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8th September 2010

is Our Lady's birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA MARY

and so it's also Totus2us' 1st birthday

so there's lots of celebrating and thanking to be done!

RUTH - it's lucky I haven't just won an Oscar because I'd be dragged off the stage before I'd got to the end of my list of thank yous ...but there's no chance of anyone doing that here, so I'm going to make the most of it!

Grazie Mille, THANK YOU, muchas gracias, merci mille fois, 谢谢, Salamat, Děkuji, danke schön, Dziękuję, Falemnderit, Obrigado, Σας ευχαριστώ, hvala vam, Mulţumesc, ありがとうございます, Ďakujem, Cảm ơn bạn  (languages of some of the 62 countries represented on Totus2us)

to everyone who has given to Totus2us this year.
(please imagine you're being given this posie of flowers in gratitude)

The 1st THANK YOU is to Mama Mary
- may Totus2us always be yours :-)

The 2nd THANK YOU is to my brother-in-law, Rob,
without whom Totus2us just wouldn't have happened.

The 3rd THANK YOU is to Angelika, Celia, Frankie, Sr Hyacinthe & Rebecca
- the team - for all your help & support, but most especially for your encouragement & for being onside :-)

The 4th THANK YOU is to all the priests who have contributed to the podcasts:
Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, Fr Anish, Fr Anthony Doe, Fr Anthony Hoy SJ, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Antonio Santos Marizane, Fr Augustine Conner CFR, Fr Bosco, Fr Bryan Storey, Fr Christopher Fox MHM, Fr Darren, Fr David Barnes, Fr David Nixon MSC, Fr Dominic Adeiza, Fr Dominique Faure CSJ, Fr Emmanuel Mansford CFR, Fr Filip Hacour, Fr Francis Selman, Fr Georgios Dagas, Fr Iain Matthew OCD, Fr Javier Igea, Fr John Rea SM, Mgr John Walsh, Fr Jon Bielawski, Fr Juraj Semivan, Fr Justin CSJ, Mgr Keith Barltrop, Abbot Kevin Taggart, Mgr Leo Maasburg, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Martin Pratt, Père Martin Sabathé CSJ, Fr Matt Blake OCD, Fr Michael Dunne, Fr Peter Pitre CSJ, Fr Piotr Prusakiewicz CSMA, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, Fr Stan Fortuna CFR, Fr Stanislaus Bondoko, Fr Stefan Park OSA, Fr Tekadiomona Nima SJ, Fr Thomas Cacciola CFR, Archbishop Vincent Nichols & Fr William Pearsall SJ.

The 5th THANK YOU is to those who have helped with the prayer podcasts,
in particular James, Mary-Veronica, Sr Hyacinthe, Br Charles Mary & Jan;
and to the musicians who have given their music:
Aaron Hostetter, Amanda Vernon, Anna Johnstone, Aristotle Esguerra, Baliva, Burke Ingraffia, Crossbeam, David Bevan, Neil Wright & the Holy Redeemer Choir, Emmaus, E Tizz, Jesús Cabello (muchas, muchas gracias - without Something about Mary, I don't think Totus2us would have happened either), the London Oratory School Schola, Mike Mangione, Ooberfüse & Fr Stan Fortuna.

The 6th THANK YOU is to all of you who have given such GREAT responses for Totus2us:

