Thursday, August 10, 2017

...and if you want...

...some of Auntie Joanna's Blackberry Jam, Bramble Cheese, or Apple Butter, you must come to the 11 am Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, London Bridge, this Sunday, as there will be lots and lots on sale over coffee-n-biscuits afterwards...

If the nice "Yorkmum"...

...who recently wrote to me at this Blog would give me an EMAIL ADDRESS (which I will not publish) I would love to reply...

To Sussex...

...for a meeting with the wonderful team that run the admin for the Catholic History Walks...over a cheery supper at their home not far from the sea, we reminisced about how the History Walks project began some years ago, and looked at practical plans for the future...

Then the next morning, a glorious walk along by Chichester Harbour. Blackberries ripening on the bushes, wide fields where the harvest has just been brought in, and the great spire of Chichester Cathedral as a landmark in the distance. Out across the water, dozens of sailing boats nipping about, and at the harbour entrance, some very impressive motor craft moving through the lock gates taking people out for a day of cruising...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

and then...

...after some repacking and organising things at home, another trip to Walsingham. But this time, a Walking Pilgrimage. The Dominican sisters of St Joseph organise an annual John Paul Walk for the New Evangelisation. It starts with an open-air Mass at Bury St Edmunds, but I joined them at Swaffham. Here, we all slept overnight in the sports hall of this school...and after an early morning start, we walk along the footpaths and lanes of Norfolk, alongside great fields of sugar-beet and rustling wheat, making our way sometimes through nettles and brambles, sometimes across mud and puddles, sometimes along comfortable cart-tracks or lovely soft grass...

Mass at this church at Castle Acre, by kind invitation of the vicar and churchwarden. A picnic in the churchyard: Sister Julie is in charge of catering, driving a minibus with supplies of bread and ham and cheese and apples and crunchy chocolate biscuit bars... Then on again, praying the Rosary, and hearing some excellent catechesis from Sister Hyacinthe.

Another warm welcome from the Anglican Rector at West Raynham, and an unforgettable Evensong, led by  him in the ruins of an old church  before a hearty supper in the village hall. The Rector's wife brought glorious rich fruit cake, and a kind parishioner brought delicious scones with jam and cream. We had use of showers and bathrooms in a local houses, where we were also able to bed down for the night.

And then, on the Sunday morning, the final march into Walsingham,singing and praying...our young Dominican priest joined other clergy to concelebrate Mass, as we joined other pilgrims in the packed church. Then a final walk - this time along the Holy Mile along the old railway line, finishing with Benediction in Church of the Annunciation...

This pilgrimage is so fabulous that it's hard to say goodbye at the end...long farewells and hugs and swapping of email addresses and so on...the minibus to Cambridge, and while the young people chattered away I just slumbered. And then the train to London, and so home...

After the New Dawn gathering at Walsingham...

...I paid an all-too-brief visit to the FAITH Movement's great Summer gathering. As always, crowds of young people. A ceilidhi was in progress as I arrived - there is always a strong Scottish contingent at FAITH events, kilted and enthusiastic, and the dancing goes on until a late hour. The week included daily Mass and prayer, talks and sports and more...it has all grown hugely from the days when we gathered, 40 years ago, in much smaller numbers, at what is now Roehampton University. But as the music swirled and the talk was warm and lively around the bar, and there was the buzz of youth and energy, lots and lots of  laughter and fun...it brought joyful memories and an enormous sense of gratitude...

The Summer Session is now held at this school with its beautiful grounds, approached by a walk from the railway station along by lush meadows in the fold of the Surrey hills - every year, I relish this lovely walk, and the peace it brings, especially as I know it will end with a meeting of old friends and a sense of homecoming.

for the Feast of the Transfiguration...

...I found this a moving and powerful read. Blessed Paul VI died on this feast-day. We owe him a debt of thanks for, among much else, the courageous encyclical Humanae Vitae...

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Rosary...

...said - and sung - as a vast procession made its way down to the ancient Walsingham Priory, and then the cool lawn beneath one's feet as we settled for Mass in the Priory grounds...this is always one of the highlights of the New Dawn gathering. An enormous crowd - if the old Priory Church had still been standing, we would have filled it. Thanks to Henry VIII we were in the ruins, and spilling out from what would have been the church, into all the ancilliary areas, and still the crowd kept coming, singing, down the Holy Mile from the Slipper Chapel at Houghton St Giles...

New Dawn was a glorious few days, and it was a delight to meet friends, to have some wonderful discussions, to celebrate the Faith and to tackle serious subjects in an atmosphere of prayer...

There is an underlying seriousness when Catholics get together at present. Things in our country feel bleak, with a sense of social and moral fragility and breakdown,  an awareness of great confusion and anger among too many of the young who have been given no understanding of what life is about or how much they are loved by God...

The poor old CofE is not helping much...read Auntie on the subject here...

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

and now...

...on to Norfolk, to the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, for the great NEW DAWN gathering...

I'm staying at the very comfortable Elmham House, the Shrine Bureau - and am writing this in the pub next door, where I have been enjoying a good supper and a pin-and-tonic while using the somewhat intermittent Norfolk wifi to catch up on my emails. Which gives me also the opportunity to offer you the latest Portal magazine, in which there is a feature by Auntie about Bl John Henry Newman and a recent trip to his childhood home along by the Thames at Ham...

New Dawn is  rather wonderful...lots of lovely families, a variety of talks on Catholic doctrine and moral teachings, rousing  singing - though not all to my taste (the words are inspiring, tunes and general style...not so sure) -  an atmosphere of prayer,  enthusiasm, and great goodwill,  There is a tremendous sense of loyalty to the Church  and knowledgeable, well-informed discussion about living as Catholics today and celebrating the joy of the Faith.  There is much concern about the threats to Christian families seeking to raise their children in freedom. Of course, some can and do educate their own children at home - but this is not possible for all, and anyway the Church must, as of right, be free to run schools and colleges and has a reasonable claim on public funds for some of this as she educates vast numbers of children and has done so for generations. The history of education in our country is Church history.

From the Thames Valley - via a rushed couple of days at home in London - to the wide Norfolk fields...it's been an opportunity to feast on a glory of English views...

New Dawn happens in a vast  near the Shrine, with families camping in adjoining field, and a linked youth camp in another alongside...one of the most powerful sights occurred this evening, as people were chatting in the evening sunshine, children frolicking about, strains of singing coming from one group, a buzz of talk from another....the sudden sound of a bell ringing, and a little procession crossed the meadow, a robed priest bearing the Blessed Sacrament aloft, preceded by a server.. Children and adults alike knelt down with complete naturalness and  quiet reverence. A lovely moment.

I remembered a similar moment last year and the beauty of it.  Oh, may there be, in long and happy years ahead, children at play in a Norfolk field and kneeling joyfully before the Lord in his Sacrament is borne along....

To the Thames Valley...

...and the EVANGELIUM conference, in the splendid surroundings of The Oratory School, Woodcote. This conference, now in its 10th year, draws a good numbers of young Catholics from across Britain. Excellent presentations by, among other, Dr Jacob Phillips, on the theology of Pope Benedict XVI,  Fr Andrew Pinsent on Faith and Science, Sr Hyacinthe du fos du Rau on on the Virtue of Hope...glorious singing at Mass every day in the big chapel with its poignant War Memorials...a talkative social evening in the main hall with its portraits of the Pope and the Queen and boards with listing School Captains...

