Sunday, July 05, 2015

A joyous Sunday celebration...

...marking the patronal name of the Church of the Precious Blood. A sung Mass with Mgr Keith Newton presiding, and we finished with one of my favourite hymns "And can it be/That I should gain/An interest in the Saviour's blood?"

As Mass ended, the two churchwardens came forward to address us all,  They announced plans for the full repair and redecoration of the church for the 125th anniversary in 2017. There is quite a lot that needs to be done: new underfloor heating was laid two years ago and the floor now needs to be finished with proper tiling, bleak flourescent lighting needs to be replaced with something better, and the peeling paint on the walls tackled. The sanctuary carpet has to go and a new floor laid...

Funds are being sought, and this will be a project well worthy of support, the full restoration of a fine church in an historic corrner of London...

After Mass,a big  parish barbeque - for this, we used the courtyard of the Anglican diocesan offices next to the church, by the kindness of the Cof E authorities.  This is a Victorian building that used to be a school, and includes a large covered archway area, ideal for a big social gathering. A massive noise of talk and the servng of food, and children running about, and everyone having a good time...and it was a good vantage-point from which to see the fine architectural merits of Pr.Bl Church and its adjoining Rectory, both Grade 2 Listed buildings, with pleasing windows and brickwork. As the afternoon drew on, some of us sat talking with glasses of wine, reluctant to hurry home...stories of parish life over the years were told, great events remembered...

...and, in sizzling heat, a Summer Garden Party...

...in the lovely garden of a residence for the elderly, where a beloved resident lives and where I spend a good deal of time. It was a very happy afternoon: protected from the heat by  a large airy marquee, we enjoyed Bucks Fizz, and lots of friendly chat, joined by, among others, Bishop Howard Tripp, who I first met when I was a reporter on a newspaper in Richmond and he was parish priest of the big church at Sheen...

We had smokes salmon sandwiches and scones topped with whipped cream and strawberries, and delicious cakes...and during the afternoon a delegation arrived from the Royal Marines ex-servicemens group, to present a special beret to one of the elderly residents, who had served with distinction in WWII. We all gave him three hearty cheers and he wore his beret with pride, and I got talking to the chaps. Some had served in the "forgotten wars" of Malaysia and Aden, and there is sorrow that those of their conmrades who died there are not honoured and remembered each November...that's something that we should surely quietly rectify...

Afterwards, I went on to visit some young friends, whose son is one of my godchildren and is now a tall teenager and extremely nice - he has been helping with creating a new database for a leading Catholic group and everything is now superbly up-to-date....while the garden sizzled in the heat, the children turned a hose and frolicked in the delicious sprinkling water, while the parents and I, joined by a neighbour,  sipped cold white wine and talked and laughed and reminisced and discussed local topics...and then as the evening cool descended, I wandered home, and, refreshed, tackled some emails and preparatory work for the week ahead...

Saturday, July 04, 2015

A splendid group...

...of young men, training for the priesthood with the St Martin Community contacted me  as they had heard that I led History Walks in London...

We had a wonderful day together, walking along the Thames, and talking over so many things ranging from history through , Britain, Europe, today's Church, the future, challenges, hopes...

They were a terrific group - from France, Germany and Austria, full of fun and with a sense of zest and enthusiasm, but also thoughtful, knowlegeable, and wise in discussing issues of faith, the Church,  and mission...

I was sorry to leave them as the afternoon ended, but I had to hurry to Victoria station to catch a train to Eastbourne, where I was due to speak to members of the Eastbourne Ordinariate Mission. This was a delight: Fr Neil Chatfield and his lovely family welcomed me to a family supper, and then we had a most enjoyable evening with the group, planning and discussing a schools venture for 2016...it was an evening of friendship and  talk and solidarity and with a happy feeling of plans for the future and good things to do...

It had been a day of searing heat, but with an evening promise of relief - and as the train headed for London the drama of a storm began, which reached a glorious crescendo at Clapham Junction with tremendous sheets of rain and flashes of lightning, an absolute torrent of water hurtling down like a mighty blessing on a parched and hot city...bliss to travel home through this, and to feel a busy week culminating in refreshment and rest.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

THAT forthcoming Synod on the Family...

...come and ponder the issues involved...

FAITH Movement evening meeting...this coming Tuesday, July 7th, at 24 Golden Square WI (nearest tube: PICCADILLY CIRCUS), 7.30pm. All welcome. We'll be looking specifically at St John Paul II's teachings on marriage and family.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH...

...and the right speak about great moral truths....a crucial freedom.

The Secretary of State for Education has made some rather frightening comments about views she regards as "extremist".  In this category she seems to place the understanding that homosexual acts are wrong. She sounds rather muddled, so we must assume that she doesn't really know what she is saying.

