Friday, 27 February 2009

Prayer and Almsgiving

Two small suggestions for Lent:

1) Send your prayer intentions to Fr Steel:

"What I am intending to do is to offer all readers the opportunity to send me prayer requests that I will bring to the Shrine of S. Cuthbert and the tomb of S. Bede every Friday during Lent at the noon hour at the Durham Cathedral. There I will pray for all the needs and requests that have been sent during each week. At the end of Lent, during the week of Easter, I am going to Rome for a retreat. I will take all of the intentions during Lent to the tomb of S. Peter and leave them there as I pray."

Contact details can be found by following the link to his blog above.

2) If you're looking for a charity to support, then consider the Archbishops' Zimbabwe Appeal, launched on Ash Wednesday:

"We need to remember those who are hungry and who are starving. And I have got a letter from a priest writing from the Bulawayo area saying he opened the door and there was seven bodies found there, died from starvation - that's terrible, to die of starvation because we haven't got enough food left." (From a BBC interview with the Archbishops which can be found in full here)

But, as they remind us, almsgiving needn't just be money:

"Interviewer: And your main call is for individual people to put their hands in their pocket and believe that they can make a difference?

ABC: They can save lives, they can definitely save lives.

ABY: And pray and fast as well."

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Miserere mei, Deus

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Prayer by Heart II

Here is the list I have so far with thanks to all who commented:

1)Salve Regina
3)Anima Christi
4)Prayer of St Michael
5)Apostles' Creed
6)Mysteries of the Rosary
7)Regina Coeli
8)Prayer of Our Lady of Walsingham
9)Prayer of Jean Jacques Olier
10)Nunc Dimittis
11)Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola
12)Adoro te devote
13)St Augustine's evening prayer
14)Prayer of St Richard of Chichester
15)General Thanksgiving
16)Collect for aid against all perils
17)Prayer of St Chrysostom

Never mind Lent, this will keep me going all year! And then I'll start on the Latin....

(The first person to tell me the quote in the picture's wrong wins a very special prize)

Comic Relief: Are we the Baddies?

After hours of explaining why a Code of Practice won't do and why you humbly consider yourself to be following the Church's teaching, have you ever felt like this...?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Prayer by Heart

A few weeks ago, Fr Hunwicke bewailed the impossibility of learning psalms by heart due to the vast number of translations in use. I am not even at the stage of contemplating this, but I thought that some prayers might be a good place to start.

So, if we take the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be as given, because these are the only three I can consistently remember without mental blanks and grievous errors, what would be in a must learn list?

Here is mine:

1)Salve Regina
3)Anima Christi
4)Prayer of St Michael
5)Apostles Creed
6)Mysteries of the Rosary
7)Regina Coeli

This is in no particular order and certainly not exhaustive, but just those that I find myself looking through books for the most. And as there are seven, I could learn one a week during lent and, appropriately, have the Regina Coeli left for Easter week. And of course I'll post them here so you all do it with me! (I'm sure most of you are not as ignorant or forgetful as I am and so you know them already).

But I would like to know if there's anything really obvious that I've forgotten, or any that you would add and why. Or make you own list and leave it in the comments.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

General Synod: A magical land in the upstairs wardrobe?

Well, the Women's Guild is back from the General Synod debate on Women Bishops. There was certainly a marked toning down of the venom witnessed in July, but nevertheless there was still a sense in which people just weren't listening to each other. There was no real debate, but rather a series of views which could be ignored entirely if one desired, rather than real discussion and argument (in a positive sense). There were more than a couple of moments when I found myself utterly incredulous at the things being said in the chamber. Not least the constant refrain of 'justice for women'. Yes, please. The Church of England was criminal to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood but not the episcopate - I mean, if one is accusing people of being sexist or bigoted, surely that is a fine example! Now that women may be ordained to the priesthood, the only logical thing to do is to ordain them to the episcopate. This I concede. Yet, this justice for women sentence seems to have a silent 'cough' in the middle of it: "Justice for *cough* some women". I'm a woman. I'm being offered a Code of Practice. Which I say won't do. Which is supposed to enable me (a "valued member of the CofE") to stay in the CofE - but, of course, (and as I have said) it doesn't, because it doesn't actually respond in any way to a Catholic understanding of the episcopate and the Church.

