Preparation for Mass – Prayer of St. Ambrose

O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I a sinner, presuming not on my own merits, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach the table of Thy most sacred banquet. For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I, a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to Thee the fount of mercy; to Thee do I fly that I may be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection, and I ardently desire to have Him as my Saviour, whom I am unable to face as my Judge.

To Thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end. Look down upon me, therefore, with the eyes of Thy mercy, O Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and Man, crucified for men. Hearken unto me, for my hope is in Thee; have mercy on me, who am full of misery and sin, Thou who wilt never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.

Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the gibbet of the cross! Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away all the sins of the whole world! Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Most Precious Blood.

I am grieved because I have sinned, I desire to make amends for what I have done. Take away from me therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins, that, being purified both in soul and body, I may worthily partake of the Holy of Holies. Grant that my reception of Thy Body and Blood, which I purpose, unworthy though I am, may bring to me pardon for my sins, the perfect cleansing of my faults, the expulsion of all evil thoughts, and the renewal of pure feelings, the health and efficacy of good works, pleasing unto Thee, and a most strong protection both in soul and body against the snares of my enemies.



“No success can compensate for failure in the home“

This quote – “No success can compensate for failure in the home” – this was posted by Mia Love (a pro-life politician from the US) as she was writing online about her own father. The quote comes from David O’McKay, who Google tells me was the ninth president of the Mormon church. At this point, my Mum would gasp and say, “Don’t you know who David O’McKay is?!”, to which I would reply, “No, Mum, that’s why I just asked you, “Who is David O’McKay?””. Thankfully, we don’t have to have that conversation because this is a blog, but I thought I’d put it in there in case anyone had a similar reaction to my ignorance. Despite being a Mormon, O’McKay seemed to say some pretty amazing things.

I believe that how you were raised will shape you for the rest of your life. This is why I cannot understand why many people take such little care in ensuring that their children are not exposed to harmful people or ideas during their childhood. How is it that people don’t know where their children are at night, for example? This amazes me.

Think about how your upbringing shaped you. You spend many many more years outside of the home, compared to those you spent growing up with your parents and siblings. And yet, really, you are the way you are because of how you grew up. Just think about the weaknesses and strengths in your personality. Don’t you think that these were formed because of events in your childhood? I never thought about this until recently, but it struck me that I am this person almost entirely due to my childhood.

Maybe we’d like to think that university or our career ‘made’ us. Yes, maybe you become more confident and knowledgeable because of your time studying. Maybe you came out of your shell a bit more because of a new job and new friends, but when it comes down to it, when it comes down to how you react when you are hurt or in love, for example, I think that these reactions stem from our childhood.

I imagine that it is quite terrifying to think that everything you do as a parent can make or break your child. But what is also consoling is that God gave us, in the form of a mother and father, the two most important components for success in the home. I can’t remember where I read it (sorry, not very academic, but this is a blog with pink and blue font), but apparently not having a father in the home has a more devastating effect on a child’s development than not having a mother. I guess this makes sense. Although I know that when I am most upset, I always call on my mum first, I suppose a father is the rock on which the family is built. He may not be the one who kisses your scraped knee better, but a father seems to bind a family together in many ways, just by his very presence.

Atticus Finch – I bet he would have been good at bedtime stories.

As we all know, so many people deny that every child should ideally have a father and a mother. Foolishly, Western society has largely come to believe that two women or two men can adequately play mummy and daddy and this will have no effect whatsoever on the children. Children will turn out to be well-rounded individuals, and we can all bake cakes and have the quintessential English childhood, but without all the superfluous trimmings, like biological parents. Well, we’ll soon come to see how badly this works out. In the meantime, let’s be thankful for those of us who had fathers who tried as hard as they could to foster success in the home. If anyone has ever had a perfect childhood, that Person was Jesus Christ. Other than Him, I think many of us can say that our imperfect fathers probably tried their very best and that is what I am thankful for this Father’s Day.

Be right there.

