We had a really beautiful Maundy Thursday mass, and afterward I stayed to ‘watch’ at the altar of repose. We had another of our little chats:

“You’ve met me here in the Garden many times.”
“Yes, all those nights in my early 20′s, I never would have coped with the terror unless you were there. And then after the babies were born, you taught me how to suffer the sleepless nights alongside you in the bottomless depths of anxiety and post natal depression – many mothers have known that agony.”
“And you’ve met me in my scourging.”
“Yes, it’s taken me a while, but I now understand  that my body is not my own. It is to be used as God sees fit.  I have given my body up 3 times through pregnancy and 3 home births – I know what pain is! But You know this already… Our eyes have locked: you gave up your body and I gave up mine. A mutual gaze that screamed ‘I really don’t want to do this’ and at the same time whispered ‘I’m here. I’m gonna go through this with you’. I’ll never forget that…”
“So, are you ready to meet me in my humiliation?”
“WHAT???”
“Are you ready you meet me in my humiliation?”
“Errrr…. Ummm…. No?”
“Go home and think about it.”

And that was it.

To say I was a little surprised doesn’t really cover it. But then the penny dropped: I’ve been saying the sorrowful mysteries for long enough to know what comes after decades 1 and 2…!

That night we spoke more:

“What do you mean meet you in your humiliation?”
“Let them see your relationship with me.”
“Can’t we just keep that private? Please…? You know i’d die for you – isn’t that enough?”

“Clare, let yourself be stripped bare of the defences, the walls you have built up over the years and allow yourself to be hung outstretched naked, defenseless, for all the world to see. They will spit at you, they will taunt you, they will judge you and jeer at you. You will be mocked. Your friends will abandon you, afraid for their own reputations. Your burden will be heavy. Will you do this for me?” 

“*gulp*…Ok, Yes. I love you. I trust you.”

It has left me feeling not very comfortable.
But I realise this is what separates Christianity from other religions.

To be a martyr has a certain romance to it. We see this regularly now in the tragic acts of young Muslim men desperately wanting to achieve heroic martyr status, with all its glory and reward in the next life – or so they have been led to believe. Perhaps I feel the same to some degree? But to accept abandonment, mockery and humiliation – that has little glory or reward.

You would only do that for someone you truly love…

Tonight we celebrate the last supper – the first Mass. We also see Jesus wash the feet of the disciples. In Judaism, the Kohen (a member of the priestly class) has his hands washed prior to performing the Priestly Prayer. Historically, this also included washing the feet, although today they often simply remove their shoes. It is one of the rare instances where foot washing is prescribed, following the command of Exodus 30:20-21 that the priestly class “shall wash their hands and their feet” prior to coming to the altar. The foot washing in John 13 is a prelude to Jesus’ own High Priestly Prayer in John 17. In performing the washing of the feet, Jesus is conferring priesthood on his apostles. It is a way of extending the authority of the Aaronic priesthood to the apostles. 

This lent I decided to drink only water (except on Sunday’s) for the specific intention of praying for priests. I never realised how much they need our support, prayers and fasting as they strive everyday to wash our feet. I have also realised that my heart wants me to gladly carry on this fasting now, so i will be giving something small up from now on for priests, everyday for the rest of my life.

I would encourage all of you to try to give up one small thing per day from now on, and pray for holy priests to come and lead us now in this very exciting time in the history of our church.

St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, pray for us.

 

Stations of the Cross

Jesus scourged

Pontius Pilate wasn’t a bad guy. He tried to let Jesus off, he really did. He tried to pacify the crowd by just beating an innocent man bloody. But they were so insistent. And sure, he had all the soldiers and all the power, but what if they had gotten mad at him? He couldn’t have that. No, Pilate wasn’t a bad guy, just a weak one. So weak that he permitted the greatest atrocity in the history of the world, crying, “It’s not my fault!” while he crucified the Lord of glory. You’re probably not a bad guy either. But is your refusal to stand up and be counted crucifying the Lord anew? Do you keep your mouth shut as your coworkers spew profanity or sit fiddling on your phone as your spouse slaves over dinner, dishes, bathtime, and bed? Do you make any effort at all, or are you sliding complacently to perdition having washed your hands of the need to stand up and be counted? Maybe it’s not your fight–but it wasn’t Jesus’, either, and he submitted. Shouldn’t you?

