Thursday Sept 14th
I have become worryingly addicted to looking at the Holy Father via computer: it gives one such a reassurring feeling. By tapping "Bayern television papst Benedikt" or a similar collection of words into Google, one can get Bavarian TV and they have been covering every moment of his tour - and it looks glorious. Vast crowds, lots of church bells pealing, some grand singing, great waves of applause, and this dear and most appealing figure at the heart of things, teaching about God, and celebrating Mass, and blessing babies (parents hold out their children to him over the heads of others in the crowds, and small children wait to be hugged) and responding to hundreds and hundreds of outstretched hands....it's all most heartening. Yes, yes, I know.....German Church in a mess, dreadfully divided, lots of dreary muddle as hordes of people think they ought to believe that aborting babies could be acceptable or that three men can get married to each other, or whatever.....But here is a man they recognise as being their special link with Christ, the one whom God is using to run His Church, and he's one of their own, and he's gentle and speaks with wise authority and there's a sanity about him, and he's teaching the truths that challenge the dreary muddle and make sense of things. So there is a possibility that one can hold on, and truth will prevail.
Meanwhile, back at home, the Daily Telegraph obviously won't refer to the Church in seeking answers to its questions about the huge problems facing childhood in Britain - but it's a pity, because the Holy Father gave straightforward reminders about simple, loving , and basic ways of living. He spoke gently about doing the traditional things: take the children to church on Sunday, pray with them at meals, kneel down together at the end of each day for bed-time prayers.
Incidentally, there are some extremely good Catholic websites which give widespread coverage of events in Rome and elsewhere: tap into television catholique and you can get videos showing all sorts of things from Christmas midnight Mass to the baptism of infants in the Sistine Chapel, from the (rather moving) Good Friday Way of the Cross in Rome - and the ceremonies in St Peter's with the Holy Father lying prostrate - to cheery scenes in the Alps and at Castel Gandolfo.
My new book now sent to publisher, I'm plodding on with next projects. Life would be easier if domestic events didn't occasionally erupt into mess. I work at my computer in a small room here at home, and Jamie has his in the main room alongside. When we are both tapping away busily, our work is punctuated by his pleas for cups of tea (sometimes he just makes a sort of bleating noise - it's really quite heart-rending) and by the telephone ringing (annoying - so we often leave the answerphone on and deal with calls later). Tomorrow this comparative peace will cease as a man comes to repaint the ceiling and all of one wall, repairing damage done when the upstairs' people had a radiator leak earlier this summer. It means removing stacks of books, pushing furniture about, disrupting everything on my desk, finding space (in the bath? garden? Dunno) for all the things that will have to be moved elsewhere......