Sunday, 20 January 2013

You gotta love a mantilla...

...even snow-women enjoy wearing them!

Fab pic from defende-nos-in-proelio.blogspot.com

Glory

Napoleon, Battle of Rivoli
This morning at Mass Fr. Dominic (who's helping out Fr. Terence whilst Fr. Richard is away) gave a very good and very interesting homily. One of the (many) things he talked about was the disciples having seen the glory of Christ. He referred also to the Prologue in St. John's Gospel where the Evangelist says "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) and was saying how the glory that the disciples saw, the glory of Christ, was not based upon his power but instead was a radical revelation of the truth of who he was. It got me thinking about the way in which we picture glory. In art we often see kings, tyrants, emperors and soldiers depicted as shining,  glorious heroes, flanked by horses, tanks, ships or armaments with many others crowding around, straining to catch a little of their light. Glory becomes just a show of strength, a display of someone's physical and political power and, quite often, it is a lie. One thing that you're always told when studying history is that the tale is told by the victor, the sequence of events is frequently altered to portray the winners as not just victorious but as more virtuous than their opponents, propaganda is produced to slur the 'other side' and 'big-up' the 'good guys', thus making the whole situation very black and white. This 'jigging' of the facts usually means that the story we are told is not was really happened...just look at Richard III. In effect the facts become like paint on an artist's brush; they are creatively swept across the page to make the story more...dramatic and appealing.

Christ's glory, as Fr. D was saying, is nothing like that although perhaps in paintings and the like you get the impression it might be. In fact is that not who artists try to make their subjects look like; a modern figure of Christ, saving the people or nation from some great evil or oppression? But whilst Jesus may well be powerful, he is God of course, when he reveals his glory to his disciples at Cana, in his other miracles (like raising Lazarus from the dead) and, ultimately, in his suffering, death, resurrection and ascension we don't see a soldier or a hero in the classic sense. He doesn't have an army around him charging on horseback or firing deadly weapons. What we see is extreme, yes, it is him. When he hung dying on the cross what those around him (especially his mother) saw was Jesus. He was disfigured and bloody from his painful journey to Calvary, he didn't look like a Hercules or any powerful warrior that popular story telling would conjure up. He was laid bare, God had become man and was dying, literally dying to save mankind from death. What the disciples saw after the resurrection was Jesus, no longer a suffering man, no longer a corpse but the Son of God. He showed them that what they had thought and believed before was true. He opened their eyes to see him, to truly see him, and sent them out to go and do the same to everyone else. That's what glory is really about; truth. All those other things like power and wisdom and strength all stem from that. And what makes all of this so exciting and compelling here and now in 2013 is that if we ask, just ask, we can see his glory too. Problem is we have such silly preconceived notions about what he should or shouldn't look like we often miss him.

It was after receiving our Lord in the Eucharist this morning that I realised that this, this is what his glory looks like. It's not armies of golden angels singing, it's not bright and gaudy; it's what is in this little piece of bread. Jesus, my God, my Saviour, became man. Jesus, my God, my Saviour, lived and worked and breathed the Good News. Jesus, my God and Saviour, suffered and died to save me from everlasting death. Jesus, my God and Saviour, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven that I, though utterly unworthy, may one day follow and now he, who truly is God, is now in this little wafer, it is him. This tiny piece of dry bread has become the Body of my Lord, the love of my life and he does it out of love for you and me. What I see is him, Jesus pure and simple. And that's more glorious than my teeny tiny mind can fathom.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

That's not my name

I have three names that no one can ever spell right. Katherine Anne Rickards. Doesn't look hard but apparently it is. Most people spell my first name with a C or stick a Y in there, most drop the E from my middle name and pretty much everyone at some point tries to call me RICHARDS. But, no matter how many times they say or write it, it's simply not my name.