I was speaking on The Gender Agenda, and began by expressing thanks to HM Govt for producing such a grossly absurd and horrible plan (changing birth certificates at will when people decide they'd rather pretend they were born a member of the opposite sex) thus ensuring me a large audience - every seat taken and I gave the talk twice.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Been reading...

...Bernard Levin's The way we Live Now...some of his best journalism from the 1980s. Recommended. He is particularly good against cant and humbug.

It's distressing to recognise how much more open and large-minded such a commentator could be at that time: today vicious correction would result following some of his more acute observations. For example, he explores the shrieking attacks by feminists on Erin Pizzey, and is also trenchant on the subject of the relationship between rights and duties...

If we all...

...picked up just one piece of litter a day, and put it in the nearest litter-bin, how much, much more pleasant our cities, suburbs and countryside would be...please join me in this campaign. One piece of litter a day.... 

If necessary, carry the wretched bit of litter with you until you find a bin. (I carry a small packet of baby-wipes to clean my hands). You will find bins in shops and in fast-food places, and in offices and on trains...and more than once I have dropped in to an estate-agent or similar office and said "May I just drop this in the bin here?" and have never been refused.

Incidentally, one of the things I have learned in this campaign is that smoking is still very popular, but that people are uglier about it. They aren't allowed a smokers-corner in a pub or any other comfortable place.  So far more cigarette-packets are now dropped in the street, which is the only place where people are allowed to smoke. The habit of simply chucking the packet down especially applies to younger people, who have not been given any code of manners for smoking: they don't know about bins and ash-trays, about offering a light to others, or passing around a packet to share while sitting comfortably together talking. They smoke in a rather ugly, semi-furtive, greedy sort of way...it's not unlike the ugly shovelling of food that the overloaded-hamburger-in-polystyrene-box has produced. The cigarette and the hamburger are both consumed hurriedly in the street, and the wrappers discarded, and the everyday human ordinariness of eating and talking and relaxing together somehow just isn't there...


Monday, July 24, 2017

The lush meadows and glorious hills...

...of the West country...staying in a Tudor cottage... visits to family and friends...

A crowded Mass on Sunday, lots of holidaymakers in the small Catholic church of a seaside town...

In the evening, we went to see the new film Dunkirk.  If you don't understand about why it is all so central to the British tribal inheritance, you can learn a bit here.  And here.   If you were born into the tribe...be ready for what will happen to you when this superbly crafted film, with no gimmicks, shows the little ships...coming steadily across the choppy waters of the Channel...oh, I don't need to explain.

If you don't gulp a bit,be ashamed.




Saturday, July 22, 2017

It is important to read....

...this interview about Mgr Georg Ratzinger.

Irina Ratushinskaya...

...the heroic Russian poet has died. She was 63.  Imprisoned by the KGB, she became a voice for freedom.

"No, I am not afraid..." Her poems, smuggled out to the West, had drawn  her plight to our attention.

Keston College, headed by Rev Michael Bordeaux spread news of this remarkable young writer, with a leaflet carrying the message from her husband  Igor "Help me to save my wife". Campaigns, vigils of prayer...I remember sacrificing a bedsheet to paint her name on it, to make an emormous banner, held aloft on struts of wood... a memorable Christmas Eve, standing with placards outside the Soviet Embassy, and passers-by giving us support on their way home from Midnight Mass... the splendid Rev Dick Rodgers undertook a public fast...

After her release, she was flown to Britain... a vast crowd greeted her at Heathrow Airport...the conversations we had with her and Igor stay in the mind. Most of all, I remember her telling us  about the experience that she described in one of her poems -of being in a freezing, filthy prison cell at night, crouched against a wall, and experiencing a sudden glow of joy and warmth: some one out there is praying for me at this moment...


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.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

We were standing in Westminster,...

...on that corner of Whitehall by Parliament Square, with the Abbey behind us, and tourists surging, hot and crowded, down along past the sad imperial splendour of the Foreign Office. I had been pointing out the Cenotaph, and waving towards Trafalgar Square beyond. We'd covered some centuries of history and pondered Roman invasion and ancient Britons, Saxons and Vikings and Normans... and high Middle Ages and Reformation sorrows and Victorian gothic revival and 20th century wars...

And we had really finished the day's walk and there was still lots to discuss and the young people from Slovakia and Rumania were still full of questions and comments.

"How was it...I mean, really, how was it...that a small island, away from the rest of Europe...becomes the centre of a great Empire, and now today we all speak English - we learn it in school, and it is spoken in Africa, in America.... How was it....why was it...from just this one small island?"

And I walked back across the river with those words echoing in my heart. How was it... why was it? This island. This beloved small island with its astonishing story, its astonishing place in history.


As regular readers...

... of this Blog will know, I regularly pick up litter from the street and place it in bins. Two reactions: older (over 40) people say "Good for you" or similar, and sometimes join in to help, younger ( especially under 25) say "Why do that? It's what people are paid to do"  or similar. This latter group seem absolutely baffled by any idea of sharing a common responsibility for public places, or of doing something  slightly unpleasant for the common good. Once it's explained, they can get quite interested.

Incidentally, I always carry "baby-wipes" to clean my hands.

If each of us picked up one piece of litter a day, our streets would be much, much more pleasant for us all.


On a piercingly hot day...

...a beautiful and cool boat-trip along the Thames, with members of the Ladies Ordinariate Group and other friends, to visit Bl. John Henry Newman's house at Ham, just beyond Richmond.  The house has for many years been used as part of Grey Court School, and indeed has given its name to the school. From the outside, it is just as the young John Henry would have known it  - except that it now bears a blue plaque honouring him! - and we looked at it and wondered which window belonged to the nursery where he slept...in his writing, he recalled lying in bed and watching the candle being lit in the window, the celebrate the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar...

We'd enjoyed a talkative pub lunch at Richmond and after the walk along the riverside path to Ham in searing sunshine, it was grand to find another pub that was glad to serve us tea...

Then the bus into Richmond and the train back to London...where I went on by Tube  to Baker Street and thence to St James, Spanish Place where I met a group of lively youngsters for yet another History Walk.  This is a group organised by Fr Hugh Mackenzie and we walked through Marylebone to Tyburn, discussing the history it all - the hidden Tyburn River, the origin of Marylebone's name,  and more...


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A reunion...

...with friends who studied with me at the Maryvale Institute.  One, like me, is now a lecturer there. We met at London Bridge for Mass and then walked back towards Southwark to find the cafe where we used to have lunch after our exams at the Amigo Hall. We couldn't find it, but settled for a pub nearby and had a long, talkative, utterly enjoyable lunch....

Afterwards, as we stood, still talking, on the street corner, Fr Chris Pearson from Precious Blood Church - where we'd been to Mass earlier - came up on his bike. He was amused to see us still chattering away...

He had been at Westminster Cathedral, where he does confession-duty. Crowds had been gathering there: the new Nuncio was being formally welcomed.

I walked on back towards the Tube, and found our cafe at once - we'd been looking so hard we missed it! next time...

In the evening, to an Evening of Faith organised by the FAITH Movement in the Challoner Room at Golden square, Piccadilly. Excellent talk exploring the Faith Movement in the context of the New Movements in the Church, 20th and 21st centuries....speaker Julie Mersey is writing a doctoral thesis on the subject... lively discussion over wine and pizza, and then some of us walked back across the river to Waterloo, in the warm summer night...down past the Duke of York's column, and on past the Foreign Office and the Guards monument,, talking history as we went. Just as we arrived in Parliament Square, Big Ben struck the hour.  There is scaffolding all along that side of the Houses of Parliament, as major repairs begin.  How odd it will feel when Big Ben goes silent - apparently the repairs may take up to six years...

