Monthly Archives: June 2012

Teaching teens NFP.

Parents need to have the various talks with their children on how their body is changing, and where babies come. It doesn’t just happen in “the talk” and it is a very bad idea to leave it to school (especially if your children don’t go to school).

So, you’ve got past the initial stage of body changes and hygiene and now (for girls) it’s how to monitor your cycle.It’s not uncommon for girl’s cycles to be irregular in the early years and there’s often other things going on that can make a girl’s life (and those who live with her) difficult.  So many crisis pregnancy workers (pro-life) mention that the young mothers know almost nothing about the way their own bodies work. As parents we carry a responsibility to ensure our children are properly prepared for adult life.

There are a number of initial symptoms a girl can look out for, spots, cramps, cravings, mood hair changes (getting greasy or dry) Then there are other things such as extra bleeding, long cycles, overly short cycles and so on that can be seen almost immediately. Many women say that just knowing to take a painkiller the day before a period is due can make managing serious cramps much easier.

Once the young lady is charting well enough she could introduce temperatures as well. Lots of people find the symto-thermal method really useful, especially if there are health problems going on. Temps are a sure way of spotting an underactive thyroid.

Pinpointing ovulation is not the main reason to chart, at this point, but knowing more or less so that the luteal phase can be seen is a good indicator of health. It’s astonishing what doctors will say to girls and women that is completely untrue. For example, having a bleed every month is NOT a sign that you are ovulating every month, or at all. Anovulatory bleeding is different from a period, but you need to have charted for a while to spot the difference.

I saw more than one friend have hormonal bloods taken at completely the wrong time in their cycle so the results were inconclusive. (I dx a friend’s PCOS more than 2 years before she finally got the medics to dx it).

There are ways of dealing with problems using vitamin regimes but these must be properly planned and researched. Just taking multi-vits is no help at all.

To begin with a girl can mark on her calendar when each period begins. She can then mark those days as  (H)eavy (M)edium (L)ight and (S)potting. Basic symptoms such as pain, mid-pain (if she notices this or has it), spots, hair and skin changes, mood changes, nausea, breast pain…and so on can be added and then basic mucus patterns. Finally she can learn to use a BBT thermometer.

Using the BBTT isn’t difficult especially if your daughter wakes up a regular time. She can sit up in bed and take her temp which shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes and just note it down. It is less accurate if she works shifts or keeps irregular hours – but one might consider that a young lady should not be keeping irregular hours.

PCOS and endometriosis, along with thyroid problems, blocked tubes or other issues can be seen once you are used to the chart. So many women don’t get proper medical help because they don’t see for themselves what’s happening, and shamefully doctors will just prescribe the Pill for anything.

Some resources to help parents learn enough to pass it on;

Antonia who commented on my first post mentioned TeenSTAR which looks like a good set up.

The Billings Method

Fertility Friend  I highly recommend this site as a mine of useful information. I learned loads from here. You can also learn about the Symto thermal method from CCL

Taking Charge of your fertility (not Christian) excellent information with easy charting.

Creighton Model

Standard Days method (Don’t know much about this method but I’ve heard good things. Beads look helpful)

BOOKS I HAVE and have either read and used or intend to read.

The Art of Natural Family Planning This was our “bible” of NFP for a long time. It’s pretty complicated and these days I wouldn’t remember half the bit’n’pieces in it. It is very good and gives the whole kit’n’caboodle of the sympto-thermal model, including charting while breastfeeding and though perimenopause to menopause.

I have the NaPro book for us ordinary folk. The medical tome is very big and very expensive so I’m grateful this version has been published.

Patrick Coffin’s book Sex au Naturel is also on my “to read” list. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Coffin and so I am guessing this will be an excellent book.

When or should teens learn NFP? (pt I)

I’ve designed a very simple chart to teach my adult daughter the basics of NFP. If she finds it easy to use I will use the same chart to help a friend’s dd learn. My friend who is fighting breast cancer is very determined her daughter wont be taking what even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has as a Class 1 carcinogenic, chemical contraceptives. More and more women are becoming aware of the horrible side effects and serious repercussions of using any contraceptive, but especially the chemical ones. They want better for their daughters. Thankfully Catholic medical people have long ago come up with safe, effective methods of natural family planning.

Unfortunately NFP is too often advertised as being 98% effective (or more depending on the study and which method of NFP) in spacing pregnancies, as though that’s the only reason to use it. It’s true that all methods are good at avoiding pregnancy if that is what a couple needs to do, but there’s far more to NFP than that.

And that raises the question of when or whether to teach our teenage daughters how to chart and whether unmarried women should bother. Most women who use NFP will agree that learning to chart before you are married is way easier and better than learning while breastfeeding or when a crisis has hit the family.

The number one reason I want my daughters to learn in their late teens, is health reasons. Not that long ago a young wife saved her own life when her chart picked up she had cancer. Many of the methods will identify basic fertility problems or hormone imbalances, but a complete symptom chart such as Creighton or even basic symto-thermal methods will show all sorts of health problems up front so they can be fixed.

I have self-solved two major problems that showed up clearly in charts. While the hospital staff insisted that miscarriages can “just happen” I was aware that mine were a result of luteul phase defect. This means that the time after ovulation was too short, meaning there wasn’t enough progesterone in my system. High doses of Evening Primrose Oil for the first half of my cycle along with a large fresh carrot a day for just the right amount of Vit A kicked everything back into gear and Heleyna came along. All NFP methods are just as good for catching that twinkle from God’s eye as in postponing pregnancy.

Not long after that my temps nose dived to below 96.7 F. all the time. This is a sure sign of thyroid problems (hypo not hyper) so I took a load of sea kelp which is rich in iodine and kicked those temps back up to healthy levels.

Spend any time on Fertility Friend studying other people’s charts and you’ll soon spot all sorts of health patterns that if you see on your chart you can learn to deal with, or find a doctor who will help (In the UK where even midwives have NO IDEA about charting this is a massive challenge).

