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Ruth

Ruth's 3 Musketeers would now be Blessed John Paul II, Papa Benedict XVI & Pope Francis.

The voices of all her nieces & nephews (& some of her godchildren) can be heard in the intro for the podcast about Our Blessed Mother: 'Something about Mary - Totus Tuus.'

If you'd like to help Totus2us in any way, please get in touch :o)

Ruth's recommendations:

Our Lady's birthday & 5 years of Totus2us

With the celebration of Our Lady's birthday on 8th September 2014, Totus2us is five years old & has just topped 2 million downloads.

There is so much to thank Our Lady for during these 5 years and this year's Youth 2000 prayer festival, itself celebrating 25 years, was a wonderful opportunity to look back on God's loving providence at work in all things. Two new podcast episodes recorded in Walsingham particularly reflect something of Totus2us's own story. On World Youth Days, Ernest Williams speaks about the youth festival in Medjugorje in the summer of 1989 followed by JMJ in Santiago de Compostella & then a pilgrimage to Fatima, from which Youth 2000 was born. In Man for Others, Fr Lee Marshall (ordained last year) gives his testimony: "I've never doubted my vocation because I knew that it came from Our Lady's intercession, I knew that it had always come from that initial prayer which I'd made on that bus to Medjugorje, of asking Our Lady to help me to open my heart to the Lord.  .. So the Lord has done amazing things in this last year and I'm just so excited as to what the future will be. What He will do in my life and what He will do in the Church. It's a great time now to be a Catholic in this country, it's such an exciting time. The shoots of renewal, the shoots of what the Lord is doing is so fresh and there's something amazing growing, something amazing beginning and it's such a blessing to be part of it."

It has been a great blessing to have been part of Totus2us and have had the privilege of meeting so many people who've given witness to their faith, hope & love.

A big heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who've made it possible: Rob Stone (my brother-in-law & his company TWK) and the Totus2us team; all the priests who've done recordings & the musicians whose music is included; those who've helped financially (particularly the Carmelite sisters of Nottinghill), and all those who've done a recording or kept Totus2us in their prayers.

But the biggest THANK YOU goes to our blessed Mother Mary for all that has been shared, received and given through Totus2us. Totus2us belongs entirely to Our Lady, given to her on her birthday 5 years ago (& regiven to her each year).

May Mother Mary help each of us to follow her Son Jesus Christ more closely, faithfully and lovingly. And may she, Queen of Peace, continue to intercede for us all, that there may be peace in our hearts, in our families and in the world.

with gratitude,
Ruth, from the Totus2us team

ps The icing on Our Lady's birthday cake for me this year is Marianna's something about Mary, up for this feast day (8th September). Marianna is my 2½ year old goddaughter, whose mother Erin-Thérèse I'd never have met but for Totus2us (she emailed me from America after having listened to the podcasts for about a year). Erin-Thérèse has been the most wonderful support on the Totus2us team these last 3 years & her daugher has now given a beautiful something about Mary - "I love Mary. I love people. I love Mary."    

Ruth - These 2 videos below are great examples of Pope Francis' Message for World Youth Day on the theme 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven'. 1st video viz Papa Francisco's words: 'The poor are not only people to whom we can give something. They also have much to offer us, to teach us. We have so much to learn from the wisdom of the poor!'

'Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho was homeless in São Paulo, Brazil, for nearly 35 years, and has become locally known to sit in the same spot and write every day. In April 2011, he befriended a young woman named Shalla Monteiro. Impressed with his poetry she decided to help him with his dream of publishing a book, she created a Facebook page to characterize the writing of Raymond. Neither could have expected what happened next!'

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This 2nd video - Mary's Meals (in Malawi) take on Pharrell Williams' Happy - viz the courage of happiness.

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Ruth - My sister Christianne emailed me & my other 2 sisters a link to this video of Pharrell William's (no. 1) track Happy, saying it was 'the best song ever to make you feel happy about the hols ..! I've been watching it at least twice a day with my 3 & 4 year old nieces (10.5 million other people have been watching it too) & today we've been clapping along, particularly happy, because Jesus our Saviour was born in a stable in Bethlehem for us all. Wishing y'all a very blessed, peaceful, joyous Christmas & a wonder-filled year ahead, full of grace.

