Monthly Archives: December 2012

Humility verses indispensability.

Pride is an ugly sin and is at the root of all sins from the moment Satan said “Non serviam” that is “I will not serve,” pride has been causing bad things in God’s good creation.

Now back in the good ol’days of the Church, before life got soft sometime in the fourth or fifth century, there were no confessional boxes with nice anonymous grills. Oh no, none of that. People confessed their sins before the priest and anyone else who happened to be there. There was often some pretty public penances given as well, especially for public sins. Even kings were told to wear sackcloth and ashes and walk a pilgrimage or two.

If you’ve read Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter (a wonderful trilogy which I highly recommend) you will have seen that Kristin walks a very public pilgrimage in penance for her sin against God and her father. (See how careful I am not to put a spoiler in for those of you who haven’t read it yet :) )

So I will make a confession here. I have caught myself with a very subtle type of pride and its about being indispensable. My terrible fear of not being useful. God is curing me of the disease of indispensability by having me be really ill. So, good things do come from being ill.

I noticed this pride as Christmas came and I just hadn’t done all the things that I usually do in preparing, cooking, wrapping, getting good presents for people. I like Christmas to be just so, and very special so in the past I’ve spent hours, staying up half the night wrapping, arranging and God knows what else.  It all sounds very generous and kind doesn’t it? But in fact I got a lot out of it. People saying how wonderful I was at all this.

dys 12So this year has come as a hard lesson. I can’t do it all. In fact a lot simply hasn’t happened. Christmas cards didn’t happen until the last minute and then only some cards. I didn’t cook enough so there are people without the usual chocolates, chutney’s cakes and sauces. Iona has made a lot of really lovely things, but usually we did it together so a lot could be done quickly.

Wrapping presents defeated me in the end and I just had to cave and go to bed (pulse hit the high 130s as I tried to get the washing done as well). Iona and Josh stayed up and finished the work.

Alex and Anna have been over to help with the final preps and making the Christmas dinner. There are other people who can take up the slack in the rope. I am grateful, but also it upset me. See? It wasn’t just about getting it done – it was about me getting it all done. I have to be useful.

I wanted to be doing it all. I wanted to be the queen of Christmas, making it lovely for everyone and basking in pride. Oh dear me. Now that I can’t I am learning a new humility.

I suspect this particular form of pride is mostly a woman’s problem.  Many of the saints were hidden little people who spent a lot of time being very ill. I think I need to remember that next time I am getting frustrated over what I can’t do.

I came across a fellow ME patient a couple of days ago who said she was lucky in that her family took care of her and made sure she could both cope with and enjoy Christmas. They accept she is very ill and don’t try and force her to perform. A little ruefully she said she wished she could offer something in return. Looking at her, I thought, well you are offering something. You are offering your family the opportunity to take care of you. All those people at the last judgement standing on Christ’s right hand had been feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty caring for and visiting the sick and those in prison and so on. If there were no sick, housebound, imprisoned, hungry thirsty and naked people- how could they have done all that?


I think when it comes to us sickies and cripples when we stand (before by then we will be able to!) before God, He won’t ask us so much about all the stuff we couldn’t do, He will say, “Did you accept the people I sent to help you? Were you kind and polite and patient with them?” And of course, “All those people who wouldn’t help, left you to struggle and made life even more difficult; did you forgive them?”

So, fellow mothers out there watch for this sin of pride. Don’t learn with the holy 2×4 as I have done this Christmas. Learn from me. I like the saying that any fool can learn by his own mistakes; the wise man learn’s from other people’s.

feast of the Holy Innocents; children beg santa for a family.

Pia de Solenni writes how the Telegraph here in the UK have reported on the most popular things children ask Santa to bring them. Up there at the top children ask for a sibling. In their loneliness and innocence they ask Father Christmas to bring the child they so long for to add to their family and be the love and company they long for.

I read this only a few minutes after hearing a mother phone Dr. Ray Gaurendi looking for a way to tell her family, especially certain members, that she was expecting her fifth child. Instead of being overjoyed at another baby they would be snarly about it, as they had already been with previous children. Even though she said they were Catholic, who undoubtedly heard how Joseph, and Mary pregnant with Jesus were turned away from the Inn, they were happy to slam the door on this family because another child was on the way.

At number 10 children were asking for a father and at 23 on the list they asked for a mother. Among the horses, cars and stuff of Christmas children were asking first for a family.

Meanwhile two people phoned up who had many siblings, one of whom, lady who was one of 12, was now dying. She had her family around her for support and in turn wanted to offer something back in letters or words of comfort.

Dr Ray mentioned that he had come across many elderly people, alone and lonely because they had chosen not to have few or no children. It’s especially sad when you consider those people who can’t have children or manage only one or two pregancies and would give anything to have more.

It’s funny that some people try and undermine the historicity of the slaughter of the innocents when Herod sent soldiers to kill the children of Bethlehem in the hope that the slaughter would include the new King of the Jews. They say they can’t find other references outside the Gospel of Matthew and so Matthew must be wrong, for someone else would be bound to notice this.

We live in a world where technology is so great I can send a message to friends in America and Australia and it gets there almost instantaneously. We have more information on the internet than we could possibly deal with. News programmes saturate the airwaves with banality and politics every minute of every day in every time zone. An yet many people seem still unaware of the Gospel. They don’t know about Jesus, or even about the children in their own neighbourhood.

We have the Gospels to tell us about Jesus and there is nothing in history or tradition that would give us reason to think Matthew lied in his report on the killing of the toddlers and babies in Bethlehem.  It is most likely that the story came from the lips of Jesus or His mother themselves.

It was recently reported that babies are routinely killed in our NHS hospitals, that a baby’s life was only saved because she was weighed with an accidental pair of scissors that tipped the scales in her favour. So many stories are out there- and how many of us know those stories or care about them? I am quite sure there are many more that I have never seen or heard of.


The feast of the Holy Innocents is the day mothers who have miscarried babies, had still births and those who had abortions can remember their little ones and ask for God’s love and mercy for them.

Some parents are blessed to be able to baptise their baby before they die, but most of us have lost our children before they could be baptised. This often leads parents to worry about their eternity, especially in light of St. Augustine’s thought that the innocent unbaptised entered a place of limbo, an eternal happiness but not the full blessedness the saved can hope for.

The Church teaches three baptisms. The ordinary form is the baptism of water and oil that we see so often at Church. Water is pours over the baby, child or adult and the words “I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” are spoken in obedience to Jesus command in Matthew 28.

The next form is called Baptism of Blood. This is the baptism that catechumens and other’s not yet in the Church receive should they die for love of Christ as marytrs.

