Monthly Archives: November 2012

Advent is for fasting and praying – and yikes, we need it!

Put down that soap opera and step away from the chocolate filled advent calendar. It’s time to take Advent seriously. Get off your bottom, get down on you knees (if you can). I don’t know why the Latin Rites seem to have let it slide so much. While our Eastern Rite fellow Catholics and Orthodox brothers and sisters are preparing for the fast, I’ve hardly seen a mention of fasting for Advent among the Latins.

Well. We are supposed to, and God know we need to. On the side of Light and Life the 40 Days for Life this year showed great fruit in over 800 babies’ lives saved, 6 abortion workers left; which I hope means they converted – and one Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill has closed. This is wonderful news.

But here in the UK, where 40 Days doesn’t get the same support’ And I’m sorry to say I haven’t been on the ball with it either – we can’t show the same results.

In fact the devil seems to be giving us a kick back just as the 40 Days closes with the papers running the story of killing sick babies by being starved and dehydrated to death. Many of these poor kids take ten days to slowly die. WHAT are we DOING? WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS, WHERE WE STARVE BABIES TO DEATH!?

If you take a look at this report and take a look at this comment you will see that so-called experts are saying that the net of those considered unworthy of life should be widened to include newborns who are “morally irrelevant.”  I don’t know how anyone can look at this and not see the philosophy of death that underpinned the Nazi’s. This is not a misuse of the term. We are doing exactly the same thing as they did.

Britain, shamefully, has a long history of vile mistreatment of those the establishment saw as inferior. I’ve recently finished reading a harrowing account of the Irish Famine. Then there was slavery and there’s the wholesale killing and persecution of Catholics that happened over 300 years. We are not a country clothed in glory quite frankly.  It has always been the little side people who have stood up strongly. Cardinal Wiseman,  Elizabeth Fry, Wilberforce and writers like Dickens and Chesterton and Belloc who tried to stir the apathy of the British conscience.

The Church needs to stand up and fight. Full on Church Militant, if we are going to stop this. We have to put Christ centre at last, and speak out against this encroaching legal murder.

So pray and fast through Advent.

Be of good cheer, but don’t just sit on your rear.

If Christians are silent in the face of this, we will pay a heavy price in eternity.

Home education; quick chemistry/physics freebie

It isn’t quite Friday, but here’s a freebie for those of you who want a more physical hands on approach to the elements. Ive made this set of Bohr diagrams. You can use three different beans to make the elements. We use black beans/turtle beans as electrons, mung beans (green) as neutrons and  red beans/adzuki as protons but you can use whatever best suits you.

I have linked to this website with all the elements laid out in Bohr diagrams All you have to do is click on each element and it gives a good overview of it with an accompanying Bohr diagram.

Bohr Diagrams freebie

We’ve used the first ones to make Hydrogen and helium using two hydrogens to make a helium as hydrogen is built into helium in the sun.

I’ve also got the children to glue the electrons slightly off the black line to show the fourth state of matter -plasma. (The electrons are free).

It’s much simpler at that level than it might first appear. Honestly.

Wake up! We shouldn’t need awareness campaigns!

Oh no! Not another awareness week! Yup. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week. It just so happens that it coincides with the anniversary of a dear friend who died when she was refused hospital admission, even though she was desperately ill with depression.

Why do we keep having awareness campaigns? Why are they all the same? They are all the same, you see. All the posters say something along the lines of “People with this disease are not to blame for being sick.” and “Stop treating us badly just because we are sick!” and then there’s the “stop walking all over is as though we don’t exist” messages.

Most posters covering illnesses like mental illnesses and some physical illnesses like Lupus, Lyme, Graves, the dysautonomic illnesses, early stages of MS and of course ME /cfs are called INVISIBLE. I contend that they are not invisible and I don’t just mean those of us using wheelchairs, crutches or having tremors, myoclonic, or other visible symptoms. I mean no one who is seriously ill looks like they are perfectly fine. The “But you look ok” message that so many complain of receiving is a reflection on the speaker, not the sick person. It’s a let-me-off-the-hook of actually caring response.

Why does modern Western culture seem to treat disease and sick people so weirdly? The media has two stereotypes; “the brave cripple” and “the benefit scrounging lay about”.  Despite the well known fact that the media can’t be trusted to tell the truth about anything, people seem to have absorbed this and then sick people get sandwiched in the middle.

Case in point: Let’s call her Jen. She is very ill with a chronic disease. She tries to get on with her life and yes that often takes enormous courage. But there are times when her courage fails and all she wants to do is sit in a corner and cry. This is part of any chronic illness and most acute ones too. It’s normal life.

Meanwhile Jen is stuck between two sets of people. The ones who catastrophise her illness so that she is forced to either reassure, or simply hide the truth – not easy due to the way she is ill – and then on the other side there are the ones who simply don’t get how sick she is and expect her to perform. Worse still one relative feels it’s his duty to reassure the others by making out she isn’t that sick – so she is set up to “perform” for all.

This isn’t a one off story. So. Let”s try a build a world where people can be truthful, encouraged and cared for; a world where there are NO INVISIBLE ILLNESSES.

Home Education; making them learn?

A few things have come up recently that leave me wondering about the narrow road we have to walk as home educators when it comes to the discipline in our home and the learning that goes on.

Both Charlotte Mason and Dr. Montessori had a gentle, but firm and consistent approach to discipline, that respected the child but recognised that human nature is fallen.  If education is going to lead a child out – it must offer  system for them to be able to “be out” and among other people. Respecting a child does not mean expecting them to have the same emotional and social maturity of an adult (of a properly formed adult). Part of the process of growing up and being educated is learning the virtues. Then in adulthood the skills in self discipline and self motivation should have been learned so that it won’t take someone else to push them all the time.

But there are fall off cliffs on either side of parenting. On the one side discipline can become bullying and aggressive and on the other side loving the child can become permissiveness and allowing them to do what they like and have what they want, which of course isn’t love.

I’ve spoken with more than one parent who believes that making a child do anything is bad for them. They should decide what they learn and when they learn it, they insist.