I want my daughters to know their own bodies, respect themselves and be on the ball for health and fertility.  Simcha Fisher has just written on this (mentioning that a friend of hers has done what I have done and made a simple chart) a day after a friend and I were discussing it with my oldest daughter.

My next question on this issue is which method to teach first? My simple chart is essentially the Billings Method with room for some basic symptoms such as cramping, but as Simcha mentions spot break out and mood are also important for girls to recognise.

There are a couple of downsides in charting. The number one problem is that there are next to no doctors or midwives who have any clue about it. That wouldn’t be so bad if they would listen to the person who does know about it, but most of the time they refuse to accept the mere patient has any knowledge. Now I’ve come across two professionals who were not like this. I spoke to a GP about my luteul phase defect and he actually listened and said he was really interested in learning more about NFP as he could see it would help women’s help. God bless him.

The second person was a midwife. I was in hospital after having a baby (can’t remember which one) and it had obviously been a conversation point at the nurses station that I used NFP. One of the midwives came to ask my advice. She admitted that in all her training not one day was spent on NFP and yet a friend of hers desperately trying to get pregnant kept sending her charts, begging for help.

So, learning NFP can pinpoint all sort of things, but when should a teenage girl start to learn, and what should she be taught?

Book Review: Unbridled Grace – the astonishing dangers of being a chiropractor.

Qualifying as a chiropractor should be a straightforward way to get to earn a living and take care of  your family. Dr. Norman answered a tiny little ad. in a newspaper looking for a part time chiropractor at a little Spanish speaking medical practice and he applied. He got the interview and he got the job. Wonderful.

Or not.

Unbridled Grace is the “you couldn’t make it up” story of an ordinary person finding themselves working for the Russian Mafia.  If that isn’t bad enough, he soon finds his family life under attack, his daughter’s well-being threatened and his life about to be seriously penned in, not because of the Mafia, who barely seem to be bothered with him, but because of the police and the FBI. It’s the Government agents with no soul who come out of this looking truly evil. Fabricated evidence and social-climbing with emotional manipulations and threats make up their action against Dr. Norman.

The most astounding part of the story, where surely the agent should have received some sort of serious disciplinary action, but didn’t, was the over dramatic arrest of the doctor in front of his then 5 year old daughter. It took her many years before she could hear the doorbell ring and not run for cover.

In the midst of this 8 year battle to get back to the life he had worked so hard for and to prove his innocence (so much for innocent until proven guilty) Dr. Norman finds God in his foxhole and of course God (who has a great sense of humour) produced some quiet, but moving, miracles.

For those of us feeling a bit like victims, or footballs, being kicked around a system of uncaring but powerful “professionals” and I use that word loosely, this is a book of hope and promise. It’s a quick and easy read and I recommend it.

I don’t recommend working for the Mafia … or the FBI…

Home Education Literature plans for grades k to 4

Here is a list of some of the books we have read or intend to read. I’ve marked the ones I read to them as read alouds. Many of those will be personal reading books for the children in the future. Audio is marked as audio. Read alouds and audio are for a mixed age audience. I’ll undoubtedly be writing more about what we read as the next academic year goes on.


All these books are read aloud books as most K aged children can’t read at this level yet. They are important for teaching listening skills and building vocabulary and reasoning skills. All the more reason for avoiding the disneyfied versions of things like Winnie the Pooh

Trawl second hand bookshops and charity shops, unless you are lucky enough to have easy acess to Wigtown. Get the old Postman Pat books. The new ones are so badly written, that they could make your eyes bleed! Children are nowhere near as dim as some of the “new” adapted versions would have us believe. Charlotte Mason warned against twaddle and I’ve come across some really sugary stuff form her day, but even those don’t quite plumb the depths of grammatical horribleness as the new versions of Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie The Pooh The real ones by A A Milne.

Alfie and Annie Rose Shirley Hughes is a wonderful writer and illustrator.

The Dairy of a Wombat (activities)

Little Pear (I don’t have this yet, but intend to get it)

The Blue Fairy Book Andrew Lang audio Lit2Go

All things Amy Steedman here as well

Aesop’s fables and audio Lit2Go

Brother William’s Year A beautiful little book on the life of a monastary.

Granfather’s Journey

All things Tomie DePaola.

For Heleyna to read herself we will be using the printed up and online version of the Starfall books, the Oxford Reading Tree books (not as phonic based as the newer ones I believe) and Step Into Reading Books I’ve accumulated over the years as well as the free online Oxford Owl books.

(Ignore the grades for these books. Even Avila who has some mild dyslexic tenancies was reading Step into Reading level 5 books like the Trojan Horse by grade 1.  And the ORT years and ages are not very useful as guides either). Having said that the grades I have put books into are just a basic guide. Your children will be different and their interests may be different.

GRADE 1 (yr 2)

26 Fairmount Ave series by T DePaola (self read)

The Secret Garden  (read aloud) (free ebook)

The Pheonix and the Carpet   (read aloud) (free ebook)

Stranger Moon  audio

The Chronicles of Narnia read along with audio

The Happy Prince and other Stories which includes my favourite The Selfish Giant. We have a hardcopy of this. (self read)

Martin’s Mice and the Hodgeheg by Dick King Smith (self read)

the Little Ships; A story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk.

GRADE 2 (yr 3)

Wise Guy; the Life and Philosophy of Socrates Good intro for children.

The Arabian Nights Andrew Lang

Little House in the Big Wood Laura Ingalls Wilder (copywrite free if you live in  Canada)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (no we wont be watching the movie which I hear is nothing like the book). (self read)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis. and sharing with her brother the other Narnia stories following them from Readings From Under the Grapevine.

The Little Duke Charlotte Yonge (free ebook)

Mary Poppins

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

GRADE 3 (yr 4)

Emil and the Detectives

St Ignatius and the Company of Jesus

Tom’s Midnight Garden

The Sword in the Stone

Francis of the Seven Seas (I know Seton has it down as G 6 but Ronan wanted to read it now so he is)

Gregor Mendel, The Friar who grew peas Good science picture book with the story of Fr Mendel and his genetic discovery and experiementation with peas.