Finally there is the baptism of desire. That is someone who would have been baptised if they could have, but died before the opportunity was offered would be saved through their desire to do God’s will and receive baptism.

I don’t know, but I wonder if many of us who have lost babies pre-term or before we could get them baptised, can hope that our desire as parents counts as a baptism of desire for if they had lived we would have taken them to be baptised.

I don’t know – but we can trust in God’s mercy and I have no doubt at all that we will all get to meet up with our children in the end. So there is more joy than sorrow in the end.

Every single child is a blessing no matter how long or short a time we have them.

Happy Christmas!

The last of the O Antiphons have been sung and we are left with ERO CRAS meaning tomorrow I come. From Emmanuel (God with us) back to Sapientia (Wisdom) the first letter of each Latin word spells the “ero crass” promise.

Have a lovely, happy Christmas.

I also want to say a special thank you to the “friend” who remains nameless who was so generous and seems to like my blog. Thank you and God bless you.

And thank you to all of you who subscribe. God bless you this Christmas.


O Emmanuel (O God with us) Dec 23rd.

Isaiah went to bad king Ahaz and said “Ask the Lord for a sign.”

In a fit of prentended humility Ahaz said “oooh I couldn’t.”

So Isaiah said, “Well you’re getting a sign anyway. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and he will be called emmanual, God with us.” (Is 7:14)

Hezekiah was born and became king of Judah. At that time it seems God was calling a few men to be prophets. Isaiah and Micah in Judah and Amos and Hosea in Israel. Hosea of course was a prophet of Israel in Babylonian captivity.

Just before these events Jonah had been spit up on the shores of Syria where he had to go and prophesy to the people of Nineveh, a potential enemy of Israel, They repented and the Lord was with them.

Events were moving hard and fast in that little piece of history.  In the Pseudepigraphia we hear the story of how Hezekiah calls his infant son Manessah to his side as he dies, but even as he is to give the child a blessing the son of Isaiah Josab prophesied that Manessah would worship a demon instead of God and undo all the good that Hezekiah had worked. The faith of the people would be split apart. In horror and grief Hezekiah considers having his little son killed, but is warned against this by Isaiah even though he has forseen his own terrible martyrdom at the hands of Mannessah. Isaiah was sawn in half.

There is an addition showing the Christians saw in this the symbolism of the terrible martyrdom the Church suffered under her own Manessah in Nero (both types of antiChrist).

In the end poor Manessah, having sacrificed his own sons to Molech the child consuming burning idol, repents. Psalm 151 is one of those not quite canonical but much loved prayers of repentence. For Manessah to have come home after having run so far gives hope for us all.

The martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah

The Holy Father, commenting on today’s Mass readings asks us to behave like Mary and Elizabeth:

Let us imitate Mary in the Christmas season, visiting those who are experiencing hardship, especially the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly and children. Let us laso imitate Elizabeth, who welcomes guests like God Himself: without desiring the Lord we will never know Him, without waiting for Him we will never meet Him, without seeking will never find Him

We’ve just come home from a lovely visit with friends who are relaxed and caring and  gave us a beautiful organic lamb dinner. They had received the lamb from the farmer as a gift and took that gift and shared it with us.

I am not that well today and very twitchy and jerky. But with them it didn’t matter. I could twitch, jerk and tip over and not have to feel embarressed. I think many of us are more blessed with friends than we sometimes realise or appreciate.  If you have friends as good as this don’t forget to thank God for them :)

O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations) Dec 22nd

When Jesus stood before Pilate, He was asked, “Are you a king?” and from the conversation that followed Pilate the gentile and his gentile wife St. Claudia Procla saw that He was indeed a king.

The apostles had some understanding that Jesus, a son of David was a king by right but they were stuck in the idea that He would take a political stand against Rome and somehow bring all Israel back together. When Jesus went out to do His mission there was only Judea, the land of Judah and Benjamin with the Levite priesthood. Sometimes other tribes were noted such as Anna in the Temple who was from the tribe of Ashur. But in saving all Israel Jesus wasn’t going to pick out Israelites alone. He was calling all the nations, the gentiles too now, into the new Israel of the new Covenant. Israel was the first born son, the oldest brother of us all, but the gentiles were God’s children too.

O Oriens (O Dayspring) Dec 21st

The Light of Christ dawns and the people who have walked in darkness and the shadow of death have seen a great Light (Prayer of Zecharius. The Benedictus Luke 1:68 to 74).

The great fire of God’s Love will burn up the stubble; and yes that will include yours and mine and it will hurt. We need to get rid of that stubble to be as gold. Those who do evil will be burned up. When Christ comes as the Daystar, He comes to renew the face of the earth. He is the Light in the darkness that cannot be overcome.

This is the Light we can reach for to get us out of our self imposed darkness. It’s still a choice of course and as no one is forced to stand in the light. But the light is mercy. If we refuse mercy we will face justice. Thank God there’s mercy. Are we not blessed?

From Divine Office today:

Thus say the Lord, your remdeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the Lord your God, teach you what is good for you. I lead you on the way that you must go.

O Clavis David (Key of David) Dec 20

Christ comes to fulfil the prophecy that David’s throne would last forever. He holds the key of the Kingdom. Christ’s kingdom, however, is not of this world. He came and through His Passion He opened the gates of heaven that had been closed when Adam sinned.

Christ set about establishing heaven on earth. He called His apostles and said he was going to build a Church. As King He saw those who were to be His ministers in the Temple had reneged on their priestly duties. So, like King Hezekiah all those years a go, He dismissed the false stewards who had not cared properly for the kingdom and it’s people, and He gave the Key to a new Steward.  He took Simon barJonah and gave him the Keys of the Kingdom. Jesus even used very similar words to King Hezekiah who placed the keys of his kingdom on the shoulder of Eliakim. “What you bind on earth is bound in heaven, what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”  (Is.22:22 Matt 16:19)

Jesus takes the keys of the kingdom and passes His authority to the Church, His bride. Peter is the new Eliakim and he will pass on the keys to St. Linus, who into turn passes it on to St. ‘Cletus and then St. Clement and so on until Benedict XVI

Even as the little baby we will greet at Christmas there was an understanding that He is a king. It was the gentile Magi who brought Him the gifts for a king, gold for His kingship, frankincense for His priesthood and myrrh for prophecy.

From Lauds today:

The sceptre shall not pass from Judah, nor the mace from between his feet until the one comes to whom it belongs, to whole the people shall render obedience.

