Friday, 6 April 2012

40 Days for Life - the end

The campaign ended Sunday. It's been truly amazing though! I couldn't go as much in the last few weeks though, life got in the way big time.

I want to the day if the unborn which was the usual solemn Mass in the morning followed by a procession around Sydney to parliament house and back again. It was the best NO I've ever seen, a male choir chanted the introit in Latin as they processed to the altar. They sung Palastrina and other polyphony so beautifully. It was a bit odd with the NO, but good. Bishop Portius is a good celebrant too, and even used the pulpit which is warped around one of the massive pillars.

We then slowly made our way out into the street, it was raining a little so people tried to hide under the Cathedral first. The rain left, and it became hot in the Sunday, especially with my black 40 Days for Life shirt on. It was a cross wearing it through the city, but it's good that it can be both a witness and a tiny humiliating martyrdom.

We sung at the end of each decade of the Rosary, the main singer stuffed up slightly when he sing the wrong tune, and everyone followed along. He apologised and everyone's laughter echoed through the city scape. I think it was good becausek it made look joyful, rather than morose. We stood in front of parliament for a while, some curious security guards stared at us from the second floor, one even took a picture. We took off after a speech from a representive from FLI. I was surprised when we started heading through Martin place, but the sound of How Great Thou Art, echoing through the streets was breathtaking!

We rounded into Hyde singing Ave Maria, and as we crossed finished with Help of Christians into a beautiful line between each verse Id never heard before, obviously to help with marching, 'Holy Mary, pray for us!'. We ended with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, about a thousand people there. It was a lovely day. I had to change out of my shirt to go get lunch though, to as void awkwardness in public and at home with my room mates who still don't know I've prayed outside an abortion clinic!

It's been a life-changing few weeks, I live how many young people care enough to show up too. Can't wait till next year!

Almost There!


It's been a long Lent!! I can't wait to break my penaces this Sunday, especially my music one, I've been eating a fair bit of chocolate lately because so many people have offered.

I've learnt to patiently accept these too. I ended getting frustrated with Dad over him offering it all the time (I think I was mainly upset that he wasn't participating too). After talking a priest from the Ukarnian Rite, who has to abstain twice a week, and who told me to offer it up (which is so true, because I want to peacefully abstain, but God's put me in a position where I have to be gracious to those living outside the faith). All was well with Dad after that, he even apologised and said he'd stop offering, it didn't last long because he'd forgotten within a week, but I hesitated the least possible and accepted the chocolate. I need to be a little less obsessed with rules, and more with loving people.

Two weeks ago I got an up-close encounter with Cardinal Pell. I was sitting with my friend away from the crowd after Stations of the Cross  lead by His Eminence. I was eating my soup just chatting and suddenly the Cardinal appears towering above us and politely asks if he can join us. He slowly lowered himself on the bench next to my friend (who already knows him from a dinner he'd attended at the Cardinals house), he seems to be getting old, I felt so sorry for him, especially a man as tall as him. I noticed he couldn't even genuflect, doing it only once before leaving the church.

I immediately tried to think of something to say. 'that poem was beautiful, I got a little teary' I hoped my half-laugh didn't make it sound it I was starting again. He said he was quite moved aswell, and mentioned he wasn't sure if the poet was Australia. I said, probably not since our poems are usually about the bush.

We talk about Scottish politics then sat in silence for a time while I tested to think of something to say. What to say to him? How was Rome? I asked if he was going to be joining us at the day of the unborn. He said no, unfornately he'd be out at St Charles in Ryde I mentioned that's where Ali live, but I rarely visit my parish church. He ask I was from originally, I said Lismore, with Bishop Jarrett, bragging a little, he asked what I do, I told him about the bookkeeping job. 'it's a pretty boring job' 

'you don't like it?'

'oh well, yes, its like doing a puzzle everyday. Although I told my boss and he said 'wait till the suppliers know you'" 

My friend laughed, while the Cardinal sort of pondered it. 