Usborne Classics (adaption) Don Quixote

Adolphus Tips Michael Morpurgo (An Iona find in a charity shop)

GRADE 4 (yr 5)

Captain’s Courageous Rudyard Kipling

Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne audio from Lit2Go

The Call of the Wild Jack London audio from Lit2Go

The Children of the New Forest Frederick Marryat

Famous Men of Greece Charles Haaren (I have the mobi version as I bought the Yesterday’s Classics set a last year)

The Cat of Bubastes G. A. Henty

On Henty – I-ve read he should be treated with caution. He wrote fiction more than he wrote “historical” apparently, and the place I found the info did a short overview of his book on the fall of Jerusalem showing the problems. He is also well known as writing some anti-Catholic anhistorical stuff too – so I am going to either pre-read (God give me a 28 hr day) or avoid. There’s plenty of other stuff out there.

The Lost World Arthur Conan Doyle

Swallows and Amazons (which I bought in Wigtown the Book Town of Scotland)

Mystery of the Roman Ransom

The Children’s Homer (I picked up a lovely hardcopy of this in Wigtown).

The Canterville Ghost Oscar Wilde

More Narnia books.


Frog and Toad

The Ink Garden of Br Theophane along with Magic in the Margins and Marguerite Makes a Book are beautiful ways to get children interested in manuscript and book making before printing. There are basic recipes for the inks and the books themselves are so well illustrated you’ll have plenty of inspiration. Activity sheet (opens pdf)

What’s Your Angle Pythagoras?

I love just about all the Picture books I’ve ever bought and have a lot that I hope to buy eventually. They are books for relaxing with and suit all three of them pretty well. Avila is lovely at sitting with younger children and reading to them and these books are ideal for that.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery

Other books I might think of getting for free reading>

Inkheart                                                                   The Hundred and One Dalmations

The Borrowers

READ ALOUDS (if I have voice – audio if not)

The Secret Garden (I’ve read this to them before but Avila has requested it again) Also by Frances Hodgeson Burnett Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess

E.Nesbit books

Fortnight for Freedom

Information and prayers HERE to join the Catholic Church and other people of goodwill in America as they fight to keep their freedom and basic rights.


Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

Blessed be the God of Israel, He has visited His people and redeemed them.

He had raised up for us a Saviour in the house of David His servant, as promised on the lips of holy men, of those who were His prophets from of old…

As for you little child, you shall be the prophet of the most High God, you will go before the face of the Lord and make straight His paths…” (and then I forget the words unless I look them up).

This prayer is said every morning in Divine Office and is the blessing given by Zachariah the father of John the Baptist on the day John’s naming and circumcision, the 8th day after his nativity. Zachariah had been high priest nine months earlier at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but he had been struck dumb by the Angel of the Lord because of his lack of faith. He had not been able to bless Israel when he emerged from the Holy of Holies, but eight days after his promised son arrives he proclaims a beautiful blessing. He does this over his son and in the presence of the New Ark of the Lord who like the first Ark is spending three months in the Hill Country of Judea with the Presence of God in her, a three month embryo.

Mary is carrying the Bridegroom and John will preach firmly on the sanctity of marriage even before his cousin Jesus raises it to a Sacrament.

We celebrated the feasts of St Thomas More and St. John Fisher who were martyred for Christ, for standing firm on the sanctity of marriage. Now we celebrate the nativity of St. John the Baptist. He is the last prophet of the Old Covenant, carrying the spirit of Elijah to announce the coming of the Messiah. His preaching against the illicit marriage of Herod Antipas will get him martyred. He will be beheaded and St. Thomas will be beheaded 1500 years later. He is a priest standing for the High Priest Jesus, and St. John Fisher was the only bishop to be martyred for the truth at that time.

At a time when so many Christians have betrayed marriage, these three saints stand as a sign to guide us. (I read somewhere a long time ago that the reason St. John Fisher was the only bishop to be martyred by Henry VIII was because all the other bishops caved on account of most of them having mistresses. Don’t know if this is true.)

Our Parish Priest preached a couragous pro-life serman today.  There are good, brave priests out there, and we are blessed to have one of them.

pre-school book list

Charlie Needs a Cloak,

Peace At Last by Jill Murphy I also recommend Whatever Next and the Large Family books.

Dear Zoo

Owl Babies

We’re going on a bear hunt

Patrick Patron saint of Ireland

Fin McCoul and just about anything simple by Tomie DePaola.

The Gruffalo and The Gruffolo’s Child

Alfie and Annie Rose books by Shirley Hughes

Mog and the Granny Judith Kerr

The Story About Ping

Frog and Toad

Winnie the Pooh stories, and poem books like Now We Are Six and For the Very Young (the real ones by A A Milne - the others are awful) Also I advise you shop around as some of the stories and poem can be found free online. We are fortunate that we have some very old copies from my dim and distant past. You can also get Kindle versions.

Dinosaurs Love Underpants just for fun. Although Scholastic Press have some activities to go with it!

Usborne Fairy Tales (these are not the traditional ones but updated versions. The girls like them and they are a fairly good introduction)

The Wemmicks stories – You are Special and other stories You Are Spec Audio

Audio; The Queen and the Cats about St. Helena

Home education a couple of days in the life.

Yesterday, I got up did morning prayer, cleaned the kitchen ans set out the work for the little group.

Josh was wandering around emptying the bins ready for tonight. He was off to work after that. Alex was already at work.

Another family arrived and we had a cuppa. Then we called all the children together and did some history. We are following the syllabus for RC connecting with History using the Ancient Civilisations Pocket Book making book and Kalei’s Bible timeline pictures.

The children in the lesson range from age 4 to 9 and there’s a toddler too. For Ronan and Avila this is revision rather than work that stretches them.