The Second Station: Jesus takes up his Cross.

Christ_Carrying_the_Cross TitianWhen Jesus took up his Cross, it wasn’t tentatively, fearfully, or with disgust. Any halfheartedness in bearing his Cross would have made our salvation impossible as it slipped out of his grudging fingers. No, Jesus embraced his cross, clinging to the torture and the shame and the loneliness “for the sake of the joy that lay before him.”1 There is no glory in accepting the suffering thrust upon us with anger and complaints. But if we embrace our crosses, rejoicing in the trials of life because we worship a God who bore them first and continues to bear them alongside us, we will be transformed.

The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time.

Jesus falls the first time Saulgau_Antoniuskirche_Kreuzweg_FugelThe very first thing Jesus did after taking up his Cross was to fall. He became like us in all things, even in failure and weakness. He understands what it’s like to be inadequate, to disappoint. Being a Christian doesn’t mean being perfect–it means offering our flaws to the Lord, then getting up and starting over. It’s running to the confessional, falling on our knees, and rising stronger. When you strive for virtue and fail, remember: your God was a failure, but he kept going and his failure became the world’s redemption.

The Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother.

Taken down from the CrossIt seems his one moment of respite, this encounter with someone who loves him not for what he has to give her but simply for who he is. As her heart breaks, she reaches out to hold him, pushing past her own pain to comfort him in his. As we become more like Christ, we also become more like Mary, loving those who toil and suffer enough to give them the strength to go on. But it’s so easy to be repelled by their needs, afraid of the sacrifice we’ll have to make to love them. Who needs you right now to look past their disfigured face, to move past your discomfort and love them? Are you willing, like Christ, like Mary, to move beyond yourself and live for others?

The Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry his Cross.

Simon helps Jesus carry his CrossIn turning to Simon for help, Jesus sanctifies our weakness. Simon of Cyrene is a Saint only because Jesus was strong enough to be weak. James and John are Saints because Peter and Andrew recognized their inadequacy and asked them for help.2 Self-sufficiency is not a Christian virtue, particularly not in the area of combating sin. In what areas of your life do you need to humble yourself and ask for help? It won’t just give you support in carrying your cross–it may just make saints of the both of you.

The Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

james-tissot-a-holy-woman-wipes-the-face-of-jesus

She takes a great risk here, running through the crowd, pushing past the soldiers, and falling at his feet. She tenderly pushes the hair out of his eyes, mops the blood from his battered face, and comes away with his image imprinted on the cloth. For her selflessness, she is rewarded, not with wealth or fame but with the joy of having consoled the heart of Christ. To be a Christian is to be radical, to make people uncomfortable, to suffer for Christ. But when we choose to live with reckless abandon for the Lord, we find ourselves blessed beyond imagining with a peace that surpasses understanding.3 It’s just a matter of trusting that he will do what he said and living as we already know we should. When we do that, we will find ourselves–against all odds–bearing the true image of Christ to the world.

The Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time.

Jesus falls
By this time, I wonder if the soldiers aren’t annoyed. They have a job to do and this pathetic man’s weakness keeps complicating it. They roll their eyes, they jeer. They view the God of their salvation as an obstacle. If only we didn’t do the same. If only I saw the defiant middle-schooler as the purpose of Christ’s death on the Cross and not as a problem to be dealt with. If only I stopped resenting or tolerating people and started loving them. If only their weakness sparked compassion in me instead of exasperation. We expect the Lord to be strong in our weakness; what if we let him be strong in theirs through us?

The Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

women of Jerusalem Fr_PfettisheimCrucifixion is the most painful and shameful way the Romans could devise to slaughter someone. It was so painful, they had to coin a new word to express the agony: excruciating. And yet, beaten within an inch of his life, dragging the instrument of his torture and death, Jesus saw nothing but others’ pain. “Do not weep for me,” he says, “But for yourselves and for your children.” It’s so easy to get caught up in our own suffering and ignore the pain of those around us, especially when their pain seems trivial. Remember, though, that the greatest pain a person has suffered is the greatest pain in the world. Live not just kindness but compassion, allowing your heart to ache for those who suffer–and then doing something to relieve that suffering, by physical aid, listening with love, or offering prayers and sacrifices. We become like Christ when we love like he did, even when we are broken ourselves.

The Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time.

Jesus falls third timeWhen Jesus fell the last time, there seemed no hope that he would rise again. He was spent, beaten and bloody, incapable of that last effort that would bring him to the top of Calvary. He could have just laid down and died right there, but he needed to be lifted up on the Cross for all the world to see. And so, in the face of hopelessness, he called on superhuman strength to persist. He kept going. And when he did that, he gave you the same power to let the Lord be strong in your weakness. There comes a point when we finally realize how completely inadequate we are to the task of holiness. We fall on our face, unable to resist the temptations or persevere in prayer. Then, at last, in our weakness he is strong.4 When we have nothing left to give, when we realize that we never had anything to give, then we allow him to be all in all. When we realize that we can never be good enough for him, we find that we already are good enough in him. Do not despair, my friends. It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Jesus_is_stripped_of_his_garmentsJesus held nothing back. He suffered pain and loneliness, separation from the Father, and finally the shame and indignity of being stripped to hang naked as the crowds mocked. There was nothing he wouldn’t give for you. What’s your line? Do you offer him your Sunday mornings but not your Saturday nights? Are you willing to be martyred for him but not to be mocked? Do you hand over control of your relationships but not your internet habits? Allow him to strip you of the walls that you’ve put between your heart and his–your sin, your pride, your job, your standing in the community. The more you follow him, the more you will find yourself naked and unashamed in his piercing gaze. But you have to unclench the fists you’ve tightened around the garments you’ve clothed yourself with before you’ll ever find peace in him.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

crucified Christ bloody
It was not nails that held him to the Cross. One would expect creation itself to rebel, the Cross to splinter and the nails to warp, when their Creator was crucified. But “Peace,” he told them, “be still.” Because even had the nails crumbled to dust, his love would have held him there. In his mercy, he became a slave to love and was never more free. You are not bound to stay in your marriage. Divorces are cheap and getting easier by the day. It’s not the law that keeps you there but your love. You are not bound to stay in your Church. God knows you wouldn’t be the first to leave. It’s not your obligation that keeps you there but your love. And so with your children and your job and whatever else may not seem worth it today. You stay because you are more free as a slave to love than you would be unshackled by all the relationships that hold you bound. And each moment that you choose love, each moment that you are crucified by your beloved, you will find that the nails bite less deeply as the pain becomes peace.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the Cross.

prudhon_pierre-paul-crucifixion

There is nothing in the life of Christ that is not also expected of his followers. So when he dies on the Cross, handing his life over for love of those who despise him, keep this in mind: you must do the same. This is the universal call to martyrdom, the requirement that all followers of Christ die daily to themselves in order that others may live. In order that Christy may live in them. We must die to our love of wealth that the poor may live. We must die to our love of rest that our families may live. We must die to our love of self that our neighbors may live. We must die to our love of mediocrity that Christ may live. Turning from laziness or pornography or Candy Crush or envy or rage or materialism or gossip or Twitter or complacency may feel like a crucifixion. That’s what you signed up for.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

