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.


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!

The Christian m…

The Christian must reply to all varieties of transcendental universalism, though it may seem arrogant:
“No. We do not worship the same God, you in your way, I in mine. I worship the one true God and you worship idols – you admittedly, because you say all gods are symbols. And indeed they are – all gods but mine”

– p. 73, The Death of Christian Culture, John Senior

3 tips for increasingly traditional Catholic girls…

3 tips for Catholic girls who, almost against their will, are becoming more traditional. A couple of things that I wish I had read…

1. Don’t be afraid of seeming like a hypocrite. So now you want to dress modestly and behave modestly and attend a mass which is reverent and loyal to tradition. Maybe you were looking for the total opposite of these things only a couple of years ago. Maybe you openly renounced your faith. Maybe you were an atheist and you were nasty to Christians and mocked God. Maybe you had never even thought about God until recently and now you’re waxing lyrical about Our Lord and Saviour, screaming “GLORIA TIBI DOMINE!” from the rooftops (be careful up there…). Let me give you some names: St Augustine, St Paul, St Francis of Assisi. You are in most excellent company.

You see this change which has happened in you, that’s God working on you and bringing you closer and closer to Him. If you have confessed the sins of your past life, forget about them. If someone brings them up, remind them that you have changed. I say this because I was extremely worried about people comparing the person I am trying to be now with the person I was. To be honest, I think I’m the only one who ever makes a comparison! Nonetheless, I think if I am feeling it, other people probably are too.

The devil will try to upset you by accusing you of being unworthy of the blessings that you have received. Simply remain cheerful and do your best to ignore the devil’s nagging. If need be even laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Satan, the epitome of sin, accuses you of unworthiness! When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!

— St. Teresa of Avila

2. If you feel like you want to start wearing a mantilla, go for it! However, I think it is also wise to ask yourself a couple of questions beforehand: why do I want to wear it? What does it achieve? Who am I trying to please? A friend of mine gave me a little tiny Roman Missal and in it, it also has Morning prayers, Night prayers, the Angelus, Confession etc etc. Anyway, I’m not very good at getting the morning prayers done but I am quite consistent with night prayers. A part of the prayer is this (I’m sure lots of people know it but we can’t all be all-knowing, all-seeing, so I’ll just assume that like me, you didn’t know it):

“O my God! I firmly believe that Thou art here present, and plainly seest me and that Thou observest all my actions, all my thoughts and the most secret motions of my heart. Thou watchest over me with an incomparable love, every moment bestowing favours, preserving me from evil…” (Emphasis added)

I often think of that when I feel like people are staring at the mantilla. Hey, I like fading into the background. I pretty much always sit near the back of the church, to the side. I don’t want people to look at me. This lacy thing on my head, this is not for you, this is for God. If I wear a pretty one, it’s not to entertain you, it’s because I’m trying to give the best to God, to differentiate between what I do outside and what I do in the house of God. DO NOT GIVE IN WHEN THEY TRY TO MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID FOR WEARING IT. God knows the secret motions of your heart and if your intentions are pure and what you are doing is in keeping with the tradition of the Church, that is all that matters.

3. Perhaps you have attended some old rite masses and now you’re back in your normal parish with your Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form/whatever you want to call it mass and you’re thinking about some of the differences between the masses and the difference in the way that you act in the two rites. Just know that there are certain things that you can bring over from the old rite to the new rite and nobody can stop you. You can kneel for Communion, kneel for blessings, bow/kneel at the appropriate time in the Nicene Creed (yes, I know we’re already supposed to do this but how many people actually do?) and we have already covered the mantilla. These are small but concrete things that you can do. After all, if we kneel for Communion in the Latin mass, why don’t we do it in all masses? Is Our Lord any less present?

Maybe one day you will get to attend a parish which has a Tridentine mass every week, but today is probably not that day *sob*.  You still need to attend mass on at least a weekly basis though (and I hope you will want to attend daily, if you can!). I think if you feel the urge to be more traditional, don’t hold yourself back! You are not alone – there are women just like you all over but, for the moment, they are a bit scattered. Every now and again, I spot an old lady who has continued to cover her head or someone who is kneeling for Communion. I suspect these people were criticised and mocked for hanging onto these practices but it inspires me to carry on, even if people sometimes do the same to me. Small changes make a big difference if our heart is in it. The important thing is to stay focused on God, to remember that all these changes are for the glory of God, to humble ourselves in His presence.