I just don’t see how that would work. It certainly wouldn’t work here. As things are now the children each have a learning box with most of their work books and stuff in there. Each learning day I set out the work first thing in the morning. Then the children come to do their work. They can do it in any order they like and take the time they need, but it must be all done. There is plenty of free time in and around the work, but no “privileges” until the day’s work is complete.

There are a number of aspects of the children’s learning that I am “in charge” of. Although we decide together, the children and I, what kind of learning we need to use, I choose and buy the stuff.

The children are part of a family. They can’t just do what they want when they want or have what they want when they want. Life isn’t like that. So, they learn to work and live within the confines of life. That’s not a bad thing really. Sometimes they have to do work they are not that interested in. Sometimes they find the work a bit of a struggle. But they do the work; they learn to ask for help when they need it and to be willing to stretch themselves a little to get to grips with something. (And stretch me a great deal at times!)

We learn together and there are times when they are well ahead of me in some areas.

I’ve decided, in light of how things are, and could be, that I need to plan ahead a bit with their work. This means I set out a minimum requirement for each learning day and try to plan it ahead. This should cover all, or most, eventualities. It does need to be flexible to cover stuff I haven’t thought of. But it also needs to be clear so that they can get on with whatever they need to do, regardless of what’s happening with me.

The knock-on effect is less spontaneity. But I think there’s still some space for that.  It’s a case of making things work for the children, no matter what life throws at us.

Christ the King and off to Advent.

It was the feast of Christ the King yesterday. The salvation history story comes to it’s end with the return of the King. Christ comes as the Just Judge and there is  the triumph of His Kingship.

This feast is one of those “already and not yet” things about Christ. He is already King, but He hasn’t fully revealed Himself as such and won’t until He comes in glory.

Then He will perform the General Judgement and after the Judgement there will be Heaven and Hell. All those souls in purgatory enter heaven and all is done.

We have pointers in Scripture and Tradition that God is merciful, but He is also Judge. Christ is our brother but He is also our King. He is glorious and powerful and according to Scripture He will come and kick some butts. We are supposed to make sure it isn’t ours.

In Divine Office and Mass readings we have come to the end of the story with John’s Revelation (Apocalypse).  Christ has fulfilled His Mission and is the King of Kings.

If we are going to meet Christ the King and be part of the Church Triumphant in heaven we have to “seek first the Kingdom”. If we aren’t seeking the kingdom, we will find it might difficult to find the king.

The Scripture stories have come from the darkest days of persecution through the Prophecies of Daniel and the stand of the Maccabees, through the war in heaven and Satan wanting to destroy the Child of the Woman. Then at last to the great Triumph. It is promised. God always keeps His promises.

What is a priest for?

The first priest was Adam. His role as priest was to care for his bride, tend his garden and when the time came to make the sacrifice.

When the test came, Adam was supposed to speak out for his bride and protect her. The dragon/serpent Satan would very likely have tried to kill him. But Adam had a great weapon, right there; the Tree of Life. Only Adam sinned instead and the rest salvation history.

While Adam lost grace and the garden, he didn’t lose his bride or his priesthood. But now that he couldn’t sacrifice himself, he had to sacrifice something very important. Cain and Abel understood this and were to bring their priestly sacrifices to the altar.  Adam, as their father-priest would have taught them.

Rabbinic tradition has it that the sacrifices Cain and Able brought to God (in Genesis) were to meet God’s approval for claiming a bride. Cain blew it big time.

God did not remove the priesthood from the father’s and first born sons. Instead Seth became a new father and a new firstborn son (priestly-wise speaking).

The epitome of the priesthood is Melchizedek – a name meaning King of Righteousness. He brings bread and wine as the priestly sacrifice when he meets with Abraham (who is also a priest remember).

The priesthood remained with father’s and first born son’s until the Golden Calf incident in the desert. After everything God had done for Israel, enough was enough. This time He did remove the priesthood.

He gave it to the Levites. The men of Levi received the priesthood as they had not worshipped the golden calf.  That priesthood was to be temporary, but it was in place to care for Israel in the Promised Land.

The first non-Levite priest to be ordained afer that was King David who was of the tribe of Judah.

You may remember that King Saul could have been ordained but he made a vital error. He decided he had the right to the priesthood without God’s permission. All he had to do was await the arrival of Samuel who, under God’s guidance, was to anoint Saul, but he went ahead and made the sacrifice without Samuel or God and lost his throne as a result.  No one, not even a king, has a “right” to the priesthood. God calls and He puts in place a system to ensure men are tested and anointed. In over-riding the authority Samuel had, Saul was over-riding God.

David received his priesthood legitimately and was allowed therefore to make the sacrifices. In his priesthood David brought the Arc of the Covenant home to Jerusalem.

Then Solomon the son of David, also of the tribe of Judah was made a priest-king after his father. God reminded everyone of His Promise to send a Saviour and made it clear to David that the Saviour would be of his household.

So we find the role of priest is expanded from Father-first born son, sacrificing for the bride and children; to a king.

Meanwhile the priesthood remains in the tribe of Levi.

Fast forward to St. John the Baptist. Here we find the First Born son of the High Priest. John is a Levite. He begins his work at the River Jordan when he is 30 years old. That is the age when a man of the tribe of Levi could be made a priest.

John is the last Old Covenant prophet, but he also symbolises the end of the Levitical priesthood.

Jesus comes to the Jordan six months later when He has reached the age of 30 – the age of priesthood – and John baptises Him.

Jesus is the New Adam. He must tend the garden and as the Bridegroom, He must make the sacrifice for His bride, and will have a Tree of Life to help Him.

Jesus chooses 12 men to be apostles (sent out) and overseer’s (bishops) of His church. We do know that St. John was a Levite, but the tribes of the other men are not mentioned. (We know that only Judah and Benjamin returned after the exile in great numbers so the fact that Anna the prophetess is of  Ashur is mentioned as a sign of the redemption of all Israel, not just a couple of tribes).

