Saturday, April 29, 2017

CATHOLIC HISTORY WALKS...

...start the new Summer Season in May.

SOME DATES:


FRIDAY MAY 5th,     Chelsea - walking in the footsteps of St Thomas More. Meet 2pm on the steps of the Church of Our Most holy redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row SW3

SUNDAY May 21st - Discovering Southwark. Meet 3pm at  the main door of
St George's Cathedral, Soiuthwark. Nearest tube: WATERLOO or LAMBETH NORTH


FRIDAY  June 2nd, Discovering Southwark. Meet 6pm (NOTE TIME)  at the main door of St George's Cathedral Southwark


WEDNESDAY June 14th, THE CITY. Meet 2pm on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

SUNDAY JUNE 25th THE MARTYRS' WALK, Meet 1.30pm in the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. We will walk to Tyburn, stopping at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, SS Anselm and Cecilia in Kingsway, and St Patrick's, Soho.  At Tyburn we will have Benediction, and Tea (approx 4.30pm)

Friday, April 28, 2017

This weekend...

...off to Yorkshire, to speak to the Catholic students at the University of Hull...

Meanwhile, this afternoon (Friday) I am leading a tour around this Catholic cathedral...

Been reading this and finding it make a good point.

Lunched with a young friend who has been active with this group

Spent much of this week in the archives at this University, deep in research. It is a bit claustrophobic sifting through old papers in the archive-room  - though I am impressed w. the cataloging and the papers are in excellent order...and make fascinating reading. I am loving the whole project of working on this History. But one can  then take a breather, enjoy a walk around the lovely grounds, and then head for the Senior Common Room to work quietly amid 19th-century panelling and impressive portraits...or get some tea in the large Refectory crammed with chattering students in baseball caps and ripped jeans all tucking in to burgers and chips at 4.30pm.

...on on the first Sunday in May we'll be having a May Procession down along the Borough High Street at London Bridge with this church.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Developing the thought of St John Paul...

EVENINGS OF FAITH...

All welcome...

The Challoner Room, 24 Golden Square London W1F 9JR

Tuesday 9 May: Fides et Ratio: The need for a new synthesis of faith & reason Fr Tim Finigan

Tuesday 23 May: Evangelium Vitae: Why is the human person unique? Joanna Bogle

Tuesday 6 June: Mulieris Dignitatem: Male and female in a ‘gender-neutral’ society Ryan Day & Kerri Lenartowick

 Tuesday 20 June: Theology of the body: Developing a fresh perspective Fr Nick Welsh

 Tuesday 4 July: Faith: Britain’s intellectual, evangelical New Ecclesial Movement Julie Mersey


 7:00 pm The Challoner Room, Basement, 24 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JR Tube: Piccadilly Pizza & wine / juice served


More info:   www.faith.org.uk/events/evenings-of-faith

...and here's what happened...

....(see below, re Missing Bus Pass)....

I took part in NIGHT FEVER in Soho...warm spring evening, and  young people praying and singing in a church glittering with candles - and fanning out across Soho Square and the surrounding streets carrying lanterns to invite people in. It's simple - you just ask "Would you like to come in and light a candle?"  and proffer a tea-light. And they mostly say "No, I'm all right thanks" and move on.  But then they sometimes suddenly turn back and say "Oh...well...all right..." and walk into the church tentatively after you... and at the sanctuary you just gesture towards all the glowing candles there, and they take their own small tea-light and kneel down and light it...

Amazing encounters. One man knelt there silently and then whispered "Thank you for this experience". A group of partygoers  knelt together, arms linked in a sort of communual hug.  .A middle-aged couple started to say they were too busy but then changed their minds and came in together , stayed for quite a while, and went out with  warm smiles and thanks.  One girl in an extremely short tight skirt asked if it was OK for her to come in - "I don't think I'm, like, wearing, like...enough..." - which was, like,  sort of true...but God reads hearts and knows about daft fashions, so she came in...

The candles glow in their hundreds along by the  marble altar rails.  Priests hear confessions in the confessionals and in the side-chapels. Lanterns line the main aisle and are all around the porch welcoming people in.  And as things draw to a close as a late hour approaches, a full church joins in Compline  "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord...."  and then Benediction...

One goes home in a quiet glow. The last train trundled out to the suburbs and I caught a taxi at the station...

Next morning, ready to return to St P's for Divine Mercy Sunday, I couldn't find my bus pass. Always keep in the same place. Infuriating.  The small wallet also included other travel documents needed for the coming week.  Hurried to buy a new pass, cross at wasted money, worried about arrangements for the rest of the week...and somehow it felt all wrong that such a special evening had resulted in something so irritatingly, infuriatingly, tiresome...

And then Divine Mercy Sunday, a beautiful Mass, lunch with good friends, the Divine Mercy devotions at 3pm...and home to find an email waiting  from a kind person who had contacted me via my Blog (see below...)


















Sunday, April 23, 2017

THANK YOU!!!!!

...to the wonderful, kind person who has just contacted me via this blog, who found my Travelcard Pass in a taxi  and is handing it in at the local station!!!

THIS IS PROOF THAT PEOPLE ARE KIND AND GOOD!!!

Deo Gratias!!!

And - if you want to do so - please send me another Comment, with an email address at which I can reach you! (I cannot contact you via  Comment) just so that I can send you my heartfelt thanks.

I AM SO GRATEFUL!!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY...

...is coming up...the Feast instituted by St John Paul the Great...who is sort of our family patron saint. A pic of my husband with him is on the shelf beside me as I write this.   J.  was organiser of the big 1990 Congress for the Family here in Britain and went with other Family Congress leaders to meet St JP in Rome. St JP gave him a rosary for me - and J. asked him to sign a Bible  for us, which  despite some finger-wagging from Monsignori (you are not really meant to ask a Pope to do that, out of the blue) beloved John Paul signed with a firm hand. It is now among our most treasured possessions - and I used it for my theology studies.  J. points out that it is actually also, following St JP's canonisation, officially now  a Second Class Relic!



Rather touching....

...to read this news....

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

And by the sea...

...in these Eastertide days...

I am visiting a dear elderly relative  - and talking and laughing together over simnel cake and family albums and  news and chocolate eggs.  And I'm walking by the sea and catching up on some writing., And, of course, reading.

Archbishop Chaput's  Strangers in a Strange Land is a  challenging, worrying and important  book. It's a must-read.
  And this lecture takes up the same theme.

It all spurs one on to be part of the what-happens-next chapter of the Christian story...this is no time for the faint-hearted...


...and from Rome...

...a friend who works as a translator (German/Italian/English) sends this interview, with insights into the birthday celebrations of beloved Papa Emeritus Benedict...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter...

...and glorious bells pealing out into the sunshine of an April morning...

We took part in the Easter Vigil here - the Easter fire, the full drama of the story from Genesis onwards, glittering candles, glorious music, a packed church...  the final hearty hymn ringing with Alleluias, joyful greetings in the garden and the parish priest distributing chocolate eggs...

This morning, cheery faces painted on to breakfast eggs, children in new clothes for Easter morning Mass, eggs to be hunted in the garden, a multi-generation family lunch...

Alleluia!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

...and so towards Easter...

...and Holy Saturday is always a day of waiting, of preparation...

Every year, as you get older, Holy Week means more.

The church with the evening light of Maundy Thursday, and the priest  - who all year teaches and counsels, and sometimes chides, and  feeds us with the Bread of Life, and is a friend and  helper - kneels and washes people's feet...it is suddenly and quietly moving.