Gen 49:10. This is part of the blessing Jacob-Israel gave to his sons. Reuben had forfeited the blessing of the First Born because of the way he took revenge for the rape of his sister Dinah. Judah was the third born of Leah the first wife of Jacob-Israel.

POTS, ME/cfs, Dysautonomia. FMS: My 24 hour ECG – did it show POTS? PS FDA meeting over Ampligen

On Thursday I went to the hospital to be wired for a 24 hour Echo Cardio Gram. The first thing they did was a short 12 lead ECG with me lying on the bed. This showed that I was tacky already – but I had just wheeled myself into the room. The reason I can’t use my shove-it wheelchair myself properly these days is how horribly tacky I get when i do.

24hourecg_-N0030866Then they put a three wire ECG monitor on me. This was stuck on in three places and I was to wear it until the same time Friday. Then I had to return to the hospital to have it removed.

The kindly Prof, has promised (bless his cotton socks) that he will do all he can to help me avoid the hideousness of a tilt table test.

I’ve come across more than one unfortunate POTsie who has been through the torture that no terrorist has been given, four times before getting a definitive dx.

So, to avoid this nauseating, black out and fainting inducing NHS-theme ride, I was to make sure I made myself as tacky as a brass


pineapple for the ECG. Thus the Prof instructed me. Thus I obeyed.

So I spent Thursday doing washing, cleaning the house, cooking and making things and being up and down as much as possible. I hit well over the 125s and even registered a 132 on my finger pulseometer. So I hope that was enough.

The dx of POTS is basically this. You must have had problems for more than 6 months. From a lying down to standing your pulse must go up by more than 30 beats per minute or be over 120 within ten minutes of being upright. Easy.

For those of us looking at a dx of either hyperadrenergic or combo POTS we will have a rise in blood pressure to go with it- like badly matching socks. More commonly in POTsies is hypotension, but some of us like to be different. In my case I get massive spikes in BP with the occasional sudden drop to just below normal. This means I never need to spend money on a theme park ride. My body provides the Apocalypse experience without me needing to stand in a queue or spend any money.

60018_545327948830483_1336223284_nAnyway, I hope my pushing my limits to crash means I will quickly get a dx and some treatment. I am realistic and know there is no cure, but at least for POTs in most of it’s lurid flavours there is some kind of treatment.

If having crashed out so badly I STILL can’t get dx pleased be warned the “brave cripple” will turn into a raging ranting maniac. My patience with the medical profession ran out a very long time ago.

THIS ARTICLE explains quite a bit.

Get the low down on Hyper POTs here. There’s an amazingly foggy-brain blowing thorough overview HERE

So presuming the tacky is clear enough that I get the dx of POTs then what kind of POTs do I have? Going by a number of symptoms; hypertension, out of control asthma and breathlessness, tremour, shakes and twitching and jerking.

bost body

Overview of my BP, Pulse (blue) and pulse pressure(purple). You can see how sometimes things are better than others. Another typical POTs thing,

I am hoping that as the Prof mentioned testing my “flight and fight” responses that the NHS do at least allow for epinephrine and norepinephrine tests. I doubt very much I’ll get standing dopamine tested or Mast Cell tests. Neither do I expect to be tested for the rarer forms of EDS even though there’s a chance that is playing some role here. Chances are his F&F response test might be slamming a book shut near me. That seems to be the level the NHS is at these days.

As more recent research shows Fibromyalgia overlaps so precisely with Hyper PoTs I assume I have hyper or combo (because of the sudden drops in BP and the occasional very low pulse pressure around 1o).  Like DysGirl I have fluctuating pulse presure. Sometimes normal, Sometimes too high (above 50) and sometimes too low (below 30).

And now all I have to do is wait. And very probably chase up the results and remind the NHS machine that I exist.

Please add an extra prayer or two for patients with CFS/ME as tomorrow there”s a hearing with the FDA (Federal Drug Administration in America) over  whether the drug Ampligen should be approved for the treatment of CFS. It’s looking like a rocky road ahead, which is nothing new for patients with this disease. The initial negative approach caused the shares of the drug to suddenly drop by 45% which only reminds us that patient need and care is not the priority ever.

However this conclusion from the FDA prelim review has also been released.

CONCLUSION from FDA prelim review
“In summary, CFS is a serious, life threatening and unmet medical need. There are currently no FDA approved products specifically for the treatment of CFS. Ampligen has the potential to be a positive therapeutic option for patients with CFS who do not have an alternative to directly treat the condition. Given the overwhelming physical and cognitive health issues; the decrease in activities of daily living and overall lack of quality of life associated with CFS, Ampligen clearly represents a clinically meaningful advance for a significant unmet medical need, and the weight of evidence supports FDA goals to advance treatment for chronically ill patients with severe debilitating, life threatening, conditions such as severe CFS.
It can be stated that the burden of the symptoms associated with CFS is greater than any risks associated with Ampligen, since a CFS sufferer’s life may be at risk for years of debilitation often followed by premature death.”

Please do pray. As things are there is very little treatment for this. Many people are bedbound, very debilitated and desperate. 

O Radix Jesse (Dec 19th)

God had promised King David son of the shepherd Jesse of the tribe of Judah that his throne would last forever. But the sins of Solomon son of David caused Israel to be split (a schism) with ten tribes to the north continuing as Israel with their own kings and queen mothers and Judah in the south made up of Judah and Benjamin with some Levites for the priesthood.

Isaiah began his prophesying in the Reign of King Uzziah of Judah. He continued through the reign of Jotham and then came Ahaz who was just dreadful as kings went but he was to have a son.

Isaiah went to King Ahaz and said “Ask for a sign.”

Ahaz in a pretence at suddenly being holy said he couldn’t possibly ask God for a sign. He may very well have been too scared to hear what that sign would be. Isaiah said “Well God says you are getting a sign anyway.” I am sure his tone was a little snarky. “Behold,” said Isaiah as the Spirit filled him with what to say, “A maiden shall conceive and bear a son and he shall be called Emmanuel, God with us.”

Ahaz’ wife gives birth to Hezekiah meaning something like “take courage”. She saved this son from the fires of Molech the god who had consumed her other child at the behest of Ahaz. Sacrificing babies for wealth and power is an age old vileness and Molech has turned up in many forms but always with the same results; lots of dead babies.

In many ways Ahaz could be considered a type of Antichrist. He sets up a pagan altar in the Temple, desecrating it with sacrifices to another god. Surely this was an abomination.

When Hezekiah becomes king he tries to put things right. Through a renewal of the Passover he tried to bring all Israel together at least spiritually. But when Hezekiah died his son Manasseh went back to the bad old ways of worshipping like the pagans and child sacrifice.

