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!!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY...

...is coming up...the Feast instituted by St John Paul the Great...who is sort of our family patron saint. A pic of my husband with him is on the shelf beside me as I write this.   J.  was organiser of the big 1990 Congress for the Family here in Britain and went with other Family Congress leaders to meet St JP in Rome. St JP gave him a rosary for me - and J. asked him to sign a Bible  for us, which  despite some finger-wagging from Monsignori (you are not really meant to ask a Pope to do that, out of the blue) beloved John Paul signed with a firm hand. It is now among our most treasured possessions - and I used it for my theology studies.  J. points out that it is actually also, following St JP's canonisation, officially now  a Second Class Relic!



Rather touching....

...to read this news....

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

And by the sea...

...in these Eastertide days...

I am visiting a dear elderly relative  - and talking and laughing together over simnel cake and family albums and  news and chocolate eggs.  And I'm walking by the sea and catching up on some writing., And, of course, reading.

Archbishop Chaput's  Strangers in a Strange Land is a  challenging, worrying and important  book. It's a must-read.
  And this lecture takes up the same theme.

It all spurs one on to be part of the what-happens-next chapter of the Christian story...this is no time for the faint-hearted...


...and from Rome...

...a friend who works as a translator (German/Italian/English) sends this interview, with insights into the birthday celebrations of beloved Papa Emeritus Benedict...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter...

...and glorious bells pealing out into the sunshine of an April morning...

We took part in the Easter Vigil here - the Easter fire, the full drama of the story from Genesis onwards, glittering candles, glorious music, a packed church...  the final hearty hymn ringing with Alleluias, joyful greetings in the garden and the parish priest distributing chocolate eggs...

This morning, cheery faces painted on to breakfast eggs, children in new clothes for Easter morning Mass, eggs to be hunted in the garden, a multi-generation family lunch...

Alleluia!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

...and so towards Easter...

...and Holy Saturday is always a day of waiting, of preparation...

Every year, as you get older, Holy Week means more.

The church with the evening light of Maundy Thursday, and the priest  - who all year teaches and counsels, and sometimes chides, and  feeds us with the Bread of Life, and is a friend and  helper - kneels and washes people's feet...it is suddenly and quietly moving.

Then the morning of Good Friday, and I joined the group from this church, making the Stations of the Cross around Soho. The young men carry a great heavy wooden Cross, and we follow, singing. We kneel in the street and listen to a meditation for each  Station: "We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee, because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world." We  give out palm crosses - at one stage we began to run out but a quick mobile-phone call brought fresh supplies, and Fr A. whipped out a flask of holy water and blessed them as we stood on a street corner. Most people take the cross gratefully, many say "Thank you"  a few say "God bless you". Some kiss the cross. A tiny number refuse saying "I'm not religious". A few just look puzzled but take the cross anyway and then their eyes follow us as we move on...

At one point we met another Christian group - Pentecostals, singing and praying -  and they gave us warm applause.  Fr A. and the Pentecostal leader exchanged a great hug.

Then joining the crowd of thousands in Trafalgar square for the Passion Play...

...and on to this church for 3pm...and the drama of it, and the silence as we all depart at the end and make our way home...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Some nice pix...

...of the Royal Maundy, being celebrated today, here

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

...and so to Maundy Thursday.

When I was a child I thought it was "mourn-day" Thursday, and that we were mourning the death of Christ on the Cross...

Maundy of course refers to the  Command  that Christ gave on this day, the command that we love one anther...

There will be Maundy Masses across Britain and I will be at one of them, witnessing the washing of feet that teaches us about this Command, and hearing the words at the Consecration at Mass: "On the night he was betrayed - that is, tonight..."

HM the Queen will be distributing Maundy Money as monarchs in Britain have been doing for over a thousand years.

On Good Friday I'll be joining thousands of people in Trafalgar Square for this  before going on to the 3pm devotions in church.




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

For the CHRISM MASS....

