One of the most heartbreaking things is when you find a piece of sacred clothing that has not been cared for properly, or that has simply been shoved to the back of the sacristy because it has ‘fallen out of fashion’ (whatever that means). But restoring it is an extremely joyful and satisfying experience…. READ MORE

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So i have been working extremely hard over the last few weeks finishing the Marian 5 piece set i’ve been working on. Also getting my new website sorted and all my new branding.

having a background in graphic design has been really useful as has my experience of running a wedding cake business. All these skill i have acquired over the years have been transferred into what i believe will be a very successful new sewing business.

As far as i can tell there is a huge need for beautiful designed vestments. The fashions of the last few decades are now fading away. Thank goodness we will no longer be subjected to vestments such as this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or even this:

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Yeah – I know. Once you see it you can’t un-see it. Try some of this to help your poor exposed eyes:

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Anyway…

The new priests coming though seminary today understand the importance of dignified beautiful vestments and evangelistic qualities of what people see during the liturgy. This also applies of course to the music we choose to use during Mass and also the architecture of our churches – but my job is to focus on the vestments!

So here is the Marian 5 piece set i just made:

Marian 5 piece set

I would love for you to visit the Di Clara website and read about what inspired this set. CLICK HERE to visit the Di Clara website and see some of the gorgeous embroidery i did for this set – and don’t forget to like the Facebook page and tell all your priest friends! I’m taking orders now, and even though i’m based in London UK i can ship worldwide!

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Medugorije seer Vicka and Archbishop Leonard

WORLD FAMOUS conservative Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard has declared his personal belief in the apparitions of Medjugorje since reflecting on a week spent with Medjugorje visionary Vicka Ivankovic who had her daily apparitions in his presence whilst on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Primate of Belgium, known as ‘the Belgian Ratzinger’ for his conservative and pro-traditionalist views, shared his reflections with………..(click here to read full story)

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I have learned more about how to approach and regard suffering from St Therese than anyone else. I wouldn’t say that the suffering is any less painful now – just that I am not overwhelmed by anguish because of it. In fact, with the help of Therese i can begin to see glimmers of indescribable joy and peace within suffering. Nowhere am I closer to Christ than when I am being crucified along side Him.

But who shaped Therese’s view of suffering? Who did she learn all this from? Who were her examples?

Well, the two most influential people in any child’s life are their Mother and Father. In Therese’s case, she had two incredible role models in regards to suffering.

Born into a military family, Zelie described her childhood and youth as “dismal.” Her mother and father showed her little affection. As a young lady, she sought unsuccessfully to enter the religious order of the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu.

After marrying at age 26, Zelie bore nine children, seven girls and two boys. “We lived only for them,” Zelie wrote; “they were all our happiness.” Zélie, in contrast to her own mother, was very loving to her daughters, and combined her roles in a busy routine of homemaker, businesswoman and tender mother.

The Martins’ delight in their children turned to shock and sorrow as tragedy relentlessly and mercilessly stalked their little ones. Within three years, Zelie’s two baby boys, a five year old girl, and a six-and-a-half week old infant girl all died.

Zelie was left numb with sadness. “I haven’t a penny’s worth of courage,” she lamented. But her faith sustained her through these terrible ordeals. In a letter to her sister-in-law who had lost an infant son, Zelie remembered: “When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I felt sorrow through and through….People said to me, ‘It would have been better never to have had them.’ I couldn’t stand such language. My children were not lost forever; life is short and full of miseries, and we shall find our little ones again up above.” 

Zelie developed breast cancer and died when Therese was just 5 years old. She left her husband of 15 years, Louis – a watchmaker – to bring up their surviving 5 daughters on his own.

Louis adored his daughters and openly declared “I am a big child with my children!” But it was not just his wife who would depart from him. Each of his 5 remaining daughters would enter the convent. Louis’s paternal heart did not find it easy to part with his girls, especially his “Queen,” little Thérèse.

Louis also knew illness. He suffered dementia in his final years but was cared for at home until the end.

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So these were the people who shaped Therese from the start. These gentle kind and loving parents who knew so much suffering. And although great suffering had left its mark on mother and father, it was not the scar of bitterness.