My First Chartres Experience

Last year, I took part in my very first pilgrimage: the LMS pilgrimage to visit the shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham. This year, I decided to make the jump between that and the Chartres pilgrimage. I had heard many things about Chartres: some said it wasn’t so bad, you just had to “keep walking”, others said it was hellish (oh dear…). However, all agreed that it was worth it, that the feeling you got after completing it was like nothing else. Even those who had felt like giving up on the first day were now booking their place once again this year. I decided that I was up for the challenge.

The British contingent was separated into two chapters: Our Lady of Walsingham (for the older pilgrim) and the Juventutem chapter, whose patron saint would be St Alban. Being 24,

Fr Withoos (Left with v. interesting cotta) and Deacon Mark slightly to his right. Fr Rowe with the maniple on the right. Fr. Redman with the biretta on in the background and Fr Gideon (just seen) to the right of Fr Bede. All wonderful.

Fr Withoos (Left with v. interesting cotta) and Deacon Mark slightly to his right. Fr Rowe with the stole folded on his arm on the right (I did say before it was a maniple, but, on reflection, I think it is a folded stole…I think). Fr. Redman with the biretta on in the background and Fr Gideon (just seen) to the right of Fr Bede. All wonderful.

I was in the Juventutem chapter. Behind our chapter, we had a group of pilgrims from the Chavagnes school in France, led by a much loved priest who was one of our chaplains at Walsingham last year: Fr Bede Rowe. At one point, when some of us (including myself) were lagging behind, Fr Rowe decided to stage a ‘hostile takeover’ and chased us down the road with his chapter, shouting “Jog on! Jog on!” (yes, this really happened)! This tactic worked and we had caught up with everyone else in a matter of minutes.

Our chapter was also blessed to have two priests. Our priests were Fr Withoos and Fr Gideon, who heard confessions every day. Knowing that Pope Pius XII went to confession every day (and what a holy man he was), I tried to take advantage of having this sacrament on tap while I was there. The priests also read out meditations, sang hymns with us and generally gave us advice; we were so thankful to have them with us. In fact, one of the best things about the pilgrimage was seeing priests walking around in cassocks and nuns in habits (and not a polyester skirt in sight)! Oh, happy day!

Now, for the walking…the first day was, dare I say it, fairly easy.  I believe it consisted of about 27 miles, but I didn’t really feel it. I think I was just so delighted to be praying the rosary in Latin, singing hymns and listening to meditations. We were due to get into camp at about 8pm and, as predicted, the heavens opened. Before we’d even got to the campsite, most of us were soaked. We had to collect our bags (which, having been brought by lorry from Paris, were all set out for us according to our country of origin) in the rain and set up the tent in the rain too (there were communal tents already put up, but a very kind pilgrim had offered to share her private tent with me). However, by the time it came to eat our dinner, the rain had stopped and we were all laughing about the day we had just had. There is truly so much happiness to be found when you think things cannot get any worse! I laughed all the way through the pilgrimage, particularly when I was soaked to the skin and up to my knees in mud.

The next day was a very early start. I was awake by 4.30am, but the official wake up call came at 5am over a loudspeaker (in French), accompanied by classical music: “My dear pilgrims, it is 5am. It is time for you to exit your tents” (2 minutes later) “Pilgrims, I see that you are still in your tents. It’s time to wake up, pack things away, come and have your breakfast…move!”. And so this Frenchman continued every morning until every pilgrim had left the campsite. I believe most pilgrims had a sort of love-hate relationship with him, but we would never have left on time without his dulcet tones.

A few pilgrims...

A few pilgrims…

For me, the second day was much harder than the first, though it was slightly shorter in terms of distance. The good thing about this is that I had plenty to offer up! Every time I wanted to sit down or my feet were really hurting, I thought: ‘Lord, I’m offering this up to You for x,y,z’. If I had not suffered, I would not have been able to do that. Suffering is a blessing if we use it wisely, I think.

