Originally posted on liturgy guy:


The following guest post was written by a friend who is also a diocesan priest. I recently inquired as to why so few priests offer the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem, despite numerous books and articles in recent years stating the case for it on both historical and theological grounds. The following post is Father’s response. His only request of me was to have his anonymity maintained, which I have honored. It is my hope that many priests will read Father’s post and prayerfully reconsider liturgical orientation within the Mass and it’s spiritual implications for all of us.

I first attended a Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem in a small chapel at the Casa Santa Umiltá in Rome several years ago, as a layman. The congregation was small, the setting intimate. And something clicked in my head. “This is how we should all be worshipping.”

Since Ordination as a priest…

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Yesterday evening I had the privilege of being invited to the annual Peace Symposium at the local Mosque. The Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, South West London is the largest Mosque in western Europe. Completed in 2003 at a total cost of approximately £15 million, entirely from donations of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the mosque covers an area of 5.2 acres (21,000 m2) and the full complex can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. It’s massive.

One of the mum’s at school was helping organise the event and invited a few of us to come along. The main theme of the evening was ‘Nurture Today, Protect Tomorrow’ and focused on child rearing. She was interested for me to be able to give the Catholic perspective on this issue over dinner. She knows i’m pretty into this Catholic stuff :) I took my Mum along with me as she was also very interested to come and hear what they had to say.

The Ahmadiyya community is a highly organised Islamic religious movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century. It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that Ahmad appeared as the Messiah,  in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice, and peace. They believe that upon divine guidance he divested Islam of fanatical and innovative beliefs and practices by championing what is, in their view, Islam’s true and essential teachings as practised by Muhammad and the early Islamic community. Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.

Ahmadi beliefs are more aligned with the Sunni tradition, than they are with the Shi’a tradition. They are persecuted by other Islamic sects because of their specific beliefs. For example – contrary to mainstream Islamic belief, Ahmadi Muslims believe that Jesus was crucified and survived the four hours on the cross. He was later revived from a coma in the tomb. (Other Muslim sects believe it was an imposter who died on the cross, some don’t believe it took place at all.) Ahmadis believe that Jesus died in Kashmir of old age whilst seeking the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus’ remains are believed to be entombed in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf.


According to Ahmadi Muslim belief, Jihad can be divided into three categories:

Jihad al-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is that against the self and refers to striving against one’s low desires such as anger, lust and hatred.

Jihad al-Kabīr (Great Jihad) refers to the peaceful propagation of Islam, with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by the pen.

Jihad al-Asghar (Smaller Jihad) is only for self-defence under situations of extreme religious persecution whilst not being able to follow one’s fundamental religious beliefs, and even then only under the direct instruction of the Caliph.

Ahmadi Muslims point out that as per Islamic prophecy, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad rendered Jihad in its military form as inapplicable in the present age as Islam, as a religion, is not being attacked militarily but through literature and other media, and therefore the response should be likewise. They believe that the answer of hate should be given by love. Concerning terrorism, the fourth and current Caliph of the Community writes:

“As far as Islam is concerned, it categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any cover or justification for any act of violence, be it committed by an individual, a group or a government.”

I was sad to hear that although there has not been one report of an Ahmadi joining ISIS, they do feel that they have to be vigilant of their children coming under threat from terrorist grooming – just like every other Muslim parent. They condemned the Paris attacks at least 20 times over the course of the evening.

Another specific belief to the Ahmadi’s is that the history of religion is cyclic and is renewed every seven millennia. The present cycle from the time of the Biblical Adam is split into seven epochs or ages, parallel to the seven days of the week. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared as the promised Messiah at the sixth epoch heralding the seventh and final age of mankind.

“A day in the estimation of God is like a thousand years of man’s reckoning.” – Qu’ran 22:47

This really interested me as it reminded me so much of St Augustine’s 6 (or 7 – depending who you ask) Ages of the World written around 400 AD. St Augustine’s theory originated from a passage in II Peter:

“But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – II Peter 3:8

It was just fascinating to see the parallels (of which there were many) with Catholicism,  but also with Judaism and Protestant Christianity. For example, these guys are big into simplicity. Pictures or statues are regarded as idolatry. Also, similar to the Protestant Christians, Islam has no central teaching. Each Calif is essentially his own Pope, and there are plenty of Califs. In this way you get the wildly diverse interpretations of the Qu’ran. The Ahmadi community recognises this as a major problem in Islam. They believe they have the true teachings of Islam. As do all 72 other Islamic sects.


