Wednesday, May 30, 2012
...on same-sex marriage, at which the team led by CATHOLIC VOICES acquitted itself well. A general feeling of vigour and confidence among the (mostly young) RCs who were there in large numbers. On the whole, however, as on other occasions connected with this depressing subject, I left feeling...well..depressed. No vote was taken at the end. The chairman asked if anyone present had changed his or her mind as a result of the debate, and no one had. The side promoting same-sex marriage did not offer an intellectually grounded or well-reasoned approach, but rested on a general appeal to people's desire not to allow any form of discrimination. As we approach the Queen's Diamond Jubilee a survey shows that most people in Britain think that we are, in general and indefinably, in a worse state than we were 60 years ago. This despite the great advances in health and dental care, in longevity, in acquisition of consumer goods and opportunities for holidays and sunbathing and travcelling and eating great quantities of food. It is dreadfully sad to be living in a country where the human realities of marriage and the transmission of life, a sense of joy and hope in the arrival of the next generation, and a belief in the culture and values bequeathed to us by the past, are all denigrated. Of course we are sad. The Queen's own pleas for an honouring of Christ's message each Christmas, the evident sincerity of her own faith, echo this. This is a poignant Jubilee.
Monday, May 28, 2012
...(see below) have changed over the years. These days, it's all barbeques and chilled wine, and going on until late. Back in the 1970s I was a Borough Councillor (London Borough of Sutton, where I grew up) and was asked to give out the prizes and make the speech etc at a street party for the Queen's Silver Jubilee: at that time it was still tea and orange squash and sandwiches and cakes and finished at 5pm. A chap produced a guitar and we sang "God save the Queen" and I called for three hearty cheers for HM the Queen and urged that we make them so loud that she'd hear them at Buckingham Palace. That went down well, so I repeated it at the Golden Jubilee street party held locally ten years ago...
...for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In the West Country, every village fluttering with Union Jack flags and red-white-and-blue bunting. London draped in ditto. In our suburb, flags and bunting in the High Street, Jubilee paper hats, china mugs, towels, whistles, badges, bags, in shops and supermarkets. There is to be a Street Party in our road on the Monday. I've rather rashly promised to organise a Quiz. I did one with a fellow-resident ten years ago for the Golden Jubilee: people formed into teams and answered the questions - all on British history, dates, royal anecdotes etc. The girl with whom I organised it all lived a few doors up from us, and we'd chat from time to time but then lost touch...then suddenly a few months ago we found ourselves greeting one another formally at the Sign of Peace at Mass! She was accompanied by a small boy - since the Golden Jubilee, she'd married, moved, and here she was at Mass with her child!
...in London, so looking ahead to more pleasant things. The Ordinariate of OUr Lady of Walsingham flourishes: news of latest ordinations here. Also more details on the summer pilgrimage. The Ordinariate News Service reports: Blessed John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage 9th - 12th August 2012 The Ordinariate is taking part in the Blessed John Paul II walking pilgrimage to Walsingham for the New Evangelisation in England & Wales. The 50 mile pilgrimage starts with Mass in the ruins of the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds and concludes at the Sunday Mass in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Accommodation and food are provided as is transportation each day for luggage. Morning & Evening Prayer is sung each day and Mass is celebrated en route with prayers, hymns, rosary and talks as the pilgrims walk along. The cost is £55 per person. You can book in to this pilgrimage here
Sunday, May 27, 2012
...of a sizzling Sunday, I travelled home from a family gathering in the West Country. Stopped off for Mass in a church I will refrain from naming-and-shaming because it had quite the silliest and most ghastly music I have heard at Mass for a long time: a thumpy-thump piano and a truly dreadful choir of middle-aged ladies with microphones, and they sang...I am not making this up and only wish I were - "Shine, Jesus Shine" and a lady in front of me started to clap and sway while her two teenage sons squirmed with horror. THIS IS THE WAY TO STOP PEOPLE GOING TO MASS. Ugh, ugh. And earlier we'd had a silly thump-thump song at Communion and another similar horror at the Offertory. The priest, seemingly oblivious, celebrated Mass with quiet dignity amid this rubbish, the words of the Liturgy serenely sane in the midst of the mess. But the liturgy seemed lost in the drivel: the ladies with microphones stood at one side facing us as if performing at an old-fashioned glee-club, with undertones of Joyce Grenfell. As soon as I could, I fled.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
...MUST see the superb CATHOLICISM series produced by Fr Robert Barron...it's a visual feast and it takes you through the great and magnificent truths of the Faith while walking you through some of the great cathedrals, shrines, and pilgrimage-places of the world and accompanied by some of the most glorious music....the latest church to offer this course is this one, which is 20 minutes from LOndon (Waterloo) and a wonderful parish with a warm welcome. (While at the church, take a moment to enjoy the enchanting little Mary Garden surrounding her statue...find out a bit more about it here)
