Tag Archives: liturgical season

Thank God for Divine Mercy.

imagesCAO9DBVZAs the Octave of Easter approaches we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s got to be one of the most beautiful gifts God has given His people. I have a special soft spot for it, not just because I need it, but also Ronan was baptised on Divine Mercy Sunday on the morning after the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II. I think it is fair to suggest that Blessed Pope John Paul II is the “spark to come out of Poland to ignite the whole world and prepare it for my second coming.”

All we have to do is ask and He pours out His mercy for us. It’s there, and He has to keep asking us to accept it. That’s a bit embarrassing really.

If we reject mercy, then we face judgement, Jesus warns as He has done so through Scripture and the Traditions of the Church. When we are faced with the invitation to accept all the mercy He has on offer, it seems to so simple, but in fact it can be quite difficult. First, we have to admit we need mercy. That’s not all that easy, it seems to me. After all, today we tend to think of people as generally “nice” and nice people are good, we think. Even if you’ve decided to go your own way in life and choose even grave evil then it doesn’t matter so long as you’re nice.  People who consider themselves nice won’t be looking for mercy. We have to accept, painfully, that perhaps we aren’t all that nice sometimes; or even often.

If you are wondering whether you need mercy, why not try reading some lives of the saints; all of whom threw themselves on God’s mercy.

Some quotes from St. Faustina’s Diary

Holy Week; Spy Wednesday. Thinking like Judas.

Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Instead of doing this on the quiet as He had with Jairus’ daughter (I suspect for her sake) Jesus had raised Lazarus in front of a crowd. The following day He is sitting in the house with Lazarus when Mary comes in and pours very expensive Nard all over his feet.

Judas says the same thing I have heard from so many people who say they are followers of Christ, “Why hasn’t this expensive stuff been sold and the money given to the poor?”

John tells us something else about this statement. Judas was not interested in the poor, he was interested in the money.

How many people who use the same words as Judas about the Church have sold their goods and given the money to the poor?

Jesus says, “The poor you will have with you always….” And sadly this is true. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and they will still be poor when it runs out.  We need to get our priorities in the right order. We cannot serve the poor properly unless we first serve God properly. We cannot give to the poor unless we first give to God so we can receive from Him everything we need to give to the poor. And if we look at some of the most beautiful buildings and vestments in many churches we find that it was the poor themselves who donated to make sure these things were there for the proper worship of God.

St. Francis of Assisi had nothing. He and his fellow Franciscans begged for their daily bread and worked among the poor all their lives. But Francis insisted on the very best vestments, chalices and altar cloths for the Mass because God is worth it.

Jesus didn’t need nard poured over him. Mary needed to do that. Jesus doesn’t need to see His priests and deacons in proper vestments using precious items for the Mass – we NEED to see that, because we are weak and so easily forget who God is.

When the Church is stripped of her wealth, as she was in England under Henry VIII, it is noteworthy that the wealth doesn’t get near the poor, but boosts the coffers of the already rich. While Henry destroyed everything the poor were thrown out of the hospices and monastery guest houses and the sick were left without the medicinal gardens and care of the monasteries and convents. The schools that had been open to the poor were shut.

Leprosy, which the work of the religious orders had eradicated from England was re-introduced.

And most famously of all the bee-keepers of the country were left destitute.

Judas is not unique. He got his thirty pieces of silver that he longed for, but it didn’t help him or any poor person.

The first person to refuse to offer to God what was right, was Cain, and he murdered his brother. Henry VIII murdered a lot of people, but gave us wonderful saints like St Thomas More and St John Fisher among many many others.

Judas saw to it that Jesus was crucified but from that we have our Salvation.

God makes straight with crooked lines, but God help the one who has made those crooked lines.

Holy Week; Cleansing the Temple and cleansing the Church

Jesus-Cleansing-the-TempleToday we remember how Jesus arrived at the Temple to see the Court of the Gentiles had been turned into a market place. Those Gentiles who wanted to worship the LORD were therefore given no place to pray. They were not allowed into the Court of Israel on pain of death .

Jesus, who is the Light to bring the gentiles out of darkness, (as Simeon prophesied when he held the 40 day old Baby in his arms), made a whip and thrashed the money changers and the sellers out of the place.  No more den of thieves. But it is assumed that Jesus may have had to do this clearing of the Temple more than once, as the money makers didn’t take “No!” for an answer and didn’t care enough about the gentiles who wanted to worship God to allow them their space to do so.