Jesus taken down

Jesus’ corpse is pulled down from the Cross and lain in the arms of his mother. There is only one pain greater than the pain of a parent who has lost a child: the pain of a parent who has given a child. The Father knows that pain. Even though you mocked and betrayed him, even though you ignored and rejected him, even though you continue to deny him and will until you die, he thought you were worth it. And so he stepped back and watched his Son suffer for 33 years. And when it became almost unbearable for his sinless Son, he stepped back so far that God himself felt abandoned by the Father. He watched his Son die in agony and then looked at his broken, lifeless body and rejoiced. Because it was that misery that won him you. And you are worth it. Live like you’re worth it.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Jesus entombed
It is finished. Love has come and been slaughtered for his pains. Nothing, it seems, will be beautiful again. But Sunday is coming. In this moment of defeat, of silent agony and hope destroyed, lies the true joy of the Christian life: our God is bigger. He is bigger than death, bigger than divorce, bigger than sin and shame and shallow distractions. There is no wound he cannot heal, no death he cannot reverse. He may not triumph in the way you would have chosen, but know this: he will triumph. Know this, as you lie in your tomb, as you weep at her tomb, as you run from his tomb: for the Christian, defeat is merely the seed of victory. He will triumph.

Visit Meg’s blog at http://www.piercedhands.com/

Brace yourself…

“Oh I hate the Easter vigil! It’s sooo long for goodness sake! Why do they have to stick all those baptisms in there?”

I actually heard someone say those words this week. I chose not to reply as it would only have resulted in me having to go confession. Again. 
I have been involved in a lot of discussions recently regarding the ‘best’ way to celebrate Holy Mass. The Trads like the Tridentine, with the air so thick with incense you can hardly see the person next to you at the sign of peace (oh! no, wait… they don’t do that do they?!) The Libs like the folk music and the happy clapping and don’t really mind if the woman distributing Holy Eucharist is wearing jeans and trainers. 
Me? My favorite mass is the beautifully simple 7.30am. No bells or whistles. No happy clapping folk maniacs. No kids (yes, I said it – NO KIDS!). My brain is clear at that time, I’m generally at my least emotional and the day has not unleashed its torrent of challenges and distractions on me yet.
In a secretly romantic kind of way it feels like Easter Sunday every day. I feel very much like Mary Magdaline (no giggling please) getting up at dawn on her own to go and find her Lord. And when I have encountered him, I can go back and try and share that joy with others – even if they don’t believe me, at first.
Holy Mass, said beautifully and simply by a humble, holy priest who truly understands the Eucharist -  sometimes it is too beautiful to take…

Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez reminds us that “Holy Mass is about love”. He was the person closest to St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. In a 2010 interview with Zenit he was asked: According to your memories, what was the Eucharist for St. Josemaría? What role did it have in his day? 

Bishop Echevarría: “I served Mass many times for St. Josemaría. At these times he would ask me to pray so that he would not get used to celebrating that very sublime and sacred act. In effect, I was able to verify something he once said: that he experienced the Mass as work – at times an extenuating effort, such was the intensity with which he lived it. Throughout the day, he would recall the texts he had read, in particular the Gospel, and many times he commented on it, in a perfectly ordinary tone, as food for his spiritual and human life. He was conscious of the fact that in the Mass the protagonist is Jesus Christ, not the minister, and that the faithful fulfillment of the prescriptions enables the priest to “disappear,” so that Jesus alone shines. Many people who attended his Mass – also in the difficult circumstances of the Spanish Civil War – commented later that his way of celebrating Mass had something that moved them profoundly, and that they felt invited to grow in their devotion to the Holy Sacrifice. I am convinced that what moved those who participated – those of us who participated – in his Mass was precisely that: that he let Christ appear and not his person.”

Do you find the Easter Vigil too long? You might want to print out the picture below and keep it in your pocket for the next few days…

Matthew 27:11-54

 

Pilate Questions Jesus

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Barabbas or Jesus?

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

 

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

 

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Talking to young children about Good Friday and Easter Sunday can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to understand and it needs to be done in the right context. From my own experience, I have found it helpful to have an activity for my children to do that can help them understand what we are focusing on during Holy Week.

Like having a Crib at Christmas, an Easter Garden is great fun, and can be put in a central part of your home acting as a reminder of what Good Friday and Easter Sunday is all about. 