...today at Westminster, some three thousand people crammed into the Cathedral, every corner and side-chapel filled, people sitting on the marble steps of St Andrew's and St Patrick's and St Paul's and the other chapels, and crowded into the back and along the aisles.  As has now become a tradition, members of the Association of Catholic Women gather in the piazza to hand out small thank-you cards to the priests as they arrive: it's lovely being able to greet so many clergy friends. Then when the clergy procession makes its way up from Ambrosden Avenue and in through the great doors, we hold up a placard saying THANK YOU TO OUR PRIESTS. (We'll be doing this again tomorrow at the Southwark Chrism Mass at St George's Cathedral...in fact, that's actually where the tradition began, something like ten or twelve years ago now...).

I love the prayers of the Chrism Mass, which speak about the oil of chrism, which is olive oil...and mentions the dove bringing back the olive branch as the flood receded...

Because of the huge crowds in the Cathedral I usually find a corner right at the back, on the step of the Chapel of St Augustine, next to the tomb of Bishop Richard Challoner. The Cathedral's accoustics are excellent: you can hear every word of the Mass and all the glorious music wherever you are - whether kneeling on the floor in an aisle or at a prie-dieu in one of the chapels, or in a proper place in the nave.  It was moving hearing the strong roar of the men's voices as the priests all reaffirmed their promises.  There seemed to be more priests than ever this year - there were  two or thee hundred of them and we ran out of thank-you cards.

Westminster Cathedral is a place that means a lot to people.A priest from an African country arrived as we were standing in the piazza before Mass. he knelt down and kissed the Cathedral steps, saying that he felt this to be a place of pilgrimage...

Auntie writes about prisoners...

...and you can read it here...

Monday, April 10, 2017

I'm writing this in Southwark Street...

...where, all the way from Waterloo, police in their best uniforms and wearing white gloves, and medals as appropriate, are lining the road to pay their respects as the cortege of the policeman murdered in the recent Westminster attack is taken to the Anglican cathedral at London Bridge for the funeral. People are gathering...crowds along Southwark Street and into the Borough High Street.. I will be at the 1.05pm Mass at Pr. Blood Church nearby, and stopped to collect emails and do some other work....the scene from this coffee-shop where I always work is so different today....

And the Register in America has published this piece by Auntie....

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday...

...and a great procession, choristers singing Pueri Hebraeorum, altar servers, clergy, Cardinal in cope and mitre, a great concourse of the faithful with palm branches, made its way up towards Victoria Street and across the great piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral...we joined its great surge and into the Cathedral for a most glorious Palm Sunday Mass. The Passion was chanted from the high marble pulpit with the choir singing the crowd parts from the apse, the Cardinal preached reminding us of the significance of various aspects of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and the vast congregation seemed to fill every corner...

I was with a family of American visitors, charged with showing them around London, and this magnificent Mass was the highlight of the day. We walked on down to the river, and in due course  by train to Windsor - hot, crowded, with long queues to get into the Castle, but worth the trip - and as the day ended, talked agreeably over many things, discussing history, language, books...


Saturday, April 08, 2017

and more importantly...

...this is well worth reading.

pic of Auntie Joanna with a griffin...

...see here.  (18th century ironwork staircase, lovely garden, spingtime day, Auntie in her element).

Friday, April 07, 2017

Looking ahead to Holy Week...

...and pondering the mystery of suffering, and how to answer  the questions about God and mercy and pain and WHY...I found this useful...

In London...

...with spring sunshine, and vast crowds packing out Westminster Bridge  - the big tourist season beginning.

I was heading for the CTS bookshop in Westminster Cathedral piazza where I recorded a podcast about Lent and Easter customs. You can listen to it here...

...and on Saturday (April 8th) I return, to give a Bookshop Talk on the same subject. Meet me there at 12.30pm. Nearest Tube is Victoria.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A kind gift....

...of a voucher, from an American friend, means I can indulge in some books. I have treated myself to  this book    which I am about to start reading....and have also ordered Archbishop Chaput's Strangers in a Strange Land...

Spent today with Clare Anderson, longtime friend and co-author with me of this book. While in the USA recently she was invited on radio to discuss it, and to explore St John Paul's "Lublin Thomism"...

The anniversary of the death of St John Paul the Great fell this week, and brought back memories...


Monday, April 03, 2017

To Oxford...

...and the pleasure of a delicious talkative lunch with a young Dominican friend at Blackfriars in the sunny garden. Later, when I needed to check some emails I was offered a desk in the library...peaceful, scholarly, agreeable...