Adriana, Aisling, Alan, Alanna, Alex, Alexandra, Alfonso, Alice, Alicia, Alida, Alison, Alvaro, Amaka, Amaka, Amanda, Amy, Andy, Angela, Anna, Anna, Anna, Anne, Anne, Anne, Anne-Marie, Anne-Marie, Annette, Anthony, Anthony, Anthony, Anton, Antony, Arancha, Ashley, Ashmeeta, Beatriz, Becky, Benedict, Benedicta, Benjamin, Berenice, Bernadette, Bernadette, Bernadette, Bernadette, Bernardo, Bernwadt, Bertrand, Bethanie, Blanca, Bosko, Br Alphonsus Mary, Br Benedict Joseph CFR, Br Christopher Joseph CFR, Br John Bosco CFR, Br John Mary Jesus CSJ, Br Mairesean CSJ, Br Sebastian OFM, Breda, Brian, Brian, Callum, Carla, Carlos, Carmen, Cassie, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine (& her children), Catherine (& her children), Cathy, Celia, Celine, Charlotte, Cherrie, Chloe, Christel, Christiane, Christianne, Christina, Christina, Christina, Christina, Christine, Collette, Connie, Cornelius, Cosima, Cristobel, Dan, Dan, Danelia, Daniel, Daniella, Daniella, Daniella, David, David, David, David, David, Deanna, Deborah, Diana, Dino, Domenica, Dorothy, Dougie, Douglas, Edith, Edna, Eduardo, Eduardo, Edwin, Elaine, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth (& her children), Ella, Elodie, Emilia, Emily, Emlyn, Emmy, Erin, Esther, Euan, Fabienne, Fionnuala, Florence, Florence, Fran, Francesca, Francesca, Francisco, Frederica, Frederick, Frederick, Gabriel, Gabriel, Gavin, Gemma, Geoff, George, George, Geraldine, Gina, Graham, Guy-Michel, Gwendolyn, Hal, Hannah, Helen, Helena, Henrietta, Hilary, Ingrid, Isabelle, Ivy, Jacob June, James, James, James, James, Jamie, Jana, Jane, Janet, Jason, Jean Frédéric, Jenny, Jenny, Jessamine, Jessie, Joanna, Joanna, Joanne, João, Job, Jocelyn, Joe, Joe, Joella, John, John, John, Jorge, Josefina, Josephina, Joyce Anne, Jude, Julian, Julie, Julius James, Justin, Justin, Katarina, Kate, Katie, Katherine, Kathy, Katrin, Kaz, Kieran, Kristina, Kyle, Larisa, Laura, Leo, Leonard, Liam, Liam, Lida, Lillian, Linda, Lissette, Louise, Louise, Lucine, Lucy, Ludmilla, Lydia, Magnus, Mags, Mandy, Marcela, Marcello, Marcos, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, Marguerite, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria Antonia, Maria Ophelia, Maria-Teresa, Marie, Marie, Marie-Clare, Mariel, Marien, Marina, Marino, Mario St Francis, Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark, Markus, Martha, Martin, Mary, Mary Grace, Mary-Ann, Mary-Rose, Matt, Matthew, Mattia, Melissa, Michael, Michel, Michelle, Milagros, Mili, Milicent, Mina, Mirella, Molly, Monica, Moses, Mother Damien PCC, Mother Francesca PCC, Nair Terezinha, Nancy, Naomie, Nathan, Neil, Niall, Nick, Nicholas, Nicolas, Nicole, Nigel, Noah, Noel, Nora, Ola, Olivette, Patrick, Patrick, Patrick, Paul, Paul, Paulo Henrique, Peter, Peter, Petr, Phil, Philip, Philippa, Pilar, Pippa, Rachel, Rachel, Ramón, Raquel, Ray, Renée, Rick, Ricky, Robert, Rohit, Roisin, Rosamund, Rose, Rosila, Runaine, Ryan, Sabrina, Sadora, Salinger, Samson, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, Sean, Seday, Sera, Solange, Soraya, Sr Agatha PCC, Sr Amata, Sr Annamisse Mary, Sr Beatrix, Sr Chiara, Sr Elizabeth PCC, Sr Emma mary, Sr Felicity Marie, Sr Francis, Sr Juliana PCC, Sr Mary Benedicta, Sr Mary Pieta, Sr Maureen, Sr Regina Mary, Sr Ruth PCC, Sr Tamsin, Sr Yolanda, Stella, Stephen, Steve, Steve, Steve, Steven, Steven, Sundari, Sylvia, Sylvia, Tan, Teresa, Teresa, Teresa, Thai Van, Theresa, Tina, Tom, Tomas, Tunde, Valeria, Vicky, Vicky, Vicky, Victoria, Vincent, Vincent, Vivian, Wadim, Will, Will, William, Woody, Yustinne, Yvette, & Zulema.

