Confirmation Programme: Transformed in Christ

Blogged by James Preece 1 Week ago...

Ooooh.

Transformed in Christ blog has, er, transformed.. in to Transformed in Christ Confirmation Programme. I haven't seen the full programme, but the samples look good and I'm sure it's excellent because Hannah who runs it is a very good thing.

If you are looking for a confirmation programme, I reckon you just found it.

There and Back Again: A Blogger's Tale

Blogged by James Preece 2 Weeks ago...

In one of his books, GK Chesterton describes a man who goes adventuring around the world. Thinking himself far from home, discovers a strange new island, only to discover that the island is England and he has gone all the way around the world and returned home. JRR Tolkien tells a more geographically precise tale about a hobbit who reaches the mountain and then returns home - but he does not return the same hobbit he was when he left.

I think blogging has given me a taste of both kinds of journey and while I've written about how blogging has changed, I haven't often thought about how blogging has changed me.

First it was about ideas - not high brow intellectual philosophy you understand, but students in pubs. I had ideas, my friends had ideas. People who were not my friends had ideas. Blogging was a way to explore those ideas "out loud" and figure out what I thought of the world. It was very much about me - what am I going to think.

As my ideas settled down, I decided to go on an adventure - which is to say I decided to followed a Wizard and joined his party of dwarves. To my horror, I discovered that the dwarves were a mess. Half of them didn't believe in dragons and many had no interest in going to the mountain or retreiving the gold. How do you go on an adventure when your fellow dwarves are so muddled? How do you evangelise the world when many of your fellow Catholics are so muddled?

Well, I'm not Gandalf and I wasn't even wise enough to recognise that Theoden was sick. I was all about ideas so I set about trying to convince my fellow Catholics that their ideas were wrong. That sounds awfully big headed, but I wasn't arguing for my ideas - I was trying to convince Catholics to accept what their own Church said.

Then I began my voyage around the world.  I had realised that the wrong ideas didn't come from ordinary people in the pews - they were being fed from above. So I started to argue with the priests. The priests were obstinate so I started to argue with the Bishops..

Halfway around the world there is a line called the International Date Line. When you cross it you are no longer sailing away from London, you are sailing back again.  I crossed a similar line but I did not know it when I realised that many of the Bishops were not simply muddled about ideas. They were reckless, dishonest, lying, cheating, men who were not mistaken or naive or failing to understand the problems - they were doing it on purpose.  I was pretty angry about it.

Before I crossed that line, I knew sin existed - but somehow I had put it in a different box. I understood that in the "everyday behaviour" box people (myself included) often choose to do the wrong thing, somehow I had naively assumed that in the "getting ideas right" box everybody agreed that truth was better than lies, good better than evil etc. Hence my youthful optimism that with the right arguments I could simply explain to the Bishops how their ideas were wrong and everything would be okay.

So I continued my voyage, not yet realising that I was over halfway around the globe and heading home. I stopped fighting ideas (or at least, I dialled it back a bit) and started fighting sin and corruption.  Some of you may have read this book so you already know the spoiler - sin and corruption are everywhere.

Having worked my way up the heirachy in my fight about ideas, I now worked back down it in my fight about sin.  As I pointed out the sins of Bishops, I discovered local clergy willing to lie to cover them up - I found local congregations willing to lie to protect their priests.  I continued my journey in to wilder and wilder lands as I discovered myself in a place where all around me even ordinary innocent people were sick with this strange disease called sin.

Eventually I sailed up to that beach, that island all the way around the world. I discovered a strange man with a soul half black and half white. His ideas were good but he would lie to himself and ignore them, his behaviour was appalling but people thought him good because he behaved well when they were watching.

A great battle raged in this man's heart, and corruption just as messy as any I had seen on my travels. He carried the diseases that I had seen and while not directly responsible for all of the infection, he had certainly done his own fair share of the harm.

I had found myself.

It's probably just a phase..

Blogged by James Preece 3 Weeks ago...

One of the problems with not blogging often, is that when one does blog, one tends to blog about not blogging often. How busy I've been, what I've been up to, the way blogging doesn't seem to fit in to the day anymore.

I followed the Where have all the bloggers gone? discussion and I find myself thinking similar thoughts to The Sensible Bond..

To a large extent it is because I am now the father of three small children, and frankly, blogs just don't count. By the time I have done my duty to children, wife, God and employer, I don't have much left in the tank for readers.

[link]

It's not so much the Pope Francis effect as the Paul VI, John Paul II, Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body effect. I'm busy being a father.

My blogging has gone through different 'phases' anyway. When I first started out almost twelve years ago it was an outlet for my thoughts as I journeyed from mostly lapsed cradle Catholic via a brief foray in to Evangelical Protestantism in to a more American Apologetics type understanding of the faith.. In hindsight, I was turning in to what traditionalists would call a neo-con and more recently I've been turning in to what a neo-con would call a traditionalist. I'm not so sure I'm very close to what a traditionalist would call a traditionalist.

It was an outlet for thoughts, a sounding board for muddling things through out loud and it was helpful because when I thought stupid things people said so.

Then, as the world at large (e.g. grownups) discovered the internet blogging changed and I entered what you might call the campaigning phase. It wasn't just about exploring my thoughts - it was about trying to make the world better by pointing out the problems.  I think it made a difference - sometimes. When people pay soliciors to write threatening letters... something is happening.  The down side was having to be careful what I said - the whole "thinking out loud" thing goes out of the window when people are talking to libel lawyers. It all got very complicated.