On to a happy family evening with young relatives. Enormous fun.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Tower of London at night...

...and a group of teenage boys on a night walk. This is a Catholic youth group, and we walked around the Tower, along the route by the moat, and talked battles and Vikings, fort and prison, heroes and martyrs, John Fisher and Edmund Campion and John Gerard and courage ...we enjoyed the river and the majestic Tower Bridge and talked Navy and Empire and ships bringing unknown foods like tea and lemons and spices and tangerines...we talked history and wars and blood-red poppies filling the moat and a nation's memories...and we finished at Tower Hill and Thomas More and Fr Hugh led us in prayer...




Saturday, April 01, 2017

...and Auntie notes an important forthcoming anniversary...

...read about it here....

Another wise bishop...

...making a sensible comment on Amoris Laetitiae  and setting the matter straight.  DG

And the latest issue of THE PORTAL...

....the on-line magazine of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, is just published. Auntie has a feature about the High Church traditions of Southwark....read here...

Friday, March 31, 2017

...and so to the prison...

...where I do a bit of help w. catechetics. The main thing is that we are all part of the Church: the Confirmation Mass in the prison will be the same Mass as in any suburban church, and the Bishop will use the oils that have been blessed at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. We're all in this together.

Pray for the young man working hard at his Confirmation preparation.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Auntie Joanna has been appointed...

...Visiting Research Fellow at St Mary's University, Twickenham.

My chief task and responsibility is to research and write a full history of the University ready for the 170th anniversary in 2020. This is quite a challenge but I began the preliminary reading this week - appropriately on the Feast of the Annunciation - and I am finding it fascinating. It's a great story about a great part of London's - and Britain's - modern history. I feel honoured and privileged to be involved with this project.

Read more about the appointment here



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thursdays...

...are my favourite days at the moment. Every Thursday, here, we have Evensong and Mass, then a light supper, and we watch The Pivotal Players with   Bishop Robert Barron. Then a good discussion, centred on the topics and questions produced with the DVD...and before the final blessing, we are given sheets with ideas on how to put into practice some of the things we have learned...

And I have discovered that a good many other parishes are doing exactly this, too...and just today some one mentioned how much he was looking forward to the "Pivotal" session...

A visit...

...to the offices of the British section of Aid to the Church in Need in Sutton, Surrey. For many years -  starting as a teenager - I was deeply involved with this charity, and to it I owe some of the greatest adventures of my life...back...oh...long ago now...when Eastern Europe was under Communist rule and help could be given,...

A warm welcome at the office, and it is great to see the superb things now being done, the cheques pouring in to fund the relief work in Syria and elsewhere...the work of this magnificent charity has grown and grown, and Prince Charles has now added his support to its work in the Middle East.

Some day, please God, people will look back and share stories of how things were done and help was given in a tough time...




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A MASSIVE HONOURING OF THE EUCHARIST IN BRITAIN...

...is planned. A great Eucharist Congress is being planned by the Bishops of England and Wales for 2018. It will be the biggest gathering of the Catholic faithful in Britain since the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

I learned this news while chatting outside Westminster Cathedral this afternoon (see previous entry re History Walks). It is VERY good news and will make history. A Congress of this kind was held in 1908 but a planned Procession of the Blessed Sacrament through London could not be held (much anti-Catholic feeling in those days). A century - and two massively successful papal visits - later, and everything is so different. We can expect - and pray and plan for - a really magnificent gathering...

History...

...is all around us in London, and every Catholic History Walk yields new discoveries as we all as opportunities to mull over the events of the centuries...

People are always intrigued to be told that the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding the infant Saviour, is at the centre of the Westminster City coat of arms. I can see, as I lead them across Victoria Street to the tall, boring office slab  that that is the City Hall, that they just don't believe me. Then they take a look at the great Coat of Arms on the wall - which some, as Londoners, have walked pass hundreds of times....

Westminster -  centred on the minster, established by King (St) Edward the confessor, to the west of London - became a city in its own right in the 1960s,  and the present Coat of Arms dates from that time.  But the link with Our Lady goes back centuries. City info, plus pic of the coat of arms, here   but to get the story of the link w. Our Lady, you really need to come on a Catholic History Walk - or invite me to your parish/college/school/conference...