And the 7th THANK YOU is to all those of you who have kept Totus2us in your prayers .... Totus2us sure has been carried along by everyone's prayers. 

Week of 13th September - Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, is coming to town this week ... hurray!!!!
(It's taken us Brits 2010 years to officially welcome the successor of Peter - JP2's trip in 1982 was just a 'pastoral' trip coz of the Falklands War!)
I'm recommending '
Heart Gives Unto Heart', an internet radio station set up especially for the papal visit.
and I'm praying that many hearts will be touched by the presence of Papa Bene amongst us.

Week of 27th September - I'm giving thanks this week for the great graces received in the UK during our beloved BXVI's time here (I think the Queen's smile speaks very eloquently).

This link shows a great summary by ITV news of Cardinal Henry Newman's beatification during Mass in Cofton Park, Birmingham ... & includes my darling Mum (who's looking a little batty having almost had no sleep previous 2 nights & semi-freezing in rain that morning :-) - she's at 3mins 7secs, thanking God!

& oh yes, in case you have a special devotion to St Thérèse of Lisieux or have something in particular you'd like to pray for, this Wednesday 22nd September is the day to start a novena to her, ahead of her feast day next Friday.

Week of 4th October - I was checking up what came up in the podcasts on itunes if you just searched for 'Catholic' & came across this great new podcast 'Vatican Radio - The Voice of the Pope'. It began on 15th September (I think) & includes all Papa B's discourses during his trip to the UK, so if you'd like to listen/listen again to his beautiful words without commentary etc, this is the place to go.

I've also gotta recommend Edwin Fawcett's album 'Stronghold' - it came out earlier this year, but I've only really listened to it this last got me going with the St Therese novena, & I find all the songs (the words are all from the Bible) really lift my heart & soul, & I not only go to bed with a song going on in my head, but I've often woken up in the morning semi-singing one too! You can download tracks from itunes or visit Edwin's website for more info.

Week of 11th October - this Monday is day 20 of 40 Days for Life, a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.  It's now in 5 countries - USA, Canada, Australia, Denmark & the UK (first one in London this time), if you haven't already, you've still got 20 days to join in with prayer, fasting & vigil. I went to the London meeting at the beginning of the campaign and it gave me more hope for a way ahead than anything else I can remember participating in in England. Check out their website for more details.

Week of 18th October - I read St Louis-Marie de Montfort's 'True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin' over the week-end ... only now for the 1st time although this book had such an impact on JPII, who took his motto Totus Tuus from its pages ...but I'm so glad I've finally got there (I also hadn't realised St Louis is being considered as a candidate to be a Doctor of the Church). I had a little trouble with some of the language that would sit more easily in the 17th century but the beauty & truth of his words worked their wonders on my rather obdurate heart ....and I'd so recommend it to anyone seeking to go deeper in their faith. The first chapter begins:

"With the whole Church I admit that Mary, being but a mere creature from the hands of the Most High, is, in comparison with His infinite Majesty, less than an atom; or rather is just nothing, for He alone is "He who is." Consequently this great Lord, for ever independent and self-sufficient, never had, and has not now any absolute need of the most Blessed Virgin for carrying out His will and for manifesting His glory. He has but to will in order to do all things.
I say however that, considering things as they are, considering that God willed to begin and complete His greatest works by the most Blessed Virgin ever since He made her, we can believe that He will never change His plan in future ages, for He is God, and changes neither in His sentiments nor in His way of acting...."

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Week of 25th October - thanks to my mother, who helps organise concerts at QGT with an amazing collection of extremely talented young musicians, I got to hear the Amor Quintet playing Piazzolla. It was only hearing the concert that I realised I'd heard some of Piazzolla's music before. He was from Argentina & fused together 'Tango rhythms, Jazz harmony, improvisation and Bach counterpoint.' His music was evocative, humourous, melancholic, full of rhythm, passionate, gentle, and life-affirming all at once, and got me wanting to get up and dance! If you haven't ever taken a listen to Piazzolla's your chance!

