Sunday, 19 May 2013

Church Decline; A Reason to be Fearful? Pentecost Prayer.

In the Catholic Herald this week there has been referance made to the decline in Church affiliation in Catholicism.

What the Figures Show and how they may be interpreted 

Just sayin'
For any of you that missed it the Latin Mass Society has collated figures from 1912 until now and these indicate that Catholicism in the UK peaked in the 1960s in relation to baptisms, ordinations and marriages (1964, 1965 and 1968 respectively), before a dramatic fall-off in each case. We now have less than half of the number of baptisms than in 1964, one quarter of marriages than in 1968 and only one tenth of 1965s figures for the priesthood.

Those being received into the Church peaked in 1959. Recently we have just a third of that level.

The Herald article quotes Dr Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, who has said the figures “show unambiguously that something went seriously wrong in the Church in England and Wales in the 1960s and 1970s. Catholics ceased quite suddenly to see the value of getting married, having large families, and having their children baptised. Non-Catholics no longer perceived the Church as the ark of salvation, and ceased to seek admission. Young men no longer offered themselves for the priesthood in the same numbers as before......[there is a connection to ] the wrenching changes in the Church at that time introduced by the Second Vatican this respect we are still living on our capital, and this capital is about to run out."

Put briefly he believes;
1 something has gone wrong in the Church between the 1960s and 70s.
2 Catholics are no longer seeing the value of marriage and baptism.
3 Catholics no longer have large families.
4 Catholics no longer see the Church as a vehicle of salvation.
5 This was as a result of Vatican 2
6 That this is a dire situation for the Church.

Is Dr Shaw right? 

Has something gone wrong with the Church since 1960s?

Clearly at first glance at the numbers it is easy to become despondent and it does seem to point to a cultural shift at that time.  However, underpinning these six points is an issue of faith; not just Dr Shaw's, but throughout the Church. 

The Context of Vatican 2

Vatican 2; Makes me want to ride a Vespa!
Let's return to that cultural shift. It is true that Vatican 2 was an important event for Catholics at that time. However, the Church is still in the World; the Kingdom of God being here, yet still something we wait for. As a result we have to view not only what went on within the Church but outside of it to identify what could have resulted in these recent figures.

The 60s were a time of challenging authority and the sexual revolution. Into this came the contraceptive pill. Prior to this time ALL church's taught that artificial contraception was wrong. Then in the 1930s, despite the warning signs that could be seen within the eugenics movement, the Church of England approved artificial contraceptives. This resulted in their acceptance by the majority of the main denominations and the Church stood alone in their condemnation.

In my next post I will give an overview of the importance of the Church's teachings on this matter, here I am just going to focus on this issue in relation to its effect on the membership of the Church.

Reactions from Liberals and Conservatives

Dr Shaw is of the Latin Mass Society and therefore I would assume he is of the more orthodox variety so I am assuming that his statements about the wrenching changes the council placed upon the Church were in relation to the liturgy and were negative. 

However the interesting thing about the council is that the more liberal members of our Church would also conclude that the lack of changes were negative; in particular the lack of changes in contraception. 

The responses to Vatican 2 from liberal and conservative have greatly affected the perception of the Church. Although we have all responded to them, the greatest impact upon the Church has been as a result of the responses to it from priests and bishops. 

Can We Ignore This Church teaching?

In terms of liberal priests and bishops many gave little credence to upholding the direction the Church had given. I have spoken to men and women from this period and they were informed that there decisions regarding this matter were between themselves and their consciences or God.

However, this is not true. The Catholic Church is infallible on teachings of Truth and morals. She is so not just when the Pope makes a solemn definition of an article of faith, or when the bishops are united with the Pope, but when She proclaims something to be Truthful as in the case of Vatican 2 and the Church's confirmation of the sinful use of artificial contraception. 

