...of the Cardinal Vaughan School sang at today's 10.30am Mass at Westminster Cathedral: magnificent.
I was there to meet a young friend - working as an au pair with some relatives - as I had promised to show her around London. We had a happy day, beginning with a trip up the Cathedral Tower - spectacular views across London and out beyond to the misty suburbs and the North Downs. She was also awed by the Cathedral itself, where the 12 noon Mass, with wafts of incense and a vast congregation, was taking place. As we stood there, the priest was silently incensing the altar, and then the server incensed the concelebrants, and then all of us, and I suddenly saw it as a young outsider would, in all its beauty and solemnity, and realised all over again the glory of the Eucharist..."Pray, brethren..."
We went on to explore Westminster: the bells of the Abbey were pealing out, bright sunshine made the Thames glitter and golden leaves were fluttering down in St James' Park. We lunched at the Albert pub in Victoria Street, a favourite haunt, and then caught a bus to the City. There were protesters with banners denouncing captalism so various areas had been cordoned off, but we looked in at some Wren churches and finished with tea near St Paul's.
But London in Autumn beauty brings sadness, a sense of nostalgia. The Palace of Westminster, the Union Jack flapping against the flagpole on the Victoria Tower, Big Ben calling out the hour with its huge deep rolling note...I remembered days working in Parliament and writing on all sorts of issues, in the days when defending male/female marriage, and opposing gross forms of "sex ed" for children, and working to affirm the sanctity of human life all seemed more possible and achievable...