Jenny (Josh’s girlfriend) of the Little Green Dress came and taught a Spanish lesson. We got lunch ready and then after lunch there was a bit more Spanish and then time to play. Ronan got the others together and made tortillas.

Jenny left and then the other family left. Alex came home and his girlfriend arrived.

I started the dinner and got most of it cooked and sorted so I could collapse in a chair for a while. Then everyone laid the table.

Al arrived home from work and I served dinner.

Children watched a bit of Narnia, the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe then got ready for bed.

Al took them up to bed and then there was relative silence for a while. I did some knitting and reading.

Compline and bed.

Today: Got up, morning prayer, cleaned kitchen. I ought to have made a jug of squash and left it on the table with cups for the children to help themselves to during the day – but I forgot.

Avila helped Heleyna get her breakfast while I set up the lessons for the day including the keyboard and broken computer for their music lessons (I plug the broken computer into the TV so they can actually see the music).

Lessons start and I have Heleyna (age 5) for one to one time while the other two work independently. This is easier since I bought them learning boxes which have everything they need. We use a pretty similar set up each week so they know what is expected of them.

After Heleyna’s work was done she sat next to me to do some worksheet stuff while I had one to one time with Avila. We do RE together and she reads to me. Then she and Ronan did a science experiment together while Heleyna watched.

Ronan got lunch for him and his sisters. I grab a lunch and get stuff put away and the next lessons out. With Ronan I do RE, he reads the Fr Brown Reader and we discuss the answers to the questions before he writes them out. Then he read to me.

There was a break while I sorted out something for Heleyna and then it was time for Latin (Primer A) and a bit of history. Heleyna had two little word worksheets for Linney’s Latin to do which included drawing a nauta (sailor) and an astronauta (astronaut) Actually that second word isn’t in the book but we like it. She did very well.

Lesson times were over and the girls went to play. Ronan came to help me prepare dinner. He loves cooking and grabs any opportunity to do so.

Having my 4 o’clock flop time now. It’s bizarre but around this time most days I just can’t move around any more. So I don’t. I am supposed to be writing up the Greek and Latin for next week, but I’m blogging instead.

The boys are at work and Iona is cleaning her room. The children are playing and all is quiet(ish).

Who knows what will happen next…

After lunch it was one to one time with Ronan while the girls played.

Suicide- the sin and whose sin.

What kind of home education blog deals with the topic of suicide? Well mine does. This is not just the remnants of my psychi days leaking out, it’s more personal and faith based than that.

Back in the ’80s when I did a bit of research into this, the suicide rate was rising so rapidly that the Conservative Govt of the time were forced to write a green paper promising to do something. Of course the promise was forgotten. Suicide rates are still increasing and have leapt up since this recession.

I wonder how many people reading this can say they have never known and/or loved someone who died this way. Many of us know more than one person who have died this way. It really is that common.

I’m a Catholic and so suicide is a mortal sin as lots of people like to tell you. However, those of us who have known a loved one who died this way find it very difficult to accept that. Thankfully the Church is far more sensible about these things than many of those who speak for her.

For something to be a mortal sin it must consist of three things; grave matter – that is something seriously bad; knowledge; you must know it’s grave matter and then you must freely consent to commit the sin anyway.

The thing with suicide is that many people don’t know it’s grave matter and among those who do or might, they are so depressed and desperate that they are not giving free consent of the will – they are just acting in a form of self defence against the awfulness of what’s happening. So, the bottom line is, we rely on the mercy of God who is the only judge. We are not to judge the soul of a person, and so yes, they can have a Catholic funeral and they can be buried or ashes scattered on hallowed land.

One of the things about good Christians and their attitude to suicide that has always grated with me is the focus on the person who has attempted or achieved the end. No one ever looks at the people around that person who may have been instrumental in their decision.

People with ME and fibromyalgia are at a massively higher risk of suicide. One study on FM I read a long time ago suggested that as many as 1 in 5 sufferers kill themselves. Going by this short report the rates for ME sufferers are worse.

The fact is the poor medical care and lack of support from family and friends is a big factor in suicide. But from what I’ve seen of those who do commit suicide it’s not as simple as lack of support; it’s often cruel, malicious and off hand comments mounting up until the person is pushed over the edge. And doctors I’m afraid are number 1 culprits in this.

One of the major aspects of the medical and research incompetence and dishonesty that H. Johnson reveals in her massive book Osler’s Web, is the sheer maliciousness of those who didn’t want to deal with the very sick patients, even the children. People like Straus and Wessley, locked into some kind of mysoginist narsacistic personality problems, have not really shown that ME is a psychiatric illness. In fact is easy to see they knew it wasn’t. If they had believed for one moment that people were getting that ill because of some psychiatric disorder they would have had some research done and some solid psychiatric care put in. Nothing of the kind has ever happened. But the knock on effect of their (thoroughly discredited) approach has been that patients who DO have a psychiatric disorder with or without ME or FM can’t get any proper medical care either.

All that work I remember us doing in the ’80s to undo the damage of the stigma of mental illness; to inform other medics of the importance of proper care for our patients, has been undone by the Straus’s, White’s and Wessley’s of this world. Because they say that seriously ill people are basically making it up. I’ve heard heart breaking stories of families that have fallen apart because some cruel and ignorant medica has told them the patient is just lazy!

So I beg you dear reader, next time to hear of a suicide or someone you love and care for dies this way- don’t be afriaid for them, pray for them. And pray for anyone who may have pushed them that way.

I believe that very few suicides are unavoidable.

Being Catholic: How did I end up here? (pt 2)

If I’m going to buy a book from Amazon I like to read the 1 star reviews first. If those reviews are well thought out, then I tend to avoid the purchase, but if they are rantings and ravings from someone terrified that the book might do some good -then I’m more likely to buy it. I guess I’m a bit contrary like that.

When it came to the Church the history of the bad popes was a lesson in authentic authority for me.  There have been some pretty dreadful popes through history. The Church hierarchy reached a real low during the Avignon papacy, and didn’t really recover until well after Trent. We have been truly blessed over the last two hundred years to have a bunch of truly good and holy popes, but goodness me the Church had muck all over the shoes of the fisherman before that.

