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Awards share and connect.

On first receipt of the traditional WordPress awards from fellow bloggers, I was dubious. On the flip-side though, I appreciated/appreciate the recognition for my intentional work in the Vineyard, and through these awards have been exposed to excellent blogs that I would not have found without specific mention from fellow bloggers.

For this particular award, I graciously thank To Love and Truth, as Michael’s blog provides an inspirational and educational read each time I visit.  I am honoured.

It’s been a while since awards have been doing the rounds, and I would like to thank the readers of my blog for  support and contributions over the past year. Thank you…many blogs are deserving of these awards.

I’m particularly grateful for consideration of this award as I do endeavour to share special moments and thoughts with the readers of 1catholicsalmon.


The Rules:

1.  Use the award logo in the post.

2.  Link to whoever nominated you.

3.   Write 10 pieces of information about yourself.

4.   Nominate fellow bloggers who meet the indicated criteria.

5.   Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.

1. I am an avid reader, especially of all things regarding Catholicism, and at the moment I’m reading an e-book called ‘Catholic Christianity’ by philosopher Peter Kreeft. Highly recommendable.

2. I was born in South Africa, and I am currently hankering after the warm sun and sunny skies that abound there.

3. I belong to the wonderful parish of St. Joseph New Malden, where the Truth of our faith is promoted daily, and where I receive my Spiritual Food.

4. I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting a man who radiates the love of God: Rev Stuart Windsor.

While  I was shopping in a Christian bookstore, he walked in and began chatting with those around him as if he were acquainted with everyone. He possesses a sort of magnetism that cannot be ignored and I was intrigued by this elderly gentleman’s’ confidence, and sense of authority. His demeanour and obvious  joy set him apart from the rest of us in that shop, and I wanted to know more about him.

I walked over to pay for my books when he began chatting with me also. He asked me which church I belong to and proceeded to make a positive remark about St. Joe’s, telling me of a fine young priest he knew from there.

He  handed me a business card. On it, was the logo of the CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide organisation –  www.csw.org.uk ) and his name:

Rev Stuart Windsor – underscored  with the title , ‘Special Ambassador‘.This title would’ve meant nothing had I just been handed the card and not met him personally. Meeting this man changed me in a way that I cannot explain, and I understood for the first time what it’s like to meet someone really close to God. Don’t ask me how I knew this, I just did. I proceeded to look up information about him, and it made for some very interesting reading. Click the link above for interesting facts about him.

5. My beloved and I have been married for 28 years this year. It still feels so right.

6. The older I get the deeper my love for Jesus grows.

7. I love praying the Rosary. I have a collection of Rosaries.

8. Reconciliation is part of a monthly routine, and is one of my favourite Sacraments.

9. I have a picture of Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ friend) at His feet. I want to have it printed on a canvas to place at the side of my bed.541611_10152642400455584_1973326944_n

10. I prefer attending Mass that is Ad Orientem

So, I nominate these chosen blogs for the following awards:-

Best Moment Award (to person/blog that brought a special moment): 

  1. Art in Faith
  2. Reinkat
  3. 8 kids and a business
  4. Catholic alchoholic
  5. 365 Missional practice
  6. Wonder and Beauty

     Semper Fidelis Award (Semper Fidelis for always faithful):semper-fidelis-awardBridges and tangents


God and politics UK

Dominus mihi adjutor

Jericho tree

Catechesis in the third millenium

Sunshine Award (to to person/blog that brought sunshine):

sunshineawardCatholic Cravings

Catholic teen apologetics

Catholic working mom


Reader Appreciation Award:reader-app-award

 Along the watchtower

A new pathway to peace.


For many years have I used the Rosary to meditate on the life of Our Lord, particularly during Lent and during the months of November- The month of the Rosary, and in May – The month of Our Lady.

Until ten days ago I hadn’t experienced the intense consolation one receives from meditating on the different parts of Christ’s life. I’d always listened to those who have only praise for this method of prayer, feeling at a loose end because I didn’t feel the same way. Ten days ago we received a call from South Africa to say that my mother was on her deathbed. I had been praying the Rosary during November, so when I thought immediately of praying the Rosary  I assumed it was just a knee-jerk reaction to pick up the beads again. I could not have been more wrong.