There are those who would say that not all the bishops were united with the Pope in this matter and therefore this is not infallible teaching. However, even if this were to be true, the Church has taught this about contraception since the first century (before even, if you count the teachings of Judaism) and this demonstrates the infallibility of the teaching due to Her ordinary universal magisterium

Therefore anyone not renouncing contraception who are Catholic can be said to be heretical and in schism with the Church. The result of this is that they have cut themselves off from the divine graces of the Church.

How would this affect the membership of the Church?

You sayin' Jon XXIII and Paul VI are wrong?!!!
We can see how the behavior of these priests and bishops can have such a devastating affect on the souls of those at the time and since.  But this has led to an unintended consequence as well. If you can ignore the Church's teachings on contraception surely you can ignore the other parts of the Church's teachings you don't like?

Don't believe a good God would send someone to hell if they're not baptised? Then surely the Church can be wrong about its need as well. How about the need to remain chaste both before and during marriage? Those ideas are as old fashioned as the teachings on contraception surely?  What about the need for a sacramental marriage? They're so expensive. Let's not even question why we're spending so much money on it when the glory of God is present and remove that one as well. Besides which divorces are more expensive and, as we think the Church is wrong about that too, we may need one. 

Liberals Alone?

It is not just the liberal element of the Church who are causing this mass, unconscious acceptance of the questioning of the Church. Notice how Dr Shaw declares the councils changes were 'wrenching'. This negative connotation questions the council's outcomes and their validity and is therefore committing the same act against the Church; if Vatican 2 was wrong how can you believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church from erring? Therefore, if the Church can err, we can pick and choose what we believe surely?

Once this doubt in the Holy Spirit's presence is ingrained then doubt about the Church being THE rock upon which Jesus built HIS Church will follow. It is no longer the ark of salvation as Shaw says. It is one road among many. 

"We are still living on our capital, and this capital is about to run out."

 We are so present and fleeting. We are aware of our imminent death, even if we don't recognize this in each  moment. Therefore we believe that only our time is the important one and decisions should be made for us now. In contrast, the Church looks at morality through eternity, hence She is slow to make moral pronouncements and wise to retain the moral truths handed down to her throughout the ages that have been shown to be of the for the good of humanity. 

In fact the Church isn't only eternal, it is universal. So it doesn't just view things from the perspective of the West or the East, the developed world or undeveloped. 

For us, when we hear news like this, it is all too easy to believe that this is he end of Christianity. However from the perspective of the Church we can see that persecution, both spiritual and physical, is a reality in each place and time. At the moment the West is suffering spiritual persecution, it too will pass. 

Remember these figures are in comparison to only 60 years ago when Catholicism was bouyant here. During that time our bouyant faith sent missionaries to Africa to save their souls. I know of an old lady who told me how she donated her pennies to just that cause. In my last parish my my priest was from Africa, come to save us and she often wondered about the pennies and how theys eemed to be paying dividers in her country now.

At that time also the Russian Church was being physically persecuted. It's destruction was believed, particularly by its persecutors, to be inevitable.

One of the interesting things about my blog is seeing just how many hits I have had from Russia. At one time their we more than from the UK and the USA put together. They are not overcome.

We ARE Jesus's Church and, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, He never promised us that it would be easy. He did promise though that hell would not prevail against Her, our Church. God prunes and then he grows. If you doubt this and you are afraid pray and ask God to show you the truth of it. God constantly reduces his people to a remnant and from them he rebuilds.

If you are concerned then you are part of that remnant and you have work to do. Today is Pentecost. Pray for God's Holy Spirt, pray to determine what God wants you to do and for the courage to do it.

Spirit of Christ, stir me;
Spirit of Christ, move me;
Spirit of Christ, fill me;
Spirit of Christ, seal me.
Consecrate in me Your Heart and Will, O Heavenly Father.
Create in me a fountain of virtues.
Seal my soul as Your own, that Your reflection in me may be a light for all to see. Amen.

