Tuesday, April 24, 2018

On St George's Day...

...the History Walkers gathered near London Bridge for a special Walk. We had a good group, and it was a perfect evening - cool and pleasant after too much heat in the previous days. As we walked down Southwark Street towards the river, one of those new sort-of-like-TV-in-the-street noticeboards flashed up three words "IT'S A BOY!" : a new prince on this most appropriate day.

...and then at the Borough Market we encountered a St George, a Dragon, and a girl dressed as Brittania - great fun, and we gave them a round of applause and some of the Walkers wanted to pose with them for pohotographs...

At St Magnus the Martyr we enjoyed the shelter of the wide porch and pondered the long history of London - King Lud, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans...and as I was taking us through the centuries, beals pealed out across the City, perhaps for Evensong, or St George, or  maybe just evening practice...anyway it all matched our mood.

It was a perfect History Walk, and afterwards I enjoyed a long talkative drink with a couple of young Walkers.  We found, by chance, the absolutely perfect pub (cosy,  old, NO NOISY MUSIC!) and the evening was rounded off with exactly the sort of good cheer that St George's Day merits.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Society of Genealogists...

...asked me to lead members on a Catholic History Walk. We started at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and I explained that the fielde were those belonging to the monks of Westminster Abbey, who turned Thorney Island and the marshes along the Thames into good farmland...

Then along the Strand, and down to te river...where I spent rather too long explaining about the general histoiry - Britons and Romans, Saxons and Vikings...they really wanted more about "Smells and bells" which was how the Walk had been advertised, so we headed for Covent Garden, which I explained was originally Convent Garden, and we talked about Henry VIII and so on. I forgot to add the other material I usually add, about origins of pub signs and nursery rhynmes, all very Catholic...I mentioned the various famous Catholic churches around London, explaining that there were none in the old City itself as this was forbidden for many years (not long ago the City boundaries were shifted so one Catholic church is now included)..

I do wonder why the CofE doesn't give a couple of the City churches to the Catholic Church on a loan-and-pay-the-bills basis, so that City workers could get to weekday Mass more easily. Lots go to St Mary Moorfields,  St Etheldreda's or across the river to Precious Blood, but meanwhile  the City's glorious Wren and Hawksmoor churches -  which before the Great Fire were ancient Catholic churches - are for the most part simply not used most of the time...

London is currently sizzling in sudden heat. As the Walk ended, I realised I had missed an important phone call. The "Son Rise" radio show from the USA wanted to talk to me about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. So I called them back and we did an interview. Extraordinary, really,  after a morning working my way through the centuries, to be standing  just off The Strand, talking to America about a Royal Wedding and current controversies...

On which subject, I do hope the Royal couple desist from thinking that their role is to impose politically-correct opinions on the rest of us on certain issues.  Catholics in Britain today value the freeom won after some difficult times...






Tuesday, April 17, 2018

And how did Auntie Joanna spend Monday?

...with brown paper and jiffy bags, sticky labels, tea, cakes, talk, laughter and fun!  Read here

A reunion...

...with a college friend. We first met forty years ago, have stayed in touch over the years. What first made our friendship was a shared Christian faith - we still share it. She has faced widowhood with courage, is active with some good local projects, has the wisdom and commonsense that I remember from College - and the sense of fun - and made me welcome with real enthusiasm. It was a beautiful day, and we walked with her daughter and enchanting lively grandchildren through a glorious local park, enjoyed a cream tea, then later talked till late...I caught the last train back to Paddington and was home in the small hours. A day to cherish...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

...and read Auntie Joanna in the USA's National Catholic Register...

...here.



Sussex...

...and a meeting of the small committee that oversees the Catholic History Walks. This is always combined with a very agreeable Sussex day, which this time included a walk along the Chichester canal - well worth a visit, and lovingly maintained by a team of local volunteers.  Everything lussh and green following lots of recent rain.

We also spent time in the local Catholic church, where there is regular Adoration during the week.  Plenty to pray about, in rather worrying times for the world...



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

...and forthcoming royal celebrations...

...read Auntie Joanna's thoughts on that, here

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Spring tides along the Thames...

...and crowds of young people packing the South Bank in the first warm(ish) evening of the year. Drinks, talking, laughter, a Friday, with work finished for the week.  I trundled my suitcase along (returning from family visit toi the West Country), enjoying it all. The wide clean sand was inviting, the water lapping towards it.  "Watch my case for me for a moment?" I asked a young couple, and scrambled down the steps. It was glorious to run along, a sudden sense that winter was over.I got a stick and wrote "Auntie was here!" on the sand, dipped my hands into the Thames and then hurried back up the steps - it would be an hour or more before these were under water, but there is something fearsome about the river's tidal surge.

Some sand-sculptors create wonderful castles and pictures in the sand - all to last for just a few hours before being swept away. Next day, as I retraced my steps on my way to another appointment, one such artist had made a most beautiful Easter scene, with Middle Eastern buildings and a Tomb with its stone rolled back...

