Thursday, 25 June 2009


I was humbled and touched to receive this award from Andrea at Arise2write Having a blog has opened up a whole world of awareness for me with regard to the many strong and faithful Catholics in the world living out their vocations day by day. I feel privileged to 'know' them - and share faith with them. I am required to nominate 7 other bloggers for this award and they are supposed to nominate 7 others. (Be sure to leave a comment on their blog about the award.) After they accept the award they are then asked to write a list of 7 things that their blog readers may not already know about them.

1)When deciding what profession I wished to enter I seriously considered publishing but the call to be a teacher was very strong and I followed that path instead. However, I love literature and the smell of bookshops always draws me in. I can get lost in a bookshop in the morning and not reappear until the afternoon. I think it started when I was little and my Mum would let me stay in Hatchards bookshop while she went shopping next door. I would spend hours sitting in there reading. All the girls who worked there used to know me.

2) I can take no credit for the poems I have written in my life. For what they are worth, they have come to me as gifts and I have felt them like fluttering wings. Until I had put them on this blog I can think of only two other people who had read them and I am so grateful for peoples' kindness and generosity when they have read them here. Nothing better summarises my feeling than a quotation from the Czech poet JAROSLAV SEIFERT who wrote

"Poetry is with us from the start.
Like loving, like hunger, like the plague, like war.
At times my verses were embarrassingly foolish.
But I make no excuse.
I believe that seeking beautiful words is better than killing and murdering."

Writing has been like a gift given to me and I am so grateful to have received it.

3)I have a penchant for braking various bones. I have thus far fractured a finger once, my arm three times and my ankle once. Nice.

4)I used to LOVE to act. Right up until the end of University I participated in all sorts of different productions but right now I can't imagine anything worse than being somebody else on stage. I have become what I like to call confidently shy about these things and I feel like I don't want the spotlight anymore - when I was a kid it gave me a real boost. I had a great time and it let me explore all sorts of different things. It also let me wander round as a Victorian for while - I really liked the elegance- especially the long

Also, I got to travel- visiting Vancouver while with a touring production. It was a beautiful place.

4) I am terrible at maths - I managed my GCSE but after that I ditched it with delight and haven't looked back since. I have a lot of admiration for people who are great with numbers. My brother is an engineer and he can work out any mathematical problem - its fascinating! I just see a bundle of numbers, panic and run for the hills!

5) I have a passion for 16th century history. I love to wander round monastic ruins and find places where the old relics of Catholic England have been stored. There is something sad and strangely beautiful about the whole thing. I mourn for the lost Catholics of England and feel as though I could reach out and touch the last monks and nuns who walked the stony corridors of great buildings. The picture below shows a pair of 12th century Rosary beads, a crucifix and alter piece from a monastery that was dissolved on a Scottish island.

6) My dog is called Fleur - this is her wearing a pumpkin hat - I don't normally put her in hats but somebody bought it for (strange I know but what can I say?) so I thought I better take a picture of her with it on. She looks very unimpressed:

7) I am going to write a whole post on number seven so stay tuned - it is linked to another post and I need a little time to put it together.
I always feel sad with these things that I can't give them to more people but these are some blogs that I really enjoy
1) A Catholic Mom in Minnesota
3) Catholic and Loving it!
4) The Pondering Catholic

5) Thoughts on Grace

6)Mum to 12...Now My Bakers Dozen
7) Aussie Coffee Shop

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A heavy hearted post

There was a program on the television last night which was dealing with crimes in some of England's worst estates, but namely the problem of how whole groups young men are behaving towards young women - in some cases attacking them . Frankly, I was terrified. We have become a society of Dr Farankensteins and what we have created is a monster which claims liberal ideals but has actually sent us spiralling back into years of abuse and the degradation of womens' dignity. The views that these gangs of boys had of women was appalling. There was no sense of respect, no desire to find out who a woman is, no wish to form a meaningful relationship. Similarly, some of the girls who colluded with the boys allowed themselves to be used in this way. For them, sexuality has become an animal act with no meaning, often something they inflict upon another person in a manner of violence. When I consider 'Love and Responsibility' or 'Theology of the Body' and the deep meaning of sexuality and the sexual urge in these theological works I want to weep for these boys and girls. There were even instances when girls had set other girls up to be attacked.