After 23 years you'd think I'd be used to being called whatever people decide my name is. One of my colleagues, Micaela, gets some very weird and wonderful variations upon her name (seriously, no one seems to understand the name Micaela) about which we all chuckle and the shop favourites are; Kelly-Rae, Michael-A and Paul (yes, that really was one). But somehow I've never liked being called anything other than my given name. Never liked spelling it differently, never liked nicknames. Ultimately I like the name Katherine, don't see why I should be called anything else. Plus when I was at school there was another Katherine (who preferred Katie) and another Katy, I have a cousin called Kate, had a hairdresser called Kathy and never liked Kath or Kat. And, as my close friends and colleagues will testify, I will quickly (and, ahem, sharply) correct anyone who gets it wrong, not excusing my baby sister who spelled my name incorrectly on the front of my Christmas card. On post-its and emails I do relent a little and abbreviate my name to K@ and K for ease for typing/writing but would never like to be called either of those. There is one man, one man in the whole world whom I allow to call me Kathy (even though I really, really don't like it) and to repeatedly spell my surname Riccards. The reason for this exception to the rule is that he's the nicest person I've ever met, very gentle and kind and considerate and I haven't the heart to correct him (I did the first time we met, but, bless him, he forgot). Last year when he came in for a sight test he called me Kathy in front of my colleagues and they were all amazed I didn't tell him off, he got awfully embarrassed and asked if he'd offended me. They said it was probably some kind of honour that I didn't reprimand him!

Recently a select few individuals (you know who you are...) have taken to trying to annoy me from time to time by trying to come up with an alternative. I have thought about this long and hard and since I don't like being blunt with people when they err I have decided to come up with a list of acceptable and unacceptable names.

Names I will answer to...

Katherine
Katherine Anne (my mum calls me that when I'm in trouble...)
Katherine Rickards
Miss Rickards

Names I will not answer to...

Kat
Kay
Kate
Katie
Katy
Catherine
Katharine
Kathryn
Catharine
Kath
Kathy
Katty
Kat-Kat
Kit-Kat
Karry
Cassie
Katerina
Catalina
K
K-K
Kathyrine
Krickards
K-Dizzle
Krickle
Kricky
Krickler
Kraj
Victoria (my VO teacher used to get my friend and I confused)
Helen (my VO teacher called both Vic and I this at some point)
Katski
Katrina
Katrine
Catrine
Katalicious
Big K
Little K
Special K
Kat Rick
Kathene
Kaf
Kafrin
Kaffy
Kafferine
Kathleen
KAR
Broom (my sister went through a phase of calling my this when she was like 5)
Oi!
Oi, you!
Madam
Missus
Luv
Pet
Miss Richards
Miss Rickerds
Miss Bickards

Use any of the not accepted names at your own peril...

Thinking about Lent already?

Even though Christmas has only just ended it won't be long until the penitential season of Lent is upon us. This year Ash Wednesday is 13th February, so just under a month away. I know people think Lent is all miserable and gloomy but it's not really unless you choose to let the fasting and alms giving and abstinence make you grouchy. Personally I love it a it's a chance to reorientate ourselves on God, reexamine our lives and trim the fat that keeps us from a fuller communion with him. All that said why am I thinking about Lent now? It is still a month(ish) away. Well normally I put little to no thought into what I give up for the forty days; my default one is coffee which, although not easy, doesn't really stretch me either. So this year I feel I ought to try a little more, find something that does make a difference when I give it up, something that I put too much time and energy into that is not leading me to God. I've thought long and hard and, well, I'm going to give up my iPhone for Lent.

I've realised over the past few months I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing with my phone, I'm writing this blog post on it now, in fact my whole life is ruled by this thing; my diary is on it, I do my email on it, do my shopping on it, my missal and breviary are on it, I do everything on my phone. On the odd occasion I forget it I can barely function! So I think it would be good for me on so many levels to be without it for forty days. My plan, since I do still need a phone to be contacted by work and when I'm in London etc., is to buy the cheapest, most basic mobile I can find and top it up with £20 and that is all I am allowed to use. Can't top it up any more than that. Will I manage? Goodness knows but it'll be good for me to try.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sin and Confession

I love...pretty much everything about being Catholic, even the things most people find uncomfortable like Confession I just couldn't be without. People say quite often that we don't talk about sin enough anymore, and that's certainly true, and they say that, as a result, fewer people go to Confession. Personally I think this can become a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg argument; is it a lack of understanding of the damaging and deadly nature sin that stops people from availing themselves of what is a beautiful sacrament or is it the down-playing of Confession in our spiritual lives that has led to some believing that sin is not sinful?