I have a favourite restaurant not far from the river (I am not so daft as to give away its location, as it is mostly not too crowded) where I sometimes sit and work over a modest meal. A couple of hours spent thus, and then I headed for Soho, where a beautiful Mass for the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday was followed by a procession around Soho Square with the relics of St Mary Magdalene. Then Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. Street-missionaries take lanterns and invite passers-by to come in and light candles. It is the most moving thing to see people walking  up the lantern-lit aisle, slightly nervous at first , but then touched by the glittering candlelit scene, and relaxed about lighting a little tea-light by the altar steps...

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Paul VI, and a story worth discovering...

...in the latest CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT.

Read here...info not widely known.






Tuesday, April 03, 2018

...of interest to those who read my Good Friday blog...

...read here...



...and do come...

...on one of the next Catholic History Walks, now starting the new Spring season in earnest:

Tuesday April 10th, meet 2pm at the Church of the Mst Precious Blood, O'Meara Street, London SE1

Sunday April 15th, steps of WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL 3pm

More info here

...and on Saturday...

...April 7th, for the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, at St Patrick's, Soho, there is a special event which I hope to attend, with a  time of Adoration in the evening: info here.

Working...

...after the Easter break, and a  couple of major projects are moving into the next, most complicated, stage.

Research for one project will, it seems, involve sitting in a former nuclear bunker at a disused Amercan Air Force base.I'll keep you [posted on how it all goes.

...He is risen indeed!

Allleluia!!!

A wonderful family Easter, with the Exulstet and a  church glowing with candlelight...a celebratory lunch, and pleasant walks...family talk and simnel cake and chocolate eggs...

A Bank Holiday with  a walk and pub lunch, and some bookshop-browsing in Oxford, and I indulged in a couple of new books about CS Lewis.






Thursday, March 29, 2018

Good Friday...

...and no blogging, so I am writing this before midnight, having returned from a beautiful and moving Maundy Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge.

On this holy night, the Last Supper of the Lord and the prayer of agony in Gethsemane...

A quick glance at my emails before the silence of tomorrow.  And at the start of this Triduum, mischief-makers can find nothing better to do than to spread an unfounded claim about the Pope's belief in Hell:  no evidence produced, just the assertions of a journalist who admits to having taken no notes when interviewing the Pontiff.  I am uncomfortably aware that there are too many people even within the Church who will gloatingly repeat anything that seems to undermine either the Pope or the basic beliefs of the Church. Are they aware that it is wrong to do that?

Tomorrow the Pope and every other Catholic will follow the Lord in prayer to Calvary.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The CHRISM MASS...

...at Westminster Cathedral is crowded every year - and I don't know how or why,  because it is not widely advertised, no promotion in parishes across the diocese or whatever. And it is on a weekday, and invariably is cold weather...

But it invariably absolutely packed, with people sitting on the floor and in every side-chapel. I usually find a perch on the marble step by the tomb of Bishop Richard Challoner, near that of Cardinal Basil Hume...but this year some one whispered that there was a space in the St Joseph chapel, so I made my way there slowly edging down the side of the cathedral...the available seat was again marble, part of the weakest-go-to-the-wall bit and with a better view of the nave than my usual perch.  The Mass is glorious, and one can hear every word as the oils are brought up to be blessed in the time-honoured prayers. Fabulous music. And of course, before Mass begins, the rather impressive sights of the long long double column of priests coming up Ambrosden Avenue and up the  steps and through the great doors...

...which we watch accompanied by our placards saying "Thank you to our priests", in what is now an established tradition begun by Catholic women. We always give out thank-you cards, which are well received: this year's features a quote from blessed (soon to be canonised) Paul VI on the priesthood. For background on this tradition, read here...


Monday, March 26, 2018

Palm Sunday...

...and we gathered at Flat Iron Square, where noisy preparations for a flea market/festival were beginning, stalls erected, a merry-go-round starting to blare out music...but they turned down the noise, and Fr Christopher began the prayers and  everything was rather magnificent, the palm branches were held aloft and blessed with holy water...and then on we went,  down along the railway arches, with the children's choir leading us in Hosannas, and crowded into the church...





Friday, March 23, 2018

A book, two Popes, a controversy...

...this is a book I badly want to read. When will it be available in English?

Evening Mass and Stations of the Cross...

...at Westminster Cathedral on a Lenten Friday evening...good numbers, and it is intensely moving to be part of a large crowd cascading to its knees "We adore you Christ and we praise you/Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world...".

...and...

...on a pleasant, sunny afternoon, another History Walk, this one starting at St Patrick's, Soho.  As we gathered outside, and I began my talk about the history of the church and the district (for centuries a v. poor area, on the outskirts of the City of London , in Medieval times a place where people suffering from leprosy lived...local church dedicated to St Giles, patron of lepers. Similar to other cities, eg Oxford...), Fr Alexander came out with his dog, Ambrose. He reminded me that a new book about the history of the parish has just been published. I now have a copy and it is an excellent read. Contact the church to get a copy - beautifully produced and illustrated, and any profits will go towards the work for the homeless, "Open House", people suffering from drug addiction, etc...

