A meeting planned by God

Wherever you go, God will put the people He wants you to meet in your path.

This evening in the gym (see, the gym can be spiritual ;) ), I was speaking with a man that I met a few weeks ago. Somehow, we got talking then and he had asked me about my job. So, I told him. He told me he agreed with me and thanked me for doing that work (actually, this happens to me quite a lot)! We had a big talk about women’s role in society and how women are not feminine anymore. He said his wife is often made to feel guilty for looking after the children and he tried to reassure her that she was doing the best job possible. What a good husband, I thought! When we parted ways that time, I said to him, as a lot of us say to many people, “God bless!”. I went home, he went home, and I hadn’t spoken to him since then.

Today, weeks later, he saw me, came up to me and asked me if I was spiritual because he remembered and heard very clearly that I had said, “God bless” and he had been thinking about it. He also said to me that he felt that I was at peace and he wanted that peace (this is funny for me because my life is a complete mess right now. I am in a huge pickle so I find it strange that he should feel that from me).

We talked for about an hour about all sorts of things. He was baptised a Presbyterian, but his wife is a Catholic (and a good one, from what he says) and they are raising their children as Catholics, but he has lots of questions. Nonetheless, he wants them to have a faith so that they have a good start in life. He also spoke about how he wanted lots of children (his wife is expecting their third) and I told him the quote my mum says, which is that only God knows how many children it takes to bind a couple together. We were definitely on the same wave-length here!

So, we’re talking and talking about loads of things. He says he gets frustrated with people in the Church; they’re so hypocritical. I told him what Fr Thwaites said about the Church being a hospital. I said there are tons of people in the Church I don’t like. Sometimes, the meanest people in my life are Catholics but Holy Mother Church will leads us to God, not them. We’ve got to love them and what do we expect when even Christ was crucified for loving His children? I said we have to accept that none of us are saints. I spoke about St Therese and the little way and what a struggle it is to do the little things but that this is also a path to sainthood.

I tell him about how to become a Catholic, to read things on fisheaters.com, talk to the parish priest etc. Eventually, he tells me that sometimes he receives Holy Communion at Mass. I said to him that he absolutely must not do this. He must become a Catholic before he does this. So then we talk a bit more and I discover that he went to a Catholic boarding school in Ghana and lo and behold, he was confirmed there! So, he IS a Catholic but somehow he didn’t realise or he was very confused about it all because it happened when he was young! He had thought there was more to it than that. That there would have been weeks and years of preparation. Well, I was never prepared for it. It just happened one day. He said that he sort of remembered the priest asking about this before his children were baptised. Thanks be to God! So then I ask him if he’s ever thought about confession? He says he has. I speak about it a little bit, about the benefits of it, how this can be such a great cure when your prayer life is an uphill struggle.

Eventually, I have to go home because it’s 10:30pm but I feel like I did a lot more good skipping most of my workout to speak to him…

He kept saying to me that God was giving him all these signs and asking things of him and we both agreed that God wanted us to speak for a good reason. I suppose this meeting was a sign for me too, but I’m not sure what it means. Maybe it means I’m not as bad as I think I am? I don’t know. Maybe it means my life is less of a mess than I think. It’s a mystery.

When I started school

Mary O’Regan from The Path Less Taken nominated me to write a post on what I was like when I started school.

You don’t need a blog.  If you have a blog, you can do the post there, but if not, you can do the post on Twitter or Facebook. Some people might like to do all three: post on their blog, Facebook and Twitter. Please always use the tag, #WhenIStartedSchool to keep us together.

The rules are that you must…

Post a photo of yourself from your early school days.

Answer the questions:

What kind of child were you?      Are you a very different adult?

Nominate at least three other bloggers and/or social media users. Tell them they have been nominated by leaving a comment on their blogs or by tweeting to them or posting on their wall on Facebook OR whichever method you prefer.

