Monday, December 04, 2006

Mon Dec 4th
Spoke in the afternoon to a Methodist Women's Fellowship, on "Advent traditions and customs". They were dears, and we sang from a hymn-book with an introduction by John Wesley, which said some very sound things about what a good hymnn should contain (no silly exaggerations or poor rhymes or meaningless woffle....enthusiasts for "Lord of the Dance" and similar horrors should note). Then hurried off by bike through the gathering dark , with just enough time at home to tackle a few mundane tasks and on to catch the train to London....where I was due to take some pix at St Pattrick's, Soho Square, of Jan Woodford, chairman of the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon, handing over the money raised (£1,700 - which is pretty good, and one of the largest sums we've ever achieved) to Cenacolo, the charity which helps people with drug and alcohol addiction. They are BADLY in need of funds, and will use the cash to provide some basic facilities at the new property they have acquired out in the country where a community isd established....Cenacolo is based at St Patrick's, and its chairman, Philippe von Habsburg, who is a great friend (we work together on another charity, Aid to the Church in Need) was on hand to accept the cheque.....

St Patrick's is an extraordinary place. As we stood there, in the wild and windy but still curiously warm evening (weather still MOST peculiar....newspapers full of stores about no snow on the ski-slopes of the Alps, summer flowers blooming in Britain's suburban gardens), people were pouring in for a carol concert. This is one of the scruffiest but most wonderful and popular churches in London! It is desperately in need of funds for basic repairs and for its wonderful work which includes (in no particular order) a soup run for the homeless, ministry to prostitutes and rent-boys, several prayer-groups, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, talks for those interested in the Faith, regular times for confession, lunch-time Masses on weekdays for busy Londoners, a School of Evangelisation, an SOS Prayer-Line.....if the funds don't arrive, some of the fabric of the church (which survived a near-miss in the raids in WW11 - a plaque commemorates a bomb which lodged in the sanctuary wall) will simply crumble to danger-point. Are there any Americans reading this who might send a donation? This was the church where Archbishop Fulton Sheen did some of his best and most worthwhile work, among some of London's most vulnerable and tragic people....even in the 1950s, Soho was a ghastly area where many lonely frightened young people were prey to vicious pimps......and many have found new hope via the message they found in this church......A donation to St Patrick's, 21 Soho Square London W1, would pay tribute to Sheen's memory and do a LOT to ensure that this wonderful church goes on bringing God to people......the church itself dates back to the days before Catholic Emancipation, so is a real link with a rather heroic past....

After a cycle ride across London - which, as regular readers of this blog will know, is a city I love when it is rainy and lamplit - I arrived at the home of friends who are cheerfully giving me tea, advice, and practiucal help as I email the pic of the cheque handover to the Catholic press....still no email at home (AAAARGH!!!! words inadequate to express frustration at the struggles we are having on that score.....) so I am staying on to tackle emails and write this Blog......

London is glittering in its Christmas lights....great panels of blue and silver across Regent Street lighting up the night sky, and of course shop windows lavishly decorated and with every imaginable luxury cramming the shelves.....Christmas trees are beginning to arrive tho' the big one in Trafalgar Square will, quite rightly, not be present until much nearer the time of the great feast....

At home we have our Advent wreath on the table and I've started to sort and wrap some gifts...I like having them waiting and stacked on the table through Advent, with the little pile growing steadily larger as the days and weeks pass.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Its unlike you, Joanna, to stay quiet for so long.