The role of the apostles was to take on Jesus’ priesthood. He is the eternal High Priest but they are all priests forever of the order of Melchizedek. They are to be Bridegrooms and fathers and they are to make the eternal Sacrifice for the bride. His Bride, the Church.

The priesthood of Melchizedek is about making the Perpetual Sacrifice. It is about passing on the Sacraments, the gifts Christ has given His church. It is NOT about power or politics. It’s about being a father and a bridegroom to Christ’s Church, His Body.

Want to get a deeper grip of this? Try Prof Kreeft’s lecture. Brilliant stuff.

Happy Feast of Christ the King.

research into ME/cfs at Newcastle University

Via the POTS Uk facebook page I’ve learned that a group at Newcastle University here in the UK, have received £1.6 million to do research into the bio-medical side of ME.  Specifically they are trying to discover what causes the autonomic dysfunction in patients with ME.  Prof. Julia Newton is involved and from what I’ve gathered on forums she has a very good reputation.

I can’t work out exactly what’s happening here but from a discussion on Pheonix it looks as though this new research is a continuation of a sleep study done some time ago.

What’s interesting about this study is it seems to see ME and dysautonomia as linked. Prof. Newton is known for her work with POTsies. According to one comment on the Newcastle University page Ramsey in 1981 included orthostatic tachycardia as part of the ME diagnosis.

There’s a couple of aspects of this research that I am uncertain about – and therefore being cautious about. First of all there doesn’t seem to be a definite answer, that I can find, on the ME criteria they will use. One poster suggests separating out patients who fit the International Consensus dx and those who don’t.

Proper well targeted research into ME in the UK has been very thin on the ground. The bizarre insistence that patients have either made the disease up, brought it on ourselves or are depressed (and nothing else) has helped block funding and proper care for patients, especially in the UK, but elsewhere as well.

I am not an optimist. But I’m not a pessimist either. I do wonder, even hope, that as the “old school” people retire and die off, their egos in tact, that new research, that genuinely tries to find a suitable treatment, management and, hope of hope, a cure, could happen.

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. .

Alex has his first exhibition of digital 3D sculptures at

6/8 Kafe 

If you can’t get along to 6/8 KAFE why not check out his



If you are in the area please go and check it out. If not leave him a message of support. It’s a tough world out there for young people trying to make a career for themselves and watching the dedication and hard work of many of them is good for the soul.

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?

Literature for Grade 4 (yr 5) (boy)

I am wondering if I should have some kind of book basket or box in which I lay out a number of books I would like the children to read together, alone or to each other. Not sure I need to as they seem to simply help themselves from the bookshelves without me needing to push it too much.

As his read aloud at the moment he is reading Swallows and Amazons

Both Ronan and Avila are reading the Roman Mysteries that Iona’s friend gave them.  This series has really caught their imagination and seems to be teaching them some genuine historical stuff.

Both of them are allowed quiet night time reading in bed.

There are some quick picture books for older children that Ronan has taken to such as Gregor Mendel; the Friar Who Grew Peas, which looks set to be harder to get hold of since when I bought it. Why are so many of the good books so hard to obtain but rubbish gets massive print runs? One of life’s little mysteries.

Don’t get into the idea that by Grade 4 they have grown out of picture books. There are many very well written and beautifully illustrated books that have something to offer for all ages and are ideal for mixed age groups of children. This book about Mendel goes into some detail about his genetic experiments with good illustrations for getting to grips with the science involved.

Another recent read-together that was good for all three of them was The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk.

Ronan has nearly finished reading me the Usborne adaptation of Don Quixote.

For Greek Lit which is recommended for this grade I have D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths (Another find at Wigtown)

The Children’s Homer


Archimedes and the Door of Science

Galen and the Gateway to medicine

I also want to revisit The Fairyland of Science.

I’m a bit disappointed that he hasn’t really taken to the Narnia books. I might leave it and try again later on in the academic year and have a go with the Hobbit.

He’s been doing some chilled on the sofa time with Archie’s War and he’s taken to the Usborne books Story of Painting and Story of Inventions

He’ll probably read more Michael Morpurgo as well. So far we haven’t stumbled on anything bad with his stuff, Obviously some books are more suitable for older children so he wont be reading them yet.

As you can see there’s a mixture here, some easy reading and some that will stretch him a little harder.

I’m sure there will be more as the year goes on.

FMS/ME/POTS/Dysautonomia – remission.

I’ve been feeling better the last five days or so, and I have been enjoying the little oasis of having much much fewer symptoms, including much less pain. Lovely.

My BP is still unstable but my pulse and sats are so much better. In most chronic illnesses there is a pattern of remission and relapse. But in the system wide ones it’s a difficult thing to measure. I’ve noticed that many people get that few days of remission that is so welcome to us all; but others can go into almost or actually complete remission for months on end, and occasionally years.

As far as I know, there is no research on what causes remissions. We don’t know what causes them, why some people get good ones and others get little ones. We don’t know why some people only get partial remission and why some never get a remission.

Today, five days into my little oasis, the pain is back and my BP is shooting upwards again. Nevertheless my POTS is still in abeyance. I can stand up without blacking out or feeling sick, and my pulse is staying below 12o. Lovely stuff.

Back at the beginning of this disease (10 years) doctors told me quite clearly that it would all just go away. I believed them. They lied with the sure knowledge that they could do so. I am still astonished by the number of outright lies doctors feel able to tell patients.

This lie was a particularly mean one. After a while I began to feel better. I could manage a little more and the foggyness in my head was better. I thought I was getting better.  More and more symptoms began to lift and I was so happy because I thought I was about to get my old life back. I made plans about getting rid of the crutches and wheelchair. I couldn’t wait. So I pushed myself. Walk a little more, do a little more, keep it going. And of course I crashed.

Doctors shrugged it off or said I needed to try harder.

It took a while for me to learn that doctors should be ignored and never trusted. But I learned. Doctors should not get away with such lies, but as they do, it’s best to treat the things they say with extreme caution.

I now know the little remissions I get are not a sign I am getting better. But I am not made unhappy by this. Now that I know what I am fighting I can fight it realistically. The truth really does set you free. I can enjoy the oasis of remissions when I have them and they do mean I can get more done around the house.