Then the morning of Good Friday, and I joined the group from this church, making the Stations of the Cross around Soho. The young men carry a great heavy wooden Cross, and we follow, singing. We kneel in the street and listen to a meditation for each  Station: "We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee, because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world." We  give out palm crosses - at one stage we began to run out but a quick mobile-phone call brought fresh supplies, and Fr A. whipped out a flask of holy water and blessed them as we stood on a street corner. Most people take the cross gratefully, many say "Thank you"  a few say "God bless you". Some kiss the cross. A tiny number refuse saying "I'm not religious". A few just look puzzled but take the cross anyway and then their eyes follow us as we move on...

At one point we met another Christian group - Pentecostals, singing and praying -  and they gave us warm applause.  Fr A. and the Pentecostal leader exchanged a great hug.

Then joining the crowd of thousands in Trafalgar square for the Passion Play...

...and on to this church for 3pm...and the drama of it, and the silence as we all depart at the end and make our way home...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Some nice pix...

...of the Royal Maundy, being celebrated today, here

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

...and so to Maundy Thursday.

When I was a child I thought it was "mourn-day" Thursday, and that we were mourning the death of Christ on the Cross...

Maundy of course refers to the  Command  that Christ gave on this day, the command that we love one anther...

There will be Maundy Masses across Britain and I will be at one of them, witnessing the washing of feet that teaches us about this Command, and hearing the words at the Consecration at Mass: "On the night he was betrayed - that is, tonight..."

HM the Queen will be distributing Maundy Money as monarchs in Britain have been doing for over a thousand years.

On Good Friday I'll be joining thousands of people in Trafalgar Square for this  before going on to the 3pm devotions in church.




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

For the CHRISM MASS....

...today at Westminster, some three thousand people crammed into the Cathedral, every corner and side-chapel filled, people sitting on the marble steps of St Andrew's and St Patrick's and St Paul's and the other chapels, and crowded into the back and along the aisles.  As has now become a tradition, members of the Association of Catholic Women gather in the piazza to hand out small thank-you cards to the priests as they arrive: it's lovely being able to greet so many clergy friends. Then when the clergy procession makes its way up from Ambrosden Avenue and in through the great doors, we hold up a placard saying THANK YOU TO OUR PRIESTS. (We'll be doing this again tomorrow at the Southwark Chrism Mass at St George's Cathedral...in fact, that's actually where the tradition began, something like ten or twelve years ago now...).

I love the prayers of the Chrism Mass, which speak about the oil of chrism, which is olive oil...and mentions the dove bringing back the olive branch as the flood receded...

Because of the huge crowds in the Cathedral I usually find a corner right at the back, on the step of the Chapel of St Augustine, next to the tomb of Bishop Richard Challoner. The Cathedral's accoustics are excellent: you can hear every word of the Mass and all the glorious music wherever you are - whether kneeling on the floor in an aisle or at a prie-dieu in one of the chapels, or in a proper place in the nave.  It was moving hearing the strong roar of the men's voices as the priests all reaffirmed their promises.  There seemed to be more priests than ever this year - there were  two or thee hundred of them and we ran out of thank-you cards.

Westminster Cathedral is a place that means a lot to people.A priest from an African country arrived as we were standing in the piazza before Mass. he knelt down and kissed the Cathedral steps, saying that he felt this to be a place of pilgrimage...

Auntie writes about prisoners...

...and you can read it here...

Monday, April 10, 2017

I'm writing this in Southwark Street...

...where, all the way from Waterloo, police in their best uniforms and wearing white gloves, and medals as appropriate, are lining the road to pay their respects as the cortege of the policeman murdered in the recent Westminster attack is taken to the Anglican cathedral at London Bridge for the funeral. People are gathering...crowds along Southwark Street and into the Borough High Street.. I will be at the 1.05pm Mass at Pr. Blood Church nearby, and stopped to collect emails and do some other work....the scene from this coffee-shop where I always work is so different today....

And the Register in America has published this piece by Auntie....

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday...

...and a great procession, choristers singing Pueri Hebraeorum, altar servers, clergy, Cardinal in cope and mitre, a great concourse of the faithful with palm branches, made its way up towards Victoria Street and across the great piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral...we joined its great surge and into the Cathedral for a most glorious Palm Sunday Mass. The Passion was chanted from the high marble pulpit with the choir singing the crowd parts from the apse, the Cardinal preached reminding us of the significance of various aspects of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and the vast congregation seemed to fill every corner...

I was with a family of American visitors, charged with showing them around London, and this magnificent Mass was the highlight of the day. We walked on down to the river, and in due course  by train to Windsor - hot, crowded, with long queues to get into the Castle, but worth the trip - and as the day ended, talked agreeably over many things, discussing history, language, books...


Saturday, April 08, 2017

and more importantly...

...this is well worth reading.

pic of Auntie Joanna with a griffin...

...see here.  (18th century ironwork staircase, lovely garden, spingtime day, Auntie in her element).

Friday, April 07, 2017

Looking ahead to Holy Week...

...and pondering the mystery of suffering, and how to answer  the questions about God and mercy and pain and WHY...I found this useful...

In London...

...with spring sunshine, and vast crowds packing out Westminster Bridge  - the big tourist season beginning.

I was heading for the CTS bookshop in Westminster Cathedral piazza where I recorded a podcast about Lent and Easter customs. You can listen to it here...

...and on Saturday (April 8th) I return, to give a Bookshop Talk on the same subject. Meet me there at 12.30pm. Nearest Tube is Victoria.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A kind gift....

...of a voucher, from an American friend, means I can indulge in some books. I have treated myself to  this book    which I am about to start reading....and have also ordered Archbishop Chaput's Strangers in a Strange Land...

Spent today with Clare Anderson, longtime friend and co-author with me of this book. While in the USA recently she was invited on radio to discuss it, and to explore St John Paul's "Lublin Thomism"...

The anniversary of the death of St John Paul the Great fell this week, and brought back memories...


Monday, April 03, 2017

To Oxford...

...and the pleasure of a delicious talkative lunch with a young Dominican friend at Blackfriars in the sunny garden. Later, when I needed to check some emails I was offered a desk in the library...peaceful, scholarly, agreeable...

On to a happy family evening with young relatives. Enormous fun.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Tower of London at night...

...and a group of teenage boys on a night walk. This is a Catholic youth group, and we walked around the Tower, along the route by the moat, and talked battles and Vikings, fort and prison, heroes and martyrs, John Fisher and Edmund Campion and John Gerard and courage ...we enjoyed the river and the majestic Tower Bridge and talked Navy and Empire and ships bringing unknown foods like tea and lemons and spices and tangerines...we talked history and wars and blood-red poppies filling the moat and a nation's memories...and we finished at Tower Hill and Thomas More and Fr Hugh led us in prayer...




Saturday, April 01, 2017

...and Auntie notes an important forthcoming anniversary...

...read about it here....

Another wise bishop...

...making a sensible comment on Amoris Laetitiae  and setting the matter straight.  DG

And the latest issue of THE PORTAL...

....the on-line magazine of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, is just published. Auntie has a feature about the High Church traditions of Southwark....read here...

Friday, March 31, 2017

...and so to the prison...

...where I do a bit of help w. catechetics. The main thing is that we are all part of the Church: the Confirmation Mass in the prison will be the same Mass as in any suburban church, and the Bishop will use the oils that have been blessed at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. We're all in this together.

Pray for the young man working hard at his Confirmation preparation.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Auntie Joanna has been appointed...

...Visiting Research Fellow at St Mary's University, Twickenham.