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Week of 4th November - I'm particularly celebrating the gift of my life this week (as a friend has just texted me, I'm an 'old fruit') so want to reco this video of JSM dancing to Parov Stelar - it's so celebratory & joyous, it gets me smiling & wanting to dance too (& I quite see why it's getting so many hits).

Week of 24th June - This week in Medjugorje, Bosnia Hercegovina, they celebrated the 32nd anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions there (Mary first appeared on 24th June, Feast of St John the Baptist, but she didn't say anything, so the anniversary is celebrated on 25th June when she introduced herself as the Queen of Peace).

When I started Totus2us I was discreet about Medjugorje, just including it if mentioned in people's something about Mary (which often happened), as an official decision hadn't been pronounced by the Church. However when, in Feb 2011, I read Mgr Oder's book entitled 'JPII, why he is a saint' (not surprising why I bought the book) & some 4 pages were given to Medjugorje & JPII's stance on it (Mgr Oder works at the Vatican in charge of the beatification process), I knew it was time to proclaim the story & messages of Medjugorje. So Mgr Leo Maasburg (who worked v closely with Mother Teresa for 15 years) v kindly gave a 3 2us recording 2 years ago for 30th anniversary.

Not only am I very aware of all the graces my family & many of my closest friends have received through Medjugorje but I've been hugely encouraged over the last 25 years by the fruits of Medjugorje eg Craig Lodge House of Prayer, the Wintershall plays, Youth 2000, Mary's Meals, to name but a few initiatives from the UK. But I think what has struck me more than anything else working on Totus2us is how much we need Our Lady .. & how much Medjugorje has to do with renewal in the Church. For 4 years now I've been going up to random strangers & asking them if they'd say something about their faith. Those who have been prepared to share with me, have so often spoken about Medjugorje & how it was a real turning point in their lives; that there they discovered God's love and experienced a conversion of heart. So it doesn't make sense to me, nor does it seem fair to all those who are searching, not to speak of Medjugorje (nor do I think we can afford not to).

In celebration of the anniversary Totus2us has a talk by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow about Mary's Meals, a beautiful fruit of Medjugorje which now feeds over 750,000 children every school day. There are also many other testimonies you can listen to on this page. If you're based in the UK, the Wintershall Life of Christ runs this week till Sunday (I know there are still tickets available - it's an ace outdoor performance & takes all day in front of an audience of 2000+).

Some wonderful news: on Sunday, 16th June there was a solemn Act of Consecration of Lebanon & the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary - it was a very beautiful & moving ceremony at the end of Mass in the Cathedral in Harissa - more on this here

As beloved Papa Francis so beautifully put it recently,
May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin look after you.

Our Lady of Medjugorje's message to Marija, 25 June 2013:
Dear children! With joy in the heart I love you all and call you to draw closer to my Immaculate Heart so I can draw you still closer to my Son Jesus, and that He can give you His peace and love, which are nourishment for each one of you. Open yourselves, little children, to prayer – open yourselves to my love. I am your mother and cannot leave you alone in wandering and sin. You are called, little children, to be my children, my beloved children, so I can present you all to my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Week of 20th May - Rather than a reco, this week I've a plea/request:
that you join in praying for Syria.

This Sunday 26th May, Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Archbishop Samir Nassar will reconsecrate Syria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 6pm Mass in his Cathedral in Damascus (4pm UK time). To read/download the prayer of consecration (in English, French & Spanish), click here. Also, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, will be celebrating Mass at the inter-ritual Shrine of Our Lady of Zahle, along with the Melkite archbishop & pastors of the local Eastern Churches. The main intention will be for peace in Syria, Lebanon & the Middle East.

Week of 8th April - The joy of Easter gets me wanting to celebrate & dance ... & no-one does that much better than Matt (whose 2008 video has now had more than 45 million views). His 2nd 'where the ? is Matt' has had almost 10 million views & is accompanied by the song 'We're gonna trip the light ... We're gonna break the night and we'll see with new eyes'. The wondrous joy is that Jesus Christ has tripped the light (coz he is the light) & by his resurrection he has broken the night & we now can see with new eyes. Alleluia!

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Week of 18th March - World Youth Day is celebrated in a non-international way every year on Palm Sunday. This year is the 28th WYD/JMJ/GMG (12th international one is in Rio this July) for which Papa Benedict's message is on the theme: "Go and make disciples of all nations!" It's v worth reading (what isn't by Benedetto?), as are the beautiful homilies from past Palm Sundays (I betcha bottom dollar Papa Francisco will give a hummer of a homily too - the 1st international JMJ was in his home diocese of Buenos Aires in 1987).