I remember, ages ago, hearing in one of our letters from Bishop Kieran about the importance of witnessing to our faith in daily life, when our friends or colleagues ask us what we did at the weekend tell them we went to Mass, mention that we took part in a retreat on holiday etc., etc. Since then I have tried to make a conscious effort of when we have the regular morning chats of what we did over the past few days of talking about the fact I went to Church or was at an event or whatever else. Something that mildly fascinates my friends and colleagues is that I go pretty frequently to Confession. Normally it's every week or every fortnight. When I mention that I'm going on my day off or have booked an appointment after work with Fr. Richard there's always the joking comment, "what have you done now?" or "who have you killed this time?" And whilst I know the girls only mean those things in jest there is, from what I can tell, among some Catholics this idea that Confession should only ever be used when the really big and bad things happen. Now the Church does state that; "According to the Church's command, 'after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year..." (CCC 1457) so strictly speaking they are right, they only have to go when they do something really bad, but (and this is a pretty big but) the Church also says; "Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended...the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit..." (CCC 1458) So whilst we only have to go when we seriously sin we are heartily encouraged to go more frequently. Perhaps you will chalk this up to a convert's enthusiasm but I know I need to go regularly, if, for whatever reason, it's been three or four weeks I really feel it. Although my sins may only be venial (if I mortally sin then there's usually a call or email to the priest pretty soon after as the guilt and pain of that separation from God is overwhelming) I know they're there and that I am not truly detached from the things and delights of this world and trying to attain the spiritual treasures of heaven. And the thing is going on a more regular basis does make us examine our consciences more frequently too and we see more easily when we have done something really bad, a mortal sin, that means we have to go. Without this constant re-examining of our behaviour and actions and motives how are we to truly and accurately recognise the presence of serious sin? I know some say that they'd simply know if they had to go, and whilst that is true I think it is all too easy for us to play down the actions we have taken, say something isn't as bad as it truly is and avoid confessing them.

The picture on the left is a tweet that appeared in my feed this evening. I don't know why in particular but it made me think. In my mind I had always considered sin as a stain or mark, original sin was a like a deep wound created by man...the separation a bit like that moment after a child is born when the umbilical cord is cut and that connection between mother and baby is severed, so we are removed from that original familial bond with God by the sin of our first parents. This is repaired and restored through baptism, Christ has given us the opportunity to once again become sons and daughters of the Father. In my over active imagination venial sins always seemed like dirt and muck that gets into your pores and under your nails and in Confession you come before God like a naughty child who's been playing out in the mud to his or her father who cleans them up again, returns them to their clean state. But, I suppose, original sin is more like a void, a lack of relationship, a lack of communion with God. It is a chasm, something that man cannot cross back over or fill in on his own, God is the only one who can restore this bond. And so sin, whether venial or mortal, is like that void creeping back in...or us creeping back towards it. The reason I can't go more than a couple of weeks without going to Confession is because I can feel myself slipping away from God, in fact I feel the person that I am, the person God wants me to be falling away and the person I fashion on my own taking hold. And since what my heart truly desires is to see God's face in heaven I don't want, not even for a moment, to fall back and I know that Jesus is always there to pick me up and bring me back to the Father.

I can't say for sure what keeps people away from the confessional, it's just sad that more don't take the chance to go as it's such a wonderful sacrament. In that little room by the mercy of God I am made whole again, my wounds are healed, I am returned to a state of grace and made able to start afresh. It's not scary, it's not depressing, it's not oppressing; that's what sin does to us. Instead it's liberating and joyful and I love it.

Monday, 7 January 2013

God is breaking my heart

"I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your filth and of all your foul idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead." (Ezekiel 36:25-26)

I knew when I became a Catholic that my continued journey of faith would be a bumpy ride. The events that lead up to my conversion were pretty white-knuckle-rollercoaster-esque on their own and although I deeply longed for the cleansing waters of baptism I had no illusions of it washing away the difficulties of overcoming sin each day. But sometimes it really stings, really hurts, we, or at least I, forget everything I have seen an heard and learned up to this point and allow attachments and sins to creep in and take a hold of bits of me.