My chief task and responsibility is to research and write a full history of the University ready for the 170th anniversary in 2020. This is quite a challenge but I began the preliminary reading this week - appropriately on the Feast of the Annunciation - and I am finding it fascinating. It's a great story about a great part of London's - and Britain's - modern history. I feel honoured and privileged to be involved with this project.

Read more about the appointment here



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thursdays...

...are my favourite days at the moment. Every Thursday, here, we have Evensong and Mass, then a light supper, and we watch The Pivotal Players with   Bishop Robert Barron. Then a good discussion, centred on the topics and questions produced with the DVD...and before the final blessing, we are given sheets with ideas on how to put into practice some of the things we have learned...

And I have discovered that a good many other parishes are doing exactly this, too...and just today some one mentioned how much he was looking forward to the "Pivotal" session...

A visit...

...to the offices of the British section of Aid to the Church in Need in Sutton, Surrey. For many years -  starting as a teenager - I was deeply involved with this charity, and to it I owe some of the greatest adventures of my life...back...oh...long ago now...when Eastern Europe was under Communist rule and help could be given,...

A warm welcome at the office, and it is great to see the superb things now being done, the cheques pouring in to fund the relief work in Syria and elsewhere...the work of this magnificent charity has grown and grown, and Prince Charles has now added his support to its work in the Middle East.

Some day, please God, people will look back and share stories of how things were done and help was given in a tough time...




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A MASSIVE HONOURING OF THE EUCHARIST IN BRITAIN...

...is planned. A great Eucharist Congress is being planned by the Bishops of England and Wales for 2018. It will be the biggest gathering of the Catholic faithful in Britain since the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

I learned this news while chatting outside Westminster Cathedral this afternoon (see previous entry re History Walks). It is VERY good news and will make history. A Congress of this kind was held in 1908 but a planned Procession of the Blessed Sacrament through London could not be held (much anti-Catholic feeling in those days). A century - and two massively successful papal visits - later, and everything is so different. We can expect - and pray and plan for - a really magnificent gathering...

History...

...is all around us in London, and every Catholic History Walk yields new discoveries as we all as opportunities to mull over the events of the centuries...

People are always intrigued to be told that the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding the infant Saviour, is at the centre of the Westminster City coat of arms. I can see, as I lead them across Victoria Street to the tall, boring office slab  that that is the City Hall, that they just don't believe me. Then they take a look at the great Coat of Arms on the wall - which some, as Londoners, have walked pass hundreds of times....

Westminster -  centred on the minster, established by King (St) Edward the confessor, to the west of London - became a city in its own right in the 1960s,  and the present Coat of Arms dates from that time.  But the link with Our Lady goes back centuries. City info, plus pic of the coat of arms, here   but to get the story of the link w. Our Lady, you really need to come on a Catholic History Walk - or invite me to your parish/college/school/conference...


Monday, March 27, 2017

Laetare: Mothering Sunday...

...and at the end of Mass, bunches of daffodils  tied with golden ribbon were blessed and distributed for us to give to our mothers...rather touching to see small Sunday School children eagerly running forward, and hulking tall altar severs awkwardly searching out mum in the congregation to give the flowers and a hug...

FrC suggested that mothers who had died could be remembered lovingly in prayer and the flowers given to Mary  at the Lady Altar...

And I took a bunch to give to my ma-in-law in Somerset, hoping the flowers would survive the journey via Bristol...

Train from Paddington, and a warm welcome at the Catholic Chaplaincy at Bristol University:  a talkative supper and then my talk on St John Paul the Great and the Theology of the Body.  A wonderful evening...talk ran on late, lively, friendly, wide-ranging, extremely interesting...

An early start the next morning, train into Somerset, and on to a lovely lunch with mama-in-law. We had sent a big bouquet at the weekend, and the daffs, a bit tired but capable of revival, were now added. We tackled a crossword together - she is v. good at them - and enjoyed lots of family chat. Beyond us the hills of Exmoor were misty and green. The bus route into town trundled past fields of wobbly-legged lambs.


Friday, March 24, 2017

This weekend...

I am off to Bristol to give a talk about St John Paul the Great at the University Catholic Chaplaincy.

While in the West Country, I'll be making a Mothering Sunday visit to my beloved mama-in-law. We always enjoy our special times together. For many years, I used to bake two simnel  cakes for Mothering Sunday, one for my own mother and one for my mother-in-law, to be enjoyed at family get-togethers...you can get the recipe here .   This year, for the first time in my life, I will not be visiting my own dear mother on this special day, but she will be much in my prayers with love and gratitude...

Travelling to the West Country in the spring is always a delight...lambs in the fields, daffodils bobbing in the breeze...and here at home we are in the final stages of massive repairs/renovations, and over the next days books will be stacked on to new clean shelves and old papers sorted and thrown out or tidied away...

The house is scented w. the lovely flowers I received for graduation.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunchtime Talks...

...are being organised at the CTS Bookshop in the Westminster Cathedral Piazza at 1.15pm. Auntie Joanna will be speaking on Thursday April 6th and again on Saturday April 8th. Topic "Celebrating Traditional Feasts and Seasons of the Church",  with a special emphasis on the customs associated with Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.  ALL WELCOME.

The CTS is also inviting people to write reviews of books - not necessarily bought from their bookshop - and to win discounts on further books. Info here...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday...

...in London. Mass... the Scriptures linking Moses striking the rock and the fresh water gushing forth...and then Christ at the well and bringing us the living water...

The Angelus as Mass ends and everyone singing.

In the afternoon, a Catholic History Walk along the Thames...the grey water surging with a chill wind, but a sense of spring in the air, boats chugging up and down.

And then, in the evening, meeting a dear niece for supper...great fun to swap news and lovely to relax and talk over lots of things...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

At a ceremony today...

...at St Mary's University, I received my Master's degree in Theology from the vice-chancellor, Francis Campbell. It was a moving ceremony, with the academic procession entering  the chapel to the sound of trumpets, a service of prayers and hymns, and the calling out of our names as we went forward one by one in our academic gowns and caps.  The hood of the MA gown is lined with rose-coloured  silk of the shade used by Bishop Richard Challoner, hero Vicar Apostolic of the London District in the 18th century.

It was so lovely to have family and friends with me to celebrate this day...a day that I will remember for always.

After the ceremonies, there was an excellent lunch in the Waldegrave Room, in the splendid Gothick Strawberry Hill House, and then we enjoyed the lovely grounds in pale spring sunshine.

Bogle celebrations continued with a dinner in London along by the Thames...I am now writing this late at home surrounded by flowers and cards and with  a grateful heart...

Friday, March 17, 2017

The splendid Norbertines...

...at this church in Chelmsford  invited me to give a talk as part of the parish programme for Lent , on my favourite topic: St John Paul the Great. It was an honour to be invited. Things began with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction in the lovely church. Candles glowing,, the peace of united, unhurried silence... and then the blessing and the voices together: "Blessed be God...blessed be his holy name..."

The original invitation had been for a Thursday evening but I pleaded that I could not do it, because the church I usually attend is running the excellent Pivotal Players DVD  (Bishop Robert Barron) each Thursday in Lent...back came a cheery message from Abbot Hugh at Chelmsford saying that was fine, he perfectly understood, because they too were running the Barron DVD and he shared my enthusiasm! So he invited me for Wednesday instead. And it was a wonderful evening... the lovely time of prayer, a warm welcome at a good sized gathering in the parish hall, and an opportunity to share some insights about St John Paul and some glorious memories of him...


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Theresa May and the Catholic Church...

