Tuesday, October 21, 2014

To Lancaster...

...to this excellent school (C of E Academy) where pupils had won prizes in the 2014 Schools Bible Project. The choir sang gloriously as we gathered for morning prayers in the splendid chapel: "If you love me, keep my Commandments..." and the atmosphere was reverent and respectful. It was a privilege to be invited to distribute the Bible prizes gained by pupils, and it was an opportunity to thank the school for providing the choir to sing at the big Thanksgiving Serve held in London this summer for the 25th anniversary of the Schools Bible Project.

Afterwards, fresh coffee and a good chat in the headteacher's study...lots of good conversation, a sense of shared Christian faith...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

..and there's a...

...good short YouTube of today's events in Rome here...

...and so...

...on to a busy Sunday. After Mass, I hurried to the college where I am doing some post-graduate work, intending to send in my latest essay. One has to do this electronically, so I had arranged to do it on a Sunday afternoon when the Library is open and with few people there, so I could get the Help Needed for a Useless Woman Who Worries About Computer Things.  And the kind young librarians couldn't have been more helpful, but it turned out that for various reasons I couldn't deposit my essay yet. Gulp. Panic. A sudden overwhelming longing for the days when one could write - or type - something out and hand it in. Just like that. No computer, no magic electronic thingummy, no hassle. Just me writing and some one reading...

Anyway, we sorted something out and I browsed to find something stimulating to read on the bus. A book by an ex-Jesuit, writing in the early 1970s, assured me that "long before the year 2000 there will be no recognisable Catholic Church in the world..." which was amusing to read having spent the weekend at a big Blessed Sacrament Procession through London, followed by a busy Sunday parish Mass teeming with noisy children, while meanwhile in Rome crowds attended a beatification...oh, and I was en route to visit an elderly relative at a beautiful Catholic nursing home: when I arrived she was enjoying supper under the benevolent smile of a framed pic of the Pope.

Oddly enough, the Catholic Church is one of the things that hasn't disappeared, when so much else has: big red-brick Post Offices, public libraries, the Iron Curtain (Deo Gratias!), half-crowns (and florins, and sixpences..), people saying "wireless" and "greengrocers", telephones with dials, brown paper bags, and those old cash tills that opened with a pleasing TING.

I chose a book about Dr Michael Ramsey, an insight into the old CofE of the early and mid-20th century, got a cup of coffee from the student canteen, and settled at the bus-stop.

Paul VI...

... is beatified in Rome today.  He was derided by so many. I remember tirades against him from the early Lefebvrists...and a vile campaign which claimed to have prevented him from ever being beatified: it was tosh, and later the same chap tried the same with - now SAINT - John Paul. And of course there were all the massive attacks from the supporters of contraception who loathed Humanae Vitae.  And among most middle-of-the-road Catholics he was regarded with a sort of bleak sympathy, and/or people sneered at him because he so often looked so sad. All this made me read and study more on Paul VI and, especially over the past few years, I have come  rather to admire him.  And now he is to be honoured by the Church he loved and served, and justice is being done.

The beatification is a badly-needed sign of unity in the Church.  The heroes of the Synod  are Cardinals Mueller and Burke, and the African and Asian bishops who united to bring sanity after the interim report was produced. The worry for the future is factions and swings...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tradition established...

...the great Procession of the Blessed Sacrament from Westminster Cathedral to St George's Cathedral, Southwark took place today, with possibly the biggest crowd ever, streaming across Lambeth Bridge and packing into the Cathedral at Southwark to fill it with song and prayer...

We were led this year by Bishop Nicholas Hudson,  who sang Benediction magnificently...how good it is to hear a great cathedral of strong voices saying "Blessed be God...Blessed be his holy name..."

Part of the tradition is that I always worry beforehand that few people will turn up, or that it will pour with rain...and every year there are more and more and  more people, and the weather is mild and kind...and as we processed out from Westminster Cathedral, this time led by altar servers from the Faith Movement and from Precious Blood Church, among others, I realised that, once again, all was well: the long surge of people meant that the great Cross at the front was heading down towards Horseferry Road, while the tail end of the great crowd was still coming down Ambrosden Avenue...it was glorious.

As always, we had part of the procession singing one hymn, part of it another, while others were saying various parts of the Rosary...we have discussed using a loud-hailer or similar, but this poses its own problems,  especially as we have to divide to cross the main road before reaching Lambeth Bridge, and divide again when we cross by Lambeth Palace on the other side...

Warm thank must go to the Knights of St Columba, who steward the crowd with tact and efficiency every year, doing stalwart work....and to all at Westminster and St George's Cathedrals. We really are  very blessed as Catholic Londoners, and it is a grand thing to be praying together  through the streets of our capital city, led by one of our Bishops, and going from one great cathedral to another.

The Procession began with special prayers for the Christians of the Middle East in their suffering, and this added a solemn note to the whole day.




Friday, October 17, 2014

Next Catholic History Walk...

...is on Wednesday (Oct 22nd), at 3pm (NOTE TIME), at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. Nearest tube: WATERLOO or LAMBETH NORTH. We'll be looking around the Cathedral itself and learning its history.

...and more...

...on the Synod: read this.

Flying home...

...filled with memories of Poland and with a fresh understanding of its history and people...

Watch this to understand a bit more too...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

And on the subject of That Synod...


...you really do need to read this  to get some grasp of what is going on in Rome.

Evaluating...

...the message of St John Paul's life, sitting on the steps of the church that he helped to build  at Niegovic, and then pondering his portrait in St Florian's in Krakow...

Today is the anniversary of his election as Pope in 1978. Then followed the extraordinary missionary journeys, the assassin's bullet, the consecration of the world to Fatima, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the huge gatherings for prayer and Mass on every continent, World Youth Day, the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  the Theology of the Body, the establishment of devotion to the Divine Mercy, the great encyclicals...and more...and the death on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, and then canonisation this year,  St John Paul, numbered among the great saints of the Church....

We hadn't timed the filming of this EWTN feature to finish on the anniversary of his election, but it just fitted that way, and as we sat over a late and badly-needed meal in the great square in Krakow, a gentle rain began to fall after a week of glowing Autumn sunshine, and the project was completed...

So: home, and a whole set of projects ahead of me. . Blessed Sacrament Procession on Saturday, starts 1.30pm at Westminster Cathedral (do come!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A colleague in Rome...

sends this report  about the Synod, a useful read. And this is really an essential read. As is this.

Auntie has been busy in Krakow, interviewing people for EWTN...we drove here from the Tatra mountains via a popular local  Marian shrine...Krakow is beautiful in Autumn sunshine with faint occasional sprinklings of rain...

Cardinal Dziwisz is about to fly to Rome for the beatification of Paul VI. More and more, Paul VI's courageous encyclical Humanae Vitae is proving prophetic and wise. The mid-session report from the current  Synod meeting in Rome - which, as already noted (see below, and umpteen comments elsewhere including the links above) is somewhat mixed - does say some useful things on this subject:

"53. It is not difficult to notice the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual's or a couple's plans. Economic factors sometimes have enough weight to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.

54. Probably here as well what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious and aware way of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control."

Such attitudes will be felt by some commentators to be scandalous, and I remember, back in the early 1970s, horrible and vicious attacks on Paul VI with people saying  "I'm praying he'll die soon" and so on and so on...

And now Paul VI is rightly honoured by the Church, and his successors upheld the teaching, and will continue to do so down all the years to come...and there will be rejoicing in Heaven at this beatification, and joy in the hearts of Catholics worldwide.