Saturday 8 December 2007

Five Whole Years, And Counting...

On December 1st, 2002, I took private vows, dedicating my life as a single woman, living and working in the world, to God and his Church. A bit like being a Consecrated Virgin, but I haven't vowed obedience to the Archbishop (which would have made the vows public rather than private).

The vows I took were these:

1) to live a life of prayer and self-denial, following Christ’s teaching that "anyone who wishes to be a follower of mine must take up his cross and follow me;"

2) to live a life of chastity in the single state so as to witness to Christ with an undivided heart and be a sign of spiritual fruitfulness in the world; and,

3) to live in obedience to the teaching and authority of Christ and his Church so as to accord with the will of Christ who was himself obedient even unto death on the cross.

Today I renewed my vows (I don't worry too much about the actual date: a suitable Saturday around the start of Advent is the most practical option.)

The day was a busy one: as well as being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the morning Mass a little boy made his First Holy Communion. (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... available under the usual conditions for assisting at a First Holy Communion Mass!) and I spent an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... Waddaya mean, only one a day? Hey who thought up that rule? Holy Mother Church??? Ok, ok... so make it a partial indulgence grumble, grouse, chunter...)

The start of the ceremony for my renewal of vows was a little later than planned... partly because Confessions proved to be very popular, and over-ran. I love it when that happens: think of all those lovely shining souls... However, the fact that I forgot to print out the order of service and the readings was the main hold-up. Poor Fr. Tim had to go and search his computer to see if he had a copy of it. Luckily for me, he did!

The Union of Catholic Mothers had prepared a fabulous buffet lunch. A Faith Family Day had been organised for the afternoon, and so, after lunch, Fr. Tim talked to the children about Christmas, and then to the parents about vocations. I didn't hear what he said about vocations because I was one of the helpers for the children's activities: they were making Christmas tree decorations... a crib with pictures of all the different vocations in the Church stuck around the manger. Christina had printed out lots of pictures, and so there was much cutting, sticking and application of glitter-glue.

I have come to the conclusion that PVA glue is an invention of the devil...

I also resented the fact that the picture representing a single woman (I had been pointed out to the children as someone who had chosen this vocation) was somewhat redolant of a person engaged in liturgical dance...

After a short tea-break, the parents continued with a discussion group. Some of the children were getting a little boisterous, and so I suggested a game of Sleeping Tigers. This is a brilliant game. It involves children lying down and pretending to be asleep. The adults and older children get to walk around looking for signs of movement... if the child moves, he or she loses, and has to sit up. Last one up is the winner.

A clever adult can prove to be remarkably short-sighted, overlooking all but the most blatant movements...

After two games of this (heheheh), we went into the church to pray the Rosary together (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... ok, ok, it was worth a try... I'll settle for another partial indulgence then!) and after we tidied up a bit, I drew the short straw (not having fractious children) and finished hoovering the Large Hall before the Parish Social Club came to open up.

It was a truly blessed and happy day. I felt privileged to be able to join in with the family day, and to help out while the parents had an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the faith: they will, in turn, be passing that faith on to their children. It seemed to sum up the reason for my own vocation.

Five years since I first made my vows. Someone asked me, just after I'd made them, what would happen if I found I'd made a mistake. "I mean, what if Mr. Right shows up tomorrow?"

I answered pretty swiftly that he'd be Mr. Wrong, because he'd have turned up too late. Reflecting on the past five years, I know that I've found my vocation. My "Mr. Right" is my Lord and God... somehow I don't think divorce is an option!

I'm Back...!

...Woohoo! After a week of not blogging, I'm back at the old keyboard, flexing my fingers, and...

...I've gone blank!

The minute I stopped blogging (as preparation for my renewal of vows), there were a million and one things I wanted to say. Now, of course, I can't remember any of them. Typical!

I wasn't completely blog-free: I allowed myself to read my favourites, though commenting was definitely not allowed! And of course, there was a little hiccough on Wednesday when I simply had to put up a post about the trialling of abortions in doctors' surgeries. But, apart from that...

(Yes, I feel like I'm in the Python sketch, "What have the Romans ever done for us?")

And a big thank-you to everyone who prayed for me during my week off. I shall reciprocate, just as soon as I can tear myself away from my computer!

Wednesday 5 December 2007

What Price Human Life?

Yes, I'm supposed to be having a blog-free week, but sometimes events take over, and this is too important to ignore. And no, it can't wait. At least I'm not blogging after my official bedtime!

So, what has rattled my cage? Quite simply, it is the proposal to have abortions carried out in doctors' surgeries. I have to admit that, when I heard about it, this made me feel physically sick. It is so easy to obtain an abortion in England. I have never heard of any case where an abortion was prevented because two doctors' signatures could not be obtained. Pregnancy, unless a woman goes into her doctor's surgery clutching a positive pregnancy test and beaming, seems to be thought of as a "problem" to be dealt with.

However, it is common sense to see that, the further along a pregnancy is allowed to go, the harder it is for everyone concerned to pretend that they are "removing" a "bunch of cells" or a "blob of tissue". Too many people have seen the ultrasound images. So, to salve their consciences, they have to get in there much more quickly. Also, there aren't enough properly qualified staff to carry out those awkward later abortions. People get upset at the sight of tiny fingers and toes ripped apart by a vacuum pump, or, even worse, being delivered in bits.

This poses a problem... the hospitals and abortion clinics can't quite keep up with the workload. And there are delays in getting appointments... And so, some bright spark has thought out a way to make the problem disappear...

You can get your abortion done at your GP's surgery. No need to go into hospital, not even a clinic. It also has the advantage of anonymity... watch those ghastly pro-lifers squirm as they realise that they cannot hold prayer vigils outside every doctor's surgery, and so have no chance of telling women that there is another choice possible. And, of course, many GPs work alone, so there's no chance of getting a second signature, so that requirement will be waived... and, because the woman is just coming in for a little tablet, there's no need for any of that time-consuming (and expensive) counselling...

It's not even being debated. It's happening at two locations already... as a clinical trial.

John Smeaton, SPUC's National Director, said, "The blunt instrument of government policy is being used to engineer conveyor-belt abortion, giving women less time to think and creating even more pressure on them before having an abortion. This is also an attack on conscientious objection, trying to wear down the medical profession's increasing resistance to abortion."

Human life is considered of such little worth that it can be disposed of without reflection, without difficulty. How long before "unsuitable" women are given tablets by their GPs without their consent? Impossible? But it used to be considered impossible that a person could be starved and dehydrated to death: food and drink was basic care, not "treatment." Oh, and consider what "unsuitable" might mean... after all, any woman who has a third pregnancy is treated as something of a pariah by many health workers, who ask anxiously if the woman knows about contraception; the consideration that a large family might be a free choice is anathema.

This is evil. There is no other word for it.

We cannot remain silent in the face of evil. We need to protest, or we will one day be held accountable for the lives destroyed. SPUC are encouraging people to write to their GPs and to their MPs. If you are unsure of who your MP is, you can check via this website. You can also send an email through the site.
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