The night train...the Caledonian sleeper...

...to Edinburgh from London is rather enjoyable...clean cabin with crisp fresh sheets, and towel, a little pack with soap etc, all provided...and in the morning one is woken with a tray of tea and biscuits.  At Edinburgh Waverley one can have a shower if one wants...and there are lots of places for breakfast.

Meeting re FAITH magazine, v. useful and productive...then a quick potter around Edinburgh, and some purchases for Easter gifts (Jamie is fond of haggis)...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

A rather horrible achievement...

...this past few days, has been the ability, using modern technology, to create accurately a  speech by President John F.Kennedy, using his actual voice, by piecing together minute fragments of sound from all his recorded speeches.  It was the speech he was due to give in Dallas the day he was killed.  But, as Libby Purves pointed out in The Times  this means that it will be possible to create an absolutely accurate representation of the speech of anyone in public life of whom there are various recordings, and present them as saying anything...a magnificent gift for evil-doers who can claim: "We've recorded him saying it...just listen to his voice..."



St Patrick...

...and I was off to the remarkable church in Soho, that is the subject of a newly-released history. As expected, the Mass was very crowded - young people sitting on the floor at the back etc. It's always gently amusing to see and hear this international congregation singing "on Erin's green valleys..." on the feast of Ireland's saint: there are not many Irish in this mixed congregation today. I had chiefly come for the NIGHT FEVER that followed Mass - as always, we fanned out across Soho Square and neighbouring streets with lanterns. In addition to inviting people to come in and light a candle, we gave out small bunches of shamrock. A good many people came in - lots of people were celebrating St Patrick's Day, and also the church was warm and glowing with candlelight on this bitterly cold night of sleet and snow.

When things finished with Benediction, there was supper and a ceilidh in the big crypt hall, with hot food and cheery music.  Then home through the snow...

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

THANK YOU TO CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS...

... for charity, common sense and wisdom in the face of pressure to  conform to bullying from fashionable lobbyists on "transgenderism".

He's going to come under a lot of pressure, and the position of Church schools is going to be difficult with parents insisting that their child should be encouraged to think about being mutilated.  No Christian should allow children to be abused in this way and even if we are told that the Church is "denying a child's human rights" by defending the truth about humanity, we must continue to stand firm. As the Cardinal notes:

“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behaviour, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance,”

“In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations are so important.

“They affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations,” 

“They help up keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy.”



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Meghan Markle...and her baptism...

...Miss Markle was recently baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with water from the river Jordan...an analysis here...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mothering Sunday...Laetare...

...and a family visit to my dear mama-in-law...a cheery lunch, and a happy day in glorious countryside, baby lambs in the fields, and at Mass we were given little bunches of daffodils to give to mothers...

Next Friday will see NIGHT FEVER at St Patrick's, Soho. Come along and sample it! A candlelit church,  filled with prayer, before the Blessed Sacrament, Franciscan Friars leading some singing...young people going out into the streets inviting anyone and everyone to come in to light a candle and pray...the altar rails ans surrounding area slowly filling with hundreds of glowing candles...

On SUNDAY, March 18th, join me for a Catholic History Walk, starting at 3pm at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea. Nearest tube: Sloane Square.

I have heard that there is a new book, telling how St John Paul helped and supported  Paul VI with Humanae Vitae, something I have long felt to be the case.  It doesn't seem to be available yet in English. Info, anyone?






Friday, March 09, 2018

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A networking day...

...with people working in the New Evangelisation, held at St Patrick's, Soho, and led by Fr  Thomas Joseph White OP, .  The idea of the day was to offer an introduction to new Dominican initiatives that are being launched in London.  Fr Thomas Joseph spoke - superbly and with insight - about the mood and spirit at today's universities in the USA...absolutely fascinating.  The message that there is no truth, that one can never make any moral judgements, creates a bitter hunger for something real that opens up a new and wider vista of thought about what it means to be human and why we are here at all.

More info from the Dominicans at their Rosary Shrine at St Dominic's Priory 

Monday, March 05, 2018

A Traditional Retreat...

...traditional in every sense, human and Godly, because it was in a snowbound manor house, and it was conducted along formal lines, with silence,  early-morning Mass, set gatherings for meditations in the Chapel with a talk from a priest, reading-aloud from an improving book at mealtimes, opportunities for confession, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary...oh, and porridge and bacon-and-eggs for breakfast, a wonderful library, and a roaring log fire, and I had brought my embroidery...