.. an American Catholic newspaper asked me to answer questions raised by Michael Gove in a feature in The Times about Theresa May's Catholic leanings. You can read me here....

Hurrying...

...to St Paul's Cathedral to lead a Catholic History Walk. A friendly group, and we explored some of the City churches,beginning with  the splendidly-named St Vedast-alias-Foster, and going on to St Lawrence Jewry at the Guildhall, and then St Margaret's, Lothbury.  It isn't just a matter of enjoying Wren's architecture....it's also getting the whole sweep of history, from the original foundation of St Paul's at the top of Ludgate Hill, and the growth and changes of the City over the centuries...

One thing which is important to grasp is about names. People tend to think that a place-name was somehow invented at a set time, by the local Borough Council or some such body. But it is not like that in a city like London, in a country as old as ours. Place-names have meanings - no one invented them, they emerged because they describe the place. Thus Catford is where cattle crossed the ford, Westminster is the Minster to the West of London...and the names of the City's ancient gates still echo: Moorgate, Aldgate, Newgate...

"Ham" is the old word for a village - hence Birmingham, Chippenham, Walsingham, Nottingham, Cheltenham...and also Tower Hamlets, and the pleasant village of Ham at Richmond-on-Thames...

And a Minster is where monks lived...hence Upminster, Leominster...

The Saxon (German) word for a stranger - ie one who does not speak a language I understand - is "Welsh". So as the Angles and Saxons swept steadily across Britain from the East (settling in places we still call Sussex, and Essex, and Middlesex), they tended to name the remaining settlements of the (Romano-)British people as places-of-strangers. Hence Wallington in Surrey and Wallingford on the Thames...and indeed Wales...


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Last weekend...

...I was visiting some young relatives.  We had agreed to meet at the 6pm Mass. Trains were tricky and I had to rush by cab from the station. Mass was already under way. A modern church, well filled and with one of those glass doors, slightly embarrassing when you are arriving late and people are standing at the back...

But up by the sanctuary  was a sight to make Auntie suddenly go gulpy...two small beloved figures, solemnly handing over the Offertory gifts for the holy Sacrifice...my great-nephews...doing it all beautifully and then returning to the rest of the family, wriggling baby sister and all, in the pew...

Moments like that can't be discussed or noted within the family...part of the  gulpiness is the very ordinariness of it. Just family. At Mass. On a rainy evening.

Deo gratias.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Book your place...

...on the 2017 St John Paul II Walk to Walsingham!

It's an absolutely superb experience...walking through some of the most glorious countryside in England, in good company, and with Mass at places resonating with history. We gather at Bury St Edmunds - where Magna Carta was first drawn up - and our pilgrimage takes us to meadows and abbeys and rivers and country towns...and we finish at Walsingham where there is a wonderful welcome at the big Pilgrim Mass at the shrine.

You can book your place here...

It's not for the faint-hearted...we walk some 20 miles a day, and sleep in halls and schools, with sleeping bags and mats...but we have a good picnic lunch each midday, and a hot meal every evening, all our luggage etc is carried by van, and everything is well organised with a great spirit of goodwill and efficiency.   It's all run by the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph  with their infectious sense of joy and fun.  An added bonus is that we share something of the Dominican life, with the Dominican daily offices of prayer, and some inspirational talks...

Come and join us!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

On Good Friday...

...I will of course be taking part in the 3pm devotions.  Earlier, I will be in Trafalgar Square, to watch the Passion Play that is now presented there each year. It's powerful, the story of Christ's Last supper, trial, and crucifixion, right in the heart of London and with vast crowds...info here

Monday, March 06, 2017

TO LANCASTER...

...for a meeting of the Editorial Board of FAITH magazine. We meet at this parish, with its beautiful little church and fascinating history....

Current issue of the magazine includes an editorial noting the  mood of the Church as we leave the post-Vatican II era,  features on  grace, the Wojtyla message about the human person, book reviews looking at the plight of modern pagan Britain, the horrors of the WWI Gallipoli campaign, and more...sample copy available if you write a Comment to this Blog WITH YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS (which I will not publish). And you can read back issues of the magazine here

Pouring rain...


..meant that valiant Catholic History Walkers along the Thames got cold and wet tackling the route along the river  from London Bridge to the Tower...but spirits remained warm and there was a cheery atmosphere - it turned out to be a memorable and enjoyable afternoon....
Come and be with us on the next Sunday Walk: March 19th, meet 3pm at the main door of the Church of the Most Precious Blood, O'Meara Street, London SE1.

And make a note of the other dates listed  here...

Walsingham...

...and the London Walsingham group is now thriving. Read here

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Anonymous letters...

...including anonymous messages to this blog, are always the hallmark of cowardice and spite. If  anonymous correspondents wish to have their comments considered for publication, they must:

1. Apologise for having sent an anonymous message
2. Send something with their name attached.

Their messages might - no promises - then be published.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Crusader Justine Greening...

...announces horrible plans for something called "Relationships Education" for children  with an emphasis on "boundaries and consent", An odd title, and it's important to find out what it means.  Schools, often doing heroic work trying to protect children from the worst excesses of a sex-obsessed culture and to offer a larger vision of life based on values of courtesy, kindness and the common good, are now to be nagged and bullied into pushing material  on sexual matters at the youngsters. What on earth does "consent", when discussing sexual activity, mean for a child? Already, homosexualist lobby groups have announced enthusiastically they plan to get involved with producing material...

All will suffer, but the chief victims will be children who do not have parents who can counter the propaganda or make alternative education arrangements at home. There are so many children who come from broken families and already are bruised by the lifestyle choices of the adults around them. Who will speak up for these children?   Read up about this here and make your voice heard to your MP.

From helping out with voluntary work in a prison, I have realised again and again how the current culture of Britain, with its endless promotion of "safe sex"  emphasising sexual activity as a sort of sport has destroyed lives and hopes. Teaching children that sexual activity can be between anyone and that the main thing is "consent" within "boundaries" (whatever that means) will make this much, much worse.

It is very tempting for Christians who have been fortunate in their own upbringing and have secure homes and marriages to retreat into a comfort zone and think only of their own children and grandchildren.  But we are not called to do that.

We cannot, must not, leave the vulnerable young people of Britain to the Secretary of State and the lobby groups with a sexual agenda.

And let's pray for poor Secretary Greening.

Recently...

...had a long and  useful talk with David Alton at the Hse of Lords, longtime family friend and campaigner...it was good to catch up...info here on some of his latest projects...

Blessed John Henry Newman...

...and a wonderful evening studying his life and work...led by the excellent new Pivotal Players DVD  presented by Bishop Robert Barron.

We have Evensong and Mass, then the DVD, a,light supper and a session of teaching and discussion with Bibles and Catechisms. There are excellent notes and questions with references...the sessions are proving popular and I really look forward to Thursday evenings.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Tragic modern Britain...

...and what we might try to do about it...read here...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Blessed John Henry Newman...

...father of the Second Vatican Council, patron of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a saint for the new Millenium...inspired by a fresh opportunity to study and reflect on his life, I've been pondering him...read here...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

To the Kent coast...

...for a quiet day at Minster Abbey with a friend. We arrived early so as to join the Sisters for their morning office (they had already been up for a good while, having sung an earlier office and had time for silent prayer....).  By mutual decision, D and I had agreed not to chat during the day, but to spend the time in reading or  quiet work.  It is beautiful to pray with the Sisters in their lovely chapel which in its simplicity blends seamlessly into the original Saxon buildings of the Abbey.  A particularly fine carved  dark wooden statue of Our Lady stands to one side of the chancel: light gleams on the single central jewel in her crown, aligned with the golden cross that forms the halo of the Christ-child who sits enthroned on her lap. It is an image at once serene and  queenly.