Please share any revelation from God in the comments section to give others comfort and courage. Godbless.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Gosnell; Justice and Mercy

The trial of Kermit Gosnell has come to an end and, as Tim Stanley points out in his article in The Telegraph blogs, it raises an important question for Catholics. Gosnell now faces the death penalty. The Catholic Church itself does not rule out completely the death penalty; how could it? Jesus himself never did in the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-30). In fact meditating on this it can teach us how to respond and why as Catholics.

Politics and the Death penalty

The first thing is that as human beings our motives for wanting this form of justice are not always pure.  The woman is caught in the act of adultery (John 8:4), there is no denying her guilt. However, the motivations of those who brought her before Jesus are highly suspect.  Not only does the gospel writer question their reasons for bringing her (John 8:3-6 they made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" they were using this question as a basis for accusing him.") but the fact that they do shows their hypocrisy. Despite being caught in the act and therefore there must have been someone with her, her male partner is ignored. 

In this society women are weak and therefore she is politically expedient. As Christians we should have been involved in the long hard battle to oppose abortion.  Whether that is to make it illegal, or as my friend would put it, unthinkable through education. Yes, it's right and just that we stand Gosnell before the media and therefore society. He, unlike the woman in the encounter with Jesus, was not weak.  His actions were ignored because it was politically expedient to do so; the weak ones were the children killed. However, the manner in which we stand him before society must be carefully considered.

Humanity and the Natural Law

In bringing the woman before Jesus in this way she is a pawn in a game of politics; her humanity is lost. By losing her humanity her accusers lose the point of the Law. Adultery is adultery because of natural law. We are the only ones in all the animal kingdom who are accountable to it despite our freedom to ignore it. 

If we stand Gosnell before those who uphold abortion and forget his humanity we too will undermine the natural law by undermining the sanctity of life. 

We do not have the right or ability to determine who lives and who dies, hence our inability to give the death penalty. 

I say we do not have the ability as, due to original sin, none of us are immune to the frailties of our humanity in attempting to detrmine whose life should be taken. This is why Jesus says "let those who have no sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7). This, I believe, refers not only to the fact that we are guilty and therefore unqualified but that our guilt impedes our judgement of others.  It gives us hearts of stone, not of flesh and blood. 

Is the Death Penalty Ever Justified?

I know people may disagree with me because Gosnell's crimes were so abhorrent, his victims so innocent, surely even in our brokeness, we can confidently give this verdict.

This is a controversial position. As I previously said Jesus does not deny that the law calls for death.  When people cry out for justice in this manner they are echoing one of the two most powerful cries that have repeated throughout the ages; "Why does a good God allow these things to happen?"

Justice demands retribution. Love demands mercy.

However if, as Christians, we focus only on the retribution we deny the triumph of the cross.

Jesus died to atone the sins of all mankind; those of Kermit Gosnell too. 

To end Gosnell's life now, before any repentance shown for the evil he has committed, will probably result in his spending eternity cut off from the grace of God. He deserves this, but I do too.

In my other posts I have spoken about how I have terminated a pregnancy.  I am not as guilty as Gosnell in number, knowledge, barbarity etc, but I am still guilty.  

If I compare myself to my mother, who has lived all her life as a holy, devout woman -  righteous as they would say in the Old Testament - in her shadow I have been barbarous destroying life. Yet I believe God has forgiven me.

Look at others, such as John Newton who also disregarded the sanctity of life within his fellow humans; forgiven, redeemed, set free. To deny that this could happen to Gosnell denies the power of God.  

What Happened to the Woman?

We never hear of her again in the Gospels.  Did she leave a changed person.  Stood before Jesus He never denies or legitimises her guilt; "Go and sin no more".

When they first brought her to Him how did she feel? Frightened? Surely, she knew she was facing death. Defiant? Angry? The men dragging her before Him, she must have known of their reputations? Despite her guilt she may have been overcome with the injustice of that.  Then here she was before Jesus. His actions - kneeling to write in the sand, his careful consideration - must have confused and stunned her. Then, the others leave until it must have felt like it was just the two of them.