Therese is of course the most famous member of the Martin family. Nevertheless, the sanctity of the parents was prior to that of the daughter—both in time and, to a degree, in causality. Louis and Zelie were not saintly because they raised a saint; they raised a saint because they were saintly.

The more i get to know about this couple the more indebted i feel towards them. It was the little day to day things that shaped Therese and her sisters. They way their grief was born with such acceptance and humility. The way that Zelie set aside her lace making business to spend two hours on a dolls’ dinner party. All these day to day little things that may have seemed totally insignificant and normal at the time, were actually the cause of their sanctification and tiny shoots of future sainthood for them and their daughter Therese. It makes me view my own day-to-day trials in a completely different light.

The Church’s focus on lay sanctity has been more explicit since the Second Vatican Council, which identified the lay vocation as follows: “They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.” Louis and Zélie Martin, in the “ordinary circumstances” of family life, of labour, of prayer, and of play, fulfilled this description to the letter.

As I finish my novena to Louis and Zelie tomorrow I will pray that I not only learn a deeper understanding of day-to-day life and day-to-day love and suffering from their daughter Therese, but also imitate Louis and Zelie’s practical example of how to live this truth of love and suffering in my own home.

Blessed Louis and Zelie, pray for us.

St Therese, pray for us.

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By Fr. Simon Dray

Today is my 2nd anniversary of becoming a priest.

We might ask, ‘what do you do as a priest?’, but in this 2nd year of priesthood there’s been a deeper appreciation that priesthood is less about ‘doing’ and more about ‘being’.

My diary’s still full, but a priest is meant to be an ‘alter Christus’ ‘another Christ to the world’. Through the Priesthood, Christ the head continues to make himself present to his body, the Church.

The priest accompanies those carrying heavy crosses – people who do so with great humility and love despite their burdens. I initially thought, ‘at the very least I can pray and offer Mass for their intentions’.

Another priest corrected me, saying ‘no saying Mass is the most we can ever do because we are priests’. The Mass isn’t something that we (collectively) do. It remains Christ’s work of our redemption. He told us when he is ‘lifted up he will draw all men to himself’. In the Eucharist he does exactly that, so it’s the highest prayer we can offer for someone.

When the priest pronounces ‘this is my body… this is my blood’, they aren’t merely the words of the Institution Narrative, but of Consecration because it’s Christ, the Word of God who is speaking them!

In the same way, ‘Do this in memory of me’, means we aren’t re-enacting an ancient historical event, but are once again drawn into his saving passion, death and resurrection. God gives us back our life; one that endures for the eternal life.

Dying on a cross is humiliating and lonely. Those closest to Christ had betrayed, denied and deserted him. Only John, the beloved disciple, his Blessed Mother and the other women took station with him. In the Eucharist, Christ as God, finds a way never to be alone on the cross.

That’s why we go to Sunday Mass and why it matters if we choose to be absent because it means we’re missing from the foot of the cross – again! Coming to Mass makes us like the ‘beloved disciple’ and we stand by him as he gives his life as a ransom for many.

Only the fruit of the cross can sustain the Christian life as it gives us the grace to be faithful to Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Bishop Richard, at Festival 50, said, ‘we need priests, for unless our communities have at their centre the celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass, they will not be Catholic communities in the true sense’.

We must get real! If we want priests we can’t sit around waiting for the bishop to send us one. Indeed, it’s the other way round – we must send, from this community, our sons, brothers and nephews so he can ordain them!

Priestly vocations come from practising Catholic families. Pray that tonight we go home and make the Eucharist and Priesthood a priority for our family discussions and prayer.

Pray for priests. Pray for this priest, and for all Catholic priests all around the world.

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As the new trend of super-imposing your views all over you profile pic takes hold – and those using the rainbow flag gradually become aware they have been duped into becoming part of a worldwide Facebook science project, one word has stood out for me in particular: Unfriend.

Everyone is unfriending each other. This is pretty interesting stuff.

Rainbows are unfriending Vaticans because they are vicious hateful bigots. Vaticans are unfriending Rainbows because they are in league with the devil (obviously). Plain profile pic-ers are unfriending both because they just want a quiet virtual life.

