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...