Monday, March 27, 2017

Laetare: Mothering Sunday...

...and at the end of Mass, bunches of daffodils  tied with golden ribbon were blessed and distributed for us to give to our mothers...rather touching to see small Sunday School children eagerly running forward, and hulking tall altar severs awkwardly searching out mum in the congregation to give the flowers and a hug...

FrC suggested that mothers who had died could be remembered lovingly in prayer and the flowers given to Mary  at the Lady Altar...

And I took a bunch to give to my ma-in-law in Somerset, hoping the flowers would survive the journey via Bristol...

Train from Paddington, and a warm welcome at the Catholic Chaplaincy at Bristol University:  a talkative supper and then my talk on St John Paul the Great and the Theology of the Body.  A wonderful evening...talk ran on late, lively, friendly, wide-ranging, extremely interesting...

An early start the next morning, train into Somerset, and on to a lovely lunch with mama-in-law. We had sent a big bouquet at the weekend, and the daffs, a bit tired but capable of revival, were now added. We tackled a crossword together - she is v. good at them - and enjoyed lots of family chat. Beyond us the hills of Exmoor were misty and green. The bus route into town trundled past fields of wobbly-legged lambs.


Friday, March 24, 2017

This weekend...

I am off to Bristol to give a talk about St John Paul the Great at the University Catholic Chaplaincy.

While in the West Country, I'll be making a Mothering Sunday visit to my beloved mama-in-law. We always enjoy our special times together. For many years, I used to bake two simnel  cakes for Mothering Sunday, one for my own mother and one for my mother-in-law, to be enjoyed at family get-togethers...you can get the recipe here .   This year, for the first time in my life, I will not be visiting my own dear mother on this special day, but she will be much in my prayers with love and gratitude...

Travelling to the West Country in the spring is always a delight...lambs in the fields, daffodils bobbing in the breeze...and here at home we are in the final stages of massive repairs/renovations, and over the next days books will be stacked on to new clean shelves and old papers sorted and thrown out or tidied away...

The house is scented w. the lovely flowers I received for graduation.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunchtime Talks...

...are being organised at the CTS Bookshop in the Westminster Cathedral Piazza at 1.15pm. Auntie Joanna will be speaking on Thursday April 6th and again on Saturday April 8th. Topic "Celebrating Traditional Feasts and Seasons of the Church",  with a special emphasis on the customs associated with Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.  ALL WELCOME.

The CTS is also inviting people to write reviews of books - not necessarily bought from their bookshop - and to win discounts on further books. Info here...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday...

...in London. Mass... the Scriptures linking Moses striking the rock and the fresh water gushing forth...and then Christ at the well and bringing us the living water...

The Angelus as Mass ends and everyone singing.

In the afternoon, a Catholic History Walk along the Thames...the grey water surging with a chill wind, but a sense of spring in the air, boats chugging up and down.

And then, in the evening, meeting a dear niece for supper...great fun to swap news and lovely to relax and talk over lots of things...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

At a ceremony today...

...at St Mary's University, I received my Master's degree in Theology from the vice-chancellor, Francis Campbell. It was a moving ceremony, with the academic procession entering  the chapel to the sound of trumpets, a service of prayers and hymns, and the calling out of our names as we went forward one by one in our academic gowns and caps.  The hood of the MA gown is lined with rose-coloured  silk of the shade used by Bishop Richard Challoner, hero Vicar Apostolic of the London District in the 18th century.

It was so lovely to have family and friends with me to celebrate this day...a day that I will remember for always.

After the ceremonies, there was an excellent lunch in the Waldegrave Room, in the splendid Gothick Strawberry Hill House, and then we enjoyed the lovely grounds in pale spring sunshine.

Bogle celebrations continued with a dinner in London along by the Thames...I am now writing this late at home surrounded by flowers and cards and with  a grateful heart...

Friday, March 17, 2017

The splendid Norbertines...

...at this church in Chelmsford  invited me to give a talk as part of the parish programme for Lent , on my favourite topic: St John Paul the Great. It was an honour to be invited. Things began with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction in the lovely church. Candles glowing,, the peace of united, unhurried silence... and then the blessing and the voices together: "Blessed be God...blessed be his holy name..."

