Thursday, September 12, 2013

In the rain...

...a small group of pilgrims on a Catholic History Walk. I hurried to Westminster Cathedral, heavy suitcase already packed for Poland. Rushed to the bookshop next to the Cathedral - but it was already shut with a notice on the door :"CLOSED". I clasped my hands and made pleading signs with the girl at the till counting up the money. She smiled and  opened the door and I explained...just one copy of my book on Bl JP to Gatwick that very evening to fly to Poland...wanted so badly to give a copy to Cardinal Dziwicz...and the manager heard me and took mercy, taking one from the shelf for me and it will go on my account..."sort it out later, Joanna"... Into the Cathedral.  Mass in progress. An African priest among those concelebrating: Fr J, who has been working at this parish in the suburbs and had expressed interest in walking along the paths of  England's Catholic history before returning to Uganda at the end of this week...

As we stood in the wet piazza beneath Fr J's umbrella with me explaining the history of the Cathedral, and beginning on the saga of the English Church (St Augustine...Saxons, Normans and on to Henry VIII and all that) Canon Christopher came out from the Cathedral to greet us and in next to no time he and Fr J were chatting in some African language (Fr former Army)...and a whole lot of history came together, England and armies and Commonwealth and more...

Later, the Walk under way, into the Great Hall at Westminster, and we stood at the plaque marking the trial in that place of St Thomas More, and thought too of St Edmund Campion and the others...and of centuries rolling on and  Pope Benedict in 2010 speaking there to a massed gathering of men and women in our national life. Faith and reason, the former illuminating the latter, a message of hope and a promise for a future way...

"But it looks so like a church!" so many people say when they get into the Central Lobby of Parliament. Of course it does: Barry and Pugin and gothic revival, the four saints of the British isles in glittering mosaic...and it all goes back to the Abbey just opposite, and the Faith that shaped this land and you can't understand our history without grasping that...

As we made our farewells at Westminster Tube station, Fr J. prayed and blessed me, invoking God's protection and that of the angels and saints. It felt so right standing there, unembarrassed, receiving a blessing on a London pavement.

And then Victoria station, and the night train to Gatwick, and meeting Clare, my co-worker on the Poland project. The next morning an early start for the flight to Krakow. And there, this afternoon, I gave the book to Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwicz as we sat talking about Blessed John Paul...but that's another story, and one that I'll write up tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Auntie,

Life is so exciting in Portsmouth Diocese with Bishop Egan.

He's coming to the Ordinariate church of St Agatha's, Portsmouth, (a stone's throw from the RC Cathedral) to celebrate a:

Festival of Our Lady of Walsingham

Solemn High Mass and Procession on Saturday 28th September 2013, 11 am. Celebrant: the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt. Revd. Philip Egan.

Kleine Orgelmesse (Little Organ Mass) - Haydn - sung by the Southampton Chamber Choir.

Ample parking available.

Would you be so kind to advertise this marvellous event?
If anyone can't attend they are welcome to join us for High Mass, every Sunday at 11am.

I'd attach some photos but don't think I'm able to. However, many can be found on Google images.

Thank you and God bless.