It was at Wickenden Manor, run by Opus Dei.  A time to pray, to ponder quietly, to read, to be with God.  The snow invited exploration of the grounds - there were the tracks of deer and of different varieties of birds, glorious silence and a sparkling freshness everywhere. The library offered a feast of good reading. The retreatants included a number of long-valued friends...but by common agreement we didn't chatter, and just somehow felt a prayerful solidarity, catching up on news and shall-we-have-lunch etc only when the Retreat ended on Sunday afternoon.

I will long value the memory of this retreat: the silence of the early morning broken by the voices answering up at Mass -  the first words uttered each morning were "And with your spirit" in response to priest's greeting. The chance to think quietly, free from email and internet distractions - perhaps providentially, I had inadvertently left my laptop in a friend's car earlier in the week and the snow meant that the parcel bringing it back to me was delayed until after the weekend. The sense of being among friends, and of being within the family of the Church - during the retreat the priest announced that Pope Francis had instituted a new universal feast, that of Mary Mother of the Church to be observed on the first Monday after Pentecost.

Home through rainy streets on Sunday evening. A new week beginning, mid-Lent  and a sense of fresh renewal.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The "Fortress Church"....the New Movements...

...the work of the International Theological Institute...and more....

If you want to get some insights into all of these, you want FAITH magazine. Send me a note of your POSTAL address  and I'll send you the latest issue, gratis.   Just send a COMMENT to this blog - which obviously I will not publish - with the address.

Note: some of my anonymous commentators might like to take up this offer. You don't need to send your name - just a postal address at which the magazine can reach you.

It's been a John Henry Newman week...

...marking his birthday. An excellent lecture at St Mary's University by Bishop Philip Egan, looking in depth at Newman's Idea of a University and applying its message to our own time. Scholarly, thoughtful, challenging, and somehow offering a message of hope and reassurance for the future. It opened up wide channels of thought about what could be achieved...

And then, the next day, at Littlemore,  a celebration of Newman's thoughts on beauty - in nature, in music, in architecture  - with a superb lecture by Father Guy Nichols, followed by lovely music from a string quartet...the Sisters of The Work welcomed a good crowd of us and it was a joyful evening.

Thank God for the life and work of Bl John Henry Newman.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Standing room only...

...in church this morning, with some 30 candidates being baptised or confirmed and lots of friends/family/godparents etc swelling the always substantial normal Sunday congregation for the 11 am sung Mass.. We were squashed into the pews but more and more people kept arriving, crammed into the back and up along the side aisles...

Children in traditional white outfits, glorious singing, the splashing of water at the baptisms and the glittering of candles in procession...the solemn words of Confirmation quietly said again and again as each candidate knelt before Mgr Keith Newton...


Saturday, February 17, 2018

I thought this report (see below) was a spoof....

...but it isn't.

Read here...

CENSORSHIP...

...good grief. What is happening to our poor country? Read here.

Over and over again, in the 1970s and 80s when pornography or the promotion of a homosexuality to children  was discussed,  at any suggestion of control or blocking even the most horrible material, people would cry out that nothing must ever be banned,  any such censorship was evil. And when there was a debate about it, they would say "I disagree with you completely - but I would defend to the death your right to your speak your point of view."

Not any more.The very same people  and organisations, plus new ones, are now calling for rigid censorship, and banning of a point of view they do not like. They do not seek to ban porn,  or sexually explicit material for children. They just want to block opinions they do not share. They just want to silence people who have views that are opposed to their own.

Let us hope that  goodwill, common sense, and freedom of speech will one day prevail.

Friday, February 16, 2018

On the bus...

...I've been reading WIND FROM HEAVEN, about the poetry and plays of Karol Wojtyla. It carries a recommendation from a friend, Prof Tracy Rowland, and on the strength of that, I asked for it as a Christmas present.  So my copy has a special value to me as it was a gift from my husband, and has a loving message from him.

It's an excellent read. Among much else, it makes one think about the innate value of words and language - something which has become of increasing interest as I've discovered the origins of place-names and their meanings, and then of course come to see how these link into language generally. London's Horseferry Road - the old horse-ferry, owned and run by the Archbishops of Canterbury at Lambeth and operating across to Westminster, enabled people to take goods across the river. Fer - to carry. Think transfer, confer, prefer....

The future Pope John Paul pondered this through the Theatre of the Spoken Word in wartime Krakow - no props or costumes, and performances in private houses and under threat from Gestapo discovery. The beauty of language flourished...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Miracles and Pope Paul VI...

...and the latest technology concerning unborn babies. Read here.

In life, Bl Paul VI  had many who attacked him in the media and in Catholic gossip. Some tried to slander him viciously, and did not stop even if that involved undermining the Church's unity and mission: the Pope  spoke memorably and sadly of the "smoke of Satan" entering the sanctuary of the Church. He was a Pope in difficult times for the Church. But history is now re-evaluating his life and times: those who still try to sneer at him sound vacuous.

