A Cheesy Church.

"Maturity" isn't a word I naturally associate with myself. But in the last few years I have found myself, like an old cheese, becoming more tasteful with age. Those of you who have known me for a long time will remember my old blog "Listening in the desert". It was a lifeline for me during that time in my life. It was an outlet for all the grief, anger, confusion and frustration that was overwhelming me during the early years of my husband's illness. As it happened, this was the new prevailing feeling within the Church at that time. Francis had just become Pope, and we were beginning to get to know him. 

As I lamented the loss of the healthy man I married, the Church lamented the loss of BXVI. We all shared our grief, anger, confusion and frustration together. I don't know what I would have done without you. I also cared deeply for each and every one of you as I could physically feel your hearts breaking as mine broke too. 
As the years went on, the reality of long term suffering began to set in for me, and for you. The thing about long term suffering, is that you get trapped in the grief cycle. At first it's shock, denial and confusion, then anger, so much anger. And anger is a comfortable place to stay because you feel temporarily better when you have that rush of empowering adrenaline. But after the anger comes the sadness... Accepting the loss of what used to be is a pain so complicated, that we often try to avoid it by recreating what was lost. I have tried to do this in my own life, while watching different parts of the Church desperately trying to do the same. But the 1950's have gone... The 1960's and 70's have gone... The healthy man I married has gone... And it hurts.
If by the grace of God you can reach a place of acceptance, then things do begin to get easier. But if you are trapped in long term suffering, then you just end up going round and round in the grief cycle, again and again and again.
I understand the desire to abandon ship. And I don't judge for a second, those who have found themselves unable to cope any longer in a situation of perpetual crucifixion. The loneliness of the cross is perhaps only rivaled in magnitude by the endurance needed to remain there. Some people leave their marriages, some people leave the priesthood, some people leave the Church. We are all just trying to survive.
So when I wrote my angry, highly political blog posts back then it was a cry from the very depths of my soul, being played out in real time through the drama and chaos of Rome and the various scandals at the time. You and I carried on going round and round in a perpetual grief cycle, finding that 'anger' was the least painful place to reside.
And then suddenly, everything changed...
It was in August 2018 that I was called into a meeting with my Carmelite superior to discuss the contents of my blog. There had been complaints made by a well known Troll, who thought it would be clever to get me in trouble. My superior asked me to tone down my blog. So I obeyed. Immediately. I didn't like it but I obeyed. But other things were happening that month too...
At the same time as I moved my family from London to the Isle of Wight, the McCarrick scandal broke, along with several other high profile sex abuse cases. The sight of the weeping ladies in the Pennsylvania trial moved me greatly, and you too I bet? Finally, there was a real tangible expression of grief and pain within the Church that we could all get really, really angry about. It was almost as if these ladies were weeping on behalf of the whole Church, as the whole Church wept for them. The sexual abuse was largely the result of the problems in the Church that we were all suffering from: Clericalism, indifference, loneliness, lies, lack of love, lack of holiness, lack of formation.
Something in me changed. I felt God telling me something like "You're done, no more need for this angry blog." It was like the pain I was trying to express was now being expressed better by the sex abuse scandals. The anger I was trying to express was being expressed better by the McCarrick scandal. And we were beginning a new life on the island.
3 years have passed since then and I have matured a lot - like an old cheese. Where as before I would probably described myself as a tangy Cheddar, these days I think I'm more of a Stilton. From the outside I'm looking a bit grey and wrinkly, but when you get to what's on the inside... That's when the real fun begins! Behold! I have created the perfect cheesy metaphor to describe my interior life!
I want to help you escape the perpetual grief cycle you are in. The Church is a mess, the post pandemic world is a mess. People are scared, heartbroken, and in desperate need of strong leadership. But what man can lead us out of the mess we find ourselves in? No man can. The leader I'm pointing you towards is a woman... MARY....!!! Our Mother wishes to lead us through these times, and through the times to come, until the glorious triumph of her Immaculate Heart!
Mary is my mother, my boss, the head of the Carmelite order, and my Di Clara business belongs to her. I am beginning a new blog through Di Clara in the hope of leading people out of their perpetual grief and into a brave new world of hope. No more angry Catholics! No more outraged Trads or lamenting Liberals! We are one body in Christ under the protective mantle of our beautiful Mother. The outrage and the incessant politics from both sides only distracts us from what is important. God is in control and has chosen you to live in these times. How will you respond?


  • Ross Crichton

    When the Lord was being crucified, Mary stayed at the foot of the Cross while all the other Apostles – newly appointed Bishops – fled, except St. John. You are quite right to point to Mary on this anniversary of La Salette. Her only focus was on Christ and she teaches us that should be our focus too. Well thought-out reflection Clare.

  • Bernadette Wood

    Factionalism and frustration
    Set aside and sacrificed
    In the Name of Jesus
    through the maternal love of the immacculate Heart of Mary.
    That we may all be One in Him
    One in the faith,
    professed by the universal Church.
    Praise be to God! Alleluia
    Immacculate heart of Mary triumph and reign.

  • Astrid Willis

    I like the sound of this. I will be following and reading this new blog and I look forward to it. A lot of what you write rings true with me. I don’t want to feel angry anymore, it does my soul no good. And when I hear Mother Mary’s name mentioned I instantly feel comfort and hopeful. I look forward to your new blog Clare xx

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