The thing about our virtual lives is that we can play God. I can literally stop you from existing in my virtual world at the click of a button. “Nah-nah-na-nah-nah! You-don’t-exist!”.

Stupid.

Well, maybe not stupid, but selfish – yes. It depends what you want to use social media for. If you want to create a private alternate universe where everyone agrees with everything you say then great! but if you want – for instance – to use it as Pope Benedict told us to – as a tool for evangelisation, then not so great.

Rainbow – “Why the hell (I don’t believe in hell by the way) can’t you understand that marriage is about LOVE. If two people feel that way about each other then they should be allowed to get married. Love is the strongest and most powerful feeling on the planet. #lovewins.”

Vatican – “Why the hell (i DO believe in hell) can’t you understand that a man and a woman’s body are meant for pro-creation and that marriage is a sacrament that real love is a choice not a feeling. Oh and by the way Christians do believe that #lovewins. We call it the Resurrection.”

Rainbow – “Can’t you see how bigoted you are being by trying to force your views on me? Your church is full of bullying haters who hate me and my gay friends and i’m not going to tolerate your stupid God crap. Instead i’m going to block you because i can’t stand to listen to your medieval rubbish any more. People like you need to be eradicated from society. #Tolerance #Diversity #RespectForAll.”

Vatican – “Can’t you see how bigoted you are being?! You are basically telling me that if i don’t comply with your new world order you are going to take my kids away! How dare you try to force your views on me and my children. People like you hate me and my Christian friends and i’m not going to tolerate your ‘groupthink’ liberal progressive atheist bullying. Instead i’m going to block you because i don’t want your filthy sexual perversion views tainting my clean and holy Facebook wall. People like you are going to Hell. You are not welcome. I’ll pray for you. #LordHelpMeTeachTransgressorsYourWays #LoveOneAnotherAsIHaveLovedYou #Forgiveness.”

Hyporcrites! Both of them!

The jewel in the crown of all this tho, is the Catholic Rainbows. The ones who openly profess to believe in a God and a church that they strongly disagree with. Hmmm… Yes. This is difficult. The vast majority of these guys that I have spoken to over the last few days simply do not know what the church teaches regarding marriage or the fact that the church completely condemns the discrimination of people experiencing same-sex attraction. They too believe that the church “hates gays” and that marriage is based on “love” and that love = feelings. Heck – most of the Catholics i’ve spoken to don’t even know what a sacrament is. Almost all of them are under the impression that the Pope agrees with Homosexuality because of the misinterpreted “Who am I to Judge?” comment. All of them agree with the use of artificial contraception.

This is seriously, seriously embarrassing for the church. The blatant ignorance of the people within the church regarding these issues is something that needs to be addressed – by the Bishops first and foremost, but also by the priests who should be prioritising this message and also by the faithful members of the church who’s job it is to evangelise.

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Pope Paul VI tells us in Evangelii Nuntiandi in 1975 that the church exists in order to evangelize”. This statement was repeated By Pope Benedict XVI at the Thirteenth Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation in 2012 where he highlighted the fact that “The union of a man and a woman, their becoming “one flesh” in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis”.

He pointed to a link between the current crisis of faith and this crisis in marriage, because marriage is based on the grace of God that man of today no longer recognizes. To overcome this crisis, any crisis, we need to be newly reconciled with God.

In his homily, he said “in every time and place, evangelization always has as its starting and finishing points Jesus Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mk 1:1); and the Crucifix is the supremely distinctive sign of him who announces the Gospel: a sign of love and peace, a call to conversion and reconciliation”.
This call, he continued, should take into account “those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, and those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church”.

In 2013 Pope Francis told us in Evangelii Gaudium that evangelisation must start with an emphasis on God’s saving love before proclaiming doctrines and follow the “way of beauty”. Patience and “respectful and compassionate listening” are also a key part of evangelisation, he added.

“The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions, but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability… our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow,” he wrote.

I guess the point is that we are all sinners. Jesus died for sinners, and it is our job to take the mercy we have experienced to the the people around us that we talk to everyday – even on Facebook. He invites us to turn away from Sin and come into a life-changing living relationship with Himself. This is the thing that is missing.