Paul VI gave us the Credo of the People of God, Humanae Vitae, Evangeli Nuntiandi,  and the beginnings of the notion of the Pope as missionary leader of a missionary Church. Along with many pontificates in history, his was marked by unsuccessful attempts at Church/State politicking - ostpolitik was not useful. And the liturgical reform got off to a dreadfully messy start. But that is now finally coming right with younger clergy seeking  dignity, order and beauty in the celebration of the Mass and an audible and visible liturgy having taken root as central to heartfelt prayer. And St John Paul the Great transformed ostpolitik into something quite different the moment he was elected.

Intercession to Bl Paul VI will become part of Catholic life over the next years, and will prove fruitful.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A traditional Ash Wednesday Mass...

...but -  for the first time for me -  in the Ordinariate form. The church was, as with all churches on Ash Wednesday, very full (and apparently had been packed for the lunchtime Mass too). Being a central London church, right by London Bridge, its Ash Wednesday congregations include large numbers of people who work nearby, ie not necessarily people with any particular knowledge of the Ordinariate.  So when this evening's Mass began and  FrC. announced that it was in the Ordinariate Form, one sensed a ripple of interest.  But as the Mass began it just felt  normal and there is something so...oh, I am not expressing this very well, but...reassuring about this annual start of Lent, and the pastor marking himself and all the flock, one by one, with ashes. It's somehow real and grounding, in this often narcissic modern Britain.

In my childhood, the Lenten ashes were just a dab of dry dust, imparted with a quick movement, somehow not very memorable.  Today priests seem to be much more active with the holy water when blessing the ashes, to make a thick paste which thus marks a clear and very definite cross on each forehead. There also seems to be more emphasis on having people bring their previous year's palms to be burned to make the ashes...it all makes the thing fit together and there is a sense of being part of the whole Church and Lent being very important.

DO CHILDREN IN LONDON TODAY...

...KNOW THE LORD'S PRAYER?


If they don't, here's a way to help them. Read here.  Use the email address given to enquire about other parts of Britain too.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A teacher at a Catholic school has been dismissed and parents are angry...


The teacher celebrated a same-sex "wedding" - all the trimmings,  lavish reception, people invited to contribute towards a luxury honeymoon, etc etc. When St Peter and Paul school explained that she could not return to her teaching job, angry parents were outraged, and gathered at the school to protest.

The info is here

But the journalist writing the report just can't seem to grasp the concept of a Catholic school.

Such a school must have integrity. It cannot both teach and oppose what the Church knows and understands as the truth. The Catholic Church understands that she must guard, teach, and celebrate the truth about the human person.

No one is forced to teach in a Catholic school. There are a great many other things to do with one's life. The decision to teach in a Catholic school is job-specific.

This is what the Catholic Church teaches on same-sex unions:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.



What on earth is the CofE establishment trying to cover up?

...There's something really weird going on with this Bishop Bell case. The latest twist is that Bishop bell's niece is now being treated rather unfairly. Read here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Mass...and then a cheery, talkative pub lunch...

...after which I walked across London Bridge, in the crisp chill of a wintry day, I loathe the ugliness of the horrible Walkie-Talkie , probably the ugliest building produced in any British city in my lifetime (and there has been a great deal of ugliness). Across the other side, looking westwards, St Paul's remains a reassuring presence with that grey dome against the sky. There's a useful coffee-shop near Monument tube station where I tackled a few emails, and then home through the dusk.

Been reading...

...or rather, re-reading, Joseph Ratzinger's Many Religions, one Covenant...excellent, important read.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Absolutely great...

...REALLY GREAT listening:  Bishop Robert Barron with evangelical Dr William Craig...do listen to this:  it will inspire and challenge you.

There are good things happening in America...

Bishop Barron will be speaking at the Eucharistic Congress to be held in Liverpool this September.

CATHOLIC WOMEN: 2018

The Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2018

To mark this, we will be holding a special celebration Luncheon in the Autumn - and we invite nominations for the 2018 Catholic Women of the Year. We are looking for the "unsung heroines" - women who joyfully and prayerfully serve the Church and the community, as mothers, teachers, Sisters, holders of public office, or workers in all sorts of jobs, upholding Christian moral values and caring for those in need, in their local parish and/or beyond. 

To nominate some one, all that is needed is a letter giving a short account of why the person should receive the honour. The four Catholic Women of the Year are chosen by secret ballot by a committee drawn from representatives of  the main Catholic women's organisations.

Nominations can be sent via our web page at www.cwoy.org ,  by email: cwoynominations@gmail.com  or by post to: CWOY, 33 Asburnham Tower,  London SW10 0EE, and should arrive before April 13th 2018.

Catholic Women of the Year Jubilee Committee 2018





Thursday, February 08, 2018

And Evensong...

...here, and a reminder that we must bring our palms to church this week, so that they can be burnt to make ashes for the forthcoming Ash Wednesday.

...and to St Mary's...

...at Twickenham, to continue the history research project. 

The refectory, young people hunched over their food, baseball caps on backwards, a lot of shrieking and shouting.

The wintry beauty of the lawns, and a red bus trundling along Waldegrave Road in the dusk.


