Monthly Archives: November 2007

r4254474207.jpg Pope Benedict VI has published his new encyclical which you can read HERE

“Spe salvi facti sumus” it begins quoting St Paul’s letter to the Romans-in hope we are saved.

So Papa has covered the cardinal virtues in his two encyclicals, Charitas (love) and now faith and hope.


As I have a rather unwell baby to take care of I have been stuck under her and that gave me time to have a quick read through of ‘Spe Salvi’. I love the way the Holy Father writes. He is not difficult to understand at all and yet he manages to ack so much meaning into a small number of words. The encyclical is deeply rooted in Scripture as one would expect.

He speaks of the real Christian hope of redemption comparing it with the rather limited hopes of those who only have things to hope for. He points out how St Paul and the author of Hebrews have a much deeper and more substantial grasp of hope.

Salvation is not simply given, writes the Holy Father, it is offered…and we are on a journey to attain it. He then begins the journey with the nothingness we are tempted to live within-the old gods who can lead us from nothing to nothing-to slavery.

He then tells us the story of St Josephine Bakhita. I love this saint and have been working on writing a children’s version of her lifestory for my godchildren for some time. One of my godchildren is called Josephine and I don’t think there are other saints with that name.

bakhita5.jpg St Josephine was kidnapped from her village in Darfur, Sudan by muslim slave traders. She was sold and resold, tortured and abused until at last she came to the house of the Italian consulate and began nurse to his friend’s daughter.

Finally in Italy she found the God she had always sought in the tortured Christ-a God who loved her with every drop of blood from his wounded heart. She was baptised and joined the Canossian sisters and lived her life sharing the love of God she had found. The children loved her too and called her their Black Mama.

Pope Benedict links the story of St Josephine with St Paul’s letter written in prison as he sends back the slave Onesimus to his master -no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.

From there we journey deeper into an understanding of this hope. We are not called as isolated individuals but as a people; family, community. Papa is clear that we are not meant to see our salvation as just for ‘me’ and each man’s relationship with God being purely personal-it is communal.

He writes of the 19th Century modernity and it’s loss of hope. We must pray and we must suffer and be willing to suffer for other people. We must embrace the cross as Christ commanded. It is part of the journey-it is how we offer “com-passion”. He reminds us we need to “offer it up” but he isn’t being trite-it is part of hope and the gift of redemption.

Having given a view of hell and human made justice he goes on to look briefly at purgatory and then we are brought back to heaven. He calls on Mary Ave Marie Stella to be our guiding star and help to bring us home.

Read it all-it will be well worth your time. We are well blessed to have a pope like this.

The Spanish Armada and Lepanto resources

Here is the resource page for Iona’s work on the Spanish Armada.

We used Anne Carroll’s book ‘Christ the King, Lord of History’ published by TAN. You can get it from good Catholic bookstores and Amazon. It’s a useful overview of history but not a good book for in depth work. She makes some mistakes and the book, being one small volume misses out huge chunks of history that children need to learn. I found it a useful, easy to read book to dip into.

Alongside this we read Hugh Benson’s story ‘Come Rack, Come Rope’ which is a great tale of trying to stay Catholic in England under the horror of the Elizabethan persecution. He covers the many martyrdoms including St Edmund Campion and the murder of Mary Queen of Scots-which of course was one of the reasons King Philip II sent the Armada.

We discovered some facts which Iona has included in her work;

Santa Cruz who died before the Armada was deployed had been a hero of the Battle of Lepanto. This is an imortant historical event – links to resources are included below.

We also learned that Queen Elizabeth I was supposed to be eating goose on Michaelmas when she received the news of the demise of the Armada. It seems somewhat far fetched to think it took from July to Michaelmas (Oct) to get the news to the Queen-but it is a legend that has strangely persisted.

King Philip II of Spain accepted the storm that crushed his great Armada as God’s will-although God could not be blamed for Philip’s slowness to act nor his poor choice of Admiral when Santa Cruz died. Neither could God be blamed for the cunning and dishonesty of the pirate Francis Drake.

Sadly for England she never recovered the beauty of the Faith and many many people suffered and died because of the anti-Catholic laws.

link to audio about St Edmund Champion. You will need RealAudio to listen to it unless you have Switch or other form of audio conversion software.

on the Armada.

a link from a Baldwin project book.