As she looked at Jesus then did she have a sense of who He was?

She doesn't run. She waited. Is this because she starts to realise that there is no escaping from Him? "Then I condemn you neither".

I think at this stage she must know that not only does he have the power to do so, but the moral authority.

I say this because Gosnell too must be going through similar emotions.  It is evident that he is not the only practitioner of later term abortions and he will convince himself of the injustice of his situation. However if we uphold Christ's stance, be his body, Gosnell may have something of the encounter with Him. How will Gosnell respond?

The other cry is the opposite, but related; "Why would a good God send anyone to hell?"

The answer is, of course, Christ doesn't. We reject or accept His mercy. If we accept there can be no illusion as He sees all, knows all.  This is why we can allow His will, not ours, to be done in this matter. 

To stay our hand in calling for the death penalty we not only demonstrate Christ, but our faith in His reality and justice.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In the fight against abortion what can we learn from Wilberforce?

I have just been reading Mark Shea's article on the Catholic channel at Patheos. In it he discusses the tactics used by Live Action to secure the evidence to reveal the practices of abortion providers in the states in order to promote the pro-life agenda.
One of the responding comments struck me;

It's interesting and sad that the most controversial things on this blog are always Mark's pro-life and pro-truth commentaries. There are always people upset about the possibility that the death penalty won't be used enough, that wars against assorted bad guys won't be waged enough and that abortionists won't be lied to and tempted enough. With respect to the last, which is done in the name of exposing what abortion is really like, I am quite pessimistic. The problem is not that people don't know the reality of abortion; it's that they don't care. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect the best we're going to get in the Gosnell case is a hung jury and maybe an acquittal. Hardened hearts will not be appealed to by more of the same information obtained by deceit. We need more prayer and fasting.
Kirt Higdon

I have responded to him on that website, but would like to develop my argument here.

William Wilberforce is a fantastic role model to turn to in times of despair. He too faced a strong, powerful movement supported by government that denied the humanity of others and used them to make themselves richer.  So what can we learn from Wilberforce?

"Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country."

Wilberforce himself became ill from the battle, but he remained committed to God's will and encouraged others to do the same.

Although Kirthigdon doubts the ability of people to care, the pro-life journey in America has already changed people and been inspirational. Our pro-life movement in the UK is pitiful by example.  In the US you have pro-life marches, you started to prayerful ministries such as 40 days for life outside abortion centres, each year you politicians must debate abortion as a central issue.  Already on a global scale you are doing God's work.  I doubt if it would be as prominent in other countries if you weren't fighting the battle so passionately there. 
Although you may not see yourself as world leaders in this instance, you have been God bless America for that. 

Wilberforce focused on the humanity of those he was trying to liberate.

I think people do care. People have been badgered into being pro- abortion for so long that they now believe that that is the morally right thing to be and as people want to be good, they choose the 'pro-choice' option. 

They also believe the lies about the development of the foetus. 

I have heard the arguments about whether to show pictures of aborted fetus' or not and, having been a secondary school teacher of RE for many years I would suggest in the majority of cases I would say we don't need to.
We just need to use new technology to show the development of a foetus; it's rational proof itself. The majority of young people question abortion on those grounds alone.
This foetus at six weeks gestation is clearly human and shocks my pupils whenever I show it.  

Introduce people to the wonder of the development of a human being within the womb. All around us people are showing scans of their expected infants, encourage them to talk about this openly and get them to reflect publicly how awesome this is. Know the development of the foetus yourself in order to develop the conversation. This doesn't even have to be aligned overtly to a pro-life cause; you are sowing seeds, God will make them grow.

Support the guilty into confessing, finding peace and speaking Truth.