Vocation discernment has been a real eye-opener. A friend said to me ages ago when reflecting on his own discernment process that it teaches you a lot about yourself. I can, wholeheartedly, second that. What makes the "bumps" appear along the road is not God trying to make it more interesting viewing, it's not God throwing random events at us to try and teach us a bunch of lessons, quite often it's not even the devil (although he does like to stick his foot out to trip us up) but is, in fact, our own stubbornness, our own unwillingness to be told we're wrong or that we need to re-learn something, our own mad notion that we can discern the will of God without really listening to him. Some of us make these rods for our own backs larger and more painful than others. When I'm struggling I can't help but think of St. Augustine and his battles with his attachment to the world and to sin and his relationship with God. What I have found recently (last night in fact) is that, try as I might, I can't seem to sever my need to cling to things, stupid things, to depend on the world and on myself. Despite my best intentions no more room is being made for God in my heart, there's still a lot of my personal clutter in there. The many hours of dedicated prayer have brought no relief from the sharp pangs of temptation and I still can't hear what it is God is trying to tell me. As hard and as seemingly fruitless as it can be, this self-learning and self-abandonment malarkey, it is made all the worth while by the greater knowledge, the greater experience we have of God.

What was made abundantly clear to me yesterday is that I was depending too greatly on my own strength to overcome this or that temptation, on my own ability to avoid x or y sin, I was trying to give God more space within me to work but not by doing some 'spring cleaning' so-to-speak but by simply 'rearranging the furniture.' (Sorry, I do apologise for the silly metaphors but I have a very fertile imagination that turns my experiences into these sorts of childish pictures...sometimes it's helpful, sometimes not so much...) What I was vividly shown was I had to just let go; be open, be available, be faithful, be patient and God would do the rest. Only he can truly stop me being of the world and mould my heart into what it should be, him and no other. It would be a far less traumatic journey were I not so much of a control freak!!

The fact of the matter is that in discernment God doesn't just help us to realise his plan for us, to see which path he wants us to take and help us to do it he, quite literally, breaks our hearts. He shatters them in fact. This isn't done to be cruel or purely for the sake of it but because we, from childhood, fashion our own hearts according to our own wants and desires and hopes and fears. They become so hard that loving, and I mean truly loving, can be almost impossible or comes with huge amounts of emotional, psychological and spiritual baggage. We can't do it, we can't open ourselves up properly to God or others until these internal barriers are broken down. They say the best way to take off a plaster is to rip it off, so, I guess, in the same way the best way to be released from attachment to the things of this world so that we can set ourselves in the things of heaven is to do so with the same abruptness. (But God won't do this unless we ask him to, unless we invite him to, he never, ever forces himself upon us.) And my goodness it hurts. But it is totally worth it. What we get from this is so much greater than what we give up.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Poor kitty...

My cat, Bilbo
I think my cat has cataracts...he's been a bit wary of going outside at night or in low-light conditions of late, he doesn't seem to be as keen climb fences or trees despite being as mobile and quick as ever. But I caught a glimpse of him the other day and there was a distinct reflection from his pupils that I've only ever seen when looking at patients with thick, mature cataracts. Question is what to do about it? Do we have them removed, which will cost the greater part of £2k and will cause him lots of heartache in going to the vets and taking meds etc., etc., or do we leave it? I mean he's eating and mobile and whilst he won't go outdoors at night he will during the day. He can cope as he is, even if he does become a little more of a lap-cat as opposed to the slightly batty, grumpy monster he used to be...and he does so hate the vets. *Sigh* Pets! What to do with them, eh?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Women priests and 'Ordain a Lady'

When the Anglicans were holding the General Synod last year women bishops were the hot topic. When the vote was lost in the House of the Laity one of my optometrist colleagues asked me what I thought. He and I have interesting conversations on religion sometimes in the staff room (as you do), he's a Jain and very open about his beliefs. He thought, bless him, that I would be upset at the prospect of not being able to become a bishop. I quickly explained that I am Roman Catholic and that there are large differences between us and Anglicans even though we are both Christians. Since the shop was quiet for a moment we had a brief chat about it. He said that he felt a person's gender should not be a deciding factor in whether or not they are eligible for a job and that the decision was unfair. This is something that a lot of people outside of the Church have said to me, they genuinely don't see why it is that Catholics don't have women priests. And then you get videos appearing on YouTube like this one...



I have to say that is not a good video, it really doesn't do much for the advocates of women's ordination. I've seen quite a few blog posts today asking how they honestly believed that it would be a good promo. Some have even said it looks more likely some traditionalists made it to harm their cause as it's really...rather ridiculous. What worries me more about this (and all the questions I get asked from time to time) is this idea that the Church does not ordain women simply because she wants them to "...kneel to patriarchy's way" as the simple fact is that it isn't true.