The original invitation had been for a Thursday evening but I pleaded that I could not do it, because the church I usually attend is running the excellent Pivotal Players DVD  (Bishop Robert Barron) each Thursday in Lent...back came a cheery message from Abbot Hugh at Chelmsford saying that was fine, he perfectly understood, because they too were running the Barron DVD and he shared my enthusiasm! So he invited me for Wednesday instead. And it was a wonderful evening... the lovely time of prayer, a warm welcome at a good sized gathering in the parish hall, and an opportunity to share some insights about St John Paul and some glorious memories of him...


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Theresa May and the Catholic Church...

.. an American Catholic newspaper asked me to answer questions raised by Michael Gove in a feature in The Times about Theresa May's Catholic leanings. You can read me here....

Hurrying...

...to St Paul's Cathedral to lead a Catholic History Walk. A friendly group, and we explored some of the City churches,beginning with  the splendidly-named St Vedast-alias-Foster, and going on to St Lawrence Jewry at the Guildhall, and then St Margaret's, Lothbury.  It isn't just a matter of enjoying Wren's architecture....it's also getting the whole sweep of history, from the original foundation of St Paul's at the top of Ludgate Hill, and the growth and changes of the City over the centuries...

One thing which is important to grasp is about names. People tend to think that a place-name was somehow invented at a set time, by the local Borough Council or some such body. But it is not like that in a city like London, in a country as old as ours. Place-names have meanings - no one invented them, they emerged because they describe the place. Thus Catford is where cattle crossed the ford, Westminster is the Minster to the West of London...and the names of the City's ancient gates still echo: Moorgate, Aldgate, Newgate...

"Ham" is the old word for a village - hence Birmingham, Chippenham, Walsingham, Nottingham, Cheltenham...and also Tower Hamlets, and the pleasant village of Ham at Richmond-on-Thames...

And a Minster is where monks lived...hence Upminster, Leominster...

The Saxon (German) word for a stranger - ie one who does not speak a language I understand - is "Welsh". So as the Angles and Saxons swept steadily across Britain from the East (settling in places we still call Sussex, and Essex, and Middlesex), they tended to name the remaining settlements of the (Romano-)British people as places-of-strangers. Hence Wallington in Surrey and Wallingford on the Thames...and indeed Wales...


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Last weekend...

...I was visiting some young relatives.  We had agreed to meet at the 6pm Mass. Trains were tricky and I had to rush by cab from the station. Mass was already under way. A modern church, well filled and with one of those glass doors, slightly embarrassing when you are arriving late and people are standing at the back...

But up by the sanctuary  was a sight to make Auntie suddenly go gulpy...two small beloved figures, solemnly handing over the Offertory gifts for the holy Sacrifice...my great-nephews...doing it all beautifully and then returning to the rest of the family, wriggling baby sister and all, in the pew...

Moments like that can't be discussed or noted within the family...part of the  gulpiness is the very ordinariness of it. Just family. At Mass. On a rainy evening.

Deo gratias.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Book your place...

...on the 2017 St John Paul II Walk to Walsingham!

It's an absolutely superb experience...walking through some of the most glorious countryside in England, in good company, and with Mass at places resonating with history. We gather at Bury St Edmunds - where Magna Carta was first drawn up - and our pilgrimage takes us to meadows and abbeys and rivers and country towns...and we finish at Walsingham where there is a wonderful welcome at the big Pilgrim Mass at the shrine.

You can book your place here...

It's not for the faint-hearted...we walk some 20 miles a day, and sleep in halls and schools, with sleeping bags and mats...but we have a good picnic lunch each midday, and a hot meal every evening, all our luggage etc is carried by van, and everything is well organised with a great spirit of goodwill and efficiency.   It's all run by the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph  with their infectious sense of joy and fun.  An added bonus is that we share something of the Dominican life, with the Dominican daily offices of prayer, and some inspirational talks...

Come and join us!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

On Good Friday...

...I will of course be taking part in the 3pm devotions.  Earlier, I will be in Trafalgar Square, to watch the Passion Play that is now presented there each year. It's powerful, the story of Christ's Last supper, trial, and crucifixion, right in the heart of London and with vast crowds...info here

Monday, March 06, 2017

TO LANCASTER...

...for a meeting of the Editorial Board of FAITH magazine. We meet at this parish, with its beautiful little church and fascinating history....