A new young postulant was among the Sisters and will be clothed with the white veil shortly. They all enter the chapel quietly from their various tasks and take their places in the choir-stalls to chant the psalms of the Offices, one Sister accompanying them on an instrument which somehow has a Medieval sound. Beyond the altar - the base of which is one large gnarled and polished tree-trunk, matching the  lectern and the wooden stand that holds St Mildred's relics - tall trees rustle in the wind from the sea, and birds sing. As evening falls, Vespers has a more formal feel: the sisters  enter in procession, the chanted psalms are in Latin.  Compline is after dark and we had set off for home by then, rain lashing the car as we  drove back to London.

I have begun work on a long cross-stitch kneeler, designed for the bridal pair at weddings. Starting the work the evening before the trip to Minster was pleasing - the long folds of material drape down to the floor as one sews, and it all has a restful, and dignified feeling. Busy with it again at Minster I realised that it really is going to be a mammoth task - and D observed that her mother made a similar cushion which is now in her possession "It took her the whole of the Second World War..."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Want to know what it's like...

...on a London Catholic History Walk?

There's an insider's story here (scroll down to page 28).

And why not discover what London is like south of the Thames? Southwark is undiscovered territory for some Londoners and for most visitors. Come and discover it!

Friday March 24th  and Friday April 28th - a tour inside St George's Cathedral. Meet 3pm at the Cathedral door. Nearest tube: WATERLOO. The Cathedral is opposite the Imperial War Museum.

SUNDAY May 21st 3pm and FRIDAY June 2nd 6pm. A walk around Southwark, starting at the door of St George's Cathedral.  Come and discover where the Marshalsea prison - made famous by Charles Dickens - stood. Come and stand where the English soldiers sang when they returned from the victory at Agincourt. Come and see where the Gordon riots began...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pondering the world scene...

...I found this an interesting post...

KIndness...

...and honesty...

On Thursday, a telephone call from London's Amba Hotel, where the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon was held last October. They had suddenly discovered a red wallet which had been dropped behind a fixed corner seat...only discovered when everything was removed for some renovations...

Yes, it was mine, and today I went to collect it. Everything intact, including £40 in cash. And much else including a small but particularly special  picture of our wedding, a snapshot taken by the apple trees at our family home...

The hotel staff were as pleased as I was to have the wallet back, and an ordinary February morning was suddenly quietly transformed by shared human joy and solidarity.




Friday, February 24, 2017

The MARCH issue of ....

FAITH magazine is now published. It includes a feature on the Sisters of Life, with whom the Editor was privileged to stay while on a recent visit to New York....

As always, a limited number of magazines are available for new readers. Interested? Send a Comment to this Blog WHICH I WILL NOT PUBLISH, giving your full postal address, and a copy will be on its way to you...

High winds and glorious countryside...

...and chanting monks in a great abbey church of austere grandeur...the FAITH Movement has been holding  its annual Symposium all this week at Ampleforth Abbey,and it has been splendid.  We had an excellent series of lectures exploring St John Paul's Man and Woman he created them...I had not known that this was a lengthy book on which he worked during the years that he was Archbishop of Krakow. When he became Pope, he used the material for Papal lectures over a period of several months. These were interrupted by the assassination attempt in 1981 but later continued and were published and popularised under the title of Theology of the Body. But the full importance of this work is only now beginning to be realised.

The subject would at any time have been a significant and useful one for the Church. But in this as in so much else Karol Wojtyla had a prophetic understanding of the "signs of the times".   Campaigners in Western nations  who have for years have been successfully promoting  forms of sexual crudity, celebration of abortion, and abandonment of any authentically human understanding of marriage, are now going through a period of almost complete intellectual meltdown in attempting to ban any acceptance of differences between male and female. St JP's timely work opens up precisely the insights the Church needs...and his courage will be an example to us as we take this forward...

Ampleforth is a grand place in which to meet and pray. There is a sense of everything taking place within the enduring round of the monastic hours...I didn't rise in the dark to join them in the early offices of Matins and Lauds...but it was wonderful to be gathering in the great church as the bell rang out for Mass. There is a great sense of the "Mass of all the ages", a sense of time and history, of the long years of Christianity in our country and of being part of the Church around the world and in the next world too...

We had another chapel for our own use, but one night I joined the monks at Compline...a sense of strength in the darkened church with wind roaring outside...





Friday, February 17, 2017

Meanwhile, at least the Tsar has climbed down from autocratic pretensions, at least for a while...

...read here...

Distressed...

...Anglican friends are praying that voices will be raised defending, teaching and honouring the truth about God's plan for marriage and family. Yesterday's debate in the Anglican synod had a tragic quality. There were some courageous voices: read here

Just to cheer you up...

...a report from a recent gathering I attended in Parliament: read here...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Are there two different sexes?

YES. And it matters. Come and learn more. Discovering the truth about humanity is central to living in the truth.  And truth and freedom go together:  that is one of the lessons we learned from the experiences of people living under the lies that were part of the structures of the Soviet Empire, and the freedom they gained through a courageous commitment to truth in 1989...

You can be part of this discovery and truth and freedom by taking part in this conference in London in April.I intend to be there and am looking forward to it...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

To get a flavour...

...of how Auntie spends some of her time...read here

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Evangelisation...

...means new people arriving in church, for whom it is deeply unfamiliar territory. At a recent baptism in a packed church, the extended family and guests of the candidate were all dressed up - posh hats, bow ties, spangly stuff, heels -  and well-equipped with mobile phones/cameras etc. But the essential nature of what was going on was evidently a matter of confusion. Lots of getting up and greeting friends, and much anxious checking-to-see-what-to-do-next when it came to the actual business of prayer...evident mild astonishment at the length  of the whole thing...

But it was extraordinarily touching to see the priest with the newly-baptised baby (beaming with gummy smile), followed by parents godparents with glowing candle, and parade of relatives, walking up the aisle from the font...

Oh dear...

...the poor Anglicans are coming under pressure to abandon any stance defending Christian marriage, and submit to the ideology "same sex" unions as currently imposed by the government.

They slammed the door on any hopes of reunion when they invented priestesses. But there were still opportunities for some occasional useful co-operation on issues connected to some form of Christian witness in our country. Now that's getting less and less possible...


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Come along...

... on a London Catholic History Walk...


LONDON CATHOLIC HISTORY WALKS
Spring 2017

Come and enjoy a London Walk, focusing on the centuries of Christian history that have shaped this great city. All are welcome! No need to book – just turn up!

We suggest a £5.00 donation for each Walk.

Tuesday March 14th 2pm meet on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London EC4 (nearest tube: ST PAULS). We’ll explore the City, some famous churches, and the birthplace of John Henry Newman.

Tuesday March 21st 2pm meet on the steps of the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row, London SW3 (nearest tube: SLOANE SQUARE) . We’ll trace the footsteps of St Thomas More.

Tuesday March 28th 2pm meet on the steps of Westminster Cathedral, Victoria Street, London SW1 (nearest tube: VICTORIA). We’ll walk to Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Whitehall.

Tuesday April 4th 2pm meet on the steps of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square,London W2 (nearest tube: CHARING CROSS). We’ll discover the story of the Strand, the river, Blackfriars, and more.