Jesus uses the word Gehenna, the place of fire where Ahaz and Manasseh had made their children pass through fire – that is sacrificed their children for wealth and power; as a word for hell.  Gehenna the place of fire is hell because the Molech gods were demons. (Ps 151 the prayer of Manasseh gives some hope that he repented in the end).

Isaiah’s prophecy was to be more fully fulfilled when a virgin conceived and bore a son, a branch from the root of Jesse. Jesus is God With Us and He is of the family of David, the tribe of Judah and through him all Israel is saved.

Getting Universalis for 2013

A couple of years ago I posted on how to get Universalis on your Kindle. As I’ve had a further request about how to get it sorted out I thought I would repost and add some details.

Universalis offers the complete Divine Office and Daily Mass readings. They have set up an APPS and DOWNLOAD service so we can use various devices to pray. I have it on my Kindle.

To create your 2013 Office book for Kindle GO HERE on UNI

iconOn the desktop of your computer you should have the icon. Click on the icon. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS


Connect your kindle to the computer with the USB lead. open docs and drag and drop the book into Kindle Docs. Make sure you have the book actually in the Docs folder or your kindle won’t know it’s there.

O Adonai (Dec 18th)

Day 2 of the O Antiphons is O Adonai

God made a Covenant, first with Adam and Seth, then with Noah and Shem (Melchizedek) and then again with Abraham and Isaac. Each Covenant made with the father for the son was a Covenant of family. In changing Abram’s name from ‘Father of a nation’ to Abraham, ‘father of many nations’ God pointed us towards the next Covenant where he would change Jacob to Israel and make a national covenant with him and later Moses with a promise of an International Covenant that would come when all Israel was saved by Christ. All these covenants are about God giving Himself to the family and then the nation of Israel in which He is the Beloved husband/Bridegroom and Israel/Jerusalem is the bride. This was a prefiguring of Christ the Bridegroom who would pour Himself out for His Bride the Church.; the new Israel.

In those days woman would call their husbands adonai, beloved husband. But a concubine like Hagar or Jacob-Israel’s concubines Bilhah and Zilpah would call their “husbands” ba’al meaning master-husband.

When Israel worshipped God their beloved they could call Him Adonai. When they worshipped the gods that made them slaves they worshipped Ba’al and his consort Asherah. God called them on it and called them back to Him “And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” He said.

God does not makes us slaves. He loves us and gives himself to us. So a Covenant is an exchange of persons, as you get in the Sacrament of marriage, whereas a contract is an exchange of things. If all we have with God is some kind of contract then we are little better than slave-concubines. We must love Him as He loves us and then we can call on Him “O Adonai!”

O Sapienta, O Wisdom


O Sapienta, quae ex ore,  Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

It’s the last eight days of Advent, when we begin to pray the O Antiphons. They are prayed from Dec 17th to Dec 23rd and then comes Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day. We pray and meditate on the titles of Jesus. 

I got the feeling reading the Gospels that Jesus’ favourite book of Scripture was Isaiah. From Isaiah 11:2 to 3 and then 28:29 we get this prayer. Wisdom comes from the mouth of God just as In the Beginning was the Word (John 1.1) and the first thing of creation was made by the Word from God. “And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light.” (Gen 1:3)

When we pray and meditate on Scripture it’s wise to take all the books as one whole book. One the most amazing and unrecognised miracles, it seems to me, is how the books of the Bible written by different people over thousands of years.  Let’s consider that the Torah (Pentateuch) was around from 1600 BC and the Book of Revelation was written around 67 AD (Yes, I choose the traditional dates). With different authors living in different cultures – Hosea was under Babylon for example – and yet the whole thing fits together and tells us the entire story of salvation from creation to the end of the world.

I love the way the Word of God in Scripture fits together as part of the Word of God in Christ.  That is wisdom and we should pray for some as we study Scripture.


Little Lessons for Advent freebie

P1010756If you are still wanting something extra to do with the family for Advent I made these lessons last year (I think)

PART ONE can be found HERE

PART TWO can be found HERE

Do have a good mooch around Kalei’s site. She has produced so much stuff. Consider buying the CD too.

3rd of Advent end of Hanukkah; Rejoice and have hope in the darkness

30219_Silver_Plated_Oil_MenorahAs we light the third candle – that pink one of joyousness, our Jewish brothers and sisters are lighting the eighth candle of Hanukkah. At this point the oil of the old Temple Menorah, which should only have lasted one day before plunging the Temple back into darkness, had lasted all eight days it took to make new oil. Then it could quietly run out in time for the new oil to be added to the lamps. The light stayed as the people of Israel reconsecrated their sacred things and the Temple to the Lord and then they could rejoice in their new freedom. They had lost so many good men and women and children under the darkness of Antiochus Epiphanes. Perhaps they mourned the unnamed mother who is remembered more than 2000 years on as she suffered the martyrdom of her seven sons and lost her own life after them. Her light still shines in many hearts.

We can rejoice that the Light is going to dawn. There will not always be darkness and for so many of us we can relax and know Christmas will be a time for joy.

But my heart and prayers go out to those who face a dark Christmas. I can’t imagine the indescribable pain for the families of those murdered in the school shooting in Connecticut. How can such evil happen? Why do people make such astounding choices and destroy so much for so little reason?

479983_213167592152057_1962316465_nCan we find joy, and true hope in the midst of such deliberate darkness? I think we have to. Christ has promised us so much if we persevere and in the shooting there are names that shall never be forgotten. Even in what can seem the deepest evil and darkness bright lights shine. So many people turn back to God and pray at these times and we ask that He welcome all those killed home. For many there is a crown of glory for they lay down their lives for the little ones.

There will be many unnamed heroes in this atrocity. Families who care for one another and stand by one another. Priests who ran to care for victims, children who held on bravely with their friends. We may never hear their stories this side of heaven, but they are happening.

Rejoice and have hope for such people do exist in our world. Thank God for them.

Joy is not about being happy, it’s about being blessed.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.

From hell there’s no coming back, so don’t go there.

gustave_dore_inferno32The question of who is in hell and who might be heading there comes up quite often. It seems that many people would prefer to believe either that all are saved, or that hell doesn’t exist. Jesus made a big deal of hell so I tend to think He may have had some genuine concerns about us ending up there. He certainly gave a lot of warnings to try and persuade us not to go there.

The undermining of the doctrine of hell seems to be a way to make the downward slope smoother and more attractive. Don’t go there!  God gives us free will. We are supposed to choose to do good. If we create hell on earth for those around us, either by action, words, silence or neglect, then we aren’t going to have heaven later. We do take it with us.

