Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Useful analysis...

...of the situation in which the American bishops have now been placed...here...

Difficult days for the Church. Pray...

The work of the Church goes on. Today, a gathering in Parliament organised by Catholic MPs and peers, at which Cardinal Peter Turkson spoke, tackling issues of human dignity and human trafficking. There is some good work being done by Catholic groups on this...including nuns who run places of refuge for young women caught up in this ghastly life of prostitution...

The recent Catholic Women of the Year lunch raised funds for Bakhita House...

Today's meeting was in the Speaker's House, approached via a rather grand staircase and entrance just off New Palace Yard. We gathered in rooms lined with enormous portraits of bewigged former Speakers. A gentle reflective  moment of history before the talk turned to the matters in hand:  Cardinal Turkson recalled singing "God Save the Queen  at school as a child in Ghana...

...and this is what it is like...

...going on a Catholic History Walk with some of Mother Theresa's nuns...read here...

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Glasgow Herald newspaper...

...has printed a short feature about the FAITH Movement, written by the Editor of the magazine. Might be of interest: read here...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

REMEMBRANCE DAY..and ONE HUNDRED YEARS...

...since the Armistice of 1918 was signed.

J. joined his regiment for the march-past in Whitehall. I went to the local ceremonies at London Bridge. Later, to Westminster Abbey to hear the great pealing out of bells and to see the beacon lit, one of a great number across the whole country.

The bond that unites people in Britain for a short while each November is something quite extraordinary - and ordinary. People feel somehow normal: there is a sense of neighbourliness. In a packed pub, a kilted piper started to play and everyone applauded and called for more. Older men wearing medals - and especially really elderly men wearing  a row of medals - were greeted everywhere with respect. At Waterloo, taxi drivers wearing special "poppy rides" jackets offered free transport to Remembrance events to any Forces chaps, serving or retired.

People chatted, spoke of family members who had served in the Great War for the Second World War.. I thought of my grandfather, wounded twice on the Western Front...he reurned home finally to his wife and baby son...my Uncle John who in turn went on to serve twenty years later with the RAF in the Second World War and was killed, shot down over the North Sea...

As I write this, the beacons are still burning. When I am very old, I will remember that I was in London to mark the centenary of the Armistice, and that I remembered conversations with my grandfather who fought in that war.



Thursday, November 08, 2018

NEXT CATHOLIC HISTORY WALKS...

...will be:


SUNDAY 18th November, 3pm:  on a ROYAL theme, starting 3pm Westminster Cathedral, finishing at BUCKINGHAM PALACE



Monday Nov 26th   A tour INSIDE Westminster Cathdral: meet at the main doors 3pm



Tuesday Nov 27th  INSIDE St George's Cathedral Southwark:  meet at the main doors, 3pm


NO NEED TO BOOK: just turn up!

On the USA Bishops' crisis...

...read this comment 

Thursday, November 01, 2018

ALL SAINTS DAY...

...and  evening Mass at Precious Blood Church at London Bridge - not as crowded as the lunchtime Mass, but beautiful  with music (Merbecke - the Mass was in Ordinariate Form) and a cheery gathering afrerwards for anyone who wanted, with prosecco and chat before going out into the rainy night...

Come and hear the LOGS group sing carols:  Flat Iron Square, Dec 17th, from 5.30pm.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

And a meeting...

...with a longstanding colleague from Christian Projects. Over 25 years ago, we established what is now the annual Schools Bible Project. The young winners of the 2018 project will be coming to London in December to receive their prizes at the House of Lords. There is a sense of achievement about this, but the whole venture is always a work-in-progress. The internet has changed things, not least with the publicity. Local newspapers, radio etc used to report on the project and the prizewinners etc....but it is one thing to have a cheery report in a local newspaper, and another to plaster a child's name and school over a worldwide massive system.  And - more importantly - we have to check for plagiarism in the children's work. In the days when all the entries were hand-written, very few children simply copied out something from a textbook, and it was easy to detect it when they did...today the internet offers massive scope for cut-n-past jobs. In a sense, I think that, in all this as in much else, there has been a sort of loss of innocence...

A day...

...at Aylesford Priory, established by Carmelite monks by the Medway  over 800 years ago, destroyed under Henry VIII, revived in the 20th century...and glorious on a golden Autumn day, with bright leaves fluttering down beneath a blue sky in crisp fresh air...

After Mass we lunched in the ancient, thick-walled Pilgrim Hall, and then enjoyed the library in its gallery...much to discuss, given the state of the Church and so on...

Monday, October 22, 2018

...and pondering...

...the need for prayer for the Pope, that he may do what is right and stand firm for the Church's teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts, and take action as required... read here...

Celebrating St John Paul's FEAST DAY

...and praying very much for the Church today....

Confession and then MASS at Westminster Cathedral where, as Canon  Christoher Tuckwell reminded us with a sweeping gesture of his arm to point it out, a great stone set into the floor before the sanctuary commemorates, with a Latin inscription, the fact that Saint John Paul  - many of us remember it - came to the Cathedral  and celebrated Mass there in 1982.

Then, with colleague Sarah de Nordwall, a visit to the superb celebration of Anglo-Saxon life and literature - glorious  illuminated books of the Gospels, psalters, and more - in the British Library. A working lunch there, planning joint history/poetry/cultural events for 2019 with the Catholic History Walks and the Bard School....