Tuesday, February 06, 2018

On a sparkling, bright, fresh wintry Sunday afternoon...

...I hurried to Westminster Cathedral to lead another History Walk. I thought there might be half a dozen people.  There were over forty! A wonderful crowd, including some students visiting from the North American College in Rome - wonderful chaps, and it was great to meet them.

Walking through Westminster, past the Green Coat Boy and the Greycoat Hospital, and across Horseferry Road, and down towards the Abbey, is a route crammed with history...the only odd feeling at the moment is the startling appearance, or rather disappearance, of Big Ben. One looks up - and there it isn't.  The great clock is lost behind scaffolding, as is the tower: at dusk it looks even odder, like a grim square giant  unlit candle with a tiny wick (the tip of the tower) barely visible on top. Bleak.  However, the work needs to be done, and it's right that Parliament has decided to get a grip on the project.




...and... IMPORTANT...

...on China and the Vatican, read here...

Saturday, February 03, 2018

China: depressing news....

...that the Church seems to be on the brink of doing a deal in which the Chinese government will have a major say in the appointment of bishops. This is a very, very bad plan. Christ appointed Peter and the Twelve. He didn't urge them to make arrangements with the Roman bureaucracy to establish their successors.

Pope St John Paul got it right when dealing with governments. You are polite and courteous and have useful dealings, you emphasise that government is service and that God seeks to sanctify all such work - but you hold fast to the complete truth and freedom of the Church. No deals, no power-sharing, no special arrangements, no wannabe-throne-and-altar schemes.  Peter is the rock. Not Peter-n-the-government-of-this-bit-of-the-world. The Church must be free to be what she is, to fulfil the glory of what Christ called her to be and to do on earth until he returns in glory.

Cardinal Zen has heroically been pleading with Pope Francis to abandon the scheming. As has happened too often in the life of the Church, the heroic local bishop is ignored in the face of what seems expedient...and then, when t the wider perspective is seen, and the history is written, people sigh...

Friday, February 02, 2018

A TRADITIONAL CANDLEMAS...

...at Westminster Cathedral...a grand procession of choir and clergy up that great  aisle, all holding candles and followed by a surge of  candle-bearing faithful. A great joy to enter into this on a cold night...and even though it marks the end of the Christmas season, which brings a momentarily bleak thought, Candlemas is a lovely feast. The choristers sang, and the candles glittered and glowed, and we were reminded again of the Light that has come into the world...

"Auntie Pollyanna"....

....and if you want cheering up, read Auntie here...

...and also..

... a full report of yesterday's event at Church House: read here.


...and more on Bishop George Bell...

...and the bizarre action of the Church of England in attempting to revive the campaign against him

Read here...

and an excoriating analysis by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail, here...

And also, read today's excellent leader in the Daily Telegraph...


Thursday, February 01, 2018

CHURCH HOUSE, Westminster...

...is a rather splendid place, beautifully equipped and with fine portraits of Anglican worthies....a mix of good architecture, good taste, and the latest equipment. The right place for a serious meeting about Bishop George Bell. It was a privilege to be invited to chair the event.

A number of resolutions were passed, urging that  Archbishop Welby apologise for his "significant cloud"  statement about Bishop Bell,  and that Bell's portrait be reinstated at Chichester and his name restored to the house in Canon Lane which was opened in his honour. We also urged a full Synod debate about Lord Carlile's report at the earliest opportunity.

Not coincidentally, the Church of England issued a statement yesterday announcing that further information had been received about Bishop Bell and that they were liaising with Sussex police on the matter. It's not clear why police should be involved: if the suggestion is that Bishop took part in some criminal activity, he cannot be prosecuted because he is dead. And why is he being named at all? Archbishop Welby appeared to indicate that the Church of England would accept the serious criticisms made by the Carlile Report and would act accordingly: a major recommendation was that a person of whom a serious allegation is made should not be publicly named because it implies that the allegation is true.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

GOVERNMENT, The common good, and human dignity...

...the theme of a most useful conference organised by the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary's University yesterday.  It was particularly interesting to meet Jenny Sinclair of Together for the Common Good, and there was an excellent presentation by John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, who spoke about persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.


...and across the sea...

...to the Isle of Wight, for a very happy day visiting St Cecilia's Convent at Ryde. The round of prayer in the daily Office, the opportunity of a good talk with the Prioress - wisdom, common sense, laughter - and the joy of the sea, the stiff wind on the Solent, a hearty fish-and-chip lunch at Ryde Castle...

We left as Vespers gently finished...the light was fading, Portsmouth glittered across the Solent, the ferry met the London train at the harbour station.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

...and to Edinburgh...

...for an Editorial meeting, FAITH  magazine.  These gatherings are always stimulating, challenging, and enjoyable. Mgr Patrick Burke, a distinguished theologian, is vicar-general, based at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. The FAITH Movement has strong links with the excellent Sisters of the Gospel of Life in Glasgow. I travelled from London overnight on the Caledonian Sleeper.