SUNDAY WALKS:


Sunday March 5th, meet on the steps of the Church of the Most Precious Blood, London SE1 O’Meara Street, off Southwark Street, 3pm (tube: LONDON BRIDGE)

Sunday March 19th, meet on the steps of the Church of the Most Precious Blood, London SE1, O’Meara Street, off Southwark Street, 3pm (nearest tube: LONDON BRIDGE)


More information: www.catholichistorywalks.com

Rumours...

...that the Lefevbrists will be reconciled to the Church...my own contacts have been telling me this for some while - indeed I thought it would happen last year. We must hope that, having banished their more extreme and weird members, they will become good Catholics.At least we can pray they will stop saying insulting things about  St John Paul the Great, against whom they railed loudly for years. Their anger there was partly what made them blind to the need to be part of the Church...but with his canonisation a certain statement has been made against which their railing could only fade away.

The report I received last year was that they now feel that there is nothing to stop them returning. In a sense, this has always been true: but for their own pride, they could have submitted to the Church long ago. But I think they feel an affinity with Pope Francis - in many ways, their approach is his. A certain relish for random statements,  an apparent enjoyment in clashing with opponents and a tendency to denounce opposition in passionate terms...I think they find a sense of fellow-feeling.In any case, if they come back, some of them at least may find some peace and can journey in faith along with the Church rather than prowling outside...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

PREMIER RADIO...

...ran an interview about the Catholic History Walks:  the presenter was particularly glad to do so, as her parents had originally met at a Catholic ramble years ago! Premier website is here...

The Premier studios are in Chapter Street, just off the Vauxhall Bridge Road...I went from there across the river and on to London Bridge, for a meeting of a local branch of the Walsingham Association...lots of news about developments at the shrine, extension of the "Barn Church"  as it is not large enough and anyway needs renovation and improvement...and Community of Our Lady of Walsingham is now running the Dowry House in the village High Street as a centre for retreats and a place where pilgrims can stay...

In the afternoon, on to a useful meeting to plan the next round of  Evenings of Faith, organised by the FAITH Movement...and then a talk to a lively youth group, with pizza and games and a very happy atmosphere....they went on to join in prayer at  Nightfever at St Patrick's, Soho.  Auntie travelled back (exhausted!) to the suburbs for mugs of tea...and reading  this book on John Henry Newman, some fascinating insights...

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Read Auntie Joanna...

...in The Portal here...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

London...

...and leading History walks. Some thoughts for some visitors here...

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trundling a suitcase...

...across London, en route to family in Oxfordshire, I stopped for Mass at St Patrick's, Soho, beckoned  by the bell ringing out across traffic and litter and roadworks in Oxford Street.  Church very full: a  young volunteer stands at the back to help steer people to spaces available. I found a place at a pew-end where I was able to put my case by an adjoining side-altar.

Glorious music, beautiful church, candles glowing, dignified and uplifting liturgy,  voices raised in responses and hymns. Afterwards, freshly brewed coffee in the crypt...friendly chat, delightful young people  being nice to Auntie...

Oxford Street is  crowded but messy and somehow a bit seedy - American visitors who come expecting smart shops and a feeling of elegance must be very disappointed...tube to Paddington, and thence by train through lashing rain to a warm family welcome...





Saturday, January 28, 2017

At Exeter University...

...a warm welcome from the Cathsoc. A beautiful and reverent Mass at the Catholic Chaplaincy, strong young voices making the responses, lots of young people receiving Communion with great reverence.  A lively buzz of talk in the bar, and then a full hall for the talk. Topic was the Church's understanding of the importance of why we are male and female, with specific input from the teaching of St John Paul.

St JP's Theology of the Body  was prophetic in its importance ...there is now such cruel and nasty nonsense being promoted on this subject and Christians need to be equipped to challenge the lies,and inspire people with the truth and beauty of the fullness of what it means to be human, and how marvellously we are made...

A happy  evening A particular pleasure to meet the delightful daughter of friends...I was a babysitter for the family when she and her siblings were small!  And here she is as a delightful young lady - beautiful and charming, and it was a delight to chat and catch up with news...

Today's young Catholics in Britain face  a militant atheism which forges strong alliances with forms of political-correctness where the Christian viewpoint is routinely marginalised or insulted. In a modern university, most of the students will have little or no working knowledge of the Christian faith - for this reason much of the West's art and literature baffles them - and young Catholics who do have this knowledge and perspective are often treated as weird. Lecturers,  and the general voice of officialdom, tend to  assume opposition to Catholic teaching - especially on sex and relationships - to be the norm and too often fail to acknowledge any alternative view. The work of a Catholic chaplaincy - and a lively Catholic Society with good speakers and access to plenty of opportunities to meet, talk, read,study, debate, take part in events and conferences etc - is crucial. Input from groups such as the Faith Movement  are important, and the solidarity fostered by events such as World Youth Day and Youth 2000 is of great value.

Friday, January 27, 2017

THE KEYS, The Catholic Writers' Guild of England and Wales...

...was begun in the 1930s by staff on GK's Weekly  and is proud of its links with the Chesterton/Belloc era. It has met at various places in London over the years. For a long while its  Guild Church was St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, where a plaque in the crypt now commemorates our many meetings there. Way back in the 1970s it met at what was then a conference centre (now St Paul's Bookshop) adjoining Westminster Cathedral. Until recently we were based at St Mary Moorfields in the City, which became a very popular home base for us.  Latest move is to Farm Street, with Fr Dominic as our chaplain.  And this new chapter looks set to be as successful as all the others: good numbers for Mass, a noisily talkative dinner with much conviviality, and then a gathering in the hall for freshly-brewed coffee, and a guest speaker.

Wednesday's meeting welcomed Dr Sara Jane Boss from the Centre for Marian Studies at Roehampton, who gave a fascinating talk on the history and theology of devotion to Mary, analysing the differences between the Catholic/Orthodox and the Protestant understanding...

Guild meetings - I've been attending for something approaching 40 years - are a wonderful time to meet old friends and make new contacts. On this occasion, it was also an opportunity to present the winner of the Christmas crossword in FAITH magazine with her prize: Amanda Hill (a former Mastermind quarter-finalist - no surprise that she is a crossword whizz too) was given her bottle of wine amid applause.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pius XII...

... has been slandered so much in recent years, but Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert and others have upheld the truth and honoured his memory. The BBC has now admitted that it got something seriously wrong in a recent broadcast.   In an important feature, David Alton calls for Pius' beatification, perhaps on Holocaust Memorial Day next year...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More thoughts from Auntie...

read here,,,

Across a misty Thames...

... on Westminster Bridge, on a day of bright winter sunlight, slanting low, uncomfortable to the eyes...but London looked glorious.

Coffee with David Alton in the House of Lords. Lots to discuss...among much else, an invitation to the Westminster Award to Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow in February. It will be a privilege to be present...

On to Trafalgar Square, to meet a group of History Walkers on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields...we went along the Strand, down to the river, along the Embankment and on to the Inns of Court and the Temple Church...

On Thursday I will be at Exeter, giving a talk to the Exeter University Catholic Society, on St John Paul the Great and his teaching on the theology of male and female.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Restrictions on what Catholic schools are allowed to teach...

...are being urged by Britain's "integration tsar". She is called Dame Louise Casey, and she seems to think that it is up to her to announce what the Catholic Church is to teach in its schools.

Read here.,..  and write to your Member of Parliament explaining that it is unacceptable for Dame Louise - or any other public official - to try to drag us back to the 18th century in this way.   Our freedoim was hard-won, and when justice was finally achieved with the Catholic Emancipation Act shortly before Queen Victoria came to the throne, it was long overdue.

