Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Fatima conspiracy theorists...

... aren't going to like this, but: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, has given his blessing, and written a Foreword, to a new book "FATIMA FOR TODAY" which explains the huge significance of the Fatima visions and their message. The book makes it clear that the Church has not been lying to us, that the whole of the famous Third Secret has indeed been revealed, that the message is one of prayer and penance, and that this is all central to the evangelistic work of the Church.

The book is by Franciscan Friar Fr Andrew Apostoli and is a very good read.It includes a series of appendices tackling the publication of the Third Secret in 2000, affirms the full validity of the Consecration carried out in 1984, gives the full text of Cardinal Ratzinger's statement in 2000, and has information on his recent visit as Pope to Fatima and what he said there, and details of interviews with Sister Lucia.The information on Russia is of particular interest.

None of this will make much difference to the "Fatimists", who will doubtless redouble their efforts to claim that Pope Benedict is really holding back secret information, that he and Blessed John Paul haven't told the truth...one school of thought argues that Sister Lucia wasn't the real Sister Lucia but a double put forward in her place to talk to people from the Vatican...etc...etc...etc.

Pope Benedict has noted that the "beyond this great vision of the suffering of the Pope which we can in the first instance refer to Pope John Paul II" the message of Fatima indicates a continued suffering "The need for a passion of the Church...the Lord told us that the Church would constantly be suffering, in different ways, until the end of time." Perhaps part of that suffering is the chatter of the conspiracy-theorists whose noise drowns out the message of prayer.

Do read this book.


experience. Invited to give a lecture at a church hall in the very street where, a little over 30 years ago, J. and I made our first home together, where he carried me over the threshold... After the lecture I walked along the street and paused uncertainly outside the house. Should I? Should? I decided YES, and rang the bell. I'm glad I did. The chap who answered was at first puzzled, then amused and friendly.I explained myself and he invited me in.

Thirty years. So much had changed and so little. Floors stripped now to fashionably stained and varnished boards, and the small kitchen all gleaming with steel and grand equipment. But a table still placed in the big window where I used to sit and work, and a computer where my old typewriter used to be. At that window we strung bunting for the Royal Wedding back in 1981, and held a dinner party. Which caused a slight ripple with the other occupants of the rooms (we were just renting: the kitchen and main room were shared) who were NOT royalists, and indeed had pronounced extreme-left sympathies. We got on all right, however,in the ordinary way and they were friendly and good companions when J. went off to the Royal Military Academy and I had to remain until we managed to find a flat in Camberley...

Thirty years. The sloping-roofed bedroom, the bathroom tucked away at the back.And the landlady who lived downstairs and whose little daughter came out carol-singing with us that first Christmas... it was good to hear, from today's occupant, that the family had prospered and said daughter had sold the house on to the new owners after many happy years there.

Thirty years. The school opposite - I used to watch the pupils sneaking out for furtive sessions of cigarettes - has changed its name but the pupils look pretty much the same, a big racial mix, a lot of chatter, the main addition is mobile phones. The street looks more or less the same, too - the park at the corner where we gathered greenery for our first-ever Advent wreath, wondering if we were breaking some irritating local regulation in doing so, the railway station, the Edwardian houses.

We talked. He was nice. We found, as so often happens, vague connections - his family was Army. I wished him and his family a happy future there together. Perhaps in thirty years he will be back, and with good memories.

I walked on to the station and caught the train to London Bridge, as of old, feeling odd. Thirty years.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A glorious Mass...

...at St Patrick's, Soho Square, and you will find it every Sunday at 11 am. The renovated church gleams with marble and gold, and a superb robed choir fills it with the traditional liturgical music of the Church which soars up to the great high roof...a good-sized congregation, mostly young, an inspiring sermon. And a bunch of young children were there, being prepared for First Communion - very sweet.

I was spending the day in London and we had originally planned to go to Mass at Westminster Cathedral, but opted for St Patrick's instead on a whim and were so very glad that we did. Although I have often been at St Patrick's for a weekday Mass, I had no idea that the full sung Mass on a Sunday was so magnificent, and will certainly be going again...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Come to...

....Coloma School, Croydon, on Feb 7th for a wonderful day. Your opportunity to learn Gregorian Chant, and to sing it at a Mass in the school chapel. A delicious lunch, and an inspiring talk, and all in good company. Send me a Comment to this Blog, marked NOT FOR PUBLICATION and including an email address to which I can reply to you (I cannot simply send a reply to your comment - you need to include an email address in the text of the comment).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"We live in...

