Author Archives: Sarah

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Dear Mary, his Mother, sang sweet lullabies,
as Jesus, awaking, gazed into her eyes.
The most holy Virgin, with loving caress
embraced the world’s Saviour with Love’s tenderness.
Good Joseph stood guarding the Mother and Child,
his soul filled with awe and his heart undefiled.
The birth of young Jesus made angels to sing,
but Joseph in silence kept watch o’er his King.
What once was a stable may our hearts become;
may God’s holy fam’ly in us find a home.
With Mary and Joseph and angels above
we worship the Infant, the gift of God’s Love.

Text: V.1, Traditional, vv. 2-4, Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1995

Music; CRADLE SONG, William James Kirkpatrick, (1838-1921)

Advertisements

Wet West

We’ve had a lot of rain the last day or two. Now you might well be saying “quelle surprise” since I live in the West of Ireland and quite right too. Please note however that it was only a few months ago that the Irish government was so worried about the lack of rain that they instituted a hosepipe ban. I expect visitors from dryer climates found it quite amusing. Anyway, the slightly brown grass produced by the “drought” has faded into a distant memory now that we are experiencing the usual winter downpours. Here are some photos I took today at Lough Lannagh, Castlebar:

The penultimate photo shows the path leading to a submerged jetty. As my son remarked “it’s disa-pier-ed.” (I got told off for groaning instead of laughing.) You can just about see Croagh Patrick in the distance. I’ve zoomed in for the last photo so you can see it better.

Christmas Crochet and Solomon’s Shawl

First, in line with my policy of full craft disclosure, I have to admit that I never finished the mantilla I was crocheting.

The yarn was too thick so I looked like I was wearing a doily on my head. Not a good look unless you’re going for crazy-like-a-loon. Also, I realised that the triangle was the wrong shape for a head covering; it needs to have one much longer side.

To cheer myself up I crocheted a few Christmas decorations. I made them up as I went along so I don’t have a pattern for them, sorry.

I haven’t stiffened them yet so hopefully I can get them straightened out a bit more.

Today I started on another triangular project. It’s going to be a shawl made from Solomon’s knots.

There are loads of tutorials on the Internet for making this lacy and deceptively simple stitch so I will let you find one that suits you. To get the triangular shape I worked as follows:

Start with 2 ch then dc (UK notation as always) into the first chain. (You could try just 1 ch to start because my starting point is looking a bit too bulky.) Next draw out the yarn to the height of stitch that suits you and your yarn. I’ve made mine about 1cm high and I’m using quite thick “string vest” yarn. Make four of the Solomon’s knot component (SKC) stitches (made up of a long loop and a dc) and join into a diamond shape by dc into the starting dc. 3 SKC, dc into next corner of the diamond. *2 SKC, make a chain to the same height as one of the loops (I’ve used 3 ch.), ss into the next corner of the original diamond and ss back along the chain and into the dc. Now 3 SKC and turn work to dc into top dc of the nearest diamond. 2 SKC, dc into top of next diamond. Repeat from * increasing the repeats of the previous instruction as each row grows in length, and using the chains to join up diamonds at the edge of the triangle.

Nun Nostalgia

This programme, first shown in 1959, made me nostalgic for Wales, BBC English, and good old-fashioned Catholicism. Lovely ladies serving the Lord and saving souls:

If the embedded video above doesn’t play in your country then try clicking here.

What Sin Boils Down To

Hymn to Saint Andrew

On Saint Andrew’s Feast Day please enjoy this sweet rendition of a traditional hymn in his honour:

Cat Trust

We’ve had a lot of cats while we’ve been living in Ireland.  There are lots of feral cats roaming the countryside looking for some sap to feed them or to adopt their kittens.  At one point we had four under our roof.  They were probably all related because they could tolerate and even enjoy each other’s company.  They would all sit on the kitchen window sill waiting to be let inside, then, when we opened the back door they would all run in to their food bowls like they were on rails:

catsonrails

They would also cuddle up in one basket at nap time (unfortunately I don’t have a photo with all four together):
catsinbasket