Week of 1st November - On this hopefilled Feast of All Saints (what a great way of beginning a month of prayer for the Holy Souls), I'm taking to heart the prayer Maria Concetta talks about in today's Something about Mary "O Immaculate Heart of Mary, true model of every holiness, give us trust to become saints."

And in this month of prayer for the Holy Souls, I'm turning to Our Mother of Consolation, as I remember all those who've died during this last year, especially Farah, Michael, Nancy and Julia.

This image of Mary, Mother of Consolation, was recently restored by Marianna Fonzo & Jan Michelini, and was inaugurated in the Church of Maria della Scala in Rome on the Feast of St Teresa of Avila:

"Mary, Mother of Consolation and our Mother, Eternal Wisdom and Model of Virtue, in you God is well pleased and through you He has given Salvation Incarnate to the world. Give us your protection and illuminate our path towards the Light of the Kingdom of God. Console us in life's difficulties and intercede for us and for all the holy souls."

Week of 8th November - Marian Faith Network is a superb new website and community structure, set up by Father Nathan from the Community of St John, "to help young people who want to make and live out the total consecration to Jesus through Mary of St. Louis De Montfort to the fullest extent possible. Totus Tuus!"

The site has 3 basic parts, indicating how we can make the consecration for the first time, renew it, and live it out with other young people from around the world. It wants to give us the best resources possible to help us become the saints of the 3rd millennium that Pope John Paul II so often called us to be ... whoooo-hoooooo.

Week of 15th November - Voting for CNN's 2010 Heroes ends this Thursday, so I'm soooooooooo recommending you vote for Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow (& you can vote as many times as you like). If he wins, it'll mean a big donation to Mary's Meals.

Week of 22nd November - My recos this week are London based: my sister-in-law & 2 nephews (aged 9 & 7) took me to the musical OLIVER which is on till 8th January at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. I've always loved the music, and this production is superb. If you're thinking of a Christmas outing, I'd so recommend Oliver & it's a treat just being in this theatre... v royal! My 2nd London reco is a new website with amazing deals in the Clapham area - Clapham Deals

Week of 29th November - For those who aren't uber-organised & haven't already got their Christmas cards, think about buying some from Aid to the Church in Need. Not only a brill cause to support but they've got some beautiful cards too - this one is of a mosaic made by Tyrolese Art Glass Co from Innsbruck, Austria and in the monastery chapel of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde, Missouri.

Week of 6th December - my reco is London based as this Friday, 10th December from 7.30pm, Catholic Underground is going to 'hit' Leicester Square (Notre Dame Catholic Church) & ace MOBO award winning artist Jahaziel will be playing (his music was my reco earlier this year ... I'm hoping he might just say yes to his track 'Jesus' featuring on Word on the Street [whoooo-hooooo - he said YES :). Plus there'll be 2 singers from the IDMC Gospel Choir leading everyone in a worship set .. and that'll all be after a Holy Hour in Adoration of Jesus, with Evening Prayer led by Fr Emmanuel CFR, Benediction, Advent Confessions, and worship music with Br John Bosco CFR, Marcello and Kristina. There will also be a short film from a cutting edge U.S. film company shown at the end, and it'll be rounded off with refreshments!  Recommended donation on the night is £5 to foot the bill - totally worth bracing the cold to be there..  (or be square!)

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Week of 13th December - I've been slightly blown away rereading Papa B's encyclical on Love (I'd thought a while back it would be lovely to reflect on it in a novena leading up to Christmas ... & was I chuffed when I saw that he gave actually gave it to us all on his 1st Christmas day as Pope in 2005) .. but it's been almost twiggy how extraordinarily well Ben Nichols's piano playing fits with the words ... so I've just got to recommend the Novena for Christmas (the music is from Ben's Broken B Project - many, many thanks for the gift of your music, Ben; & if you love JPII, you really should check out  Making Life Alive, his album of JPII heart-moving speeches, put to great music).  The daily novena prayer is taken from the end of the encyclical:

Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your Son – the Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God's call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world.