... a culture where our marketers and entertainment media compulsively mislead us about the sustainability of youth; the indignity of old age; the avoidance of suffering; the denial of death; the nature of real beauty; the impermanence of every human love; the oppressiveness of children and family; the silliness of virtue; and the cynicism of religious faith. It’s a culture of fantasy, selfishness, sexual confusion and illness that we’ve brought upon ourselves. And we’ve done it by misusing the freedom that other -- and greater -- generations than our own worked for, bled for and bequeathed to our safe-keeping.

What have we done with that freedom? In whose service do we use it now?"

Read more on this here.

Home now, and reflecting...

...on America. Read here.

Ohio, South Carolina, Washington...

...a travelogue is not neccesarily interesting, and people who use their blogs to publicise their general activities are not perhaps the best bloggers. So Auntie will spare you her "yesterday I flew on to Newtown..." chatter. There are big issues being debated in America: I will long remember this January 2012 visit.

South Carolina is fortunate in having a fine priest, Fr Dwight Longenecker, among the local clergy and you can read his blog here. A couple of buses packed with young people went from Greenville, S. Carolina, to Washington for the March for Life and it was great to be able to travel with them. On the March (vast crowds, lots of rain, squelchy underfoot as we listened to speeches on the Washington Mall and the thousands of feet inevitably churned the lawns into mud) I saw a banner saying "Thank you, Pope Benedict XXVI for Anglicananorum Ceotibus" and it amused me. How many of Washington's politicians, I wondered, would know what the banner was saying? Are they fluent in Latin? And would the message, in any case, encourage them to help overturn Roe v. Wade? But I squelched over to investigate, and the banner was also carrying a pro-life message and was being held high by a cheery group of new members of the Ordinariate glowing with goodwill and joy. It was great to march alongside and swap news and share enthusiasm.

America is in the middle of a great heart-searching about aborting its unborn children, a heart-searching that has yet to take place in Europe.The modern-day United States of America, with all its very obvious faults, is a country where millions believe in God and pray to him daily.It is a country with a future.

After our section of the March had reached its destination at the Capitol building, I watched as the thousands and thousand and thousands behind us more marched too. Then I squelched mud into the carpet of the hotel, enjoyed a chat with some of the EWTN team covering the March, drank some hot chocolate, slept for a while and then headed for home, treading mud into the aeroplane and later, much later, into the London streets, and so home.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Birmingham...

...no, not our Birmingham, but the other one, the one in America. I'm here to do some work for EWTN, which is based in a small town on the city's outskirts. But by today the various projects had been completed, so I was able - with a number of EWTN staff - to join the big March for Life through the city, one of several across America over the next days to mark the anniversary of the notorious Roe. v.Wade court case which established the right to destroy American babies in the womb.

A good-sized crowd gathered in a local park, and after a welcome we had prayers led by a local Presbyterian pastor, and the solemn ringing of a bell to mark the millions of children killed by abortion in the years since 1972. Then a silent march through the wide city streets. People carried placards begging for better help for women, for respect for all human life, for an end to abortion. It was impressive, touching, and big.

America will see an end to abortion before we do in Britain: there is a sense of unity and purpose here as people gather for a greast march such as this, a seriousness matched by a sense of community and solidarity, goodwill between Christians of different denominations, and a feeling of youth and vigour as so many young families walk with measured pace.

In a few days I'll be taking part in the bug national March for Life in Washington. God bless America.

Friday, January 13, 2012

And here's another date....

...for your diary. Want to learn how to sing Gregorian Chant? Here's your opportunity. Find out more here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And where is Auntie...

...at the moment? Read here.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


another date for your diary.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11th at 6.30pm


a showing of the film "John Paul II". Coffee and snacks, suggested donation £5, which will go to the Friends of the Ordinariate.

This is a very special evening. The Rev Donald Minchew and a large group from his congregation are joining the ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM. This means that they will have to leave their beautiful church and worship somewhere new. This special film evening is an opportunity to show your support and welcome for this group as they take this major step in Christian Unity and faith.

St Michel's is a magnificent church, easy to find as it dominates this corner of West Croydon. It is right next to the bus station and a few minutes' walk from East Croydon and West Croydon railway stations.

NOTE: there is a showing of this film on Feb 3rd at the Hinsley Room adjoining Westminster Cathedral. The Hinsley Room is not huge and we will accomodate people on a first-come first-served basis. If you live in the southern suburbs of London you may find that this Croydon evening is betrter for you.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

An unexpectedly special evening...

...in Kennington. It's a corner of South London I know quite well, but I had never visited this particular church before.

Let me explain. There is an Ordinariate group in South London which worships at St Wilfrid's, Kennington, and I met their priest, Fr Christopher Pearson, through EWTN's Rome correspondent Joan Lewis when she was in London a year ago covering the foundation of the Ordinariate and the ordination of its first priests. Fr Christopher and I have subsequently met and talked a lot, and I was delighted to hear that his group would have a special visit from Bishop Peter Elliott on the latter's visit to Britain this month. Bishop Peter is a longstanding friend of our family, and we spoke on the 'phone when he arrived in London a couple of days ago - I was glad to assure him that I'd certainly be at St Wilfrid's for tonight's Mass.