...and in America...

...somehow reassuring to see a President take his oath on a family Bible, and the Cardinal Archbishop of New York leading everyone in prayer... see report here.  Cardinal Dolan chose the Book of Wisdom - a very Catholic choice...

Francis...

...of Assisi...the real man behind the statue-looking-cute-by-the-bird-table, was the subject of our  first parish study evening of 2017 here.   Evensong, Mass, and then a light supper, and a DVD: Bishop Robert Barron, talking about the Pivotal Players in Church history. Among the things to think about: St Francis' life didn't involve a single bolt-from-the-blue conversion moment. Rather, it was a series of calls from God, each one deepening the relationship and taking the adventure further. The call to radical poverty, the call to rebuild the Church, the gathering of a band of brothers...and all along, it is a challenge and with plenty of human difficulties, even while the essential message is joyful.  After learning the story - it's all filmed in the lavish countryside and sunshine in the places where St Francis prayed and  lived and laboured, and its pace and beat are just right, for thinking and pondering it all - there are study-guides for some further pondering, to be used with the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, copies of which were handed round by Fr C...

Among the things to study were the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  Plenty to challenge us all there... not just the feel-good stuff about feeding the hungry and visiting the imprisoned, but  "to bear wrong patiently..."

We finished by praying the popular "Instrument of they peace" prayer, and took copies home to pray again silently at the end of the day...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On Amoris Laetitiae...

...here's a Bishop talking sense.

While the Maltese Bishops are allinamuddleandgoingnowhere, here's a voice of wisdom with a practical way ahead: Read here

And while you're about it, here's some more common sense on a related topic:

Auntie Joanna and EWTN...

...read here...



The Maltese Bishops...

...now need to be corrected. Their statement on marriage doesn't conform to the Church's unchanged and unchangeable teaching. The Pope can't change this teaching. Amoris Laetitiae doesn't and can't change this teaching. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will now need to take action...and in the heightened atmosphere this isn't going to be easy. The message of Amoris Laetitiae has to be read through  the hermeneutic of continuity - St John Paul the Great gave magnificent teaching in Familiaris Consortio and in Veritatis Splendor, and  all the tools are provided for a clear response to the muddled thinking of the poor Maltese bishops, who are betraying their flocks by the confused and impoverished statement which denies the fundamental truth at the heart of the sacrament of marriage.

Pray for Pope Francis: he will need real humility in dealing with this. He often - and rightly - speaks of the need to be humble, to be open to the voice of the Spirit and not to get trapped in self-esteem and so on. The office of Peter is an unenviable one. People will love to gloat on the difficulties of his position - and he has made a number of people angry with his criticisms of the Roman Curia and so on, enabling not a few to enjoy the prospect of the challenges now facing him. He now needs prayer - a lot of loving prayer - to enable him to tackle the responsibility of teaching the truth about marriage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Propaganda...

...at a mainline railway station. A massive, lavish  wide-screen video sponsored by a bank, promoting same-sex marriage. It  stretches across the entrance to the platforms, and imposes itself on every passenger arriving at the station, intruding into every part of the concourse.

In the 1950s in Eastern Europe, railway stations broadcast political slogans all the time along with the train announcements: "The next train to Wadowice departs from Platform Eight Socialism is the Way of the Future with our brothers in the Soviet Union".   And people did not - could not - complain because it would mean serious trouble for themselves and for their families, with action from the police and the public authorities. There was no one to whom it was possible to complain, and no possibility of a fair hearing if one did.




Tolkien and Catholicism....Evolution...problems in the Church...

...all this and lots more in the latest FAITH magazine, now on-line....

read here...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Major renovations...

...at Bogle Towers. Complete rebuilding of bathroom, heating system etc, requiring massive works... We are sort of camping there...it has been uncomfortable but the work is progressing.

I spent part of last week in Scotland, editorial board for FAITH magazine. Stayed with the wonderful Sisters of the Gospel of Life in Glasgow.  Their work has hugely expanded over the years since their foundation, and they now have a great team of helpers, providing all sorts of things for needy families...they are involved with the Rachel's Vineyard retreats...and their convent life has its own pace and rhythm, starting very early...Holy Hour...then off to the Cathedral for Mass, collecting a couple of people along the way...

The Cathedral stands along the waterfront, a little gem among city slabs and concrete...glowing and warm inside, and very beautiful since its renovations, the Gothic pillars with delicate ribbons of blue and gold. In the sanctuary are statues of St Andrew and St Mungo.

The train ride to Edinburgh swept us through snowy countryside...a warm welcome on arrival, a good meeting.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Evenings of FAITH...

organised by the FAITH Movement, at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1. Nearest tube: Piccadilly  Circus.

All welcome. Talks start 7.30pm.  The entrance to the hall is in Golden Square, clearly marked at number 24...


DateTitleSpeaker
Tuesday 7th FebruaryCan we be sure God exists?Fr Matthew O'Gorman
Tuesday 21st FebruaryThe disaster of sinGregory Farrelly
Tuesday 7th MarchJesus Christ: Saviour and redeemerFr. Philip Miller
Tuesday 21st MarchThe Church: Christ’s voice to the worldFr. Michael Dolman

The real Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict...

...emerges from this interview w. Peter Seewald.  It's a must-read.

I came to know Peter Seewald through working on the EWTN feature on Pope Emeritus Benedict...he (Seewald) is a superb writer, a serious thinker, and a very well-read man who is good company. At our first meeting, over coffee in Munich, I remember him mentioning the biography of BXVI  on which he had at that stage fairly recently embarked...I realised just how much work and worry and care he was putting into it, reading and pondering on so many things.  The book will be the culmination of all his interviews and discussions and the long years of friendship which began when Seewald was a journalist on a major German newspaper, with a young family and many questions about life, God, the Church, and the true meaning of things...and it will also be the result of his own study and reflection and the spiritual journey that he has made under Benedict's gentle example.

Clare Anderson and I interviewed Peter Seewald for the first part our TV feature on Pope Benedict, which was broadcast by EWTN a couple of years ago. (The second half, filmed in Rome last May, will be broadcast this year...)

Ratzinger/Benedict is one of the great minds of our era. He will one day be hailed as a Doctor of the Church.   His role at the Second Vatican Council, his years at the CDF and his superb book(s) on the life of Christ, plus his rich theological insights - presented so readably and with such grace - have been huge gifts to the Church  and will resonate for all the years to come...and all this has come with considerable suffering, as he has been endlessly misrepresented and villified over the years, his character attacked, his motives questioned, his actions challenged in malicious and cruel ways. He's one of the Church's heroes:  all of us are in his debt.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

...and the Ordinariate?

How's it going?

An insight here...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More plans for...

....London's Catholic History Walks.   We are launching a new series of SUNDAY afternoon walks along the banks of the Thames in March.

All the info is here...get the dates in your diary now, and spread the word!

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...

... is led by the excellent Cardinal Mueller, who speaks with firm, undramatic clarity.   Worth reading him here...

The Church's teaching on marriage cannot and will not change. And so Amoris Laetitiae has to be read with that truth clearly in mind as an ever-present reality. Of course it's always worth saying more: the truth has to be taught again and again and again.  Marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman, open to new life, establishing a family. It is a sacrament. It is all about Christ and his Bride, the Church. It is  not man's invention: it goes back to God's original plan. It is sacred.

