19 April 2020


Image circulating around Facebook

Christ is Risen!

We are now on Day 25 of the coronavirus lockdown here in the UK.  Lockdown has been extended another three weeks.  How strange life has become!  Ian is home every day; we cannot go anywhere, even though the weather is breaking and the sun is shining; churches are closed...and yet...and yet, all around the world, the faithful are delving deeper into the Faith.  I have heard absurd proclamations by various secular / atheist people in high profiles stating that they are the ones making the difference in slowing down this pandemic and not God.
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."  They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. ~Psalm 14:1
These are the same people who claimed Easter was "cancelled" this year.  The arrogance in this world today is astounding!

I have been pondering the message in Fr Grunow's homily the other day, part of which was this:

One thing going on in our little town is the Bear Hunt.  The local primary school has asked residents to put bears in their windows for the children to find while they are out getting their "one time of daily exercise" and keeping to social distancing rules.  Friday was the big day, but folks are keeping the bears, along with the rainbows which are all over the place, to help brighten spirits and remind us of hope.

Our bear in the upstairs front window!

So, like many of us, we try (and mostly fail) to keep a routine, work to maintain a very active Domestic Church, try to do some DIY around the house, and get some quality reading and movie-watching in.

Which brings me to The Chosen.  Why am I just finding out about this amazing project?  We are both totally hooked, and cannot wait for Season Two!  I stumbled across this on Facebook, and I am so, SO glad I did.  If you have not seen it, drop everything and watch!  We don't have a TV, so we have been watching it on YouTube.  If you Google The Chosen you will come up with their website and YouTube channel immediately. 

[NOTE:  The Chosen photos obviously not mine; taken from Google]

I am often wary of any dramatized life of Christ, or any part of the Bible, for that matter.  THIS is a whole other story.  In my opinion, the artistic license takes nothing away from the Truth they are proclaiming.  For us, it has sparked lively and thoughtful conversations.

So, maybe during your forced isolation, you can revel in something truly beautiful and godly.  Go HERE for more information.

Meanwhile, stay safe and be well.  Go with God.

12 April 2020

From Darkness to Light

How do you put into words the whole of the Triduum?  Especially, how do you articulate the magnitude and the joy that comes during the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil?

What a Lent this has been!  We have done well with some things and done poorly with most.  Still...when the Light comes, it is magnificent!

Today we prepared for tomorrow's Easter Sunday celebration.  But we also stopped all throughout the day and took time for liturgical things, like this:

The Exposition of the Shroud of Turin, 
the Archbishop of Turin in veneration of the Shroud.

It was quite something to spend time just meditating on the shroud and contemplating the death and resurrection of Our Lord.  I have seen loads of pictures throughout the years, but never the actual shroud "live" as it were.

And after supper, we "went to Rome" and did this:

You can do this, too, by going to Vatican News online.

And around 10:30 tonight we did our own Paschal Vigil, complete with a Paschal candle and all the appropriate readings and prayers.  Ian used our kettle grill outside for our brazier, and we brought the new light in from that.  After lighting the Paschal candle, Ian could be heard far and wide from our back door, shouting, "The Light of Christ!"

 The house was dark, and the table prepared.  Our service was printed and ready.

 Ian is placing the incense pins, and the "brazier" is going.

 Our Paschal Candle (yes, sitting on top of the stove in the kitchen -- strapped for space here!)  The candle was also censed before we began.

 I lit the candle from the brazier and brought in the light.
Ian lit the Paschal Candle from it.

And our table was full of light and other joyful things by the end of our little service.  We also renewed our Baptismal vows as part of the service.

Tonight's Domestic Church ended with Day Two of the Divine Mercy Novena, and, since we're in Scotland -- a wee dram to celebrate.

Dear friends, if you want to TRULY celebrate and know the joy of the Resurrection and the Light of Christ, I cannot recommend this strongly enough:  READ THE PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM.  Truly, it is probably my favourite thing about the Easter Vigil.  I always, and I mean ALWAYS, have goosebumps and tears by the end of it.  You can find it HERE, and various other places online.  

At long last, we can say:

09 April 2020

Into Triduum...

Can we even believe we are this close to Easter?  I am sure we would all say this is one of the strangest Lents ever -- but in some mysterious ways, also one of the best.

For us, it has turned into a total hermit-in-the-desert / cloistered monastic experience.  We have struggled with some most of the outward expressions of penitence and denial, but--oh my goodness!-- the inward life of prayer has increased exponentially, and so has our devotional life.  It has been a real joy to "attend" daily Masses online, especially since we were never privy to them here.  We live in a fairly remote area with few churches and tiny congregations. (I shall refrain from a "Scotland is an anti-clerical, anti-Christian, secular, dark place" rant for now.)

