...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."