The persecution of the Ahmadi community is something that I found very sad. They are peaceful people. Last month a large section of their Mosque, that I was now sitting in was arsoned resulting in millions of pounds worth of dammage. I remember seeing the massive plume of black smoke from my back garden and I knew immediately that it could only be the Mosque.

At the time my friend was really upset because they didn’t know weather the arsonists were white racists or another sect of Islam. She told me that some muslim neighbours of hers (from another sect) were jumping and cheering in their front garden when they heard of the arson attack.

Thank God, it seems that the arsonists were a pair of stupid kids who had played a prank that went wrong.

Anyway, on our arrival to the Mosque we had to pass through airport style security including a metal detector archway and a bag xray conveyor belt. Once inside we had a tour of the Mosque. The men pray upstairs, the women pray downstairs. We learned a little about how they have arranged, but not forced marriages. They desire integration within the community – to a degree. They will not marry outside of the community.

Then we came back to the enormous events hall where I estimated 200 women were sitting down to dinner – prepared by the men of the community.  They respect and support each others clearly defined roles within the community as men and women.

Then we listened to some talks given by members of the community and also local councilors and our Local Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh. I cringed through her talk. Me and Siobhan have clashed big time in the past. She calls herself a Catholic who goes to Mass every week, but still managed to vote in favour of Gay Marriage a few years back. She was gushing about how she hopes to be able to be part of the support team to get the first female president of the USA elected next year. *Face palm*

The local councilors were just as bad. They described childrearing in secular leftie scientific terms and basically how they loved the Ahmadi’s so much because they believed in the separation of religion and state – which suits them just fine.

But I was very much impressed by the young lady who sang a few verses of the Qu’ran. Her voice was beautiful. It reminded me of how our priests sometimes sing the Mass – especially the Easter vigil Mass. But as far as I could make out they do not sing as a community. They don’t have hymns or anything like that. They don’t have the Psalms. (“I will raise you up on Eagle’s wings” has never looked so good as it does right now lol!)


Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – the Ahmadi Messiah.

Over dinner I was able to chat to the lady who had given us a tour of the Mosque. This is what I learned:

They wear headscarves but don’t cover their faces. They don’t believe in the Holy Trinity. The regard Jesus as a Prophet and cannot say his name unless they say “peace be upon Him” afterwards. They have Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many other similarities to the catholic faith. Prayer for them is predominantly reciting passages from the Qu’ran. They regard themselves as Gods slaves/servants. They do not have the Father/child relationship like we do. They hold Mary in very high regard.

Hell is not eternal for them, but a time of purification that ends in Heaven – we would call that purgatory. They do pretty much everything segregated into men’s or women’s groups. I actually am a big fan of this as it gives an immediate sense of community – especially as far as the men are concerned. They are all living the same life at different ages. It is a natural support network where you surrounded by other dads, brothers, sons ect. I think we could do with this in the Catholic church, or at least address the serious lack of support for men that we currently have.

Seriously – it was fascinating. The food was amazing! There were a few tense moments but I managed to avoid putting my foot in my mouth to any large degree! We obviously have some fundamental differences in our beliefs, but considering the Ahmadiyya community have been in the UK for 100 years and I have never really heard of them, I can see no reason why, with tolerance and respect from both sides, we cannot exist perfectly peacefully alongside each other. Unfortunately this does not apply to every Muslim sect.

Nobody brought up the migrant crisis.




Sitting at mass a few days ago I found my mind wandering. This is not unusual. It happens in prayer too – ALL THE TIME. It used to really bother me and so I used to really try to concentrate. Try harder! Pray harder! Block out all unwanted thoughts.

Of course, this was the fool’s way of approaching the situation.