I went home a couple of days ago, so I was able to get a picture of me when I was 4 and 1/2 years old, which I think is about the time I would have started school or nursery (which is called ‘meithrin’ in Welsh, as I went to a Welsh language school).

My eldest nephew and me. If I was 4 and 1/2, he must have only been about 6 or 7 months old at this point.

My eldest nephew and me. If I was 4 and 1/2, he must have only been about 6 or 7 months old at this point.

The photo is taken from a scrap book that my second eldest sister, Elain, put together for me as a gift when I turned 18. So, there are two questions I have been asked to answer:

1. What kind of child were you?

2. Are you a very different adult?

What kind of child were you?

When I was little, I remember being very naughty. I used to write on all the walls, chase my cat up and down the stairs (even though I actually just wanted to love her and hug her…), go through my mum’s jewellery, steal chocolate…all sorts. I was really quite bad.

I also remember loving all things girly. In this picture, I’m holding a plastic barbie. I remember this toy very clearly because it was a toy from a Happy Meal. We would go to McDonald’s once in a blue moon…and that was usually after doing an SPUC pro-life chain, once a year. I suppose we never went because it was, and is, extremely unhealthy and because my parents had neither the time nor the money to take us. Now I’m pretty thankful that we didn’t go.

I was very jealous of my friends who used to go all the time and especially jealous of the toys they would get. I loved all barbies but I especially remember thinking this doll was very beautiful.

I think it took me a long time to realise that I did not look like the other children in my class. There is a portrait of me that I made of myself when I was in year 1 and I gave myself pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes!

I longed for beautiful dresses (which I did get to wear) and high heels with big rings. I used to tie hair bobbles around my fingers and my dad told me he would check my fingers and toes at night to make sure I was not still wearing them and cutting off the circulation.

I think sometimes I was quite unhappy because I had the impression that my siblings were always off doing things without me (I am the youngest of 7). Two of my sisters regularly tell me I used to cry when they would leave for university.

Are you a very different adult?

I think the only thing that has changed is that I am not so naughty anymore. I definitely don’t steal chocolate or go through my mum’s jewellery, but I still want to love and hug my cat (the cat I have now is more tolerant of hugs).

I am definitely still very girly, but I can rough it, if need be (for a limited amount of time!).

My landlady, who I live with, is a jewellery designer and I love going through her collection and picking out something new. If it doesn’t suit me, it’s nice to give it to someone else. I have to really restrain myself when she gets the rings out…

I love hair and beauty appointments, shopping, high tea, baking. All of that. I basically get to do most of the things I wanted to do when I was little, except now I do pro-life chains voluntarily and I don’t eat McDonalds! My younger self would probably never believe that I would choose not to eat chocolate and biscuits (most of the time) in place of porridge and egg whites, but it’s true.

I know that the reason why I love being busy (which is partly why I love my job in the pro-life movement) is because I always wanted to be part of the action when I was little. I still hate being left out.

I nominate…

1. Hannah Young

2. Alice Jardine

and

3. Richard Collins

Some friends and me...

Some friends and me…

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill

Lord Falconer has reintroduced his Assisted Dying bill, which aims at helping terminally-ill people to commit suicide. This is the same bill that he introduced last session as a ‘dry run’. It is due to have a Second Reading in the House of Lords on Friday 18 July.

Write
Please write (send letters by post) to Peers (members of the House of Lords) asking them to oppose the bill.

To receive a list of suggested Peers to whom you can write, please send an email to political@spuc.org.uk with the subject line “Peer list request”.

Please ask as many people as possible to write to Peers. Short, preferably hand-written letters, relating personal experiences and concerns, are likely to be most effective. We believe they are likely to be much more effective in this instance than sending e-mails.

The Falconer bill poses a major threat at this time because the composition of the House of Lords has changed markedly in recent years, with many more ‘Cameron’ appointees reflecting anti-life attitudes. Although previous bills, such as Lord Joffe’s bill, have been defeated in the Lords, this vote could be much closer.