Pope Francis is facing many calls to clean house. There was consternation and deep sadness over the sacrilegious public taking of Holy Communion by people who are very publicly and very powerfully pro-death politicians.  The call has gone out for Church Law to be obeyed on this matter, as the open disobedience  causes such grave scandal and is hardly helping those who persist in taking sacriligious Holy Communion.

parable-of-the-taresI don’t envy Pope Francis that difficult task. But Jesus told a parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a field in which the owner planted good seed. But while  he slept his enemy came and planted weeds among the good seeds. Both seeds grew up so when the servants came to the field they found wheat and weeds growing. “Sir, didn’t you plant good seed?” they said to the owner, “Look at the weeds here.”

“Some enemy has done this,” said the farmer.

“We’ll go in a gather them up,” offered the servants but the farmer said, “No, don’t gather the weeds incase you uproot some of the wheat too. Leave them to grow together and at the end when the harvest is ready, I will send reapers to gather the weeds first and burn them, while the wheat will be gathered into my barn.”

I don’t know what Pope Francis will do, although I think he’ll have to do something. There is a line between pulling up the wheat with the weeds and losing some wheat to the strangulation of the scandal caused by murderous weeds.

The only thing for us little ones is to pray and make sure we change our lives so we are the wheat and not another weed.

Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast day when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by His cousin who was to lay down his life for the sanctity of marriage. Christ the Bridegroom came to be baptised to take up His priesthood from John the priest of Levi, and to begin His public ministry. In stepping into the water, Jesus did not need to be cleansed of sin, on the contrary, His Presence in the water cleansed it as He cleanses us of sin.

Christians are called by Christ to accept marriage the way God designed it. Part of the reason marriage is so holy and sacramental is because Christ is the Bridegroom to His Church. Not to mention that God created marriage when He made Adam and Eve as flesh of his flesh.

One of the questions or issues that comes up regularly when you listen to catholic call-in shows is the matter of invincible ignorance. Jesus said of those to whome He had given His message “if they hadn’t heard Me they would be innocent, but having heard Me, their guilt remains.”

If someone genuinely could not have know the Gospel and all it’s Truth, then they can be judged on natural law alone,(natural law is not the law of nature) but anyone who has heard or read the Gospel or could have and has deliberately avoided it, will have some very very serious explaining ahead of them.

It is deeply worrying when people who call themselves Christian-followers of Christ, who have access to Scripture and all that Christ teaches, and yet choose to reject that in favour of political or zeitgeist views.  It is not just that their betrayal will undoubtedly bring more persecution down on true Christians, it is that they are risking their souls.  Eternity is a very long time.

John as the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) spoke out for marriage and was imprisoned by Herod, whose marriage was invalid and immoral, and was martyred. He never once went back on his word, or said, oh well we should allow it after all.

Christ the Bridegroom re-established marriage from the mess some of the Jewish authorities had allowed it to get into with Rabbi Hillel arguing for divorce for any reason. Jesus speaks of how God designed marriage from the days of Adam and Eve, and He elevated it to a Sacrament.

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.

BAPTISM OF DESIRE

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.

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.

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.

Presentation of Mary Theotokos in the Temple.

It is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Theotokos at the Temple. The story of her Presentation is found in the Protoevangelium of James one


of the apocryphal books that is afforded some serious respect. We need to remember that just because books are not inspired doesn’t mean they have nothing to tell us. Not all the rejected books are gnostic or very dodgy in other ways.

There does seem to be some discussion on how old Mary was when her parents SS. Anna and Joachim took her to the Temple. Some traditions suggest she was as young as three while others suggest she had reached the age of reason and was around the age of seven.

As she was left there to be taught and cared for by the Temple women, I would assume she was as least seven.

It was here, called by God, that Mary took her vow of perpetual virginity. She was to serve God in all He called her to for all her life.

Jewish law did allow for such vows but once a girl’s parents had died and there was no male adult to care for her she was obliged to take a husband. According to tradition these men were often widows who were willing to be a guardian.

The Protoevangelium tells us Joseph was widowed and had sons. It has been suggested that these sons may have been some of the “brothers of the Lord” mentioned in Scripture. I am not so sure as I think the sons of Mary of Cleopas and Mary Salome wife of Zebedee seem to fulfil that role as there is evidence they were close relatives of Jesus. But there could have been sons of Joseph too.

