I'm glad I went back for the week because it gave me a chance to just get away from Uni...and the 'delights' of Uxbridge, and just have a week of rest! I also made the most of being able to go to the gym, and with some of the money I had saved from the previous week (I saved £4.02), I went to the gym twice (it only costs me £1 per session).
Unfortunately the week took a sad turn on Wednesday, when I attended Brenda's funeral. She was a friend of the family from church and unfortunately died quite suddenly. My family and I had been parishioners of St William of York Church in Send since I was 2 years old, and we went almost every Sunday without fail, until Bishop Kieran decided to close us down in 2006. My brother and I were alter servers from a young age, and my dad was a Eucharistic minister and choir member (Brenda was the leader of the choir). Our church community was so small that we were like a big family, I grew up surrounded by the other parishioners and they were there to help us celebrate poignant and special moments in our lives, from myself and my brother receiving the sacraments (from baptism to confirmation), to our parish picnics, bbq's, nativity plays and eventually our final mass as parishioners of St Williams. Wednesday was not only a time to say goodbye to Brenda, but also to reflect on how important a role the members of our church had played in my life. Brenda's brother Joe was especially close to our family, he taught my brother and I everything about alter serving, and when he died shortly after the church closed in 2006, everyone from our church gathered in St Williams for his funeral. It was the first funeral I had ever been to, and the first time anyone I knew had died. That was the last time I ever alter served...I just didn't want to do it without Joe, and I didn't want to do it in any church other than St Williams. I think it was a nice thing for my brother and I to do, to serve one last time after the church closed, for Joe. since Joe died in 2006, 10 more people I know have died, 5 of those were family members, and 4 were under 18. And even though I didn't know some of them very well, it still effects you, especially when some of them were so young, and you see so many people go in such a short space of time.
Ever since St Williams closed I never really enjoyed church again, it was such a huge part of my life, not just the bricks and mortar, but the parishioners, friends and memories. I wanted to get married there and have my children baptised there, unfortunately that will never happen now, and I'm not being stubborn or anything, but I am never getting married in a Church that doesn't feel like home, so in the future, if I can't get married in St Williams, I will get married outside, in the surroundings God created.
Bishop Kieren promised us he wouldn't close us down, and when he broke that promise, it destroyed my faith in God. And each time someone else died, my faith gradually disappeared, until I was questioning everything I had ever believed and been taught. It has only been in the past few months that my faith has been restored, and I am so grateful for that. Since May/June I have realized how privileged I am to of been brought up in the Catholic faith, and to believe in something greater. It has helped me through tough times, and sometimes it has been one of the only things that has kept me going. Brenda's funeral on Wednesday, although sad, made me truly appreciate the beliefs and values I have been brought up with. Death is not the end....only the beginning of the next stage of our lives. Brenda's funeral provided me with closure for everyone else I have lost, and it made me realize that without faith you have nothing. It was also lovely to see everyone from St Williams again!
Most of you probably didn't know my beliefs, but that's mainly because I think everyone has a right to their own opinions, and I respect other people's beliefs...I'm not one of these people who forces religion onto those who don't believe in the same things as me. I'm also not one of these strict god fearing preaching 'Bible bashers', and I don't agree with everything that's said in the Bible. But I really do think that it helps you through life's most challenging times, and without it I really don't know where I would be today. I was confirmed 4 years ago, just before the church closed, and the parishioners of St Williams gave me a book called 'I Am With You', it is filled with bible passages for different times in your life...and I still turn to it when I need some guidance and understanding.
On Thursday I did the majority of my Christmas shopping, which I'm very proud of! Even though the majority of people voted for me to not include Christmas gifts in the £10 budget, I'm not taking advantage of that and spending a lot like I did last year. I saved quite a bit by buying a few gifts from Boots and using my advantage card points, and of course shopping around to find the cheapest deal, which meant buying some dvds my mum wanted off the internet instead of in-store (did you know that HMV online are cheaper than their shops...and it's free delivery!). I have to say it was quite nice being able to go round the shops and spend more than £10...even if it was all for other people. My Christmas shopping has satisfied my withdrawal symptoms, and now I won't be venturing to the shops again until the January sales...hopefully they'll have some bargains that will agree with my budget :)
Also if you go to Brunel University pick up a free copy of LeNurb, the student newspaper, as I am on page 4 :)