Thursday, July 20, 2017

USEFUL MEETING...

...of the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon Committee!  Somehow, a group of ladies organising a Luncheon sounds like the last word in haven'they-got-something-better-to-do?  activity....but this is a substantial national event, bringing together Catholic women from across Britain, that marks its 50th anniversary, its Golden Jubilee next year.

The 2017 gathering will be something of a preparation for the big Jubilee celebration, but also a great event in its own right...

Today we elected the four Catholic women of the year - as always, by secret ballot, by a committee drawn from representatives of the main Catholic women's organisations in Britain.

Book the date for the 2017 Luncheon in your diary: Nov 3rd 2017 in London. Tickets £45, money raised goes to charity.  The four Catholic Women of the Year, plus our Guest Speaker and other details, will be announced next week (letters have to go to the four first!).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conversation with ...

...a student, training to be a teacher. He was interested in the college history, enjoyed looking through some of the archive material, helped a bit with going through papers in files from the 19th century. He was interesting and communicative and I only later realised why: he didn't use the word 'like in every other phrase. This meant that everything flowed in coherent sentences.

Is this a sign of a new trend, offering hope?




Monday, July 17, 2017

A busy day...

...organising the reading and judging of entries for the 2017 Schools Bible Project. Schools from across Britain enter this Project, which involves studying some of the great events of Christ's life and writing about them, showing some understanding of what the New Testament is all about...

The main winners come to London to receive their prizes - cash awards for their schools plus book prizes for themselves - from our Trustee, Baroness Cox. The Christian Projects group - it is a charity established back in the 1950s, bringing together Christians from different mainstream denominations - is able to cover the fares of the students and their parents and/or teachers.

There are also a number of general prizewinners, and these receive book prizes, posted out to their schools. Doing this packing and mailing is always a massive task, for which a team of volunteers assembles at a church hall in late August, so that the prizes are waiting for the pupils when they arrive back at school in September.

Today's essay-reading was also a marathon session, but one that was well organised, with a wonderful welcome in a lovely house and garden, and a light lunch, so that the work went well in an atmosphere of great enthusiasm and goodwill.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

and if you want to read...

...the latest FAITH magazine, you can do so here... features on faith and freedom, Original Sin, "Making Gay Okay"....

...and Wednesday.....

...which I also spent at St Mary's - this time busy in the archives, working my way through the records of  the 1930s and 40s...fascinating stuff with WWII bombing and so on...I found this event happening in the chapel in the evening. A lively call with something of the old-fashioned mission-hall about it, but with a loud American zest punctuated with zappy music...  Absolutely packed, a different crowd  from yesterday and again hordes and hordes of young Catholics... at the end, there was a rather splendid sound with everyone singing  "How great Thou art"...

I had spent part of the day very agreeably with Pia Matthews, who teaches at St Mary's...we went to Mass in the chapel and then had a delightful picnic (all provided by Pia - she bakes her own bread and scones etc...wonderful) in the grounds. It's a real privilege to be working here , in this glorious setting with green lawns and Horace Walpole's extraordinary Gothic toy palace with its Waldegrave embellishments...eating scones with jam and cream...

And then in the evening, to see a whole new generation rediscovering the Faith in new ways...

The Church is facing problems in Britain that were unimaginable in the 1930s and 40s...the St Mary's of those days was a vastly different place, in a vastly different country. But  the Faith is the same, and offering the same challenge with a forthright freshness that somehow has a new vigour....it is also very different, incidentally, from what was on offer back in the 1970s...and in many ways much, much more appealing.

We are going to need this vigour and strength in the days ahead. It is strange to spend a working day looking across history to the vanished Britain of the 1940s, where it was normal to assume some common values about things like human identity, marriage, parenthood, and people's rights and duties,  and then to go home to late-night headlines where same-sex "marriage" and the promotion of abortion are everyday realities...

At a Catholic University...

...a couple of astonishing events...

The first, on Tuesday,  took me by surprise. I'd had an infuriating day. Arrived early at Euston to catch a train to Lancaster for an important meeting. No trains. Everything cancelled - something had happened on the line near Milton Keynes. Spent some time emailing to explain to others at the meeting etc etc...

To avoid a waste day, I went on to St Mary's. But here, frustration again - the Library was closed for a staff training day. No access to archives so no work  possible on the history project. The study area was open, however, so I settled somewhat grumpily to some other work, After a couple of hours I happened to be looking out of the window when Fr Stephen Langridge was walking past, chatting with a group of people...he is parish priest of nearby Richmond and a great friend and I went out to greet him. And found I was in the middle of a wonderful gathering of students from across Britain and America - an event called The Commission, organised by FOCUS.

I met the founder, Curtis Thomas, and realised that here was a good feature for the Catholic press and websites, so whipped out my notebook for an interview. And then in due course I found myself sitting at the back of a well-filled chapel, listening to him give an excellent talk, and realising that I was seeing something that is a major part of the New Evangelisation.

It was all rather exciting - and I would never have encountered it, had not the trains to the North West been stopped for the day....


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meanwhile, LOGS thrives...

...read here...

IMPOSSIBLE...

...to be ironic these days.

I wrote a spoof (see below) about a lobby group campaigning against the reality of oceans and land.

Today, this news from the Church of England.

You couldn't make it up.  You honestly couldn't.




Monday, July 10, 2017

...and you might also enjoy...

...a gentle look at a subject which seems trivial but has a message too...

The government has just approved funds for...

...the Hydro-NO! group, which is working with schools and youth groups to challenge stereotypical beliefs about artificial barriers between land masses.

"After being marginalised for so long, and subject to hydro-abuse from so many sides, it's a relief to be recognised at last"   said leading campaigner Itsa Nydea. "What a lot of people just don't realise is how prejudices about land and water over the centuries have created a complete hydro-based set of beliefs which need to be challenged by those of us who know a different reality."

Hydro-NO  is working on new material for geography classes that show that there is not necessarily water between Britain and France, and certainly none between  Europe and America.

"It's all  about recognising where we are at today. Hydro-based notions of the past are just, in various ways, forms of oppression."

A booklet for schools says: "We all know that whether there is water or not is something that can depend on feelings: mirages in the desert prove that.  So it is just prejudice to suggest that we should use words like 'ocean' to describe something that could actually be dry land tomorrow if people really felt, in themselves, that it was."

"Over the centuries people have even given names to large areas of what they describe as 'sea'.  This is really offensive to those of us who just don't accept the idea that large tracts of water exist between different continents. Expressions like 'Atlantic Ocean' and 'North Sea' really need to be banned."

Transport authorities are among those backing the campaign and are arranging that bus drivers using expressions like "seaside" or "river" are penalised.

Hoc est. iocus. Sed...





A most successful....

...Catholic History Walk, from St Martin-in-the-Fields, down to the Strand and then along the river to the Inns of Court...

A good crowd and a good spirit of cheerful friendliness...

With large numbers, it is always a question whether or not to use a microphone system. The one we have is rather heavy - for the Martyrs Walk, we had it in a suitcase-on-wheels which worked extremely well, but it seems cumbersome to take it around London on each and every walk.  So I rely on my own voice - which works well enough when we are in parks and gardens, so today's walk, along the Embankment where there are lovely gardens all the way, was a delight.

Next walks:  info here...

PRAYER...

...today and every day over the next weeks, for Cardinal George Pell, unjustly accused of crime. This is a man of integrity, courage and decency and he merits our prayers and support at this tough time.