When the Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and says “Hail, full of Grace,” (thus naming her the Second Eve as the first Eve had been full of grace until she blew it) he asks her to be the mother of the Saviour. Mary asks how this can happen.

Mary was not an idiot. She knew where babies come from. She was not asking for a biology lesson on marriage. She asked how God was going to allow this when she was under a vow. Gabriel assured her that her vow was safe as the Holy Spirit would overshadow her.

She then said yes (her Fiat) and became the Theotokos – the God-bearer. The new Ark of the New Covenant, holding within her the Bread of Life, Prophet, Priest and King.

This is a beautiful feast day as we head towards Advent. .

Towards the return of the king

We are galloping, full tilt, to the end now. Next Sunday is the feast of Christ the King and the liturgical year goes out with a bang. I don’t think we should pass over these last weeks so quickly and easily always looking at Advent again. Wait a minute and concentrate on the story now. If you pray the Office the story has been getting more epic by the day. We’ve seen the Maccabees “world end” battle and the miracle of the one days worth of oil lasting 8 days so that the Hanukkah lights could be lit. We’ve seen Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great statue and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight we know that the feet of iron and clay was Rome and the little stone was Christ and the mountain is His Church.

We saw the writing on the wall which Daniel interpreted and then the rise of Darius the Mede. (silver on the statue).

Finally it is Darius who allows the remnant to return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

Daniel then receives another vision, another prophecy, while he stands on the banks of the Tigris. Daniel 12 tells us of the strange things he sees and the role of St. Michael as the guardian of Israel. In the vision of Daniel there is the hint that Michael will also be the angel of the Church (the New Israel) when the time comes.

It seems that just about all Bible prophecy has more than one fulfilment. So when the maiden conceived and bore a son, Hezekiah was born and then much later Jesus.  There are plenty of other examples.

This prophecy is layered. It was terrible in that others with Daniel, who didn’t see the prophecy sensed it and ran away.  One of the lines that stands out in this is verse 11;” From the time when the daily sacrifice (or perpetual sacrifice in a literal translation) is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up there will be 1290 days.

I think the general view is that at the end of the end times the Mass and Divine Liturgy, which is the perpetual sacrifice, “The Lamb who stands as though slain” (Rev) will be banned. It will remain illegal for three and half years and for three years the abomination will stand and then Christ the King returns.

The two men in Daniel’s vision might be Enoch and Elijah but I haven’t read anything on that so I can’t say.

The question that bugs me is this. The number of days are part of the prophecy and could be allegorical or metaphorical. Does the banning of the perpetual sacrifice have to happen in one foul swoop? Or could it be the historical ban on the Mass and Divine Liturgy that has happened all over the world for the last 500 years or so? Wherever tyrannical Governments have had power of the Church both east and Western Rites, and in Communism over the Orthodox Churches, the Mass and Divine Liturgy has either been made illegal outright, or heavily leaned on to make it almost impossible to attend.

In England you can still visit houses with hiding holes where priests and Mass things were hidden from the soldiers under the full scale persecution from the time of Henry VIII, worse under the dreadful Elizabeth and continued under the Stuarts and of course the horrible Cromwell. But Britain is by no means the only country where the perpetual sacrifice was banned. Japan, Vietnam, all the Eastern block countries. North Korea, China and of course Hitler had so many thousands of priests killed to stop Mass in Poland and surrounding areas.

In the north of Russia the Orthodox lost entire monasteries where the priests and monks were murdered, sometimes by being tied up and left to starve to death.

Underground churches and secret Liturgies have been going on against the cruel boot of government interference throughout the last five or six hundred years.

Is there going to be a time when the Sacrifice is banned throughout the world at the same time? Possibly. We can’t say, once we’ve looked at history, that it couldn’t happen can we?

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.

Good Friday:Stripping of the altar

We always begin the Good Friday Liturgy with a walk of witness. The abortion mill is open today, something deeply sad. We stopped with the cross and prayed for a while and then walked around the block back to church.

The Gospel was John’s Passion and as always we had the role of being the people who sent Jesus to the cross. Even though we do this every year, read out the words, “Crucify Him!” and the awful words, “We have no king but Caesar!” It’s still very powerful and deeply distressing.

Thank God that our tabernacles only look like this once a year.

 

DIVINE MERCY NOVENA STARTS TODAY

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annuciation; questions about Mary.