Heyyyyy, you guessed it: the Chartres pilgrimage is almost here and once again, I am really looking forward to it.

I haven’t really been keeping up with my blog posts (and by that I mean that I have barely written anything, but since I write mostly for my own benefit, I don’t think I’ve let anyone down), but I always find time to write something around Chartres time because this is when my levels of procrastination reach an all-time high as I have so many things to do, but so little will to do anything that is connected with packing my bag.

Would you believe that I have actually taken a day of holiday just to get these things done? That is how slow and disorganised I am (though apparently I am efficient at work. Hurray! If this could just happen in my personal life too, that would be great).

I firmly believe that the reason why I have so far avoided obesity is because I am so disorganised and slow when getting ready in the mornings, or at any time, that I speed-walk and sometimes run almost everywhere I go. So, if I am late to meet you, this isn’t a personal insult to you, I have a genuine problem. Sorry in advance.

slow snail

I think I will change the beginning of the year, and the time when I make all my resolutions, to the day after the Chartres pilgrimage. Last year, Fr Withoos read out a meditation on the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman on all the simple things we should do to become perfect and, to my surprise, I have actually followed quite a lot of those things and kept them up all year (see the post on that here). For one thing, I was not making my morning offering until hours after I got up and sometimes not at all. Since Chartres last year, I have (almost always) made some kind of morning offering as soon I wake up. I have not got to the point where I can pray a full rosary before breakfast like some people do, but the first thing I do now when I walk out the door in the morning is to start praying it, and I do believe that these things are almost all due to the graces earned on the Chartres pilgrimage.

There have been some setbacks too and a very kind lady sent me an email about modest dressing the other day after she sat in front of me at mass, so presumably this has also gone downhill. I have to say that some of my clothes were borderline Amish-style not so long ago, so I am trying to find a balance.

My sister stayed with me in November and commented that she had not seen me in trousers for two years, which is probably about right (that is, I am wearing trousers occasionally now). I think that, apart from gym clothes and stuff worn at home, I had not worn a pair of trousers for about that amount of time. I made a conscious effort to do that and I have let myself relax a bit on that front. I don’t know…I don’t believe in this not showing the tops of your arms thing, for instance. What is so seductive about that? Of course, dressing modestly is so important, but I am not going to wear ankle-length skirts. If God pulls me up on this, on my head be it, but for the moment I don’t see that I have to cover up as much as some people say. I have to watch the videos that I was sent by this lady. Maybe I’ll completely change my mind.

Speaking of clothes, vanity, hairstyles and all that, I have been having a meltdown over how to deal with my fringe and Chartres (sweat, baseball caps and no showers) for a while now. I have a full, thick fringe now (photo here of my colleague and me at a Christian exhibition yesterday). Watch this space for how hilarious and ugly my hair can get in less than a day. After this, nobody can say that I am unwilling to do extreme penance.

The very best company

See the full article here:

Wise words from a man of prayer!

Of course one cannot copy former times absolutely, but one should try to recover precious treasures, one of which is the Liturgy, with its clear Godward direction, which is so important in the contemplative life! Many people do not realize, that it is also a question of the fullness of Faith, where we may not pick and choose. The Faith must be respected and cherished in its entirety. There are many topics of discussion in the Catholic Church, but something of great urgency is basic catechesis, which covers the Creed and everything which constitutes our Faith. We neglect what belonged to it from the beginning, and therefore belongs to it now and will belong to it in the future. The revival of Tradition can help to put an end to this threat. It can gain acceptance for the Faith in its fullness. In all this, I am encouraged by what I discover in the Scriptures: it is a matter of nothing less than the Truth, of Reality, which does not depend on majority opinion. I am reminded of Moses. He was often in dire straits, indeed, they wanted to stone him. And sometimes, I think of this or that prophet in ancient Israel, who was similarly treated. It gives one comfort and confidence, just to consider their steadfastness. The truth does not have an easy time, but it comes from God, indeed, God Himself is Truth, not in the abstract, but in a highly concrete personal form: Christ Himself. Let me say it once again: Truth does not depend on majority opinion. And we see this in Christ Himself, in Our Lord. He Himself was not moved by majority opinion. So we find ourselves in the very best company!