Bishop Mark Davies in a pastoral letter calling for opposition to the bill recalls the major conflicts of last century and says:

“Whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recog¬nise the great challenge for our own genera¬tion. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it.”

Please write to Peers, and encourage others to write, opposing the Falconer bill. We would be most grateful to receive copies of replies from peers who indicate whether they intend to support or oppose the bill.

Demonstrate
On the day of the Lords’ Second Reading, the Care Not Killing Alliance is organising an event in Parliament Square and SPUC supporters are encouraged to attend. Please contact CNK for details: 020 7234 9680 or via their website http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk

Read
Read a detailed critique of the Falconer bill by Rev. Dr. John Fleming.

Nurses Opposed to Euthanasia (NOE), a group within SPUC, has also published a critique.

Further briefing information is available on the Care Not Killing website at: http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/falconer-bill

For an example of a letter (I don’t say it’s a good one though!) see my letter below. It might be good to include a personal testimony, if you have one.

Dear Lord _____________,

I am writing to you regarding Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which will now be discussed for the third time in the House of Lords.

At present, we are hearing time and time again of elderly men and women who are being neglected in care homes and hospitals. How much worse will it be if Lord Falconer is successful and this legislation allows even more pressure to be laid on the shoulders of the weak and elderly? As
Charles Moore commented,

“If ‘dying with dignity’ is legalised, soon it will be expected”

My own grandmother is 95 years old, but when she is ill, we dare not take her to hospital for fear that she will be kept there and will be starved or neglected until she is dead. Other than her memory, which is almost completely gone, she is in amazing physical condition. Yet, left in the care of those to whom she may be another burden, she would willingly go without food and drink for days on end simply because she is not in her right mind. Her life still has value because it is still hers and she remains a human being who was put on this earth with a definite purpose. This is the only life she will have and yet a growing number of people would argue that perhaps it would be better if she were allowed to starve to death. This is the current deplorable situation in the UK, even without Lord Falconer’s Bill.

The stated main purpose of the Bill is to, “enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life” (the long title of the Bill). Yet, who can seriously deny that slippery slopes are inevitable with this kind of dangerous legislation? It was this kind of reasoning which meant that the 1967 Abortion Act established the practise of abortion on demand in this country, despite the protestations of those proposing the legislation.

Even if one does not accept the concept of a ‘slippery slope’, there is no international law which acknowledges any right to death or suicide and certainly none which obliges medical staff or any person to assist in someone’s death. The role of the state is to protect its citizens, even if that means that a person must be protected from themselves (as in the case of the mentally ill, who may wish to harm themselves). It used to be the case that a person who wished to kill themselves would be pitied and given help. Now, we are on the verge of pushing them off the edge of the bridge instead of convincing them to come down.

Those who request, or even beg, for a premature death must be helped to see that there is immeasurable value in each and every life, even in its later stages. This is not about unnecessarily prolonging someone’s life, but about allowing a person’s life to extend until its natural end, whilst using modern medicine to alleviate as much suffering as possible.

Dominus est

Bishop Schneider writes of his mother and a priest, later martyred, called Father Alexij who were living under Communism in Kazakhstan, where it was illegal to pray together, attend mass or even be a priest, never mind provide the Sacraments.

“After a year, Father Alexij was able to return to Krasnokamsk. This time he could celebrate Holy Mass and give Holy Communion to the faithful. Maria Schneider [Bishop Schneider’s mother] asked him a favor: “Father, could you leave me a consecrated Host because my mother is gravely ill and wants to receive Communion before dying?” Father Alexij left a consecrated Host, on the condition that Holy Communion be administered to the woman with the greatest possible respect. Maria Schneider promised to act in this way. Before moving with her family to Kirghistan, Maria administered Holy Communion to her sick mother. In order to do this, Maria put on new white gloves and with a tweezers gave Holy Communion to her mother. Afterwards, she burned the envelope in which the consecrated Host had been kept.”