How, you may wonder, did the dark days of the papacy help me on my quest to discover truth and authentic authority? Not one of these bad popes ever promulgated something against the Truth. They may have been awful sinners, but they never tried to rule their sins legitimate. The nearest we come in 2000 years to any Pope trying to get his own views accepted as authoritative is Pope Sixtus V and his badly translated and generally inaccurate Bible. He suddenly fell ill and died before he could promulgate it. But even that has been considered a non-event by thorough historians, presumably because it didn’t happen.

However, the next question I had over these bad popes was how Jesus’ promise not to leave His people orphans was fulfilled. If the Catholic Church really is His Church, He promised to ensure proper parenting for the sheep and lambs.

Bad, or absent popes, corrupt self serving Cardinals and bishops and priests who were not up to much must have left the ordinary people feeling very much orphaned. So what was God going to do about that? Where was His Church then?

I hit a bit of a wall here at first. You see, as a child I had been given those unbelievably sloppy little saint stories that leave you gasping for insulin. It put me off reading anything about saints at all. But then I discovered a couple of things (and I can’t remember how exactly). I learned that the soldier Ignatius Loyola had a conversion after reading the lives of the saints while recovering from his leg being blasted by a cannon ball. How on earth did a tough Spanish soldier find God among all that slop and fluff, I wondered? He had obviously had access to different saint stories than I had.

And then I stumbled on Louis de Wohl. At the same time I met a tiny Bridgetine Mother who told the story of St Bridget – and I was hooked. God HAD provided parents when the Fathers of the Church went AWOL. He gave the most powerful mothers we could ever hope for in St. Bridget and her daughter St Katherine and then the amazing St. Catherine of Siena. He gave us little father’s in St Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic, and of course He gave us a limping Spanish soldier in St. Ignatius of Loyola. There were so many holy men and women around this supernova saints that the Church and her people were steered through the storm tossed waters even while those supposed to be in Persona Christie were asleep at the tiller.

No other Christian church or community or any other faith for that matter has produced people of the calibre of my own St. Bridget and the astonishingly brightly shining St Catherine of Siena.  And these were just two of the deeply holy, God strengthened and intelligent people that are fruits of the Church. If I was going elsewhere for truth I had to find people better God-guided than them. And I never have.

During my dive into history and the lives of the saints my innocence about Catholic and other Christian writers took a beating. Byrne had simply made things up in her book Women at the Altar. There never were any ordained women; the role, power and strength of women in the Church was in how they reflected the Bride. God, decided the role for women and it was a truly fulfilling and dignified one. The women saints were a powerful witness to me that I could turn to them and that women as nuns, sisters, wives and mothers had a place in Christ’s Kingdom.

But realising that even Christians would tell down right porkies in their books made me pray very hard for discernment. And it made me double check and look further into all the history I was reading.

Being Catholic – how did I end up here?

A lot of people assume that cradle Catholics like me are living the unexamined life. That isn’t true. I think the number of reverts and out of the Cafeteria Catholics like me are probably as many, if not more, than the number of converts. I suspect there are a number of people of my age and younger who are coming Home.

I was baptised Catholic and brought up in what can only be described as fake Catholic ways. As I’ve mentioned before, I lived through the catechism and Scripture free zones of the ’70s to ’90s. I still don’t understand what happened in that generation, but whatever it was it was bigger, more complicated and more sinister than merely “post Vatican II” or “spirit of Vatican II”. After all it wasn’t just Catholics who lost the faith, protestant churches nose dived as well. Perahaps the Orthodox churches stayed pretty clean (I know the Russian and Serbian churches had to tackle some serious problems but those were more nationalistic and political, and therefore somewhat different from the Western problems). The Eastern Rites seem to have weathered things better than the rest of us.

I came to the Church via this confusing upbringing, through the New Age and some of it’s worst practices, via Islam, and some protestant churches, and finally back Home.

The root of what brought me to this place was/is the question of authority. If Christ is who He says He is, what was the Church He said He was going to found? Where is that Church? And how is Jesus keeping His promise that the gates of the underworld will not prevail against it?

I didn’t ask this question straight away on my journey. Anti-authority rhetoric was a big part of my upbringing, along with bullying disguised as authority – so it was sonmthing to avoid not ask about.

I thought the Church was doo-lally on a number of things; sex, women priests and to a lesser degree money.

The question of authority came to me after reading Lavinia Byrne’s book Women At the Altar. It’s a book that has been well and truly taken apart by historians, leaving me wondering how some books get published. At the time, however, I wasn’t so well read in history and I’d accepted what she said. But as her book came to be published, Pope John Paul II had written an apostolic letter on how women were never going to be ordained in the Catholic Church. The encyclical was put at the back of the book as an appendix. My guess is, most readers didn’t bother to read it. Well, I did read it. The words that jumped off the page at me were a quote from Pope Paul VI

the Church does not consider herself authorised to admit women to priestly ordination.

Not authorised? So the pope can’t decide with the bishops what the Church should do and say? I needed to know what this limit in authority was rooted in and what the limits were.

This was no longer a question of why the Catholic Church doesn’t and never will ordain women. It was a question of authority. From where does the Church claim her authority? And the only way to answer that question was to get reading some solid history.

I love the story Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God told about her conversion journey. She had come to see Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and had joined an Evangelical church. Her brother David was Catholic by this point (founder of the Assoc. of Hebrew Catholics) and had asked her to read the Church Fathers. She went to her minister to tell him she was about to embark on this reading and he advised her not to. Why? Because she would become Catholic if she read the Fathers, he warned her. He was right.

I haven’t read much of the Father’s yet, but I’ve read a lot of history around them and about them. I saw where the Church came from, how she grew, how she was persecuted and how corrupt some of her leaders, even popes, could be.