Monday, May 21, 2012
...the CTS (see post below) has just produced a delightful little handbook on "Being a parent today". It is charming, practical, easy to read and with much wisdom. Drawing on the experiences of a range of parents, it offers ideas on "children, faith, and family life". It's produced in association with the TenTen Theatre. This is a superb drama group which has presented some extraordinarily good productions in recent years, tackling issues that are of interest to today's families. I was part of a spellbound audience that watched one year ago on the theme of street violence: it was powerful and unforgettable. I hugely recommend TenTen.
...of the Catholic Truth Society in Vauxhall, South London. The CTS sponsors the annual Schools Religious Eucation Project run by the Association of Catholic Women, and today I had the agreeable task of choosing books from their excellent catlogue as prizes. We need a good many books, as we have some really excellent work sent in from children at Catholic primary schools acroiss Britain. In addition to the main prizewinners, there are a number of runner-up prizes to be awarded...BTW, if you haven't already done so, you should treat yourself and get a beautiful new CTS Missal. Beautiful bound with ribbon markers and glorious illustrations from gems of Medieval art, a pleasure to use and handle, with the full Latin and English side-by-side - it's a joy. I have a Sunday Missal and am relishing using it. There is also a Daily Missal, which today I examined with great delight while at the CTS. These are beautiful books that are not only practical and good to use, but will become treasured over the years.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
...and I went to Mass at the Church of the Precious Blood at London Bridge, where an Ordinariate group has its base. They join with the longstanding parish for the 11am Mass. Like all RC parishes in England and Wales, we had the Mass for the Ascension today. DEAR BISHOPS: PLEASE CAN WE HAVE OUR PROPER FEAST-DAYS BACK? It's so absurd. Everything feels muddled. It is time to end this experiment of moving certain feast-days to the nearest Sunday. It has caused confusion, irritation, and annoyance without achieving anything.
...organised by the Association of Catholic Women to meet ladies of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. We had a delicious tea and much, much talk.A most useful as well an enjoyable afternoon.It was a particular pleasure to have the Sisters of the Ordinariate with us. We finished the day with a visit to the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, and one of the Sisters led us in prayer.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
...may be coming for Christians. The Holy Father, speaking to bishops on an ad limina visit this week: "with the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfilment and to the welfare of society as a whole.”
...and unforgettable NIGHT OF WITNESS organised by Aid to the Church in Need at Westminster to pray for all who are persecuted for their Christian faith. Watch the highlights here. Things began with a beautiful Mass in a packed Westminster Cathedral: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi preached and a large number of priests concelebrated with Bishop Declan Lang, and then the vast crowds spilled out into the piazza for a rally with speeches, music, dance, and prayer that sent out a powerful and very moving message. We were welcomed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and speakers included Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt, Archbishop Coutts,and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali former Anglican Bishop of Rochester.There was music from the West End Gospel Choir and from the group Ooberfuse which sang at World Youth Day. On a great screen we watched news features about the abuse and cruelties suffered by Christians in Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, and elsewhere. As the rally drew to its climax, a team from the British Pakistani Christian Association carried a great cross around the piazza and we all slowly followed along behind, flowing into the cathedral where a candlelit Vigil of Prayer was held. This was possibly the most moving part of the whole event: we prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary , and as each Mystery was announced, a candle was lit and a particular victim or group of victims of persecution was commemorated. Thus we commemorated Fr Ragheed Ganni from Iraq and Shabbaz Bhatti from Pakistan, and the victims of a Christmas Day church bombing in Nigeria...at each Mystery, the Our Father was prayed in a different language (Urdu, Aramaic...) and then the congregation prayed the familiar Hail Marys in English. A magnificent and powerful event: no one who was there will ever forget it.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Auntie adds her voice in support of this Christian blogger whose promotion of the Coalition for Marriage has brought him extraordinary harassment. Auntie fully supports the Coalition for Marriage, urges readers to support it, and prayerfully supports all who are working to uphold marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman.