They are perpetrators but they are also victims of a society which has removed value and meaning from something very beautiful and taught them to abuse it, themselves and others. How can they ever expect to form a normal relationship if they cannot see anything other than their own gratification? The only problem highlighted in this probing and honest documentary was consent - but how can anybody be so naive and ridiculous as to suggest this is at the root of the problem? The actions of these gangs is a result of a view which encourages and enables young children to engage in adult relationships - telling them that this is a normal part of growing up. It has no meaning beyond that of 'acting out'. As a result of this view, many of these attacks remain unnoted and are put down to 'experimentation'

I know this seems like a common rant on this blog but working with young people and seeing all the good they do, and are capable of, it makes me so sad that we encourage and allow some of them to waste their potential because they have so little value for themselves and others.

This documentary showed what exists at the extreme end of social policies that do not make clear what right and wrong actually are. That constantly preach of human rights and diversity but deny a generation the right to the view that some things are reserved for a sacred bond between two loving people. We have created an ethical code which is built on the shaky ground of moral relativism. Most of the boys in this program no longer had fathers or a good role model in their lives. I am not suggesting that every child who does not have a father will use and abuse people in this way but why have we undervalued the role of the family and father so much? It obviously does matter - yet in order not to offend anybody we insist it doesn't matter when the statistics make it clear that the opposite is the case.

When I was training to be a teacher I was told I was entering this profession at a time of a TIDAL social change. Children will, on average, see four partners pass through their mothers home in their life time. The result? more behavioural and social difficulties than ever before. The two are directly linked and there is a lot of evidence to suggest and support this but no one is willing to use it. We were told that even though this was the case we were never allowed to say this. There are obviously situations where a one parent family is necessary or the result of complex circumstances - these differ greatly. However, the truth is that often children are being taught that relationships are not built to last, that we are worth no more to each other than temporary fulfilment allows.

What value can we expect them to have for themselves if this is true?

We can't say -'do what you want' in one breath and 'how on earth could you do that?' in the next.

I want to make clear that I understand that this documentary was dealing with a vast minority and that it was looking at the extreme end of this problem. However, this makes it no less significant. The Catholic Church is constantly criticised for its stance on contraception and sexual ethics because it is argued that it damages people. The documentary I watched last night suggests otherwise. A casual, flippant attitude towards the use of another person to fulfill your needs is clearly far more damaging to all than a document which suggests the value of each human being from conception to death. If we were able to have, EVEN THE IDEAL, of stepping back and really see another persons humanity, as well as our own, then we would be in a good position- that is all the Catholic Church has ever asked of us and that is exactly where we have failed to help these particular kids. So I would say to anybody who aims to criticise the Pope for his stringent views to look in their own back garden and see what ludicrous liberalism has done to destroy the bodies and souls of those living next door to them in a country where contraceptives have been thrown at kids like sweets and only produced emotional and psychological pain and the spread of infection and disease.

Tell me, which policy is more damaging?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A great new initiative

Myah has begun a new blog which will offer us the opportunity to pray for particular Mums and their babies. For those who don't know Myah had a beautiful little girl called Faith. Check out the new blog

Monday, 15 June 2009


Thanks so very much indeed to Colleen for giving me the HONEST SCRAP AWARD. I was honored to receive it. Colleen writes a beautiful blog that uplifts and inspires. Check it out here

In accepting this award, I need to do the following: 1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award. 2) Share "ten honest things" about myself. 3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me. 4) Tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving it

Ten things about myself:

1)I live in the East End of London, which has a bit of a reputation but I rather like its character and sense of optimism. I grew up in South West London and in the summer I still like the idea of being in Richmond Park overlooking the meandering Thames.

2) I am terribly stubborn and it can be a good quality, but mostly its a pretty awful one. I always have so much admiration for people who convert to the Catholic faith because I think it takes a massive dollop of courage to change your whole perspective. I am always afraid that had I not been a cradle Catholic I might have been too stubborn to move my feet.