We currently have three cats under our roof, and another who comes for food but won’t let us touch him.  Sadly, they hate each other.  They turn to us for cuddles instead.  Strangely, but conveniently, they have each chosen different people as their special property.  Minnie has always been devoted to my husband:

minniesmall

Next came Tiger who adopted me:
20180829_1802153610285062510955800.jpg

Then came Marshmallow who chose my daughter, who chose her unusual name:

20181112_1947074360503003128664919.jpg

And last of all – king of the garden:

Stripessmall

Introductions over, I’d like to share an insight I had whilst watching the cats. As I said, these cats hate each other. It makes living with them quite difficult at times, and it makes them quite jumpy. Anyway, earlier on, I was trying to persuade Tiger that he could go back to sleep while I dealt with the post which had just dropped through the door and startled him. The thing is the cats don’t trust us enough. We want them to know that we have their best interests at heart but there’s no way to communicate that to them. From their point of view we’re quite unsatisfactory hosts. We’re slow to give them what they want, and even when we respond we often get it wrong. “No, I don’t want fish today!” We put them out in all weathers. Occasionally, we even hurt them; trapping a tail or treading on a paw. We’ve let invading cats into their domain, or, in Marshmallow’s case, we’ve introduced them into an environment that already belongs to someone else. If they trusted us we could minimise their contact with the other cats. But because they’d rather travel through the house on their own terms they’re constantly evading us and running up against the other cats. Whoever suggested the term “herding cats” for an impossible task was spot on.

So, it struck me, that this is somewhat analogous to our relationship with God. I’m sure that if we could trust God more it would make our lives a lot easier. He’s tried to communicate His great love and care for us through Revelation and by allowing His Son to be sacrificed for us. But we’d rather try to rely on our own feeble powers than to trust in the care of Our Heavenly Father. And that’s probably because His care can be baffling at times. God doesn’t always give us what we think we need and sometimes He allows bad things to happen to us. We don’t trust Him enough to realise that He sees the bigger picture, that He is helping us to grow and flourish. So from now on I’m going to try to be less like a cat and more like a dog when it comes to trust. How about you?

Counting My Blessings

I had the very great good fortune to be able to travel to Limerick this weekend for a Pontifical Mass with Cardinal Burke. It was all very beautiful but I deliberately didn’t take photos or videos. Some experiences are best had first-hand, don’t you think? Instead here’s a limerick I knocked up for you:

There once was a woman from Wales,

Met a cardinal and all that entails;

His ring she did kiss,

Then knelt to be blessed,

That fortunate woman from Wales

Here’s a photo of the view from my hotel room

and a photo of a bendy bus (and some cute little people) I took for someone who’s never seen one.

And here is a short video of Cardinal Burke giving some advice for Catholic parents:

Iconic Icon Painter

Here is a lovely video of an interview with Aidan Hart, who may be familiar to those of you who have an interest in the art of iconography:

 

My New Sangha

On this Feast of St Raphael the Healer, I share my reply to an email that came from my old Buddhist community (sangha) after several years of silence:

raphael

St Raphael the Archangel

Thanks for letting me know about the retreat places.  I’ve been on a lot of retreats with [my old Buddhist sangha].  I’m very grateful for everything I learned and experienced there.  However, I would like to remove my name from your lists because I am no longer Buddhist.  I have found my true sangha with God and all His angels and saints and saints-in-the-making.  I can no longer kneel in front of statues of the Buddha: a man who never claimed to be a god, who died like any other man no matter how enlightened he was.  I no longer meditate like a lump, trying to detach myself from suffering.  I embrace suffering and am glad to offer it up for souls.  Prayer can be difficult but I’m never alone.  I can talk with my Maker or any number of my friends in Heaven, or I can just rest in their company.  I can kneel in contemplation resting in the peace that only Our Lord can give – like a baby in its mother’s arms.  I write all this not to condemn Buddhism but to be a signpost for you and for anybody else you wish to share this with.  Those of you who live near to Galway and Limerick have a great treasure at your disposal.  I urge you, if you have fallen away from the Faith, to attend traditional Latin Masses with the Institute of Christ the King or to speak with their wonderful priests.  Their church in Limerick is the Sacred Heart church on The Crescent (http://institute-christ-king.ie/), and they also celebrate Mass every Sunday at the Claddagh Church (Dominican Priory), Galway, at 2:30.
Yours in Christ,
Sarah