What I was actually trying to do was suppress all thoughts I personally deemed as not holy enough for the situation of praying. Ha!ha! How stupid of me. Do I really think I can hide my thoughts from God?! He knows my thoughts before they enter my head. For goodness sake – He is permitting those thoughts to enter my head, even if they are placed there by Satan. God is in control.

Perhaps I thought If God knew what I was really thinking He wouldn’t like me as much? Perhaps I wouldn’t be good enough for Him? Ahhh… that’s another trick from the Devil.

I have learned since then how to allow my thoughts to manifest themselves during prayer, but without losing my focus on God. Now I am able to allow a thought to remain present, but view it from an objective point of view – from God’s point of view, rather than viewing it subjectively from my own point of view and allowing myself to become distracted by it.

This does require a certain amount of detachment. It also requires a rather large dose of compassion towards oneself and also the humility to accept our imperfectness. You also have to be solid in the reality of God’s unending mercy and love for you as His beautiful child. But once you are secure in those things it is possible to allow our thoughts the freedom to manifest themselves during prayer. We are then able to stand naked (as it were) in front of God – warts and all. And when we do, we can allow God to show us why He is allowing those thoughts to manifest themselves in our heads.


For instance – when I was sitting in Mass I suddenly found overwhelming thoughts of sex entering my mind. This is not particularly unusual for me (depending where I am in my cycle) as i’m sure it isn’t for many people.  I used to panic at thoughts like these as they seemed to be the most inappropriate, but now I just take a step back and observe them objectively alongside Christ. He Is my Father, I am His child, and He wants to help me as any good parent does.

I usually tell Him “Oh look! See what has just popped into my head? I  wonder why you have allowed that to arrive in my mind? Let’s look at it together.” 

Jesus holding child

So we sit together and observe the thought in complete honesty. I don’t try to hide it or suppress it, and I remain humble enough not to allow guilt or shame to overwhelm me. Sometimes it becomes apparent that this is something or someone that I need to be praying for. Very often it is simply to be honest in a situation in which I am struggling. But at other times it is because God is trying to teach me or show me something. The Holy Spirit doesn’t usually shout – He whispers, and we have to quieten our minds enough to hear Him.

This particular time a few days ago as thoughts of sex entered my mind, I sat alongside Christ in observing why He had allowed these thoughts to manifest – especially during Mass. I allowed Him to direct my thoughts and I felt a great sense of acknowledgment in regards to what it takes for me to live the Church’s teaching regarding marriage and sex. It’s not easy. It is completely different to contracepted sex. I am called to give everything during sex. A total gift of self. And every time I do it becomes not only a repeat of my wedding vows but also a total act of submission to God’s will. I literally couldn’t give anymore at that moment, physically, emotionally or spiritually. That just doesn’t happen during contracepted sex. But it does take a lot to give like that – God only knows! Because of that total gift of self I/we have brought 3 new lives into the world.

Anyway, during that moment as we observed this thought together He did fill me with this overwhelming sense of acknowledgment for giving myself entirely. Which was nice – because remaining open to life is one of  the hardest thing I have ever had to give.

He then directed my thoughts back up onto the altar. It was the consecration. :) God’s ways are perfect! He had taken me down the path of acknowledgment in all I had to give, so I could enter more deeply into the mystery of all He gave for me.

During that moment of the consecration, Jesus was present there on the altar, at Calvary, giving everything He was: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – for me. :)

Christianity is a love affair.


I realised at that moment that all I had to give was simply a response to His eternal declaration of love on the cross. In truth, I never would have reached the point where I was able to remain open to life without the Eucharist.

I felt suddenly incredibly special to Him – which of course I am. I wanted to throw my arms around Him. But He wants more than that. Through the Eucharist He wishes to actually dwell within me, just as I do in Him. I remained in that wonderful, beautiful moment for the rest of Mass, and for sometime afterwards.

Later that evening my thoughts were turned to the atrocities in Paris, and the fact that our western secular society, weakened by several generations of cultural marxism, is not strong enough to withstand a 60 million influx of muslim immigrants. I cried bitter tears as I came to terms with the fact that I was not willing to die for a society that honours gay marriage and kills millions of its own children through abortion.

I thought of the warnings and promises of Fatima, and stupidly viewed all these things subjectively  – which promptly became too much and overwhelmed me.