Someone came over and got their candle blessed, we spoke some more about euthanasia in Europe and the normalisation of homosexuality. Eventually he excused himself and I noticed he hung around until only a small group of young people remained. He's a very quiet man, I wish he'd said more, my old bishop would've filled up the space nicely with weird and interesting facts. It's a good reminder that not all bishops are the same. But I really do get the sense that he's a good and kind man. I was star struck for days after meeting him.

Tonight is the Easter Vigil of course. I'm really excited, Im going to St Mary's Cathedral, very early too to get in the nosebleed section. If Maudy Thursday was anything to go by, it should be a beautiful liturgy!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

40 Days for Life

I've been regularly attending the 40 Days of Life vigil in Surry Hills since it's beginning on Shove Tuesday.

That evening we had a procession from the local church to the abortion mill, lead by Bishop Brady. I was a little bit nervous, since I've never been anywhere near an abortion mill (as far as I know). We prayed the rosary as two-hundred of us moved through the streets. People were in pubs and local shops and were staring at us. We had a few people even scream obscenities at us as they passed by, which I kind of smiled to myself about and thought 'I'm not really seeing the logic of why we should stop there'. We also sung hymns so it echoed throughout the streets. We finally came to that horrible place, I got a little teary, it was such a sad place. We finished the Sorrowful Mysteries on our knees and then Bishop Brady went straight up to the building and blessed it. There were about five people mocking him while he did it, laughing and scoffing. One of them, a woman, start writing something on the ground but I started pouring suddenly, there hadn't been a cloud in sight, and the police also grabbed her. It was truly amazing!

I managed to make it the Thursday after, I stayed for about three hours. A girl came right up to the group (which was pretty brave of her actually) and yelled at us, unfortunately it was in-between prayers too, so we couldn't ignore her. A man came up behind us and started yelling at us, and wouldn't leave for about 20 minutes. He had some friends standing on the corner with a 'honk if you like choice' sign, and there were people honking, but not all passing cars. We each made sure to raise our voices while praying the Rosary.


I woke up with a really sore back and legs from standing so long, but I decided to make an offering of it, and went again that night. A guy and some women came (they all looked very stereotypically left-wing), I think he might have been the man yelling at us the day before. He hung around, and very close to people, and finally asked one of the men if he could speak to them. They went off and started a discussion, a couple more guys from our group went over to help out. I noticed a couple of times that they were laughing, it seemed like a peaceful dialogue. Meanwhile a few big, muscly guys showed up, covered in tattoos, I was a little worried but then saw their Rosaries, and knew we were find. The tattoos were religious, and I'm pretty sure I saw theotokos up one of their legs. The man started to get a bit rowdy and the police were called. He and his entourage ended up leaving, but graciously. One of our group ran after him to give him a flier and he responded by saying "Oh, you want to give me a present, thank you'.

The vigil rapped up at 8pm and I had the opportunity to actually meet some of the people I'd been praying with for hours, even days some of them. There's such a friendliness and comradeship, I ended up getting a life back to the Church with a really nice couple. I spent a little time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but I ended up heading home before it got too late to catch a bus.

I met up with my friend who is new to Sydney and we prayed together for a few hours and then went down the street to have lunch in the favourite cafe of the pro-lifers. I got to meet the regional coordinator who had some interesting stories about the trouble they've had with petty local authorities and the occasional pro-abortion people. Including one who stole the box of Rosaries and booklets and was chased down the street by one of the people praying. He managed to catch him and hold him down and wait for the police to come. It was then they foud out that this guy had been a bouncer for six years.

I went early in the morning. Probably not a good idea because I was so tired I kept stuffing up the prayers. There were only two people there when I arrived and the guy left shortly afterwards. We had a couple of people throw insults at us, including a guy who called us two girls 'bigots'. I mention to the girl that at least he can't call us sexists. She ended up having to leave for class, and I was resigned to my fate of having to pray there alone, but within a second two more girls showed up to pray. I really think Our Lord was looking out for me!