I'd also like to big it up for Ooberfuse's ace track for JMJ Rio. Yup, Go! (Ooberfuse were 1 of the Madrid Me Encanta winners & played at the WYD welcome ceremony in Madrid & they've been asked to rework the English version of Rio's WYD song.)

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Week of 11th February - I recommend you journey through this Lent with the beautiful, loving, profound, faithfilled writings/words/teachings of our beloved Papa Benedetto. I'd start with his messages for Lent (& homilies/catecheses on Ash Wednesday) & his humdinger catecheses in this Year of Faith. Every time I read his words I'm given new courage in my journey of faith.

THANK YOU Holy Father.

Week of 19th November - I've been to Rome before & thought I was being observant spotting Our Lady around & about on street corners, accompanied by angels & often a lit lantern, but it was only when I started taking photographs of her this last week that I've really started looking upwards & opening my eyes to the not-so-obvious. And the glory of it is, La Madonna is everywhere here in Rome. It's not just got me grateful for her presence but more aware of how much I don't see with my eyes open! So if I could have a recommendation that would have some clout in municipal circles, I'd recommend all cities to have as many images of Our Holy Mother as Roma, the City of Mary has (all pics here).

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8th September 2012 - Happy, Happy Birthday, Mother Mary

May Totus2us always be Totus Tuus.

Father Leo: "Our Lady's birthday reminds us that each one of us has been born to love & be loved.  That's the reason of our being."

Ruth: Today Totus2us turns 3 & there are lots of lovely people to thank!

The 1st THANK YOU is to Mary Most Holy
- may Totus2us always be yours   ♥

The 2nd THANK YOU is to my brother-in-law, Rob,
who is not just still hosting much of Totus2us .. but is now also housing his homeless sister-in-law! A big thank you too to my old housemates, Charlotte, Petruta & Alice, for all their prayers & moral support  ♥

The 3rd THANK YOU is to the Totus2us team
- for all your help, good ideas, enthusiasm, support & encouragement xx

The 4th THANK YOU is to all the priests who've given recordings this year:
Fr Andrew Pinsent, Fr Anthony Doe, Fr Anthony Hoy SJ, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Austin Litke OP, Fr Bert Koppen, Fr Bryan Storey, Dom Charles Hallinan OSB, Fr David Marsden SCJ, Fr Ed Tomlinson, Fr Emmanuel Mansford CFR, Fr David Barnes, Fr Dermot Power, Fr Francis Selman, Fr Javier Igea, Fr John Edwards SJ, Mgr Keith Barltrop, Abbot Kevin Taggart OSB, Mgr Leo Maasburg, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Michael Dunne, Fr Michael Krychiwskyj, Canon Pat Browne, Fr Philip Conner, Fr Phillip Harris, Fr Stephen Wang, Fr Tom & Fr William Pearsall SJ.

The 5th THANK YOU is to those who've helped with the prayer podcasts: 
Edna, Sr Hyacinthe, Jan, Fr Javier Igea & Joelle;
and to the musicians who have given their music this year:
Amanda Vernon, Anna Johnstone, Benedict Nichols, Crossbeam, Darryl Wilson, David Bevan, Neil Wright & the Holy Redeemer Choir, Edwin Fawcett, Jesús Cabello, the London Oratory School Schola, Mike Mangione, Olen Cesari, Ooberfüse, Paul J. Kim & Fr Stan Fortuna.

The 6th THANK YOU is to those who've helped Totus2us financially this year ..
to the Carmelite Sisters of Nottinghill whose generosity at the beginning of the year was such a great gift & to Erin's mother, who made a donation in honour of her mother in celebration of 1000 somethings about our heavenly mother Mary. Many thanks too to the 2 other 'anonymous' donors.