Dante described hell pretty thoroughly and while we know it was a poem and not a vision, its a pretty profound poem. The ninth circle of hell is frozen. It’s as far away from the burning fire of God’s love as you can get. So loveless and cold; such justice demanded and no mercy.

I wonder if so many Christians give short shrift to hell because they don’t see it. They are nice people with nice friends and a nice church. Perhaps they have never seen (or have managed to ignore) the depravity and abuse that many people have been subjected to. I suspect that like Dives they can step past Lazarus at the gate and fail to notice., or they put some coins in a charity box and think that’ll do.

Many of the saints have seen hell. I think sometimes Catholics put far too much emphasis on “private revelation is not binding on the faithful” and use it as an excuse not to see what God is saying to us. Private revelation doesn’t add to revealed truth but it’s a good reminder and I’m sure God wouldn’t bother if we didn’t need the reminders so often. The list of saints and blesseds who have reported their visions of hell is very very long indeed. None of them saw it empty. St Teresa of Avila was shown the place in hell Satan had ready for her. She learned he really does hate each one of us that much.

St Faustina was told that we are to seek His mercy. Those who refuse mercy to others and refuse to seek Christ’s mercy will be faced with Him as the just Judge. We need to pray for one another and take care of one another so we receive the mercy we need when the time comes.

It’s not easy to get to heaven, Jesus warns us that. He warns about it a lot so we should try and take note. He warned that being rich can be a real problem in getting to heaven; so we need to be generous with what we have and not horde. This doesn’t mean only giving away something we don’t need. It means giving away or sharing even what we might need if someone else needs it more.

The bottom line is that we are free children, not slaves or automatons. We get to choose whether we do things God’s way or our way. There are plenty of people making it very plain that they have no intention of spending eternity in the fire of God’s love. We can pray they change their minds but they choose where they spend eternity. We all do.

I can’t help wondering how many nice Christians are in hell through sheer apathy. They liked the idea of God and the social gathering on a Sunday but couldn’t be bothered to love Him or their neighbour if it meant doing more than being “nice”.

It’s too easy to think that if anyone is in hell it’s only the Hitler-Stalin-Judas types that have ended up there. “I haven’t murdered anyone,” they think, like the woman who had not been to Confession in 30 years and then said she hadn’t committed any sins.

Our Lady told the children of Fatima that far too many people end up in hell thanks to “sins of the flesh”. That is all those pelvic issues that people criticise the Church for caring about.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, how many of us can honestly say we haven’t done anything to mortally wound our souls, ever?

So hell is easy to get to. Be awake and don’t go there!

Discussion; Fr. Barron’s Youtube vid on universalism and Mon. Pope’s excellent response. I have to admit I would love to believe that all are saved in the end – but reality bites.

Ending term today

I’ve decided to end term today. I wrote out what I wanted the children to get done today and I’ve done some light work with Heleyna. I’ve tried to set things out so that Ronan and Avila can work as independently as possible. They have to do the work they find more difficult while I am here and then get on with the rest while I am at the hospital being fitted with the 24 hr ECG monitor.

I’m really impressed that Ronan has taken on extra work today so as to have a couple of books finished off before next term.


He’s just finished off Life of Fred Ice Cream and done some extra Reading Thinking Skills to get it finished too.

He’s also done some basic sentence analysis as an alternative to diagramming.

J, Josh’s girlfriend has taken them out today so they are getting a lovely end of term treat as well.

Mind you, they had the home ed group Christmas party yesterday as well. Lots of fun to be had for all. But they have worked very hard and I am pleased with how they are doing so far.

Hope my ECG is nice and clear so I can get something to help.

Woman Clothed with the Sun with the moon under her feet (Rev 12)

our_lady_of_guadalupe_4x6Dec 12th is the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Dec 9th would have been the feast of St Juan Diego but it fell on 2nd Advent Sun this year)

That God in His love and mercy has given us such a mother is wonderful all by itself, but that He allows her, sends her, to speak with us and leaves us a beautiful Icon should make us even more grateful.

While it is true that private revelation is not binding on the faithful, I think we should be cautious about using that as an excuse to ignore what God is giving us when He sends Our Blessed Mother and/or other saints to remind us of the Gospel message.

bent-crucifix-cc-odoyle81The tilma made of cactus ayate  fibre is still in great condition and the image remains clear despite some accidents; one with nitric acid and the time someone tried to blow it up. In fact despite being on open display for many years under candle flame and incense, before even a glass covering was made, the tilma image is in much better condition that the Mona Lisa and is only 12 years younger than Leonardo’s famous painting. The great crucifix that was bent right over by the explosion is now on display. The glass covering of the tilma remained in tact.

On Dec 12th 1531 Juan Diego was sent to the barren cold top of Tepayac Hill where he gathered an astonishing harvest of big castellan roses that had suddenly appeared there.

StarThe Icon shows a woman dressed as royalty, but with her head bowed as one in service. The black ribbon that hangs under her prayerful hands shows that she is pregnant. More than that, thanks to some study of the stars on her mantel we see she is carrying the constellations from that very date. She wears the crown of stars (Corona borealis) and under her hands (invisibly) is Leo showing that she carries the Lion of Judah and above that over her heart is virgo saying she is a virgin.

There were more scientific studies that show the eyes of the Icon have the reflections of a real eye showing the bishop and Juan Diego in her eyes. The minute and realistic distortions of the images in her eye show something so accurate that no artist could have done this.

At the time the Indians understood the image better than the Spanish did. They read graphics like words. The tilma is as packed with information about her. She wears the cross of the Christians and the robes of a princess. She is robed in the sun and stands on the moon, so she is greater than their gods, but she bows her head with the cross on her neck and therefore is accepting a God greater still.

Up until this point the missionaries in Mexico and surrounding areas were having a tough time converting the native peoples. Their work was hampered by the unChristian behaviour of many of the Spanish and Portuguese settlers who, feeling that Rome and her rules was far away, took slaves and spent more time chasing gold than seeking the kingdom.

But after the apparition and the miraculous image was left, millions of people learned about how much God loved them and how He had even given them a Mother and they were baptised.

It was this image that was taken into the battle of Lepanto and her prayers that gave victory on the Feast of the Holy Rosary 1571.

I love the way God sends His mother at times of crisis. He sends her and raises up some ordinary person like St. Juan Diego or the children of Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette and so on. Mary appears clothed in the sun at a point where in Europe the book of Revelation is under attack. God has a gentle sense of humour I think.

It’s great to have a wonderful mother.

Trusting the children to get on with it – even when I can’t.