...and on a current issue...

...you owe it to yourself to read this...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Young men...

... who are not academic or who have specific skills, are at a disadvantage, compared to other groups (young women, older men, babies, children, older women)  in modern Britain.  Their specific attributes - physical strength, daring, team loyalty - are not those that find an immediate use in a country which has less heavy industry than in the recent past. The current methods of education don't really suit them: they need and like a greater sense of structure and immediate purpose. History, for example,  is made dull for them by focusing on themes and messages rather than dates and information and exciting stories. And they lack role models, especially fathers.

Talking - or, better, listening - to young men in prison it is noticeable that the one thing they have in common is a lack of a good father. What are now fashionably called "male role models" are also generally missing: we need more men as teachers and youth leaders. We need more priests.

A good prison chaplain is a real blessing. They like greeting him as "Father", they listen to him, they go to his talks and lessons, and  go to Confession to him. They take hin seriously,  follow his instructions and ask his help. They will take catechetical instruction  from some one who is seen as his assistant and they like the sense that there is a strong Church of which they are a part. They need this as a clear form of identity faced with considerable Islamic pressure.

I find that the young men enjoy a structured, rather formal preparation for Baptism and/or Confirmation. They are happy to report on work done - prayers learned, information grasped, sections of a workbook completed. The sense of sitting rather formally and working on a specific topic, with a sense of  seriousness, appeals - as does the tribal sense of belonging to the Church, having a Rosary and a Bible, signing up for Mass (and working to turn the large general chaplaincy area into quite a good chapel with statues, kneelers, sanctuary, altar,  font, etc). They like a good formal liturgy and relish singing good hymns.

The prison that I visit offers plenty of sports and has generally good facilities, plus decent food and clean cells. The young men have opportunities to train for various jobs, and there is encouragement and support in making realistic plans for the future.

Pray for the people in our prisons.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

...and on Sunday....

...the Ordinariate church at London Bridge honoured the Most Precious Blood, with a special Mass celebrated by Mgr Keith Newton, lovely singing from the children's choir, and a good-sized congregation.  Then on to the Redcross Gardens for a parish picnic. The wedding couple from yesterday had, as a thank-you gift to the parish, arranged for quantities of champagne, which was trundled across to the Garden in big buckets filled with ice...


A London summer weekend...

...began w. the Mass that is held on the first Saturday of every month here, honouring Our Lady of Walsingham.  In place of the Bidding Prayers, we go to the Lady Altar, place ourselves spiritually at Walsingham  and say the Walsingham Prayer...

Afterwards, there is coffee and chat, and sometimes a talk on some aspect of Walsingham...

Then I went off to do some work, having brought my laptop with me. Like many another Londoner, I sit in coffee-shops and work...

In the afternoon I returned to the church briefly, as there was a wedding - at which, for the first time, an embroidered kneeler made by Auntie, was to be used. It's a special design, showing wedding bells and two interlocking rings, and  so on...I have been working on it, during train journeys, and in quiet moments, for the past several weeks...it was nice to see it in use, although I just stood briefly at the back of the crowded church before hurrying off...

In the evening, NIGHTFEVER at St Patrick's, Soho. To get a sense of what it's like, you could read the latest issue of OREMUS magazine, in which I have written a description of it all...

Saturday, July 01, 2017

...and on Cardinal George Pell....

...read here...





READ ALL ABOUT....

...the latest events in the Ordinariate of OL of Walsingham... here

Friday, June 30, 2017

Martyrs...

....a topic to ponder two days running, with the feast of Saints Peter and Paul yesterday, June 29th, and then the Roman Martyrs - slaughtered under Nero etc -  today...

And also, this week,  the Church honoured a Lithuanian Bishop, martryred under the Soviet occupation. 

At one time, hearing about the cruelties inflicted by the Soviets and the martyrdom of the Church in the lands they occupied, was something that we in the West did with a sense of our own security and a recognition of the valour of these other people, remote from us and worthy of honour and veneration.

Today, the feeling is different.

There is a sense - a rather frightening sense - in which the reality of martyrdom seems nearer. People talk about religious freedom not as something that is taken for granted and recognised across the West, but as something vulnerable, something that is visibly being taken away from us. And the whole idea of "the West", a civilisation honouring human values centred on profound spiritual truths, is itself under threat and seems horribly vulnerable.

Defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman,  openly opposing the deliberate abortion of an unborn baby, affirming that sexual activity outside the marriage bond is contrary to the moral law...all these things are essential to a wholesome and humane society. We can have a debate about these things, we can recognise the need to be open and tolerant of different opinions - but we cannot survive unless we are allowed to affirm the truth of male/female marriage and the protection of pre-born children.

And the cruel attempts to silence, undermine and destroy groups and individuals who seek to uphold the moral law do point the way to martyrdom...


Despatches from Rome...

...for Corpus Christi...read here...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

INNOCENT

I am convinced, and always will be, that Cardinal George Pell is innocent of the charges being brought against him.

It is terrible that this good and decent man is being hounded in this way.

What has happened to the Australian tradition of fairness?

We must pray that truth and justice will prevail.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What is the FAITH MOVEMENT?...

Regular readers of this Blog will know of it. If you want to grasp what it's essentially about, come to the Challoner Room, 24 Golden Square London W1 - nearest tube Piccadilly Circus - next Tuesday, July 4th, at 7pm. Speaker Julie Mersey  will unpack what she has discovered about the FAITH Movement during the course of her PhD on the subject.

Come and hear her!


A splendid turn-out...

...for the annual Martyrs' Walk. This is held annually on the Sunday nearest to the feast of SS John Fisher and Thomas More, and goes from the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate along the ancient route to Tyburn where many of our English Martyrs were killed...

I'll be writing a full report of the Walk and will put a link to this Blog.  It was a wonderful day, a grand crowd, and a warm welcome at the churches we visited en route including SS Anselm and Caecelia in Holborn and St Patrick's, Soho...

At Tyburn, we had a glorious Benediction and then the sisters - there are a large number, mostly young, and all joyful and welcoming - served a splendid Tea.

A talk to the boys at....

...the John Fisher School, Purley.

This is a school with which our family has a strong connection.

Its playing fields were once part of the famous CROYDON AIRPORT.  And it was from here that the Battle of Britain was fought in the summer of 1940.

Today, I gave a talk to the school's History Club about this, and then later attended Benediction in the school chapel, where a kneeler I had embroidered, commemorating the battle, was used.

And if you want to know more, you should read my book about Croydon Airport and the Battle of Britain.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fascinating talk...

...with a group of young Slovakians, on a Catholic History Walk along the Thames. They were a delightful group and the Walk went well...but what was particularly interesting was the conversations over pizza late into the warm summer night by the Thames...

The teacher remembered the Russian invasion of 1968 and the days that followed. "People filled the streets in protest but what could they do? We were all helpless. And the soldiers...they were Polish, Hungarian... They did not know why they were there. They did not even know they had crossed the border - or that this had any significance at all.  They just thought it was manouvres, routine..."

In elections, you were given a list of Communist candidates and told to make a mark against some of them. "If you didn't go to vote, they came to the house. They showed the list and said you must make the tick against the names...of course if you refused, things happened...the whole family would suffer, it would go on and on,  all sorts of things, the young people blocked from going to university,and on and on...

