Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Gaudete, Gaudete...

Christus est natus, ex Maria virgine, Gaudete..."...carolled the choir of St Mary's University, Twickenham. It was the annual Carol Service - the choir is very good and the candlelit service was utterly delightful...but not crowded. Many students alas don't relate to the University's Catholic life - the chapel is always open and welcoming, the heritage is there for all to share, but for students who have never had any link with Catholicism, it all just seems remote, a world they do not know.

However there is a good core of active young Catholic students, and the traditional service was a grand start to what promises to be a satisfying amount of carol-singing for me, as a friend is organising singing at a big local hospital tomorrow, and then there is Youth 2000 in Oxford Street at the weekend, and LOGS at London Bridge Station next Tuesday...

After the carol service, we had wine and mince pies in the Shannon Suite and I met some local residents, former students who will be of help with my work on the University's history.


I stepped out...

...on Sunday morning into an enchanting scene: Oxfordshire in snow, church spire, Georgian street, Town Hall and square all softly clad and more falling thickly on to my face and coat as I drew my suitcase down the street making a long trail behind me. Of course this all meant the start of some minor adventures in order to get into London: buses cancelled, taxi summoned, roads blocked, and finally a loooooong wait in an immobile train. We all cheered as it finally set off - only to find ourselves dropped off again at Reading...I eventually made it to Paddington, and after further struggles with the Tube, was greeted with applause when I arrived at St Patrick's, Soho, to join the Emmanuel Mission Team.  All were gathered for lunch, and I did full justice to a well-filled plate. The team had been busy with mission activities, street evangelisation, a special Healing Mass, Night Fever, and more, and Sunday was the final day of the venture.

Out into the grey rain and slush, accompanied by Ambrose, Fr Alexander's dog: the aim was for the team to get a bit more  of London's history, plus some carol-singing in Trafalgar Square. We had a good afternoon, dropped in to St Margaret's Church at Westminster (recommended - worth a visit) and the National Gallery (ditto, obviously) and returned to St P's for hot drinks and to dry out shoes...

Then a glorious International Mass. A good attendance:  children moved on to parental laps, and people squeezed into already-full pews. And as Mass ended, out into the Soho streets, taking the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in procession to Warwick Street. With lots of singing, and glowing candles, it was a wonderful experience, and we handed out hundreds of medals and little folded Scripture verses to people in the crowded streets and cafes. People mostly smiled and said "Thank you", a few kissed the medal, some crossed themselves. Some asked if we wanted money (we didn't), some said "What is this?" and we explained it was a medal depicting Christ's mother, Mary... One man said "My daughter was given a medal just like this for her First Communion the other day!" and hurried off to fetch her: she proudly showed me her medal on its ribbon round her neck.  A few people said "No thanks", one  rather crossly. Several said "Oh, I'm a Catholic..."

Prayers and litanies at Warwick Street, and more medals and Scripture distributed on the walk back...and then everyone gathered around the tables set in a large square in the big hall:  speeches of thanks, young missionaries invited to share experiences of the past few days...




Saturday, December 09, 2017

An Oxford weekend...

...with the city shops bright with Christmassy things, and a warm welcome at the Aquinas Institute where I had tea  with Fr Richard Conrad. I needed to consult him on a theological point - and he was patient, helpful and logical, and just what a useful Dominican should be. Later I went to Blackfriars for an evening Mass for the  eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  at which he was the celebrant. He preached on the history of the church's understanding of this important doctrine.  There are usually a lot of Dominican friars in the choir-stalls, but on this Friday evening there were only one or two, and as Mass ended he explained that this was because on this feast day the Franciscans - "who were right about the Immaculate Conception all along" - invite the Dominicans for Vespers and supper..

On Saturday, I spoke at a study day at Winton - again a wonderful welcome. We were looking at the "gender issues" and the ideology now being rather rigidly enforced in many academic centres...
later, a meditation on the Feast Day in the beautiful chapel, an opportunity for Advent confession...

Oxford glowing in the evening dusk: it was bitterly cold but the city with its pre-Christmas feel was a delight, and just walking down  to get the bus at St Aldates was enjoyable.Some Christmas shopping at Waterstones, some coffee, and then a bus ride across Folly Bridge and off to stay with family...

It's not going to be fun for everyone in Britain this Christmas, though..While I worked on Christmas cards and wrote up this blog, a relative was cutting and folding scarves for the big distribution of clothes for the homeless...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A London Mission Team...