What we have to remember is that from the outside Christianity is totally bonkers. Why on earth would you listen to someone who tells you “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23. To invite a person experiencing same-sex attraction to accept their cross is something that simply cannot happen unless that person has found a greater love in Christ. This is the thing that is missing. This is why people cannot fathom what you are talking about. Christianity is a paradox. It’s all about Christ. It’s all about love, real love, agape love. And the incredibly challenging love we are called to is cross-shaped. It’s not easy – but it is worth it :) <3

How many people do you know who are in a life-changing living relationship with Christ? How many Catholics? What about you?

How are you supposed to bring Christ to others if you are blocking the people who need Him the most? Yours might be the only voice they hear who offers them the way out of where they currently are and into a new life in Him.

By all means defend marriage, but teach why we believe what we do. Speak the truth, proclaim the good news of the resurrection, of mercy and forgiveness, invite people to turn away from sin and come back to God, but choose your tone and words carefully. And perhaps consider friending all those people you just unfriended.

(I will be taking my own advice here ;) )

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Dog-men at the Gay pride March 2015

Yesterday same-sex mirage became legal in America. The gay community are heralding it as a triumph for equal dignity.
Above is a pic of 3 dog-men at the gay pride march that took place in the UK today. As you can see they are celebrating ‘equal dignity’. ‘Dignity’ seems a funny word to use doesn’t it? Perhaps they have re-defined that too?

Hey ho, each to their own. I suppose equality is important – but only if you qualify for it…

Benjamin Butterworth (a gay man himself) writing in The Independent today, tells us that “The gay community is now as ignorant as the people it once opposed.”
He tells us that “the modern gay community – equal in law and thereabouts in culture – has turned in on itself. It brandishes the attitudes and outlooks that once-upon-a-time it would define itself against. Looking like an inward, aggressive group of judgemental trolls.”
It seems that Gay Pride UK banned the lgbt faction of Ukip from participating in the March! Apparently simply being gay is not good enough anymore – you have to be left wing too.
Butterworth goes on to ask “Why draw the line at banning pro-equality UKIP members? Why not ban gay Catholics? Or lesbian Muslims?…in this day and age, self-appointed activists now mimic the angry, illiberal attitudes that are used to oppress them.”

I have to say I agree with him.

Speaking of angry liberal attitudes…

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World youth day 2013.

Here is a pic from World Youth Day 2013 in Madrid. An angry gay protestor shouts abuse at a Catholic teenage pilgrim who knelt down to pray for him. She described what happened:

“One guy who stopped us said there was an anti Catholic protest in Sol so we went to check it out.
We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful.
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us, but whatever…”

What struck me most about this amazing photo was the peace vs anger, the beauty vs ugliness, and above all the undeniable dignity of the young pilgrims.

Perhaps dignity is not something that can be achieved by demanding it. Perhaps it is not achievable by man on his own. Perhaps real dignity comes from God.

faithinourfamilies:

Still waiting for the pope to speak on Medj. Still waiting… This was my experience…

Originally posted on Faith in our Families:

This is my personal experience of, and witness to Medjugorje. I would like you to share this post to draw more attention to the best place on earth, so that others may have the opportunity to fall in love with Medugorje, Mother Mary, and ultimately Her beloved Son Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Medj has not currently been approved or condemned. We wait for the pope to speak on this issue.

Day 4…

I was introduced to Adoration on my 3rd trip to Medjugorje about 8 years ago. That evening, during an incredibly powerful and beautiful experience of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist, my ‘love affair’ with Jesus (especially through the eucharist) began.

Earlier that day we had listened to a talk from one of the visionaries telling us to ‘pray with our hearts’. (I had actually been doing this for years, but in a very negative way. I…

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So I’ve just come back from my first Carmelite silent retreat. It was awesome.

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With 3 kids and a sick husband i could only commit to going for 24 hours so I was determined to make the most of it. Of course my alarm didn’t go off the morning i was going, so I arrived late and unfortunately i missed the first talk.