It’s forty weeks to Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did the devil know?

Today’s Mass readings, for the first Sunday of Lent tell us how God made a new Covenant with Noah – a family Covenant, telling, Noah that He will establish His plan with Noah’s descendants and that there will never again be a world wide flood to destroy all mankind (and other stuff).

Then the Gospel is a quick rather taciturn explanation from Mark that Jesus went into the desert, fasted for forty days, got tempted by the devil and John was arrested.

How do these readings fit?

I wonder if we should look at this from Satan’s view point. We are told from the rabbinic tradition that on the Second Day of creation God made the angels and gave them their test. What was the test? Well, many saints and theologians believe the test was that God showed them all His plan for salvation. He showed them Christ Incarnate and His fully human and not divine mother and said, “She will be your Queen and you must serve her.” This coupled with the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was more than Lucifer the light bearer, brightest of all the angels could take. He refused with those dark and echoing through history words “I will not serve!” (Non Serviam). With that he lost every bit of light and grace he had been given and was – with the determined help of St. Michael – thrust into hell with a third of the angels. Hell would never have needed to exist if this had not happened. Lucifer was not longer a light bearer but the Satan, the adversary, the accuser of the blessed.

Satan had one plan, to stop God’s plan. He aimed his venom at the Woman int he garden, lest she be blessed among all women. But his victory came with defeat. Then he must have worked all out to ensure that mankind turned more to him and walked further from God. Again he got a victory but as God washed it all away it was a short-lived one.

God renews the Covenant with Noah, which must have infuriated Satan and so Mankind get s a fresh start. Ham blows it in such an obscene way that the resulting son is cursed and Satan must have thought his luck was in.

Satan is of course very clever (though I have a theory he lacks imagination as evil is always so samey and banal) but he doesn’t know everything.

When Jesus started His public ministry did Satan know who He was? Or did He wonder about it and decide to go and see for himself? Not only did this Jesus not fall for any of the temptations He simply sent Satan away and Satan just had to go.

It seems pretty certain that after that not only did Satan know who Jesus was, but the rest of the devils did too and Jesus had to silence a few of them in His ministries of exorcism.

But Satan still had Herod on his side and it wasn’t long before John the Baptist was arrested.  But unfortunately for hell and it’s minions, every evil act done only helped God’s plan to evolve – as He makes straight with crooked lines.

Ash Wednesday, Lent begins.

It’s Lent. There are plenty of good Lent resources for y’all HERE and they are, of course free,

It’s time to do a bit of penance. Interestingly lots of people seem to think they don’t need to give anything up – just do a bit extra, such as reading a good book. I have to say I became very uncomfortable with this over the years because even when we are struggling a bit, we have so so much more than most people in the world. Giving something up is a reminder that we have so much. And for me at least extra reading is a treat and something that is rarely possible. hehehe.

Home education and family: Free booklet and lesson for Lent.

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Lent is fast approaching (Ash Wednesday 9th March) so I have written this booklet as a study and lapbook pack. [click on the picture to go to link]. It’s available at That Resource Site and on my page there.

There are 72 pages with blank sheets so you can print the whole thing back to back. [If you prefer to only print the lapbook pages that should work fine too].

click pic for link

Via Dolorosa means road of sorrows and I decided to begin with the importance of Mary’s Fiat at the Annunciation and move onto the sorrowful mysteries from the Seven Sorrows chaplet and then through to Holy Week which I have written up one day at a time. Hope you find it useful.

I have also done a Little Lesson for children to learn the Our Father in Latin.

I have coloured the cards to help visual learners.

I note that K has placed it under Montessori catagory and actually I think that’s about right. It does have that sort of method, so it should suit kinesetic learners too. Have fun.

Second week of Advent

Off to Mass this morning in bright sunshine and sparkling ice. The readings began with the famous Isaiah 11:1 promising a shoot from the stump of Jesse. David bar Jesse’s royal family appeared to have been cut down as Israel and then Judah had been taken into exile. But Isaiah promised the little remnant that remained in Jerusalem that a saviour would come. It did then in the form of King Hezekiah but as with most Biblical prophecy there is always more than one fulfilment. The complete fulfilment would come with the Messiah.

By the time John is baptising in the Jordan many had given up hope of a Messiah ever coming. Israel remained scattered and only Judah and Benjamin with some Levite priests made up the lands of Judea. (Luke tells us the prophetess Anna was of the tribe of Ashur thus foreshadowing the return of all Israel).

