Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lego Church

I like to buy the girls toys that encourage creative playing as this type of playing benefits young children greatly. For example it encourages them to use their imagination. So for Christmas I decided to buy them some lego.

Lego up to this point had been thought of as a boys toy and consequently they had never really played with it. As I did not want to go for anything I did not think they would like, such as themed lego I decided to go for one of the medium sized generic boxes with lots of different shapes, colours and sizes. There were no instructions as such just pictures on the box large enough for you to be able to copy.

When they unwrapped the lego on Christmas day they were very pleased with it and started playing with it immediately. They decided to build a basic house, but it did not go too well as they simply placed one brick on top of the other without overlapping them and so the house easily fell apart.

Now lego was one of my favourite toys as a young child, I could play with it for hours on end and build almost anything I set my mind too. So I decided to sit myself down on the carpet and teach them a thing or two, just to get them started. However I got a little carried away with having too much fun myself and built myself... you guest it a lego church:

Complete with church gate, graveyard, war memorial and landscaping

and my piece de la resistance... inside the church itself a tabernacle.


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Happy Feast Day

Today is the Feast day of St Catherine of Siena, (1347-80) Virgin & Doctor of the Church, and Patroness of Europe. A visionary even as a child, she joined the Dominicans as soon as she was permitted. She was one of the most brilliant theological minds of the day and was influential as an adviser to Popes and was renowned for her ability to procure conversions, even amongst hardened criminals. Her letters and “Dialogue” are still considered some of the greatest writings in the Church. She died at 33. The stigmata became visible after her death and in 1430, her body was discovered to be uncorrupted.

Although my name is Catherine strictly speaking I was not named after St Catherine of Siena, in truth I was not named after anyone, my parents purposely chose my name because they liked it and knew no one by that name and therefore it was not tainted, by tainted I mean to say they did not associate the name with anyone they knew and therefore it did not conjure up any imagines.

Nonetheless when I first started to hear about the lives of the Saints I was so inspired by the stories I researched all the ones named Catherine with the intention of adopting one for myself and I chose St Catherine of Siena.

Why, well because her story spoke to me the most. In particular there was the story in which after facing ridicule one night while she wept Christ appeared holding a crown of gold and a crown of thorns. “Choose the one you want to wear for this life, Catherine,” he said, “and I will save the other for eternity.” She remembered that even as Christ was dying for love of his enemies, they were reviling him and she said, “I want to be like you” and took the crown of thorns.

The golden crown represents for me the secular world and the appeal it can sometimes have and the crown of thorns me with Christ (or with faith) and the great sense of love I feel. I can’t have both and so in my moments of weakness when I am struggling the toss I remind myself that although the golden crown can be appealing it leaves me feeling shallow and empty inside whereas the crown of thorns although not always the easiest to wear with Christ I feel complete and deeply loved.

More Than Just Bricks and Mortar

Of all the photographs of all the places I visit and share with you this building holds more spiritual significance to me than any other, for it was in the Birmingham Oratory that I truly discovered the Mass. Although I first experienced the Mass at St Marie's on returning to university and having the courage to go it alone having been once with a friend my closest Catholic Church was the Birmingham Oratory.

And so two or three times a week after lectures having finished for the day I would wrap up warm take hold of my CTS Simple Prayer Book and attend the 17.45 Mass. I would sit at the back with my little book and I would watch and I would listen and I would practice. I learnt the prayers, about blessing yourself with holy water as you enter the church and genuflecting when you cross before the tabernacle. I learnt about the true presence and the saints and the stories of Christ.

I learnt more sat at the back of that church watching and listening to the priests as they said Mass than I can ever put into words. Later as I grew in faith and confidence it also became the place where I would first said the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.

And finally it is the place where I received instruction in the faith and during the Ester Vigil of 2008 stood and professed that I believe that the Holy Catholic Church is the One True Word of God and received my first Holy Communion.

These slides can only hope to portray how truly special this building is.

Monday, 27 April 2009

The View That So Embraced Me

I had really wanted my first photographs I shared with you to be a tour of St Marie's, the church in which I went to my first Mass, however I am away at university at the moment and only have one photograph stored on my computer so unfortunately it will have to do and here it is:

It is a little busy, having been taken from the back of the church but I think even this photograph invites you to want to look in closer detail at the paintings and statues adoring the high altar so as soon as I get the chance I hope to show you more of this wonderful building.

Hidden Treasures And Much Much More

I am able to enjoy my hobby because of the work and dedication of different charities and organisations that work to keep places of religious significance open to the public. Below and in the side bar I have included links to a few of the sites where I find the hidden treasures I visit:

The Friends of Friendless Churches have campaigned since 1957 for the preservation of ancient and beautiful but redundant churches. They now own 38 former places of worship, half in England, half in Wales, which they have saved from demolition, decay and unsympathetic conversion.

The Churches Tourism Association is the UK's leading body for promoting best practice in welcoming visitors to places of worship and developing the tourism potential and visitor experience of a unique part of our historical and contemporary sacred heritage, captured for the future, living in the present, and distinctive to the location of every community across the land.

This site contain a list of opening arrangements at places of worship grant-aided by the Heritage Lottery and English Heritage.

The Historic Chapels Trust was established in 1993 to take into ownership redundant chapels and other places of worship in England which are of outstanding architectural and historic interest. The object is to secure their preservation, repair and maintenance for public benefit, including contents, burial grounds and ancillary buildings.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

How My Fasination Began

Hello, my name is Catherine and I am a convert to Roman Catholicism. For over a year now I have enjoyed reading other Catholic blogs and have often wanted to create one myself, but I am no scholar and sometimes find it difficult to put pen to paper and so have always been put off, till now that is.

One of my favourite past times is wondering around and admiring religious buildings, I find the history, the stories and the symbolism they contain absolutely fascinating. Using snap shots I take with my camera phone and short captions it is my hope in creating this blog to share some of this fascination with you, the reader.

First however I would like to share with you how my fascination began.

I go to church to hear Mass every day if I can, and it was at my first Mass on the first Sunday of Advent during the early winter of 2006 that my fascination began. I had not long begun to discover my faith when I built up the courage to ask a friend who I knew went to church if I could come along, he had been a little taken back by my asking but had said yes.

At the Mass I was in awe of everything around me, but as there was so much to take in I struggled to understand everything. When I finally resigned myself to just seeing and hearing I began to notice the building around me. The stain glass, the statues and the paintings, I could see them, read them and understand them. Not all, but could I recognise Jesus and Mary, and understand what some of the scenes were trying to depict. I found God in the building itself and it filled a part of me I never knew was there and yet in doing so made me feel more complete.

It is now some two and a half years since I attended my first Mass and I now understand what is being said and done and find God present in every part of the Mass, but I still find myself absorbed by the building around me, where I can place myself at the foot of the cross or beside the manger of my Lord.

And so I invite you to take a pew with me and take a moment to look around.