The 7th THANK YOU is to all those others who've given witness on Totus2us this year:
Adeline, Aetheria, Agnes, Agnes, Sr Agnes, Áine, Alba, Aldona, Alessia, Alice, Amelia, Ana, Anastacia, Anastacia, Andrea, Andrea, Angela, Ann, Anna, Annabel, Anne, Anthony, Anthony, Antony, Antony, Aoife, Augustin, Axer, Azahara, Belita, Bernard, Betty, Billy, Bridget, Sr Bruna, Carlos, Carmeline, Catherine, Catherine, Cecily, Sr Cesariana, Charles, Charles, Charlotte, Charlotte, Sr Chinedum, Christina, Sr Christine of the Trinity, Christy, Clara, Clare, Clare, Clare, Clare, Claz, Collette, Collins, Daisy, Damian, Dan, Daniel, Daniel, Daniela, Daphne, David, David, Br David, Denis, Dennis, Sr Desiree of Jesus, Diana, Dina Maria, Dominique, Dominique, Dorothy, Doug, Ed, Edmund, Edyta, Elena, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Ella, Emily, Emily, Emma, Erin, Esther, Eucharist, Eugenia, Eva, Sr Evangelia, Evelyn, Felicity, Fida, Fiona, Franca, Frances, Frances, Frances, Francesca, Francine, Francis, Francis, Francis, Francis Lee, Francisco, Franice, Frederick, Frederico, Gabi, Gabriela, Gemma, George, Georgina, Georgy, Graham, Graham, Graziano, Gwen, Gwen, Hannah, Helen, Helena, Hilda, Hubert, Ian, Ignacio, Ileana, Jacinta, Jacqueline, James, Jamie, Jan, Janet, Janine, Javier, Jean-Baptiste, Jenny, Jerome, Jill, Joanna, Joao Paulo, Joe, Fr Joe, Joelle, John, John, John, John, John, John Paul, Jonathan, José, Josephine, Juan, Jude, Juliana, Julie, June, Justin, Karl, Katarina, Katarina, Katharina, Kathleen, Kathleen, Sr Kathleen, Kathy, Keith, Kellilove, Ken, Kim, Leanne, Leo, Leonidas, Leslie, Lily, Louis, Lourdes, Lucia, Lucy, Sr Luke, Maartje, Maggie, Maika, Mapangu, Marco, Marco, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, Sr Margaret, Margarete, Margaux, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria, Sr Maria, Sr Maria of the Resurrection, Mariam, Marian, Marian, Maria-Teresa, Marica, Marie, Marie-Antonia, Sr Marie Louise of Jesus, Sr Marie Therese, Mariella, Marina, Mariola, Mark, Mark, Marriline, Martin, Martin, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mother Mary of St Joseph, Sr Mary of St Philip, Maryrose, Matthew, Mazen, Mekaela, Mercy Grace, Michael, Michael, Michael, Michal, Miguel, Mike, Mila, Milka, Moira, Muriel, Mykolas, Nadia, Nagham, Natalia, Neil, Nereida, Nicholas, Nicole, Nida, Nisrine, Nora, Nur, Oliva, Olivia, Sr Pamela of the Holy Spirit, Paola, Paschal, Patricia, Patricia, Sr Patricia of the Heart of Mary, Sr Patricia of the Presentation, Patrick, Patt, Patti, Paula, Paula, Pauline, Penelope, Peter, Peter, Phil, Philip, Pierre Louis, Rachel, Rachel, Raphael, Raymond, Br Reginald, René, Richard, Richard, Rima, Rita, Ritzel, Rob, Rob, Fr Rod, Roger, Romina, Ronald, Rosamund, Sam, Samuel, Sandra, Sannida, Sarah, Sarah, Br Sean, Seana, Senam, Seyram, Shany, Sheila, Sidhu, Simone, Siobhan, Sisi, Sophy, Sophy, Sr Susan Marie of the Sacred Heart, Srikhanthie, Stephen, Stephen, Steve, Suranganee, Sylvie, Talu, Tanya, Teresa, Teresita, Theresa, Thomas, Tim, Titine, Tom, Tom, Toyin, Trevor, Valentina, Valentina, Veronica, Victoria, Victoria, Vincent,, William, William, Willy, Winifred, Yesenia & Zlatko .. more names to be added!
MANY, MANY THANKS to you all

Week of 24th June - In this, the week of the 31st anniversary of Our Lady's 1st apparitions in Medjugorje (since when she has been appearing there EVERY DAY), I'm recommending that if you've been thinking of going / wondering / maybe, don't ponder any more but book your ticket (bossy reco this week, I know). It's just I'm becoming more & more conscious of how I take it for granted that she's there, and we just don't know for how long God has it in his loving Providence. It's a place of great grace and peace, where you can encounter Jesus in a very profound way, thanks to the intercession of his beloved Mother.

