Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Working...

...at home on Monday afternoon, after a weekend away at Maryvale. The quiet busyness of suburbia, shopping done, housework completed,  Auntie tapping away at computer. Sudden telephone call from husband...some crucial papers left behind this morning...nightmare...hurtled the papers (vast stack of them) into suitcase, rushed to Lodnon, taxi from Waterloo, got the papers to the Middle Temple...

No point in returning home as I had a Catholic History Walk planned for the evening. Took laptop to a coffee-shop and settled down to continue work. Perhaps it was the sudden calm after a rush, or perhaps it was the work I was doing - which involved quoting some rather fine words by the then-Joseph Ratzinger - but, quite suddenly, and with an almost overwhelming feeling, I felt terribly, terribly sad. I realised how much we will all miss Pope Benedict, and what it will mean when this chapter closes in a few days' time.

I didn't want to start weeping in a coffee-shop and have a kindly passer-by try to help me, only to be told that I was crying for the Pope. I bent over my work and told my brain to organise itself properly. But things only got better when I trickled into Westminster Cathedral for evening Mass. The glorious timelessness of the liturgy - the "immemorial Mass", the voices responding, the lovely chant, the solid sound of people saying the Our Father, the  slow steady line for Communion, the sense of it all going right back to the Last Supper and to Calvary, and on through all the centuries, was hugely reassurring. And then afterwards, waiting in the cold on the Cathedral steps, at first it seemed as if too few people would turn up to make the History Walk worthwhile...but in the end we had a good group, and it was a wonderful evening. We walked the route to Parliament, saw the plaque marking where Cardinal Manning once lived, noted the history of the Green Coat Boy and the Grey Coat Hospital, enjoyed street-names like Abbey Orchard Street  and Dean Farrar Street (noted the link with Montgomery of Alamein in the latter)...and on to Parliament, and the Great Hall...

We talked much of Papa Benedict, of course, and of Bl JPII, over hot chocolate near Westminster Bridge as the walk ended. There was a sense of having shared a special evening as we hurried over the bridge for the suburban trains...


2 comments:

Richard said...

As a 'not yet Catholic' I must say how much Pope Benedict has inspired me, how deeply saddened I am at his decision to give up the Papacy and, also, how well you convey the sense of timelessness and continuity you feel in the Mass at Westminster Cathedral. It is that sense that draws me inexorably towards the Catholic Church.
Thank you,
Richard.

James C. said...

Feel no shame, I'm a young man and have been weeping off and on over the last couple of weeks! I have had this palpable sense of losing my father. It doesn't help that Benedict has been pope for my entire life as a Catholic. As a longtime reader and viewer of your programs on EWTN, I look forward to going on one of your history walks when I relocate to the UK soon!