The third day was D-day. When Chartres cathedral was in sight, I forgot all the pains in my body. I forgot that the rain was lashing down, that I was walking uphill. I was focused on getting to that mass and when I did, it was worth every second of pain. It was a Pontifical high mass with no fewer than three bishops, one of whom gave us a Pontifical blessing. The cathedral was packed and there were more priests (with plenty of lace), friars and nuns there than you could shake a stick at! I very rarely cry, but after receiving Communion that day, I couldn’t help but shed a couple of tears. You have to experience the whole thing to appreciate how superb it was. Of course, Our Lord is present at every mass, but when a mass is done in such a way which tries to acknowledge, as reverently as possible, that He is there, both spiritually and physically, and how glorious He is, there is nothing better.

All in all, I would advise anybody, who is in reasonably good shape, to do the pilgrimage. In Our Lady of Walsingham’s chapter, there were many pilgrims who were over 60 and I am convinced that some of them were nearer to 70. Most of them did the whole pilgrimage and I never heard any of them complain, which put me to shame! For those who are near my age, you do not have to be at Ironman triathlon fitness level. The knowledge that everything you do is for God is all the motivation you need. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

If I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing


Thanks to Caitlin who has a blog called Catholic Cookie Jar (which I would recommend to you). She used this picture in one of her posts and I thought it would be a good start to my own blog post.

In the past month or so, a few debates regarding Same Sex Marriage (SSM) have been taking place on my Facebook page. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I post links to Catholic teaching on marriage because I find that many non-Catholics think we are bigots, that we hate anyone who is gay or lesbian, that we want to oppress them and most of all, that we consider them to be second-class citizens (of course, this debate is raging at the moment because David Cameron, in his wisdom, has decided to change the definition of marriage). This is all not true and I find that the Pope speaks eloquently on this subject, hence why I post a lot of his speeches on SSM. The love he feels for all, both non-Catholic and Catholic and those who love and hate him (though how you could hate that face, I don’t know…), is evident in his writing.

I believe this is the most difficult part of Catholic social teaching to explain because we probably all know somebody who is gay (and practising). I certainly do. They are my friends and some of my former schoolmates. I tried to tackle this subject a few times when one of my former schoolmates (who is gay and in a relationship) challenged me, regarding a speech the Pope had made that I had posted. I’m not sure how I did, but it did not end that well because he is no longer friends (in the Facebook sense of the word, which is loose, I admit) with me and neither are a lot of my other former schoolmates, who are his close friends (from that, you know how well I did!). Some of them were, at one time, my close friends too. In fact, I counted one of them amongst my best friends for a while and we had spent a lot of time together as teenagers. As I said to my former schoolmate (the person who challenged me and, by the way, I’m glad he did), I am not made of stone. I have quite a thick skin but obviously it hurts to know that people that I grew up with consider my views (that is, the teaching of the Church) so abhorrent, they cannot even stand to remain ‘friends’ with me on a social networking site.

Now, he said that I was self-righteous and snobby about this and other things that I talk about (namely abortion). He may well be right and I am heartily sorry if this is the case. I pray a lot that I may be more humble, compassionate and wise. I am well aware that I lack these qualities. Nevertheless, what I state is the truth and I have never stated it out of hatred. I believe that now, more than ever, these things need to be said. We have wandered so far from anything resembling a Judeo-Christian society that to be loyal to Christian teaching on homosexuality is a scandal, nowadays! As I said to him, we must live together in this society and if we are to co-exist peacefully, we must understand one another. I think I understand his position (perhaps I do not, but I’m pretty sure I do) but he does not understand mine and he shows this through his explanation of why I am wrong. Whenever I try to point out that he cannot understand Catholic teaching on homosexuality if he continues to cling to the idea that the Catholic Church hates homosexuals, he does something like pointing to the Old Testament as evidence that we are hypocritical (I find a lot of atheists and those who argue for SSM in churches like to use this) and that we pick and choose what parts of Christian teaching we want follow, because we wear clothes of mixed fabrics, for example. To my non-Catholic friends, please do not confuse Catholicism with a Protestant denomination. It is important to realise that we are not one and the same. First of all, we do not rely solely on the Bible. We have the Bible, the Magisterium of the Church and the Holy Spirit to guide us (I have provided a link for the Magisterium, but feel free to look up other things on that site, ). Secondly, laws such as

Thou shalt not make thy cattle to gender with beasts of any other kind. Thou shalt not sow thy field with different seeds. Thou shalt not wear a garment that is woven of two sorts. – Leviticus 19:19

no longer apply to us. I am not picking and choosing what I believe in the Bible, it is a question of context. Jesus said, regarding Mosaic law,

Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. – Mathew 5:17

I told him that you cannot understand Catholicism in a day. I was born into a Catholic family and have attended mass my whole life and I am still learning. In fact, I feel I have just scraped the surface because I only started taking notice of my faith about a year and a half ago.