Our kids love it – and I’m sure yours will too!

 

You will need: 

A large dish, tray or plant pot
Potting soil
Moss or grass, real or fake (or green tissue paper)
A small plant pot, cup or tin can
A big stone
Gravel or pebbles to add detail
Sticks and twine to make three crosses
 

1. Start by positioning your small plant pot, cup or tin can in the centre of your large dish to make the empty tomb. Hold in place with sticky tape.

What happened on Good Friday? 

Jesus died on the cross.

2. Pour over potting soil until you have a nice mound that covers your tomb (you may want to use a little water to get a good shape).

Why did Jesus die on the cross?

Jesus died on the cross so He could take away our sins, because he loves us.

 

3. Now you can plant little flowers, or grass seeds or anything you want to decorate your garden. Place pebbles or gravel around the base and going into the tomb.

How many days was Jesus in the tomb?

3 Days.

 

4. Tie sticks together to make 3 crosses and put them on top of the mound.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Jesus rose from the dead!

 

5. Place a large stone at the entrance to the tomb.

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? 

Jesus rose from the dead to show us that there is life after death, and that we are invited to be with Him in Heaven forever!

 

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If you haven’t seen these already then look now! They are BRILLIANT!!!

From their website:

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The Real Easter Egg is now in its fourth year of production with more than 400,000 sold so far.

Inside is a 24 page Easter story book, a Belgian milk chocolate egg and pack of Swiss Chocolate organic Chunky Buttons. A charity donation is made from each sale. There are three crosses on the front and under the lid there is a quote from the bible – the resurrection text from Mark chapter 16. £3.99 each”

Tesco, Waitrose and Morrison’s  are stocking  The Real Easter Egg this year along with many independent smaller shops – see website for details or order direct. Go check them out NOW - http://www.realeasteregg.co.uk/

 

Don’t you just hate it when you try to do something to feel all ‘holy’ and God just reduces you to about 1″ tall? Talk about a lesson in humility! We had one of our little ‘chats’ today. ..

I have been talking to a friend about wearing my mantilla in church recently and so decided to take it along to the empty church this afternoon while i prayed the Rosary. I went and sat in the best spot in the church, just at the side of the altar on the steps – as close as you can get to the tabernacle. So the conversation went a little something like this:

“I love you. Look! i’m wearing my mantilla today!”

“I love you too. That’s nice. Why are you wearing that?”

“Dunno really, i just want to be closer to you.”

“Oh. Do you wear your mantilla in your thoughts?”

“Um… Nooooo.”

“Do you wear your mantilla in the conversations you have with people?”

“Um… Noo.”

“Do you wear your mantilla in the friendships you have?”

“nooo.” *shrinking smaller by the second*

“Do you….”

“OKAY! OKAY! I TAKE YOUR POINT!”

“It’s no good trying to hide under your mantilla Clare! I can seeee youuu!”

“Stop it! Stop it! *ouch*”

 

Oh Man, I have a long way to go. Your prayers would be much appreciated…!

Ok I admit it. Occasionally, I fail.
I allow myself the self-indulgence of becoming overwhelmed with the wrongs of the world. From midnight tonight in the UK, the very first gay ‘marriages’ will legally be allowed to take place. It seems that we have lost the legal fight for the time being. We shouted and protested and wrote letters to our MP’s, and regularly acquired new nick-names such as ‘bigot’ ‘homophobe’ ‘religious fanatic’ and my personal favorite – ‘repressed dinosaur’!
But it is not just the secular world that is wrong at the moment. Even more upsetting has been the recent outspoken views of the German bishops regarding marriage within the church, and the slack criteria for being able to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
We have also recently seen one particular UK liberal Bishop use his power to silence a faithful and traditional Catholic Deacon blogger for the reason that he was criticizing liberal Bishops! Now it seems we can not even oppose those who disagree with what the church teaches – because they happen to be the ones in power.

What are we supposed to do?
Answer: Be a little pebble.

