their ancestors, but they have a huge one in their soul.

Jesus speaks His prophecy before them. “Tear down this Temple,” He said of Himself, “And in three days I will raise it.”

The priests mutter and shout about this, pointing out that the building has taken more than a generation to build. And yet when we reach the Passion we hear them complain to Pilate that Jesus had promised to rise from the dead; so they understood Him very well. Even so, they rejected Him.

When you can’t pray it’s good to know someone else can.

Lent is about the desert really. It’s the long winding journey to the Promised Land, and it can be really, really dry. I vaguely remember a story of a sister in the convent with St Teresa of Avila who was caught trying to avoid the call to chapel. She confessed that she didn’t feel like praying, and St Teresa said neither did she, but they must do so anyway.  There are times when praying is so dry you can wonder whether the words themselves even mean anything.

The Church as always known this of course and hence she has given us Divine Office. We don’t have to try and make our own words work, when they simply aren’t going to – we can offer back to God His own Words. Much better. Thankfully when He was going about inspiring the writers of the Psalms and other Scriptures, He was offering beautiful Words that are good for the soul peace and of course soul scrubbing.

Nothing worthwhile is easy so it’s always good to persevere in prayer, but it is also quite true that we have what a friend of mine calls “seasons”. In this season with little children, ill health and lots going on, perhaps the prayers, get a bit jumbled and ragged. Perhaps they don’t even happen at all some days.

Fortunately for us we have the saints (the Church Triumphant) to pray for us. We do so every day probably, and it has occured to me a couple of times when I am just so tired, I can’t even see the words of Divine Office, much less pray them, that our friends in heaven can take up our prayer and do some of it for us.

I am not suggesting we get lazy in prayer and simply say, oh if the saints and other people are praying I don’t have to. That wouldn’t be a good idea at all. But on those really awful days, or seasons, where we just aren’t getting it together, then it’s good to know that the saints are there and of course some prayer warriors here in the Church Militant.

A Tale of two mothers.

I have a big soft spot for the martyrs Perpetua and Felicity whose feast day it was yesterday.  These women, mistress and slave, sisters in Christ and mothers, were arrested, imprisoned and then martyred in the gladiatorial ring, as entertainment for the people and as celebration of the Emperor Geta’s birthday. A culture that celebrates life with death is in deep trouble, as history would soon show.

Strangely despite the cultural blood lust, the Roman’s still had some respect for infants and the unborn. Felicity was in prison awaiting trial and execution, and she was heavily pregnant.  Perpetua had been separated from her baby, which must have been an astonishing suffering.

The guards were bribed and Perpetua’s pagan father was allowed to bring the child to be breast fed each day. She wrote all that happened including her father’s desperate attempts (and emotional blackmail) to get her to renounce Christ and behave like a sensible Roman matron should. She resisted the temptation. This is easy to write, but the idea of having your child removed each day after being fed, and the knowledge that you are going to die a horrible death, must have been atrocious.

Today many mothers long for a home birth, where they can feel safe and where there is privacy for the birth and initial bonding. Giving birth in hospital can be down right unpleasant for many mothers. Felicity delivered her child in prison.  A few days later on the 7th March 203 the mothers and fellow Christians were taken out and killed by the half-starved wild beasts that were let loose on them.

It’s very easy for mothers to forget to put God first. Our children take up so much of our lives, especially if we are home educating, that they can easily become not just important, but too important.

Both these women faced astonishing temptation to put their children before God and they didn’t. While our culture will sacrifice children for the needs of adults- shunting them aside and leaving them to be brought up by their peers; these two mothers went to their death putting God first and shedding their blood with an eye to their children (and in Perpetua’s case her brother’s) salvation.

Motherhood is considered a totally unimportant role today. Care of children is a job for those who can’t get a “proper job”.  When things get difficult and we feel isolated and utterly shattered – we can ask Perpetua and Felicity to put a word in for us. SS Perpetua and Felicity ora pro nobis.

Home Education – human biology basics.

We are doing a little project on the human body and all it’s parts.

I downloaded MY BODY from Teacher Created Resources. It is very basic – just an outline of each organ and a very brief explanation but the children are making a paper person, they have named Steve, with all organs and eventually bones and some muscle too. They have named the model Steve. Next we will repeat the whole thing – but I might get the organs to have more details, and make a Stephanie.