Guest post on March for Life UK’s blog

The March for Life UK organisers asked me to write a post for their blog, where they are inviting people to attend the 2015 March for Life in Birmingham on the 16th of May. Please come to the march, which is a great witness for life. The theme for the march this year is ‘life from conception – no exception’, which, as John Smeaton said, is the only realistic stance you can take on the subject!

Have a look at my post 🙂 am the prolife generation

The servant is not greater than his master

Today I had that uncomfortable experience where someone I barely know seems to have taken against me. I don’t know what I’ve done to them or what they’ve heard about me, but I get the impression that they find me quite unpleasant. Naturally, I want to be liked, so it’s not particularly nice.

I thought of this story that I read about Fr Hugh Thwaites and luckily, I was able to find it very quickly today, so I can reproduce it for you to read. One day, maybe in the very distant future, I hope I can be like Fr Thwaites. I hope this helps someone reading it to realise that you can’t please everyone.


“When I think of Fr Hugh Thwaites, the word that comes most readily to mind is ‘simple’. Not in the sense of stupidity, not at all, but in the sense of uncomplicated directness. In this he was a true son of St Ignatius; for Fr Hugh, there never seemed to be any shades of grey. Instead he worked out in his own mind what needed to be done, and simply did it without regret, without considering how that might affect his own dignity or position. His decisions were easily made and steadfastly adhered to. His opinions likewise were simply arrived at and adhered to with ardour.

He was, I think, the most humble man I have ever known, and inspired by that I am going, for once, to fess up myself. Once, on board a ship bound overnight for France, I and a priest friend, having parted for the night from Fr Hugh and another priest friend, they being bound for another cabin corridors away, spent a pleasant hour or so in our bunks cheerfully lampooning the characteristics of Fr Hugh. In the morning, the friend who had shared with Fr Hugh was tight-lipped and furious with us. By some strange quirk of the ship’s construction, the corridors that had taken them off into the bowels of the ship had returned them to the cabin that was back-to-back with ours, separated by only the very thinnest of walls. In other words, everything had been heard by him and Fr Hugh himself. My friend reassured me ‘and he has the very keenest hearing. I have never been so embarrassed’. Well, I was horrified, as you would imagine. But Fr Hugh never failed throughout our trip (we were actually going on retreat together) to treat me with the greatest kindness as ever. He gave no sign of resentment, and eventually I thought that the only thing to do was to go to confession to him and acknowledge it there. Even then there was no reproach or even allusion to the incident, but, on afterwards me talking to him about my difficulties with mental prayer, he simply said ‘oh gosh; I’m no good at praying at all.'”

Taken from:


A conversation with my flatmate yesterday:

Me: I feel so down at the moment. I really believe in that thing, what it’s called, the thing when the weather changes?

Flatmate: SAD.

Me: *Stare blankly for a second* Oh yes, sad. What does it stand for again?

Flatmate: Dunno. Just sad.

Both stare out the window. Cat stares at us.

What a pathetic conversation! Who else is feeling like this right now? I usually get this in October, which is the month I hate, but I think because the weather has been fairly mild, it’s only just hitting me now.

My wonderful friend, Mary, prayed for me yesterday and today and I really felt her prayers boosting me all day today. I thought today was going to be horrible (for no special reason), but it was alright and alright is good enough for me.

My flatmate was telling me yesterday about a friend she has who has had a bit of a rough life, and she would be on her own at Christmas, were it not for my flatmate and her boyfriend who will go to her house on Christmas day. That is so sad. No wonder so many people kill themselves around this time of year.

I’m going to make a special effort to pray for people who feel ‘down’ at the moment, because it can take over if you’re not careful. Will you do the same?