Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Break the monotony of your day with Spam

Occasionally, when things are really, really dull, I look through the spam folder in the Women's Guild inbox. It fills up with the usual -offers of shady medication, dubious electrical goods and opportunities to make one's fortune in obscure African countries.

But today brought the cryptic message:

"All past efforts for world peace have failed!"

Catholic Anglicans may not be that popular at the moment but blaming us for global conflict is just too much!

And if this post hasn't been enough of a diversion, you really can "Break the monotony of your day with Spam" -though somehow I've never felt called to do so.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Good Read?

I've accumulated so many books that, when I look for something to read, I'm spoilt for choice. And when I go into bookshops, I'm dazzled by the many buying possibilities. If this sounds familiar, then help is available:

Index Librorum Prohibitorum -A searchable database

So, if I get rid of Victor Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert, Dumas, Zola, Peter Abelard, George Sand and Gibbon that should clear some space....

Oh and I'd better take Machiavelli off our Good Read list then.

(Before I start to smell bonfires, the Index was abolished in 1966 and this is posted only for interest and diversion, not to encourage the destruction of library collections which is a Bad Thing. Though it is supposed to retain moral value "against written materials that can put faith and good conduct in danger". Goes to look for the matches....)

Monday, 20 April 2009

"Christ claims you for his own"

It seems incredible that a whole year has passed since the very first Women’s Guild blog entry and what a year it’s been judging by the statistics!

A little while ago I met a new member of our regular congregation who told me he was being prepared for baptism and asked whether I would act as his sponsor/godmother along with another friend of ours. I felt quite overwhelmed at this: what an honour, but also what a responsibility! I tried to gather information on what I ought to do to prepare for his baptism and for my own role in the future (hilarity ensued when I searched for ‘Godmother’ on and was reliably informed that Godmother was not only a ‘female godparent’ but also a ‘cocktail made with Italian Amaretto liqueur and vodka’..!). The baptism itself was conducted at the mass of the Easter Vigil and proved to be a profound and moving experience. It followed the Litany of Saints during which the assembled congregation processed from the choir to the back of the church, clutching our unlit candles and huddling around a small table with a bowl from the kitchen (the church is in a priory and therefore has no font). There was something pleasing about the litany: the list of excellent and devoted men and women who had gone before us - who had been baptised just as my friend and godson was about to be. On a night when our senses cannot help but be opened to the voice and presence of God, to watch a young man enter the Church, the body of Christ, was a tremendously exciting occasion. The priest’s pronouncement ‘Christ claims you for his own’ – simultaneously terrifying and wonderful – particularly emphasised to me in that moment my own identity as one of God’s children and the importance of my duty to act as a servant of God and of others.

On my return to ‘real life’ I read the Holy Father’s homily at the vigil mass at S. Peter’s which spoke very powerfully of the meaning and wonder of baptism:

“... The second symbol of the Easter Vigil – the night of Baptism – is water. It appears in Sacred Scripture, and hence also in the inner structure of the Sacrament of Baptism, with two opposed meanings. On the one hand there is the sea, which appears as a force antagonistic to life on earth, continually threatening it; yet God has placed a limit upon it. Hence the book of Revelation says that in God’s new world, the sea will be no more (cf. 21:1). It is the element of death. And so it becomes the symbolic representation of Jesus’ death on the Cross: Christ descended into the sea, into the waters of death, as Israel did into the Red Sea. Having risen from death, he gives us life. This means that Baptism is not only a cleansing, but a new birth: with Christ we, as it were, descend into the sea of death, so as to rise up again as new creatures.

The other way in which we encounter water is in the form of the fresh spring that gives life, or the great river from which life comes forth. According to the earliest practice of the Church, Baptism had to be administered with water from a fresh spring. Without water there is no life. [...] Saint John tells us that a soldier with a lance struck the side of Jesus, and from his open side – from his pierced heart – there came out blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34). The early Church saw in this a symbol of Baptism and Eucharist flowing from the pierced heart of Jesus. In his death, Jesus himself became the spring. [...] In Baptism, the Lord makes us not only persons of light, but also sources from which living water bursts forth. We all know people like that, who leave us somehow refreshed and renewed; people who are like a fountain of fresh spring water. We do not necessarily have to think of great saints like Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and so on, people through whom rivers of living water truly entered into human history. Thanks be to God, we find them constantly even in our daily lives: people who are like a spring. Certainly, we also know the opposite: people who spread around themselves an atmosphere like a stagnant pool of stale, or even poisoned water. Let us ask the Lord, who has given us the grace of Baptism, for the gift always to be sources of pure, fresh water, bubbling up from the fountain of his truth and his love!”