It's not our custom at the Women's Guild to point fingers or be 'political', but I'm afraid I can't pass over the Bishop of Lichfield's speech in which he used C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to justify women's ordination to the episcopate. You'll remember that, at the end of the story, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are crowned as kings and queens of Narnia. They are all equal rulers - the boys and the girls. Apparently this is sufficient justification for +Lichfield. For my part, I'm unsure as to what we say about ourselves as a church, if our theology and ecclesiology is based on a fictional story about a talking lion... Not to mention the fact that C.S. Lewis was opposed to women's ordination. In addition, you'll note that a new phrase which was put 'out there' yesterday was "Women in the Church Hierarchy" - the acronym for which is, in fact, a key part of the title of one of CS Lewis's best-known novels... "Is there a 'misreading C.S. Lewis' conspiracy? Is the next step to say that, in his classic 'Trilemma', Lewis is in fact arguing that Jesus is not God? That would certainly be an argument more in line with 'what society thinks' and 'what society wants'. (If this were Private Eye there would now, no doubt, be the following comment: [Enough. Ed.])

Still, it just seemed to me to exemplify the kind of disregard for context that finds us in this mess. In any case, a children's book is undoubtedly far more accessible than the sorts of complex argument set out by the likes of Fr Paul Benfield and the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. Perhaps we need to be even clearer about things - even more basic in our explanations. After all, that's how Our Lord did it...

And the future? Well, we keep praying, talking, debating, working - all of us, at every opportunity in whatever way we can. Personally, I keep coming back to the first verse of Newman's hymn:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Power of Prayer

Further to the comments at the end of my previous post, the Women's Guild joins with Fr Jones and Fr Hunwicke in asking our readers to pray the rosary with intention for the future of catholics in the Church of England on this the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Saint Scholastica

As I was looking through some of our older blog posts, I realised I had intended to write something about Saint Scholastica, but failed to do so. So, since it's her day, I thought I'd take the opportunity! I was first told the story of Saint Scholastica by a benedictine nun. I rather wish I had a podcast of her telling of it to offer here. Principally, because she told the story with such enthusiasm, wit and sincerity. The story according to Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), Dialogues, Book II (Life and Miracles of St. Benedict) runs as follows:

What man is there, Peter, in this world, that is in greater favor with God than St. Paul was: who yet three times desired our Lord to be delivered from the prick of the flesh, and obtained not his petition? Concerning which point also I must needs tell you, how there was one thing which the venerable father Benedict would have done, and yet he could not. For his sister called Scholastica, dedicated from her infancy to our Lord, used once a year to come and visit her brother. To whom the man of God went not far from the gate, to a place that did belong to the Abbey, there to give her entertainment.

And she coming thither on a time according to her custom, her venerable brother with his monks went to meet her, where they spent the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk: and when it was almost night they supped together, and as they were yet sitting at the table, talking of devout matters, and darkness came on, the holy Nun his sister entreated him to stay there all night, that they might spend it in discoursing of the joys of heaven. But by no persuasion would he agree unto that, saying that he might not by any means tarry all night out of his Abbey.

At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, receiving this denial of her brother, joining her hands together, laid them upon the table: and so, bowing down her head upon them, she made her prayers to almighty God: and lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their head out of door: for the holy Nun, resting her head upon her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears upon the table, that she drew the clear air to a watery sky, so that after the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed: and her prayer and the rain did so meet together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder, so that in one and the very same instant, she lifted up her head and brought down the rain.

The man of God, seeing that he could not by reason of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return back to his Abbey, he began to be heavy and to complain of his sister, saying: "God forgive you, what have you done?" to whom she answered: "I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me, I have asked our good Lord, and he hath vouchsafed to grant my petition: wherefore if you can now depart, in God's name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone."

But the good father, being not able to go forth, tarried there against his will, where willingly he would not stay. And so by that means they watched all night, and with spiritual and heavenly talk did mutually comfort one another: and therefore by this we see, as I said before, that he would have had that thing, which yet he could not: for if we respect the venerable man's mind, no question but he would have had the same fair weather to have continued as it was, when he set forth, but he found that a miracle did prevents desire, which, by the power of almighty God, a woman's prayers had wrought.

