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