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When I did get there I suddenly realised that i had completely forgotten to reply to the original email so there for i had forgotten to book a room, and it seems they were fully booked.

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Thankfully, one of the other seculars was leaving that afternoon, so they allowed me to stay in her room. I apologised, and thanked her – in silence.

Actually the silence was exactly what i needed. I was tired from my stressful morning and 2 hour drive and so the first thing i did was to make a cup of tea and go and find a nice spot in the beautiful grounds to sit quietly on my own. Of course at this point it started raining.

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Never mind. There was some benches undercover, and the chapel was open 24/7. So i had a little explore round silently on my own.

After about an hour i started getting restless. An hour of silence is a complete luxury for me. In fact i would go as far as to say it is completely alien. I have 3 screaming kids and an unemployed husband. My home is NOT a quiet place. I’m just not used to it any more. I didn’t realise how noisy my life had become.

But the real issue was the fact that the silence was making me aware of all the internal noise going on within me. It was actually making me extremely uncomfortable. Ironically, at home, the constant screaming and shouting actually serves to distract me from what is going on inside me. But now i was in a situation where the silence was forcing me to confront the things inside. It was ugly. I didn’t want to admit a lot of stuff. I needed to find a distraction.

So i got my phone out and went on Facebook. In silence.

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When I had finally summed up enough courage to instruct my friends to block me for the next 24 hours because i was on silent retreat (because i have no will power AT ALL) I finally found myself alone. With God.

I couldn’t take it! I just COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!! So i started talking to myself. Out loud.

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Thankfully at this point it was time for the second talk which focused on Teresa of Avila and how she described our own personal relationship with God as something that is inseparable from our relationship within our own communities, and how we need great humility to be able to live this active/contemplative life of prayer. And even though the talk was excellent and hit exactly the right chord – this was pretty much the last straw for me.

I had to face the ugly fact that i had been using prayer as a distraction from my responsibilities as a wife and a mother. The truth is that i’m not particularly enjoying my vocation at the moment. It feels like i am completely trapped in a life of screaming kids and “conversations” about the fact that we have not had an income for 18 months and what the hell we are going to do about it.  My home feels like a prison. God is the jailer and my sentence is marriage and family (God forgive me for saying so…)

To admit the fact that i am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and heavily resenting my vocation is something i had been avoiding admitting to myself for a long, long time. Besides – when you are in the situation of constant noise and relentless activity, the exhaustion becomes, well, normal. It is only when faced with silence, real silence, that the external and internal distractions start to melt away and I find myself alone with God. This is Carmel.

“Ok.” I said out loud. “If i’m going to have to face this with You then I’m going to need a packet of Cigarettes.”

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“WHAT???!!!” I hear you say – “A Catholic mother of 3 smoking???!!! On retreat???!!!”  Yes, I’m afraid so. I spent most of the rest of the evening sitting outside in the rain smoking, and and polarising between being extremely angry with God, and begging Him for help. In fact I stayed out there so long into the night, I actually found myself locked out of the retreat centre. In the rain.

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So eventually they let me in and I went to my room to dry my tears and lay down in the silence – until the fire alarm went of at 1am and proceeded to “BLAH!BLAH!BLAH!” until 4am.

Awesome silent retreat. Awesome.

For those of you who don’t know already, I had my own cake business for 9 years. I was sadly forced to close the business after same-sex marriage became law here in the UK last year, and it became pretty obvious pretty quickly that the law was not going to protect my right to follow my religious beliefs in regard to traditional marriage.

After all – I wouldn’t want anyone threatening to sue me now would I? ;)

Well, it just so happens that a priest friend of mine was celebrating a significant birthday recently and I had the pleasure of making him a cake.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this cake. And before someone says “blahdy-blahdy-blah…” not everything is necessarily accurate. I have used a bit of artistic license! It is just a cake after all.

The cake itself was banana sponge, and the flowers are all made out of sugar. The monstrance, cross, pillars, and statue are plastic. The rest is made out of icing. The stained glass window is a giant biscuit filled with coloured melted sugar to make the glass. The whole thing took about 2 days to make. And yes – he loved it!

Anyway, all glory to God!… Enjoy!

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