And it is not a thing to be marvelled at, that a woman which of long time had not seen her brother, might at that time than he could, seeing, according to the saying of St. John, "God is charity" [1 John 4:8] and therefore of right she did more which loved more.

The next morning they parted. Three days later S. Scholastica died, and her brother beheld her soul in a vision as it ascended into heaven.

I must admit that, at the present time, the ability to flood a place with one's tears seems to be a remarkably attractive skill! What excites me about the story of S. Scholastica is the sheer power of love and of prayer which her story demonstrates. She is an example of the limitless possibilities if we really and truly have faith in Christ. In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson: 'More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.' As the General Synod meets this week, we could do worse than to keep the model of S. Scholastica and Tennyson's words in our minds.

"O God, Who, to show the innocence of her life, didst cause the soul of Thy blessed Virgin Scholastica to ascend to Heaven in the form of a dove, grant, we beseech Thee, by her merits and prayers, that we may live so innocently as to deserve to arrive at eternal joys, through Jesus Christ, Thine only-begotten Son Our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, God, forever and ever. Amen."

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Ninth Day

Opened in 1933, Dachau was Germany’s first concentration camp and was located to the north-west of Munich in the southern German state of Bavaria. It principally held political prisoners. Of the approximately 200,000 prisoners (from more than 30 countries), two-thirds were political ‘dissidents’ and one-third were Jews. 25, 613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and almost another 10,000 in its subcamps.

Dachau also served as the central camp for Christian religious prisoners and had a special “priest block”. According to records of the Roman Catholic Church, at least 3,000 Catholic priests, lay brothers and seminarians, from 38 nations, 134 dioceses and 29 religious orders and congregations were imprisoned there. In addition, the community included 109 Protestant, 30 Orthodox and two Moslem clergymen.

Since the 1990s German cinema has been dominated by films which explore various aspects of the country’s National Socialist past. Films include the experience of resistance figures, such as Sophie Scholl, member of the White Rose group in Munich, or the internationally renowned film Downfall which sought to depict Hitler’s last days in the bunker in Berlin. Another such film, released in Germany in 2004 treats the story of a catholic priest from Luxembourg who, after being imprisoned in Dachau, is permitted nine days to try and convince the Bishop of Luxembourg to sign a treaty with the National Socialists. The anti-Nazi bishop had become a problem for the occupiers by ringing the cathedral bells at noon every day as a symbol of resistance.

The film is based on the story and diary-entries of Msgr Jean Bernard who was arrested in 1941 by the German occupation forces as a symbol of Luxembourg Catholic resistance to German occupation. He was sent to in May 1941. In the film, Msgr Bernard becomes Fr Henri Kremer. He is taken unexpectedly from Dachau to Luxembourg where he is met and supervised by Gestapo Untersturmführer Gebhardt who attempts to present an argument for accepting Nazi rule. Gebhardt, who incidentally is an ex-seminarian who forsook the priesthood in favour of a career in Nazi administration, argues that while Jesus may have been a Jew, it was his will to overcome his Jewishness that makes Jesus a model for humanity. The arguments and discussions between the two protagonists form the basis of the film and the primary focus is on Msgr Kremer’s decision: either to stay in Luxembourg and collaborate with the Nazis, or to stand his ground which will inevitably mean his return to Dachau.

Whilst the film is primarily concerned with moral decision-making, rhetoric and theological debate, there is also a great deal of action. Several scenes, which occur frequently in the form of flashbacks when Msgr Kremer is in Luxembourg, depict the persecution of those interned in Dachau. In one of the film’s initial scenes, the audience sees one of the priests taken from the block by the camp guards. The guards put a crown of thorns on the priest’s head and he is crucified on a life-size cross which the camp guards have erected outside the block. The next morning, beside the first cross (on which still hangs the body of the murdered priest) another wooden cross has been erected. For the priests, the life-size crosses represent both a threat and a symbol of joy and hope. The film’s audience is afforded just a glimpse of the suffering endured by just one group of the persecuted, but it is enough to terrify and shock – just as the thought of Our Lord’s suffering and death is unbearably painful. And yet that cross, the very instrument of suffering stands as a symbol of hope, for it is only through suffering that everlasting joy is to be found.

