Friday, 23 September 2011


When I became a catholic all those years ago there was no hint of any council.Yet within a few short years I found myself in the midst of what was called "The Showcase of Vatican 2".I dont remember any explanation for the changes,it seemed to happen almost overnight.No guides to the New Mass,no discussions on the documents ,no help for our bewilderment .It seemed to me that our priests were silent,certainly sermons on the evils of "modernity"ceased.I was too new to question.Too new,too young ,too inarticulate.
                  I survived for ten years.I worked in the parish,joined the Legion of Mary considered a religious vocation.But underneath there was a growing, undeniable ,conviction that what was happening in the church was not what I had signed up for.Central to my faith however and something that never wavered, was the belief that this was indeed the church that Christ founded.I held on to that belief then,and in  the years that followed.I hold on to it now.
                 It is about three years since I returned.I have had a lot of solitude,a lot of deep thinking a lot of soul searching.I have read the Vatican 2 documents...well most of them.I have read about the"Ottiavani Intervention"and the subsequent letter of loyalty. I have compared the church we have now and what it was like before.What I was like then,and what I am now.I have read liberal blogs,traditional  blogs,protestant blogs.I have tried to bend my mind to  what some call nu-church, and what follows are my conclusions.
                I believe Blessed John Paul's words,that "It is the privilege of the ordained to touch the sacred species".(I have seen instances of self -communicating,and lay people who"Do Exposition".)
                I believe that the use of Extraordinary ministers should be just that.Extraordinary.
                I believe that our priests should take Our Lord to the sick and the housebound(who hears their confessions?)
                I believe in the validity of the Novus Ordo.
                I yearn for The Mass of Ages.
                I believe that The Blessed Sacrament reserved, should not be kept in a hole in a wall,but in the most prominent position .
                I believe in the use of the Latin language in the liturgy.
                I believe  that men and women have their own separate place in the life of the church(I guess that means men only on the Altar )
                I believe that the Extraordinary Form should be available in every parish(difficult as yet I know,but I still believe it should be so).
                I believe that the priest should celebrate Mass facing God, together with the people.
                I believe that Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary,and not the celebration of The Last Supper(I have met those who think it to be so)
                I believe that true participation in Holy Mass consists in the reception of Holy Communion in a state of grace.
I realise that I am just as orthodox or traditional or whatever you may wish to call it, now, as what I was  when I was just a slip of a girl.I have not moved on.I cannot move on.Was I wrong then?Am I wrong now?And what I believed then and what I deemed holy ,and what the church taught me was holy, is it any less holy now?And if it is less holy how can that be?
So I ponder upon these things and generally keep them in my heart.....unless I am asked of course....oh if only someone would ask!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Home Thoughts From Home.

I think if you live alone,the natural world outside your window becomes important.You become more  aware of the changing seasons ,concious of shifting winds, sense dampness before the rain clouds gather.
          The little house that I live in is surrounded by ancient oak trees, that are, at the moment, dressed in their bright green foliage.This particular green lasts but a few magical days and after, darkens to the steady verdant  green of summer.Unusually this year, roses are in bloom,wayside dog- roses as well as the home grown cultivated ones, at least one month  earlier than the norm.
Hedges are crowned with May blossom,the green sward aglow with buttercups,and in places there are banks of the common field poppy,their scarlett, delicate, heads nodding in the gentle breeze.The world seems to me, to be a kaleidescope of greens,a tapestry woven by  nature empowered by God.Visits to my bird table have slowed since the desperate search for food of the winter months.Natural food is in abundance,and most wild birds now, are sitting on their eggs or the tardier ones still searching for a mate.The song of the wood thrush wakes me every morning ,glorious sounds from that tiny throat and however  much I try, I cannot get a glimpse of him,shy little creature that he is.Not so the smart blackbird who has graced my garden for two years or more.I am familiar with his comings and goings,his penchant for dry dust baths in my vegetable garden ,his alarm call at the sight of a cat.
         My garden,apart from the vegetable plot, is wild.My attempts to tame it have sometimes succeeded ......for a time.But it once was part of a wood,and that ,in truth, is what it reverts to.I can weed and cultivate as much as I like.Plant herbaceous borders,mow the pasture like grass,prune and snip continually,but every spring the yellow celendine appears,wood sorrell grows up in my borders,wild violets and bluebells  and the natural woodland plants make their appearance, and I have not the heart nor the desire to destroy them.So I leave it in it's wildness,and on my less conventional days I rejoice  in the beauty of the uncultivated ,and marvel at the work of the Creator.Out there in the natural world,the troubles and cares of this life recede for me.It has always been so.
Oh Lord.our Lord:how wonderful is thy name in all the earth!
For thy greatness is exalted above the heavens.
For I will behold thy heavens,the works of thy fingers:the moon and the stars,
which thou hast founded.
The birds of the air,and the fishes of the sea:that walk through the paths of the sea.
O lord,our Lord:how wonderful is thy name in all the earth!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

An Alternative view of The Wedding.