Current issue of the magazine includes an editorial noting the  mood of the Church as we leave the post-Vatican II era,  features on  grace, the Wojtyla message about the human person, book reviews looking at the plight of modern pagan Britain, the horrors of the WWI Gallipoli campaign, and more...sample copy available if you write a Comment to this Blog WITH YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS (which I will not publish). And you can read back issues of the magazine here

Pouring rain...


..meant that valiant Catholic History Walkers along the Thames got cold and wet tackling the route along the river  from London Bridge to the Tower...but spirits remained warm and there was a cheery atmosphere - it turned out to be a memorable and enjoyable afternoon....
Come and be with us on the next Sunday Walk: March 19th, meet 3pm at the main door of the Church of the Most Precious Blood, O'Meara Street, London SE1.

And make a note of the other dates listed  here...

Walsingham...

...and the London Walsingham group is now thriving. Read here

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Anonymous letters...

...including anonymous messages to this blog, are always the hallmark of cowardice and spite. If  anonymous correspondents wish to have their comments considered for publication, they must:

1. Apologise for having sent an anonymous message
2. Send something with their name attached.

Their messages might - no promises - then be published.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Crusader Justine Greening...

...announces horrible plans for something called "Relationships Education" for children  with an emphasis on "boundaries and consent", An odd title, and it's important to find out what it means.  Schools, often doing heroic work trying to protect children from the worst excesses of a sex-obsessed culture and to offer a larger vision of life based on values of courtesy, kindness and the common good, are now to be nagged and bullied into pushing material  on sexual matters at the youngsters. What on earth does "consent", when discussing sexual activity, mean for a child? Already, homosexualist lobby groups have announced enthusiastically they plan to get involved with producing material...

All will suffer, but the chief victims will be children who do not have parents who can counter the propaganda or make alternative education arrangements at home. There are so many children who come from broken families and already are bruised by the lifestyle choices of the adults around them. Who will speak up for these children?   Read up about this here and make your voice heard to your MP.

From helping out with voluntary work in a prison, I have realised again and again how the current culture of Britain, with its endless promotion of "safe sex"  emphasising sexual activity as a sort of sport has destroyed lives and hopes. Teaching children that sexual activity can be between anyone and that the main thing is "consent" within "boundaries" (whatever that means) will make this much, much worse.

It is very tempting for Christians who have been fortunate in their own upbringing and have secure homes and marriages to retreat into a comfort zone and think only of their own children and grandchildren.  But we are not called to do that.

We cannot, must not, leave the vulnerable young people of Britain to the Secretary of State and the lobby groups with a sexual agenda.

And let's pray for poor Secretary Greening.

Recently...

...had a long and  useful talk with David Alton at the Hse of Lords, longtime family friend and campaigner...it was good to catch up...info here on some of his latest projects...

Blessed John Henry Newman...

...and a wonderful evening studying his life and work...led by the excellent new Pivotal Players DVD  presented by Bishop Robert Barron.

We have Evensong and Mass, then the DVD, a,light supper and a session of teaching and discussion with Bibles and Catechisms. There are excellent notes and questions with references...the sessions are proving popular and I really look forward to Thursday evenings.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Tragic modern Britain...

...and what we might try to do about it...read here...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Blessed John Henry Newman...

...father of the Second Vatican Council, patron of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a saint for the new Millenium...inspired by a fresh opportunity to study and reflect on his life, I've been pondering him...read here...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

To the Kent coast...

...for a quiet day at Minster Abbey with a friend. We arrived early so as to join the Sisters for their morning office (they had already been up for a good while, having sung an earlier office and had time for silent prayer....).  By mutual decision, D and I had agreed not to chat during the day, but to spend the time in reading or  quiet work.  It is beautiful to pray with the Sisters in their lovely chapel which in its simplicity blends seamlessly into the original Saxon buildings of the Abbey.  A particularly fine carved  dark wooden statue of Our Lady stands to one side of the chancel: light gleams on the single central jewel in her crown, aligned with the golden cross that forms the halo of the Christ-child who sits enthroned on her lap. It is an image at once serene and  queenly.