We each are members of Gods holy church, and we each have a responsibility to ensure that the beautiful truths it teaches are protected from attack – whether that be from the outside world, or from inside the church itself.

Be a little pebble when people no longer listen to your shouting or allow you to protest.
Be a little pebble when bishops campaign for the right of their flock to be able to receive our Lord whilst being in a state of mortal sin. 
Be a little pebble when people in your own parish try to suppress and destroy any initiatives you have to correctly evangelize people, using beautiful true and faithful church teachings based on Holy scripture, the CCC, Youcat and Papal documents because it challenges their flimsy liberal personal opinions.
With faith as your catapult, launch yourself out of your comfort zone and into the stratosphere of radical holiness. Let go of your own ideas and entrust yourself to God’s  strategy and plan. Use Holy Eucharist, Confession, Prayer from the heart (daily Rosary), Holy Scripture and Fasting as your propulsion. Decide today for radical holiness. Pray! Pray! Pray! Put God in the FIRST place in your life and let our Lord and His Mother guide your trajectory.
You see, if the little pebble is aimed correctly, it can slay a Goliath with one hit. One hit. 
But what happens if we all start becoming little pebbles? With all of us together we would become a tsunami of pebbles endlessly flowing towards the liberal falsities that surround us. No Goliath could possibly withstand this massive tidal wave of truth.
With lots of little pebbles under its feet, that Goliath will fall. (Have you ever tried to stand up in a child’s ball pond?! It’s impossible!!).

Be a little pebble. Be truth and beauty. Do not be afraid.

“In the end, my immaculate heart will triumph.” – Our Lady of Fatima

I was 7 or 8 years old when I had my feet washed as part of the Maundy Thursday mass. I remember being thrilled and fascinated at the idea, and feeling very special. When the elderly priest washed my feet I can honestly say I felt humbled – even at that young age. Acting out the story definitely pulled me deeper into the scripture of the last supper.

I also remember at that age announcing to my mum that when I grew up I wanted to be a priest.

“Bwaaaaaahhhhh! Well that’s never going to happen!” Confused, I asked her why… “Because that’s the way it is I’m afraid. Be a nun instead” And that was it. 

Being a nun really didn’t appeal to me at that age because my impression of nuns was one of humourless statue like creatures who never raised their voices or laughed, or did anything really. Not at all like priests…
Fr. Donald Calloway – (one of the coolest priests currently on Gods earth).

I’m not exactly sure why I wanted to become a priest. Perhaps it was the drama and the ritual of the mass (which kids absolutely love btw). Or perhaps it was because I thought the holy priests in our parish were cool. Maybe it was because I saw how my parents respected priests. Perhaps it was because I was a true tom-boy, and would never have been seen dead in a dress – which is ironic really because everybody knows the coolest priests wear cassocks! Or maybe it was that I was just a bit of a bossy boots and wanted to be in charge! It definitely had something to do with the awe and mystery surrounding transubstantiation and the real presence in the Eucharist. All I remember is that I felt a very strong calling, and interpreted this as wanting to become a priest.

Fast forward a couple of years to when I was 12. My younger sister (age 8) had become the first female alter server in our parish. Confusingly, I was deemed to old. Perhaps it was because they didn’t want me to get any funny ideas about wanting to become a priest?! Maybe it was because I had boobs?!! No one ever told me why. I remember feeling rather left out, and jealous of my sister – especially as my mum seemed so proud of this landmark event in our church. But I also remember asking my mum “Is it ok for girls to be on the altar? Does this mean they will have women priests now?”…

Pretty soon after that, like many teenagers, I made a shambolic confirmation and promptly decided that the church was a complete load of rubbish and I wanted nothing more to do with it. During my teenage years I was surprised to find myself with a new vocation idea. While all my female friends were aspiring to be doctors or models or life-guards, all I wanted was to be a wife and a mother. It was at this point that I began to see the advantages of the differences between male and female roles. 
Fast forward again to age 19 – a year after I came back to the church. My boyfriend and I were talking about marriage and both found ourselves agreeing that he should be the one to go out to work while I stayed home with the kids. Our friends at the time thought this was just hilarious and incredibly “retro”.

