Thursday, 20 August 2009

Pregnancy diary 30+ weeks.

My friend Edith arrived from Zurich a few days ago. We haven't seen her for about eight months, which is unusual, usually she's back and forth more frequently.

Edith is a force of nature. She is American and therefore when she talks, all her sentences have exclamation marks.
Also, they are either staccato: "Punctuated.Like.This.Clare!" Or run on as in "No!Idon'tbelieveitClare!"

When she arrived with her little leopard skin wheelie suitcase ( she loves animal prints and black. This is the look for Force Of nature type people ) she took one look at me and said:
"Clare! Are.You.Pregnant?! OhmigoshWhereisit?! ...Youjustlookbloated!!"
Then she took out her mobile phone and took these snaps:


It's true that it's not an impressive bulge. And yet I can't stand being on my feet for longer than a few minutes.
A woman down the road is as pregnant as me and ginormous. Yet she can skip around as merrily as a little mountain goat.
I, on the other hand, with my 'Is she pregnant, or just bilious?' bulge, am waddling around like the Hofmeister bear on prosthetic legs.

I am greatly afflicted with varicose veins, one particular horror really feels as though it's at bursting point. I am doubly afflicted by the torment of surgical stockings, which may be worse than the problem they are meant to relieve. The elastic, the heat, the itch. Aargh! It's like wearing a hair shirt, only on my legs.
And whenever my knees are ever so slightly bent, it's as though there is a rope behind them where all the elastic rucks up.
Still. I have nary a stretch mark and can still sneeze daintily without, um...you know.
So I haven't experienced Total Physical Wipeout (yet).

And still, it thrills me to weepiness to remember that all this is owing to a brand new soul waiting to make his or her debut.
So I'm not really complaining, just venting a little. That, and thinking that I'd like to document something of my pregnancy here before it's all over.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Remembering a beautiful saint


"When [St. Maximilian] looked with compassionate eyes and serene countenance at the executioners, they could not stand his gaze and demanded 'Turn your eyes away. Do not look at us that way!' As they left the cell they would mutter to themselves, 'We have never seen a man like him.' Thus hatred was conquered by love, evil by sheer goodness, and death by one who freely gave up his life so another might live..."
Brother Francis M. Kalvelage, FI, Kolbe Saint of the Immaculata, (Academy of the Immaculate: 2001), 10.

(HT MaryVitamin)


Saint Maximilian Kolbes feast day was on the 14th August, the anniversary of his death in Auschwitz in 1941.

Having recently read this book about him, he has become one of Gabriels favourite saints.
So it seemed fitting to honour him on his feast day in some way.
I wanted to do something with a red and white theme, for Poland, and for the red and white crowns that the Blessed Virgin was said to have offered him when he was a boy. One was for purity, one for martyrdom. He chose both.

Initially I was planning on fairy cakes, with red and white icing, but it soon became apparent that I was running out of time and energy, and headlong into a very frazzled tea time.
I did strawberries and cream instead.

I have already written about my "ah ha!" moment during a Seder meal, and in a much less elaborate way, this little pudding likewise brought a sweet way of remembering a hero of the church .
Colmcille, who is six and had not paid great attention to the story when I had been reading it aloud, was very perky and eager to be part of the conversation that we had over the strawberries and cream. He was much interested in the red crown and the white crown, and what they indicated, and that led off into other tangential, but interesting, musings.


Just incase anyone is interested, this is my very favourite way of preparing strawberries, it creates a lovely, sweet/tangy crimson liquor that swirls prettily into the cream. It's extremely simple and fuss free to serve too, which is always a bonus for mummy:

Hull and chop the strawberries.
Sprinkle with sugar ( don't be too shy with the sugar, the idea is that it won't be needed at the table, thus doing away with another potential source of aggro)
Drizzle over some balsamic vinegar. If you don't have balsamic vinegar I have managed very nicely with apple cider vinegar and I'm sure other varieties would be fine too)
I can't tell you how much too drizzle, like the sugar, I've no idea. Just stir it all up and have a taste. Then leave it to sit for a bit for all the syrupy liquor to 'mature'. I usually try for at least an hour ahead of eating time.