Someone I follow on Twitter called Mark Lambert has written a great explanation, but you should really read the whole blog post, especially when he points out what we would do, as Catholics, if we followed the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament.

The Mosaic Law had a specific purpose for the Children of Israel. The Law of the Old Testament consisted of both the moral law and the civil law. The moral law dealt with the great ethics of life. Its purpose was to set apart the chosen people of Israel from all other nations on the basis of inner holiness with regard to honour for both God and man. You have to remember that at the time, strength was the power that ruled all. One of the most extraordinary truths of biblical faith is that monotheism lifted the Israelites out of that melee for power and set them apart from other nations who’s basis was strength and domination. This great moral law was to uplift the Children of Israel to a much higher standard of holiness and to serve as a model for all people of all generations (Isaiah 42:6). For example, the Ten Commandments are a code of moral law that pertain to man’s duties to God and fellowman. They are laws unaffected by changes in the environment, and thus themselves remain unchanged.
The civil law was different. It consisted of rules and regulations that pertained to everyday living; and these rules were influenced by both environment and customs of neighbouring pagan communities. Such laws dealt with issues of cleanliness, food, health, clothing, and religious ritual. The purpose of these laws was to set apart the Children of Israel from all other nations on the basis of outer holiness. They were to remain separate and distinct, and were to be distinguished in the eyes of the rest of the world for serving the one true God, and refusing to adopt the practices and superstitions of idolatrous worship that surrounded them.
Among these civil laws was the rule that forbade the eating of pig meat. It was a common practice among neighbouring pagan tribes to offer a pig as a sacred sacrifice to their idols. Furthermore, in that time and in that part of the world, the pig was a very filthy animal that fed on dead meat and garbage. As a result, eating pork caused the spread of terrible diseases that affected the whole community. This law made perfect sense, like the law about shellfish, which we all know can give you a very dodgy tummy if it is not fresh!
Traditionally we have understood that the OT Law contains elements that are indicative of God’s unchanging character, and therefore do not pass away with the coming of the Messiah. Indeed the NT reiterates their significance. (e.g. the Ten Commandments). There are elements in the Levitical law that Jesus fulfils, and therefore we have no further need of them (e.g. the sacrificial system), and there are elements that are distinctive to the society of Israel at the time, that may contain some wisdom for us, but are not applicable in the society in which we live, such as the kinds of things you reference.

Also, take a gander at this, which, of course, says much the same but it is always useful to read the same thing but phrased differently to understand it. For example, regarding Paul’s writings on food and drink:

…we can see that Paul recognized that much of the Old Testament law was instituted to set the stage for the new law that Christ would usher in. Much of the old law’s value could be viewed in this regard (emphasis added).

Perhaps now my non-Catholic friends are beginning to see what the deal is with the Old Testament. So, now you know. That’s all very well and good, but we still have the problem that you who are non-believers do not believe in any of this (and perhaps you are still of the opinion that I hate gays and lesbians… LE SIGH). That is a big problem, but Rome was not built in a day! In the meantime, as I said, we must co-exist. Same Sex Marriage will be legalised and I believe a lot of dark times are ahead for Christians and non-Christians alike in the UK. Certainly, our priests will need our prayers as they are put under pressure to deny their faith and take part in same sex ceremonies. To get back to my original point, I hope that I have not ever spoken about this issue in a way which is hateful. I will continue to try to speak with love and compassion, remembering that I am also a sinner. Please be patient and remember that before you express your loathing or pity for those who oppose SSM, you must first of all understand what it is they actually believe. I really think this is the best way to avoid a total split in our society between social liberals and conservatives. That could get very messy!