So why does the Church maintain that it cannot ordain women? One thing people always say to me is that Christ had male and female disciples so therefore there should be female priests. And, yes, Christ did have disciples of both genders and he treated women with a radical equality that shocked people at the time. But, that being said, out of all of his disciples he chose twelve male apostles to carry out ordained ministry, acting in persona Christi. Blessed Pope John Paul II clarified this issue back in 1994 in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he said; "In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood,(6) the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer."

In choosing only male apostles Christ shows clearly one of the vocations to which he calls some men but in doing so he is not undermining the role of women in Church. On the contrary Blessed John Paul goes on to say, "Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe."

So, do I as a woman feel oppressed by the Church and  "...the Pope in a hat..."? There seems to be these days a misunderstanding that being equal means being the same. Men and women have different roles to play within the Church, each have equal value but they are different just as men and women differ in the most basic ways. If the Church were trying to say that a priest is worth more than I ma simply because he is a man then yes I would be unhappy, if the Church was saying that women are in any way inferior to men then I would feel oppressed but the Church is not doing that. In fact the Church spends as much energy in encouraging priestly vocations as it does in supporting the roles of women; in helping mothers and families, in encouraging religious vocations and consecrated virginity, by helping women to play full and active roles within the community. In fact I feel quite the opposite to oppressed and held back, I have had nothing but the love and support of Christ and his Church since I started attending Mass. All of my questions have been met with answers or at least help to find them, my efforts to discern God's will in my life have, for the most part, been heard kindly and, again, supported by those around me. I have been not just allowed but asked to help organise parish groups and events. I am not restricted by the Church, I am set free by it to fully explore my faith and to live it passionately. What videos like that have more to do with is the desire for power. Because, of course, that is what faith is all about, who stands at the front each Sunday and preaches from the pulpit, who makes the decisions within the parish, not about striving for holiness, not about trying to be a saint, not about proclaiming the Gospel, not about working to strengthen the Body of Christ by being obedient and loyal to the Church.

When I see these women one thing I do think, however, is that it must be very difficult if you think you are called to be a priest. What do you do? The sarcastic part of me instantly snaps, "get a better spiritual director!" (I have a good one...my friend has a good one...) but in all fairness there is a problem. We need better catechesis on all levels; in schools, in the home, in the parish community. The questions people have need proper answering and they need to help open up and explore the faith and explore their own calling and take it seriously. Yes it is evident from their lyrics that they don't respond well to the authority of the Magisterium but if we speak with love and generosity then we can hope and pray that they'll realise how pointless their argument is?

For the love of the Eucharist

For the last couple of months on some of may days off I've been getting up at what my colleagues jokingly refer to as Katherine-o'clock (i.e. some dreadfully early hour that only I am prepared to get up at) and trekking up to London to help out at the Vision Care for Homeless People clinic in Shepherd's Bush. It's been a fantastic experience thus far (I might write a post on that specifically later). Since I'm up in Town I've also been taking the opportunity to go to the early morning EF Mass at Brompton Oratory...which is a spectacularly beautiful place (I love it as much as Westminster Cathedral). If you haven't been you simply have to!

The early service there is lovely and quiet, rather refreshing after the rush hour traffic of central London. There's a lot I love about the traditional form of the Mass, it took me a while to get the hang of it but now I have I try to go at every opportunity. One of the many things that I definitely prefer is the deep sense of reverence and adoration for the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Not only are we all facing towards him, the focus of our lives, our Saviour and deepest love but we all receive Him on our knees.

There is a lot to be said for this little act of humility. I know it's only a small gesture but it helps to remind us who God is, it is so easy to put ourselves into His place, see ourselves as being totally in control of our lives and futures and those of the people around us. It is very tempting to see ourselves as totally self sufficient, rely on nobody else but depend entirely on our own strength. But in kneeling we remember that He is God and we are not, that we need Him, His love and mercy, utterly and we depend on Him alone. On our own we can do nothing. In kneeling we also take that extra moment to prepare for the beauty and majesty and wonder of the gift we are about to receive. We compose ourselves and wait patiently for Him to come to us as the priest walks up and down the Sanctuary.