As Triduum arrives, we have the following "lockdown" devotions planned:

  • Maundy Thursday = online Mass of the Last Supper from our diocesan cathedral, foot-washing, virtual Seven Churches Visitation, Stations of the Cross
  • Good Friday = 3:00 PM Mass from Carfin Grotto, Liturgy of the Passion with the Adoration of the Cross from St Peter's Basilica, and Stations of the Cross from St Peter's Square
  • Holy Saturday = Special prayer with the Shroud of Turin, the Pascal Vigil from St Peter's Basilica, and our own prayers and devotions with our Easter candle

You can find tons of resources online now to help Christians stay faithful during the pandemic.  Some of the ones we used:
In addition, we are placing a picture of a crucifix in our window tomorrow, a candle in the window on Holy Saturday, and we shall see (!!) what we put there on Easter Sunday.

Praise God there are so many resources and so many churches and communities who have taken the time and energy to put them together, along with online services and Masses.  In some ways, the Church is more active now than it has been.

Meanwhile, we are still under lockdown, with no signs of it lifting soon.  The statistics for the UK are quite grim.  We stay in almost exclusively now, except trips to feed our Shermy.  Everyone is watching to see how the Prime Minister is faring.  The government has expressed worries that people will break the rules over the Easter weekend, mainly because our weather is expected to be good (not that common here!).  I hope and pray people stick with these rules and do what they can to help us all to overcome this.

We have also been watching some really good Christian / Catholic movies on YouTube or Amazon.  We have taken away much inspiration and have had many good conversations around them.  Whatever we do, we're trying NOT to waste this precious time.

Be well and safe.  Pax et bonum!

06 April 2020

More Signs of Spring = HOPE

We were blessed to spend part of Palm Sunday out in nature.  No one is meant to just spend time out away from home right now while we are under lockdown.  However, we have an animal to feed, and the bonus to that is we can spend time -- AWAY FROM PEOPLE, so no virus transmitting going on -- in the fresh air and with our Shermy.

 Shermy poses.

 All dignity is gone when cookies are on offer!

 Shermy's number one weakness!

He will do just about anything for a cookie!

It is hard going when the government is telling us to stay inside our homes.  They aren't just kidding, either.  The news today was full of a government health official who had left her main home and travelled 45 miles to her second home, which was out in the country.  (Personally, I think far too much was made of it.)  I think the government was using this as a lesson:  STAY HOME.  Which, of course, we do.  Except when we go to feed Shermy.

Believe me, we see our trips to Shermy's field for the blessings that they are.  Just to hear the birds and see the flowers coming into blossom and scritch a woolly sheep and sit on the grass -- after a dark, dreary winter, and now in the midst of a pandemic -- is bliss.  And, we both feel a bit closer to God when we're in the midst of his natural world.  I'm sure most people feel this way, which is another reason the lockdown is so hard.  

The farmers are not on lockdown!
Shermy's favourite field has been ploughed under!

Hopefully, people will at least be able to open their windows, or sit in their backyard (two metres away from anyone), and at least see the sky and hear the birds.  Now is the time for us to really savour the simple joys.

Now is especially the time to use the enforced peace and solitude to rest in Christ.  For anyone not suffering with the virus, or exhausted from caring for those who are, this is precious time to spend in prayer and meditation.  Let's not waste it.  This is a reminder for myself especially.

May we all be at peace with God in the midst of this trial.  Holy Week is here, my friends.  Go deeper.  Ponder the Mystery. 

Glory to God for all things!

05 April 2020

Walking While Tilted

Another long, odd week.  I have not known what to write.  Our world has tilted, and sometimes it feels hard to walk the Way.  Ian has been home all week from work ~ we are all on lockdown.  This is the end of the second week.  It feels like months, and this is coming from someone who lives a very quiet, cloistered life under normal circumstances.  I cannot imagine what people who are very busy, busy, busy and rarely at home are experiencing.

It is easy to despair, even for we who have Faith.  I do not like to see the bulk of British society placing all its hope in Westminster and mere mankind.  There have been many rainbows appearing in people's windows, but I don't see any signs of the Faith anywhere.  What, I wonder, will it take for people to see what is lasting Truth?  Maybe most people will never see it.  I don't know.

We have kept our Domestic Church active:  lots of prayers, a novena, online daily Mass, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, readings, things like that.  So far, for the approach of Holy Week, we have made a cross from twigs gathered on our "one period of exercise" walk outside.  Somehow, it was blessed via an online Mass.  We have also made branches in lieu of palms, with the materials we have here in the North, and have hung them on our front and back gates, and the front door.

This morning, we joined Pope Francis via the Vatican News website, in his beautiful and glorious Palm Sunday liturgy.  You can view all of Pope Francis's activies, prayers, and Masses HERE.

We must persevere.  This Lent has been very trying, and yet, it has shown us most pointedly, in black and white, what is really important.  I hope we here in our home, and the wider "we" can learn from this -- what is essential, and what is not.  I have been musing on all the things that really constitute clutter, both physically and mentally.  If anything good is come from all of this, I hope it will be stronger, increased Faith, and a simpler way of living.

For those who wish to follow Holy Week at the Vatican, here is a schedule, from EWTN:

Blessings to you all as we enter this Holiest of times!