The story of those priests interned in Dachau can give us a sense of hope through the torment they suffered. A review of Jean Bernard’s autobiography, Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau (translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider) can be found at Roman Catholic Vocations. The author of the post articulates this sense of hope which stories like this can give us. The author writes:

“One message that comes through loud and clear is the absolute joy that the sacraments brought to these men who were in such dire conditions. Although they could be executed if caught, they secretly said Mass and used what little scraps of bread they could find to provide communion for priests and non-priests alike. Fr. Bernard wrote: ‘It is a sea of comfort that pours over the gathering. Comfort and hope and strength for new suffering joyfully accepted’.”

Above all, this piece of historical experience reminds us of the sacrifice we must make as Christians as we take up our cross, but it simultaneously reinforces our knowledge that our sacrifice will not go unrewarded, for in Christ we all shall be made alive.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Passing on the faith

On the theme of religion in family life which Fr Jones and Fr Steel have recently metioned, here is a notice found in Douai Abbey. I hope that I will be forgiven for reproducing it in full as it does not seem to appear on their website:

Passing on the faith - Ten Top Tips

1)Pray with your children

Talk to God; teach your children how to pray. A short morning offering and three Hail Mary's before bed is an easy start. Add an examination of conscience, a great way for them to realise what they are doing wrong.

2)Pray for your children
St Monica showed us how her constant prayers turned her son from a grave sinner to the great Saint Augustine. Our children need our prayers to grow in the faith.

3)Be an example
Think about how you talk to other family members -is it mostly with love, impatience, or anger? Do your children see you praying, trying to be good and helping others? Do they see you going to Confession and Holy Communion? All these things will influence them more than you realise.

4)Take your children regularly to Confession
If you go as a family, the family is renewed in Christ and begins again. It is better than any group therapy and Christ is waiting for you, willing you to come to Him. Make a date on the calendar -make it a priority.

5)Celebrate high days and holidays
Find out the family patron saints and their feast days. Make the day special with a cake, a meal out, or a family trip. Celebrate as many feast days as you can, the holy days, Our Lady's feasts, any excuse to make your Faith joyful.

6)Resolve to make Lent and Advent special times of year
Decide as a family what each will give up, what they will do extra and how you can help others. Introduce the idea of sacrifice to build up a spiritual gift for Our Lord.

7)Teach your children their Faith
Find a catechism book and read it through with your children. If there are classes or days in the parish, make an effort to get to them. You will be rewarded, not only spiritually, but your children may learn to think of others and even help you!

8)Make sure your children know they are Catholic
Have Catholic books and saints stories at home. Put a crucifix up and a statue or picture of Our Lady. Make being a Catholic a normal part of their lives. Show them you are not embarassed about being a Catholic. Talk freely about religious matters and show how comforting praying can be.

9)Help in the parish
Could any of your children be encouraged to serve, help with the flowers, clean the church or sing in the choir? Getting them involved will draw them in and help them understand more of what goes on. Befriend a priest or religious so their example can be added to your own.

10)Prayer books in church
A suitable missal or prayer book will help you to guide them through the Mass. It will help them to understand more and may mean they are less distracted.

As I don't have any children, I can't say I've tried to put this into practice but it seems like sensible advice. In fact, a good deal of it could be applied to adults wanting to strengthen their faith too.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


It had to happen eventually: LOLSaints (with thanks to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping)

If there is anyone reading this who has managed to escape the LOLCat phenomenon, then Wikipedia is your friend (and congratulations on having better things to do with your life).

Personally, I prefer the cats, because at least I can laugh at them without feeling ever so slightly guilty!

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Conversion of St Paul

What is conversion? Not at all
For me the experience of St Paul,
No blinding light, a fitful glow
Is all the light of faith I know
Which sometimes goes completely out
And leaves me plunging into doubt
Until I will myself to go
And worship in God's house below -
My parish church -and even there
I find distractions everywhere.

What is Conversion? Turning round
To gaze upon a love profound.
For some of us see Jesus plain
And never once look back again,
And some of us have seen and known
And turned and gone away alone,
But most of us turn slow to see
The figure hanging on a tree
And stumble on and blindly grope
Upheld by intermittent hope.
God grant before we die we all
May see the light as did St Paul.