Talking about Communism, she used an expression that I remembered so much from the days I spent in Poland  when the system was still in force "All we wanted was normality. To Be normal."




Thursday, June 22, 2017

London in steamy, sizzling heat...

... and organisers on the Hard Left announced an attempt to bring down the government by holding a march....it didn't quite work as insufficient people turned up, but it's an announcement for the longer term. This is the voice of young, well-to-do people with a strong sense of hatred for what they have been given and a need to feel they have  actually achieved something.

There is a good deal of discomfort that can be exploited. But at the moment the mood isn't quite there: following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, people arrived not with anger but with  practical help, stacks and stacks of gifts of food and household necessities and clothes and more...and it was volunteers, neighbours and churches that led the way with political activists arriving rather later.

However, the Left has a great deal going for it, especially as it has the student population strongly on its side, with the massive explosion in universities in recent years and a great many young people who feel they have degrees and ought not to have any debts. They feel unwanted and unloveable.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

...and this was the procession this evening in Rome...

...in full traditional style... all on foot with a great golden canopy etc...watch here...the crowds seem larger than in previous years...

It's a timeless scene...Rome the eternal city... men carrying the canopy above the illuminated Blessed Sacrament glowing in the evening light,  large numbers of bishops, cardinals, priests, deacons,and white-clad altar servers, and young nuns from a vast range of religious orders, banners, Papal Knights, men in all the robes of all sorts of traditional sodalities, small First Communicants, the surge of  voices responding to a litany, then glorious singing, prayers, more glorious singing, and again crowds and crowds following along, and crowds again lining the streets..

Corpus Christi...

...was celebrated in Rome this weekend....

I'm here to do some work, but today was Mass at St Anne's church, at the gate alongside St Peter's Square....then we went to enjoy Rome.  Found this picture of St John Paul in the church of St Maria del Populo.  The church has some glorious Renaissance art, but I was also taken with this fine portrait...I particularly like the pages of the book he is holding,m the pages ruffled in the wind...another view of the pic here...

In the fierce heat of Rome, reading grim accounts of the fierce  and stifling heat in sombre London.






Saturday, June 17, 2017

...and on the way...

...during the flight, I tackled a packet of new booklets from the Catholic Truth Society...

Golly, how this organisation has changed over time. As a child, I loved the old,grey, small-print oddness of CTS booklets. You weren't meant to disagree or be challenged: it was the CTS and somehow didn't belong to the noisier world of TV or loud family arguments, or indeed of much of modern life at all. The pamphlets had a sort of sepia tinge to them even when they were new, and a language all their own: saints seemed invariably to have been pious from their toddler years or even if they were naughty it was only in a very pious sort of way (disobediently hurrying to the beach to put pebbles to put in their shoes as a penance, or something). And statements of moral teaching had a tone of mild contempt for anyone who might disagree, with an enjoyable dash of rather old-fashioned style and phraseology.

Then things changed and  there was a  - mercifully brief  - phase of attempts to be ultra-trendy - I remember a booklet with a picture of  the (? I think) Rolling Stones on the cover, which tried to engage in language-the-young-would-like. That didn't last. In the 1990s a new look, a great team, and a consistently excellent annual output of booklets, DVDs, book, leaflets and other material of top quality, tackling Catholic teaching in attractive, well-written and engaging style.

Among the latest, a readable and helpful booklet Pathways to God offering practical advice on prayer. Among much else, it gives a wise and helpful introduction to the idea of seeking to discern what God really wants. "The will of God is not some kind of static, hidden blueprint, to which I must conform. It is rather an invitation to live creatively, using my God-given gifts and talents in a way that allows me to be most fully the person I truly am, the person God has created me to be."

Fr Andrew Pinsent has produced a useful booklet on the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, courage and temperance. This is timely: we have need of these virtues today. For example, temperance is explored in relation to use of time and use of the internet, and prudence with regard to tackling everyday decisions and problems. A good read and a helpful one.

...and late at night...

...to Gatwick to fly to Rome, where I am visiting friends and also doing some work...

The Bloc Hotel at Gatwick is the strangest place in which I have ever stayed...each room a mall soundproofed compartment, lacking windows and simply having a bed, and shower room, the latter carefully designed so that the water simply drains away across the whole floor. The only other thing evidently regarded as essential: a vast TV, somehow sinister in his hugeness, which I ignored. And  there was wifi. What more does one need?  The airport was all happening a few yards away from where I showered and slept. Up early and breakfasting in the departure lounge. All much more efficient than travelling in from some hotel on the airport's outskirts...but a strange and v. 21st-century experience.

Friday, June 16, 2017

London is sultry...

...unhappy, conscious of death and sorrow and anger and dismay...

Longstanding engagement to speak at a prayer group that meets at Westminster Cathedral Hall.  Two years ago they felt a sort of call to pray for London, and began doing so.

Topic of my talk was faith and freedom. referencing, among various matters,this ...





The Duke of Norfolk...

...began the tradition of the carpet of flowers at Arundel Cathedral in  the 19th century, and it is one of the sights of Sussex, Every year,on the feast of Corpus Christi the Bishop treads his way across the carpet, carrying the precious burden: the Blessed Sacrament, beneath a great canopy, and leading a vast crowd in a procession down to the Castle...

Yesterday, the feast of Corpus Christi, was a perfect, golden, enchantingly lovely Sussex summer day - not too warm, with a breeze from the sea...and the Mass and procession were magnificent. First Communicants led the way, the boys wearing blue sashes and acting as guardians of the Blessed Sacrament, the girls in white dresses, strewing flowers for its path...there were long rows of clergy, and a great phalanx of young Dominican friars bearing processional candles, and then rank on rank of Knights and Dames of the Order of St Gregory and other Papal Orders. ...and crowds and crowds of people, bearing various banners, and all praying and singing, or listening to the various Scriptural and devotional readings that resounded along the street (loudspeakers set up all along the way).There was a goodly sense of meeting up with friends, and of being part of something dear and familiar that is also glorious and faith-filled.

The present Duke and his family took part in the the Mass and procession, as we made our slow and measured way down the streets from the cathedral, and  across the drawbridge and into the castle grounds, then around to the great keep and to the altar set up for Benediction...

I have often visited the cathedral but never before taken part in this great event., It is all magnificently organised. Before Mass, one could admire the flower-carpet, which this year specially commemorated the 19th-century Duke who established the whole event...and there were also some little stalls selling religious and craft items and so on.  We were directed to a room in which to put on our knight/dame robes, and then shown where we would be for Mass, and what to do as the procession formed up afterwards...so there was no sense of fuss, and we could concentrate on what really mattered...


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

...and to Lambeth Palace...

...for the launch of a fascinating new book, Reunion Revisited by Fr Mark Vickers.  This fills in many of the gaps in the story of Anglican/Catholic dialogue in the early and middle 20th century, and shows Cardinal Bourne to have been more sympathetic to the plight of Anglicans than has generally been thought. It all helps to add interesting background information to the establishment of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham so many years later, in the early years of a new century.

Lambeth Palace was most welcoming and  is all that it ought to be - panelled rooms, fine portraits, glorious gardens. It was a splendid evening. Lots of friends to meet and lots of good conversations. Among many others, I talked to Father Mark himself, of course, and  Fr Richard Biggerstaff of the St Barnabas Society, and to  Fr Nicholas Schofield archivist of the Diocese of Westminster,   Incidentally, Fr Nicholas has a feature, in the next issue of FAITH magazine, about British Catholics and the 1914-18 war...