Along side this they are using the Usborne See Inside the Human Body and Uncover the Human Body (which we got as a bargain from Costco).

There are some reasonably good Youtube videos. Such as THIS ONE, which is one of a number in the series.

This one by the Khan Academy is really clear. Ronan (age 9 gr 3/yr 4) in particular got a lot from it

 

Forty Days for Life

It’s Lent and it’s the 40 Days for Life time of prayer and witness. Pray for all those who are able and willing to get out there and stand as a witness for the value of every human life, against those who want to decide who is life unworthy of life.

In your prayers don’t forget that it isn’t only babies being killed these days; the sick, frail and elderly are subject to these anti-life people.

I heard a man from America saying that in his area the prayer and witness had seen the miraculous victory of going from 8 abortion mills down to one that is already part-time. Mothers have been given the option of ultra sounds and care and have chosen life. (A recent study showed somthing like 80% of mothers claimed they had been coerced into abortion. They just need to know they have a real choice).

Don’t forget that your local crisis centre probably needs baby stuff, maternity stuff and money.

Assisted Suicide and Suicide

The Church teaches as she has always taught that suicide is “grave matter” and that if someone willingly takes their own life in full knowledge of the grave matter, that they have committed a mortal sin.  In the case where the suicide is done in full knowledge, and even at the moment of death there is no repentance, the person faces damnation. Of course the church has never named anyone who is in hell – not even Judas. Only Dante had the nerve to do that, but the truth stands.

Mother Teresa pointed out that once we allow mothers to kill their own children, there is nothing to stop us killing each other – and of course she was right. As more and more soul-dead people call for infanticide as an extension of abortion, there are even more voices clammering for the “right to die” for the disabled, very sick and very old.  Of course these young healthy screamers do not mean “right” to die at all; they mean “obligation to die.”

I have yet to see a massive lobby for the right to palliative care – which is barely available at all on the NHS and only happens in well run independent hospices. Instead we hear of patients being starved and dehydrated to death. Of terrified sick people calling for death, rather than risk the horror of what is supposed to be “care” in our hospitals and institutions for the elderly.

One massive sin the Church and all Christians need to stand firm against is the bullying and gross selfishness of those who push others into suicide. I think it’s too easy to point at the victim of suicide and forget that there may well have been gross neglect and cruelty that pushed them there. (This is aside from the fact that many people. perhaps most, are seriously mentally ill at the time of their death). When we consider that as a whole it is believed that suicide is generally under reported and where there is a high probability that inquests that end with a narrative verdict may leave that person off the statistics even though they took their own life, we are left with a shambles.

I have a personal view that the Torys in the ’80s closed so many psychiatric beds that it is hardly surprising that both the prison population and the suicide rate rocketed.

A lot of good Christian people get a bit het up about those who commit suicide. Some  even question whether they should attend the funeral. But perhaps we need to stop a moment and question who will meet judgement in the end; those who are driven to suicide – or those who drive them?

What about the people who simply didn’t care; who shrugged, ignored and ticked boxes? Those of us who have watched in chilled disbelief the sheer callousness of consultants at an inquest can have no delusion that when it comes to pushing the seriously ill to die, that they wont push very hard indeed.

We are seeing more and more professionals who respect the dignity and basic rights – the personhood – of all no matter how fragile, being shunted aside and forced out. It leaves more room for children to be killed off too. (h/T Shana)

It’s time to fight for good palliative care; for true dignity and for the right to die naturally.

My Lent reading – on Dr. Takashi Nagai, A Song for Nagasaki.

Fr Paul Glynn is the author of A Song For Nagasaki which I am reading for Lent.  I have read that the cause for the canonisation of Dr Takashi Nagai is under way. I hope to see the day he is canonised.

Fr Glynn, I believe, spent a lot of time in Japan and certainly seems to know the language, culture and people well. He writes the story of the Doctor around the long history and the tales of Catholics and persecution there.

This might be made into a short film on the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki. I think one of the men crucified was a teenaged boy.

You can see the films progress and offer some support HERE at ALL THAT REMAINS