Here is an extract from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I intend to publish this and other extracts on my Blog from time to time especially as they are relevant to public debate and current issues. ...................................................................... FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
...telephones from a Catholic radio station, to interview me about my book on Blessed John Paul the Great. So American readewrs of this blog may have heard me on the (surely dreadfully-named?)"Son Rise show". BTW you can now get the book from ACN, which means that every copy you buy helps to raise funds for hard-pressed Christians in various prts of the world where they are suffering...
...is crucial. Pope Benedict affirmed this speaking to the Diplomatic Corps at the start of this year,noting that religious freedom is "the first of human rights, for it expresses the most fundamental reality of the person." He said that "religious freedom should be understood not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one's own choices in accordance with truth." And this freedom is widely under attack. Lord (David) Alton chaired a meeting in Parliament yesterday organised with Aid to the Church in Need, to draw attention to the plight of Christians in Pakistan and in Egypt. Bishop Joseph Coutts of Pakistan spoke about how Christians are bullied at work because of their faith - in rural areas they may be denied access to wells because they are deemed to be "dirty", and they are unable to get the educational opportunities they need because they are told that they should become Moslem in order to fit in. Pakistan was never envisaged as a fully Islamic state - the idea of true religious freedom and tolerance was firmly upheld by the nation's founder, Jinnah, back in the 1940s. But now a new form of militant Islamicism has taken hold and Christians cannot affirm and live their faith peacefully alongside their neighbours without fear. The Second Vatican Council's declaration Dignitatis Humanae forcefully emphasises religious freedom:"The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right." Christians are not asking for privileges, but rights. Join ACN and other defenders of religious freedom tomorrow, May 17th, at Westminster Cathedral piazza, 5pm This is your chance to make a stand. Come, and bring your friends. More info here.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
...on an essay on Ecclesiology. Topic is the image of the Church as a Bride. Reading Ratzinger's Daughter Zion. "Marriage is the form of the mutual relationship between husband and wife that results from the covenant, the fundamental human relationship on which all human history is based." Bridegroom and Bride: Christ and his Church. Male and female.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ My dear father-in-law, Brigadier Bruce Lockhart Bogle, died yesterday, aged 90. A greatly beloved father, grandfather, husband, and head of the family. We honour and cherish his memory, and are so grateful for his long life and for all that he gave us. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This Blog will not be published for the next few days.
...there is a wonderful community of Dominican sisters. Nearest station is Brockenhurst (an hour or so from London Waterloo) and Sister Hyancinthe met us there and drove us through glorious woods and meadows, with New Forest ponies and donkeys grazing ("they often go out on to the road - cause huge traffic delays and muddles"), to the big house (Edwardian? late Victorian?) with its fine new chapel. I was accompanying Fr Christopher Pearson of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and he concelebrated the Mass with the community's own chaplain, while birds added a chorus from the meadows beyond the wide clear windows and the sisters in their white habits filled the choir-stalls beneath the great oak beams of the roof. We were there to discuss plans for the annual John Paul Pilgrimage for the New Evangelisation - it's a walking pilgrimage from Bury St Edmunds to Walsingham. Find out more and book in! It lasts over 3 days - be prepared to do some good walking, as you cover 20 miles a day for the first two days, and then another 15 or so on the last lap to Walsingham. Find out more from the Sisters: contact them here. The pilgrimage begins with a Mass in the ruins of the old abbey at Bury St Edmunds...that would also be a wonderful event for a parish to attend as a day-trip...