Later, an agreeable walk along the Thames...I haven't actually ever walked that stretch on the southern bank between Lambeth and Westminster bridges before. Glorious views of Parliament, all glowing and mellow in the fading light.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

To rural Kent...

...and the pleasant village of Pembury, where Father Ed Tomlinson is doing great things with this church  dedicated to St Anselm.  What was once a rather bleak hall is now a delightful church, in the care of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, with a beautiful sanctuary glowing with candles, and  rows of neat pews that are well-filled every Sunday. The parish is thriving with lots of children. Father Ed celebrated Mass in the Ordinariate Form, and then gave us an illustrated talk on the history of the parish. I was touched to see the various kneelers that I had made - in various designs all worked in cross-stitch - all lined up at the altar-rails.  It was beautiful to kneel there, with the sunshine streaming in through the windows on to us all at prayer...

And then on to a talkative lunch at the village pub - all thoroughly enjoyable.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The cordon...

...around London Bridge itself is still in force, but most of the surrounding streets can now be used. This morning, Trinity Sunday the Archbishop came to Precious Blood church to concelebrate Mass with Fr Chris for the parish. It was all rather splendid - incense swirling, the children's choir singing most beautifully (they have, quite suddenly, found their true voice and it is enchanting), a crowded church, and the calm voice of Archbishop Peter reminding us abut the meaning of the Trinity, and the love that binds Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... We sang "Holy, holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty"  " and Newman's "Firmly I believe and truly"...

The names of those who died in the terrorist attack were read out, and we prayed for them all. A special candle was lit at the Lady Altar.

There's a report of it all  here...


and a summer night in Soho...

...read here...





Saturday, June 10, 2017

Walking along the Thames...

...along the crowded South Bank, between the Globe Theatre and the London Eye,there is plenty to see and enjoy on a summer evening. The other day, I stopped to talk to a chap sitting with a typewriter - a proper, real, just-like-we-used-to-have portable typewriter. I wrote all my first books and feature articles on a machine like that. He had a sign up in front of him: offering poetry, written on request. All one had to do was offer a small fee. I had almost no cash on me, so offered what I had - about £1.40p. He asked me what topic. I said that I wished people didn't drop so much litter everywhere - it is spoiling our wonderful London. I pick up at least one piece every day - usually a great deal more - and put it in a bin. So he wrote me a poem about it.

I walk through London every day
Enjoying all the concrete grey
As lovely as any portrait-sitter
If it weren't for all the litter...

and so on. Not bad for five minutes' work. A nice chap, and there was something real and enjoyable about having a poem written, along by the Thames, by a chap who simply decided to spend his evenings doing that, earning modest sums.

During the week...

...life took me to Somerset and Wiltshire  (family visits),  Oxford (a party ) and places around central  London associated with Bl John Henry Newman (research for project).

Also to Piccadilly:  An Evening of FAITH - excellent talk by Kerri Lenartowick, exploring the message of St John Paul in Mulieris Dignitatem. A packed Challoner Room at Golden Square (Warwick Street church) and a lengthy and lively discussion about the whole question of male/female... why there are two sexes...God's plan for the human race...

Struggling...

...with a three-foot long wedding kneeler which I have worked in cross-stitch. It's for Precious Blood Church. Doing the cross-stitch was restful and enjoyable: railway journeys, afternoons chatting to beloved elderly relatives, listening to music, etc...but putting it all together, stretching the material over the thick hard-packed inner padding, sewing the corners and making it all fit tightly, was warm work in the small confines of a crowded kitchen on a summer evening.

The Archbishop is coming tomorrow to celebrate the 11 am Mass, to support the local community in the wake of the ghastly events at London Bridge last week.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Depressing...

...election result. I had vaguely sensed this might happen (see note below, posted on Wednesday).

The majority of young people (aged 18-30)voted  for the Corbyn/McDonnell/ Abbott hard-left project.

On Wednesday - and this is why I put that sad note on the blog - a spokesman for one of the campaigning groups on the Left  bragged that they wouldn't accept the election result if it wasn't one they wanted: they would take to the streets.

Mr Corbyn has said he has "changed the face of British politics".  I fear he is indeed doing so.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Pray...

...for our country at this time...

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

THE MARTYRS' WALK...

...will take place on SUNDAY June 25th, starting at 1.30pm at the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate Old Bailey (nearest tube: St Paul's).  

DO COME!!! 


We will walk from Newgate  - site of the grisly prison where Catholic martyrs, among others suffered - to Tyburn, stopping at St Etheldreda's Ely Place, SS Anselm and Cecelia in Kingsway, and St Patrick's Soho.   We finish at Tyburn, site of Catholic martyrdom in the 16th and 17th, approx 4pm.   We have Benediction, and then Tea...



Sunday, June 04, 2017

...and at Mass...

...the ghastly events of the night were caught up in the prayers...a good crowd despite the difficulties of reaching the church, an exceptionally beautiful Pentecost Mass, and FrC  helped us all to see the night's horror in the drama of good and evil, God's love and forgiveness...

He also spoke up for everyone in praising the courage and professionalism of the police and other services. They were on the scene with great speed, taking charge and creating order...

Twitter pix of FrC dispensing mugs of tea to the police early this morning...

London Bridge...

...and I'm on my way to Mass  as usual.

A message from Fr Christopher:
The Church of the Most Precious Blood is within the police cordon area following the horrific events in the Borough last night. The usual 8.30am Mass this morning cannot take place in the Church and is therefore cancelled. There is a possibility that the 11am Mass can go ahead if the cordon is reduced. I will make a further announcement before 9am today.
 
Please do remember at Mass this morning the victims of last night’s atrocity, the dead, the injured and those traumatized by what they saw. Give thanks for the bravery and professionalism of the Police and security services who so quickly contained the incident.
 
Fr Christopher Pearson

and then:


Following the incident last night on London Bridge, MPB is within the cordoned-off  area. The 8.30 Mass has been cancelled; but the 11am will go ahead. If there is no access to the Church, it will take place in the School Hall. Please approach the school from  Marshalsea Rd or Southwark Bridge Rd.
FrC

Friday, June 02, 2017

A wonderful evening...

...following a busy day leading an American group around Westminster and down to the Thames...

The group included a former Episcopalian - now Catholic - priest and his wife, who, on hearing that there was to be an Ordinariate Evensong and Mass at this church in the evening, expressed great interest...

It was a very hot afternoon, and after the American group had been safely despatched to a late lunch and a river trip, I tackled some emails, and then made my way to London Bridge, and, having an hour to spare, settled in this pleasant garden to do some reading and sewing. I rarely get a bonus like this. Two small boys were fishing with nets  for newts in the pond. Two young men talked and - after asking my permission, which I thought was kind - smoked and chatted. I stitched away at the cross-stitch kneeler I am making for the church, which I hope to finish for a couple to use it for their wedding in about five weeks' time...