One of my favourite Blogs is The Transalpine Redemptorist site,way up there on Papa Stronsay.Please go there to read their beautiful post on the Royal Wedding.I must admit I did not get the trees bit in the Abbey,but after reading their post and their view of it all I have been converted........

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Prayer of William and Catherine.

God our Father,
        We thank you for our families;for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
              In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life,
              and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
         Strengthened by our union,help us to serve and comfort those who suffer.
               We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
I understand that this prayer was composed by them both.For the first time in any royal wedding that I have watched over the years, I felt that this was a Christian wedding,that they truly believed,and that the vows they made were hugely important to them.My prayer for them,is that they may be sustained by the love of Christ,
be blest with children,and serve their country well.

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

I attended the ordination of Fr.Edwin Barnes on Saturday.
                 Many, many years had he laboured in the Anglican ministry ,touching lives,bringing the message of the Gospel to hundreds over the years,following in his master's footsteps.Yet there he was prostrate before the Altar in St John's catholic cathedral willing and ready to start all over again, this time as a catholic priest for the Ordinariate.He follows his colleagues,Fr.Keith Newton,Fr Andrew Burnham,and Fr.David Silk, former Anglican Bishops.They are the pioneers then of this movement,the leaders of the Ordinariate,entrusted with the care of Anglicans on the road to Rome,and the Church that Christ founded.Brave men treading into the unknown ,responding to the invitation of the Holy Father with joy and humbleness.
The Lay people following, will leave their churches this Ash Wednesday and begin a course of instruction,continuing through the weeks of lent,and finally being received at Easter.They will leave their buildings,their friends,their old forms of worship and join the exodus,the final destination being,membership of The Holy Catholic and Apostolic church.God grant them safe passage.
Through the efforts of the Holy Father ,  the arms of the Church are open, ready to embrace its returning children,the true ecumenism of return.Anglican ministers also are handing in their resignations at this time,albeit a little harder for them.Many have young families,no jobs to go to ,no livelihoods,no certainty of ordination,and yet they too, in spite of these obstacles are setting out on the journey.Momentous times for the Catholic church in this country,this influx, this wave of faith so close to the Holy Father's heart.So my prayers this lent will be for the ordinariate ,and especially for those that waver on the brink uncertain, afraid and hesitant.
May Our great Lady of Walsingham be with all those who travel this road,may she be also with those left behind.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Portrait of a Marriage.