The Queen of Puddings posts

My friend e-mailed me last night to tell me that there were some new posts on Joseph’s Shaw’s blog about modest dress. I read the first two ones which were in reply to Tracey Rowland’s attack on Traditionalists and their sense of style, but since I had been away for the weekend, I hadn’t read these. I am just about to start reading the second part written by Lucy Shaw (who is, I assume, the Queen of Puddings?). I have to say that I loved the first one! Yes please, more of this!

One thing that I learnt from the first post was that Balenciaga was a Catholic (I didn’t actually know anything about him), and a truly devout one it seems. Not like modern ‘devout’ celebrity Catholics. Whenever I am in Paris for a few days, I try to get to the Museum of Fashion because they always have a special collection of dresses (which they change periodically, so you will see a different collection each time you go), dating back all the way to the very first collection of a particular designer right up to the present day. It is fascinating. I have definitely visited the museum when they had Balenciaga’s designs there. Since I have no money to buy designer clothes, all I can do is admire them, but I do enjoy doing that, at least!

I feel that modest dress is such a minefield nowadays and it took me a little while to work out what I do and don’t like, where to shop, how much I should be willing to spend and so on. I am still learning and I have to forget all my old habits. I have thrown out almost all my old clothes and I look at old purchases with new eyes. I have a French Connection dress that I bought in the sale about two years ago which I judged to be too dowdy…because it reached my knees! Oh, how times have changed. I tried it on the other day and now I love it. I think I will wear it today, actually.

This is one of my favourite quotes from the first post:

The first thing one notices, studying his [Balenciaga's] creations, is the extraordinary breadth of vision. Clothes for every occasion, and for many different types of women – there is no classifying his clothes with a single adjective. There is no apparent rule for hemlines, for instance: some gowns sweep the floor with magnificent trains while some suits are above the knee. The more one studies the clothes, however, the more one does notice certain patterns. The wedding dresses, for example, are much more modestly cut that the ball gowns. They have sleeves and high necklines, and are easily distinguished from the evening gowns which are often cut quite low, and are sleeveless. A suit with a short skirt will not have a low neckline. A low neckline on a cocktail gown will be complemented with a longer skirt, or sleeves. I do not think that Balenciaga necessarily considered these things consciously, and again we need to avoid the temptation to draw up rules based on his creations. However, I think that he took it for granted that modesty was an intrinsic part of any beautiful garment, and as he was completely focused on creating beauty his gowns were naturally not immodest

Farm street procession

Yesterday, as I was in London for the weekend, my friend and I decided to attend the Corpus Christi procession which was beginning at Farm Street and ending at St. James, Spanish place via the Ukranian Catholic church. 

On our way back from Chartres, we had been told of the event and since I don’t believe I had ever taken part in a procession with the Blessed Sacrament, I wanted to go. We were also told that some sort of orthodox/traditional person was organising it, which is primarily why we went. I don’t know how much of a role the Jesuits at Farm Street had in it, but I wouldn’t have been keen to go if I had thought it was all down to them, given the fact that they run an ‘LGBT’ group and a separate ‘trans’ group. I believe that the infamous ‘Soho masses’ are still going on at Farm Street. I don’t know if there has been any progress in that area.

As the time for the procession approached, my friend and I began to worry that it might not have been such a good idea to go. We had suggested to some friends in the morning that they should come with us, but the idea of it involving Farm Street Jesuits put them off. We began to think that maybe we had been a bit naive to trust that the procession wouldn’t involved rainbow flags or some form of blatant heresy. In the end, we made a promise that if we saw anything dodge, we’d run for the hills. 

As we were waiting outside, I started to recognise Catholics from other events like 40 Days For Life and Juventutem. We even saw a seminarian in a cassock wearing a bag with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Oh joy, we were not alone!