(The whole homily is available to read in translation here.)

Year by year, Lord,
we recall the mystery of Easter,
the mystery which restored mankind to its lost dignity
and brought the hope of resurrection.
Grant that we may possess eternally in love

what we now worship in faith.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Some statistics

This blog originated from an idea proposed at a retreat over last year's Easter Triduum and, on Easter Tuesday 2008, we wrote our first ever post. So Women's Guild is now just over a year old.

Since then we've....

...had nearly 7000 visits and over 10000 page views
...attracted visitors from quite a few places -from Nova Scotia to Malta
...spent far too much time on the internet -15 posts in February and 1297 visits make it our busiest month so far
...eaten far too much
...travelled across the Channel
...said our prayers

And, hopefully, given an idea of the life, faith and service of at least a few Catholic laywomen.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Regina Coeli

One Easter morning, St Gregory the Great was walking in procession when he heard angels chanting:

Regina coeli laetare, alleluia,
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

And he added the last line:

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Other than this legend, the authorship of the Regina Coeli is completely unknown although it has been attributed to Gregory V, apparently without any reason. During Easter, from the Easter Vigil until Pentecost, it replaces the Angelus and is often sung in the following translation to the tune of "Jesus Christ is Risen Today":

Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven. Alleluia!
He whom thou wast meet to bear. Alleluia!
As he promised hath arisen. Alleluia!
Pour for us to God thy prayer. Alleluia!

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.

O God who by the resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, didst vouchsafe to bring joy to the whole world.
Grant that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

A very happy Easter to all.

Monday, 6 April 2009


From the Daily Telegraph, a slideshow of Hooded Penitents taking part in Holy Week processions in Spain. They walk for hours, barefoot and to the beat of a single drum, carrying floats depicting scenes of the Passion and statues of Our Lord and Our Lady. Their dress varies according to the fraternity that they belong to, but all have the hood in common -to enable them to repent their sins through these acts while remaining anonymous. As the pictures show, men and women of all ages are able to take part, though child penitents are excused the hoods!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Mysteries of the Rosary

Each decade of the Rosary is recited in honour of a mystery from the life of Our Lord or of Our Lady. From the 16th century onwards, this was set at three sets of five mysteries showing the Rosary's origin as a way for those who couldn't read or memorise the psalms to imitate the monastic Liturgy of the Hours, which involved praying all 150 psalms daily, by substituting an Our Father or Haily Mary for each psalm.

The Joyful Mysteries (Mondays and Saturdays)

1. The Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38)
2. The Visitation (Lk 1:39-45)
3. The Nativity (Lk 2:1-7)
4. The Presentation in the Temple (Lk 2:22-35)
5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-52)

The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays and Fridays)
1. The Prayer and Agony in the Garden (Mk 14:32-42)
2. The Scourging at the Pillar (Mt 27:15-26)
3. The Crowning with Thorns (Mt 27:27-31)
4. The Carrying of the Cross (Jn 19:15-17; Lk 23:27-32)
5. The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord (Lk 23:33-38, 44-46)

The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays, Sundays)
1. The Resurrection (Mt 28:1-8)
2. The Ascension of Christ into Heaven (Ac 1:6-11)
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (Ac 2:1-12)
4. The Assumption (1 Th 4:13-19)
5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Rev 12:1, 14:1-5, Is 6:1-3)

In 2002, Pope John Paul II added another set of mysteries, the Mysteries of Light:

The Mysteries of Light (Thursdays)

1. The Baptism of the Lord (Mt 3:13-17)
2. The Marriage at Cana (Jn 2:1-2)
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom and call to conversion (Mk 1:14-15, 2:3-12)
4. The Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36)
5. The Institution of the Eucharist (Mt 26:26-29)

And as for how to say the Rosary, look here, or it can even be downloaded (not that I've tried).

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Holy Cards

I've found this lovely blog which posts an appropriate holy card every day with accompanying thoughts:

Holy Cards For Your Inspiration

They're all the author's personal collection -what a wonderful one to have. The card above comes from the post for 15 March, accompanied by this text:

There are some things
that can be learned by the head...
Christ crucified
can only be learned by the heart.