In the morning I was able to sit alongside Christ, objectively viewing these thoughts, and I became aware of my attachments to things I never considered I was attached to: my country, my national identity, my freedom, my safety etc. And then Christ directed my thoughts back 24 hours to the wonderful experience I had at Mass and I realised that He was asking me to respond to our current situation in exactly the same way. He was helping me understand that I was going to, or should I say am going to, be called to possibly give EVERYTHING in His name.


The only possible solution to the crisis we are facing as a society is Christianity. Now, God’s ways are perfect, and I am just wondering in a bizzar mathematical kinda way if Islam + Cultural marxism = the elimination of the problem of the lukewarm Christian – or perhaps a better way of saying it is: the rise of the solid faithful Christian on fire with the Holy Spirit.

One thing is certain – in the end Our Lady’s immaculate heart will triumph and we will enter the era of peace. But before that we will have to pass through the great tribulation. And we will all be called to give everything. I pray that this will lead all of us into a deeper understanding and appreciation of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and open our hearts to the indescribable joy that there is in this Sacrament. Because that is the one thing that will sustain us.


I keep wondering when Facebook is going to offer the Russian, Egyptian, Lebanon and Iraqi and Kenyan flags as overlays for people’s profile pictures along with the French flag. All these other countries have also been recent victims of ISIS terrorist attacks, some with much higher death tolls. Why is it that Facebook – a universal social media platform – would only offer the French one?

Are the French more worthy of our grief than the rest of the world? Are they more human?

I remember in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks almost every political leader in the known universe turned up to have a march and stand defiant against the ISIS thugs. I don’t remember that happening after the 7/7 bombings in London or any other terrorist attack for that matter? What was it about the staff at Charlie Hebdo that warranted such a massive reaction from political leaders, and such an atmosphere of bonding together in defiance and grief?

From left : European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and other heads of state take part in a Unity rally "Marche Republicaine" on January 11, 2015 in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree. The killings began on January 7 with an assault on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris that saw two brothers massacre 12 people including some of the country's best-known cartoonists and the storming of a Kosher supermarket on the eastern fringes of the capital which killed 4 local residents. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

In all honesty I would be mighty surprised if you, me or any of the political leaders even knew the names of the Charlie Hebdo staff, or anyone killed or injured in last weeks Paris attacks. What we are grieving isn’t the people lost in the attacks, but our society as a whole.

When attacks happen in Africa of the Middle East then they are sufficiently far enough away not to flag up on our comfort radars. Attacks in these countries are sometimes not even newsworthy we are so used to them. But people have still died. Are they any less human than the people who died in France? I don’t see any “Je Suis Egypt” signs.


We are grieving our comfort, our freedom, our own safety and that of our loved ones because the war has finally been brought to our doorstep – in our modern western society – where we can no longer ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Our pride is hurt because many of these young men who blew themselves up were born, raised and educated here, and yet still – they reject and want to destroy our tolerant, equal and diverse society that we have worked so hard to forge. They believed in their cause so completely that they were willing to die for it. And that sort of commitment and sacrifice scares the crap out of us.

I do not agree with ISIS vision of a pure Islamic state. I do not like the idea of becoming a second class citizen because I am a woman. I don’t want to have to convert to Islam or otherwise be killed. I don’t want to be forced to wear the Hijab. I like eating bacon and drinking beer. I do not like the idea of male or female genital mutilation. I do not want Sharia Law. I don’t like the idea of being gang raped and then accused of adultery. I do not like the idea of beheading ‘infidels’.

I am willing to die fighting against ISIS in as much as they are willing to die fighting me. But what is it exactly that I am trying to defend?

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner named "Woman of the year".

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner named “Woman of the year”.

Can I really say that I am willing to give my life defending a society that has just legalised Gay marriage? Would I be willing to die for a society that advocates the murder of millions of unborn children – especially if they are disabled? What about a society that allows a small cake business to be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because they refuse to make a cake for someone because it conflicts with their Christian beliefs? I’ve already lost my own cake business to this society for the very same reason – would I also be willing to lose my life to defend it?

The answer to all of the above questions is no.