When the bell started to ring, I gathered up my work...reflecting as I did so that I was almost certainly the only woman in London that day who could say "So, on hearing the bell for Evensong peal about across the garden , I gathered up my embroidery and set off for church..."  It gave me a cosy, Miss Marple-ish sort of feel....and as I walked down Redcross Way, I met  Father and Mrs Young, who were hunting for the church. It was lovely to be with them for Evensong and Mass.  Afterwards, they joined the parish group making a walking pilgrimage back across London Bridge and through the City, to find the site of Bl John Henry Newman's birthplace, which is marked by a blue plaque. A wonderful walk, with the fresh air blowing from the river, and so much history to enjoy... and then at the site of the birthplace, Fr Chris led us in prayers...and then off to drinks and good cheer in a pub at Leadenhall Market...a perfect, perfect London summer day.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

FREEDOM...and our need to claim it:

Read Auntie Joanna in The Portal

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spent Monday...

...which was a Bank Holiday, exploring the City of London, planning the Autumn series of History Walks.    The names of the old City churches are wonderful: St Katherine Cree, St Andrew Undershaft, ... Fascinating information on Roman London in the deep Roman/Saxon crypt of All Hallows by the Tower. The church was not affected by the Great Fire (wind blowing in the opposite direction)  and is a feast of history...

I was asked recently where the name London originated. I knew the Romans called it Londinium. But why?  One possibility is a pagan God, Lud or Lod or Lund..seems that Lyons in France, and Luton in Bedfordshire may  possibly have the same origin...

Caught an evening train to Liverpool, arriving in a satisfying thunderstorm. Drenched, entered the chapel of this community to find them at prayer....

I was there to interview Myles Dempsey, and also to learn about plans for New Dawn at Walsingham, at which I have been invited to speak...

Fascinating conversations with Myles... elderly and disabled, but  uncomplaining and full of humour and common sense...among much else, enjoyed his comments on Catholic education, insights into why Walsingham is so important...and then, on a detour, his memories of Frank Sheed and the Catholic Evidence Guild...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

...and tonight...

...it's Night Fever at St Patrick's, Soho....prayer, glowing candles, street mission, friars leading us in music and devotions, and the Blessed sacrament at the core of it all


Friday, May 26, 2017

A London History Walk...

...with a delightful American group initiated by  newly-ordained priest Fr Daniel Ciucci from Denver, Colorado. We began at Westminster Cathedral. It looks particularly fine on a sunny day under a blue sky, the great campanile soaring up...today, a solemn note:  the Union Jack was at half-past, along with others across London, to mark the deaths of the children and others in the Manchester  jihadist attack...

Then on down to the Abbey...there are always vast crowds of tourists queuing up to visit the Royal tombs etc. A fee is charged for that part of the Abbey - but we asked if we could just go into the nave to pray, and were shown into the area reserved for this. There are two lovely  large icons, one of Christ and one of Our Lady,  with banks of votive candles,   not far from the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.   The staff were welcoming, and it was a beautiful experience as  Fr Daniel led us in our prayers...

On to London Bridge and Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. Numbers for weekday Mass here are in general good and are increasing - it is always notable, however, that over and above that,  there are always more on what should be Ascension Day (see note below about Feast Days)...

Lunch at a pub overlooking the river, and then on down the south bank, and across Tower Bridge to the Tower...

Later, as we were having some tea, a splendid parade came along - children with sticks, and clergy in surplices, and  the Mayor of Tower Hamlets in robes and chain, City aldermen  and Guildsmen, Thomas Boatmen with their oars...they were all there to Beat the Bounds for Ascension Day.  A perfect piece of authentic London pageantry, just what an American group ought to see! . We joined in to watch as the children duly beat the ground, and we all sang a hymn and so on...

This custom really began with Rogation Processions long long ago - walking around the parish to ask for a blessing on the crops in the fields...stopping to pray at the various places. This is how places like Gospel Oak got their names.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An inspiring evening....

...at the Centre for Catholic Formation, at Tooting Bec, organised with the Guild of Our Lady and St Joseph.  Theme was Evangelisation, and speaker Michael Dopp, from Canada took us through a thoughtful, practical presentation. Despite the heat - it has been a boiling hot day in London - the mood was attentive and we finished with a reading from St Matthew's account of Christ's glorious words of the great Commission, and then some words from St Paul...and then prayer, using this prayer written by a Bishop specifically on this theme....

Tragic juxtaposition...

...as I'm hurrying to post parcels to schools, with prizes for children who have taken part in the Lord's Prayer Handwriting and Artwork Project ...headlines in the press about the massacre in Manchester, young  victim faces looking out from the photographs...

Larger numbers than usual  at weekday Mass today...FrC  said that some people mentioned that they had come after hearing the news from Manchester...a sense of a need to pray for the victims, and for our country...


Human life...

...and the insights of St John Paul II, especially his letter Evangelium Vitae...I was invited to speak on this at the FAITH Movement this evening, part of a series of Evenings of Faith, held at the Challoner Room at the Warwick street church near Piccadilly, exploring and developing the insights of JPII...


Monday, May 22, 2017

Pope Francis...

and President Trump meet this week. Premier Radio's discussion programme hosted by Lisa Mainwaring looked at this among other topics...what will the Pope say to the President? Will it be a useful meeting? With either one listen to the other?

We also discussed Ascension Day...which falls this Thursday. PLEASE PLEASE, dear Bishops of England and Wales, CAN WE HAVE OUR FEAST-DAYS BACK?????  Look:  the Anglicans and other Christians in our country are marking Ascension day on Thursday, forty days after Easter as has been done for hundreds and hundreds of years, following the tradition of the Scriptures. And then it is nine days - a Novena - until the great feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter Why is the Catholic Church going out on a wobbly limb and saying we must mark Ascension day on next Sunday. IT ISN'T FAIR, it isn't logical...and it means that priests, this Thursday, will find people coming to church and will have to tell them "Um...sorry....we can't celebrate the great feast of the Ascension. If you want to do that, you must come back on Sunday.

PLEASE MAY WE HAVE OUR FEAST-DAYS BACK?


Sunday, May 21, 2017

"I saw water..."

"flowing from the Temple; from its right-hand side, alleluia"...carolled the children's choir at Mass, as Father C. carried out the Asperges....the choir was formed last year and is now singing well, in English and in Latin...

I love the Easter season, and today we heard from the Farewell discourse, about how we are not left orphans..."and I shall ask the Father, and he will send you another Comforter..."

After Mass , some of us often gather in the local pub for drinks and talk, sometimes making up a table for lunch. Today I then hurried on to St George's Cathedral where I was meeting a group at the main door for a Catholic History walk.Quick tour of the cathedral - my favourite stained glass, with its beautiful depiction of St John Paul anointing the sick when they were brought there in great numbers during his visit in 1982...and then on through the Southwark streets, pausing at landmarks such as this garden in the bombed-out ruins of All Hallows, Pepper Street,...and so on past the Borough Market to the river, and the fine view of St Paul's....


And Cardinal Burke...

...at a conference in Rome has said that, while St John Paul certainly consecrated Russia, along with the rest of the world, to Mary, it can and should be done again, this time with a specific mention of that country. And of course it can be done again.   Christianity is gaining  - or rather regaining - ground in Russia on a large scale and has been doing so rather dramatically since the 1984 consecration and the events that followed.  There will be a time when Russian pilgrims come to Fatima and join in the prayers there...and in God's good time there will be healing between the Eastern Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church and the unity broken so many centuries ago will be restored.

Renewing the consecration will probably, over the years, become something that is done with some regularity and with great solemnity. The mistake some commentators and lobbyists have made has been to link it with theories of their own: secrets hidden in the Vatican conspiracies covered up, a whole range of pet ideas. But Fatima was not about that.  The message was one of prayer and penance. Which was - no surprises here - the message that Cardinal Burke sought to emphasise too.