Now I know some of you will be shouting at the computer at that sentence. I admit I do bring on a kind of boom and bust cycle because I use the remissions whether mini ones or pretty good ones like this has been, to do more. I know lots of advice saying pace carefully and keep remissions going, but I don’t know how long a good patch will last and in the bad patches which have been very bad indeed recently I don’t get nearly as much stuff done as I need. It has to be done sometimes – so remission moments are when I catch up. Does this shorten remissions? I don’t know – possibly. But there’s a balance to be had between trying to be less sick and trying to be a wife and mother.

I’ve read a lot of people’s stories over the years, especially more recently since I decided to get hold of the research and see what is happening out there. Lots of people have talked about losing friends and family because of how sick they were/are. For as long as I am able I will do the things that are part of being a wife and mother, especially a home educating mother. It’s important not to let the disease decide who I am.

(crashed this morning. Well it was good while it lasted 🙂 )

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on the need for a learning revolution.

This is a continuation of the excellent talk Sir Ken gave a few years ago about how schools were destroying children’s creativity. His critique of the massive use of Ritalin for children stuck in my mind from that one.

This speech is just as good and just as true and will be just as ignored. I was interested when he commented that people in the audience were from various places, including industry.

I would love to believe that this means a change in tack from industry and they are actually, genuinely, appalled by the standard of education and instead of using it as a great excuse to push for slavery by the back door – bringing in lots of people from Eastern Europe and paying them £2 a hour or less and saying it’s because home grown kids won’t work. Do I sound a little cynical? Sorry, seeing what is happening around me is making me feel like Cassandra and there isn’t even a Greek gift!

It is good to see that Sir Ken recognises and supports the place of Home Education. It would be nice to think that the youngest MIT Professor having been homeschooled might be a plus for us too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suddenly saying that home education is to ensure more and more prodigies. No. Children can grow and learn to be all sorts of people; so long as they are good people, moral thoughtful, discerning people. But the occasional MIT Prof from our rank is good too 🙂

If you have the time you can watch the first speech on education illustrated wonderfully by RSA Animate.

The more I talk to people who work in schools, or have children in them the more I am left wondering why we keep doing this to our children.

State attacks on the family. The water around that frog is getting very hot indeed.

A few days ago  there is a referendum in Ireland on what is euphemistically called “children’s rights“. In reality it is an attack on the rights of families and an attempt to make children the property of the state. Sadly the news is that the vote went against the rights of families and has made a giant step down the slope to state ownership of children. I’ve been wondering what on earth is the matter with so many people that they will vote away rights and vote more oppression for themselves.

Ireland has a written constitution; (from the linked article)

Articles 41 and 42.5 of the Irish Constitution are the basis upon which the Irish State relates to the family. It recognises that the family is the bedrock of society (article 41), pledges to respect it as an entity where children are born and raised by their parents in a spirit of love and responsibility towards society. It also makes provision for obligatory intervention to protect children when parents do not fulfil their duties of love, care, protection or education towards their children (42.5). The type of relationship between the family and the State under the Irish Constitution is therefore based on the philosophy that the family is the best place for a child to be, that the State has the obligation to support families in their endeavour to raise and educate their children..

This is a great bit of constitutional writing and this is what the Irish Government want to change to give themselves more power over families. (from linked article) my bolding:

What is proposed in the amendment is a subtle, yet definite philosophical shift short of being the legal maid-of-all work that it may or may not be. The threshold of intervention in article 42A2.1 reveals this new approach: “when the safety or welfare” of children “is likely to be prejudicially affected”, the State can intervene, and take various kinds of measures, from family support to compulsory adoption (in article 42A2.2). The semantic variation from “when the parents fail” in current article 42.5 to “when the safety or welfare of children is likely to be prejudicially affected” is revealing of the paradigm shift. Indeed, a precautionary approach is proposed: an assessment will be required of the likelihood of occurrence of harm to children, instead of the evidence that the parents have failed.

This slippery political language should be well known to British home educators who have faced this “children’s rights” meaning “children belong to the state” way of thinking a great deal. The whole Badman and Balls attack on family rights was under the banner of state being the primary protectors of children. The biggest danger in this is something that American’s will be learning a lot about over the next few years.

A state that decides it can GIVE rights, rather than merely protect inherent rights, is a state that will REMOVE those rights when it sees fit to do so.

I am still struggling to see why so many people actually vote to remove their own intrinsic rights.

The death of Judas Maccabees and the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great

Saturday was the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great.  He truly earned his title of “great” as he walked among the rubble of the dying Roman Empire and held tight to the Culture Christ had given His Church, and held back the tide of destruction from the Huns.

If you can get your hands on a copy of Louis de Wohl’s great historical novel Attila or the earlier version “Throne of the World” I recommend it. de Wohl knew his history very well indeed.

Attila was coming after Rome. He  was an ambitious cruel and soon gathered a reputation for his willingness to wholesale slaughter. Attila was no different from any other despotic leader. They all lack imagination it seems to me.  No wonder evil looks to banal. It has no colour.

Leo is most famous for his meeting with Attila in which he persuaded the Hun leader to leave Rome alone. Many people try to make out that Leo didn’t really “win” this concession and I am sure Leo would agree.  He had some powerful help. While famine and disease had left Rome very weak, and should have meant easy picking for the Huns, they also faced the prospect of fighting on empty stomachs.

Leo was well used to spiritual and political battle by the time he met Attila. He had stood his ground against many members of the Church who cut themselves off from her, running after various heresies such as Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Manichaeism  and more. With those who dared to call themselves followers of Christ, being only too willing to rush off after any old golden calf. In the light of this maybe Leo didn’t see Attila as such a big problem.

juxtaposed against the feast of this saint was the story of the last stand of Judas Maccabees. In Divine Office the continuing story of how a remnant of Israel stood against the tyranny of Syria and Persia.

Just as Leo faced a threat of tyranny while many of his fellow Christians prefered an easy life than the cross of Christ, so Judas faced the battle as many of his men gave up and refused to trust in God. Judas went out with his remnant and died a hero.

