Pope Francis: The devil hates families...

Blogged by James Preece 1 Month 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."


Pray for families.

Only Bigots value Motherhood?

Blogged by James Preece 1 Month 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.


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."


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.


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 1 Month 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.


Blogged by James Preece 1 Month 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 2 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.

The Value of Time

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

Well, this getting up early to blog plan is turning out to be harder than I thought! We've been celebrating a fifth birthday this weekend so there have been late nights decorating cakes and wrapping presents.. late nights are not condusive to early mornings. This is how I feel.

This weekend we will be heading to Walsingham with the National Association of Catholic Families, so there will be packing to do. More late nights to fit things in.

There is never enough time.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the value of time.

We've been clearing out some old stuff lately. Anybody with kids will know the drill, things accumulate and the house is full. Eventually you have to say goodbye to toys and clothes which were once much loved but now just take up a lot of room. It's something I find hard thing to do, because everything is a memory of happy times and I'm a lot more sentimental than you could possibly imagine.

Anyway, I mention all this because at some point in the process there inevitably comes a point when Emily brings Bagpuss (that's me, yawning, right now) a thing and Bagpuss can remember spending money on that thing and how with a bit of effort it could probably bring in a few quid on ebay.

Looking around at the boxes, little dollar signs light up behind my eyes. Ooh.. if I can get a fiver for that and a few quid for that and... then it occurs to me. All that ebaying will takes ages and...

There is never enough time.

The kids are playing in the garden and I'm sat on the floor surrounded by boxes trying to decide wether to spend an evening mucking about on eBay trying to squeeze a few quid out of some old stuff. I don't want to spend hours on eBay. I want to spend time with the kids. I want to spend time on worthwhile pursuits.

So the stuff has gone.

If you think about it (and I have) what I essentially did was to place a monetary value on my time. A rough guess at how much time I might have spent taking photos, entering descriptions and wrapping parcels vs how much cash I might have got suggests that eBay effort would pay about £20 an hour.

That's good money to me. I don't get paid anywhere close to that in my regular job. But it's not worth it.

It wasn't always this way. When I was a student I would have spent hours messing about with a marketing ploy in order to get £1 off something. I would have been happy. I had all the time in the world and never enough money.

Time is infinitely precious right now.

Money? Well, we're not exactly wealthy.. but if we are sensible and budget and my wife stops me from blowing my wages on video games I would never have enough time to play.. we can get by. We have enough.

But there is never enough time.

So, I've been thinking a lot lately about the value of time. I just woke up an hour early to write a blog post that as a student I would have had all the time in the world for. Was it worth more than £20 on eBay?

Maybe I should go back to bed..

Are ACTA part of a wider social phenomenon?

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

Yesterday I blogged on the age profile of ACTA members. Today I am wondering if the rise of ACTA isn't part of a wider social phenomenon.


[image source: the telegraph]

A couple of years ago the local council decided to close our local library. There was a campaign to save the library but the deed was done and the date of closure was set. Then something awesome happened - the campaign to save the library offered to run the library and the council let them.

Our library was always in use, but now it is packed. My wife takes the kiddies there and they come home with cake! Why? Because there are so many people simply hanging around the library that they have opened a little tea room.

All these wonderful volunteers who spend all day at the library doing a fantastic job keeping it going. Do you suppose they are busy people with full time jobs? I know that some of them are (how do they find the time?) but mostly, they are retired.

I can't imagine all this happening a few years ago. I can't imagine anybody having the time to get together and run a library. As Joseph Shaw has blogged a few times, membership organisations across the board have been in decline for decades. People don't get out and join things any more.. so why do we suddenly have a library? Why the sudden rise of ACTA?

I wonder if the two are related?

It seems that record numbers of people are reaching retirement. That means record numbers of aging lefty Catholics suddenly have a lot of time on their hands.

No wonder they seem to have the time for so many meetings.

ACTA the Future!

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

Continuing my research in to "A Call to Action", I realised that there are actual real life ACTA meetings just down the road in York. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that I would have the opportunity to pop along to a real life ACTA meeting.

In disguise of course.

At first I considered one of those Guy Fawkes masks but those things have hardly any wrinkles at all and I had no chance of blending in. Then I wondered about an eye patch, cutlass and captain's hat but it was too much fun and these ACTA people are not known for their fun. Finally, I looked in to those plastic nose and mustache combinations and a long grey detectives coat. Might that work?

Imagine my dissapointment when I realised that yesterday's meeting of the Middlesbrough ACTA group was, well, yesterday. Monday. You may not know this about Mondays but most people with typical jobs tend to go to work on a Monday. Could I pop over on my lunch break? Possibly. If my lunch break lasted from 8am to 5pm.

Can't say these ACTA people are not committed.

The next meeting of Middlesbrough Diocese ACTA is on a Friday. Spotted a pattern yet? That's right - it's another working day. I'll be slaving away over a hot keyboard, hunting and gathering, trying to catch a woolly mammoth or something to bring home and feed the kiddies.

The ACTA people seem not to have jobs.

Could it be that ACTA is very popular among students and the unemployed. It's possible, but here's something more likely - that ACTA is entirely made up of retired people.

It's the future!