A new young postulant was among the Sisters and will be clothed with the white veil shortly. They all enter the chapel quietly from their various tasks and take their places in the choir-stalls to chant the psalms of the Offices, one Sister accompanying them on an instrument which somehow has a Medieval sound. Beyond the altar - the base of which is one large gnarled and polished tree-trunk, matching the  lectern and the wooden stand that holds St Mildred's relics - tall trees rustle in the wind from the sea, and birds sing. As evening falls, Vespers has a more formal feel: the sisters  enter in procession, the chanted psalms are in Latin.  Compline is after dark and we had set off for home by then, rain lashing the car as we  drove back to London.

I have begun work on a long cross-stitch kneeler, designed for the bridal pair at weddings. Starting the work the evening before the trip to Minster was pleasing - the long folds of material drape down to the floor as one sews, and it all has a restful, and dignified feeling. Busy with it again at Minster I realised that it really is going to be a mammoth task - and D observed that her mother made a similar cushion which is now in her possession "It took her the whole of the Second World War..."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Want to know what it's like...

...on a London Catholic History Walk?

There's an insider's story here (scroll down to page 28).

And why not discover what London is like south of the Thames? Southwark is undiscovered territory for some Londoners and for most visitors. Come and discover it!

Friday March 24th  and Friday April 28th - a tour inside St George's Cathedral. Meet 3pm at the Cathedral door. Nearest tube: WATERLOO. The Cathedral is opposite the Imperial War Museum.

SUNDAY May 21st 3pm and FRIDAY June 2nd 6pm. A walk around Southwark, starting at the door of St George's Cathedral.  Come and discover where the Marshalsea prison - made famous by Charles Dickens - stood. Come and stand where the English soldiers sang when they returned from the victory at Agincourt. Come and see where the Gordon riots began...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pondering the world scene...

...I found this an interesting post...

KIndness...

...and honesty...

On Thursday, a telephone call from London's Amba Hotel, where the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon was held last October. They had suddenly discovered a red wallet which had been dropped behind a fixed corner seat...only discovered when everything was removed for some renovations...

Yes, it was mine, and today I went to collect it. Everything intact, including £40 in cash. And much else including a small but particularly special  picture of our wedding, a snapshot taken by the apple trees at our family home...

The hotel staff were as pleased as I was to have the wallet back, and an ordinary February morning was suddenly quietly transformed by shared human joy and solidarity.




Friday, February 24, 2017

The MARCH issue of ....

FAITH magazine is now published. It includes a feature on the Sisters of Life, with whom the Editor was privileged to stay while on a recent visit to New York....

As always, a limited number of magazines are available for new readers. Interested? Send a Comment to this Blog WHICH I WILL NOT PUBLISH, giving your full postal address, and a copy will be on its way to you...

High winds and glorious countryside...

...and chanting monks in a great abbey church of austere grandeur...the FAITH Movement has been holding  its annual Symposium all this week at Ampleforth Abbey,and it has been splendid.  We had an excellent series of lectures exploring St John Paul's Man and Woman he created them...I had not known that this was a lengthy book on which he worked during the years that he was Archbishop of Krakow. When he became Pope, he used the material for Papal lectures over a period of several months. These were interrupted by the assassination attempt in 1981 but later continued and were published and popularised under the title of Theology of the Body. But the full importance of this work is only now beginning to be realised.

The subject would at any time have been a significant and useful one for the Church. But in this as in so much else Karol Wojtyla had a prophetic understanding of the "signs of the times".   Campaigners in Western nations  who have for years have been successfully promoting  forms of sexual crudity, celebration of abortion, and abandonment of any authentically human understanding of marriage, are now going through a period of almost complete intellectual meltdown in attempting to ban any acceptance of differences between male and female. St JP's timely work opens up precisely the insights the Church needs...and his courage will be an example to us as we take this forward...

Ampleforth is a grand place in which to meet and pray. There is a sense of everything taking place within the enduring round of the monastic hours...I didn't rise in the dark to join them in the early offices of Matins and Lauds...but it was wonderful to be gathering in the great church as the bell rang out for Mass. There is a great sense of the "Mass of all the ages", a sense of time and history, of the long years of Christianity in our country and of being part of the Church around the world and in the next world too...

We had another chapel for our own use, but one night I joined the monks at Compline...a sense of strength in the darkened church with wind roaring outside...