It was a rainy, horrible day. I tried to go to Confession before heading the vigil, but it was taking too long and I didn't want to hold up the Mass on account of some venial sins. I ended up being twenty minutes late. I met a very nice man who actually put off his day a bit so another man could leave early. He also genuflected during the Stations of the Cross despite having a bad leg. It really started to pour down and I had to juggle my bag, Rosaries and booklet while trying down to get wet. The hem of my shirt was wet, which was the most irritating thing, so it was a hard vigil. But a man, a little drunk but still very well meaning, turned up and thanked us and said he'd pray too, he patted me on the shoulder, then shook the two guys hands and then I thought he was going to shake mine, but he ended up kissing it. It was so sweet, and I went back to leading the Rosary with a very red face. A little late some random guy came up and asked for one of the peoples booklets, he let him have it and I handed him another one and we exchanged a look like "what the hell?".

I'm having a quiet day today, I'll be going back Friday night before First Friday Mass. It's being an exciting and rewarding thing so far. I'm so inspired that there have been so many young people. I'm even thinking about taking on the councilors course. I'm a little scared, but I know God will lead me the right way!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mass, Confession and then more Mass!

Last week I attended a Latin Mass in honour of Eileen O'Conner, potentially the next saint of Australia, a small, disabled woman who lived in the late 1800's and started an order of nuns for the care of the sick and disabled. Her body is incorupt. Apparently Our Lady appeared to her through a statue in her bedroom, I got to have a look at it, it was beautiful and very well painted, a couple of girls I was with and I spectualated on whether it was incorrupt too...but it may have just been repainted.

The Mass was very interesting, it took place on a Novus Ordo sanctuary with two very cramped sub-deacons. Eileen's tomb was opened for the anniversary of her death, and a special blessing. The sisters are now very modern, but they were very gracious in opening up their chapel to the Latin Mass community. The Mass was very beautiful and solemn up to the point where the fire alarm went off. It wasn't a fire...well not a big one. The thurifer pulled a face somewhere between "opps" and "I'm so pleased!". The fire alarm climbed pitch quickly, and the priests voice followed as he intoned the Sub Tuum. I saw him and the sub-deacon next to him laughing quietly as congregation sung so loudly it seemed like they were trying drown out the alarm. During the blessing of the tomb afterwards a tall fireman appeared at the door, but took a step backwards as he realised he'd be interrupting something. They finally stopped it just before the end of the service.

Before I went to the Mass I attended confession at the Cathedral, it was on the way. I had such a heavy load on my shoulders, I really felt that my sin was getting in the way of my relationship with God, it was the most tangible in a long time. I remember seeing a really good metaphor that the NET team that was in my parish gave to some teenagers at a local high school. They had one person standing there next to "God", and they give each other a high-five. They then told a story about a teenager who sins a couple of times venally, they stand a couple of volunteers stand between the first person and "God", they try to high-five, they can, but it's more difficult. The story then goes on and the protagonist sins mortally, another person is put in between and then the person and "God" can't high-five at all. It was going through my head days before I went, probably trying to counteract my resistance. I had to ask where the confessionals where from a security guard, he was nice enough to check the times and then point me in the right direction. The priest was really wonderful, I was behind the curtain, but he had the kindest voice and recited the reflections beautifully. I felt so much better afterwards, and a little teary, although I swear that always happens after confession! I felt so good receiving communion afterwards, I'd been washed clean. how good is the Lord! Giving us such an amazing sacrament!

At Mass on Sunday we sung some hymns and a round, which was the first time for me. It was interesting learning to do it, I'd done terribly at them in the past, but I pulled it off this time, probably because it was so simple. Thankfully I knew the hymns, or at least the tunes. I find it difficult sometimes because I don't know the hymns, and thee seems to be this assumption that we all do (especially since the sheet music is rarely given). It was the same while I attended the NO, so at least I'm used to it. I think that's the sad part of not being a cradle-Catholic, I missed out on the culture in a lot of ways, but now I'm on my way to regaining it, so praise God for that!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Getting lost - The Joys of the Public Transport System

O10 Jan 2012

So far I have been lost in Sydney twice. The first time on the train to the Latin Mass at Lewisham. I ended up in tears while on the phone to my friend who had to keep getting up to go out of Mass and call me. I missed the station twice. On the third try I had a ticket to central in my hand as I tried to get back down the trainline. Just my luck and the ticket cops came through. One of them checked my ticket and I immediately said 'I know how it looks but...' and in the most inarticulate way I tried to explain. He saw that I was about to start crying so he handed it back saying 'this is your lucky day' and made me promise not to cry. I at least waited till he left.