Week of 18th June - Thanks to a good friend ringing me up last minute with a free ticket, I went to threesixty's production of The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe in Kensington Gardens in London on Thursday. It's superb. I'd been taken (by another friend) to their previous production of Peter Pan, so knew to expect magical visual effects round the circular tent and clever tricks with wires, but it still took my breath away at moments. The costumes were fabulous - beautifully created with humour; the acting was impressive - I particularly 'enjoyed' the White Witch & Ginarrbrik (had small children seriously scared), Lucy & Mr Tumnus; the depiction of Aslan was superb. C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia were my favourite books I read as a child & it was all brought back to life for me, as the spirit of the book was transposed onto the stage with inspirational creativity. I'd go again like a shot! (It's on until 9th September.)

Week of 4th June - This little book of Jean-Pierre de Caussade's correspondence of spiritual direction to the sisters of the Order of Visitation in Nancy (in 1700s) is popping with wisdom, given in such a simple and tender way that it's totally appealing & really, really helpful if you're trying to live in the present moment and seeking to do God's will. The translation I have (only coz that was the one in the charity shop) is by Kitty Muggeridge & is entitled: The Sacrament of the Present Moment (another title Abandonment to Divine Providence). Here's an example of the gem of it:

"Indeed, dear sisters, God is only asking for your hearts. If you truly seek this treasure, this kingdom where God alone reigns, you will find it. Your heart, if it is totally surrendered to God, is itself that treasure, that very kingdom you long for and are seeking. When we long for God and his will we rejoice in it and rejoicing is the fulfilment of our longing. To love God is to long earnestly to do so. Loving, we wish to be the instrument of his action so that his love can operate in and through us."

Week of 7th May - Only 3 weeks ago, 1 of my sisters booked for me to go with her & her 2 little girls to Medjugorje (we'd been together 25 years ago & my last pilgrimage there was in 2001). It was all gift from the start (the dates turned out to be exactly the same as my pilgrimage to Rome last year for JPII's beatification) & came out of the blue so perfectly, that even my parents were able to come too! We were in Medjugorje for Vocation Sunday, the beginning of Mary's month of May & St Joseph's feast day and Our Lady's monthly apparition to Mirjana on Apparition Hill. It was wonderful to be back & while there I read a v helpful book, 'A Conversation with the Visionaries' by Kresimir Sego. It is without doubt a place of great grace, where Our Lady is urgently calling us to a conversion of heart, offering us the gift of peace, deep peace, if we respond to her call. I soooooooooooooo recommend you go - for more info, here's the parish website.

In England, it seems to me that there's less information about Medjugorje now (in churches etc) than 20 years ago, & the vitriol and attack that so often heads its way has led to a silent witness. I've been conscious ever since I first began asking random people if they'd say something about their faith, that many people are at week-day Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament etc as a direct result of a pilgrimage to Medugorje. While a final decision has yet to be reached by the Church (currently under way by the Vatican), the fruits of Medjugorje are there for all to see: a return to the Sacraments of the Church, with long queues all day every day for Confession, 1000s in silence before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, a continual procession of pilgrims making their way up Mount Krizevac meditating on the Stations of the Cross, etc etc. And it seems like half of Italy has been to Medugorje, so all this renewal of prayer will be bearing great fruit there - I even thought I might see a halo over Italy on my return flight home.

Week of 16th April - Unreported World, ;a News Documentary series on Channel 4, is for me 1 of the best reasons to have a TV ... as I kept missing episodes, I'd signed up for the audio podcast on itunes & so up popped the 1st of the 2012 series last Friday. It's on Sudan & the genocide of the Nuba people by al-Bashir's goverment forces. It seems most especially fitting to have been broadcast in Easter week, the week of the Divine Mercy novena, as the only hospital available for the many innocent victims of the bombing attacks (& politically generated famine) is the Mother of Mercy Hospital, with 1 missionary doctor from the US (remarkable) & Catholic nuns who are learning the skills of nursing on the job. It's deeply shocking to hear but I then watched the film & it was doubly distressing to see the truth of what's going on. It's superb journalism by Aidan Hartley, who leaves the last words to the Sister in charge of the hospital: "Is there nobody there who can hear the cries of the Nuba people .. Is there nobody who can speak on there behalf, who can say 'Stop. People have died enough.' So I asked myself: Where is the international community? .. where are they?" Watch here.