I had never read John Betjeman's poem on the Conversion of St Paul until someone pointed it out to me last week (on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, funnily enough!). As it doesn't seem to be available online, I have typed out the portion above. It was originally written as a reaction to a radio broadcast in 1955 by the humanist Margaret Knight called Morals without Religion which may be found here on the British Humanist Society website. Her argument was that moral education and religious education could, and should be separated. It appears, from reading her broadcast, that she believes there are two types of Christian: those who pretend without belief for the sake of social conformity but worry about what to teach the children, and those in whom beliefs are "deeply implanted and to whom they mean a great deal". She notes that nothing she is about to say will make any difference to the second group!

But the poem, I think, suggests that faith is not something that can be presented in Knight's polarised terms. There are as many different experiences of faith and conversion as there are Christians. Betjeman cannot identify with St Paul's "blinding light" and subsequent unshakeable faith. His doubts, worries, distractions and "fitful glow" may well be more familiar to many, they certainly are to me. There are even those who have a moment of conversion and turn away from it. But whatever one's experience, it is made clear that we must "stumble on" throughout our lives, even if sometimes it means forcing ourselves to church and just going through the motions, to try and establish a faith stronger than a fitful glow. And not everyone will succeed. But, we can't all be like St Paul, nor should we be, the important thing is to try and keep trying.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Stop worrying and enjoy your life II

With this new online procrastination tool, your very own Atheist Bus Slogan Generator

Oh, the possibilities.....

And as an antidote to the frivolity, Steve Jones, professor of Genetics at UCL argues that science and religion should leave each other well alone:

Can we please forget about Charles Darwin?

Maybe he's got a point? Any views?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

St Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

This morning at mass, as is customary in my local church on the feast of St Blaise, we had our throats blessed. The priest held a pair of crossed candles over each congregant's throat, saying: 'May God at the intercession of Saint Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil'.

This practice apparently originated when a boy who had a fish-bone stuck in his throat was brought to St Blaise, who healed him. Relatively few facts are known about St Blaise. Legend has it that he was born into a rich and noble family who raised him as a Christian. He became a bishop and, during a period of heightened persecution of Christians, he fled to the hills where he cured sick animals. He was captured, sentenced to death by starvation and was finally martyred.

St Blaise is the patron saint of physicians, sick cattle, wax-chandlers, woolcombers (the instruments of his martyrdom), and of wild animals.
O GOD, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blase, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat; and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Whiter than snow: a miscellany for the snowed in

Those of you who don't live in London or south east England will have to forgive this post, but I haven't seen this much snow in eighteen years! I will now attempt to provide a thin veneer of relevance to my excitement.

Dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Nives was once the name for the feast of the dedication of S Maria Maggiore. Our Lady of the Snows was once the popular name for the Basilica because of its foundation legend:

"During the pontificate of Liberius, the Roman patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honour. On 5 August, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision of the Virgin Mary which they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honour of Mary on the very spot which was covered with snow."

Though, even the Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to admit "From the fact that no mention whatever is made of this alleged miracle until a few hundred years later, not even by Sixtus III in his eight-line dedicatory inscription ... it would seem that the legend has no historical basis." So, despite the loss of the romantic name, for once, change is perhaps a good thing.

Eulalia of Mérida was a virgin martyred during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. Her mother feared that her daughter would only get herself into trouble during the persecution with her outspoken piety and so hid her in the countryside. Eulalia escaped to the court of the governor and challenged him to martyr her. She was stripped, tortured and burnt but continued to mock her torturers throughout. John William Waterhouse's painting, now in the Tate, shows a cross as an instrument of torture but includes the white dove that flew out of her mouth at her death and the miraculous snowfall, symbolic of her sainthood, that covered her naked body.

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow"

The Neck Verse was a name for Psalm 51 from which the lines above are taken. Until 1827, anyone convicted of a felony could escape the death penalty by a legal loophole called benefit of clergy. As secular courts had originally had no jurisdiction over the clergy, anyone appearing with a tonsure would be handed over to the church for trial, where the sentence was likely to be significantly more lenient. This was not hard to fake, so a reading test from the Bible was added. However, the test was always the same passage, begining "Miserere mei Deus, secundum misericordiam tuam..." so not even literacy was necessary, just a good memory.
Eventually, benefit of clergy became a way for first offenders to obtain a light sentence automatically, but they were branded to stop them taking advantage of it again. Amusingly but absurdly, it was extended to women in 1624.

I hope this has been diverting and I notice that it has now stopped snowing here.