This too is a Baldwin book chapter

The Baldwin project books are old but that does not mean they are good historical accounts. Treat them with care as there is a lot of anti-Catholic polemic and inaccurate assertions in some of these books. Perhaps they are better as the obvious bias and historical revisionism can hardly be missed-but tread carefully.

This is a short overview and less polemical than others. Church actually seems to know his history well and is a bit fairer in his analysis

Fr Ray’s short post on King Philip II

This article appeared on a Catholic blog in response to the grossly anti-Catholic and an-historical film about Elizabeth. 

   The rewriting of history from an “English” perspective is creaking again under the weight of criticism which has come in response to the film “Elizabeth; the Golden Age”. I haven’t seen the film, but I have seen so much stuff in the media about it. This is the first time that I have witnessed the Elizabethan Settlement getting a public thrabbering. In Britain we are brought up to understand that the Elizabethan Settlement (a new political order in England in which the Monarch created her own church and in which law could be created independently of truth) was the main righteous player in creating a fairer world at the beginning of the modern age. In order to go with this theory you have to trash the spiritual past of England, claim that the trashing and attempted trashing of so many other States by the English was righteously undertaken (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Spain) and that so much that has taken place since because of this is good. The thing is – we haven’t yet recovered from the violence which our State used in the sixteenth century in order to separate ourselves from the great movement of grace. The ‘creakiness’ of this new film, in its obvious deformation of history and historical characters, seems to be a sign of this. Sukdev Sandu concludes his review in the ‘Telegraph’ saying “The pity of this botched follow-up is that it never once touches us.” The real history of the English will be written one day when we have a clear conscience to do it.Incidentally, the political intentions of Spain towards England which prompted the Armada, were contained in a letter from Philip II to the Duke of Parma, which he was to open when he landed in England. The letter spelled out three directives for the Spanish invading army: 1. That in England the free use and exercise of our holy Catholic faith shall be permitted to all Catholics, native and foreign, and that the exiles shall return.2. That all places in my Netherlands which the English hold shall be restored to me.3. That the English shall recompense me for the injury they have done to me, my dominions, and my subjects; which will amount to an exceedingly great sum. (This third point may be dropped; you may use it as a lever to obtain the other two.)It’s very unclear how things would have turned out had the Armada been successful.

h/t to Friends with Christ

G K Chesterton Lepanto

Fr Ray’s post on Lepanto


The Armada is recommended on Ambulside Online for Yr 8 (13-14yr olds)

I love THIS on socialisation from Totus Tuus. I’ve been meaning to post it for a while. I was reminded when I went out with the children yesterday and got involved in a conversation about Maths lessons in school. A father was recounting how his 7 yr old daughter brings home so much homework every night and a lot of it is maths. He complained that he did not understand it.

We were in Sally’s Shop and the lady behind the counter (not Sally) said she knew the problem and many schools were now running evening classes for parents so they could assist in homework. He admitted he had been to one and had not understood it.

The lady then recounted how her daughter and son in law had attended one of these lectures and her daughter had been baffled. Fortunately it seemed her son in law understood Maths and so when their little girl came home with complicated work he had shown her how to do it. She had gone to school the next day with all her answers correct-but the teacher has marked them all wrong because she was not using the system set out by the school!

What with this and now the Govt wants to teach our 5yr olds about drinking —another good reason to homeschool I think.

No homeschool group today

Heleyna isn’t well today so we decided not to go to Homeschool Group and I cancelled Sign Language and Ruth’s computer lesson this afternoon.

Heleyna has coughed, cried and slept a lot. She get’s cross about her cough poor thing-but she’s quite chirpy between times.

toilet_rolls250.jpgThis has given us a free day so Iona got on with more of her Ven Matt Talbott story and made a bit more of the Nativity scene with the children. They also had a face painting and crown making session. There are still enough toilet roll tubes to make three magi a few more shepherds, a donkey and an ox. While Alistair gets very alarmed at the number of toilet roll tubes I start hording around November, they do make the best Nativity scene. Ronan wants to make a Fr Christmas too so we will probably have a St Nicholas visiting the Child Jesus and if Avila has her way, there will be a snow man in the garden by the stable. We should have enough tubes for an angel or two as well.