(Psst. Top tip for slacker mums: much easier than fairy cakes.)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Memories are made of this

Colmcille wrote this letter to my friends 14 year old daughter when we got back from our week away.
He is awfully fond of Ronny.
Having picked a big bunch of wildflowers (and *ahem* weeds) with her in mind, he took the surviving stragglers back to London where he assembled them, with a little help, on a piece of card.
We had been to see Corfe Castle, arriving by steam train, both of which you can see in the postcard.
He wasn't impressed by the demolished castle ( the tumbledown state of which is owing to the activities of Cromwell and his Parliamentarian wrecking crew ) He thought it compared very unfavourably with Ronnys very own, for real castle, which is their holiday home.
It's just outside Salzburg and we stayed with them there just before Easter.
Having the advantages of little 21st century refinements like central heating, hot and cold running water and a Great Hall replete with a swing and all the ride on cars a boy could dream of, it rather knocks sorry old Corfe into a cocked hat.

Anyway, I thought the letter was very sweet, so I am leaving a record of it here for my own indulgence.







"Dear Ronny I rode on this train. I went to a broken down castle Your castle is nicer I picked these flowers for you on a long walk. I love you Ronny Lots of love golly xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Ninth day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Ninth Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

Gracious Saint Clare, who fulfilled your womanhood by a life of love in prayer and penance, help us to fulfill our destiny that we may one day greet you in Heaven. You who were consoled at your death by a vision of Christ band His Mother, obtain for us the grace that we may die under the special protection of God and enter into the life and bliss you now enjoy. Have pity on us who struggle, on us who mourn, and win for us the favours of God so that after this life we may come home to Him who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Eighth day.


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Eighth Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

Valiant Saint Clare, who fearlessly stood alone against the barbarous Saracens, trusting in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection, enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus Christ; help us to live Eucharistic lives. You who saved your city of Assisi from plunder and ruin, protect our city and archdiocese, plead for our beloved country and the suffering world. A voice from the Sacred Host rewarded your trust with a promise: "I will always take care of you." Glorious Saint Clare, from your high place in Heaven, take care of us now in our earthly needs and guide us by your light to Heaven. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Seventh day.


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Seventh Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

Faithful Saint Clare, loyal daughter of the Church, friend and confidante of popes, intercede for the holy Church and look graciously from Heaven on our holy Father Pope. Enlighten us to remove from our souls all that hinders the progress of the Church on earth. Grant that we may share your great love for the church of God and spread His kingdom on earth by a holy life. You, who worked miracles in the presence of the pope on earth, obtain for us the graces we need, now that you stand in the presence of the most high God in Heaven. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Sixth day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Sixth Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

Generous Saint Clare, who left wealth and pleasure and all earthly goods to become the first spiritual daughter of Saint Francis and to serve God in the cloister, help us to commit our lives to God without limit or measure so that He may live in us and shine forth from us to all whose lives touch ours. You who loved souls so much as to make your life a continual sacrifice for them, obtain for us the graces we now implore and win for us the strength to praise God in suffering as well as in joy. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Fifth day.


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Fifth Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

O Seraphic Saint Clare, whose virginal heart was great enough to love the whole world, take our petitions into your pure hands and present them to God. Pray for us that we may one day enter joyously before the throne of God. Let the light of your perfect purity consume the shadows of sin and corruption that darkens the world. Intercede by your innocence for our youth. Safeguard the peace of our homes and the unity of our family. Plead with your chaste love for all in peril. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Fourth day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi


Fourth Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

Blessed Saint Clare, whose very name means light, illumine the darkness of our minds and hearts so that we might see what God wishes us to do and perform it with a willing and joyful heart. Before your birth, a Heavenly voice foretold that you would be a light illuminating the world. Be a light to us in the sorrows and anxieties of this earthly life, and lead us into the eternal light of our home in Heaven. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Novena to saint Clare. Third day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Third Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

O Seraphic Saint Clare, light of your country, who hast delivered Italy from barbarous invaders; obtain from God for us the grace we implore (mention your intentions here), that of overcoming all attacks of the world against faith and morals thus preserving in our families true Christian peace with a holy fear of God and a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare. Second day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi

Second Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

O Seraphic Saint Clare who, notwithstanding living separated from the world hast not forgotten the poor and the afflicted, but hast become a mother to them, sacrificing for them your riches and working for them innumerable miracles; obtain from God for us the grace we implore (mention your intentions here), Christian charity towards our brethren in all their spiritual and temporal needs. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Novena to Saint Clare First Day


Novena to St. Clare of Assisi


First Day:
O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise Thy Holy Name and the wonders of grace Thou hast worked in Thy servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in Thy most Holy Love. Amen.