I lit a candle and earnestly prayed the Joyful Mystery: –

1. The Annunciation of the Lord to Mary

2. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

3. The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

4. The Presentation of our Lord

5. Finding Jesus in the Temple at age 12

I prayed the Creed with an intensity I had never known before. I prayed about my Faith. About what I believe from the depths of my being. It took on a new meaning for me. While in prayer I began to feel a deep sense of hope, as I grasped the enormity of what God has done for me, and more importantly, for my mother at this critical juncture of her life on earth. God sent His only Son for our Salvation, in order for us to have Life after death.

And so  each day since then have I prayed the Rosary and received much consolation and reassurance in return. Read here to learn how to pray the Rosary if you haven’t done so before.


Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared– whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima — she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ.

Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ “not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done.”
The great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: “The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love.

What is Casual Catholicism? Its Defining Symptoms and Five Cures

I am re-blogging this from Ascending Mount Carmel. With the Year of Faith looming large, this fantastic post just hit the spot. I know some casual Catholics who pick and choose, condemn and criticize. I find it hard to be around them. This is where practising Catholics need to be strong and courageous enough to continue conversations and ask and answer pertinent questions that will get these ‘Casuals’ to take a closer look at the Faith. In my opinion, the ‘Casuals’ need conversion and straight talking, firing shots straight from the hip!

We all know the term “cafeteria Catholicism” by now – simply put, the one who picks and chooses from elements of their faith and leaves the rest behind.  But what about “casual Catholicism”?  Ever heard of this?

Casual Catholicism cannot be precisely defined, but it certainly has its trademark aspects.  I’ll list a few hallmark elements of what could be said to define a casual Catholic:

1.  A casual Catholic treats the Eucharist as a light snack, as a symbol and nothing else, as merely a “wafer” and some wine.  Holy Communion is just something one “takes” at Mass out of custom, not because they are in a state to do so, or are desirous of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  No, it’s just the thing that one does.

2.  A casual Catholic really knows about as much about their faith as one might know about the fine print on a box of Lucky Charms cereal by heart.  Ask them who St. Augustine was, and they’ll shrug. Ask them about the Council of Nicaea and they’ll probably give you the most quizzical look of all time.

3.  A casual Catholic only goes to Mass when they have to – Sundays at best, Christmas and Easter at worst.  Casual Catholics never go out of their way to do anything extra.

Those are just a few observations I have made – of course, not everyone has time to engage in copious study of their faith, nor are they able to go to Mass when they aren’t required to.  People are simply busy sometimes.

Nonetheless, casual Catholicism (one might also all it “nominal Catholicism”) as a phenomena is one of the worst ills plaguing the Church.  The world begins to assume that Catholics don’t really care about what they believe in.  Protestants begin to view Catholics as never picking up a Bible, and simply as being duped by “smells and bells” or as merely being born into something they don’t really believe in.  In effect, casual Catholicism can be summed up as being one giant spiritual shrug.

So how do we cure the haphazard, shrugging nature of casual Catholicism, whose only great manifesto are the words “I guess…yeah…sort of…whatever”?  I’ve come up with some ideas – by your leave:

1.  Go to Confession for venial sins, and not just mortal sins.

From what I’ve gathered from the lives of the saints, they went to confession on a continual and constant basis for even the smallest of faults.  Of course, I’m not encouraging over-scrupulosity; no, I’m encouraging spiritual growth.  If we never approach the sacrament of God’s Mercy, how can we know it in that way?  How can we overcome the scars and little wounds of daily spiritual struggle if we only go to the Healer when a limb has been lopped off?  As St. Francis de Sales writes, “Our Savior gave us the sacrament of penance and confession to His Church so that we may be cleansed from all iniquities no matter how often and how greatly we have been defiled by them.”1

Much of the problems in the Church today, I think, stems from the fact that many view sin in a casual manner, that hell is just a symbol or non-existent, or that God will just forgive us anyway therefore don’t worry about it.  Yes, God will always forgive us – but if we presume upon God’s Mercy, then we become little more than antinomians and sloths.  As Seneca once wrote, “You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply – though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last.”2

Therefore, cultivate a healthy awareness of sin in your life – we all do it, we are all sinners.  It is recognizing it, repenting of it, and running to God everytime we do sin, that makes all the difference.