Cardinal Burke wrote a Foreword to Fr Andrew Apostoli's book on Fatima , which is a good read and answers a lot of questions often raised about the whole subject.

Cardinal Burke's speech was a rallying-call to the New Evangelisation, and he urged that we listen to the voices of  Blessed Paul VI and Saint John Paul:  "The pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, in fact, may be rightly described as a tireless call to recognize the Church’s challenge to be faithful to her divinely given mission in a completely secularized society and to respond to the challenge by means of a new evangelization. A new evangelization consists in: 1) teaching the faith through preaching, catechesis, Catholic education and all forms of communication, 2) celebrating the faith in Divine Worship and in prayer and devotion which are the extension of Divine Worship into every moment of daily living, and 3) living the faith by the practice of the virtues – all as if for the first time, that is, with the engagement and energy of the first disciples and of the first missionaries to our native place."

Particularly moving is the cardinal's quoting St John Paul's words at Fatima in 1982 on the anniversary of the attempt on his life. Worth reading the whole thing here...

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Catholic Education Service...

...has been much on my mind all week as I have been researching the history of Catholic education in Britain. Heroic tales of establishing schools for the poorest people in Britain's industrial cities in the 19th century...

So it is a matter of concern to read about a strange document just produced by the CES ...something is definitely wrong....for a useful comment,read here

And read the document - which contains an enormous amount of drivel and rather horrible propaganda from homosexualist lobby groups - here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

THE CITY OF LONDON...

...is so rich in history, that even a shortish walk from London Bridge to the Bank of England yielded up four major Wren/Hawksmoor churches. The story of each has many layers...Saxon, Medieval, and then the Reformation...and the 17th century and the Great Fire...and then the Blitz... Many churches survived the Blitz - in 1940/41 the bombs were not such as to pulverise a church to dust although obviously much damage was done. What is odd is that a fire that roared up in one street could leave another nearby virtually unscathed...

Most Londoners don't know enough about the City, and don't know the story of  even famous churches like this one or this one (which I particularly like because of its sword-rests, so convenient if one happened to be wearing a sword and needed to put it down...) or this one, despite its association with a famous singing rhyme...

I spent part of Monday exploring the City churches  with a colleague, and putting together info. on the history.  The essential point is that the story is so much richer than most guide-books say...London's Christian history goes back to Roman times, and there are glorious Saxon saints to discover...and the great religious communities that suffered under Henry VIII... Watch for news of forthcoming Catholic History Walks...


Beautiful...

...new vestments at this church,  thanks to generous donations from people who simply want to ensure glorious worship. Fr C. showed me the newest chasuble - delicate workmanship worthy of its sacred purpose. The vestments are unfussy, dignified, made of fine materials, and have a sort of "flow" that give a sense of naturalness to their use at Mass.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I had to order a further 1,000...

...commemorative cards with the words of the Lord's Prayer, as after three  major re-printings, we had run out yet again. This is the fourth successive year of the Children's Handwriting and Artwork Project, an ecumenical venture supported by various groups including  the Catholic Union of Great Britain  and Christian Projects. The idea is to help children to become familiar with the Lord's Prayer. I am compiling a report on the 2017 Project, but you can get the general idea by reading this report, produced some while ago.  We spent today reading through a vast batch of entries from the West of England, and then I stayed on to wrap and pack prizes for the best entries from schools in the Greater London area...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AND WALSINGHAM CALLS...

...with its summer pilgrimages. The Dominican sisters in the New Forest have reprinted the piece I wrote about their St John Paul Pilgrimage, which will be taking place in July...read here...

Today...

...more work on the research for the history project at St Mary's University, and a meeting to discuss it all. Enjoyable. I'm deep in documents and letters from the mid 19th century. Students working in the Library have been glad to help with lifting down boxes from the archives.  It does feel strange to be reading Victorian letters and reports, all in formal language and with a sense of structured dignity,  while surrounded by today's young men in their cotton caps with the peak hanging down the neck at the back and the little strap across the forehead, and girls in their carefully ripped jeans...

Just occasionally...

...you have a random conversation that is a reminder that there is normal life still happening in Britain.

A late evening visit to a supermarket, a chat with the young man working on the till. I expressed sympathy that he was working late and he was quite cheery "Only half an hour more. Then I'm off". I said I hoped there would be a good supper waiting  at home. He beamed "Mince, mash and beans. I don't like Shepherd's Pie, so my mum does it this way instead. We're having it tonight. My favourite."

Monday, May 15, 2017

A vile, sick internet troll...

...sent an anonymous Comment today, sneering at the Cavalry Memorial service that my husband attended yesterday with his regiment.  (see Blog post below).

Obviously I haven't published the Comment.

I think that some one who sneers at soldiers honouring their fallen comrades belongs to the lowest form of humanity, but I am making a public note of it to remind readers that such revolting specimens do exist.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

If you were in London today...

...you would have seen a march-past, at Hyde Park Corner.

It was Cavalry memorial day, the annual commemoration of the unveiling of the monument to the war dead of Britain's cavalry regiments. This year marked the 93rd anniversary.

Dress is dark suit and bowler hat, with medals and and decorations. My husband spent yesterday evening getting his shoes to the right degree of shine.

The Form of Service has some strong prayers for peace and concludes with these words which I have copied down this evening for my readers.

The 'Last Post' and the 'Reveille' are two of the principal calls used every day in our Army. The 'Last Post' to denote the end of the day's labour and the army at rest, the 'Reveille', the call the dawn of another day.

From time immemorial it has been the custom of the Army, when her sons are laid to rest to pay as tribute the Greatest Honour the Army can bestow, the Presenting of Arms and the sounding of the 'Last Post' and from the highest to the lowest as the body is laid to rest, this great and last tribute is paid.

The 'Last Post' signifies that the Warrior's labours in this earthly life are over and the mortal remains are at rest. If this were the end it would indeed of itself be a worthy tribute to the Memory of one of her sons whom the Army desires to Honour. But this is not the end!

Throughout the ages the Church has taught the Great Message of the Christian Faith - Our Lord's assurance by His Sacrifice and Resurrection of the Life to come - and so today the Army in its simple ceremonial does not leave us at the end of the labours of the day and the darkness of the night but with the stirring call of the 'Reveille' bids us take Comfort and Hope in that great lesson of our faith - the assurance of the Resurrection.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In union with the Pope in Portugal....

...we filled St George's Cathedral in Southwark for Mass to mark the centenary of the Apparitions at Fatima. Tradition and pageantry ...a procession with Knights of Our Lady, and Knights and Dames of the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St Gregory the Great...a vast congregation singing "Ave Ave Maria"...three small children dressed as the young visionaries...the Archbishop reminding us that we were united with what was taking place at that moment at the shrine in Fatima...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We had a large crowd...

...at last week's History Walk in Chelsea, walking in the footsteps of St Thomas More. I do have a loudspeaker system, but it is heavy to carry, so I mostly don't use it except for the annual Martyrs' Walk.  So I end each walk desperate to rest my voice and have a large mug of tea.

But anyway...come to the next HISTORY WALKS!!! Sunday May 21st at 3pm  and and Friday June 2nd at 6pm - come and discover Southwark.  Meet at the main door of St George's Cathedral. Nearest tube: WATERLOO or LAMBETH NORTH

And: WESTMINSTER - come and learn about Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, Pugin, and more...Thursday June 1st, meet 11.15am on the steps of WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL

And THE CITY. Meet on the steps of St Paul's, Wednesday June 14th. Two walks: a choice of times. 2pm and 6pm.