I am a great believer in those of who've had an abortion speaking about against it.  I have personally in the past been invovled a discussion about the practice and, although I was making relevant arguments, each of them was responded to not with any counter argument, but a statemernt to teh effect that I was Catholic so would think that way.
Finally I stated that I didn't believe this because of the Church and it's teaching, but because I ahd experience it, and it was begative.  The person I was talking to were quiet for some time and then said "actually, my aunt has also and she says the same thing".
People who ahve been through abortion need healing.  Like Eve at the foot of the tree they ahve been lied to and they pay an enormous price for this deception and they're betrayel (the responsibility always rests with you). 
However, like Eve God stepped in to comfort (with Eve by providing ehr with clothes and the hope of return) and redemption in the form of Jesus.  we need to bring Jesus to them so they can accept this redemption. It needs to be done with love, prayer and close attention tot eh Holy Spirit for guidance.
As people acknowledge and receive aabsolution it is important for them to know that, not only are they forgiven, but they have a unique place in ther edmption of man in this matter.  I have spoken about this in more detail here (Does God give us a second chance? Abortion, Adoption and Grace).

Tell people it's inevitable that laws supporting abortion are overturned.

Use a tactic from the socially liberal and gain support by pointing to the inevitability of the success of the argument. 

We have God on our side.

Mark Shea makes a good point on his website; it is immoral to try to obtain good through morally wrong acts.  However i would go a step further; it is also unnecessary.
Evil always tempts us into disbelieving the Truth in God's promises.  Think of Eve's temptation. Satan asks her why God will not eat from any tree; completely untrue and he is corrected by Eve.  God has said that can not eat of the tree of knowledge or they will die.  At this point Satan says "you will not die"; in other words, God's a liar.
She eats the fruit, she dies.
The temptation in a fight like this is to believe that God lied, or was as truthful as He could be, when he said the gates of hell will not prevail, that He has won.
Don't believe the lie.  Be like Mary.  Accept the Holy Spirit in order that you can say "Thy will be done", then step into the unknown. It took 33 years, fleeing to Egypt, years of slander and watching her beloved son crucified before Jesus destroyed death.

I note that Mr Higdon already turns to prayer to bolster himself.  Nevertheless, I have found an additional quote from John wesley to William Wilberforce that can be used in this occasion;
But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even [abortion] (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Making biscuits for my baby and looking for advice on how to help my husband...

Heaven at home.

I woke this morning to the sweetest thing. My darling daughter had woken up at 6am and I went to get her. Despite the early time her smile was so beautiful and trusting. My husband was also awake and getting ready for work so I took her into bed with me with the prayer all mothers must pray; 'Please, just ten minutes more. Just fall asleep with me for ten more minutes.'

She didn't.

In spite of this I had a lovely experience. She rolled over and kissed me on my mouth, dummy still in, with a loud mmmmmmwwwah! I opened my eyes and she stared down at me with her eyes open, smiling into mine. She then sat up and back and grinned down at me. I couldn't resist and she knew it!

My husband came in to give us both a kiss and off to work he went.

How being dependent liberates you for love.

Some people talk of a mother being at home as if it we're slavery. I know it feels like society does not appreciate it, but I also kow my husband does. He leaves from the warmth and the love to go into the world. Having had two demanding careers I know the stress and strains he faces.

Last evening he came home from work with a worried demeanor. I asked him what the problem was. In a way I can relate to he tried to dismiss my queries. All I could do was hug him.

I tried to ask again some time later, but still no response.

When I worked outside of the home I didn't share my work problems with him either. We seem to have set up a loving relationship that coexist, in parallel, yet are still separate.  By staying at home his fortunes become mine, his worries mine.  We have never been so together as there is no get out option. I am dependent upon him.

It has become fashionable to decry this situation, but in a way it is liberating.  By making myself vulnerable I open myself truly to love.  Whereas in the past I had no need to continue to search as to what the problem was I now have, but also a deeper love out of the appreciation that he bears these stresses for us and appreciates what I contribute.