...about Blessed John Paul the Great at various groups and conferences and meetings. Most recent was a talk to to the boys of FAITH Club at the John Fisher School, Purley. We have strong family associations with this school and it was a very special thing to be walking through the familiar gates and greeting the boys in their familiar blue blazers with the golden Fisher badge... and it was good to be talking about the great John Paul to a members of a new generation to whom he is already a hero-figure and part of Catholic culture...by long tradition, FAITH meetings at the Fisher conclude with substantial quantities of tea and buttered toast, and as I munched I remembered - and Dan Cooper, who runs the FAITH Club, told the current members - how my mother had for years presided at the teapot and toaster, passing round plates stacked high with delicious slices... Later in the evening, a happy time with Dan accompanying me on my usual evening time with my mother...talks, memories, the strength of the faith and of long and valued friendship...
Monday, May 07, 2012
...a brave woman and an inspiration to a generation, a leader in the fight to defend unborn children,has died. May God reward her for her dedication to a noble cause and for the leadership that she gave to so many of us. Phyllis gathered a team of younger people around her in the pro-life cause in the 1970s and 80s, and we all learned so much from her. She was courageous, hard-working, and professional,and an excellent journalist and communicator, working with skill, enthusiasm and good humour under pressure. Her love and concern for unborn babies drove her and this, combined with her Christian faith, made her some one to whom we looked with admiration and even awe. Britain is in her debt: she understood the great moral issues of our era and sought to make a better future. Just a short while ago, through unusual circumstances, I met Phyllis and her husband Jerry in a London hospital while visiting another friend...it had been a long time - too long - since our last meeting and I now cherish the time we had together, to talk, and to embrace. David (Lord) Alton writes:"For half a century Phyllis has been an indefatigable champion of the unborn child and for the sanctity of human life. Her tireless efforts, right up to her final illness and last days, serve as an inspiration to the next generation. She was an extraordinarily talented woman, utterly dedicated, highly articulate, politically shrewd and the possessor of an encyclopedic memory. Her early training as a Fleet Street journalist never left her short of things to say. Her Christian faith and her beloved husband, Jerry, kept her strong throughout years of having to fight endless battles against abortion, embryo experimentation, human cloning and euthanasia. Her name deserves to be associated with some of the great women who have given their lives to great causes - Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Cicely Saunders, Mother Teresa and Sue Ryder."
Sunday, May 06, 2012
...on a strikingly cold May Sunday. JB leading a Catholic History Walk that took us around Chelsea,honouring St Thomas More and thus telling the story of Henry VII and the frail sickly Prince Arthur and young Princess Catherine of Aragon and her subsequent marriage to Henry VIII and all that followed... Henry VIII's book on the Seven Sacraments is perhaps a classic example of a book that while attempting to defend doctrine somehow dramatically fails the Church. It's a mistake that today's self-proclaimed "Catholic traditionalists" also too often make. Prof Jack Scarisbrick described the book once in a lecture at Maryvale as "an unloving book" and he was right... In the end, St Thomas More did something far greater and nobler and of more lasting benefit to the Church with his heroic witness that culminated in martyrdom on Henry's orders on Tower Hill... We stood where Thomas More once lived, and walked along by the Thames to Chelsea Old Church where his first wife Jane has her tomb in a side-chapel where he had planned that he too would one day be buried. The church is not quite the one that More knew - Luftwaffe bombers removed most of that - but the More chantry was rebuilt from the ruins and today's church also includes a number of other retrieved features of the original building. Our walk finished at Allen Hall, the seminary for the diocese of Westminster. In what is now an annual tradition, we were welcomed to tea and a team of seminarians took groups around the building explaining its associations with Thomas More (it stands on the site of his garden) and with the later hero martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Rector, his team, and the students made us really welcome. We gave three hearty cheers for the students - it made a very rousing sound as we were a good-sized group and enjoying our tea after the cold walk! - and it is really good to meet them and to see the future of the Church in their strength and faith. We finished with Evening Prayer and Benediction in the chapel, the strong voices of the young men singing out the psalms and the Tantum Ergo...