After the meeting, I spent the afternoon tackling some work on the matter of  Bishop George Bell: am chairing a meeting this coming Thursday at Church House, Westminster. The aim of the meeting is to build some bridges - feelings are running high. There is a general recognition that justice must be done to Bp Bell's memory: the findings of the Carlisle Report reveal that he has not been treated fairly...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Marian chapel at the John Fisher School, Purley...auntie J made the kneeler!

Hugely enjoyable...

...visit to St Mary's School, Shaftesbury, to give a talk to the some of the older pupils looking at issues of the role of women/Mulieris Dignitatem/Theology of the Body...a warm welcome, and it was a real pleasure to talk to a delightful,  friendly and thoughtful group  who responded with  real interest and goodwill.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Large numbers of the people...

...at Mass on Sunday are young families: we have a thriving Sunday school, a lot of young altar servers, and a wonderful Children's Choir, plus lots of smaller children and babies squeaking and wriggling with their parents in the pews. There are teenagers who sort of slope in separately to show they are independent.  And as this is London, we also have a good many visitors - sometimes people just google to find the nearest church to their hotel, or come across the church by chance and find us convenient for Mass on Sunday. And then there are students, some of whom live nearby...

After Mass there is coffee and a loud babble of talk. Then sometimes some of us who are not so young and don't have immediate commitments sometimes gather for a drink in a nearby pub. We are a slightly random group, and that is part of the charm: we probably wouldn't know each other at all except that we have this great thing in common, this Faith which is at once so important and so ordinary...


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Students of...

...America's Notre Dame University came on a London History Walk, organised by their Director for Catholic initiatives, Fr Jim Lies. I very much enjoyed leading the Walk: they were a delightful group. We explored Chelsea, and I explained about it being a Royal Borough...we followed the Thames and saw the Royal Hospital and so on...and then the story of St Thomas More...and finished at Allen Hall, where we were welcomed by the Rector, who told the story of the College's  foundation by Cardinal Allen, the  heroic Douai Martyrs, the move to Ware, and thence to London...and we finished at the More family's  famous mulberry tree...

Notre Dame's London base is a fine building just off Trafalgar Square, familiar to me as the Catholic Union organises regular lectures there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An evening...

...with the Emmanuel Community, at the rather fine church of Our Lady of Victories in Kensington High Street.

Jamie and I first met the Emmanuel Community at Paray-le-Monial in the summer of 1990 with some Austrian friends. We were impressed. But I was not sure how it would be in  Britain on a rainy January night some thirty years later....

It was beautiful. A good crowd of people...rather tender temoinage from a woman describing how God - and Our Lady - had guided her through some family tragedies and to the adoption of a little boy...the beauty of glowing candles as people came forward to leave their own petitions before the Blessed Sacrament...it was a peaceful and beautiful way to start the New Year.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The first Catholic History Walks of 2018...

are as follows:

Sunday, 4th February, 3pm. Catholics and Politics: St Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, Pugin, Parliament and the Abbey. Meet on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Nearest Tube: Victoria.


Monday 12th February, 2pm. Explore the varied and fascinating history of the City of London.  Meet at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, Southwark. SE1 1TA. Nearest Tube: Borough or London Bridge.


Tuesday 20th February, 2pm. The story of St Thomas More, who died defending the faith duringHenry VIII's reign.  Meet at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row. SW3 5HS. Nearest Tube: South Kensington.


ALL WELCOME:  no need to book, just turn up!

We suggest a donation of £5 per person.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

HUMANAE VITAE....

the great encyclical from a truly holy Pope, Blessed Paul VI, marks its 50th anniversary this year.  And, despite the gleeful hints by Mrs Melinda Gates and others, this anniversary will not be an  occasion for a change or adaption in the unchanging and unchangeable teaching that artificial contraception is intrinsically immoral. 

Lots will be said on this: among much else, HV was an extraordinarily prophetic document, and this aspect is one worth studying and emphasising. But there is more. At all times, the true and authentic teaching of the Church needs to be defended and upheld, and this requires courage. So while there can be no change in the teaching, there is alas no guarantee that Bishops - and Popes - will always have the courage to keep on repeating it with the courage, insights and wisdom required. So let's pray that in this anniversary year the courage will be forthcoming. Paul VI, who so often looked frail and solemn, showed true courage in 1968: read about it here.

It's an open secret that Pope Francis is much disliked and despised among many orthodox Catholics: I have been told so much about his quick temper, angry outbursts, and secretive plotting. But all of that misses the point: his role as Peter means that he has a special call on our prayers. He is meant to "confirm the brethren" in the Church's teachings, so that all will remain strong. In order to help him, what is needed is prayer.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Five years ago...

...the Church of the Most Precious Blood at The Borough, London Bridge, was placed in the care of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

AND LOOK HOW IT'S GROWN!!

Look here for a pic taken 5 years ago and one taken at Sunday's celebration

The Spirit of Vatican II...

