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.

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Mary reigns above

This is why the Blessed Virgin is called powerful – nay, sometimes All-powerful, because she has more than anyone else, more than all Angels and saints, this great, prevailing gift of prayer. No one has access to the Almighty as His Mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us, for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen forever.

– Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman – Evening Prayers

I’ve been meaning to put up these prayers for months. Almost every evening I say these prayers just before I go to bed and almost every time I do so, I think ‘I must remember to put these up; they’re so good. Remember to do that tomorrow’ and then I go to sleep and forget all about it until the next evening, when I think the same thing.

I’m sure they’re online somewhere but then again, pretty much everything I write on this blog already exists online in some shape or form. Let’s face it, I’m not not breaking new ground here! My reasoning is that the more Catholicism there is online, the better.

These prayers seem to cover all bases. I particularly like the line about wanderings in prayer. There’s also a line which refers to the fact that God could take us at any time. Sometimes, it seems a bit pointless to me that we plan our lives years and years in advance.

COR AD COR LOQUITUR

Lord, I thank You that You have safely brought me to the end of this day. Protect me from the perils and dangers of the night. Let me rest in peace. Let me lay myself down gratefully as if in death, knowing my spirit may this night be required of me; give me grace that whenever that time comes I may be prepared for it and that when my soul parts from this body it may hear the grateful words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”

O God, give me grace at this time duly to confess my sins before You, and truly to repent of them. Blot out of Your book, gracious Lord, all my manifold acts of sin committed against You. Forgive me all my wanderings in prayers, my sins of omission, my deliberate sins against conscience.

Give me eyes to see what is right and a heart to follow it and strength to perform it; and grant that I may in all things press forward in the work of sanctification and ever do Your will, and at length through Your mercy attain to the glories of Your everlasting kingdom through Jesus Christ Our Lord”

I found these prayers in a prayer book that I, ahem,  permanently borrowed from my sister (sorry sis! You will get it back at some point…probably). It was produced by the Catholic Truth Society but there are a couple of spelling mistakes (which get annoying when you read them every night) and also, the personal pronouns referring to God are not capitalised. Argh! I find this so irritating. It really grates on me actually. I understand that not everyone does it, but as far as I know, Blessed John Henry Newman did and therefore I think that all his writings should include capitalised personal pronouns when referring to God.

The editor of the version of Apologia Pro Vita Sua that I read made a point of saying that it’s not very popular to do this anymore but Blessed John Henry Newman did it throughout Apologia Pro Vita Sua so the editor left them in, which, I think, is absolutely right. 1. It is a sign of respect for God, your Creator and 2. on a practical note, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to know to whom the author is referring (if the author is writing about God) when there are a lot of pronouns in one sentence which all refer to different people.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” Matthew 5:4

“We indeed of this day have been reserved to witness a disorganization of the City of God, which it never entered into the minds of the early believers to imagine: but we are witnesses also of its triumphs and of its luminaries through those many ages which have brought about the misfortunes which at present overshadow it. If they were blessed who lived in primitive times, and saw the fresh traces of their Lord, and heard the echoes of the Apostolic voices, blessed too are we whose special portion it is to see that same Lord revealed in His Saints. The wonders of His grace in the soul of man, its creative power, its inexhaustible resources, its manifold operation, all this we know, as they knew it not” 

– Blessed John Henry Newman, 1943 (prior to his conversion to the Catholic Church)