  5018374102218_60.jpgI made some Christmas cakes -one in a proper cake tin and five in the baked bean tins.

I use the big tins for this (850g) size. We use them a fair amount as it’s cheap food for the multitude. In fact at some point I will do food resources on this blog. It has already been suggested that we mums with more than 1.2 children and one wage coming in need to share ideas of how we feed the family and/or ravaging hordes on a budget-so watch this space.

We did practice some Sign Language this afternoon.

 Piano Man Piano Lesson.

Ronan is very interested in the piano so I am just starting him off. He is learning where to find middle C and to use his right hand thumb, first and second finger; C, D, E, E, D, C.

We have looked at an octave and he is beginning to recognise the notes from middle C up to the octave C using the black keys in their twos and threes as clues.

We played a short game of find me all the C’s and all the D’s on the piano.

That’s it. He’s only 4 and really piano -say the bigwigs- is best learned from age 6 or 7. As CM herself says that 6 or 7 is the age to begin formal learning I’m going with that idea. It works everywhere else. In the meantime I hope Ronan (and the girls as they get older) maintain an interest.

I’ve spent quite a bit of today looking at curriculum for both Ronan and Iona. I’ve also put together a resource page on the Spanish Armada which I’ll post when it’s ready.

A tale for November

We have been praying for our deceased friends and family throughout November. On Sunday we went to Mass for the celebration of the end of the Liturgical Year, the Feast of Christ the King.

Father told about his friend’s death on the Wednesday before.

She was one of those simply holy women who had cared for her family and quietly worked in the church. At last she had grown too old to work or even take care of herself and had gone into a home.

On Wednesday, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, Father said he was getting on with his work and he thought of his friend who had loved Our Lady and how this might be a good day to die.

There was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the evening at church. (This is done to pray for an end to abortion-particularly the slaughter that goes on in the same road our church stands on. We have an abortion mill on one corner)

After Exposition Father drove over to the home to visit his friend. She was indeed close to death. He gave her the Sacraments and then as she settled he simply sat by her bed saying his rosary. She asked for her daughter and the nurses called for her.

“I told her, wait for your daughter, she won’t be long” he said to us, and the old lady opened her eyes and waited. Soon her daughter arrived and they were able to say their goodbyes and then it seemed the old lady quietly died.

Father continued to pray over and over as he sat next to the bed. The staff had gone to make arrangements. Then suddenly the old lady opened her eyes and pushed herself up in the bed. She was focused on something else in the room and was full of joy.

A moment later she lay back and had died.

“I saw that she had gone to heaven,” said Father.

She was a quiet saint who died beautifully.

Adataptable Monday

 Books We rearranged the day so that we could go to the library and change the books. Unfortunately for Iona there isn’t much choice. The ‘teen’ books are of such oor quality they are not worth the rather grey paper they are printed on. There is not much actual ‘literature’ available in our local library I’m afraid.

They did have some good story books and books on tape for the little ones and we have borrowed a couple of beginning Spanish books as well as a short story on Mozart. I managed to get the one and only Stage 2 Oxford Reading Tree book available as well.

I think one of the problems with children’s books these days is the library stocks ‘text books’ for the national curriculum. For most homeschooling families the NC is to be avoided because it is so banal- but that means we need to look further afield for the ‘living books’ Charlotte Mason recommends.

Despite the limitations we have come home with a reasnable supply of stuff including “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” which is great fun.

Dot is unwell so we could not visit her. I think I need to find a way to leave the children at home and get over to see her on my own. Need to think how to do that…

Made pirate hats and eye patches when we got home.

Pro-Life Rally in Oxford 

Support those who are fighting the good PRO-LIFE fight. Sign the petition for the children of Bulgaria and say a prayer for Amanda a fellow homeschooling mum as she stands with those prepared to speak out for the life of babies in the womb and their mothers.

Fr Ray on King Philip II of Spain

Iona is still working on her history project on the Spanish Armada. Fr Ray has very usefully posted THIS from the Catholic Herald. It looks as though the Herald have pulled the article though in favour of one about the plight of the Chaldean Christians in Iraq. Nevertheless there is enough on Fr Ray’s blog to be helpful for Iona.