Week of 20th December - I saw the French film 'Of Gods and Men' last week which has had fab reviews from everyone, so I'm not the 1st to be deeply impressed by it. At the cinema I was really surprised to discover that it, not the film with George Clooney, was in the main 'theatre'. It has been filmed beautifully (the scenery alone makes it worth a trip to the big screen) & the acting was so convincing I felt like I really was watching a documentary (a sort of take of 'Into Great Silence'). The lives of the Cistercian monks was portrayed with such sensitivity & seeming comprehension, I felt sure it must have been directed by someone with great faith, & was surprised again when I read an interview with the director, Xavier Beauvois. The film portrayed so much that is great and good in man, of the tenderness of true friendship in a life shared in community, of the respect proper to religious freedom, of the quest for truth and the struggle to be a true disciple of Christ. I'd definitely put it in my top 5 films ever. It's got a Christmasy theme in it too ... so if you haven't already, go see it!


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I'm doing a double reco this week as I really want to thank Jahaziel for allowing Totus2us to include his FAB track 'Jesus' on 'Word on the Street' ... it'd be one of my desert island discs, & the cherry on the cake was Jahaziel singing the song for me at Catholic Underground in December (many thanks too to Andrea, Bruno & Martha for their beautiful words).

Week of 3rd January - my read over Christmas week (thanks to my father giving it to my mother, who v generously allowed me immediately to pinch it) was 'Light of the World' which I'm just about to reread, I enjoyed it so much. It managed to pull off being both an easy & a deep read, with questions on pretty much everything! It's a week of Q&As (an hour a day back in August) answered by Pope Benedict & asked by Peter Seewald, a journalist who has twice before done similar Q&As but then it was with Cardinal Ratzinger. If you've read 'Light of the World' & are itching for more, I'd thoroughly recommend 'God & the World' (it was the 1st thing I read by Cardinal Ratzinger).

Week of 10th January - I've got to thank Steven Lawson for this week's reco (as I hadn't even heard of Dave Brubeck before he posted the youtube below!) ... so many thanks, Steven :-)
It's clips from "To Hope! A Celebration" mass, performed in 1997 at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Russian National orchestra & conducted by Russell Gloyd. Star jazz musicians with Dave Brubeck include Bobby Militello on sax, Jack Six on bass and drummer Randy Jones. It's 1 of the coolest things i can remember having listened to (stay with it beyond the piano solo at the beginning) - Wow!! good music has such life. And I'd also reco you read this great article '
Jazz goes back to the Church' by Michael Sherwin OP which tells something of Brubeck's life which is fabulously inspiring too.


Week of 17th January - whooooooooooooooooooooooo-hoooooooooooooooooooooooooo - Beloved John Paul II is to be beatified by his great friend, Pope Benedict XVI, with whom he worked so closely all through his pontificate. It will take place at St Peter's on Divine Mercy Sunday which this year is on 1st May, the first day of Mary's month and also a Feast of St Joseph (as Easter is a moving feast, so is Divine Mercy Sunday) ... the date gets tingles going up & down my spine :-) I have no idea what's happening in my life this year but have booked myself a ticket to be in Rome with half the world for these great celebrations - come along too (I don't have the foggiest where I will stay ... the 1 cheap place I knew of was booked out on Friday! .. so if by any chance you live in Rome & know of somewhere that might take me in, please do contact me :-) It's going to keep me smiling till May and has given me a new deadline to try & keep things going with Totus2us till ... 1st May! PRAISE BE TO GOD for Karol Wojtyla, who became our beloved Papa, John Paul II.


Week of 24th January - this week I've just gotta recommend Why I am a Catholic, a fab new website going live on the Feast of St Paul. Its mission is "to affirm the reality of God and his Catholic Church by spreading subjective conversion testimonies that witness to the Truth." It's inspired and has been beautifully designed too.