But how do I help?

I am here in a warm kitchen baking for my family and I'm wondering; how can I support my husband?

If there is any advice I would great fully receive it.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Now it's wedding season....

I have just been reading Father Alexander Lucie-Smith's blog post in the Catholic Herlad.  In it he says how Pope Francis talks abuot his concern that couples are using church weddings as a means to show off, rather than for religious motives. He goes onto say that, whereas Pope Francis doesn't know how to handle this, he (Father Alexander) spends his time trying to encourage couples to marry as living
together has become such an acceptable option.
I must say, because of the wonders this sacrament can bring about, I'm in agreement with Father Alexander .

My big fat nominal wedding.

As I have previously mentioned in other blog postings, I was always a believer in God; yet I wouldn't describe myself as having faith.  I would argue for the existence of God in a pub with someone, for example, if they claimed their unbelief because of suffering or another reason.  However I didn't attend Mass except on Christmas Eve when I was normally tipsy, I only really prayed when I was in trouble and was one of those people who thought that I could commune with God more outside in nature rather than a stuffy old building but never actually did. (As a sidebar why when we say that are we always imagining a sunny day, never it raining etc?).

When my husband and I prepared for our wedding I started to look at secular venues in the first instance.  Gradually I moved from these to CofE Churches and eventually turned back to a Catholic Church.  I would like to say that this was a result of thoughtful spiritual progress but, although I believe it was an act of the Holy Spirt as a result of the blessings of infant baptism, it was mainly a decision based upon the aesthetic.

Born again in the Holy Spirit.

Just a little less than a year after my husband and I got married I had a conversion experience over a period of time and on Palm Sunday I felt a sense of the numinous.  After this I went to Church not just on Sundays, but on weekdays and Saturdays as well.  My friends and I used to got to Saturday morning mass and afterwards we would say a rosary together whilst we waited to confess.  

On one occasion a wedding party started to arrive.  My friend and I noticed a young teenage girl who was wearing a skirt far too short for any, let alone this, occasion.  My friend was older than me and was shocked, but compassionate towards the girl.  I, having lived the wrong kind of life for many years without knowing it in this post  sixties generation, felt not just compassion and shock, but complete empathy with her.  

We both thought how sad it was that she did not have an awareness of just how inappropriate her attire was as she stood before the blessed sacrament. 

God is humble and will do anything to bring us home.  And we all have a part to play in this redemption.

I was struck suddenly with a reflection of myself and God's grace.  

Not long ago I had had my wedding in the very same Church.  I had not had a nuptial mass. The reasoning I gave was that my husband is an atheist/agnostic and most people there didn't believe, therefore the mass would be too long.  The reality was that the thought of having a mass for myself was too much of a burden; how boring! (I am blushing now).

Nevertheless, just prior to my wedding the mass had been celebrated by the faithful and the blessed sacrament was present in that room as a result.  Sitting there and looking at that young girl I suddenly had a sense of the wonder of this; all these people that were unknown to me and me to them had celebrated Jesus and in so doing had given me a wonderful gift.

I believe our marriage has been blessed by God; the ceremony (like the eucharist and baptism) are not just signs and symbols.  They are a reality that, if we choose to say 'thy will be done', can break in and transform not just our lives and relationships but other people's as well.

Leaving with the presence of God.

Poor Toby!
All the preparations for this day had been meticulous and intricate; yet I had missed the meaning of the marriage itself.  I had ignored my husband to be's distress in relation to the cost and threw paddy's when my extravagance was questioned.  My dress alone cost nearly £2000.00 that we could not afford. When people now comment on my dress in the photographs around the house I agree it's beautiful, but I wish I'd spent the money more wisely. Toby often jokes that our wedding outfits should have had 'Sponsored by Visa' on the back.