Judas and Leo stood up against a pagan aggressor who believed in the right of power over the weak; survival of the fittest. The Old Covenant Peoples faced a head on assault at the point when they seemed the weakest, having mostly apostasised already, but in the end we remember the Jews and the valiant courage of Judas Maccabaeus over whoever that Syrian leader was.  It isn’t a fairy tale ending. Our greatest heroes have often had to carry the cross and die on it.

But Jesus warned us very clearly, with the politically incorrect words,  “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Fear rather the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

So many people say they are Christians but don’t believe a word Jesus said. They have their golden calf and that will do them fine.

God has always allowed people like Antiochus Epiphanes and Attila the Hun to rise up because we are so darned daft we keep inviting them. Be He is merciful and He always gives us Leo the Greats and Judas Maccabaeus’. Thank God for that.

And Jesus said “Do not be afriad.”

Why not use UNIVERSALIS for the Year of Faith

Home Education; the purpose of education and the method.

There are a few high profile “thinkers” for want of a better label, who are beginning to speak more often on how schools are not educating our children.

Meanwhile we here more stories of Taliban and Al Qaeda dominated countries who are determined to deny woman and girls the opportunity of an education.

Most people, as far as I can tell, do believe that giving a good education to children and adults is a good in itself. Under natural law we know that parents have a right and a great obligation to ensure the education of our children. For us education isn’t simply opening the empty head and pouring in the information. Education, which comes from the words meaning “to lead out” is a way of helping our children develop and people, morally, socially, physically and academically.

There is a great danger, it seems to me, in reducing education down to holding information and methods of pouring information into children. I am also very suspicious of the push to make all education “Machine” based.  Children need more ways of learning than just what a computer can give them. We use the computer in our Home education, but really there’s very little “online” work that the children do. Starfall and more.Starfall is great, but even there I download and print the stories, workbooks and sheets. So a lot of the time the children are looking at paper, not a screen.

I have a number of reasons for this. First I don’t think the high colour, loud sound, and busyness of online lessons is good for the development of concentration.  Low stimulus is better for younger children as they begin to explore the world around them, build their senses and train their senses. It’s interesting how the Montessori early years curriculum is very much about training the senses of the child so that the gross and fine motor skills are built on strong foundations.

One of the most repetitive and annoying questions home educators get asked is what we call “The S word question.” Someone inevitably says  “What about socialisation?”

Children need to be properly socialised. That is they need to learn to be with other people, good manners, kindness, listening skills, sharing, conflict solving, turn taking in conversation, and all manner of other social skills are needed to get a child and adult through life. You simply cannot learn this, sat at a computer all day.

If the video maker in the link above is saying we have the technology in most western homes, libraries and community centres to make schools unnecessary, then I would agree. I would say the school system is a failed experiment and it has failed spectacularly; unless, as some people believe, the school system really was set up to de-educate the masses. Even if you put aside the dreadful academic outcomes, schools are not producing well socialised adults.

I think most of us have seen the inability of too many young adults to behave in a “normal” way at mixed aged gatherings. They sit, plugged into their technology, texting people who aren’t there, or playing games or whatever. Anything other than be with other people who are not their immediate peers of their immediate peer group.  My daughter faced a weird issue because she didn’t have a mobile phone. One friend was horrified that instead of texting ahead and have my dd meet her on the pavement, she would have to ring the doorbell and possibly (oh the horror) speak to an adult or a younger child!

One of the things I am sold on with Montessori is her insistence that children be in mixed aged classes. She saw this work really well at ensuring the younger children were taken care of and helped by older ones and that aggressive competition was diminished. She called this “peaceful education” because it encouraged true social behaviour.

If we reduce the purpose of education down to feeding information at children, that is a very narrow and dangerous view. It is certainly the view of those who want to control the information and make it suit their agenda. If we reduce education down to what a machine can tell us, that is more dangerous still. No parents wants their children sat, hunched over a computer all day.

An education needs to be more catholic than that, rounder, broader, deeper. We want our children to know how to learn, how to discern and think things through. That comes through relationships with real, loving people.

Dysautonomia POTS ME/cfs Fibromyalgia – Body thermastat is bust.

Here is a really good overview of some of the strange body temperature and other problems we face I note that a few people who suffer with the heat have bought cooling vests.

Living in the UK, it’s not often that heat is a real problem. But when it is – it is very difficult to stay cool. Having said that, for me (and others) being hot is never the issue. We sit in the bright warm sun of a Summers day, wrapped in a shawl and shivering like crazy. To say our body’s thermostat is bust, is an understatement!

However, beware! Sometimes you feel shivery and cold when in fact you are hot and wrapping up to get warm without checking your temp can lead to heat stroke, even if you are still shivering. I only learned this recently. It’s a good tip because I have been in the habit of wrapping up if I’m shivering.

But in the Winter my temp drops signficantly. This is not uncommon with this illness. Like most dysautonomia/FMS people my basic temp hovers around 96.6 to 97.1 F which is about 35.8 to 36 cel. So pretty low. I get very cold, very quickly and along with the lovely Reynaud’s phenomenon I get real problems with increased pain and confusion.

Here’s a tip I’ve found helpful. First of all invest in a good pair of arthritis thermal fingerless gloves. You can wear them under a normal pair of gloves for extra warmth. They are great at joint pain control and I have found they reduce the Reynaud’s which is great. The very ends of my fingers are more or less dead now, especially my right hand, and the Reynaud’s just makes things worse. But these gloves genuinely reduce the pain and white wrinkled fingers that Raynaud’s can produce.

The other thing I’ve found helps me a lot is having some nice shawls. Not good advice for the men I’m afraid.  But shawls are great. They go on easy, and when that heat wave hits, they come off, and go back on again as your temp drops so fast. I love my shawls. They also double as Montessori work rugs when required 🙂

You don’t need me to tell you to buy thermals. And ladies, those high waisted firm control panties – they help the nausea and the pooling as well as adding extra warmth.