Jamie is currently away for a few days. "Don't forget to get some chalk and say the prayer and write up the new date over our front door" he told me, as we always keep this Epiphany tradition in our home, having learned it from friends in Austria. "Of course" I told him pompously - but yesterday I couldn't find any chalk. I even hunted among the stones and earth in our garden and some neighbours' gardens - after all, this corner of England is all surely mostly chalky soil (white cliffs etc etc...)??? But no...I couldn't find any.

Then tonight, at St Wilfrid's, a beatiful Epiphany Mass in a glow of candles and mist of incense, with an inspiring sermon from Bishop Peter and some fine singing - and at the end, a beautiful formal Blessing of little sticks of chalk, and Father Christopher distributing it after Mass, with slips of paper on which the House-Blessing was printed, so that we could all bless our homes and chalk up the date.

After Mass we had a cheery gathering at a local pub and then I travelled home by train, and I have just come in after using the chalk to inscribe the year 2012 above our door and praying the House-Blessing as I stood by the lintel.

20 + C + M + B + 12

"God of Heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guiudance of a star, Bless this house and all who live here. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen."

Friday, January 06, 2012

"Dear Bishops...

...of England and Wales,

Please may we have our feast-days back? Today is the feast of the Epiphany, one of the most important celebrations in the Christmas season, marking the manifestation of Christ to the wider world. If I were in Scotland, or if I were an Anglican, I would find it marked in my calendar - but as I'm a Catholic in the London suburbs I have to pretend it doesn't really exist, as it has been officially arbitrariuly abolished by being merged into the nearest Sunday. No one asked for this to be done, and it has caused much hurt and resentment. We feel we have been robbed.

Please, as part of the New Evangelisation, may we have our proper feast-days back? We need to know we are part of the worldwide universal Church, and can celebrate our faith certainty and with joy. Celebrating feasts and seasons is something understood by everyone: it forges a bond with people of other faiths, links us to one another in neighbourliness, offers opportunities for bringing Christ into weekday life. Going to Mass on a feast-day is not a chore, it's not something we do with plodding steps and a sense of doom - it's something important,joyful, significant, it gives meaning and purpose, lifts our hearts, reminds us why we're here, why we were born.

Of course I know I can go to Mass today - like many other Londoners I often go to a weekday Mass, and it's an important part of life. But it won't be the official Epiphany Mass, and there will be a sense of muddle.

Please may we have the Epiphany back, on its proper day, so that we can celebrate Twelfth Night, linking the joy in church to the celebrations we have in our homes?

Dear Bishops, please may we have our feast-days back?

Yours sincerely and obediently,

Joanna Bogle."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Community of St John...

...has been in touch and has senbt information about an event for young people which looks terrific. Find out more here

"God accompanies man...."

I'm trying to place a quote. Blessed John Paul once said - or wrote - "God accompanies man on his journey through history". Can anyone trace this quote for me? I think it must have been connected with the marking of the Millenium. I quoted it to a friend and am now anxious to get it correct and give the source...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Auntie began...

...2012 at a rousing Evangelical service at a country Anglican church. The Cotswolds in great beauty, a large congregation with a great many families and children, "Hark the Herald Angels", good friends, an inspiring and challenging sermon, a sense of commitment for the year ahead.

In the afternoon, a good country walk, and then evening Mass at the Oxford Oratory, all warm and glowing with candles and light, and again packed - standing-room only as people poured in - and that sense of timelessness that comes with the Mass and the bell ringing out to tell the presence of God.

And so to the adventure of 2012. I have jotted down some ideas about what I think will happen during the year ahead. They include things that depress me. It's not a "wish list", in fact in a way it's a dread-list, although it includes some good things too. No, I'm, not going to publish it, but it will be interesting to note how accurate or otherwise I have been...

And meanwhile for an excellent analysis of the significant Catholic events of 2011 and some pointers for the future from a thoughtful Catholic writer, read here...

A New Year...

...and some dates for your diary:

Friday Feb 3rd. Hinsley Room, adjoining Westminster Cathedral. 6.15pm (note time). A showing of the film "John Paul 11". Coffee and snacks, suggested donation £5. Funds raised will go to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.Come early - it's a longish film. This is likely to be a popular event. Be on time - once the hall is filled we'll just have to turn people away.

Wednesday Feb 15th, 2.30pm . An Afternoon Tour of Westminster Cathedral. This is part of the Catholic History Walks programme sponsored by Miles Jesu/Continuity.