However, when I left the Church a married woman the thing that I was most struck about was the sacrifice the guests had made to attend our day.  I remember standing in the reception line enthusing over what the female guests were wearing. I was a little ashamed; I had spent the time preparing begrudging some people a seat at my table because of the cost.  Yet here they were in expensive attire bought for our day, staying in hotel rooms paid for to remain close by, with gifts and having travelled long distances to get there just to celebrate with us. It was very humbling and I have no doubt that this was the Holy Spirit beginning to work

This sacrament has meaning.

What was more surprising was that, following the mad expense and the bridezilla moments, Toby continually played with his wedding ring the following the day.  He had married for me, having always said that he was in it for life and the 'piece of paper' didn't make any difference.  As we drove back to our hotel he said to me how he suddenly had realised the importance of it all.  Throughout the honeymoon he played with his wedding ring, a ring he had previously considered not wearing after the ceremony, thinking about our commitment.

It has now become my favourite question to ask grooms; do you feel different? So many of them answer yes in spite of any misgivings before hand.

We often talk of the Church as a bride for the groom Christ.  When we are faithful to him we transform not just our lives, but those around us.  

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Let's here it for the boys!

I just managed to get this one in before the day is over!

Today is the feast day of Joseph The Worker and I wanted to say a little something about the dignity of men.

I am very lucky; I have a wonderful husband. The week before we got married we had our rehearsal and then a barbecue at my parents house.  I don't get on that well with one of my brothers because of our opposing views on faith (please pray for us) and he made the comment "If you two get divorced you know we're going to keep Toby don't you?"
I was just about to get all uppity when I though "You've got a point, I'd keep him too."

Since we've adopted our little girl I often complain.  It's a big change.  Being a SAHM is hard.  There are benefits to it over working, but believe me when I say it's certainly not easier.  Nevertheless, I have had the full support of my husband each step of the way.

I don't mean that he likes the 'little wifey' at home.  When he's come home, far too often, to my complaints and distress he's cooked dinner, he plays with our darling daughter and comforts me. It's embarrassing to write this.  You see, I told you I'd take him in a divorce hearing.

There are times when I get a bee in my bonnett about things.  I work myself up into a fury over the most inconsequnetial things like he's left his coat lying on the back of chair in a room that I've just cleaned.  If you knew what was being said in my head at those times! But then I think about what he does and I'm ashamed.

So often he comes home and talks about how much he misses us.  He gives me the space to raise our daughter and takes on the financial burden. I genuinely think he and Jospeh would meet in a heavenly tavern and share a cordial pint.

We've forgotten about how wonderful men are.  

I don't mean in the way those awful adverts depict men nowadays,  I'm thinking of the Diet Coke ads and those like them; genuinely if it's demeaning for women it's demeaning for men.

No I mean how men can be self-sacrificing and stoic.  How they support you when you're days gone wrong.

The difficulty with forgetting this and painting men as the enemy  is that we already diminish the next generation of boys.  When I was teaching I was involved in cross curricular work involving bottom set group to encourage attainment.  Bottom set groups are predominantly male and working class.  Girls have outstripped boys academically for years.  What was presented to these boys to intice them to learn more? Herstory. A focus on women throughout the centuries and how they'd been unjustly treated. I'm not joking.

Why is this so unjust?

What do you mean I'm a misogynist?
Once I was teaching the Indigenous People of North America (I was an RE teacher) and was focusing on vision quests.  This is a ceremony were young boys were encouraged to go off on their own in a sweat tent, after drinking a concoction, to receive a vision of how they would contribute to the greater good.

Following a stilling exercise all of the class were meant to design a shield showing who they wanted to be.  All the boys were busy drawing symbols to represent racing car drivers, footballers etc.

One boy spoke to me, he was a very quiet, modest sort of boy. He could't think of what to draw.   I asked him "What do you want to be?".  He replied "Nothing really.  I just wanted to do the normal stuff.  Get married, have a family and look after them.  You know, make sure we have a nice house, things like that."  I spoke about the fact that we used to call that a breadwinner.  He was so excited, there was a name for what he wanted to be.  His simple desires weren't so rediculous after all.