Thick socks for warmer feet of course, and those ridiculous thick woolly animal slippers that come half way up your leg. I have overcome the children’s tendency to laugh at this by providing them with their own pairs.

Y of Faith: the fight for freedom of religion and conscience.

Divine Office at the moment is going through the Book of Maccabees, telling the story of what happened to the Jews after the time of Alexander the Great. The Scripture’s aren’t too enthusiastic about Alexander, showing him as a rapacious war maker. His empire is divided on his death and the divisions lead to more war.

Then from this mess arose Antiochus Epiphanes (215 to 163 BC) , a man whose level of evil knew no bounds. He went after Jewish religious practices to begin with, chipping away at their rights to practice their faith in freedom.

Slowly he tightened the screws until he demanded all should worship him as a god-manifest (hence the name he took Epiphanes) and the Temple was desecrated, the “abomination of desolation” set up there. From the ashes of a pretty large apostacy, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers stand up for freedom of faith and trust in God.

I think anyone who has done more than five minutes studying Scriptural typology will know that Antiochus was a type of Antichrist.

The whole story of the two Scriptural books of Maccabees is a great lesson for us. It’s not just the way the Jews lived through the wholesale persecution; the apostacy of so many and the powerful strength and faith of the few. It is the story of horror and death that leads to the bright lights of Hanukkah.(8 to 16th December this year).

No one can forget the strength and courage, the enormous  grace of the mother who was forced to watch her seven sons tortured to death. Not one of them gave in to their pagan torturers, but faced death, encouraged and strengthened by their mother.

Jesus referred back to this story and the prophecies of Daniel when He told us what to look out for in the end times. Of course we’ve been living in the end times since the Resurrection. We are children of the Eighth Day. Nevertheless we know the Eighth Day will come to an end. (Will a ninth day dawn? I’ve never quite got to grips with that.)

At the mini Parousia we saw the first fulfilment of Christ’s prophecy of the end of the world. In 70AD the world of the Old Testament was destroyed and there has been no Temple, no sacrifice for the Jewish people since that terrible time.

Ends come and go. The people who love God get persecuted, hounded, murdered and generally given a hard time. We have a whole load of history to go with Scripture and Tradition. I think when the time comes for the generations, countries and cities to be judged even the Canaanites and Aztecs will get an easier ride than us over whether they knew the wholesale human slaughter they were into was not advisable. Remember their cultures are long gone.

The Church has stood for over 2000 years. She will be there when Christ comes to claim His Bride.

Pace trials Pt 2: GET/CBT does more harm than good.

No sooner had I posted THIS with the great explanation vids when vid four was put up. So here it is. Take a five min break and watch this.

The explanations are so clear even I get it now. I have to say that since I’ve been more serious about reading research on ME/cfs FMS dysautonomia/POTS one thing has become very evident. That standard of a lot of stuff that gets published in peer reviewed journals is really pretty awful. Basic mistakes such as making assertions without any back up evidence, where only one or two authors are used as references and no mention of authors who came to different conclusions.  Imprecise language and over use of jargon. The list goes on. I have wondered sometimes if this is the standard of research and study that does get published, what on earth does the unpublished stuff look like?

Is this shambles over GET/CBT genuine incompetence or is it corruption?  Sadly, and very worryingly, it looks more and more like corruption.

(I think I may had muddled the vids in my foggy brain. However if you go to Youtube you can watch them all in the correct order. Sorry)

The Pace Trials; GET and CBT doesn’t work. Never did. Never will.

The PACE trial has been going on for a long time. I am fairly newly dx with ME so it’s all a bit new to me. But some personal background might help.

I became ill 10 years ago. It was November 2003 when I was admitted to hospital because I could no longer walk and was in immense pain, confusion and general severe yukkiness. I assumed it was linked with my pregnancy but my Obstretitian  begged to differ. He asked the Neuros to give me an MRI and have a good look at me.

They refused.

And thus began my bizarre Kafkesque adventure with neurology.

I remember lying in my hospital bed, feeling pretty rough and just a little concerned about my unborn son, while two registrars stood on either side of the foot of my bed arguing. On the left was the OB Reg and on the right was the Neuro Reg. The arguement was over whether I was going to get an MRI or not

The Ob Reg won. I don’t know how or what happened in the office later, but a couple of days later I was wheeled over to the other hospital and got the MRI.

It went missing.

Long story short. I didn’t get a dx and once my son was born I was told to exercise, pushing a little harder each day until I got better. The Neuro promised me I would get better.

So I did the exercise, every day.

I went from being able to walk with crutches or the pram to keep me upright, just about around the block, to not being able to walk a few paces from my own house. I can’t even walk around my house without walls and furniture to assist me. GET not only failed me. It made me a lot worse.

And I have discovered I am no the only one. It’s a common result.

The deterioration rates for GET and CBT are not only not published, but a Freedom of Information request has had to be put in to get them. The FOI was granted and an appeal against revealing the info has now gone in. YOU COULDN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

As it happens other countries where studies into GET/CBT have been done have shown it doesn’t help

In case you (like me) haven’t quite understood what is going on, these three short,clear and funny videos should help. I believe the talented author is making a 4th installment with further details.

The 10 activities of sf-36 are: 1.Vigorous activities, such as running, lifting heavy objects, participating in strenuous sports. 2.Moderate activities, such as moving a table, pushing a vacuum cleaner, bowling or playing golf. 3.Lifting or carrying groceries. 4.Climbing several flights of stairs. 5.Climbing one flight of stairs. 6.Bending, kneeling or stooping. 7.Walking more than a mile. 8.Walking several blocks. 9.Walking one block. 10.Bathing or dressing yourself.

Average scores for healthy adults approx 95+ (various studies)
Class 1 chronic heart failure 79
Rheumatoid arthritis 62
Dialysis patient 50

Love – more than a feeling; it’s a commandment.

Today’s Gospel is so very Jewish. A man asks Jesus about the greatest commandment and Jesus proclaims the Shema. Many Jews still have the lovely practice of keeping a Mezuzah at the doorposts of their home with the Shema and other parts of the Torah on little scrolls. Catholics have replaced this practice with the holy water font that many have at their front door. Many Jews still bind themselves with leather straps containing the prayer as an outward sign of the grace of this prayer – the greatest commandment.