& I've just gotta add, as it is also being launched on the feast of 1 incredible conversion, that Totus2us's new podcast The Incredibles is on the spot (Padre Pio is the 1st saint up)!

Week of 31st January - this week I received the following message from Sr Maria PCC (she & her sisters at Ty Mam Duw gave a novena of somethings about Mary during the novena to the Holy Spirit last year): Please pray, Bishop Jia the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Zhending in China is in danger of having the orphaned handicapped, who are cared for by religious sisters, taken away by the Chinese authorities. He has already spent 20 of his 75 years in prison for his loyalty to the Holy Father and now faces internment in a Reeducation Camp for the rest of his natural life. We were asked to compose a song to make his suffering more widely known.
so I'm recommending this song which the Poor Clare sisters have written:


I had been planning on this fab footage of last week's March for LIFE in Washington DC for this week's reco ... It fits so well with the story above, highlighting the need for us all to help build a civilization that values and respects all human life, that I'm having a double-whammy-reco this week (not the 1st & most probably won't be the last :-)


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Week of 7th February - I've just read John Pridmore's new book, Journey to Freedom, and I'm recommending it this week coz:
a) it's a great read
b) John gives the new episode just up on The Incredibles about St Thomas More
c) it's John's birthday this week
d) I'm working on getting this book into bookshops - so it's also an unashamed plug!
As it says on the back cover, 'this is a book that can show you how to accept yourself, have richer personal relationships and discover what it is that makes you truly unique." What it brought home to me via all the gems of little stories included, is how wondrously God is working in our lives, right here and now in our times.

As I seem to have the recos all to myself this week, I'm going to also reco Daniel and Frankie's most recent episode of their Vocations podcast, which gives a very moving and hopefilled insight into what's going on in Burma and the refugee camps in Thailand (you don't need to be thinking of a vocation to thoroughly enjoy this one :-)

Week of 14th February - Madrid Me Encanta (like the logo) is my reco this week ... the more I listen, the more hooked I get ... there are song entries from around the world for WYD / JMJ MADRID 2011 & it isn't altogether dissimilar from the Eurovision Song Contest for its flavours. I got to hear about it thanks to Cherrie Anderson (band member of Ooberfuse) who has submitted a song - Faith in You - which I voted for :-) - mellow, catchy melody, great words echoing this year's theme for WYD & filmed in Walsingham, a Marian pilgrim shrine.

Week of 21st February - by chance I spotted this series of talks on the Theology of the Body by Jason & Crystalina Evert with Brian Butler. The series of 12 mp3s (appros 20 mins each) are free to download here on EWTN's website for a month (I presume February - they're at bottom of page & to download right click etc) so go take a listen pronto, if you're remotely interested! It's titled 'for Teens' but I'm a long way off being a teenager & found them v helpful, instructive & hope-filled ... we could do with lots more of this over this side of the Atlantic! The description goes: "they present John Paul II's compelling vision for love and life. Using a great mix of stories, real-life examples, activities, prayers, and references to the culture that teens understand, each episode of Theology of the Body for Teens answers the questions teens have about their own bodies, issues on sexual morality, and how each of us is uniquely created for greatness."

Week of 28th February - several years behind the times, I've only just watched Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood has said its his last acting role .. it would be hard to find a better character part to play as a send off, and he gives a totally convincing performance. I didn't know much about the story plot before watching & think its much better for not knowing, so will just encourage you to watch (unless you really don't like any swearing in films). It's 1 of the most powerful and deeply moving films I can think of having seen.


and I've just gotta give a 2nd reco, as the WYD Madrid 2011 team have done it AGAIN - another fab video about WYD ... brava, brava!
If you're given half a chance to go to World Youth Day Madrid this summer, JUMP AT IT.