You see, there is a second enemy, a silent and sneaky enemy who also desires to completely destroy our society – but this time from within. It has a name. It is called Cultural Marxism.


Cultural Marxism is the main ideological driver behind political correctness. It is the destructive criticism and undermining of all institutions of western civilisation and the traditional values underpinning it.

Brace yourselves for a short history lesson:

Ever since communism was first established in Russia, its admirers, fellow-travellers and ‘useful idiots’ have devoted their lives to achieving socialist control on a global scale. Countries within military striking distance of Russia were physically taken over after World War II, and those further afield subjected to a massive process of subversion by the Agitation and Propaganda Department of the Communist International (Comintern).

The Marxist revolutionaries realised that the workers of the advanced capitalist West were too affluent and comfortable to be used as agents of change in their longed-for revolution, so they decided to import foreign-born revolutionary pawns whilst simultaneously joining the lower rungs of all the important state institutions from where they could begin their long march toward destroying our countries from within.

One of the greatest achievements of this societal destruction is the fact that westerners are contracepting and aborting themselves out of existence.


The societal destruction we see all around us is not an unfortunate and unplanned side effect of socialist politics, because the destruction is all too deliberate. Karl Marx wrote of the anarchy necessary as a precursor to outright revolution, in which he would “stand astride the wreckage a colossus”.

Hungarian Georg Lukacs, an agent of the Comintern, whose reputation in the revolutionary world was on a par with that of Marx himself, said:

“I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution. A worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.” – Georg Lukacs

In 1923 Lukacs set up the Institution for Marxism at Frankfurt University, later renamed the Institute for Social Research which finally became known simply as the Frankfurt School. In 1930 Lukacs was joined by two other Marxists, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (below), but the rise of Hitler made it impossible for such Jewish Marxists to stay in Germany, so they decamped to New York City, where they set up an American version of the Frankfurt School, which became the birthplace of Critical Theory.

Theodor Adorno

Critical Theory is characterised by the destructive criticism of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism and conservatism. Critical Theory repeats the basic tenets of Western evil over and over again – racism, sexism, colonialism, nationalism, homophobia, fascism, xenophobia and imperialism.

In the 1950s the Frankfurt School attracted a new recruit, Herbert Marcuse, a communist who had also been forced to flee Hitler’s Germany. Marcuse wrote a book called Eros and Civilisation, which promoted free love and the pleasure principle, and was to transform American and Western society.


But Marcuse was an evil man. He genuinely wanted to overthrow the traditional West, and when asked who would play the part of the Russian proletariat in the Western revolution, he replied it would be all the marginalised groups, including black militants, feminists, homosexual militants, the asocial, the alienated, and Third World revolutionaries represented by student pin-up boy and civilian mass-murderer, Che Guevara.

The destructive policies of the Frankfurt school were known collectively as ‘cultural terrorism’. Today, they are known simply as political correctness, an ideology people are aware of, although very few know of its anti-Western, destructive, revolutionary roots. Anyone doubting this should ask themselves why the politically correct lobby, when critiquing our history and culture, directs its attacks exclusively at white, Christian, capitalist, heterosexual men.

And the simple answer is because such people and the qualities of such people laid the foundations, erected the props, and over many centuries built the various layers of intertwined ideology and substance that formed what we now know as Western civilisation. If their memory can be destroyed, the ideology destroyed and the race of people who currently represent that ideology destroyed, then Western civilisation can be destroyed and then be rebuilt in an atheistic communist based utopia.

History lesson over.


So you see, the post Christian society we are now living in is in what I believe to be the final stages of self destruction. Once they succeed in destroying the family there is very little left to hold it together. And we are left with a weak society of  self loathing individuals who are told ridiculous things like it is their fault that the terrorists attack them because they haven’t been inclusive enough with multiculturalism. And they are buying it.

I’ve already seen these sort of apologetic, self-flagellating articles in the left wing media. They have no idea that their principles and ideology of inclusion and diversity is simply designed to destroy their culture from within. They don’t understand that the destruction of the family and the isolation of the individual are goals of this great evil. But ISIS do, and they are taking full advantage of the weakness we have created.