They met at a fairground.
          Amidst the swings and roundabouts in a village in Buckinghamshire a relationship began which was to last for over fifty years.She was fourteen,on the cusp of womanhood,slender,blonde and with lovely grey eyes.He,fifteen ,on shore leave from Naval school.It was his black,curly hair that attracted her first.That and his uniform.The attraction was mutual.Their courtship lasted for nine years and ended with their marriage in a small country church.
         The Husband.
Before Naval school he was a farmer's boy.He learned to till the soil,to plough the fields with his Shire horse, and care and tend the farmyard animals.He wandered the hills and valleys in what little spare time he had,and it was there, with the beauty of creation around him, that he met his God.He rang the church bells every sunday,but had little time for formal worship,and rarely stayed for the service.God and the belief in Him was a private matter,and like many of his race he was shy and reticent when speaking of such things.It was the natural world around him then, that he loved,the foxes,the badgers,the wind whispering in the trees,and the golden glory of a ripened field of wheat.There was a tenderness in his heart for all animals ,for the defenceless and the innocent,and all through his life he abhorred and detested cruelty in whatever form it took.
Naval school was harsh,tough, strict discipline paramount.It instilled into him a new motto,a new belief,that King and country, service and duty were the most important things in a young sailor's life.He served in many ships.He was at the fall of Singapore and escaped into the jungle with a few companions.After six weeks on the run,and just one step in front of the Japanese they reached the shore,and had to swim to reach a passing cargo boat.Two men's lives at this time he saved.One  whose gaping wounds he dressed,and the other ,too weak to swim to the boat, he carried on his back to the water's edge and swam with him, upholding him, until they reached safety.As a physical training officer he had learned about the human body.He knew how to set broken bones,how to staunch a flow of blood and how to heal.He served for thirty years,in war and peace and but never spoke of the horrors he had seen,or the hardships he had endured.
Though absent from his children's lives for months and sometimes years, when home, he earned their respect.He endured no nonsense from his sons,and they learned from his example.He taught them how to play cricket and football,to accept defeat with graciousness,and to rejoice in the winning.He gave them a moral code to live by,and instilled in them the virtue of self discipline.He never raised a hand to them.There was no need,one look from him was enough to quell any attempted unruly behaviour at the dinner table or bedtime.His daughters in his view, were equal to his sons and subject to the same  rules of life as his sons.Weeping from either was considered a weakness,and complaining forbidden.In his later years he returned to the soil,and his old love.He grew vegetables,and planted gardens,a dog always at his heels.He loved his grandchildren and cooked for them ,at ease when in their company,and they loved him in return.
He died when he was seventy nine.His illness was protracted ,slow, painful and suffocating for such as he,and those that loved him could only stand and watch.
The Wife.
She was full of life,popular,pretty,and the young men flocked to her court like moths to a flame.There were many suitors.She knew, however that there was only one man for her,only one that she was willing to share her life with,even though she saw little of him.The wedding took place eventually when she was twenty three,and instead of a honeymoon they travelled to the south coast where her new husband was stationed,and took rooms in a boarding house.
She was lonely,missed her old life,and found it difficult to manage on the Naval pay that her husband brought home.A son was born,and two years later,and one year before war was declared, a daughter.Three more sons were born to her during the war years,one in the middle of an air raid.Her children always remained with her ,and were not evacuated.The thought of them being motherless if she were to be killed by a bomb was unthinkable,and she felt it better, rightly or wrongly to keep them close. Long,uncomfortable nights in shelters, bombs raining down upon them became the norm.Food was rationed,but there was always enough in her little store cupboard for a needy neighbour,and no one was ever turned away who knocked upon her door.She taught her children that it was far far better to give than to receive,that no little errand that they did for a neighbour was to be rewarded in any way,and that they would do things for others willingly,and not count the cost.She taught them to share with each other.She bought them books,not only classics,but also the popular comics of the day,and she saved a few pence each week for Christmas,so her children would not be without presents.She sacrificed for them,loved them beyond measure,and was always,always in the home.She had one more child after the war ,another daughter.
She out- lived her husband by nineteen years.She was brave in her mourning,stoical in her grief,pretending that he was just on another tour of duty and would return.Old age found her indomitable,
resistant to infirmity,reluctant to accept any sort of help that she might need.
She was ninety seven when she died.
The Marriage.
On the face of it ,and maybe to an outsider,their personalities might seem incompatible.He,the deep thinker,slow to anger,and content in later years with his own fireside.She, at times volatile,with a quicksilver temper,and a thirst for the world beyond her doorstep, once her children had grown.There were, of course,rows and quarrels as in most marriages,and sometimes silences that lasted for days.Different interests,different outlooks,different political views.One a Tory,one a socialist.One a Monarchist,the other a republican......Yet they were bound to each other by the cords of love,their marriage underpinned by fidelity and loyalty.Through war and long partings,peace time and the mundane, their marriage survived.Through sickness and health,money worries and heartache they were true to the vows they made, in that little country church so long ago...........
My Mum and Dad.Fortunate were we in our parents.
So I hope,by the mercy of God,that they are in one of those heavenly mansions in the Father's House.Not Catholics,nor practising Protestants,yet both with a Christian ethos that guided their lives.Of their Baptism I am sure.Of the presence of the Loving Christ at their deaths ,I am positive.
Two lives led with fortitude and courage.Six children,seventeen grandchildren,thirteen great grandchildren,and still counting.......
To God be the Glory.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A Call to Arms.