Lent - the Spanish Episcopal Conference have this BRILL video Siempre hay una razón para vivir - There is always a reason to live (created by the fab Belomasan team of May Feelings) for the Day for Life on 25th March 2011, the Feast of the Annunciation. They're hoping to have more than a million people's responses with their reasons to live - contribute your reason here on their Day for Life website.


and here is a video by Students for Life, entitled 'The Tide is Turning' - there's hope, there really is hope, thanks to our young people :-)


Week of 25th April - I'm beginning to get real excited about JPII's beatification on Divine Mercy Sunday (I'm so thrilled I'll be in Rome with everyone else :-) & I'm going to recommend joining in the Divine Mercy Novena (we've got it in English, French, Portuguese & Spanish here on Totus2us), if you're not already saying it, as I feel sure there are graces abounding at the moment. And also have a look at the words of JPII (I'm loving reading his encyclical on God's Mercy at the mo). 

Week of 2nd May - I feel so blessed to have been in Rome for the 3 days of prayer and celebration for the beatification of beloved John Paul II on the 1st day of Mary's month & Divine Mercy Sunday. I so recommend you read Papa B's homily:
(it's in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish
".. What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man."

Everything was organised so brilliantly & beautifully (not that they're reading this but many, many thanks to the diocese of Rome & the Roman authorities ... it was seriously impressive) from all the giving out of food, the prayer vigil - with the oh-so-pretty coloured candles & a fab orchestra playing their Mgr conductor's great new song NON ABBIATE PAURA - the prayers and adoration in the 8 churches over night, to the organisation of the huge numbers on Sunday (& the distribution of communion) and the beautiful thanksgiving Mass on Monday.

Week of 9th May - my recos this week are both gigs in London ..

Edwin Fawcett (whose music is on Totus2us's novena to St Therese of Lisieux & Sunday Evangelium) is in concert this Friday, 13th May (Feast of Our Lady of Fatima) - 7-10 pm, Holy Apostles Hall, Pimlico. Tickets on door £10 (cheaper if you buy ahead) - for more visit Edwin's website.

Also coming up, Ooberfuse's 1st ever concert - at Leicester Square Theatre on 9th June. (Music by Ooberfuse & Cherrie Anderson featured on Word on the Street). Tickets also £10 - click here for more info.

Week of 16th May - it's a light-hearted reco this week .. as I was reminded yesterday of 1 of my fave double acts - Morecambe and Wise - this is 1 of my fave skits of theirs:


Week of 23rd May - I came across this music video last week while checking out Olen Cesari's website; released on youtube on 13th May (Feast of Our Lady of Fatima), it's directed by Jan Michelini. The more I've watched it, the more I'm drawn by the beauty of the light. The camerawork is inspired! As Erin described it to me: 'My idea of a great film is something that you could take apart, still-by-still and every still would make a dramatic and interesting photograph.. and this was just so well shot, it has that feeling of portraying the sanctity of life, if gives a radiance to the washing hung out to dry in the streets, I loved it.' Me too! Bravo, bravo to Jan & all those involved.


Week of 30th May - I only found out about this SUPERB gift of a website/email circular last week, thanks to an interview 1 of the Evangelizo team did with Vatican Radio. EVANGELIZO has the daily Mass readings in Arabic, Dutch, English, Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, Italian & Polish! plus more for the Maronite, Byzantine & Armenian Calendars (with the email circular, you can take your pick as to which days you want to be sent). The extra gift is a shortish reflection by 1 of the Church Fathers / Catholic Saints on 1 of the day's readings; plus there's info on the saint/s of the day. I think this fabulous service has been about since 2001 (there's so much I don't know about!) but I bet they haven't always had EVANGELIZO mobile / android / iPhone applications (which are FREE along with everything else .. though as they say it's free of charge rather than cost!).

Week of 6th June - Biking through Hyde Park slightly later than usual last week (& usual is almost always late!) I had the delight of watching & hearing the Horse Guards playing their get-you-in-the-mood-for-marching brass band tunes on their way to the Palace. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the scene & impressed how well they play tunes on unwieldy brass instruments while riding great big horses! If you're in London it's really worth a trip to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (think it's at 11am every other day - Christopher Robin used to go there with Alice .. 'a soldier's life is terribly hard') & while you're in the area, the Rose Garden in Hyde Park (next to HP corner) is looking particularly lush at the moment, with all the roses out.