Modern western society is weak and sickly. I cannot say that I would die to defend this society because the principles it is based on are just plain evil. Would you give your life to defend the right of homosexual couples to adopt children? No, and the vast majority of ordinary people wouldn’t either. And with the influx of 60 million refugees into Europe – mostly Muslim, it is looking like the Cultural Marxists objectives of dilution of national identity and total internal societal destruction are very close indeed to being fulfilled.

When we grieve for France, we are subconsciously pre-empting the much larger grief that we know we will soon be facing as a whole society. The death of the post modern, post Christian West. And for someone who does not have faith in God’s ultimate plan, this might seem like a very depressing thought.

However there is still time to re-discover the strong Judean- Christian roots that the West was founded on. And for the faithful Catholic there is the (as well as other Marian apparitions) Fatima prophecy of the Era of peace that will be ushered in after the great trial. There is also this:

“Whole nations will come back to the Church and the face of the earth will be renewed. Russia, China and England will come into the Church.” – Blessed Anna Maria Tiagi (19th century)

But I have to admit, if there was a cage fight between Cultural Terrorism and Radical Islamic Terrorism, I’m not sure who would win. It kinds reminds me of that scene out of Jurassic Park where the Velociraptors suddenly turn on the T-Rex, and you get to just quietly walk off to safety without either of them noticing.








Jesus’ most radical commandment was to tell us to love our enemies. But how is it possible to love radical Muslims if they are trying to kill you?

Well, I think it is entirely possible.

First of all we must recognise the humanity in each ISIS member. They too were made in the image and likeness of God. And this completely contradicts their own teaching that non-Muslims are infidels and sub human.

Secondly, Jesus didn’t say that to love someone you have to like them. He didn’t say that these people would suddenly not be your enemies anymore just because you have decided to love them. And He certainly didn’t say your enemies are allowed to walk all over you.

If you think Christian love equates to some fluffy hearts and flowers feeling where everyone gets along just fine, and we all live happily ever after then you are wrong. Whoever taught you that was lying to you. Love is not easy. It challenges us to our very core. Do you think it was easy and fluffy and feel-good for Jesus on the cross? No. Of course it wasn’t. And that is the most perfect example of love that humanity has ever had.

There is a fight to be had. Radical Islam is not going to go away quietly. And I for one want my children to be free to practice Christianity in the country they are growing up in. But as I said, it is important to respect that we are fighting human beings, not monsters.

I’m not sure how to love ISIS to be honest, but I think it starts with respecting that each member is a person that needs our help spiritually on the prayer and fasting level, to obtain the graces needed for them to recognise the great evil they have subscribed to and then reject it.

My dear friend Lynne has just finished her new book. It looks amazing for those of us with young families. I ordered my copy today! You can order your copy HERE and please come and like the Jesse Tree FACEBOOK PAGE

The Jesse Tree-1

By Lynne Drozdik Wardach

When I undertook the task of compiling material for this book, in no way did I ever envision it as a finished product. As any young Catholic mother, I strove constantly to weave the threads of the faith into the fabric of our daily lives wherever I was able. With the shopping, and baking, and wrapping, and visiting and every other secular activity that seemed to occupy the minds of my little disciples at Christmas time, it occurred to me that the preparation for the season seemed the perfect time to do just that, but how?

I began my search and fell upon the concept of the Jesse Tree. This was quite a novel idea to me at the time and reading the Old Testament scripture stories was something my children enjoyed already. As the advent season approached that year, I made a small list of their favorite stories, pulled out my parents’ old Christmas tree and set it up in the family room. We began with the creation of the world that year and my two oldest made little earths from some modeling clay, just as God would have done when He sculpted our world. We spoke of how God must have felt that day as He did so. “Do you think He ever mushed the world back up into a ball like that and started over, like you just did?” “Don’t forget those polar ice caps! Where do polar bears live?” My son made all the planets and the stars too as he loved to look at them at night. So much to learn! We ran a loop of string through each one, and tagged it with the child’s name and the year it was made.


“Don’t forget those polar ice caps!”