I think that the good Cardinals who have raised "dubia" about this want to have it all set out in greater details and repeatedly, and that may well be useful. But it can't change what already is the case, taught consistently - sometimes well and sometimes less well, sometimes with immense depth, and sometimes in a chattier way, sometimes to people eager to listen and accept the teaching, sometimes to a world where many try to deny it and pretend that the Church could change. It is the task of every Bishop and every Cardinal to affirm the teaching clearly. Sometimes they may want to debate it, or criticise the way in which it has been put, or denounce some one for not putting it - but the most important, the most essential  thing is simply and courageously to teach it, and help all to live it.

When Amoris Laetitiae was first published, my own spouse telephoned me with some enthusiasm: we liked its clear affirmation of the Church's teaching on marriage, especially after what had seemed to be some contentious wrangling at the preceding Synod. I think we were not alone in sensing some  relief at a document which  announced the truth about marriage amid the noisy clamour of propaganda and laws promoting same-sex unions and cohabitation and so on.

Of course more can be said and will be, but the Church's teaching and discipline on marriage cannot change.

The traditional Mass...

...for Epiphany, and the Wise men had reached the crib after travelling via various places in the church. A rousing carol at the entrance procession.  Everyone seemed to sing the Gloria with greater gusto than usual. The Gospel with its haunting description of the Wise men :"and opening their treasures, they presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh..." There were some wonderful hymns (Anglican patrimony: it's an Ordinariate parish). Illustrating the way in which the Church has now spread across the globe, Fr C  noted in his sermon the countries from which members of the congregation came: it's a very, very mixed parish with people from the Caribbean, the Indian sub-continent, the Philippines, various parts of Africa and Europe and the Americas... and we pondered the Old Testament reading about all the peoples, and the fulfilment in the New Testament and the Church...

And afterwards, chocolates and delicious special bread with the coffee... and then the men hauling down the great Christmas trees on either side of the sanctuary, and children scurrying about helping to put away the glittering baubles until next year...

But what a pity that we couldn't have it on the actual DAY of the Epiphany, Jan 6th.  Moving it to the nearest Sunday means it loses none of its glory, but something of its specialness as a bright light in a January week, and the sense of the rightness of things,as the Christmas days reach twelve... Sundays are always special: no travelling to work but instead Mass, time for a proper lunch  a whole different dynamic from the moment the day dawns. But to have a specialness on a weekday is a triumph of light... DEAR BISHOPS: PLEASE CAN WE HAVE OUR FEAST-DAYS BACK???  Evening Mass on Epiphany was a joy - and afterwards the celebrations would continue at home or in a pub with friends, or in the parish. Doing it on Sunday means we miss out on that midweek party and the fullness of appreciating the sense of things having a time and a season...


Saturday, January 07, 2017

...and so to projects for this New Year...

...Auntie has a good many lectures to give, and some new academic work...plus a lot of history projects, and some journalism. In August, Auntie will be walking to Walsingham on the John Paul walk for the New Evangeslisation  - more on that in due course.

At Bogle Towers, some substantial house repairs, begun in 2016, will continue with a new and rather urgent project....this in fact starts immediately.

And then there are the groups and committees organising things...including some projects that cannot be abandoned and on which some people rely...

But meanwhile, Auntie has spent today, after doing the ritual taking-down-of-the-Christmas-cards-and-wreaths, on a fresh embroidery project. It's another kneeler for the John Fisher School chapel. (We have a family connection with this school).  The school colours are blue and gold and the work is satisfying. I visited the school the other day. Some years ago my mother created a pleasing pen and ink sketch of the school, of which a limited edition was made, and copies distributed. The original, coloured in watercolours by my mother. hang in her room, and has now been donated to the school, to hang in the vicinity of the chapel.




An Epiphany carol service...

...Organised by fund-raisers for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham  at this church in Warwick Street near Piccadilly. 

Tomorrow at the Ordinariate parish here, Fr Christopher will bless and distribute chalk, which we will take home, and after asking God to bless our homes for the coming year,we will chalk up the date, with the traditional initials of the Three Wise men, over the front door, thus:

C+M+B 2017

This is a tradition I first discovered in Austria, where children dressed as the three Wise Men go from house to house, being welcomed at each one, singing carols and reciting a little prayer...

Our house was blessed when we first moved in, some thirty years ago, by Father - now Bishop - Peter Elliott of Melbourne, who went into every room, blessing each with holy water...



Starting this coming week,...

...the parish of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge will be enjoying Bishop Robert Barron's latest presentations, each Thursday evening after Evensong and Mass. Anticipating this, I decided to listen in to Bishop Robert's Epiphany sermon...listen here, it's fascinatimg.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Evolution...

.
...is an issue that gets some people v. excited. So you might be interested in the Jan/Feb FAITH magazine, which refers to  the FAITH Movement's line on this...send a Comment to this Blog (it won't be published) with your FULL POSTAL ADDRESS and - numbers permitting -  a copy will be sent to you.



A thoughtful - and useful - comment

...for the New Year is here...

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

a winter evening Mass...

...at Westminster Cathedral is a most reassuring experience. At first I thought it would be a bit bleak - no music as the choirboys are all at home with their parents for a well-earned break, and arrive back in a couple of days.

But there is something glorious about the simple solemnity of it all - the golden vestments glittering  against the twilight, the big comforting roar of voices making the responses. You never notice the  large numbers of people quietly, steadily, solidly, taking up their places in that vast space until  that great warm sound is sudden evidence of their presence all around and behind you. Lines of communicants. Quiet steady movement along the confessional queue. Candles glowing. And out into the London night with a sense of belonging.

It'll be lovely when the choir returns. But always, every day, as Canon Tuckwell reminded us, the Lord is there...

Extremely moving...

...story in the latest issue of OREMUS, the Westminster Cathedral magazine. Fr Nicholas Schofield discovered two memorial plaques for brothers killed within six months of each other in WWI. He discovered the story...you can read it here,   or simply drop into the Cathedral and get a copy of the magazine...

No, he didn't say that...

...and the internet can be a menace at spreading misreporting. Read here...

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

NEXT CATHOLIC HISTORY WALK...

...the first for this new season in 2017, is

TUESDAY JANUARY 17th, starts 2pm on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. All welcome, no need to book - just turn up! We'll be taking a look at the Cathedral itself, then on to St James and Whitehall.

Then the next walks are:

Tuesday Jan 24th, meet 2pm on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields, for a walk along the Strand and along to the Temple

Tuesday Jan  31st, meet 2pm on the steps of the Church of Our Most Holy redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Walk, Chlsea - we'll be walking in the footsteps of St Thomas More.

Tuesday Feb 7th meet 2pm on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, for a City walk discovering some of the famous City churches.


Monday, January 02, 2017

What were the best books...

...that you read in 2016?

Read about auntie's choices here

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Read...

Auntie in The Portal, on-line magazine of the Ordinariate...

...and a New Year begins...

... 2016 ended, for me, with good friends and a log fire, a book-lined room, and glasses of liqueur and good conversation...J. was called  after Christmas on a legal case, so we arranged that I would spend the New Year weekend with friends in the Cotswolds.  We saw in the New Year after a delicious  and talkative dinner: we have all been friends for over 30 years. This morning I went with them  through the rain to a rather hearty church service in a stunning Cotswold church, and then we enjoyed a pub lunch. Then  I took the train to Oxford. Arriving with time to spare before Mass, I walked down St Giles, past the "Bird and Baby" to Browns where I settled with some coffee and my emails. Then Mass at Blackfriars and the pleasure of running into friends  at the Crib and exchanging whispered greetings.  The Crib is a particularly nice one - the shepherds have a sheepdog - and the Three Kings were making their way slowly from a neighbouring side-chapel.