It was the bad popes that helped me the most. …

The Sacred Heart. All that love and thorns

After writing that short piece about why God might want to place a ban on the Amorites, it’s the Feast of the Sacred Heart today.

But if you are thinking that this is the fluffy Jesus, think again. Apart from the heavy crosses the seer St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had to carry in her life as she carried out the requests of her Bridegroom, there’s very clear signs of the Passion on His hands and feet and around His Sacred Heart. It was that heart which was pieced by the spear of St. Longinus and the last drops of Precious Blood given to the world. There’s a crown of thorns around it because love, done properly, does hurt.

Love isn’t a fluffy sentimental feeling meaning you can do whatever feels good (and sentimental). It’s an act of the will meaning sacrifice and often doing things we would rather not do. Ask any mother as she cleans up snot and vomit, or a husband who takes on those extra hours of work so his wife can be at home with the children.

We should resist the temptation to disneyfy Jesus.  In fact the tough, crown of thorns, wounded Christ is the one we know will help us in our trials and during the rough times of life.

Successes and Failures in home ed.

Yesterday, once the ‘formal’ lesson time was over, Ronan went off and made a green and yellow version of Batenberg. And why not?

He did this all by himself and is understandably pretty pleased with the results. The cake tastes great and although it’s not as neat as an Iona made batenberg, it’s pretty close.

So, I can feel a bit smug. Look at my 9 year old and how well he cooks.

And then, I’ve completely lost my voice. It’s been coming and going for a while now and this afternoon it went off somewhere and I haven’t found it yet.

Alex has suggested that I need to use Sign Language, and as I was (and more or less still am) fluent in the language that should be easy…except for the fact that I haven’t sustained my teaching of it to the children. So while I have a skill that is very useful, I have been daft enough not to pass it on properly.

Meanwhile my dear husband says he’s enjoying the silence!

I was talking to my son’s girlfriend’s grandmother (quite a mouthful!) a couple of daya ago and she was talking about the importance of passing on the skills we have in families. Her skill is needlework and she’s teaching her home educated grandchildren.

Part of the joy and importance of home education is passing on what we have learned as well as learning alongside the children, and in my case it would be very useful indeed if I got my act together to pass on Sign Language!

Joshua and the ‘ban’ of Jericho.

Divine Office at the moment is covering the story of Joshua leading Israel through the parted waters of the river Jordan to Jericho. The story makes it very clear that God is in charge of these events. He parts the river; He organises the Ark of the Covenant where He is present to be carried in procession around the city, and all Israel has to do is follow Joshua into the city and …well, this is where the atheists and many of us Christians find a massive stumbling block – God places a “ban” on all the people of Jericho. Joshua is to kill every last one of them, men, women and children, apart from the hosuehold of Rahab.

Either Joshua is making this up and he’s a monster or else it’s true and God is the monster. So is there another explanation?

The soundbite answer I’ve heard too often is, “God is the author of life. If He wants to demand the death of everyone in a city, it’s up to Him.”

To be fair, the answer is true, up to a point. But the root of the question about the “ban” isn’t really about whether God has the right to have people slaughtered – I suppose He does – the root of the question is “WHY would a good, loving God, have people He made and loves, slaughtered?”

We are also made very uncomfortable by the notion of holy war. Thanks to a recent history of truly unholy wars, it’s difficult to see how any war could be done at the direct command of God. So if we accept that the Scriptures have this right, what was God up to?

There are a few clues in Scripture. When God is choosing Abraham, changing his name and making the Covenant between them, He gives Abraham a prophecy in which He warns that Abraham’s descendents will live away from their land as slaves for 400+ years until “the sins of the Amorites are filled up (Gen 15:16).

Finally the sins of those people will be so low, that God will destroy them all, but not before He gives them signs and warnings. The sins of the Amorites, Canaanites and relative tribes included child sacrifice, incest, and the whole money, sex and power gamut of truly vile behaviour.

God sent the Israelites to reclaim their land and they were supposed to be so holy a nation, so willing to follow the Presence of God in the Ark (fire and cloud- Shekinah) that the other nations would clean up their act.

Unfortunately Israel failed to be truly holy even with God right there, and the nations refused to change their ways even in the sight of the mighty deeds God was doing with Israel. Rahab confesses to the spies that enter Jericho that they are all aware of Israel and Israel’s God, but nothing was changing.

If the people refuse to listen, refuse to repent and refuse to surrender to God, then He’ll find a way to clean up the mess.  He might not have needed to demand so many killings if Israel had been better, but they had only survived the golden calf incident marginally and their priesthood was gone. A temporary ( God’s temporary can take a while) priesthood was set up with the sons of Levi, but that shouldn’t have had to happen.

Israel was supposed to help the nations clean up, but instead she was always on the edge of joining in with the mess they made. But Israel often repented and came back to God. And while the Jews are a scattered people, God still holds them. But the nations who sacrificed their own children for wealth, detroyed themselves. We ought to remember that.

One of the problems we have with the “ban” is in accepting that God has a right, and even a duty, to punish sin.  Partly this is rooted in the “fluffy Jesus, my nice friend” approach to Christianity, and a bigger part is rooted in our wanting to do whatever we like and not have to face any consequences. We certainly don’t want to accept that our sins cause wars and other disasters – that we are in fact, our brother’s keeper.

As recently as 1917 Our Blessed Mother came with a message from her not so fluffy Son warning that if we don’t change our hearts there would be another war. She said there would be a sign of lights in the sky, so we could even have a last minute chance of turning things around, (as Nineveh did when Jonah preached to them). We didn’t do it and the lights appeared in 1936 followed by the Second World War in 1939.

Those who want to play with death will meet it. Simples.

Adventures in Fibromyalgia; lung specialist.

Saw the lung specialist yesterday. I was hoping that was it until the epilepsy clinic in October, but he wants me back in three to four weeks for tests.

As I’ve been feeling fine in the ol’lung department recently – haven’t needed prednisoline since April which for me is pretty good going.