These precious creations are beloved still and grace our tree every year when these same little disciples, now adults themselves mind you, rush to the box to search for them. We talk now about those little lessons that went with each ornament, more deeply and practically now, of course. They remember all the little talking points I used when I was their primary teacher of life, illustrating God’s point for my little disciples. It was my goal at the time that they not forget any of them, so I wrote them all down at night after they went to sleep. This, dear parents…THIS is why I worked so hard compile it all and share this advent adventure with you.

At that time, my own mother looked me in the eye and tearfully and somewhat prophetically told me that THIS was the happiest time of my life. This was the busiest, craziest, messiest, most emotional time with five small children all clamoring for my attention, but it was wonderful! She was so very right. This activity was more to my family than just catechesis; it took those teaching points and attached precious memories that hopefully will live on in them when God entrusts them with their very own little disciples. Perhaps they will remember me too!


Now, to speak practically, it took me over fifteen years to write the material in this book. You may notice that there are 40 lessons. We are a Byzantine rite Catholic family, so for us the pre-Christmas preparatory season begins on November 15. It is called Philipovka, or St. Philip’s fast, because it begins the day after the feast of St. Philip and lasts for 40 days until Christmas. We realize this is much more material than the average Christian family might use in their own home as they celebrate Advent, but bear in mind that you need not use it every day to be practical. Some families may choose to do the even days one year, and the odd days the next. Some may do one per week, skipping around the lessons as they like and do more over the next several years.

In my own family, we did this, and found that as the children grew, it became more practical to review the story and the lesson and then let them search for past ornaments, now keepsakes, that they had made to adorn the tree. It may also be the case that the tree itself may be difficult to display due to space and size. A friend of mine has solved this dilemma by copying and laminating the icon that accompanies each lesson, and crafting that into a flat ornament to tack to a wall in her kitchen, in the form of a tree. Each family will come to use this book as it suits them best.


This book is intended to help each family develop a greater understanding of salvation history over the span of many years. The ways in which each family will use this material will also evolve over time and grow and change as the little disciples in the family grow and change. Use this in whatever way works best for you! I hope that it becomes a beloved tradition in your domestic church and that it brings your family as much joy as it has brought to mine.

God bless! Lynne x

Lynne Drozdik Wardach

Lynne Drozdik Wardach

The themes each day include reading the account from scripture as a family, a lesson for the children and making a Commemorative Ornament.
November 15    Introduction to the Jesse Tree
November 16    The Creation and Fall of the Angels
November 17    The Creation of the Earth
November 18    The Creation of Adam and Eve
November 19    The First Sin
November 20    Cain and Abel
November 21    Noah and the Great Flood
November 22    The Tower of Babel
November 23    Abraham
November 24    The Three Visitors
November 25    The Offering of Isaac
November 26    Jacob
November 27    Joseph
November 28    Moses
November 29    The Passover and Exodus
November 30    The Parting of the Red Sea
December 1    The Ten Commandments
December 2    Joshua and the Fall of Jericho
December 3    Gideon
December 4    Ruth
December 5    Samuel
December 6    David and Goliath
December 7    David the Shepherd
December 8    Elijah
December 9    Esther
December 10    Isaiah
December 11    Jeremiah
December 12    Micah
December 13    Habbakuk
December 14    Nehemiah
December 15    The Three Brave Youths
December 16    Daniel in the Lion’s Den
December 17    Jonah and the Whale
December 18    The Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel
December 19    Elizabeth and Zaccharias
December 20    The Visitation
December 21    John the Baptist
December 22    Joseph
December 23    The Magi
December 24    Jesus:  The Birth of the Messiah
December 25    Christ is Born!

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Gosh has it been 3 years since I made these cookies??!

Originally posted on Faith in our Families:

We had great fun this year making All Saints cookies!

My son chose to do St. Isidore – the patron saint of ‘not wanting to do your homework’ !

My 3-year-old daughter decided to do ‘St. Gingerbread-man’ ! (I decided not to argue with this comment until my son started singing “Pray! Pray! as fast as you can, you can’t catch me – I’m St. Gingerbread-man!”)

I would have liked to have shown you their efforts, but unfortunately both St. Isidore and St. Gingerbread-man were both suddenly martyred (eaten!) earlier on this afternoon. There is always next year!