....is the theme of the new series of

EVENINGS OF FAITH

at The Challoner Room
(basement) 24 Golden Square London W1F 9JR
7pm. Followed by cheese and wine

Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

TUESDAY January 30th:
 DEI VERBUM: Revelation in a scientific world
Dr Gregory Farrelly


TUESDAY  13th February:
The Eucharist: source and summit of our Lives
Holy Hour: Fr Matthew O'Gorman

Tuesday 27th February
Humanae Vitae: the dignity of marriage and sex
Mr Ryan Day


Tuesday 13th March
Lumen Gentium: the nature of the Church today
Fr Timothy Finigan

ALL WELCOME




Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A warm welcome...

...at St Elphege's Church in Wallington: my home parish where I was baptised, confirmed, and married and where my family were part of the parish community for decades. It was lovely to be back.  I was invited by the Union of Catholic Mothers to talk about the story of Croydon Aiport,  and if you think that sounds obscure, that's because you just don't understand how important it all was, and why Wallington is so proud of this heritage. It was from that airport on the open land on the edge of Wallington - New Barn Farm,  the manors of Bandon and Foresters, mentioned in the Doomsday Book - that the air routes of the world were carved out. From here, Amy Johnson flew solo to Australia. From here, daily, the British newspapers were flown across to the European mainland, and the  12.30 to Paris linked Europe's two best-known capital cities. Here, Lindbergh flew in to a hero's welcome after flying the Atlantic. And here, in the summer of 1940, the young men of the Royal Air Force defended our country and its freedom in the Battle of Britain.

Want to know more? Read the books: there are four of them in all. Try The First Croydon Airport   which tells the story of WWI at the airfield, or The Great Days  with stories of Amy Johnson, Charles Kingsford Smith, Bert Hinkler etc....or this one about the Battle or Britain or this one which wraps up the story...

Writing the books on the history of Croydon Airport was a major part of my young adult life. My father became the first Treasurer of the Croydon Airport Society which would eventually establish a fine museum at the Airport where new generations can learn the story of the magnificent early  years of flight in Britain.

It was lovely to be home: a happy afternoon.


BISHOP GEORGE BELL...

...a relevant comment here.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

A GLORIOUS TRADITIONAL EPIPHANY CELEBRATION...

...with the distribution of blessed chalk to mark our homes, and the singing of  splendid Epiphany carols...

...and then champagne  to mark the 5th anniversary of the Church of the Most Precious Blood being given into the care of the Ordinariate.

Then a large gathering of those original Ordinariate pioneers, plus others, for a splendid Lunch, with and excellent hearty menu, speeches and toasts...

Friday, January 05, 2018

On Epiphany...

...read this.

...and what will....

...Auntie Joanna be doing in 2018? In response to enquiries, here's the info:

- working on the history of St Mary's University as Visiting Research Fellow
- editing FAITH magazine, a theological journal
- chairing the work of  CHRISTIAN PROJECTS, an ecumenical group running various projects for schools
- lecturing at Maryvale
- and, yes, relaxing a lot: enjoying countryside, relishing family and friends, and doing the sewing and embroidery that I very much enjoy...

January 2018 looks set to start on a good note: as well as Epiphany, with lovely carols, the traditional blessing of homes and chalking up of the date, etc etc,  there will be celebrations here to mark the 5th anniversary of the parish being placed in the care of the Ordinariate of OL of Walsingham.


Great teaching...

...from Bishop Robert Barron for the feast of the Epiphany...enjoy here

And he spoke this week at the big conference organised by FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.  One of the best things that happened to me while working at St Mary's University in Twickenham, was coming across the FOCUS event that was being held there. Superb. It is inspirational, and I enjoyed meeting Curtis Martin, the founder of the group - did an interview w. him for FAITH magazine (copy of magazine available if you want to enjoy it - just send a Comment to this blog with a postal address to which I can send it. I won't publish your address).


A major project for 2018...

...begins for me with  a meeting at Church House, Westminster, on February 1st: next stages in the campaign to ensure the truth is told about Bishop George Bell, and his reputation fully restored. Please come to this event: info here.

The campaign is gathering pace: many new developments. Worth reading this  to get the current picture...


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

What were the best books...

...that you read in 2017?  The Catholic World Report asked a number of us for our thoughts on this. You can read about Auntie Joanna's here...

Monday, January 01, 2018

There's lots to say...

...as the New Year opens, and you can read some of it in The Portal.... Auntie is among the contributors...

We saw in the New Year...

...with traditional family games, and party food, and fireworks, and fun. The children adore it all, and love to hear about how the games and traditions go right back to long ago and to gatherings of great-great-great grandparents...

After the children were tucked up, the older among us marked the chimes of midnight with champagne and hugs, and went out into the street where there was a glorious gathering of neighbours to ooh and aaah at a great firework display over the town, and to sing "Auld Lang Syne in proper style, arms linked for the second verse and dancing forward and back...