Friday, 22 October 2010

Congratulations to One of the World's Greatest Pro-Life Champions

“Cardinal-designate Burke is one of the Church’s greatest defenders of faith, and one of the pro-life movement’s greatest allies.”
-Lifesite News

"To help celebrate this new step in the Archbishop's career, has co-sponsored a website (, along with The Cardinal Newman Society, that allows you to easily send a note of congratulations to the Archbishop. These notes will be personally delivered to the Archbishop at his office in Rome."

Thank you Lifesite News/Cardinal Newman Society, it will be a pleasure...

Return to the Scene...

I spent much of yesterday praying with 40 Days for Life, outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility. It seemed that Marie Stopes was doing a brisker business yesterday, than on the day of my previous visit; we stood our ground and prayed.

Impatient as I often am for results, there was that little hope in the back of my mind, that Almighty God would give us a sign that our fervent prayers were heard; maybe that a pregnant woman or a Marie Stopes employee would cross the road and tell us that they had turned away from abortion. But, yesterday that didn't happen at least, not on my shift. We prayed.

A man walked along the pavement on which we stood and spat rather aggressively as he passed. A young woman  shouted accusations at us, beginning with ' You should be ashamed of yourselves....!'
Another made mocking gestures as he passed, but for the most part, the passers by simply passed by. In the late afternoon as the temperature began to drop, we prayed as we shivered.
The spitter came back and spat aggressively once again, one of the counsellors attempted to speak with him but was met with a response I wouldn't wish to record here.

And it dawned on me that Almighty God  was answering our prayers as we made them:  in granting us that peace which remains despite angry verbal and non verbal gestures and in the certainty that our prayers will  help someone, though He may not grant us the satisfaction of seeing the results, because God always answers our prayers.
All that the verbal aggression, mockery and spitting amounted to was that a hornet's nest in hell had been stirred into action, because one of the  'successful' operations of the father of lies was being threatened by the power of prayer.

Clare from Battlements of Rubies has also posted about yesterday's experiences outside Marie Stopes.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pope Benedict's Letter to Seminarians

From Pope Benedict's Letter to Seminarians  on the Vatican Information Service website

"1. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a “man of God”, to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the “big bang”. God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God’s messenger to his people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to “pray constantly”, he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God. Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him."

Friday, 15 October 2010

Catholic Schools Admission criteria: church cleaners need not apply!

Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director of the  Catholic Education Service has written to the Tablet  regarding admissions criteria for entry to a Catholic school.
In her letter Oona Stannard says:

"When Father Beck talks about writing additional references and asking parents to complete a “pre-reference” form detailing their involvement in the parish he is being discriminatory and undermining the Admissions Code.  The definition of Catholic is baptism.  The opportunity of the priest to note the level of practice of the faith for the purpose of school admissions should be limited to worship and must not be extended to other activities such as those suggested by Father Beck.  Too often other activities and involvement in the life of the parish would favour those who are already advantaged by time and other resources; luxuries not open to everyone in an even handed way.  Interviews are, whether intended or not, an exercise in discernment way beyond baptism and worship.  Both interviews and additional form filling can place unfair burdens on families, for example, disadvantaging those new to this country or for whom English is a second language."

Oh dear! 
Soon any parent who brings their child to Sunday Mass at all, and who can read, will be stigmatised as being 'already advantaged' and therefore not in the target client group! 
 James Preece over at Catholic and Loving It has a couple of relevant questions for Oona, 
I'm intrigued by Oona's assertion that:

"Too often other activities and involvement in the life of the parish would favour those who are already advantaged by time and other resources; luxuries not open to everyone.."

 Assisting with church cleaning, parish youth group, school governance, UCM, CWL, care of the housebound, parish council, KSC, are among the many  voluntary activities which generous Catholic parishioners undertake week in week out on in service of the parish, and often to raise funds for the parish.Surely the desire to help out in  parish activities arises from the Christian  call to love our neighbour, therefore to serve?

The Church does not call us to consider our luxuries and resources, but to love our neighbour as ourself. To love others is to serve them. It is open to Catholics to 'love their neighbour as themselves' by voluntary activities within the parish, sacrificing their time and energies for the good of others.
Love is sacrificial; the one who loves does not seek his own advantage, but receives an advantage nevertheless:  the advantage of becoming more Christ-like.  Is that really the sort of advantage Oona Stannard disapproves of?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

John, I disagree...

Here in the epicentre of the culture of death it's not often that I find myself in disagreement with the leading pro-life advocate, John Smeaton, whose organisation, SPUC,  does such sterling work in the pro-life battle.
But,  the  news that the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group is to be axed  (part of the government's quango cull),  prompts me to call for three loud cheers!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Communicating the Church's Truth on Sexuality in a Hostile Culture

This is one of those really excellent talks that deserves to be as widely circulated as possible, so I'm doing my bit by quoting a little (below), and encouraging you all to take a little time to read the whole thing.