It contains within it the first three Commandments; love God alone, keep His Name holy and observe His Sabbath. For Christians we observe the Lord’s Day.

The Second part of the Greatest Commandment, Jesus points out, is “And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” This is the golden rule written in the book of Tobit (chapter 4 but particularly verse 15), As Jesus repeats the golden rule He is encompassing the rest of the Commandments; honour your father and mother, don’t murder,keep sex holy,  don’t steal,  don’t lie about other people, don’t envy the things of another person (envy as wishing to destroy) and don’t envy the spouse/family of another.

Keep to all that, and heaven is open.  You see, Jesus commands us to love, so love is an act of the will as well as a feeling of the emotions. True love doesn’t harm the other, or enable them to harm themselves.

Our culture simply doesn’t get that. And far too many Christians are subsumed by the culture and not by Christ’s teaching.

Reading for the Year of Faith: Kindle and hard copy.

Bible: Why not treat yourself to a good translation such as the RSV-CE, (Ignatius or Navarre.) or a Knox if you can get hold of one. Commit to doing just a little Bible study each day. Ignatius Press publish a whole lot of good Bibles commentaries and stuff

I’ve got the Dairies of St. Faustina and although I’ve read them before I’m going through them again. Her understanding of the signs of the times, of suffering and of service are wonderful: like little lights along the road.

I’m also reading St. John of the Cross The Dark Night of the Soul. For me at least, this takes long slow reading. It’s so packed that reading it in bleurgh times doesn’t cut it.

The End of the Present World And the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjin now in English. This was a book that St. Therese the Little Flower recommended.

The Father’s Know Best by Jimmy Akin. Understanding what the early Fathers of the Church wrote and taught is a great insight into the development of doctrine, and how She handled persecution.

At a time when America is facing a wholesale onslaught  over religious freedom, which is an intrinsic human right,  I think it would be worth reading the stories of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) companions. (She’s one of our family saints so obviously I love her a lot.) If you have the brain power (which sadly I don’t) you could try reading her philosophical work, or get hold of some wonderful Alice von Hildebrand books and lectures. EWTN audio archives still hold the series she did about the life and work of her husband Deitrich. His escape from the Nazi’s and his writings are all amazing.

For children the Vision Books are great and for religious freedom and persecution the stories of St. Edmund Campion and St. Thomas More. Also the story of St Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal given in the time when France was persecuting Catholics viciously.

How’s that for starters? Don’t spend the next year reading twaddle. Life’s too short for that. Fill up your heart, soul and mind with something worthwhile- even in fiction.

Montessori: the cusp from Absorbent mind to Spontaneous Activity

I think Montessori’s view that a child from the age of 3 to 6 had what she called an absorbent mind is well known. She is probably most famous for her book The Absorbent Mind, which is a collection of lectures on young children’s education given in India. She and her son Mario fled there to escape the unwelcome gaze of Mussolini’s new found National Socialistic tendencies.

The next stage she speaks of is what she call spontaneous activity. As a child attains the age of reason (around 6 to 7) they are beginning to want to make more of their own discoveries. The child will explore, experiment and want to make it themselves.

Now, I have three children I am still home educating. They are aged 9 (10 in Feb) very nearly 8 (Dec birthday) and 5 and a half.

The original idea of going down the Montessori route was/is because Heleyna the youngest is such a kinesthetic learner.  But as we’ve started using the materials all three children have shown an interest.

I think I need to do some of the 3 to 6 album work with Heleyna as a leg up for the next stage. Looking at the albums I think the standard for the 3 to 6 age group is quite high. I don’t know why, but I had always thought Montessori lessons were “easier” somehow. Well, I’m learning!! My brain hurts!

I think I’ll start with a great lesson and work from there. The God Who Has No Hands, because it’s lovely.

I’ve been doing some of the Geometry Album work with her already and Avila has joined in with bits of it. I think Montessori’s strong leaning to children learning geometry is a lovely reminder that her first degree was in engineering. She was a brilliant woman.

Montessori was an excellent observer. She saw how the children in her Casa Bambini’s developed and she marked sensitive periods. Growth in language abilities accumulate over the years from birth to 6 and develop differently after that. A sensitive period for the understanding of numbers between ages of 4 to 5 and a half. I think I’ve seen that with Heleyna who has taken off in her understanding of how numbers work and basic math facts.

SENSORY aspects: Montessori understood that we are sensory creatures. We receive information about the world around us from all our senses, not just by reading about it or looking at it.

Modern “educational stuff” tends to be highly visually stimulating.  Parents with children on the autistic spectrum will often complain about it. Many adults find the high colour, loud noise and constant shifting of picture in visual resources pretty horrible too.

Montessori resources tend to be low-colour Even the pink tower is available in a natural wood finish (the one I have) so that children  are not subjected to a barrage of over-stimulation. Learning is a gentle progressive process; something else that overlaps with Charlotte Mason.

BOOKS; where does literature and books fit into a Montessori education? I have seen some criticism of Montessori, some saying Charlotte Mason herself criticised it, over the place of books. From what I can see, books, good literature, that is, does have a strong place in Montessori education. But even if, for some reason, they didn’t, we would still have them very much as part of our family education here.

Right now I am sorting through albums and books, so we’ll see how it goes.


Year of Faith: All Souls and Purgatory

November is the month of Holy Souls and you can’t talk about the Holy Souls without talking about the purgation they are going through. So what about Purgatory?

St. Paul says those who still have attachment to sin shall be saved “as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:15). So having all the straw burned away will hurt.

God is a consuming fire, we are told, and only those who are pure can stand the heat. I love the way Dr. Scott Hahn describes it. God’s love is the consuming fire. It burns away our old sins so we are pure and can come before Him. The purer we are the most love -fire we can stand and the closer to God we can get.

In purgatory the fire of God’s love hurts because the souls still have som attachment to those old sins.

