Friday 26 May 2006

Hymn Lyrics to make you Weep

...Only this time with laughter! Given my previous posts on inclusive language in hymns and getting children to learn the traditional hymns, this offering from Fr. Nicholas at Roman Miscellany just had to get a mention...

Thursday 25 May 2006

Feast of the Ascension

I never quite got the point of today's Feast: it seemed a bit harsh for the disciples, having gotten used to Jesus being around again, to have to see him disappear once more. And having to wait until Pentecost for the consolation of the Holy Spirit, well, that just seemed a trifle heartless...

So the sermon at this evening's Mass was food for plenty of thought: we celebrate Jesus' return to the Father because he redeems our human nature and raises it up so that we can share in his divinity.

There was also a warning about bringing Jesus down to our own level in an attempt to make him seem less remote... the timely reminder that Jesus is more fully human than any of us gives the lie to the often-repeated statement that we're falible, we're sinful, because "we're only human."

(Apologies to Fr. Tim if I misquoted him, but I've had a couple of Baileys since I got home!)

Tuesday 23 May 2006

Before the Moon and the Stars were made...

We had the last of our First Holy Communion Masses last Saturday. I've heard (and experienced) some real horrors over the years, but they are always done with reverence and sensitivity at my current Parish.

One of the highlights for me is being able to watch the children as they come up to the altar rails for Communion - I'm lucky enough to sit by the organ, on the sanctuary side of the rails (under the pretext of helping with the singing) and so I get the best view in the church.

The sermon is usually pretty stunning too. One theme which Fr Tim mentions quite often is enough to reduce me to tears: he points out to the children that Jesus has been waiting for them to be ready to receive him, and has been waiting for each one of us, has thought about each one of us since before the stars were made... wow.
It was a theme which resonated in the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at his Inaugural Mass in April 2005:
And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

Prayers Needed

...And while I'm on the subject of prayer, I'd appreciate one or two. I have an interview on Thursday afternoon.

Quite apart from the fact that I'm hopeless at interviews as I get incredibly nervous and tongue-tied, I have to give a five minute presentation on the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

Now, I "know" God exists. And I know the cosmological argument for his existence. But what I don't know right now is how to make the argument last for five whole minutes in such a way that the interviewing panel stay awake...

Aaaaarghhhhhh !

Children's Prayers

One of the "problems" often mentioned in English state schools is the legal requirement for a daily act of worship. Many of my colleagues don't actually bother, unless Ofsted are visiting, and then suddenly books of prayers appear miraculously with long passages to be read and pondered over.

Time constraints are often cited as the biggest hurdle. We have only 20 minutes in the morning to get into the class, take down chairs, check and sign contact books, take the register, sort out uniforms, chase up absence notes, give out behaviour monitoring reports and listen to the tannoyed announcements.

Because of this, I prefer to use the "standard" prayers - the Lord's prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father, and occasionally I will recite one of the longer traditional prayers, and then conclude with one of the more familiar ones to be recited together as a class. I do use more variety in the prayers we have in my lessons, but I prefer to make sure we have a short daily prayer rather than a longer reflection just once in a blue moon.

But every so often, usually about once a week, I will ask the students if they have any prayer intentions, and these can be quite an eye-opener. The children (my Form class is Year 8, and so they are between 12-13 years old) ask for prayers for parents, friends, relatives and just a brief indication of why they need our prayers.

Today, for example, several children mentioned a friend of older siblings who died at the weekend (I realised that it was the same person each time, as we'd had a prayer at staff briefing), a friend's mother who had died of cancer, a parent going to hospital, a relative who was pregnant and various brothers and sisters who were sitting exams.

I think of it as a privilege to hear these prayers. And it really makes me sit back and count my blessings.

Monday 22 May 2006

Bad vibes for the week ahead

I suspect that I'm in for a trying week...

Last night I couldn't get to sleep. Instead of giving it up as a lost cause at 4am (I have to get up at 5:30am) I continued to lie in bed. My last thought was something along the lines of "I really should get up now, or I'll sleep through the alarm clock..."

Next thing I know, it's 7.15am, and that means I've missed Mass. Bad start.

Despite the fact that South East England is suffering from drought, it is tipping down with rain. No doubt we will be told by the Water Board that it is the wrong sort of rain, and the hosepipe bans and similar restrictions will escalate, along with the water rates. The rain is so bad that the windscreen wipers make little headway, and I'm reduced to driving at 40 mph (the normal speed on that road is 70 mph). I get hemmed in by two articulated lorries which add to the visibility problems... and since my car crash last December when I was smashed into by a lorry, twice, and then overturned when I hit the central barrier, I get a little nervous around lorries. They're bigger than me, and this time my Guardian Angel might be napping.

So, what with the slower-than-usual journey, and the rain encouraging every parent to drive their little darlings to school, stopping in the middle of the road to say fond farewells at the school gates, I was five minutes late. Not good... the day feels like it's going downhill.

It was hot last week, so the boilers have been switched off. Naturally this means that the school is now freezing. The day slowly progresses...

The final straw is when one of my pupils objected to being ignored when he was trying to disrupt my lesson from outside the classroom. He decided to jam a chair under my door handle, and followed it up with one of the long tables used for packed lunches, which he jams between the top of the door and the chair... I could probably lever the door open with brute force, but decide that it's probably safer to ring for a Senior Manager. Luckily I have my mobile phone handy...!

I can't wait till Friday: roll on the Half-Term holiday!

Sunday 21 May 2006

Cats Rule

As a woman who has a cat, and more importantly, as a woman whose cat knows exactly how to make me rush around supermarkets finding exactly the right catfood (which is invariably not the same catfood as the last time I went to the supermarket), I found the following item from Happy Catholic a real treat ...

On a Mission

Well, I've done my bit to help stuff up the DVC opening weekend figures: I went with a friend to see Mission Impossible 3 - which was on 4 screens at Purley Way, Croydon, despite having been out for a while. Very enjoyable. Even more enjoyable was the fact that the DVC for its opening weekend only appeared to be on in two screens...

I really shouldn't gloat ...

... well, just a little ...!
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