Friday Nov 16th
To St James Church, Spanish Place. This magnificent 19th century gothic church has links that go back to an Embassy chapel on this site - in the days when Catholicism was illegal in England, Catholics could get to Mass in one of the Embassy chapels serving Europe's various Catholic nations, and the Spanish one was on this site. In due course a larger church was built here, dedicated of course to St James whose shrine at Compostella in Spain is world-famous. It is a pleasant cycle ride from Waterloo station - the Mall is all golden leaves as you approach Buckingham Palace, and then there are all the glittering shops along Regent Street as you head for Marylebone.
Today this glorious church is a haven for Catholic Londoners - it has beautiful liturgy, a great sense of peace for personal prayer, and useful lunchtime confessions. I decided to make use of this last, before going on to a meeting of the committee of the Association of Catholic Women in the church hall.....a fellow-committee member was in the church as I slipped into a pew "Tell the committee I'll be coming in a moment" I said "I'm just going to confession first". "Oh, you'll be an hour or two then" she said, dead-pan......
Our committee meetings are always fun. The Association was founded a few years ago to give a voice to Catholic women who sought to "give our glad assent to the teachings of the Church": we are loyal to the Church and to the Holy Father and in particular we affirm the Church's traditional and unchangeable teaching concerning the male priesthood.....and over the years the Association has grown, and thrived, and has a whole range of useful activities. Today we learned that we raised over £400 by sales of tea and sandwiches (and home-made jam etc) at the "Towards Advent" Festival, which is a real help towards our funds. We'll be running our annual Schools Religious Education Project for children aged 5-11, and we looked over the 2007 project, which concerns angels, with children studying the role of angels as God's messengers, looking up the Scriptural references, learning the prayer to their Guardian Angel, etc. As prizes, we distribute copies of the excellent new Compendium of the Catholic Catechism - which children like because it has beautiful pictures, is a pleasing book to own and handle, feels important, and is packed with useful information which they grasp as something they are meant to have for all their lives. We also have two trophies, for winners in two age groups, and every child who takes part in the project gets a holy picture (for the past couple of years, these have been pictures of the Holy Father which have proved very popular). (For details, especially of how your child or local Catholic school can participate - sorry, it's UK only! - send SAE to ACW 22 Surbiton Hill Park, Surbiton, Surrey KT5). All this costs money, so it is good that we are in funds. We also planned a coffee-morning in aid of the Clinic for Downs Children run at St John and St Elizabeth's Hospital in London, and we mapped out a response to a survey about childhood run by The Children's Society. It mentioned the question of "safe sex" for children. Just what does this mean? Er....what sort of sexual activity is deemed to be "safe" for children?
Cycled across London in teeming rain to Waterloo, and caught the last possible train before the 5pm deadline after which one can't take a bike on the train (rush-hour - trains too crowded). I am now writing this blog at Wimbledon Library, drying out and waiting until I cycle on to a parish fund-raising event organised by Sacred Heart Church (the Jesuit church) in Wimbledon. It is being held at the (very smart!) Golf Club on Wimbledon Common - all funded by a parishioner.
I live exactly between two parishes, though technically in Wimbledon. St Joseph's in New Malden suits me better (and the ride to Wimbledon is uphill!) but I keep up links with Wimbledon and sometimes go to the beautiful sung Latin Mass at 11.15 am on Sundays....which I like because the choir sings the "Domine Salvam fac...." for the Queen at the end of Mass.