I have the flu. It has floored me and all my careful end of term planning to help me plan the beginning of next term has just hit the wall. This is where I get a bit frustrated. So, I am trying to re-adjust the planning and get the children working with me feeling non-functional.

After the problems over the summer I thought I should plan ahead for ‘eventualities’ but I think I may have planned myself into a corner. I am slightly more functional today so I’m going to get them working and hope we can adjust the plans as we go.

Yesterday the children just did reading. That’s still learning, so I’m not worried. I think the key to keeping the whole thing moving along is to have the children in the habit of learning no matter what’s going on. I am trying to write out plans so the children can get on, and if someone else needs to step in with them, they will see what is happening too.

crappy peopleI don’t know any other chronically ill home educators at the moment, so I really am making it up as I go along. Thankfully I don’t feel pressured to “Perform” from anywhere but myself at this point.  The only person getting bored and irritated with chronic debilitating illness is me.  I’ve been reading the wonderful blog Living with Bob on and off  and I noticed, that like so very many other FMS/ME/Cfs/POTS/dysautonomic folks she has lost friends and family over how sick she is.  (scroll down to sorting wheat from the chaff). I think the fact that many/most of us have seen friends and family vanish (run screaming) into the sunset, we learn to be more self-reliant.

If you look at this article and comments that says a lot of us are labelled as slothful  you will see heartrending statements of people left destitute when too ill to earn money. These are people who have families comfortably off.

Frankly, after ten years, I really couldn’t care less what people think of me. God is my judge; and thankfully a merciful one.  I am very, very blessed to have friends that have been sensible about how sick I am. and I have always had exactly what I needed to get through each day – even in a full on crash.

I do think us sickies need to be cautious when it comes to “wheat and chaff” that we don’t turn into the very chaff we are blowing off. Just about all people who have vanished from my life or are at more than arms length are those who want everyone to be looking at them. It’s all about Me/myself.I people. Well, the danger is we start having the same attitude because we are ill. Having children is a great balancer. It’s about them and their needs and that helps keep the “ME” stuff at bay.

Advent 2: getting straightened out.

Our family are getting ready for a wedding. Alex is getting married. So we all have preparations under way. Certain things need to be sorted out before the bride and groom can walk down the aisle.

In some ways Advent is like preparing for a wedding. We want to be ready to greet the Christ Child in the best way we can. But advent is also about awaiting the return of the King, the Bridegroom who will come at last to claim His Bride.

St. John the Baptist stood at the river Jordan and asked the Jews to repent, clean themselves up, get baptised as a sign of that cleaning up and be ready because the Lamb of God was on His way.  John  stood on the banks of the Jordan the river that ran from the Sea of Galilee in the north where old Israel had dwelt to the dead see in the South where Judah was based. On one side of the river lived the Jews and on the other was the Decapolis, the ten cities where many of the diaspora, Hellenist Jews lived.  One was coming who would bring all Israel together and bring the gentile pagans into cleansing waters too.

John was the last old covenant prophet and his baptism was the last baptism before the sacrament established by Christ came in which we are born again in water and the spirit. (John 3). John’s final action was in baptising with a promise of the final baptism and Christ left His apotles with the instruction to baptise all the nations in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; bringing the world into the New Covenant.

St John was going to die because of his stance on the sanctity of marriage. While in the Temple of Herod the rabbi Hillel was wondering whether a man could divorce his wife for any reason at all, John was preparing the people for a true Bridegroom.

In Divine Office we’ve had the reading from Isaiah where King Hezekiah (who was the first fulfilment of the prophecy about a maiden conceiving and bearing a son) is cleaning house. Shebna, the King’s Steward has shown himself corrupt and incapable of properly stewarding the people. So Hezekiah ditches him and places the keys of the kingdom on Eliakim. He shall open and none shall shut, he shall shut and none shall open.

When the Messiah comes He too cleans house. The Temple priesthood is overthrown (in the mini Parousia it’s more definite 70 AD) and Peter is given the keys of God’s Kingdom. He is given the authority to bind and loose.

That authority is still under the King though. Popes have authority to do only what God wills. It doesn’t matter how much the media and others demand the Church change the laws God has laid down – She can’t. Authority isn’t about doing what you want, or what someone else wants, it’s about doing and saying what is true.

Right now I am fighting the flu. So my brain is more like a pile of mash spuds, so sorry this isn’t very erudite…

Oh no not the Immaculate Conception! What is it again?

Let’s start at the very beginning

A very good place to start

When you read you begin with A B C

It’s Adam and Eve in theology…

Ahem, yes that was really awful, but I couldn’t resist. So let’s start with Adam and Eve.

God created the heavens and the earth “all that is visible and invisible! (Nicene Creed). Then on the evening of Day 6 He created Adam out of the “red earth” (Adam means red earth) and gave him authority. How do we know Adam received authority from God? Adam named the animals. In Jewish thought, and strictly speaking this should still be Christian thought, naming is a sign of authority. Names are important, they carry meaning.

Adam doesn’t find a fit companion among the animals so God makes Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. To paraphrase St. Edith Stein; God didn’t take from Adam’s head that he might rule over her, or from a bone in his foot that he might trample her underfoot, but from a bone close to his heart that he might love her.

Now, I have a little theory on this – take it or leave it. I think God took the rib from Adam’s right side, nearest his heart to make Eve. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

I would like to believe that Adam bore a scar on his right side where the rib had been taken.

Adam named his bride Eve, the mother of all that live.

Adam and Eve sinned and God cursed Satan. “I will put enmity between you and the woman…you will bite at her heel and (he/she/they/it) will crush your head.” (There’s still a discussion on the proper translation of the word s’he it; I tend to lean towards the word “she” and I’ll explain why).

With the curse, God gave the Promise of a Saviour.

Then there’s the whole of the Covenant testaments as God made new Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob/Israel and then Moses. Gradually God trains His Chosen people and reveals Himself a little more along the way.

Types of Mary occur through Scripture. Jael who put the tent-peg through the head of the enemy, (jdg 4:21) then Judith who beheaded the enemy (Jud 13) and an unnamed woman who dropped a massive stone block on the head of the enemy coming to attack Jerusalem. (can’t remember where this is in Scripture)

Then there’s the importance of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is the great sign of God’s Covenant with Israel. It is made beautifully with gold, and more gold lining the inside.  The Ark contained the Law that God gave to Moses – His Word written by His hand; some manna- the bread from heaven and the rod of Aaron the High Priest.

So the groundwork is laid.

Now to the story of how Mary came to be conceived.

In the Protoevangelium of James we find Joachim and Anna who are good, saintly people but have never been blessed with a child. This theme is also found in the Old Testament; Sarah was barren until Isaac was given her, Rachel was barren until Joseph and Benjamin; Hannah was barren until Samuel…and so on.