And the MARTYRS WALK - Sunday June 25th, meet 1.30pm in the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate., OLD BAILEY. Nearest tube: St Paul's. we will walk the route to Tyburn...

I've ordered...

...this book, which promises a good read....

On Saturday I will be here at a special Mass marking the centenary of the events at Fatima.

Have you seen the latest issue of FAITH magazine which has a special feature on Fatima? Send me a Comment with your full postal address - which I will not publish - for a complimentary copy.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

TAKING TO THE STREETS...

...with a splendid May Procession in South London,down Southwark Street by the Borough Market at London Bridge, and along the busy Borough High Street...singing "Ave Ave Maria..." with children scattering flowers before a statue of Mary held aloft by four strong chaps...all rather marvellous, our singing carried by loudspeakers, and the message brought home to all passers-by with small leaflets asking "What's going on?" and the simple explanation that we are honouring Christ's mother Mary in this month of May and  inviting people to join us...

There is something about doing this sort of thing in this particular corner of London, so rich in history, that gives it an added zest. It was along this route that Henry V's victorious army marched as they entered London after Agincourt, stopping at the bottom of the Borough High street to sing a Te Deum and then heading down to cross London Bridge and enter the city.   It was along this route that pilgrims set off for Canterbury again and again over the centuries, gathering at the George Inn or at the Tabard to eat before heading off down towards Kent...


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

To studio, for a discussion on...

...Premier Radio with Lisa Mainwaring...click on that link for more info...

Centenary of the 1917 events at FATIMA...

...and what the real message is all about, is the subject of the editorial in the May issue of FAITH magazine. It's not on-line yet...if you want a copy, send a Comment to this Blog WITH A FULL POSTAL ADDRESS TO WHICH THE MAGAZINE CAN BE SENT.

Also in the magazine: a special feature on Bl.Jerzy Popieluszko, a review by George Weigel of Pope Benedict's Last Testament, and more...

Monday, May 01, 2017

Auntie has a feature...

...as usual, in THE PORTAL, on-line magazine of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. You can read it here...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

CATHOLIC HISTORY WALKS...

...start the new Summer Season in May.

SOME DATES:


FRIDAY MAY 5th,     Chelsea - walking in the footsteps of St Thomas More. Meet 2pm on the steps of the Church of Our Most holy redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row SW3

SUNDAY May 21st - Discovering Southwark. Meet 3pm at  the main door of
St George's Cathedral, Soiuthwark. Nearest tube: WATERLOO or LAMBETH NORTH


FRIDAY  June 2nd, Discovering Southwark. Meet 6pm (NOTE TIME)  at the main door of St George's Cathedral Southwark


WEDNESDAY June 14th, THE CITY. Meet 2pm on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

SUNDAY JUNE 25th THE MARTYRS' WALK, Meet 1.30pm in the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. We will walk to Tyburn, stopping at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, SS Anselm and Cecilia in Kingsway, and St Patrick's, Soho.  At Tyburn we will have Benediction, and Tea (approx 4.30pm)

Friday, April 28, 2017

This weekend...

...off to Yorkshire, to speak to the Catholic students at the University of Hull...

Meanwhile, this afternoon (Friday) I am leading a tour around this Catholic cathedral...

Been reading this and finding it make a good point.

Lunched with a young friend who has been active with this group

Spent much of this week in the archives at this University, deep in research. It is a bit claustrophobic sifting through old papers in the archive-room  - though I am impressed w. the cataloging and the papers are in excellent order...and make fascinating reading. I am loving the whole project of working on this History. But one can  then take a breather, enjoy a walk around the lovely grounds, and then head for the Senior Common Room to work quietly amid 19th-century panelling and impressive portraits...or get some tea in the large Refectory crammed with chattering students in baseball caps and ripped jeans all tucking in to burgers and chips at 4.30pm.

...on on the first Sunday in May we'll be having a May Procession down along the Borough High Street at London Bridge with this church.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Developing the thought of St John Paul...

EVENINGS OF FAITH...

All welcome...

The Challoner Room, 24 Golden Square London W1F 9JR

Tuesday 9 May: Fides et Ratio: The need for a new synthesis of faith & reason Fr Tim Finigan

Tuesday 23 May: Evangelium Vitae: Why is the human person unique? Joanna Bogle

Tuesday 6 June: Mulieris Dignitatem: Male and female in a ‘gender-neutral’ society Ryan Day & Kerri Lenartowick

 Tuesday 20 June: Theology of the body: Developing a fresh perspective Fr Nick Welsh

 Tuesday 4 July: Faith: Britain’s intellectual, evangelical New Ecclesial Movement Julie Mersey


 7:00 pm The Challoner Room, Basement, 24 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JR Tube: Piccadilly Pizza & wine / juice served


More info:   www.faith.org.uk/events/evenings-of-faith

...and here's what happened...

....(see below, re Missing Bus Pass)....

I took part in NIGHT FEVER in Soho...warm spring evening, and  young people praying and singing in a church glittering with candles - and fanning out across Soho Square and the surrounding streets carrying lanterns to invite people in. It's simple - you just ask "Would you like to come in and light a candle?"  and proffer a tea-light. And they mostly say "No, I'm all right thanks" and move on.  But then they sometimes suddenly turn back and say "Oh...well...all right..." and walk into the church tentatively after you... and at the sanctuary you just gesture towards all the glowing candles there, and they take their own small tea-light and kneel down and light it...

Amazing encounters. One man knelt there silently and then whispered "Thank you for this experience". A group of partygoers  knelt together, arms linked in a sort of communual hug.  .A middle-aged couple started to say they were too busy but then changed their minds and came in together , stayed for quite a while, and went out with  warm smiles and thanks.  One girl in an extremely short tight skirt asked if it was OK for her to come in - "I don't think I'm, like, wearing, like...enough..." - which was, like,  sort of true...but God reads hearts and knows about daft fashions, so she came in...

The candles glow in their hundreds along by the  marble altar rails.  Priests hear confessions in the confessionals and in the side-chapels. Lanterns line the main aisle and are all around the porch welcoming people in.  And as things draw to a close as a late hour approaches, a full church joins in Compline  "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord...."  and then Benediction...

One goes home in a quiet glow. The last train trundled out to the suburbs and I caught a taxi at the station...

Next morning, ready to return to St P's for Divine Mercy Sunday, I couldn't find my bus pass. Always keep in the same place. Infuriating.  The small wallet also included other travel documents needed for the coming week.  Hurried to buy a new pass, cross at wasted money, worried about arrangements for the rest of the week...and somehow it felt all wrong that such a special evening had resulted in something so irritatingly, infuriatingly, tiresome...

And then Divine Mercy Sunday, a beautiful Mass, lunch with good friends, the Divine Mercy devotions at 3pm...and home to find an email waiting  from a kind person who had contacted me via my Blog (see below...)


















Sunday, April 23, 2017

THANK YOU!!!!!

...to the wonderful, kind person who has just contacted me via this blog, who found my Travelcard Pass in a taxi  and is handing it in at the local station!!!

THIS IS PROOF THAT PEOPLE ARE KIND AND GOOD!!!

Deo Gratias!!!

And - if you want to do so - please send me another Comment, with an email address at which I can reach you! (I cannot contact you via  Comment) just so that I can send you my heartfelt thanks.

I AM SO GRATEFUL!!!