As the procession began, I noticed A LOT of women wearing mantillas. I definitely saw more women wearing mantillas on this procession, hosted by a parish which has become famous for flouting Church teaching, than I saw during the whole of the Chartres pilgrimage. Many of these mantilla-clad ladies were young. 

I am definitely not an authority when it comes to liturgy, vestments or Latin, but everything seemed pretty good to me. Maybe it was awful for any experts who attended but I never wanted to hang my head in shame, which makes a change from my usual experience of non-traditional Catholic events. As a lay person who loves reverence, it got my approval.

There were some servers dressed in that white monk-style outfit that modern altar servers wear, but everyone else seemed to look lovely and traditional. 

Plenty of incense, traditional hymns (many of them in Latin), admittedly we didn’t pray the Rosary, which was a disappointment. 

It didn’t have the same ‘feel’ as the traditional Catholic events that I have attended, but that is to be expected. There could have been more kneeling on behalf of the lay people, I think, but that’s just my opinion and we were prompted to kneel and to be silent and so on. I went into Westminster Cathedral’s ‘Blessed Sacrament chapel’ today, but I didn’t notice that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed (because it was exposed above the tabernacle and this was the first time I had ever been to that part of the cathedral). I genuflected instead of kneeling but nobody jumped down my throat. When I noticed my mistake, I was sorry for it but we have to allow that sometimes people make genuine mistakes and not all behaviour that we disapprove of is done because people are lazy. Sometimes it’s done out of ignorance. I’m sure we can all cite many occasions when we didn’t know any better. 

I would never ordinarily choose to do anything at Farm Street but yesterday was a rare exception. I was half-expecting heresy 101, but it wasn’t at all. There was some sort of sermon/talk thing at the beginning in the church, where the priest was going on about the usual, “God is so merciful and loving blah blah blah…we’re here to witness to His love”. Nothing about judgment and reparation and all that. Far too serious! Again, I expect that.

It’s good to keep an open mind about these things. I’ll still avoid Jesuits if I possibly can, but it was a lovely, joyous occasion and I’m glad that our worries came to nothing.

No boys allowed

There are lots of nice over-the-knee skirts at Asos right now and they’re so elegant. Lovely! I only wish that more of them were cotton, but there are quite a few that are at least mostly cotton.

This can be found here http://www.asos.com/ASOS/ASOS-Midi-Skirt-In-Bright-Jacquard/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=3664573&cid=2639&Rf989=5046&Rf-800=-1,61&Rf-300=2077&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=204&sort=3&clr=Yellow

I probably *wouldn’t* put it with that particular top though…

This one here http://www.asos.com/ASOS/ASOS-Full-Midi-Skirt-in-Baroque-Floral-Jacquard/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=4216904&cid=2639&Rf989=5046&Rf-800=-1,61&Rf-300=2077&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=204&sort=3&clr=Multi

This is 100% cotton

*Sigh* http://www.asos.com/Warehouse/Warehouse-Lace-Skirt/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=4186932&cid=2639&Rf989=5046&Rf-800=-1,61&Rf-300=2077&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=204&sort=3&clr=White

A faithful friend is the medicine of life

About this, we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained to practise to distinguish good from evil – Hebrews 6.14

I don’t know about you, but I constantly ask questions about the Faith. All the time. The above verses from the letter to the Hebrews are definitely relevant for me.

A friend of mine sometimes asks me for advice on a range of different issues pertaining to the Faith. I am very happy (and flattered) to help, but all I do when she asks me (if I don’t know the answer) is that I either search online and find an answer from a reputable source, or I ask a trustworthy priest. I used to struggle on my own and I spent hours thinking and worrying about things, and I usually got it wrong when I eventually came to a conclusion. The problem was, I wasn’t looking in the right places or asking the right people! I was relying on myself and I am nothing.