3) In primary school I was always bottom of the class. I got put on a table by myself and I used to pass the time chewing my pen and staring out the window. I feel it was time well spent. I am still a well acknowledged day dreamer and by the time I got to secondary school I was ready to ignite my brain flame a little - I survived pretty well. I don't think little kids are always built for the education system at such a young age.

4) My parents are Irish and so I always have a little nationality identity crisis. I have been raised in England, I have an English accent but I admire the Irish in many ways - they have had to have so much strength in the face of adversity. They still haven't legalised abortion and that is rather an amazing thing considering the world we live in.

5) I am the worlds worst procrastinator! If I have something urgent to do I will always find something irrelevant to do first in order to put it off. I work better under pressure.

6) I started blogging by accident but I'm not sure I can imagine life without it now.

7) I am named after Edel Quinn who was a prominent figure in the Legion of Mary. My Dad was a keen member of the Legion for many years. I have become ardently Marian myself (again without any conscious intent to do so) and find myself rather proud of my name. It also means noble in German. (I am far from noble but I like the idea)

8) I am the youngest of four children. I was spoilt by my big sister and walloped by my big brother so I figure it evened out in the end. We are still close and talk often. My eldest brother died when we were younger.

9)I am still not quite sure where life is taking me but I know the good Lord knows so that is just fine. Totus Tuus.

10) My confirmation name is Martha and when my Bishop asked why I chose it when I was kneeling in front of him I said "because she had to learn the hard way" I think it gave him a bit of a surprise.


There are loads of blogs I really love reading but these ones just jumped to mind so here we go:

Lisa at 'Are We There Yet?' Lisa is just awesome and a real inspiration.

Laura at 'Catholic Teacher Musings' A blog of wisdom, truth and fun.
Julie at 'Joyful Days' a wonderful blog and has been someone who encouraged me a lot.

Ann at 'Prayer, Poetry and Praise' is an amazing poet and writes a blog full of inspiration, praise and beauty and has also encouraged me a lot

Suzy at 'Sailing by Starlight' a stunning blog and inspired all of us over lent with her work on 'Faith Quilt'

Andrea at 'Arise to Write' also writes with depth and beauty

Also, to Monica who I just think is great really

Thursday, 11 June 2009


My kids have finally got through their exams and I have to say I am a little relieved and a little sad. I have been teaching my GCSE and A Level groups for two years now and you can form quite a relationship in that time (it doesn't seem long but they change so much during these years). Now I am hoping that they will go into the world and flourish. It is strange when you get to that point, a couple of days before they actually go into the exam hall, and you realise you can't do anything for them any more - you have to relinquish control and let them go in there on their own, hopefully, with their heads held high. Its hard to let go.

Having said that, I am relieved to have regained a little of my life and I am glad that they have made it through this major stage. Life is so tough for some kids - there seems to be so much pressure on them and so many of them don't have that centre that real faith gives you. When you think of yourself as truly valued by something far greater than yourself then you can keep a balance. When your self worth hinges on the results of exams things are so much harder. The more I step back and look at things, the more thankful I am for this great gift of faith that allows us to see through the chaos. It is not easy to do so but if we know there is something beyond the chaos that is a pretty good start.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

There, in the midst of them

I was just procrastinating and found these photos of a Church I visited in Zanzibar which is built on the former sight of a slave market. The alter rests on the place where slaves were sold, often into deep misery. It is built directly above cramped cells where hundreds of slaves 'waited' for their turn to come in cramped and filthy conditions.

When the slave trade was abolished an Anglican Bishop thought the most apt use for this ground would be to build a Church. I agree. This Christian church is a sign of solidarity with all the nameless and forgotten who have been subjected to terrible sufferings at the hands of other men in this world. It is difficult when thinking in these terms not to consider abortion, that great evil and persecution of our ow time, justified with the similar cry: 'this is not a human being...not a proper one'

This church is a place of hope and triumph, a recognition that evil does exist and can be overcome but not without, hard work, prayer and patience.