The elders of the Temple gave Joachim a hard time because having no children seemed like a punishment from God.

After much heart ache and prayer, finally God sends an angel to tell Joachim that his wife will bear him a child. In this case, unusually, the promise is a daughter.

So Mary was conceived.

Some people have asked “how”? They are asking if she was conceived in the usual way, or miraculously. It is generally agreed that Mary’s conception happened in the usual way. Let’s not forget that God invented sex. Adam and Eve were built physically as people are today.

So why ask if Mary was conceived miraculously? It goes back to Adam and Eve.

Back in the Garden Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They were man and wife. It doesn’t seem they had relations at this point. In fact from rabbinic tradition, it would have been proper to wait until Adam had made the sacrifice to claim his bride. Adam didn’t make the sacrifice – he ate the fruit instead. The tree of life remained untouched.

Then Adam and Eve covered themselves and we all know they covered up the sexual. life giving parts because they had consumed “death” with that fruit.

As a result sex between married couples will always be less than it could have been and brining forth life more difficult.

Blessed Catherine Anne Emmerich’s visions do suggest a miraculous conception of Mary. but there have been a number of issues with the recording of her visions – as someone else did it . Some man whose name I can’t remember.

Anway. Mary is conceived. So what makes her conception “immaculate”?

God, her saviour, fills her with grace just as He had done with Eve. She is the Second Eve, as her Son will be the Second Adam. She still has free will, just as Eve did, but she retains her sinlessness. The Second Adam will embrace the Tree of Life, as the first Adam did not, and He will pour out His Precious Blood for His Bride the Church. Mary is a model of the Church, the Bride. And of course the last pouring out of Blood an water comes from the side of Christ, between His ribs and I believe He was pierced on the right side for the vision of Ezekial saw water flow from the right side of the Temple and Jesus had already equated Himself with the Temple. God is neat.

Why does she need to be without sin?

It is said that strictly she didn’t “need” to be sinless but it is fitting she should be. It is also one of those things God would do. He’s good like that. Just as the inside of the Ark was of purest gold before it received the word of God, the Bread from heaven, and the symbol of priesthood – so Mary is purest gold before she can conceive the Son of God being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

She is the Ark of the New Covenant.

This is another reason she remains ever virgin. Just as no one would empty the old Ark and put a couple of good books in there, so no one could enter the womb that bore Jesus because, like the place in the Temple that was the Holy of Holies, no one but the High Priest could enter.

When she bears the Word of God, Satan does get his head stomped on.

Understanding the role of Mary means spending a lot of time with Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers. Once we get to understand her, fully human and utterly saved and loved, and loving she will point us to her Son, fully human and fully Divine. That is her primary role – to point us to Her Son.

I heard a very angry man on Catholic Answers who was absolutely furious at the notion of Mary being sinless. Personally I rather like the fact that God really is that generous towards His mother.

Catholic Home education; pros and cons

I sometimes struggle a bit with the notion of “Catholic home education” as a discreet entity. I remember the laughter when the Catholic Education Service under Oona Stannard came out with the phrase that there was no such thing as Catholic homeschooling (but if there was the CES wanted a slice of the pie when the Govt cracked down on us).

Some time ago a Catholic home ed mum asked me how we were getting on using the Seton curricula books. I said we were doing fine. They are high quality, well presented and have a great reputation. She told me another mother had been faced with a child who said, after finishing a Seton book that she never wanted to hear the name of St. Therese again. OUch!

I buy a lot of the children’s workbooks from Seton and Catholic Heritage. Both produce good quality educational materials. Seton is pretty tough, leaning towards a Classical approach and CHC is gentle, leaning towards a Charlotte Mason approach.  Seton seems too rigorous at times – hence the CHC, While CHC doesn’t stretch them enough (IMHO) so Seton. I’ve been able to adjust the children’s learning to where they are. Sometimes the CHC books have worked much better; at other times being stretched with Seton has worked well too.

But they are both very Catholic. Language Skills, Science and RE all have a Biblical and Church History with saints approach.  The children have not complained, but I am worried sometimes that they are being bashed over the head with religion.

I think it goes back to that swinging pendulum again. The balance is found when the pendulum points straight down, but our culture has it swinging so far away from religion and there’s so much misinformation about the Catholic Church and her history, that homeschool curricula seem to feel the need to redress the problem by swinging the pendulum out the other way.

I buy Catholic mostly because I trust it. Even so-called Christian writers (Story of the World Vol 2 for example) will write complete nonsense about history pertaining to Catholics. And it’s not just an American problem. The same rubbish appears in books this side of the pond too.

Saint-Agnes-Holy-Card1I want the children to know their Faith properly. The Catechism free zone that I grew up in was not helpful in any way. I want them to understand what happened, and the genuine heroic nature of so many saints who faced persecution and death with such amazing grace and courage.

I don’t want them growing up with a sentimental view of life as a Catholic. Those sloppy-pass-the-insulin holy cards with equally insipid tales about the saints put me off reading any lives of the saints when I was a child. I needed a saint who understood real life and real pain. St Agnus (pictured left) did know all this, but her picture and the story that went with it, put me right off.

So I want my children to love the saints and understand them as real flesh and blood people who suffered and kept the faith even in the darkness. But I also want a little balance. So, I confess I’ve been adding a few things to their work. Instead of always writing about holy things, I’ve replaced it with the occasional story about aliens and wombats. Ahem. Yes, well, the children love it and they love their saint stories too. I want to keep the pendulum pointing downwards so they will know and love God and all His friends, but not feel there’s nothing else to learn about, or that they can’t have fun.

47309_139845609498523_1113674584_nThat brings me onto another aspect of the “too holy” Catholic books. If I have one criticism of Seton it’s the unrelenting seriousness of the workbooks. There is nothing wrong, in my way of thinking, in a couple of banana skins and an alien with his toe stuck in his ear.

I like that Catholics can have a laugh with the saints, without being disrespectful. I also love the Eastern Icon approach to saints because they seem more real somehow. Look at St. Nick there.

We are blessed to have an Eastern0-like mosaic in our church, which I love. I think they are more real because they come directly from the times of persecution. There’s no sugar, but there is gold. I love that.

So I walk the narrow path of giving my children a high quality truly “Catholic and catholic education, without making them sick of it. They need to know enough to defend themselves from daft assertions (Catholics worship the virgin Mary; the Catholic Bible was added to at the council of Trent and all Catholic priests were selling indulgencies…etc.) while still loving the Faith and the Church Christ gave us. Not easy.