Saturday, May 05, 2012
...and Father Robert Barron from the USA speaking about his evangelisation project which carries that name. He was at St Patrick's Soho Square and long beforehand a queue was forming outside the church. The place was absolutely packed, people sitting on the floor, cramming the gallery and squeezing in at the back. Obviously it was mostly young people, but some of us oldies were there too, and I met various friends. The Catholicism Project is excellent - a set of DVDs with the Faith being explained and taught in a glorious pilgrimage through some of the world's great Christian places of faith and pilgrimage - Namugongo in Uganda where the young martyrs died in the 1880s and where thousands now flock to honour their memory, Chartres Cathedral, Calcutta where Mother Teresa's nuns labour radiantly in the slums, the Holy Land, Notre Dame in Paris, Lourdes where vast crowds of pilgrims hold glowing candles aloft...
Friday, May 04, 2012
...at night, with people milling about, and a group of us making our way to the London Centre of Notre Dame University, which is just near the Square. This is where the Catholic Voices Academy meets, and the topic for the evening was feminism and the role of women in the Church. I am not sure that I did very well: I think I am too much conditioned by having to oppose the passionate anti-Church feminist campaigners of the 1980s and 90s. It was comparatively easy to "score off" against them in debates, but it didn't neccessarily win over the more neutral people who were listening in. Thus today there are young Catholics who know the feminist rhetoric, know that there are some answers to it, but do not find that the traditional Catholic teachings on this subject win hearts or minds. They seek ways to put the teachings more effectively - they like Bl John Paul's Mulieris Dignitatem and they like Pope Benedict's assumption that women can and should hold positions of influence in the Church, but they find it hard to give convincing sound-bite-sized arguments for the male priesthood, partly because they recognise that this requires a greater degree of genuine respect for the Christian faith than many of their listeners are prepared to give. They operate in a world where savage denunciation of Christianity is common - a tough world. They also know that there are many people who are genuinely seeking a way forward and who have been wounded by the messy break-up of families and relationships and who need love and help. I think my confident assertion about the Church valuing and honouring women - all those women saints, the central role of Mary etc - did not sound as convincing as they would have liked, and the bridegroom/bride nuptial reality of priesthood and Church is a deep mystery which can sound trite unless it is allowed to be discussed properly.
...and angry photocopied brochure arrives in the post, lots of small print and odd little drawings. It's produced by a lady in Scotland who is very angry indeed about things in the Church, and very much dislikes Auntie Joanna. The brochure opens with a big tirade partly aimed at me. But the poor lady who writes it dislikes a lot of other people too, and emphasises throughout that this is because she is a Catholic who is responsible for defending traditional and true Catholicism against people like...well...JB among others. It was kind of her to send me the brochure but I am not very clear what her aim was in doing so. In any case, I have read it, and have now returned it with good wishes and thanks.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
...has been under fire again. The Tablet carries a criticism of the group for having invited a woman called Joanna Bogle to talk about the topic of women and the Church. The line is that JB is ignorant of women's needs and problems: the lady theology lecturer making these comments could contact me if she likes as it might be useful to talk. In any case, undeterred, CV - with which I have been involved for some while - will be running its Academy session tomorrow night in London, with speakers Sara de Nordwall and JB. Sara was recently on BBC Radio Woman's Hour and you can hear her here (it's the March 30th one). We'll be looking at a range of issues. The priesthood will be among them. Auntie has discussed this issue a lot, eg here...
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
...helping with envelopes for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, sending out info,inviting support etc. The Holy Father has just sent a generous donation. This is a project very close to his heart. Which is nice, as it's close to Auntie's heart too. Good to know that one is going along in the same direction... You can read Auntie in The Portal, the Ordinariate's on-line magazine. Click here and enjoy...