Doc gave me a peak flow meter which I am to use twice  day for two weeks and post the results to him.  It’s interesting to get a baseline of what my lungs are up to when I’m feeling relatively fine. So far I’m hitting between 360 to 380 which isn’t that bad.

My sats hovered between 93 and 94 which isn’t that great but isn’t as bad as they’ve been in the near past (tended to be 86-88). So the drugs must be working reasonably well.

Friday freebies

I’ve put together a short timeline notebook for the 14th Century and as we are planning the next academic year I’ve put together an academic year diary.

As my breathing is naff and my voice comes and goes I am spending more time looking for audio books for the children, either for them to listen to or to follow along to.

I love the Readings from Under the Grapevine from Ancient Faith Radio. There are plenty of short stories and full chapter books for the children there. Dr hart has a good reading voice and Ancient Faith Radio have managed to get permission to read some modern and still in copyright works such as the Narnia Chronicles and many books published by Conciliar Press among others.

I wish EWTN or some other Catholic radio would offer a similar service for Catholic kids that Ancient Faith is offering for Orthodox kids.

Storynory is a good site.

And there’s the occasional gold standard reading from Librivox such as the Princess and Goblin read here by someone called Andy Minter who seems to me to have a genuine “voice talent”.

Sadly, not only do I have a radio face I am increasingly in possession of a silent movie only voice! So I am searching for good audio for the children as learning to listen is a vital skill.

Marriage and children: claiming it back. What mothers and babies NEED first.

Even the mainstream media are picking up on the increasing poverty, educational dysfunction and emotional chaos that happens when adults do what they want at the expense of what children need. Over all it’s mothers and children who take the brunt of the fall out as plenty of research and meta- analysis shows. Common sense could have told us too but these days we need to see someone with ‘PhD’ after their name before we’ll believe what our own experience tells us.

I can’t help believing that the key to claiming back the sanctity of marriage is to rebuild adult respect for the dignity, life and needs of children. Treating children as “things” that we can have by right or avoid by right has been a disaster for children, families and society.

Catholics (and I assume other Christians) are supposed to put our marriages in the hands of God. Three to get married as SofGod Fulton Sheen put it. If we do that then we wont be trying to take full control of it all. Contraception is an intrinsic evil because it is the couple telling God to get out. “We’ll have a child when we want one and you can shove off Lord.”

Procreation means to bring about the gift of children in cooperation with God. He has given us a mighty role in family life by allowing us to cooperate in this matter. Once we understand that, and understand fully the gift and dignity of children, we would never dream of using contraception. (And that’s before considering the appalling side effects of contraception).  When you go back and read Humanae Vitae now, you can’t miss just how prophetic Pope Paul VI’s words are. Everything he says would happen to marriage and to the dignity of women has happened.

Those who insisted that breaking Covenant with God in marriage through contraception would bring about better marriages, less abortions and less child abuse have been shown utterly and terribly wrong as divorce has rocketed, invalid and miserable marriages increase; more and more unborn children are slaughtered – thanks largely to contraceptive failure- and child abuse is a shocking part of too many children’s lives.

Far too many people of my age or slightly younger grew up in abusive, neglectful or just generally unaware homes. This must be because the culture now deemed children as something adults had the “right” to have or not to have; children as commodities had taken hold, while adults were out finding themselves.

It seems to me that the root of claiming back marriage and families is to start recognising the inherent dignity of children and to treat them with respect. Adults have an obligation to protect the inherent rights of children because they are not able to fight for their own.

As Christians we are supposed to do this because we follow Christ. Even though the culture is desperately trying to ditch natural law, we should be standing firm and putting the needs of children first and accepting the place of God in our marriages.

And no matter how I try and look at this, ditching contraception stands out as the primary answer.

Corpus Christie – Saints who lived on the Eucharist alone.

Jesus told Satan that Man can’t live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God. The Every Word is Jesus Himself. After He had fed the 5000 on bread and fish (not bread alone) He told them that in order to have Life in them they must eat His Body and drink His Blood. A whole load of people walked away, and Jesus didn’t call them back. It is thought that this teaching was the one that turned Judas.

At the Last Supper Jesus finally showed the apostles how His Bride, the Church, was to receive His Body and Blood as He spoke His Word over bread and wine (the offering of the priest Melchizedek) and said “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”.

Judas received the first sacrilegious Communion. St Paul has to warn against receiving the Holy Eucharist unworthily making the receiver “guilty of the blood” – meaning guilty of the equivalent of murder. (Blood guilt in the OT is murder). From his warning we see that there were sacrilegious Communions even in the early years of the Church.

Misunderstanding of the Eucharist was pretty standard among the pagans. They accused Christians of being cannibals who eat their god. It wasn’t until much later that the Church was accused of trying to re-crucify Christ at each Mass.  Nevertheless there has been lack of Faith and understanding of the Eucharist and sacrilegious reception since the beginning. So God has given us signs of His power in the Eucharist through great Saints and Blesseds who have lived for long periods of time on the Eucharist alone.

St Catherine of Siena lived on the Eucharist alone for the last few years of her life. Many of her companions, and her mother tried to get her to eat but it made her so sick they gave up.  She also had the stigmata, but she had requested that it not be visible and God granted her this. It didn’t show until just after her death, when the wounds then appeared.

Other saints include St Catherine of Genoa who lived through the fasting times of Lent and Advent on only the Eucharist. St Joseph Cupertino lived for 5 years without food apart from the Eucharist.

But the most well known, most scientifically documented and most rigorously recorded case has to be that of  Blessed Alexandrina da Costa who spent 13 years without food or drink but for the Eucharist. She is considered the 4th Fatima Seer. She died in 1955 but her canonisation process is already well underway.

Christ promised that He would not leave us orphans and He has always kept that promise. He provides proofs and signs of His Presence to help all who doubt, and strengthen the faith of those who receive Him. In these saints and Blessed we see that those who eat His body and Drink His Blood really do have life in them.

Jesus Heals and false advertising questions.