John is related to Jesus so has some Judah in his blood but he is the son of the man who had once been High Priest Zachariah and was therefore a Levite. Those of you who say Divine Office will say the beautiful prophetic prayer of Zachariah at John’s circumcisn and naming. If you are suddenly going to regain your voice after nine months of silence that is the way to do it I think. John is the voice in the wilderness that Isaiah had spoken of. He calls on the people to repent and be baptised. To repent means to stop and turn around. The baptism that John gave was akin the symbolic water of purification the Jews used for ritual cleansing after being with the dead or with blood or childbirth. John’s baptism was to show sorrow, but it was not the baptism Jesus asked of His Church for it did not confer Grace. Later we know the apostles baptised with water and the spirit those who had only received the baptism of repentance from John. (Acts 19).

Advent needs some quiet thought. It is supposed to be a time of purple- of repentence and preparation. There are no flowers in the church at this time as we are still in the desert – waiting for the words “Ero Cras,” (Tomorrow I come).

In the lady chapel a vase held the purple tulips I had taken there with Iona to remember my dear friend who died last year just before Advent began.

The coming week will be a busy one. There are interesting feast days and events for the children: Tomorrow is the feast of St Nicholas, once bishop of Myrna who having survived ten years in prison thanks to Galerian and Diocletion went on to attend the great Council  of Nicea and from there became the ever famous Father Christmas. There is tons of good stuff here.

Tuesday is the feast of St Ambrose a man of song :) It is also Avila’s 6th birthday (a girl of song and dance).

Wednesday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – something that causes very interesting questions. (Well, I think so). I think I might do a post on that. It’s also the day I am back at the hospital (groan – but then Advent is supposed to have some penance).

Thursday is the feast of St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. A quiet saint who did quiet things in extraordinary circumstances.  The feast of his Lady, Our Lady of Guadelupe would be on Sunday which is Gaudete Sunday from the Indroit “Gaudete in Domino semper!” (Rejoice in the Lord always). I think she will be outshone by her Son that day as she would only say was right.

Blessed Advent to you all.

Advent begins. St Boniface gives us the evergreen tree.

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the new Liturgical year begins and the whole journey from Galilee to Bethlehem, to Jerusalem and beyond begins.

We are supposed to stay awake and be ready. As part of that getting and being ready our family set about putting up the Christmas decorations and getting the house sorted and ready. It’s a bit like getting ready for a very special visit. We want the place to look good and sparkly, so that the Guest, when He comes knows He is welcome.

Alex puts up the Christmas tree and the children help to decorate it. We often make popcorn and cranberry strings to hang.  Iona makes gingerbread and chocolates to hang on it. We have some old baubles that come from the tradition of hanging apples on the trees in times past.

The tradition of the Christmas tree comes from the mission of St Boniface to the Germans. He left his home in Devon and headed off to bring the Light of Christ to the pagan Germans. He found them worshipping some pretty nasty gods> Wotan apparently liked to have gifts left for him on a sacred oak tree, and these gifts included sacrificing children.  Boniface took and ax and chopped the offensive tree down so that it and it’s god could claim no more victims.

It seems to have been a remarkably common practice in pagan times to offer children to the gods in return for wealth and prosperity. (Molech, Saturn, Crom Cruach, Wotan, that god of the Aztecs…the list goes on)

You would think that Boniface and his fellow monks would have been attacked by the Wotan worshippers when they saw their tree hacked down like that, but it is told that a fir tree sprang up from the roots of the destroyed oak. The fir was an evergreen symbolising the eternal life of Christ. St. Boniface added some lights to it so he could teach the people about Christ in the dark nights and have some light. 

Fir trees were used by Christians in Germany at Christmas from that time. Some were hung upside down from the ceiling apparently. [picture credit]

The German people spread their tradition over time, but it didn’t actually reach Britian until around the 1830s.  

So, don’t forget St Boniface and his ax. If you get wrapped up too much in what piles up under the tree and forget the Man whose birthday it is, maybe it’ll be St Boniface with his ax coming down your chimney instead of St Nick.

God bless.

Feast of Divine Mercy.

Our Church Easter scene with the red and blue of Divine Mercy.