One other thing that struck me afresh as Mass ended this morning was just the wonder that is the Eucharist. At the end of an EF Mass the priest reads the "Last Gospel" which is always John 1:1-14 ("In the beginning was the Word...") Having just received Jesus in Holy Communion to hear those words of how He, the Word of God, made the universe struck me dumb!! To think that someone as powerful and as mighty and as glorious as He is should not only have humbled Himself to be born as a man in a cave in Bethlehem but continually out of His infinite love for us humbles Himself and comes to us in the form of bread and wine just staggers the mind. He loves us the much that He does this every day in every Mass and He doesn't do it out if obligation but because He deeply longs for all of us to be one with Him. It's just...amazing!! Really wish I could go to daily Mass...

The other thing this then abruptly rings home is our need of priests. Without them there is no Mass. I've been praying the Little Crown of Our Lady for this intention because if we couldn't go to this most wonderful and holy of sacrifices life would just be...empty. I love the Blessed Sacrament and I love being able to just sit in His presence. I love Confession and for all of this we desperately need more priests. Our Lady is one of the best people to ask with help for this. For the love of the Eucharist why not join me in praying too?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

People in authority say the strangest things....

Many of us, I'm sure, despair sometimes with the things politicians and other public figures come out with. Some are misguided, others plain ridiculous, and even more simply wrong. A bit like this fellow, Mr Justice Langstaff, who recently ruled that Sunday is not, I repeat not, important to Christians. (You can read all about it here.) My first reaction when I read this was something along the lines of, "what utter nonsense" but then it dawned on me that perhaps, on some level, it's true. And whilst it is easy to accuse secular society of making this the case I think we have to accept our share of the blame.

Sunday is, or at least should be, the high point of the Christian man or woman's week. It is the day when we come together, all of us, as a community, as the Body of Christ, to praise and thank and worship our Lord in the Eucharist at Mass. It's the day we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead. It is the day when all other tasks are put aside and we start our week by getting our priorities straight; making God the beginning, the focus, the source of all we do and say and are. It is the day when we listen with even greater attentiveness than usual to his will for us, when we spend extra time with him and for him. It's a day for resting from the trials and struggles of the working world and allowing ourselves to be rejuvenated by his grace. It's a day to spend with family, whether that family is our blood relations, close friends or the family of the parish. The question is, however, how much do we show this to the world? Is the reason that Sunday is being seen as "unimportant" to us as Christians because we aren't telling people that it is? At the end of Mass one of the options for the dismissal is; "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life." In our response we are saying yes to this, we are thanking God for this, in fact we should be starting as we mean to go on. I remember our former assistant parish priest once commenting on a homily that people often look downright miserable as they leave the Church when, in fact, they should be beaming with pure joy, radiating Christ having just received him in word and sacrament. I guess it's easy to just walk straight out of Mass and move right on to the next "thing" on our daily list without thought to this, even though it is our responsibility, our vocation, our mission as Christians to, like Mary, bring Jesus into the world for all to see.

In the case of the lady in the article who they want to try and make work on a Sunday despite her religious beliefs I can see both sides of the argument. On the one hand Sunday is, as I said above, a day of rest, the day for us to go to Church and it is unfair to try and make someone work who takes their faith and their love of God seriously, expresses it openly and with integrity especially when there are others who are able and willing to cover that day/shift. That said on the other hand there are so many Christians who are prepared to work on Sundays and Holydays or, even if they don't really want to, don't say anything against it. I personally am not a fan of shops opening on Sundays and would certainly not want to work in one (or in some other place that operates seven days a week) if I were ever asked to. If we are to be taken seriously in our increasingly secular world then we have to speak out, we have to say that we go to Church, that we are Christian, that we love God and our faith and that it is not just something we 'do' once a week but is a fundamental part of who we are. We have to stand up and be counted. The world, the people around us, may not understand (may not want to understand) or may even be hostile to our message. These situations are difficult and awkward and rarely win us new friends or the respect of our peers but is that really what matters to us? Or is God more important?

New year, another new resolution...

Oh dear, haven't been on here for.........quite a while it seems. Not that it feels that long ago, of course. But never mind, tis the New Year and my resolution is to tidy up some of my loose ends; i.e. simply tidy my bedroom (with all the fireworks and whatnot at midnight I awoke with quite a start and for half a second thought I was in the trenches in WWI...which I was promptly told my room actually resembled...), sort out all of the blogs I contribute to and clear out my wardrobe (whilst not refilling it again). Now, let's see if I can remember how o use Blogger.....