Saturday, March 26, 2011

At a London Tube station...

...police were handing out leaflets - "It's about today's march". Uh? It seemed a bit odd - after all, London has been seeing protest marches and demonstrations all my life and for many years before that. One more anti-Government march didn't seem so odd.

But when I crossed Piccadilly later in the day I saw why there was a worry. Faces hidden by balaclava helmets with gaps cut for eyes and noses, shrieking and angry, they came down the street waving red and black flags - it was frankly horrible. Others wore black scarves across their faces. A girl stood shouting "Let them hear your anger! Shout your anger!"

I had come from St James Church in George Street, where we had had a most inspiring Day of Recollection led by a priest from Brentwood Cathedral. Thoughtful, challenging, it was focused on the importance of holiness - and of seeing God's work as central, not our own efforts to achieve things. The day was organised by the Association of Catholic Women, and in the quiet room and in the beautiful church for Mass, there was a chance to be close to God...

It is a pleasant walk from there to Westminster, and a route I know well. But in Piccadilly the marchers were menacing and suddenly everything seemed nasty. Later, TV coverage showed windows being bashed, the youths with the sinister black and red flags running and shouting....why did they wear the terrorist-chic unfiform of balaclavas and scarf-covered faces, why did they not want people to know who they were?

In Green Park the bright daffodils sent a springtime message but it was impossible to shake off the horrid feeling. At Westminster Cathedral, however, a vast crowd was packing the place out, celebrating Our Lady of Walsingham. Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, and 2011 marks the 950th anniversary of Walsingham, "England's Nazareth". Young women from the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham carried her statue, there was a great concourse of clergy led by the Archbishop, the Nuncio,and several other Bishops, and there were Knights of Malta and Knights of this and that, and Guardians of the Anglican Shrine, and a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and clergy of other denominations...

The huge crowds had had long since overflowed from the seats and kneelers, and were in the side-aisles and kneeling on the floor at the back, and finding places in the chapels of St Patrick and St Paul and Our Lady ...there were substantial groups from the Ordinariate, noticeable because they came up for a blessing at Holy Communion, as they are in the process of reception into the Church and thus in a "Eucharistic fast": it was impressive and touching to see them: a new chapter opening.

A time to pray for our country. There was a new hymn, sung with organ, brass and choir accompaniment:
Lady of Walsingham, Lady of England
Look with love on this our land...

7 comments:

Elizabeth said...

What were they protesting?

John said...

They were communists, socialists and all the rest. They were protesting the government for having to cut public sector spending, even though Britain is now over 1 trillion (yes, TRILLION) pounds in debt, thanks to decades of overspending by successive governments.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the connection between the two events?

therese rita said...

That was my question, Elizabeth. "Shout your anger"? Anger at what, for heaven's sake? Anger at being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want in a free country? Anger at having enough food/health/energy to run rampant in the streets? Anger at being given another day of life that you didn't ask for & (none of us) deserve?
Exactly what are they angry about?

Elizabeth said...

That's what I thought, but the ambiguity in their protesting just waters down all the protests going on in London. I guess that's this observer's take: if you protest everything, how can you expect me to hear you?

I like this post! And I'm new to your blog, so I'll keep looking around!

Troubador said...

Similar to the outrageous behavior seen in our Madison, Wisconsin, USA demonstrations, Londoners now need to adjust to rage-related behavior as symptomatic of the disease of greed. As our Deacon put it in today's homily, "What's in it for God?" Not much.
(A lovely post, like mushrooms on toast!)

Organorum said...

"Lady of Walsingham" isn't a new hymn - ok, it might have been new to you. I'm not entirely sure where it came from but it's been in my collection for over 20 years.

Speaking of Marian hymns, I can claim the credit of introducing to this country "Hail, Holy Queen, enthroned above" - you know, the famous hymn from Sister Act. I'm pleased to say that from a scrappy piece of paper sent to me from the USA many years ago it's now in the Oratory's hymn book - brill!!