There is only 1 road into the Nuba mountains from the south and this will be blocked off when the rains start in a couple of weeks. So we all need to act NOW & do what we can to spread the word and support the hospital. You can follow journalist Aidan Hartley on Twitter & read his superb As to Qs on reddit here; donate to Mother of Mercy hospital here.

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Week of 2nd April - With all the blessings on offer in this Holy Week, I'm gonna recommend praying the Novena to Divine Mercy (which Jesus asked St Faustina to pray particularly from Good Friday in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday). Totus2us has the novena in English, French, Italian & Spanish (& the chaplet also in Czech, German, Greek, Latin, Polish, Portuguese & Slovak).

And if you're in London this Good Friday, the Passion of Jesus is being enacted (for the 3rd year) in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon & 3.15pm (free to all comers).

Week of 26th March - When there isn't a wonderful gathering of millions of young people at an international WYD / JMJ (Rio next year), World Youth Day is celebrated on a diocesan level on Palm Sunday (there's always a great celebration at St Peters). Our Holy Father, Papa B, has just written his message for this 27th Jornada Mundial de la Juventud, which is on the theme of joy. And, no surprise, it's BEAUTIFUL!

"Dear friends, to conclude I would encourage you to be missionaries of joy. We cannot be happy if others are not. Joy has to be shared. Go and tell other young people about your joy at finding the precious treasure which is Jesus Himself. We cannot keep the joy of faith to ourselves. If we are to keep it, we must give it away. St John said: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; we are writing this so that our joy may be complete” (1 Jn 1:3-4). Christianity is sometimes depicted as a way of life that stifles our freedom and goes against our desires for happiness and joy. But this is far from the truth. Christians are men and women who are truly happy because they know that they are not alone. They know that God is always holding them in His hands. It is up to you, young followers of Christ, to show the world that faith brings happiness and a joy which is true, full and enduring. If the way Christians live at times appears dull and boring, you should be the first to show the joyful and happy side of faith. The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to Him. Show the world that this is true!.."

Week of 5th March - Ooberfuse, 1 of the bands chosen to play at JMJ Madrid & featured on Totus2us' World Youth Days, TOP CHATWord on the Street podcasts, have released a song & video in memory of Shahbaz Bhatti, who was murdered in Pakistan on 2 March last year for speaking out against the blasphemy laws under sharia. The song is entitled Blood Cries Out & is as compelling & powerful as it is eloquent & impressive. It shows what music can do when at the service of culture / truth. Thank you, Ooberfuse, for helping Shahbaz Bhatti's blood cry out with a message for peace.

As Hal said in interview: "In our research for the song we looked at extremely disturbing footage. Shahbaz’s car, after a visit to his elderly mother’s house, was riddled with bullets and spattered with blood following his assassination. ..We also watched an interview with Shahbaz weeks before he was killed in which he anticipates further suffering and continuing death threats. The song, Blood Cries Out, samples a phrase from the interview in which Shahbaz says he has experienced already the suffering of the cross. It is a tragic irony that Shahbaz’s message to those who would listen was Christ’s very own ‘Do not kill in the name of religion, but love each other.’” Ooberfuse will perform the song at a rally in London this Saturday 10th March, sponsored by the British Pakistani Christian Association and Aid to the Church in Need. The march will kick off at the Pakistani Embassy in Lowndes Square and culminate with the rally and concert in Trafalgar Square.

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Week of 20th February - the newest 40 Days for Life campaign begins on Ash Wednesday. I've been very struck by this prolife initiative but was fairly blown away, hearing David & Sean (the founders) talk about how it all got started (the story of a father's deathbed confession and prayers sent shivers up & down my spine with the sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit) & the stories of conversion and new life all along the way. 40 Days for Life is in 258 locations in the USA, Canada, England, Spain, & Australia, through till 1st April. If you're not able to join in peaceful prayer vigil at 1 of the 258 abortion clinics, you can join in prayer & fasting, wherever you are. I thoroughly recommend you sign up for their newsletter. Many, many thanks to all those who have made this campaign possible. It has really brought home to me that the only way to live with hope and tenderness in this battle, which at its heart is a spiritual one, is to be grounded in prayer... which is exactly what 40 Days for Life is. 