"Where can we begin to reverse the cultural tsunami of distortion of sexuality? 
We must begin with CARITAS IN VERITATE. It is the answer of Christ, of His Mother and of the Church. 
It is not love to allow your children to rampantly misbehave without correcting them.  Speaking as a father of seven children I will admit that it is often easier to turn the other way and purposely fail to notice misbehaviour.  But out of love parents must correct and discipline their children. 
So too the Church, especially Her shepherds – the fathers of souls - must feed the flock, must teach the truths however difficult and politically incorrect.  That is true love."
 - John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor of Lifesite news,  in a powerful and challenging talk to the Fifth Annual World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome.

Read the full text of J-H Westen's  talk here

Thanks to Lifesite news and Love Undefiled

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Handicapped Babies: God's answer to prayer.....

I was prompted some months ago, by this post on Gerard Nadal's excellent blog, to consider putting some of my own experiences  as a mother of three handicapped children out there, in the blogosphere. What held me back? Not sure if I have a complete answer, but there was a desire to protect my family's privacy and a feeling that perhaps this aspect of my daily life was so ordinary, so day-to-day normal and natural as to render it un-newsworthy.

When I read Gerard's piece, there was one sentence which struck.  In all the many words that are spoken about handicapped children, pro-life or pro-death,  I have never heard any one else say :

“If God has a set number of handicapped children who need to enter the world, then He can send one our way.”

I was about thirteen, a schoolgirl, when I first understood  the meaning of the word  'abortion'. It was discussed in the cloakrooms and on the netball courts at school, the consensus among my then third year (now it would be year 9) peers  being that abortion was repugnant as it involved killing unborn babies.
Gradually I came to understand how handicapped babies were particularly at risk of abortion, targetted for no other reason than that they were handicapped.

I didn't know any handicapped people, but I knew of them;  the brother of  one of the girls in my class had Down's Syndrome, the severely disabled  brother of another lived, not at home, but in a special home,  and before that, I could recall a boy at primary school who wore calipers to both legs. I knew that handicapped people often needed more help than non- handicapped people. They were more vulnerable.
 It seemed to me that aborting babies because they had handicaps or disabilities, must be utterly wrong; surely the most vulnerable of all required the greatest protection and help?

Without knowing anything about the reasons women give for having an abortion, it was at least clear to me then,  that killing the weakest and most vulnerable did not solve  the problems they face.
I prayed about it, and this was my prayer:

Dear God,
If  You are going to send any more handicapped people into the world, when the time comes, send one to me. I will look after him/her and I won't abort him/her.

As good Catholics know, God always answers prayers!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

40 Days for Life

                                           London: 40 Days for Life

 I hadn't ever thought about praying the Rosary (out loud) in the middle of a London street, but yesterday I spent some time outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility in London, doing just that. For about five hours, it was my privilege to join others in the 40 Days for Life initiative, in constant prayer for an end to abortion, specifically at this Marie Stopes abortion facility.It was particularly humbling to see a prayer volunteer, an elderly woman, join us for over an hour of prayer, on her knees.
 Those five hours (which slipped past very quickly) were a time of great peace and grace: there was a  recognition of the need to surrender to God the evil that man does so that He can heal us of it; a sense of abortion as one of the enemy's most vicious tools in a spiritual battle.  There was also a sense of our need to pray, especially to Our Lady  to plead for her intercession for the lives of the unborn as indeed, for their mothers.
I hope to join the vigil again,  soon, God willing.

40 Days for Life began in the States, about three years ago I believe, and I found the picture at the top of this post  on their website's blog, together with the following information about how it's been going in London.

“We had the first member of staff tell us she has quit her job there,” said one of the 40 Days for Life prayer volunteers outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility in London. “We should continue praying and being there for the rest.”
In addition, at least three more babies have been saved from abortion!
The London campaign is receiving a lot of support — though not every passerby has a favorable view.
“I am used to abuse in the hospital,” said one volunteer, who is a nurse. “But the anger I heard out of the businesswomen was difficult to take. ‘Stop abusing women!’ I heard repeatedly. They seemed completely unaware that I am a woman, too!”
The London team has received inquiries about the campaign from interested people in Russia, Ghana and Colombia. I’ve also gotten e-mail from people in France and Spain, asking about to bringing 40 Days for Life to those countries.
Let’s see what God has in store!"

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

'Don't wash your car before going to that church.....'

It's been a very busy few days, and I don't seem to have got  much done; the domestic intray overfloweth, so to speak.  So  I really need to get on....

But before I do, I just have to post this picture, which I found at the irrepressible Bad Vestments blog:

Does anyone know if,   no, just...   why?