2.  Adopt a devotion.

There is nothing quite like the Catholic prayer life – and yet so many seem to make no use of all its splendorous avenues to the Heart of God.  If one’s prayer life is dry, if lukewarmness is filling one’s soul to the brim with stagnant, muddy water, then it’s time to adopt a particular devotion.

Saints abound – which one speaks to you?  Have you studied their life or their spirituality in order to compliment your reading of the Scriptures?  Choose a patron saint – if you’re lucky, one might voluntarily choose you!

Plus, there is much more to the world of Catholic prayer than simply the Rosary, though the Rosary is arguably the greatest prayer in the Christian West.  Understand too that it is a most beautiful, most wonderfully all-encompassing prayer I think in the Western Christian tradition.  But there is so much more – the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary of the Seven Dolors, the Rosary of the Most Admirable Heart of Mary as prescribed by St. John Eudes, the prayers of the Divine Office, the Angelus, and the sweetest prayer of the Christian East – the Jesus Prayer.

I would also add that a great way to invigorate and give extra meaning to your prayer life is to pray for others in some way.  Pray daily for the souls in Purgatory, pray daily for those suffering in other parts of the world, pray Acts of Reparation to the Sacred Heart, pray for whatever group or persons speak to your own compassionate heart the most.

3.  Listen to sacred music.

I am sure this suggestion probably comes off a little out of left-field, but nonetheless, for me, music is a particularly excellent way to be edified and contemplate the things of God and holiness.  Ignore the vacuous modern praise and worship pop songs, and explore instead the beautiful world of Christian music as it existed for hundreds of years beforehand.

Also worth checking out are Jocelyn Montgomery’s angelic renditions of the music of St. Hildegard of Bingen, as well as the Georgian Orthodox Choir led by Nana Peradze.  If your heart is not moved by such music…

4.  Study your faith.

“It is very profitable to occupy oneself with reading the word of God in solitude, and to read the whole Bible intelligently…One should likewise nourish the soul also with knowledge of the Church.”3

I am firmly convinced that if more people took even a little time to really know their faith, even on a basic level, the Church would be strengthened by leaps and bounds.  Put away the pop theology books and Christianity-section “bestsellers”.  Read something of substance – if one is nervous to dive in too deep, always begin with the greats like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton.

Frankly, aside from finding the time in a busy life and schedule, it is inexplicable to me why a Catholic would not want to explore their faith and soak it all in.  Bask in the history and tradition and lives of its members, sponge up all the theology and spiritual writings you can!  Ours is a fascinating faith – enjoy it and learn about it.

5.  Ask Yourself – “Who is Jesus to me?”

By asking this question of yourself, you will find out where your spiritual life is at pretty quickly.  More importantly, however, it will cause the gears to turn in your mind and soul.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux used to ask himself daily in the monastery, “Why am I here?” – so should we all ask ourselves why we are Catholic, why we believe, and what we hold Jesus to be.  Who do you say that He is?

Calling all gardeners, Catholic or otherwise …1

A Mary Garden is a garden, filled with flowers, plants and trees named for Our Lady and Jesus, designed to be a place of beauty that reminds us of our Lord and our Lady, allows one to experience God’s creation, and invites prayer and contemplation. The practice of planting a Mary garden originated among monasteries and convents in medieval Europe.

St. Benedict had a rose garden (“rosary”) at his monastery in the 4th c., but the first garden we know of that was specifically dedicated to Mary was one created by the Irish St. Fiacre in the 7th c. The earliest record of a garden explicitly called a “Mary Garden” involves a “fifteenth century monastic accounting record of the purchase of plants “for S. Mary’s garden” by the sacristan of Norwich Priory, in England.” 

Before the rise of Christendom, many flowers were associated with pagan deities — Diana, Juno, Venus, etc. — but when the “Age of Faith” ascended and superceded the pagan, these flowers were “christened” and re-dedicated to Christian themes. So many flowers were named for Jesus, Mary, the angels, holy places, etc. — enough such that you can create a garden focused on specific aspects of Mary and Jesus’ lives, such as His Passion or her sorrows. Enchanting names, like “Our Lady’s Tears” (spiderwort), “Christ’s-Cross Flower” (Summer phlox), “Joseph’s Coat” (Amaranthus), “Pentecost Rose” or “Mary’s Rose” (peony), and “Our Lady’s Mantle” (Morning Glory), abounded. Sadly, during the Protestant rebellion and the rise of secularism, many of these flowers were re-named yet again with more wordly names but, of course, these flowers still exist and to many Catholic gardeners, their religious names are still meaningful.