For the most part I enjoy the homilys at Mass.
Always without exception, they are based upon the Gospel or the readings of the day.Fine.I,like most people I guess ,sometimes need the readings explained or a new slant put upon Christ' s words in the Gospels.I have ,in the course of coming home, attended Mass in many parishes,trying to find a home for my poor (ahem,)"orthodox" self,and in each one the homliy has been as described above.
              Some times I wish, I so wish that I would hear from the Sanctuary the words I long to hear.I wish that our Priests would teach us and expound upon the Sacraments,the essential need for  confession and absolution,the reception of Holy Communion ,and how it is a mortal sin to receive when not in a state of grace.I wish that they would remind us of the Four last Things,that they would speak of the sacrifice of the Mass,and not just the joy of the Resurrection.That they would tell us that we sin,each and everyone of us,and that none of us are wholly good.I wish that they would tell the children,and parents,that it is forbidden to eat in church,that unnecessary talk before Mass is disrespectful in the House of God ,and that waving to ones friends when in the communion line shows a lack of understanding of what we are about  to do.I wish they would tell us of the great horror that is abortion, of the millions of unborn babies murdered in the womb,and that reparation is needed.
              I wish that they would spiritually arm us from the Sanctuary,inspire us with their zeal,offer us ,and lead us, in the old devotions, and make us believe in the power of prayer.We need more Masses not less,and we need to be told that the collection of huge amounts of money will not bring us new Priests.A rich diocese maybe,but surely not vocations......
A call to arms then is needed,the public prayer of the faithful,encouraged and led by our Priests.Holy hours,Benediction,Rosaries,Adoration,Forty Hours,the storming of heaven.!For the world out there is already armed against us,and the battle between good and evil has hardly begun.

Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle,
Be our safeguard against the snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray,and do thou prince of the heavenly host,
thrust down to hell satan,and all wicked spirits that wander the world for the ruin of souls.
Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Holy Ground of Walsingham.

Weep ,weep oh Walsingham
Whose days are nights
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.
Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven turned into hell.
Satan sits where Our Lord did sway,
Walsingham oh farewell.

(The Walsingham Lament)

                  I have to admit that when visiting ancient ruined abbeys,it is always the sense of desecration that fills my mind.My first thought is never, how wonderful it must have been ,but, what awful thing happened here.!So it was when I first visited Walsingham.I remember sitting in the Abbey grounds and being enveloped in a kind of sorrow ,a sadness that seemed  to be reflected in the little stretch of turf that lay in front of me.
                  It was, of course, the site of the original Holy House .Roughly twenty three foot by thirteen ,and slightly raised ,the outline clearly visible.I have since read ,that when it was excavated in 1961,a layer of ash was found beneath the turf,evidence of the fire that burned it to the ground.I did not know of it then,I hardly knew about Walsingham .On a visit because there were a couple of spare seats on the coach,and after all ,it was a couple of days away from the daily grind! I was catholic in name only then,but even so I had tried to do all the things a good catholic might do on a pilgrimage.I walked barefoot the Holy Mile,trying to mumble the Rosary,but could not remember the mysteries.I went to Mass because it would have been an embarrasment not to.I joined in the prayers and added my own for a little girl who had been snatched in Portugal.In fact she was the only person I prayed for on that first visit.Sometimes I think I rabbit on and on in my prayers,and do not take the time to listen.The only time that I was silent  in my mind,was in the Abbey Grounds, and in front of that beautiful statue in the slipper chapel, the sight of which took my breath away.
I read the story of Walsingham while I was there.The Holy House built by Angels even before Loreto.Richeldis and her love of Our Lady.Charlotte Boyd who saved the Slipper chapel,and of course,Alfred Hope Patten the Anglican minister who built the Anglican shrine.I did not want to come home.I did not want to leave.I wanted to rebuild Our Lady's House in the place that she had wanted it,the place she was so insistent upon,and that was  now, nothing but a piece of turf.I did not know it then, but Walsingham had somehow opened up some place in my mind that had been closed for many years.
I came home from Walsingham,and a few weeks afterwards, my return to the church began.
I know now that that that little village in Norfolk is Holy ground.That Our Lady's love for England and us is somehow concentrated( for want of a better word)there.That anyone who visits Her there ,and implores her help will be answered.In fact,even someone like me ,who visited Her in ignorance ,even such as me who had no thought of conversion ,Our Lady stretches out her hand.
Oh Gracious Lady,Glory of Jerusalem
Cypress of Zion and joy of Israel,
Rose of Jericho and Star of Bethlehem.
Oh Glorious Lady,our asking not repel.
In mercy all women ever thou dost excel,
Therefore Blessed Lady,grant thou thy great grace,
To all that thee devoutly visit this place.Amen
(Ballad of Walsingham).