Week of 13th February - completely by fluke (while looking for footage of JPII in Peru) I came across this youtube "Milagro de Juan Pablo II en niño Chileno Cristian Felipe Piñeda Llanten" - I was immediately taken by the catchy tune, brill mouth-organ playing, ace singing & adorable smiling (in particular by the daughter). But, as if that wasn't enough (which it was for me to relisten to it at least 20 times), the family are singing in thanksgiving for the miracle that occurred with their son (who I'm guessing might be playing the mouth organ now) through the intercession of JPII. I'm happily hooked, and would so love to have this song on a Totus2us podcast :o) .. I'll have to put my thinking cap on.

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Week of 6th February - this week I'm especially aware of Our Lady of Lourdes & thanking her for all that she has done for me. The first priest to do a recording for Totus2us was Mgr Leo Maasburg (I know him through friends with a Lourdes link) - he gave 3 2us on Our Lady's birthday .. which was a WONDERFUL way to begin (with many more reflections since) & this week he's giving 3 2us on Our Lady of Lourdes, so it seems the week to rave about the book he's written about Mother Teresa of Calcutta: 'A Personal Portrait'. It came out in German over a year ago (I think it's in over 10 languages now) but not till last October in English. I ate it up over a week-end, by the end of it feeling as though I'd spent it with Mother Teresa herself. It's jam-packed with riveting stories that regularly brought a smile to my face and gave me new 'respect' for my Miraculous Medal (amongst many other things). Fr Leo is able to give such a personal account because he worked closely with Mother Teresa (as her spiritual advisor, translator, and her confessor) for over 15 years, particularly in Eastern Europe. I'd give this book to anyone and everyone .. as it is engaging and engrossing on so many levels, full of faith, hope & love.

Week of 20th January- my Christmas presie from my darling younger brother & sis-in-law was a trip to the theatre this week & we went to see Michael Frayne's Noises Off which is showing until 10th March at the Old Vic in London (my 1st visit to this lovely theatre championed by Kevin Spacey). The cast are superb, but they have got the most brilliant script (written in the early 80s) - it's not only very funny (with much situation comedy & no sharp edges) but it's very bright & keeps your mind ticking all the way through, trying to remember how it was last time & might end up next time round! I've never been to anything where I've heard more continual laughter for over 2 hours.

22nd January is the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision in the US & today (Monday 23rd) is the annual March for Life in Washington DC. I'm not there as I'm stuck here in London ...but my thoughts & prayers are with everyone in DC today. Many thanks to all of those who are giving witness to the gift of life. As Bryan Kemper highlighted in interview last week, the 40th year since this case changed the law starts ticking now.

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Week of 2nd January - wishing everyone a very blessed 2012 ... may it be a year full of God's grace for each one of us.

I saw this superb photo on a friend's FB page & I don't know who to 'thank' for the gift of it! It made me think of what it must be like if we could see each other from the inside (rather than the out). Another friend posted this charming dance skit by Laurel & Hardy. I LOVE beginning each new year with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God (also the World Day of Peace) & this skit reminded me of the joy of life!

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Week of 19th December - Wishing everyone a very blessed, hopefilled, joyous, peaceful Christmas.

The angel said to the shepherds,
"I bring you news of great joy. Today the Saviour of the world has been born to you, alleluia."

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Week of 7th November - in this week commemorating 11th of the 11th & remembering all those who've died in war, John Jeffcock has launched Heroes - 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets. I know about the book because John, the editor, is a friend. I bought a copy last night at the book launch, but it wasn't till I got home that I took a look - the result was I went to bed very late! Before each poem you're given the author, their age & the operations/wars they've fought in (except for the poems written by members of soldiers' families). The experience of war and the real human cost of war strikes home powerfully, without any sermonizing but much eloquence and insight.

In his introduction, John explains: This is not my book: it is the unheard voice of the many people who endure enormous sacrifices so that others need not suffer. They are not heroes but ordinary people in exceptional environments who risk body, mind and soul for others. .... We have seen 250 poems from all ranks, all regiments and all 3 branches of the service (Army, Navy & Air Force). We received excellent submissions from regular soldiers, the Territorial Army, parents, spouses and children. Selecting the best 100 was an incredibly difficult task as every entry represented an indelible mark in the writers life. Fortunately, we had help from Carol Ann Duffy (the Poet Laureate), Simon Rad & General Sir Richard Dannatt ..The scores given by the professional poets and the professional soldiers varied in some places considerably. The question 'What is more important: the poetic quality or the integrity of the experience?' was brought painfully to the fore. As a soldier, I put integrity first and as a result you may find a few pieces which would not win a poetry competition but will touch you as a human being. My view is that poetry should touch us intimately and leave the reader changed.