I finally made it, after stumbling though the backstreets of the old suburb. My friend has a way with words and ended up describing it to me clearly enough that even through my confusion I found it. I awkwardly walked in and felt the eyes of a lot of potentially judgemental traditionalists (face it, some of us are snobby). The Sanctus started moments after and I knelt in bliss. So pleased to have actually made it and hear such beautiful music and see awe-inspiring liturgy. I felt so calm.

After Mass my friend drove me home, after dinner with him and a few of his friends which cheered me up. He also put the Epiphany blessing with the specially blessed chalk over my door. It was nice to indulge my Catholicism.

The second time I got lost was on the way put to Mulgoa for another Latin Mass. I wonder if the enemy was behind these, but I think also I was overdue for confession. I was driving this time, trying to find my friend's house. I took the wrong turn and ended up the wrong end of the city and with a few E-tolls I'll need to pay for. I paid a toll where you could pay cash and accidentally started off in the wrong gear. Feeling intensely embarrassed, and slightly frustrated, but waiting to get out of the sight of the toll person, I burst into tears again. Then when I'd finally made it out to Mulgoa, as I was too late to make it to my friend's house, I went too far past the church. Tears again, and a few curse words which you can't say aloud on public transport. Of course I was out of range too. I turned around and finally find it with my friend standing outside. I was amazed when I recognised the woman she was standing with, I'd sung with her at a Confirmation Mass months earlier back in my old diocese.

It turned out it was just the two of them singing and they immediately dragged me into their modest choir. I was a little worried because I'm slow at pronouncing Latin, let alone singing it. But I took the chance and it paid off. Everyone was so relaxed. We made a couple of mistakes, but ended up stifling laughter over it. One of the altar servers incensed the congregation way too early, and he had a look on his face like he had realised what he'd done, which was funny. The priest even made a mistake, but my friend picked it up. They're hoping to have more Missa Cantatas in the future and I've decided that Mulgoa is exactly where I want to be singing and helping. It's so easy to get to by car. Lewisham is beautiful, but I don't think it would be as relaxed. I'm needed at Mulgoa too. I have so much to learn, but I'm really looking forward to it!


9 Jan 2012

Well, I'm finally in Sydney. It's taking me a while to get used to the fact that it's now my home, it still feels like I'm just visit my friend.

I got up at 5.30am, finished packing and then went to Mass. I was so blessed because my favourite priest who'd I had worked along side most my life in the parish was celebrating. The responses were mostly in Latin and he chanted it beautifully. I started getting a little teary during the final prayer and as I knelt to pray the tears really started coming. It was so embarrassing! When I went outside I got hugs from friends. Then father came over and offered me a blessing for myself and my car. 'Any blessings for criers?" my friend asked. 'no, none for criers' he laughed. The blessing was beautiful and included the Our Father (which I had to mutter because the tears had started again) and a psalm he read. We then went over to my car and my friend's dad opened it to give it a final check. Father said to leave it open, and he ended up sprinkling the holy water over it. My friend joked about exorcising it.

I then headed off, still in tears and sobbing. I visited my friend swho are a married couple to drop something off and it cheered me up incredibly when they had to run from the lounge, where they had been sitting in their undies, to the bedroom to cover up. I don't think they'd been expecting me that early. I wonder if it'll make them paranoid. After a huge laugh and a couple hugs I was off again.

I was a little bi-polar on the way down for the first few hours. I'd smile or laugh to myself about the old times, and the burst into tears as I got further away. I made a mental note of when I got to the end of my diocese. When I saw the turn off the Pacific Highway to Sydney I almost started up again. I was so glad when it was over. My friend helped me unpack quickly, and we sat in the air-conditioned loungeroom and played chess (I won :D) and had my first dinner, tuna curry, in Sydney. After a nice chat and catch up I collapsed into bed, exhausted. I got a call from Dad, and then went to sleep quicker than usual.

Back online!

I'm finally back on the Internet, my own too! I feel so grown up!

I'll put up the entries I've been working on offline.