What I hadn't noticed as we were speaking was that the room had gone quiet.  Gradually, hand by hand, each boy in the room asked for a fresh piece of paper.  When I asked why I was told they wanted to start again.

I was left with the overwhelming feeling that we had removed their dignity as men of the future, and in this process we hadn't added to the dignity of women at all.

Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen. 

Women Use Your Vote!!!

In my post "Be Brave" I spoke about how Stay At Home Mums had a unique position in our society to challenge what has become the consensus in politics itself. One of these is that it is better for women to go to work than to stay at home.

However, just because I am a stay at home mum does not mean I do not value the voice I have through my vote.  Without the voices of mothers I believe that politics is hollow. However the way I have used, and plan to use, my vote has changed dramatically as a result of what I have witnessed in my years on the workplace.

Labour in my blood!

All my life I have been a Labour voter.  I grew up in the era of 'Maggie'; and my family did not see her as a good person! We were traditional, working class, aspirational people.  My mother and father instilled in me the value of education and the need to get on as well as pride in my background.

Doubts about the social revolution.

Having worked in the police for a significant amount of time I began to see that the sexual and social revolution of the 1960s had only resulted in the poor becoming more marginalised.  When you have the chattering classes promoting ideologies that negate the belief in free will and promote the idea that people are just victims of circumstance the people who end up paying are the poor.  It is not wealthy, middle class magistrates that give people another chance in their courts; it's their neighbours.

Added to that I met the 'families' that were the result of the relaxed attitude to marriage and sexual licence.  It's not pretty.

I became a police officer at the start of Labour's reign and guess what? The poor remained poor.  They just had Sky and plasma TVs now. They also ahve lots of time to harass those families that are working and can't afford the Sky or plasma TVs. Again, it's not pretty.

Having been in the police I became a teacher and moving to a more 'caring' prefession only ensured that I became more convinced that this revolution, far from being glorious, was soul destroying.  Try and sit through an assembly where the theme is 'don't get your kit off in front of an internet camera because the person on the other end might be a dirty old perv' and not have it make your blood boil.  Note, it's not because you should respect yourself and your body, it just might not be who you think it is on the other end.  

Crossing over to the dark side.

About five years ago I voted Conservative for the first time.  Me, a public sector worker in the middle of a recession voting Conservative!  I swear I woke in the middle of the night, at about 3.30, with a flashback; I'd just voted Conservative.  There was an action replay in my dream of my drawing a cross next to the Conservative candidate.  I think it might have been the screams of my ancestors that awoke me.

The biggest joke is I voted Conservative just when they stopped being Conservative!

Yes that's right, the Conservative party now believe it is better for women to be working and their developing the themes, and resulting social chaos, that have resulted in the glorious revolution.  Look at the following for evidence;

As Peter Hitchens points out,
it's never a factory worker when working women are depicted.
Also, where are the calls for equal amounts of female bin-men?

If not the Conservatives then, where else do I go? 

Who will value my role as a mother? Who will value my choice?

Certainly not the Liberal Democrats 

Who will I vote for tomorrow? Like Peter Hitchens I would like a true, socially conservative party on offer to me as a voter.  For too long now the Conservative Party has been about money and not about values.  In order to get this I think it needs to be made clear that we need another voice.  However, unlike Hitchens, I do not think that not voting will enable us to do this.  It is far too easy for political parties to blame 'apathy' for the lack of turnout at general elections and, let's face it, as long as they have power they don't care if a good majority of the country didn't vote for them.

This year I'm voting UKIP.  I am concerned about the legislation passed down from the European courts which seems to be affecting our society, although I love Europe itself (always fancied going to live in France!). More importantly  here is a party that can legitimately register your disaffection and actually hurt the mainstream parties!