O Seraphic Saint Clare, first disciple of the Poor Man of Assisi, who hast abandoned all riches and honours for a life of sacrifice and of highest poverty, obtain from God for us the grace we ask (mention your intentions here), that of always submitting to the Divine Will and of living confidently in the providence of our Heavenly Father. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray. We Pray Thee, Lord, Grant us Thy servants who celebrate the festival of blessed Clare Thy Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Thine only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Time to start practising what I preach

Recently, visiting a group of evangelical Christian friends at their weekday home group, I was challenged about the Catholic practice of praying novenas.
The challenger had been raised Catholic, but is now hotly 'anti'. Frustratingly, most of her objections centre around her childhood recollections of 'what the nuns told her'.
This makes her pretty adamant that she has an excellent handle on the various 'false teachings' of the church. She has little interest in discussing what the church actually teaches because' the nuns told her' all she needs to know.
This makes a discussion with her somewhat like plaiting fog. In addition, she gets quite vexed when I respond with either a denial that the church teaches such and such, or a challenge to show me where the church teaches what she is claiming they do. She doesn't need to 'because the nuns told her'.

A favourite old chestnut is that Catholics do in fact, inspite of their denials, worship Mary.

In this, most recent exchange, we had been discussing the belief held by some that once you have made a confession of faith in Christ you have your heavenly pass. You are 'saved' and that salvation is permanently guaranteed . No subsequent deed, no matter how wicked, could jeopardise it. This is the doctrine known as 'Once saved, Always Saved' ( John Martignoni has an excellent podcast about this here)
At one point in our musings, this lady asserted that this ( a belief in OSAS) was "no different to what Catholics do with their novenas", which, according to her nuns, "guarantee you a place in heaven" .

I started to explain something of the theology of novenas, using the example of the nine days Mary and the Apostles spent in prayer from Ascension to Pentecost. I also tried to rebut her assertion about 'guaranteed heaven' but I was up against the maddening nuns of youthful memory so it was pretty hopeless and the discussion petered out when a friend pleaded to re establish the conversation on a less combative footing.

It got me thinking a little bit though. Pondering the very good 'case for novenas', I wondered why I'm not better at it. I'm actually a hopeless case when it comes to sticking with a novena for the whole nine days. It does require a little discipline, commitment and fidelity. Hmmm. I'm such a slacker in that department.
I've only just realised that the petitioning novena to Saint Anne for my pregnancy, which I intended to join in with on this blog, actually finished last week. Argh! Again all my good intentions lie in the dust.

This is not a straightforward pregnancy, and the latest hospital visit has raised some fairly anxiety provoking possibilities ( the doctors want to rule out a potentially even more serious liver condition, I also need a growth scan on Monday as I am clinically small for dates, I tend to carry small, but could do without the anxious brooding that any deviation from plumb normal provokes . In addition, I need to make some decisions about the mode of delivery, none of which are straightforward)

I need all the heavenly help I can get.

Since my return to the Catholic church, I have been really struck by the huge difference the company of heaven makes. Knowing that I have the companionship and intercession of the angels and saints and the Blessed Mother is such a consolation. I feel like an only child, who suddenly finds herself in the bosom of a big, warm, rambunctious family.

So, after berating myself for missing the Saint Anne novena and generally being such a loser in the business of sticking to a prayer plan, I was struck by a wonderful idea. My very own patron saints feast day is on the 11th August! That is, three days after my birthday.
If I start a novena for the intercession of Saint Clare on the 4th August, it will end on her feast day.*
Well if I'm going to argue the case for novena praying, I really ought to actually pray novenas too.
I'll let you know how I get on.
*(Oops. Edited to add, I've just realised that if the novena is to end on the 11th August, I need to start on the 3rd, not the 4th. That's tomorrow. Good job I double checked, didn't I say I was hopeless at this?)


Gaze upon Christ,
consider Christ,
contemplate Christ,
as you desire to imitate Christ.
Second Letter to Agnes of Prague (c.1235)