Week of 13th June - My flatmate Charlotte (Ashenden) has just taken her most recent oil portrait to its owner; it's my fave yet of her portraits (& I really enjoy her watercolours of children). I've really been missing as it's been about in the house during its creation, so I thought I'd recommend Charlotte's work in case you're thinking you'd like a portrait painted (oil or watercolour).
Visit Charlotte's website for more pics of her paintings, info etc.

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Week of 27th June - in this last week of June, which includes the 60th anniversary of Papa Bene's priesthood on the Feast of Ss Peter & Paul and ends with the wonderful Feast of the Sacred Heart on Friday (& the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday), I recommend saying a prayer for a priest you know (or in thanksgiving for the gift of BXVI's priesthood, a shepherd after Jesus's own heart). Benedict XVI recently wrote this prayer for priests:

"Lord Jesus Christ, eternal High Priest, you offered yourself to the Father on the altar of the Cross and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave your priestly people a share in your redeeming sacrifice. Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests. Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood may be ever more conformed to you, the divine Master. May they preach the Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience. Let them be shepherds according to your own Heart, single-minded in service to you and to the Church and shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life. Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, your Mother and ours, draw all priests and the flocks entrusted to their care to the fullness of eternal life where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.     

Week of 8th August - for me this song / video by Lecrae is way more wise than almost all the hot air spoken on TV/radio since the mindless looting and violence in London & across the UK over the last week. I saw it thanks to Baliva, & I don't know anything more about the organisation MAN UP than a quick glance at the website but it looks seriously impressive:

"The Problem: There's an ongoing war within urban culture. Confusion over what manhood is has plagued our cities, families and lives. The concept of a biblical man has been lost in our generation. Unfortunately, many churches struggle to provide its urban members, much less those beyond their walls, with a tangible definition of a real man.
The Campaign: In partnership with ReachLife Ministries and Reach Records, Man Up is a new campaign, calling men in the hip-hop culture to true biblical manhood through repentance and faith in Christ.The campaign consists of a short film, small group curriculum, music soundtrack and concert series. It is our call for men in urban culture to repent for their failure to become the men that God has created them to be and for believers to live as who they truly are in Christ."


Week of 15th August - this week has got to be nothing other than all things WORLD YOUTH DAY MADRID :o) I'm finding it very hard not to mind being over the hill & stuck in London .. there's so much joy & faith going on down in Spain's capital city & it is seriously impressive the skills with which it has all been organised .. and with what great faith! You can watch all the action streamed live via their fab website (which has loads & loads of good content). If you're there, please send Papa B my love.

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Week of 22nd August - my consolation prize for not having been at JMJ Madrid was to meet a small group of USA pilgrims whose flight from Madrid had been delayed so they had to spend Monday night in London ..  it was a real treat to meet them on the Feast of the Coronation of Our Lady. And now Sister Hyacinthe has sent through the most fab recordings from her time at WYD, so I'm ever so, ever so grateful, & am keeping this WYD theme running by recommending the World Youth Days podcast (which will have over 10 episodes on JMJ 2011 Madrid).

Week of 29th August - I watched what must be 1 of the best ever double bills on a big screen on Saturday night: Jean de Florette & Manon des Sources from the 1980s. They're 2 halves of a French story as dramatic & tragic as anything Greek, superbly acted, in particular by Yves Montand & Daniel Auteuil (also featuring Gérard Depardieu & beautiful Emmanuelle Béart), brilliantly scripted (subtitles are handy even for likes of me who fools myself I can speak French, as there are some v good thick Southern accents going down) and shot with a very artistic eye up in the mountains in South France, where the whole story is enacted (you feel like you've been there too by the end). They'd be with me on my desert island, if it was films rather than songs.