You can plant flowers whose names and form evoke the Fourteen Stations of the Cross or the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary so that by walking through your garden you not only enjoy its natural beauty, but practically “make the Stations” or “walk the Rosary,” turning your backyard , schoolyard, or churchyard into a holy shrine (especially when accented with beautiful statue).

If you don’t have lots of room, you can make mini-gardens on your patio or apartment’s balcony, or grow miniature plants in pots for inside your home (these would make nice gifts too). If you do have lots of room, especially if you live in the country, you could consider consider setting up a little roadside shrine and garden so people passing by can stop and rest at a beautiful sacred place.

 When you plant your Mary Garden, let’s hope some of “Our Lady’s Birds” — ladybugMamma Bug looking for her baby...s, Baby bug off to hidenamed for Mary when, according to medieval legend, they miraculously came to save crops from aphids — come to protect your plants! The red color of the “Lady Beetle’s” body is symbolic of her red cloak, and the 7 black spots found on some species in Europe represent her 7 Sorrows. Ladybirds are almost universally considered symbols of “good luck” because of the benefits they bring to man. You might want to pray to St. Fiacre, patron of gardeners, for God to send some of these little insects your way… (http://www.fisheaters.com/marygardens.html)

If you would like more information about the flowers traditionally planted in a Mary garden, you’ll find further details on the common, scientific Medieval and/or religious meanings  here, For step by step information on how to get started on your Mary garden, go here.

Take a look at my post about the Mary garden just planted at our parish. (Calling all gardeners, Catholic or otherwise …2)


Praying the Rosary

At my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation I received a Rosary. On returning from a visit to Portugal my spouse presented me with a Rosary made of pearls (purchased in Fatima, the place of pilgrimage in Leiria, Portugal) , which is now draped over a beautiful relief of Our Lady given to me by my parents on the day I was Confirmed. On the wall opposite our bed ‘Our Lady of Grace‘ is framed in gold, one of the first pictures we bought from the repository of St. Patrick’s in Johannesburg, South Africa. I received another Rosary that was purchased in Rome, from a friend of the family. This Rosary has small cerise wooden beads that smell of roses, and every time I open the lid to it’s box, I am greeted by the soft perfume emanating from the beads. A very special gift indeed!.  (this scent of roses is associated with Our Lady, as on some of the occasions when she has appeared, the scent of Roses prevailed.)

I love all these beautiful gifts not only for sentimental reasons but also because Our Lady provides me with a gateway to a different kind of intimacy with my  Lord Jesus. When using these beads to meditate on Christ, I find myself being drawn into the life and times of Jesus, coloured by what I know about Him through the scripture readings of the day and by what I have learned and love about Him from past experience.

Pope John Paul II loved the Rosary so much that he wrote an Apostolic letter titled , ‘ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE’. 

I include the introduction to his letter and invite you to spend some time reading more if it here.


1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.(1)

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.(2) It is an echo of the prayerof Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian peoplesits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

A Catholic Identity Card.

I do carry various articles of faith on me such as a Rosary and a Holy Card, as well as a small Mass card as a reminder for me of the new Order of the Mass that was introduced in our parish just before August 2011.  I often feel partial to carrying a favourite Prayer Book  with me that I use during the Adoration of the Eucharist. This booklet I keep on me not only for use during Adoration, but also to read during a ‘spare’ five minutes here and there. I’ve always felt sure comforted to know that if anything untoward happened to me  in case of emergency, someone is sure to know that I’ m Catholic if they were to go through my belongings.

Earlier today when I read about the new initiative by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales I asked myself, ‘Why haven’t I thought about this before?:  A card communicating that its carrier is a baptised Catholic!!’ What a fantastic idea. There will be absolutely no doubt now that if I were to be in an accident or become seriously ill, a Catholic priest will be called to my side. (Something I think every Catholic wants to be assured of.)

I eagerly await the arrival of this little card that will identify me as Catholic and act as a reminder to me of my responsibilities as a Catholic in society

Follow this link for more details: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/faith-card-news