In New Zealand the Equippers church – apparently a sort of Baptist church- put up a poster claiming “Jesus heals cancer.” This caused some consternation and emotional pain for people who are presently suffering from, dying from and fighting cancer.

I think the poster was silly and thoughtless. But I suspect it came from that bizarre flavour of Christianity of the ‘health and wealth’ Gospel with it’s ‘name it, claim it’ aspect.

If the question was “Can God heal cancer?” the answer would be “yes” but if the question was “Does God heal cancer?” The answer can only be “Sometimes.”

Apparently, when the church got into trouble with the advertising people thanks to complaints received by those facing cancer without a miracle, they changed the poster to “Jesus heals all illnesses” or words to that effect.

Again they are not looking at the question properly. Of course Jesus can heal whatever He wants to heal – but very often He doesn’t. Taking a line of the Gospels (I think they referenced a verse of Matthew) and stretching it to breaking point is not very Christian and worse still, these people are putting massive stumbling blocks in the way of the vulnerable.

The problem this church has is they have no theology of suffering. The fact is that many good and holy Christians suffer. Some of the greatest saints who ever lived suffered immensely.  St Paul is our example in offering joyfully his suffering to that of Christ’s for the sake of others (Col 1:24). Paul’s suffering was pretty awful, either by the hands of others or from his own body. His description of his bodily suffering has left many wondering if he was the first saint to receive the stigmata.

In his letter to the Romans he reminds them that by suffering with Christ they will be glorified with him. This is a reminder that Christ told us to pick up our cross daily and follow Him.

Many Christians find accepting suffering as a grace very difficult. The last thing such people need is some sound bite poster twisting the truth and adding confusion to the pain.

In fact, when it comes to bringing Christ and His love to everyone, posters just don’t cut it. The corporal works of mercy demand we visit the sick, not put up posters to them.

Home Education Book Basket

It’s half term and so the children are doing their own thing and reading whatever they like.

Ronan (age 9) is still reading The Sword in the Stone. He loves it.

He and Avila (age 7) together are reading along to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. They have just finished listening to Stranger Moon which they loved and have requested I buy the book at some point.

Heleyna (age 5) has been following along to the Usborne Pinocchio and CD set and Avila has read her The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

For herself Avila is reading Martin’s Mice which was one of the first books I got Alex to read after I’d re-taught him to read.

Note: For those of you who have very reluctant readers or a child with dyslexia a book like Martin’s Mice is a good way to get them back into reading without using very childish books.

I am reading:

Osler’s Web. Yes I’m still reading it and I am still learning from it. I’ve read more on the astonishing Ampligen trial wherein the FDA refused to accept the findings because too many egos were at stake.  Now the only way to get onto the newer trails is if you happen to be very very wealthy indeed. However at least the fact that the FDA turned it down back then has not taken the drug that had such solid results first time around off the table. 

Even when you take into account the usual corruption and self serving bureaucracy of those who work in big organisations like the NIH and CDC, I am still stunned by the sheer maliciousness that was aimed at very sick people whom most of the doctors and research had never even bothered to meet. During a conference a research doctor from Glasgow walked out on a presentation because there was a video showing a patient obviously extremely ill. His lack of professional behaviour and basic good manners is staggering and made more so by the knowledge that the patient he was so dismissive of died two years later.

I am also having a Sigrid Undset time reading Catherine of Siena (Kindle)which is brilliant and The Bridal Wreath which is the first book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. (kindle)

Undset is a fairly recent find for me but she writes with extraordinary skill, and I have to say the translater is to be praised also.

I have Jenny to read later. I think it’s the only public domain English translation out there, unless anyone knows of another? As she seems to be one of those writers who have a genuine gift throughout all she writes I hope to read all of the books I can find.

marriage and children: claiming it back for this generation

For forty years this generation wearied me, and I said in My heart they do not know my ways and they do not follow My path, and I swore in My anger that they would never see My place of rest”

Those of us who made it to adulthood through the Catechism-free-timezone of the ’70s, ’80s and much of the ’90s have been left with a very poor understanding of Faith and basic truth.

The results of the lack of faith formation and conscience formation are pretty awful. Marriage has taken a real battering because of it. We were taught that we should “do whatever feels right” and that contraception was fine really because the document Humanae Vitae isn’t really infallible. The fact that this is only one document among a host of others dating back to St Paul and the Didache was never mentioned.  We were fed the idea that God wants whatever we want.

Meanwhile some vestages of what I suppose was the pre-Vat II beliefs among some Catholics still prevailed. God was a mighty and angry judge who made up rules that He had no intention of letting us know or understand, just so that we would break them and He could have the malicious pleasure of sending us to hell.

It’s hardly surprising that navigating through such waters has caused many of us to get a bit lost. Thankfully with the internet and access to a more honest catechises many of us are finding the way home.  But in the meantime marriage has taken a battering.

One of the major criticisms of the Catholic Church in America is the astonishing number of marriage annulments that have been granted. This has prompted some observers to say that these annulments are nothing more than “Catholic divorce”.  Those who work on the panals for annulments insist this is not the case and that they are very careful in judging the validity of a marriage.

Two other explanations for the number of annulments are offered. First that it shows Catholics in America care about marriage enough to seek annulments rather than simply divorcing and trying to remarry. That seems a fair point to me. Listening to Catholic Answers over the years many people phone in with questions about annulment having made a mess of things and now being in the process of returning or converting to the Church.

The other very important observation is that far too many marriages are entered into invalidly. I think many of us can probably think of at least a couple of marriages that could easily lead to annulment. That is a tragic situation and it urgently needs bishops and priests to work out some way of properly preparing couples so that those who are heading for invalid marriages can be warned and helped – before they embark on the road to divorce, by getting pseudo-married.

As many people of my age and older have no clue what marriage is all about because no one ever taught us, we are producing a whole generation of children who reach adulthood with even less understanding than we were given.

We need to start educating ourselves so that we can help our children make good choices and so that we can pass on an understanding of marriage and life’s vocation. Better late than never.