Advent 1: Going up to the mountain of the Lord

advent1After Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus gives a pretty full-on warning and promise about His Second Coming, the readings begin to unpack the fulness of that promise.

The New Covenant wasn’t just between God and Israel (You shall be My people and I shall be your God Jer.30:22) but now the gates are open wide and all the nations will come to gather at the mountain of the Lord. (Is 2:3)

What are we waiting for?

We await the shoot that will spring from Jesse and bring a much looked for peace to the nations of the earth. They will all come under the one Lord Jesus Christ who brings light out of the darkness of death and leads us on the path of peace (Benedictus of Zachariah Lk 1:68 said every morning in Lauds)

Where is this mountain?

I wonder about the symbolism of the mountain. John, in his vision of Revelation talks about the city built on Seven Hills and the argument has gone back and forth about whether that’s Jerusalem with it’s seven hills (Olivet, Acra, Moriah, Bezetha, Scophes, Ophel and Zion other lists have slightly different names). The Seven Hills of Rome (Quirinal,Viminal, Capitoline, Equiline,Palatine, Caelian and Avetine).

It’s an interesting coincidence that both this cities were built like this and John probably wanted readers to see the “twin” natures. One city crucified Our Lord and the other was busy crucifying the members of His Body – Nero did some truly hideous things in his slaughter of Christians.

Seven is an important number in Jewish faith. It is the number of the Days of Creation and it is the number for swearing and oath. It is from this we get the word Sacrament, which as Dr. Hahn points out means literally to “seven ourselves” when we bind ourselves to a holy oath – of which there are seven and therefore seven ways that God in His generosity pours out His graces on us.

Adam and Eve were made on the sixth day, but the Sabbath was then made for them (the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27). But when they sinned they fell back to “working” instead of resting in the Lord and were people of the sixth day, longing for the Messiah.

Jesus is crucified on an eighth hill, just outside Jerusalem (Calvary to the Romans, Golgotha to the Jews). Peter is crucified on an eighth hill across the river from Rome. (Vatican)

Jesus rises on the Sunday which in the Holy week is day 8. He rises on the first day and remakes it. We are children of the eighth day. This is the day that the Lord has made (Ps 118:24)

When we ask Him to come, Marana tha, we are asking for glorious Christ to be heralded by the angels. He will come to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end (Creed).

new website that looks good for Dysautonomias and their stuff.

splash_logoThere is a new website just opened for DYSAUTONOMIA SOS  with lots of information and personal stories. THEY ALSO HAVE A BLOG. I have been told there’s a section on hyperadrenergic POTS but I can’t find it. If you spot it – please let me know.

Meanwhile there’s this thorough article on Stop  POTS on hyperadrenergic POTS

On the desperate need for support for mothers with youngsters or a crisis.

I’ve been going on (and on and on) for some years about the terrible lack of support for mothers in today’s culture. Both the nuclear and extended family has broken down in many ways. Coupled with the lack of children born to many families over the last couple of generations – or perhaps only the last generation for those who held on to the Faith, means there isn’t much support for mothers, like there was in the old days.

It has been noted that one of the reasons young mothers in particular feel isolated with their new borns and toddlers is that they are at home in a ghost town. Every other person in the street has gone to work. They are simply alone and too often that can lead to post natal depression and anxiety problems.  Many mothers who would have chosen to be home and care for their children then feel forced back into the workplace.

The Anchoress writes on this suggesting that parishes need to set up some kind of network of older mothers, with experience and now less responsibility, could help the newer mums coming through. I think there is also an absolutely desperate need for parish support for families in crisis. I do know that thankfully a lot goes on under the radar.

Have a pray about this. Is God asking you to do more to support someone in your family or parish?

Dad’s need to be on the ball with this too. Adam’s role as Bridegroom and father was to care for and protect his wife and children.”Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church pouring Himself out for her” (Eph 5:25). That pouring out was His Passion (which literally means to pour out), where He poured out every drop of blood for us.

Dad’s need to be aware of when their wives are struggling and not expect her always to be able to give well thought out coherent instructions about what help she needs. When things get rough dad’s who have to go to work and leave the wife to it should be phoning around and asking for someone to help her.

The same goes the other way around. When I knew in advance I was going to be in hospital for a long while I phoned around asking people to help my husband with food and support while he was left caring for the children and still needing to come up to the hospital. It worked well. People really responded beautifully, making offers and accepting requests.

Having a parish based group of people who will help out, going over and spending time with a mother,  or reading to one child while the mum gets the baby settled., or even something as simple as holding the baby so she can go to the toilet ALONE.

It’s not just mothers with young children who need help. I was talking very recently with a mother who is in a long-term crisis situation. She desperately needs a fellow woman to just help with the children so she can get all things done and care for her husband. Her father is brilliant and does a lot, but taking care of teenagers is full-on parenting and just a second pair of hands could make all the difference to her.

We actually discussed the possibility of putting out a plea in her church asking if anyone feels God nudging them towards this sort of pastoral care.

There is also an absolutely desperate need for something like this to help those of us who have had crisis situations with seriously ill children. I wish someone could have helped me during all those times I was in the Children’s with a very sick child.  The experience has left deep scars I’m afraid. Ironically after one of the most difficult admissions with a very sick child, when I was pretty ill myself with a roaring chest infection, it was a fellow mother with lots of children who came to my rescue. After being told over and over by nurses that my fever was keeping my daughter’s fever high – what was I supposed to do!?! she finally became well enough to be discharged. We had been in hospital over a week. The following day my friend took me to the doctors. I was so very ill the doc said she was calling an ambulance to have me sent into hospital straight away! Thank God – and I do- my friend was there and she promised to take care of me; which she did and I escaped admission. She took us all to her house and kept me in a chair while she ensured meds and fluids were put into both my daughter and me. Bless her for that.

In Japan there was (perhaps still is) a system where relatives sit with a person in hospital to take care of their needs. It means that sick people don’t dehydrate or starve for being too weak to feed themselves. It’s a beautiful service that is an extension of the family cohesion found in the Shinto religion.

As Catholics we are called to this sort of thing. To be fair, while I don’t know about “official” parish programs, (which we do need) there is a lot of quiet support going on under the radar.  We are all called to be Simon of Cyrene at some point in the journey, and to accept a Simon when we need to. Maybe we just need to be a St. Veronica. Whoever we choose to be in the face of someone else’s suffering, let it not be Pilate.

On a slightly side note, I think the way home education works can offer this sort of support automatically. Those of us with older children will help out with younger ones in lessons or groups so that there is support. Perhaps some of the best home ed groups do work like extended families a little.