Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Southwark Vocations Blog

This is great! How did I miss it before... and why can't all the diocese in the UK be like this!

Southwark Vocations

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Master Beggar

This doesn't really speak of how I feel now about my vocation, it resonated with me this time four years ago, shortly after I'd been received into the Church. But I was reminded of it recently and wanted to blog it, even if just to share this beautiful poem with a slightly wider audience.

The Master Beggar

Worse than the poorest mendicant alive,
the pencil man, the blind man with his breath
of music shaming all who do not give,
are You to me, Jesus of Nazareth.

Must You take up Your post on every block
of every street? Do I have no release?
Is there no room of earth that I can lock
to Your sad face, Your pitiful whisper “Please”?

I seek the counters of time’s gleaming store
but make no purchases, for You are there.
How can I waste one coin while You implore
with tear-soiled cheeks and dark blood-matted hair?

And when I offer You in charity
pennies minted by love, still, still You stand
fixing Your sorrowful eyes on me.
Must all my purse be emptied in Your hand?

Jesus, my beggar, what would You have of me?
Father and mother? the lover I long to know?
The child I would have cherished tenderly?
Even the blood that through my heart’s valves flow?

I too would be a beggar. Long tormented,
I dream to grant You all and stand apart
with You on some bleak corner, tear-frequented,
and trouble mankind for its' human heart.

Jessica Powers became a Carmelite nun, Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit.

I was reminded of this because my friend piF, who is a composer, has set this to music for me, and is having it performed at the RNCM in Manchester in February. Isn't that so lovely?! He is marvellous, he's just written to the Carmelites to ask for permission, but I can't imagine them saying no, it's not like he's going to be making a profit from it!

Just had such a blessed weekend at the Youth 2000 festival in Glastonbury. Will blog about it soon. I also met Hannah, who commented on my last post about the Poor Clares in Galway, although we didn't have much chance to talk. Anyway, perhaps more on that soon.

May God give you His peace!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

if you would be perfect...

I've been meaning to blog this since last week, but now I should be writting the resubmission for my essay, I always find time to blog when I should be doing uni-work :) As usual so much time has elapsed since I intended to write this, I've changed my mind! However, I'll write something of what I've been thinking through, and where I think I am now. Meeting Fr K on Tuesday (when I go to Manchester to submit the essay I'm writing at the moment(!))

So last week I was praying with Sunday's Gospel, the rich young man (do protestant bibles call him a ruler...? I don't remember that) and it struck me how much I was like the young man, see he wasn't bad at all, he kept the commands, he loved God, tried to follow Him, etc, etc... but when Our Lord asked Him to give everything... he went away sad.

Those of you who read my ramblings, or know me in the real world(!) know that I've been struggling with the idea that God may be calling me to enclosure since pretty early on. It's hard though, because I so love St Clare I can't imagine not being a Franciscan, but there are really no Poor Clares in the UK who seem nearly as on fire as the CFR, or (as importantly) are served by holy priests. I mean, the priest might happen to be holy, but they aren't friars (as St Francis intended), it's just whoever the bishop decides to send you. I think holy priests are so important, how on earth can we become Saints without holy priests?

However, what I love so much about the CFR Sisters is that they have these things and they are so contemplative. When I went the first time, I thought, "this is ridiculous! God's calling me to be a contemplative, why am I wasting their time here?!" And then when I arrived on a Thursday evening, Sr Clare told me that every Friday they have a silent day of prayer, and just do quiet work that allows them to remain recollected, I couldn't believe it... but (but, eugh, I hate buts) I don't feel particularly drawn to work with the poor. Maybe I'm just proud... or something... I don't think so, I love nursing, I loved being with people in L'Arche, even if I couldn't go back. Infact, I love people, full stop! But I don't feel that's what my life is about.

If I was to be a Poor Clare, it wouldn't be in England, I don't think that's at all a possibility. If I entered an enclosed order in America it would break my parents hearts, they're just about coming to terms with me being called to religious life. If I enter an enclosed order in America, I'd never come back to England, ever. I love England, it's my home. How could I never come back here? Which brings me back to Sunday's Gospel, and my riches, which are those I love. What riches!And I guess the point is that I don't want to give them up, even for God. I suppose I do know that everything is less than God, and the Gospel goes on to remind us that everyone who has left father, mother, land... (I know that's not the kind of land it means) ...hmm.

Before anyone comments, I know that God doesn't want us to do something that will make us miserable! But I can't shake this enclosure thing... why can't the CFR have an enclosed branch in England! It would be so perfect :) Anyway, what I think is that I'll write to Sr Clare and ask her if she knows any gorgeous Poor Clares that I should visit. Then I can properly have tried, rather than just spending a (lovely) weekend with an elderly community in Wales (which has now had to move to Scotland to merge with another community) and deciding it wasn't for me. And first I'll talk with Fr K about it on Tuesday, he always has the right advice, even if I don't like it at the time!

The next thing is (briefly, hopefully!) just a comment on how fabulous it must be to be a Catholic American. We Brits can be dreadfully snobby about the US, but the net, and particularly the blogosphere, has really opened my eyes to just how many faithful Catholics there are in the States. In England I have 2 friends who are at a similar place in discernment to me (or rather, now I have one, as Becky just entered the Community of St Jean) and the other's a boy... it's always a bit of a temptation to get proud about the magnificent gift of a religious vocation that God's given me, but there seem to be so many beautiful young American girls (here and here and here for example) who are so much more in love with God than me. I think America also has more crazies than here, but I'd trade our Great British sanity for a bit more faith.

I reckon it's also harder (perhaps) not to get sidetracked. When I spent a couple of months in Ireland last year I was horrified at the state of the Church there. Ridiculous Reiki-practicing Liberals on one side and bordering-on-schismatic trads on the other, with only one or two Catholics to be seen. But I totally understand how the trads get there, because what other response to consecration of soda bread but to decide that Vat2 was a disaster? Here there's less of a problem. We have Youth 2000, which is rather a lifeline, and the Friars are around a lot, but still.... the church in the town I've moved to is just soo ugly (they've sensibly not put pictures of it online, so there's only these two) and the liturgy's mediocre. The priest is marvellous, and the community in the parish is amazing, but I find it so hard to pray! Especially coming from this and this ...how can anyone not love plainchant and properly done liturgy? I don't want to be a trad, you know? They all seem rather bitchy and superior, but I do love the tridentine mass, and I finally caved into pressure (from my heart rather than my friends!) and bought a mantilla (very cheaply from these lovely people) but really it's all on the surface isn't it? I'm not really expressing myself very well, it's late!

Anyway, you wait half an hour for a bus and three come along at once... so goes it with my blog!

God bless you!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why am I Catholic?

Found this video on U-Tube, which I've just discovered, and quite like. I'll try to blog soon, been moving house and all sorts of exciting things...