That's just what reading the poems last night did to me!

Week of 31st October - It was pretty much this time last year that I very, very finally got a spiritual director & I'm so so so very grateful to him for his fatherly care, guidance and love, I've just gotta recommend that everyone has one! I'd known I 'should' have one for years (& years & years) ...but thanks to my ineptitude & it never quite working out when I occasionally made the 1st little steps towards asking, I never 'got' one. I was more & more conscious that I needed one. Thanks to going to confession I now have one (his counsel in confession was so v helpful, it got me immediately thinking 'He's just who I'd like (& need) as my spiritual director'). So if you've been thinking about it, be brave ... I started praying about it & up popped Fr John Edwards SJ - thank you, dear Father John.

Week of 17th October - with Blessed John Paul II's 1st feast day this Saturday (22nd October - the date of his inauguration as Pope in 1978), my reco is anything/everything JPII. Try reading 1 of his encyclicals / books / homilies .. or watch footage of his life (last night I rewatched the DVD Credo (singing throughout by Andrea Bocelli) - clip below). If you're in London, there's a concert in JPII's honour by John Bevan & the Holy Redeemer Choir on Sunday, 30th October at 7.30pm at Holy Redeemer, Chelsea.

THANK YOU beloved Blessed John Paul II

for all that you gave us and for all that we continue to receive through you.
May Totus2us be all that you would wish it to be.

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Week of 10th October - I'm beginning to get excited about JPII's 1st feast day coming up on 22nd October (the date of his inauguration as Pope, having been elected on 16th October). There's a new novena to Blessed John Paul II, with quotes from the beautiful homilies by Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI at JPII's funeral & beatification. I'd also like to recommend a new Totus2us podcast - In the Family - which will be beginning with the Carmelites on the Feast of St Teresa of Avila, this Saturday.

Week of 3rd October - As we're now in the month of the Holy Rosary, I've just got to recommend praying the rosary and also thank Anna Johnstone and the Westminster Cathedral Rosary group for the beautiful gift of their rosary now up on Totus2us.

Week of 26th September - A new 40 Days for Life begins this Wednesday, 28th September & runs through to Sunday, 6th November, and it's the largest one so far, with 301 locations around the world. It is a pro-life initiative FULL OF HOPE, in which you can participate by peaceful presence outside abortion clinics, by prayer and by fasting. Check out the website for the locations around the world (Argentina, Germany & Puerto Rico participating for the 1st time) & to sign up for the daily email via which you can join in the daily prayers.

Week of 19th September - With Dan & Frankie's move from Ushaw to Oscott, their Vocations Podcast has become Vocationcast. So I'm wanting to make a lot of noise about their all round brilliance ... not just their general chat & interview skills, but Dan's ab-fab creation of a new website (done in all of a week, with no previous website-making-under-his-belt, me thinks we've got a genius on the team). As their description goes: "In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI asked the young people of the UK "What kind of person do you want to be?" Vocationcast is a podcast to help you discover the answer to this question." The 1st episode (also on itunes) is on WYD Madrid, is full of gems & ditties, and gives a real flavour of the hope that is alive and buzzing at WYDs.

Week of 12th September - I find it so hard to watch the news as its all so depressing ... but what's worse is that the appalling famine in Somalia hardly seems to make it to the news at all, so this week I'm recommending Mary's Meals  who've set up an East Africa Emergency Appeal. In their words:

"We have launched an emergency relief response effort in Somalia as part of our latest efforts to support starving people affected by the food crisis in East Africa. Mary’s Meals is providing 100 tonnes of food aid to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, where tens of thousands of people have fled to in search of food. Our effort will see us providing around 900,000 meals in famine-hit Somalia – the cost of each meal is just 4 pence. The food aid delivery to Somalia is the latest effort being made by Mary’s Meals to support people affected by the crisis in East Africa, where we have been feeding over 24,000 children with a daily life-saving meal in northern Kenya. We are appealing for public donations to buy more food to send to East Africa as soon as possible, and would welcome any donations to our East Africa Emergency Appeal to support our work. (USA donors can donate here; You can make a UK donation here)

Week of 5th September - I've just been asked to be a godmother by friends I've made thanks to Totus2us, which seems like the most amazing gift to be given in this week when Totus2us is 2.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been a part of Totus2us during this 2nd year. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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2010

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2009