...with young people drawn from various European countries, arrived this week at St Patrick's, Soho. They will be doing all sorts of things, from carol-singing in Trafalgar Square to leading a procession through Soho following an International Mass.  I was invited to introduce them to London this morning, and we walked down to Westminster, the centuries unrolling as I told the history...Romans and Saxons and  Normans...fields and monks and Parliament and Empire and world wars and more...and on to modern topics, current issues...

They were great company and it was all fun...a cheery lunch followed back at St P's, and then I settled on a coffee-shop to tackle some work. Carrying a laptop around in a backpack is second nature now. A pleasing sort of camaraderie in coffee shops ensures that we keep watch if some one needs to leave his laptop to get more coffee or whatever...apparently it's the standard new way to work and such shops are known now as "coffices"....


...and a happy day....

...in Parliament!  Boys and girls from secondary schools across Britain who won the main prizes in the 2017 Schools Bible Project came to Westminster to receive their prizes from our Trustee, Baroness Cox. It is always a joy to meet the young prizewinners and their families. And on a winter afternoon it is rather awesome, somehow, to explore the story of our magnificent Parliament building, to ponder what it means to live under the rule of law, to talk through some of the history of the centuries...and to stand in Westminster Hall beneath that great hammerbeam roof that dates back almost a thousand years...

And then we crossed the road, walking down past the Sovereign's Entrance and  St Margaret's and the Abbey - looking glorious in the mellow light as dusk was falling - for Tea in the Millbank building, and a splendid presentation of prizes...a happy day.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

...a lecture...

...at St Mary's University, held in the rather splendid Waldegrave suite. The University's Senior Common Room here has large signed photograph of HM Queen Mary and of Edward VIII - one of the few signed photographs of his short reign. Of course there is a picture of the present Queen in the entrance Hall. Clearly the tradition has always been to have a picture of the monarch...but I wondered why these two rather fine photographs in the Senior Common Room are actually signed. That's another bit of the University's history to research...

Meanwhile, I enjoyed giving the lecture, which was organised by the University's Cathsoc and preceded by an excellent lecture by Dr Jacob Phillips, on the significance of the University's name, and the message it carries for all us.  The splendid setting - the Waldegrave rooms are nobly proportioned  with magnificent ceilings and that sense of solid comfort that Victorian buildings convey - made for a good atmosphere, and there was a sense of belonging to a strong institution that has served the country well and has something new to offer in this new century....

Friday, December 01, 2017

On Bishop Robert Barron's website....

...there is a new post, well worth reading, on Humanae Vitae and Paul VI....

JUSTICE...

...and the reputation of a good man.

Read about Bishop George Bell here, and then sign this petition here

Auntie Joanna writes in each issue of....

...THE PORTAL, monthly on-line magazine of the Ordinariate. You can enjoy the December issue here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Spent the morning...

...at the offices of the Catholic Truth Society on the southern bank of the Thames, recording a podcast about Advent and Christmas customs

That link, just highlighted, will take you to the booklet, published by the CTS, and shortly after finishing the podcast I made my way to Westminster cathedral where I was due to lead the final History Walk of 2017 (see below).  As we stood on the steps, a voice said "Is that Joanna Bogle?"  and it was some one who had just bought a couple of copies of the booklet at the St Paul's Bookshop nearby! It was a lovely coincidence and he invited me to sign the booklet, which he had bought for his wife.

In bitter cold...

...but sparkling sunshine, we had our last Catholic History Walk of 2017. As we gathered on the steps of Westminster Cathedral, small children from the adjoining St Vincent de Paul School were walking in two by two, Shepherds and Kings and tinsel-crowned Angels plus lots of choir members, to rehearse their Christmas nativity play. A simply charming sight, especially as the children had been told to put their hands together prayerfully as they entered through the great doors.

There is a full programme of History Walks for 2018 - read about it here and put the dates, venues and times in your diary. All welcome - no need to book, just turn up!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

...and on the Royal engagement...

...read Auntie Joanna here...



Parliament...

...looks weird all covered with scaffolding. Checking the time by Big Ben is so automatic - I looked up, and there it wasn't.  Clock face obscured by the network of metal struts and platforms...but as I walked down towards Black Rod's entrance, where I was due to meet David Alton, I looked back and just one face of the four was showing. Checked the time and was reassured.

The meeting with David was about a project that will, we think, come to fruition in due course. News on this Blog when it does.

Headlines today, plus much internet buzz, about Prince Harry and Miss Markle.