But what is uncomfortably clear is that she has decided that we all ought to hold the opinion that homosexual behaviour is acceptable. That may be her opinion, but it is not one that we are all obliged to share, and in our country we have a tradition of allowing different points of view on such matters.

From time to time, I publish on this Blog the teaching of the Catholic Church on this delicate and important subject.

If there is ever a time when I am banned from doing so - for example by the internet provider blocking this Blog, or by some officialdom attempting to restrict my writings, then I will know that a cherished freedom, for which my country has been justly famous, has been taken from us.

This is the teaching of the Catholic Church, stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1257 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heat and glare...

...beating down on the city streets. I greatly dislike hot weather, and when people say "What a glorious day!"  I can only answer "Mmmm. It's hot" or talk about something else as in " Mmmm. I'm just on my way to..." whatever.

The grass turns white and grey.  Rooms get stuffy and open windows admit traffic noise and dust rather than cool air. Trains become like ovens. Everyday tasks become less pleasant, but of course still remain to be done. Walking becomes less enjoyable. Small treats like a decision to choose a pleasant route become less possible: the priority has to be on not arriving looking hot and sticky. Heavy luggage becomes a  real burden instead of a bearable nuisance.

The rule is to pretend that none of this matters, so I bought some new sandals and walked with a spring in my step. The sandals broke. I've now got another pair. Apart from writing this blog, I am not allowing myself to whinge about the heat and am pretending that it's all hugely delightful. I've got a delicious cool drink and the roses outside the window are lovely if rather tired. The washing has dried quickly on the line. It's nice chatting to neighbours as people are out and about instead of shut indoors. Lots of people all over the world live with searingly hot weather all the time.

On the recent ghastly decision by the Supreme Court in America...

...this this good read.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In a London heatwave...

...I took a group of Spanish students, led by a young Legionary priest, along the Thames to tell them some of London's history. The river was at low tide revealing sandy beaches, rocks and intriguing bits of old jetty, plus chunks of wood  but little if any rubbish or litter, which was pleasing.  I told them about Henry VII and the victory at Bosworth, and the betrothal of  young Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, and then  Arthur's death and Henry VIII.... They more or less knew the story, of course - and ...er...certainly the bit later on about Philip and the Armada...

We finished at the Tower.  A much-needed drink - on hot days mine is always a shandy - at the pleasant bar/restaurant up alongsiside Tower Bridge. Then I left them and crossed the by bridge - always a satisfying walk across one of the world's best-known landmarks - and once on the Southwark side I abandoned my original plan of heading straight for Waterloo and decided to tackle some of the history in the hinterland. I know the riverside well - London Bridge and the little house where Catherine of Aragon first stayed on arrival in Britain, and The Globe, and Blackfriars, and the replica Golden Hinde, and more - but on Wednesday I am leading another History Walk around The Borough, so needed to look at the connections with the Marshalsea, and Dickens, and  St George the Martyr church, and so on.  The area around Southwark Street and Hopton Street is familiar to me as my late father's office - where his father worked before him  - was in Hopton Street, overlooking the Thames...it was he who introduced me to this corner of London. A sudden sense of his dear presence and happy memories as I walked in the cool evening...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wonderful weekend...

...at Buckfast Abbey, studying with other catechists from parishes around Britain at the School of the Annunciation.  Some really good lectures, tackling how to teach the Trinity, emphasising Scripture and the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church...

A bonus was the glorious sung Mass this morning. There is a really excellent choir, with young singers from across Devon.   Afterwards I met several over coffee and snacks in the South Gate lodge, while the Abbey bells poured glorious peals out across the countryside. We were staying at NorthGate...the the Abbey has a good deal of property and attrracts great numbers of visitors, and the accomodation and meals were extremely good. As we sat at lectures in the modern Conference Centre, tourists arrived to enjoy the Abbey grounds, children scampering across the lawns, and people pottering around the various gardens.

Useful conversations with fellow-catechists...discussing First Communion classes, after-school groups, etc. A major issue is that parents often resist the idea of weekly attendance at Mass: they want their child to have a lovely First Communion day (white dress, pics, all the trimmings), and are happy to send them along to classes on a Saturday afternoon or a weekday evening, but Sunday Mass too often clashes with sports or other "can't miss" activities. They will sometimes express resentment at a priest expecting them to make Sunday Mass a priority for the family.  On the other hand, if they as parents happen to sit in on a First Communion class, they generally enjoy it and exclaim with pleasure "Oh, I didn't know all that! Oh, it's all so interesting..." and often decide to come again to learn more...