This has got to be one of my favourite feasts. I read the Diary of St Faustina for Lent a few years ago and found it an amazing and deep insight into, not just her life, but the love and mercy Christ wants to pour out on us, if only we would ask Him. Of course He warns that those who refuse mercy will get justice. I think most us recognise we would much rather have mercy-we need it.

UPDATE

Must add here that Sister Mary Martha explains the Plenary Indulgence for Divine Mercy in the way only she can.  Go ask her about it ;)

Epiphany

Matthew doesn’t actually mention the number of wise men who went to visit the King of the Jews, but we like the story of three in the West.

Personally I believe Matthew knew what he was talking about. All this stuff about how he is the only one to mention it so it can’t be true is a bit silly to me. Just because one person mentions something doesn’t mean they lied; it strikes me as a bit odd to think that way.

Plus the idea that Mark wrote first and so he would have mentioned it is on thinner ice when Matthew fragments have been dates to between 30-50 AD; kind of makes Matthew look like he was first-you know-just like the people who first put the Gospels in order thought; having known about it closer to the time. I wonder what Occam would say.

Meanwhile we have had a brilliant snowy day and the girls should be over tonight for their pressies.

Happy Twelfth Day to you all.

Feast of Holy Innocents

On the feast of Holy Innocents we remember all those children who have died. I tend to remember my own little miscarried ones and all mothers who have lost babies whether through miscarriage or the violence of abortion.

Todays feast remembers all the children slaughtered by Herod’s men,  just following orders, in Bethlehem. I have heard some criticism of the story on the grounds that the only known recording of the event is in Matthew’s Gospel.  The argument seems to be that if the event isn’t written about elsewhere, as far as we know, then Matthew was making it up. I have to say I would need a lot more evidence that Matthew lied, than the fact that 2000 years later surviving documents from the time don’t record it.  Surely a more sensible view is that Matthew heard the story from those it most effected, Jesus Mother for example.

It seems a sad fact that many ancient powers and civilisations were busy killing children in some way. And none of them are left. There is a god who promises wealth and all sorts of comforts if only parents will give him their children; Molech, Saturn, Crom Cruach, the serpent god of the Aztecs and so the list of names goes on. Even the Romans were found to have turned to child sacrifice at times. It seems one of the few major civilisations not to sacrifice children was ancient Egypt, which although there was some human sacrifice, didn’t target children as such. How odd it is that we so admire their wonderful buildings and don’t wonder why they are all empty.

Continue reading

Feast of the Holy Family

I missed Mass yesterday for St Stephen’s day, which was a shame, but it was lovely to go this morning for the Feast of the Holy Family. The Church still looks really lovely with the tree and candles and the light streaming in through the windows.

I managed to take a couple of photos before too many people were already in Church.

Father talked about how his parents had a picture of the Holy Family up at home but sometimes with himself and his siblings around things weren’t as holy as they might be. LOL.

The readings for the day were aimed at both children, instructing them in respect and honour as well as care of elderly parents; and also just as importantly at parents- telling husbands to love their wives and reminding parents to be good to their children.

I have an unfinished blog entry to work on, where I was thinking about the role of being a mother. It was after conversations with Donna -but when she died I never finished writing it. I think I need to go back to it soon and think it through.

I noticed when I got home and had a look at the computer that Ed Balls has suddenly changed his mind and after 12 years of actively undermining marriage and family has scratched his head and muttered that marriage might be okay after all, and not just because those of us who are trying to bring our children up to be happy and mentally healthy are paying something like 40% extra tax either. Sometimes I am left wondering what on earth Balls and his mates actually THINK about.

Father reminded us that the Holy Family had a difficult time of it, not just because Jesus ended up being born in a stable, but the flight into Egypt because Herod was out to kill him and then having to try and re-make their lives back in Nazareth when it was all over. He talked about the terrible problems in family life these days with divorce and family break down, but pointed out there was nothing new under the sun and families have always faced horrors of some kind. Having to run away from the authorities because they were out to get you being just one.

After Mass Heleyna sat by the crib and waved at the baby Jesus. The pictures the children made are there in the photo and Heleyna’s is behind her.

A kind lady, one of the mothers of the church, handed me some money to help us out with the costs of Christmas. There are some very thoughtful, kind people around. She isn’t the only person who has been kind at this time. I really hope when I’m older we can do the same for young families in our parish, remembering how our struggles to make ends meet were helped by others.

And on that note I have to say I have received a really lovely Christmas present, which I will tell you all about later. Must run now.