In hell the fire is much cooler but seems so much hotter because those who have chosen hell cannot abide love at all. They are consumed with hatred for God and for all life.

The history of Purgatory (from the Latin purgatorio, from which we get purge in English) goes back to the Old Testament.

The Jews had a couple of words to describe the afterlife. There was sheol, which in Greek is Hades, the place of the dead.

Then there was Gehenna, the place of fire, in Greek is the same word (gamma, two epsilons, two nu’s and alpha). That’s what we call Hell.

Then finally there was a place Jesus mentions called “The bosom of Abraham”. I think some scholars have considered this to be the “limbo of the fathers” a sort of paradise where the saints stayed until Holy Saturday. It is thought that maybe Enoch and Elijah are there awaiting their return to earth. They have never died as yet.

By the time Jesus came to preach salvation and the resurrection of the dead, the Jewish faith had taken a number of directions. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection any more.  God’s promise that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been rejected by them. They had a “once you’re dead, you’re dead,” take on things.

The Pharisees had a much better and fuller understanding of the Old Covenant. Jesus never told them what they believed was wrong, He disagreed with their behaviour.  They were do busy adding details they had lost real sight of what God was saying to them.

When the Church emerged, it was like a butterfly from the Jewish caterpillar. Not a new religion, but a fulfilled one. So many Jewish converts say they haven’t left behind their Jewishness, they have completed it.

So when Paul talks about a place where the saved can burn off the dross of this life, he isn’t making a new statement, but devloping an old one. Sheol is a place to get rid of anything that cannot be brought before God. It’s not a second chance. Every single person there is saved and loves God. It’s the antechamber of heaven.

But is it a place or a state of being?

I suppose the Catholic answer to that would be it’s both. We are given plenty of opportunities this side of death to take part in a bit of purgation. The Scriptures and the teaching of the Church and the fathers has always been very clear, nothing unclean can come before God.

In private revelation most, (if not all) those who have been offered a glimpse or a long observation of those in purgatory have noted that the holy souls didn’t want to come before God with their attachment to venial sin still there. They joyfully take up the pains to prepare like a bride to come before the groom.

Every bit of suffering we have in this life can be offered to Christ as St. Paul encourages us. Get some purgatory done now folks.

There are a number of Christians today who have blocked out those uncomfortable passages in Scripture that demand certain things of us. They say “nothing can separate them from the love of God..” and they forget about all the physical and emotional suffering Paul lists and instead insert the word “sin”. (cf Rom 8) But in his first letter to the Corinthians (who caused Paul a lot of heart ache) Paul makes it clear that sin will separate us from Christ (1 Cor 6) So we had better use every ounce of grace God gives us to avoid that.  St. Paul warns us not to receive God’s grace in vain (I think that was aimed at the troublesome Corinthians too)  St. John warns particularly against mortal sin, that sin that can kill the life of the soul. (1 John 5:16-17).

Jesus, and His Body the Church constantly calls her people to repentance. We are supposed to be sorry for the sins we commit. If we are and we want forgiveness, it is flowing from Christ from His once and for all Sacrifice.

But mortal sins kill the life of the soul and need much stronger repentance. It is possible in the immense mercy of God for a truly repentant person to be saved from mortal sin even without Confession. But normally a mortal sin should be confessed and no one who is not in a state of grace should receive the Eucharist. St. Paul warns that such people are eating and drinking their own condemnation.

The Church doesn’t tell us who is in purgatory, nor in hell. She tells us some of the names of those living in heaven. We are not supposed to go to Purgatory. We are supposed to repent, get sorted with God and go to heaven.

All Saints and All Souls

All religions are not the same. It’s a bizarre fallacy to suggest they are, and yet it’s one that gets bandied about all too frequently.

The Catholic Church has been around for over 2000 years and she”s had her ups and downs and plenty of people have tried to destroy her. All have failed both from within and without.  She still stands and Christ promised the gates of the underworld would not prevail.

God has poured out His grace in the most extraordinary way over some of her members. Looking at the very best fruit the Church has produced leaves quite an impact. Has any other religion or organisation produced the likes of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas Aquinas, St Teresa of Avila, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Padre Pio, and the list goes on. In every generation God has raised up bright shining lights to remind us of His Presence and strength. In His Name they heal the sick, teach the Truth, suffer for us and even raise the dead (St. Catherine of Siena famously demanded a doctor who had died of the plague, that he get up immediately and continue the work. He did so).

The famous case of Gemma Di Giogio born without pupils and therefore totally blind is another witness. I think she’s still alive isn’t she? Padre Pio through God’s grace gave her 20/20 vision. She still has no pupils and doctors and scientists have no material answer for her impossible sight.

Along with the miracle welding magnificent saints we have the quieter, more gentle saints like The Little Flower who accepted a great deal of personal suffering and offered it up as St. Paul said we should. St. Faustina who was the soul who carried the cross to mitigate the horror of the coming world war, Blessed Anna Marie Taigi, a little housewife who advised the great and the good with the graces she received and the suffering she offered.

The Church has just canonised Kateri Techakwitha, the first Native American saint. Her story is one of great goodness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

There are so many martyrs over the last 2000 years that it is easily understood why St. John in his vision of Revelation couldn’t count them. All those saint in heaven alive in Christ are praying their heavenly socks off for us. Thank God for that.

The greatest saint ever, is Our Lady. She is full of grace thanks to the mercy of God and as the New Ark she offers us her Son and points us to Him at all times. She as there at the birth of our Saviour (obviously) and was there at the birth of His Bride the Church, that Pentecost Sunday.

I genuinely do not know of another religion, that has saints of this calibre over so long, apart from, perhaps the Eastern Orthodox.

Why do so many people spend all their time looking at the Judases when we have these lights to guide the way? It’s pretty odd to look down at the fruit that fell from the tree and rots on the ground while the tree still bears an abundance of good fruit, if only they could look up once in a while.

Tomorrow is All Souls, when we remember not just the Church Triumphant, as today, but the Church Suffering. Those holy souls who are, as St. Paul describes, having the straw burned away so only the gold remains, for nothing unholy can enter heaven. It must all be left behind.