I'm far to busy for all that now.  I don't have the time.  The kids come first.

So my blogging has entered a sort of "occasionally comment on the news" phase where it just sort of edit and repost of things I read on other blogs. Maybe I am providing a service but it's dull and I don't enjoy it so I'm even less inclined to get around to doing it.

So bear with me. I'm going through another phase, it's the hardly ever blog because I'm far too busy with real life phase.  Then again, I woke up this morning and I just "felt like blogging" so.. you never know.

Pope Francis: The devil hates families...

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

The devil hates families and tries to destroy them, Pope Francis told a gathering of Charismatic Catholics in Rome on Sunday. “Families are the domestic Church where Jesus grows in the love of a married couple, in the lives of their children," the Pope said. "This is why the devil attacks the family so much.”

The Pope prayed that God protect families.

[...]

"Families are the home Church where Jesus grows," Francis said. "He grows in the spouses' love and in the children's lives. For this reason, the enemy attacks the family so much. The devil does not want it. He tries to destroy it, to prevent love from becoming free.... But married people are sinners like everyone else; they do not want to go in faith, in its fertility, in children and the faith of their children. May the Lord bless the family, and make it strong in the face of the crisis by which the devil wants to destroy it."

[link]

Pray for families.

Only Bigots value Motherhood?

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

I am told that the financial crisis could have been averted if there were more women in boardrooms..

Research suggests that businesswomen are more wary of risk than men and that companies with women at the top are more successful and in tune with their customers because their boards have a wider range of views.

[link]

I am also told that the sex abuse crisis in the Church could have been averted if there were more women in the Vatican.

a greater presence of women in the Vatican could have prevented clerical sexual abuse from taking place.

[...]

"Women, in fact, both religious and lay, by nature would have been more likely to defend young people in cases of sexual abuse, allowing the church to avoid the grave damage brought by these sinful acts."

[link]

I am even told that "Mothers Matter More"...

For too long we have been trying to obscure differences, to say we are all the same, and therefore as parents men and women are equal.

[...]

It is indisputable that the bond between a child and its mother is different from that between a father and a child.

[...]

The relationship is unique and incapable of substitution. We tamper with it at our peril, and at the greater peril of our children.

[link]

In short: Women are a good thing.

The above links are all from The Guardian newspaper, it's a lefty newspaper amd they would probably describe the above exaltations of Women as feminist and progressive.

Catholics would call it an acknowledgement of the complementarity of the sexes. The Church teaches that men and women are different and that our physical and spiritual differences are mutually supportive. Men need women and women need men. The two are not interchangeable.

Women's role is vital, irreplacable, incapable of substitution. Even The Guardian thinks so.

So riddle me this one..

Why is it that when Slovakian parents request that their children be adopted in to a family with a woman for a mother, those Slovakian parents were branded "bigoted"?

Why is it that companies need women, the Church needs women and even children need women.. except when they don't?

Consultation on PSHE and SRE in Schools

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

The government are holding a consultation on PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) and SRE (Sex and Relationship Education).

They are asking whether PSHE ought to be statutory, either as part of the National Curriculum or through some other means of entitlement.

SPUC have some excellent briefing notes here.

The long and the short of it is that at the moment the state allows you to pull your children out of sex education lessons but there are plenty of people who would like to see that change and this consultation could be the first step in the process, so it's important to be heard.

Church teaching is clear that "Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance" and that parents should "follow every form of sex education that is given to their children outside the home, removing their children whenever this education does not correspond to their own principles".

Note that the Church is not against sex education, but that the Church insists on the right of parents to provide it and decide what, when etc..

Even if you are not a Catholic, it should be obvious that parents are the people best placed to judge the level their children are working at and what they are ready to understand. You may be in the "but some parents don't" camp but is that really a good argument for forcing parents who feel strongly enough to pull their children out of lessons to sit back and watch while their under age kids are shown pornographic films? This is not a parody.

You have until 6th June to respond to the consultation here.

Blessings

Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...

I told you Walsingham was going to be awesome and it was.

It rained of course, but then the sun shone and Catholic families camped and prayed together by the Slipper Chapel. Our kids played with other kids while we met other families. My Catholic Dads around my age that I've actually met count doubled.

We walked the Holy Mile, said rosaries and received Benediction. We heard excellent talks, stayed up until 3am chatting around a camp fire then got up at 6:30 anyway to make breakfast. There was all night adoration, we saw shooting stars and the milky way.

It was also great to meet several readers of this blog and of Family Roundup magazine which Ella and I edit and to receive many appreciative comments. I'm feeling encouraged and may even get myself out of bed early to write some more.

One major blessing of the weekend was being asked to cater for one of the Fransiscan Sisters of the Renewal and it was great for our kiddies to spend so much time with her. Another blessing was being asked to organise the talent show which meant I had to wander around the field talking to all the families and meeting so many great people.

I've deprived myself of sleep, worked hard doing all the usual camping jobs, used horrible portaloo thingies, shivered in the rain and got sunburn.. yet I'm feeling refreshed.

Those spa treatment people are doing it all wrong.

Heading to Walsingham

Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...

Tomorrow morning we're getting up to go to the National Association of Catholic Families pilgrimage to Walsingham.

It's late, I'm tired and I haven't packed the car. There is thunder and lightning outside. Heavy rain. Bad forecasts. We'll be camping. The next few days are going to be exhausting and I'm already burned out.

In my experience, these are exactly the right sort of conditions for a pilgrimage where I look back and say "that was awesome". I only wish I could look forward and say it..

We will see you on the other side.