Walking around those cells where slaves suffered so terribly is a reminder of the unseen and constant suffering that Christ must have been struck by. To harm another human being in this way is to wound Christ himself. This is the burden we carry now with regard to the unborn.
I think every time I encounter a place such as this, an abortion clinic, Auschwitz, the cells of these slaves, it becomes clear to me how they are all tied together in one heavy knot. When we abandon our humanity we abandon the ability to recognise humanity in others, especially the fragile, vulnerable and weak. When we become arrogant we move further from God because it is not the superior, the powerful or the materially minded He is in the midst of -it is the forsaken and forgotten. It they who remain closest to Him but that doesn't make it their persecution right.
As John Paul II said- 'we must forgive but by the same token we must not forget'. Our witness must be to those who have not got the power to speak for themselves, our hope must be to abolish the injustice that weighs down the hearts and minds of man. Our job must be to see the humanity in others in order that they might come to see it in themselves. Our job must be to love, even in the midst of hate.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


When I was still studying for my degree a friend of mine asked me whether or not I could accept the view (courtesy of Freud) that religion is simply a crutch we create to lean on because we can't cope on our own. I hadn't considered this for a long time until somebody asked me exactly the same question the other day. I had a prepared response. Actually I had several and since I quite enjoyed answering it - I thought I would repeat the fun here.

1) Define RELIGION

My wonderful University chaplain once read out a quotation from a famous Lutheran who stated that we must be careful to ensure that we do not confuse religion and faith. Religion can be manipulated and misused - nobody is more aware of this than our beloved Church who has found herself rather battered by the will of man over the years. FAITH cannot be manipulated. Even when we screw up - it remains essentially pure.

Thus crutches are something we use when we need to be supported and YES religion has been abused in this way. People have taken it up for a while when they felt battered, bruised and even bored- then they have discarded it. However, Faith is something you work at all your life- it is a relationship and thus even if you tell yourself you have discarded it for moments, weeks or even years you always return to it. Why? because it is not a concept or an idea- it is a real entity. Therefore it is not for leaning on it is for interacting with - therein lies an essential difference.

2) The relationship

Faith is not a one way thing, you don't just lean on it in order to hop through life. It is a challenge to build a relationship with the invisible - to catch those moments that reveal something deeper than the superficial.

It is about maintaining that relationship when everything around you is telling you that it doesn't exist. It is about rising above your doubts and your darkness and far from being a crutch it is often painful, challenging and exhausting to keep that relationship alive. To live true Christian values is no easy thing; to stare yourself in the face and admit often you fail is far from a crutch- it is often enough to make you think you might just fall flat on your face. Yet in the end those struggles are rewarded with so much love.

3) Doing the easy thing

Is life easier when you have faith? I don't think so. Right from the beginning of the Church people have been faced with extremely difficult decisions - your life or your faith?

John Paul believed that the twentieth century had begun a new era of martyrdom because it had instigated a new era of persecution in the Church. Was Fr Kolbe leaning on a crutch when he gave his life for another man? Was John Paul II leaning on a crutch when he risked his life standing out against two great oppressive regimes - Nazism and communism? Are we leaning on a crutch when we confront the great tragedy of abortion and find ourselves going against public opinion and 'women's rights' (?). I don't think so.

It is easy to believe that having faith is easy, that we get to stick our heads in the sand and forget about the rest. Whoever judges that to be faith is sadly misguided.

Faith is many things - beautiful , enriching, extraordinary - it isn't easy it sometimes makes life harder if anything.

4)Religion itself and thus the faith rooted in that religion cannot be generalised or jumbled. Different religions all follow a particular ethical code and as we all know these can be diverse. We can't even begin to consider it as one giant concept. It quite simply makes no sense to do so.

5) If at the end of my life none of it proved to be true (which obviously I don't believe to be the case) than I wouldn't have changed it for anything anyway. Why? Because it has given me more that anything else in my life- but not in the way Mr Freud thinks.

I love my religion and having spent a few months on crutches myself a few years ago - I can tell you truly- there is certainly no allegory or metaphor that could be less fitting for something so expansive, breathtaking and beautiful than the faith that grows from, and has deep roots in, is kept alive and fed by TRUE religion.

Rather than limiting us and holding us back- preventing us from standing on our own two feet Jesus tells us to get up and walk beause if we believe we let go, relinquish control, and love - no support necessary.

We have the questions
God has the answers


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