Twitter was very useful for me for a long time, before it started to interfere with my prayer life, so it might be useful for those who are just coming back to the Church, or who are interested in Traditionalism, to get involved with some trads/other orthodox Catholics on Twitter (any friend of Bruvver Eccles is sound!). You can find lots of links to great sites like Catholicismispure.wordpress.com, St. Peter’s List, Rorate Caeli and blogs run by individuals like Mark Lambert. There is a lot of petty arguing on Twitter though, so be careful!

Nowadays, we can’t trust all the advice that we get from our local parish priests or catechists (if you are lucky enough to have any catechists at all). Sadly, I can’t even listen to everything the Pope says or does without taking it with a pinch/fist of salt. See here, for example (I stand with Hilary White by the way!). My advice, as someone who is plagued by doubts and questions, is to seek out a good priest and ask him, when in doubt. The priests that I trust know who they are because I send them a fair number of emails (yep, sorry ’bout that…). I try not to bother them if I can find the answer online though. As we know, the number of priests is falling, so they’re very busy…especially the good ones!

If you are fortunate enough to live near a good and holy priest, I would beg them (on your hands and knees if necessary!!) to be your spiritual director. St Faustina emphasised over and over again how important it is to have a spiritual director to help us get to heaven. I have been looking for a spiritual director for a long time. I suspect that I have not found one who can help me primarily because I am difficult, not because the priest is not good enough. I won’t give up though!

St Francis de Sales wrote in ‘Introduction to the Devout Life':

I say to you, if you would really like to tread the paths of the devout life, seek some holy man to guide and conduct you…”A faithful friend”, we are told in Holy Scripture, “is a strong defence, and he that hath such an one hath found a treasure;” and again: “A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they that fear the Lord shall find him”. These sacred words have chiefly reference, as you see, to the immortal life, with a view to which we specially need a faithful friend, who will guide us by his counsel and advice, thereby guarding us against the deceits and snares of the Evil One…but who can find such a friend? The Wise Man answers:–“He that feareth the Lord:” that is to say, the truly humble soul which earnestly desires to advance in the spiritual life. So, daughter, inasmuch as it concerns you so closely to set forth on this devout journey under good guidance, do you pray most earnestly to God to supply you with a guide after His Own Heart, and never doubt that He will grant you one who is wise and faithful, even should He send an angel from Heaven, as He sent to Tobias

What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t struggle on our own. We should try to seek help. If you can’t find a spiritual director, keep trying, but in the meantime, seek out someone (maybe not necessarily a priest, if it’s not for formal spiritual direction) who can answer your questions.

I am fortunate because I have been able to attend lots of wonderful masses and pilgrimages, such as the recent pilgrimage to West Grinstead with Bishop Schneider (I was blessed to be able to speak with him at length as I got to share a car journey to Reading with him and Fr. Goddard, an FSSP priest. Thank you, God!) and of course the LMS pilgrimage to Walsingham and the Chartres pilgrimage. I also try to get to Juventutem London masses when I can and other Old Rite masses (I am going to a Missa Cantata in Swansea for Corpus Christi this Thursday, for example), where the sermons are almost guaranteed to contain good guidance. I have attended the Faith conference twice now, and that is another great source of spiritual guidance (though they celebrate the New Rite only, when I was last there, they used the altar rails so we could easily receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue! Alleluia!). At these events, I’ve been able to relax and speak freely. It’s amazing what you can pick up just by having a little chat over a cup of tea with wonderful and faithful Catholics.

We need to get out ‘there’, as much as we can. I wish we could rely on our local parishes, but sadly, we often have to avoid them. Our souls are worth protecting, and that means being prudent regarding the spiritual advice that we follow. Of course, God has to be the first person that we consult about any problem or question that we have, but as St. Francis de Sales says,

In truth, your spiritual guide should always be as a heaven-sent angel to you;– by which I mean that when you have found him, you are not to look upon him, or trust in him or his wisdom as an ordinary man; but you must look to God, Who will help you and speak to you through this man, putting into his heart and mouth that which is needful to you