Here are some that I made. There is a prize for the person who guesses all the names correctly!…

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The first thing we do is carve silly pumpkins. Traditionally these would have been hollowed out turnips with a candle in each, and there would have been one for each deceased member of the family. Another tradition says that the silly faces scare away the evil spirits roaming the earth on that night!


Next we make saints costumes. Here she is as Therese of Lisieux. And with a quick prop change she becomes Teresa of Avila!


Then we invite family round and share a great dinner. We had roast lamb. Yummy! Then we play games:


Hang man doughnuts…


Apple bobbing…


And All Saints bingo! I tell you something, it is the most exciting litany of the Saints you’ll ever participate in ha!

We also keep a big bag of sweets next to the front door to welcome the little local kids playing trick or treat. Most of them have no idea about All Saints. In fact most of them are not even Christian. But equally, clearly none of them are remotely interested in worshiping Satan – so I have no problem with giving them sweets!

What I would really like to do is think of a way of explaining that All Hallows Eve is actually a major Catholic feast day. I guess the more Catholics that start celebrating it the easier that will become.


By Fr. Dylan James.

Mt 5:1-12; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Rev 7:2-4.9-14
Today we keep the feast of ‘All Saints’.
Now, as it happens, lots of people in the parish seem to think I’m a saint. People OFTEN say to me, “Father, you’re so holy”.
This, obviously, is very nice. However, what I’ve gradually realised is that this statement almost invariably is rooted in a FALSE view of what a saint is:
People, or some people, think I’m holy because they have a mistaken view of what holiness consists of. 
What people ACTUALLY mean is, words to the effect of, “Father, you say Mass very precisely, with great attention, clearly aiming to talk to God. You’re reverent”.
The point I want to make to you today is that there is a difference between being reverent and being holy, being a saint. Reverence is a good thing, and important thing, a vital tool TOWARDS holiness, but holiness itself is something else.

Let me shift focus for a moment and consider I question I have put to you before:
What is the MEASURE of holiness?
If God was to line up all the people in parish, and evaluate the level of holiness of each one of us, the degree to which each one of us is or isn’t a saint, WHAT would be His measuring CRITERIA?
When I was a teenager I thought there was some complex measuring scheme: 35% humility, 12% prudence, 17% faith, 23% generosity etc.
However, when I went off to study theology, to look at truly complicated things, I learnt that God’s measuring tool is simple: LOVE.
The measure of merit of a good deed is the degree of love that it is, or isn’t, done with.
And, The measure of holiness of a person is the degree that love is, or isn’t, present in him.
Or, to put it another way, ‘holiness’ consists of being God-like, and “God is love”(1 Jn 4:8).
This is why the Lord Jesus says that the greatest commandment is the twofold command to LOVE God and our neighbour.

Let me add an important practical conclusion that follows from this:
love is something that EACH and every one of us here is capable of.
This means that, each and every one of us can be a saint.
Each and every person here can love in whatever state of life we are in.
Each of us can love God by praying to Him, 
and of course this includes reverently attending Sunday Mass, attending the form of worship He established in His Church.
And, each of us can love our neighbour, 
by living a life that is more focused on his or her needs than on mine.
There are true and false ways to love, but at root love is not complicated!
And with love comes JOY -the saints are not sad; heaven is a place of joy; and the joy in the heart of the Triune God is inseparable from the love there.

So, to conclude, is Father Dylan a saint? Is he holy?
The answer to this question lies simply in how loving I am.
It is possible for me to say Mass very precisely, but without love. 
But I can also say Mass lovingly, and draw the graces from the Mass that can enable me to be stronger, and to love more fully.

Today’s feast, when we recall ALL the saints in heaven, reminds us that saints are called from every walk of life: mums, dads, bus drivers, accountants, and more.
It is love that defines a saint. It is love that measures a saint. 
And the saints in heaven are saints for the simple reason that they loved, and still love, in heaven.


My new Black 5 piece set is for sale at £650

I have been wanting to make a Funeral/All-Souls set for a while now. Black is not usually seen nowadays in terms of vestments. Infact, I can honestly tell you that in my 35 years on this earth I have never seen a priest wearing black vestments. This really seems a shame because Read More…


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