The real turning point came in my mid-twenties after the birth of our first child when I read ‘Theology of the Body’. This text was just revolutionary to me in a completely saturated world of sexual “freedom” and “equality”. (The sex education we received in our all girl’s Catholic high school taught us that we MUST pump your body full of hormones AND use a condom in order to avoid that dreaded thing called pregnancy. But if we did have the unfortunate mishap of being let down by our contraception, there were services that could ‘help’. I never really bought that idea.)

I suppose it was a combination of reading Theology of the Body, and having actually just gone through the process of being open to life, conceiving and then becoming a mother that tipped the scales for me. I began being horrified at questions like “So, when do you think you will go back to work?”. The thought of leaving my baby appalled me. In fact there was no question of it. We didn’t have much money at the time but we both decided that baby’s need their mothers.

It is when I started reading the church’s teaching on the family that the penny really started to drop: “The family, is so to speak, the domestic church.” (Lumen Gentium 11). In our house, our little ‘domestic church’, everyone has their own separate roles. As our family grew the dynamics in the house began to change. In a strange way, my husband and I had never felt so close but so far apart at the same time. This is because our roles of Mother and Father, of Husband and Wife were developing. When we got married we both worked full-time, we had the same social life, the same activities, the same everything really. In the view of the world we were completely “equal”.  But as the children have come along and our marriage has developed that has changed. I can now see that back then we were not so much “equal” as “uniform”. (The difference between equality and uniformity is of course, one of the most blurred and misunderstood notions of the modern age.)

So this is what Equality looks like then?

So this is what Equality looks like then?

Now we have very different roles as Mother and Father, but we are both equal in dignity and could not carry out our roles without the other. We rely on each other’s differences to enrich our family. If I was to try to do my husband’s role as well as my own I would only be reaching half my potential over two roles. The same goes for my Husband. By allowing each other to fulfil our separate roles as husband and wife, Mother and Father we actually GAIN as a family. We complement each other rather than trying to compete with each other. My husband’s vocation is to lay down his life for his bride, and my vocation as bride is to support him in doing that. When we both fulfill our roles in the way God meant us to, we are able to give more.

Men and women, Husbands and wives, Mothers and Father have different roles because they are different. Marriage is in fact a celebration of the differences between men and women. I am dignified as a wife and a mother simply because I am a woman – something my husband can never be. And vice versa. I could never be a husband or a father in the same way as my husband can because I am not a man. It is not just the physical differences, but the emotional and psychological and spiritual ones too.

As gay marriage becomes law here in the UK next week, I will weep at the dilution and abandonment of the roles of husband and wife, mother and father. And I will weep for the children who, because of their ‘parents’ rights, will be denied either a mother or a father.

A man can never fulfill the rule of mother like a woman can. A woman can never fulfill the role of father like a man can.
And then it struck me - A woman can never fulfill the role of Fr. like a man can. As a church, we are a family. We have men and women each with their own specific gifts and talents – and roles. Just as in my own little domestic church, the role of father is reserved for a man – my husband. So it is in the wider church.
If we started mixing up and blurring gender roles like what is happening in the secular world next week, we will only stand to lose. The church as ‘bride’ would suffer a great loss. As children of the church, we would suffer a great loss.

So you see, as a woman I could never claim the right to be a Father, or a Fr. because to do so would result in loss, and only be motivated by my own selfish desires. I guess the real hurt for me comes from wanting to be as close as possible to Him – specifically Eucharistically. But take the example of Faustina – she wasn’t a priest, and her relationship with Jesus was something most priests can only dream of. Every human being yearns to be united with their creator (whether they know it not). But it seems to me that the closer one draws to Him, the greater the yearning becomes – it must be love! 

And so what about the calling I still feel? Well, I don’t know… watch this space…

 

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!” – St. Catherine of Sienna

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