...and then, a celebration Tea to honour St John Paul and talk about what he taught us, with sharing of books by and about him...

And may St John Paul the Great intercede for us all in the Church today...we need his prayers badly...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Approaching the 40th anniversary of the election of the great JOHN PAUL...

...and hence his FEAST DAY, Oct.22nd.

And a message from his life, for the current Synod...read here...

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WORKING ON...

...the history of this university  offers days in the library, adjacent coffee-shop, and lovely grounds.  Then, for the train journey home, I can choose something good from the library - currently Ian Ker on Bl John Henry Newman...

Been pondering and reading, too, about good St Paul VI...this week, following his canonisation, there are vicious attacks on him in the com-boxes of  some Catholic websites.  Some are astonishingly ignorant, and reveal a truly horrible mentality - showing the truth  his own sad comment about the "smoke of Satan" issuing into the Church. Such smoke has truly got in via these nasty attackers, who claim to be devout Catholics but are spreading anger and poison. Ugh. However, it has all prompted me to read more by and about him: his call to missionary endeavour and his Credo of the People of God...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

...and to the Mansion House...

...home of the Lord Mayor of the City of London,  for the launch of the new School of Business and Society at St Mary's University.  The idea is to educate  "the whole person, not just from a business and technical perspective, but to provide ethical formation". Very well attended and done in grand style - my it all flourish and foster great and good things...

Monday, October 15, 2018

And in a private conference...

...a most useful series of talks on this ghastly promotion of propaganda - in our schools and with complete disregard for the truth - about how people can "transition" from being male to being female, and vice versa, simply because they have a feeling that they should.

Excellent input from medical experts, explaining how wrong this all is...but the most worrying aspect  is that there is no possibility of a serious discussion of this subject in medical journals as there is so much fear surrounding it. When a distinguished doctor wrote an important analysis in a major publication he was denounced by "trans" and homosexual/lesbian lobby groups because he did not share their ideas...and the journal formally apologised for oublishing his work.

It's horrible...like the ghastly staged trials in Eastern Europe in the 1950s with people bullied into denouncing their friends and colleagues, and retracting their own ideas on freedom and democracy.  What on earth is going on?

On the way home, I picked up an Evening Standard...a chatty feature by a young columnist described how she was "having a baby with a friend" with sperm from a donor, and was wondering how many unknown siblings the child might have.

The Britain of the near future is going to be a frightening place.

A visit...

...from Bishop Lopes, of the North American Ordinariate, who celebrated Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge this morning...all this week the three Ordinaries are meeting, so this was a chance for him to see this parish. Opportunity for a celebration...a glass of fizz afterwards along w. the usual coffee etc. For after-Mass gatherings, the parish now uses space at The Sidings, the nightclub under the railway arches where we had Mass during the summer when the church's new floor was being laid...

Meanwhile in Rome, St Paul VI canonised, along with St Oscar Romero and others...saints whose help from Heaven we can now invoke...orate pro nobis...

Paul VI was a man of courage. He was savagely attacked in his lifetime by critics who tried to spread calumnies against him, and now even when his holiness has been recognised by the Church for all time, there are crude voices raised against him. He is a saint for all who are maligned and villified for upholding the truth of the moral law and for loving and serving the Church...read here...










Saturday, October 13, 2018

To Richmond...

...and to this church, which has seen a substantial rise in numbers over the past couple of years...it is across the river from St Mary's University, where I am often to be found busy with my research work.  Lovely to be in Richmond - a place with strong family asociations for me - on an Autumn evening.

Long ago, a young man made a film - in the early days of home cinematopgraphy in the 30s - about the Autumn tide along the Thames, bringing the Autumn to this roverside town. It  featured his parents and siblings: Autumn walks, his schoolgirl sister crunching into a ripe apple, the first leaves scattering down along the paths... and it won an award, and is now of course a period piece. If he had lived, I think he might have been a successful director/producer/writer...  But he did not live to do that. When war broke out, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force and was shot down somewhere over the North Sea.....he was my uncle and his name is on the big RAF memorial overlooking the Thames at Runnymede. And  you and I owe to him, and others like him, the duty of keeping our country a good and happy one, where truth and freedom are upheld and where we can worship God on an Auytumn evening and practise our faith without fear...

To Bexleyheath...

...in Kent, for a morning assembly, tp present prizes gained by pupils at St Columba'sCatholic  Boys School in the 2018 Schools Bible Project.  One pupil has won a major prize and will come to the House of Lords in December to receive it from our Trustee Baroness Cox. Full list of schools that have gained main prizes here...in addition, pupils at a number of schools across Britain gained runner-up prizes.

It was a pleasure to be at this school. The boys were smart in their uniforms, friendly and courteous to a visitor, and attentive to the Scripture reading and prayers led by their teacher. At the prayer "St Colmba. pray for us" they rather touchingly put their hands on their hearts as they echoed the response. Distributing the prizes  for the Bible Project is always enjoyable and maes all the work of organisation etc worthwhile...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

And the latest FAITH magazine...

...can now be read on-line here...

Bl John Henry Newman...

...is commemorated annually on  the eve of his Feast Day with a Night Walk through Oxford, marking the night when he was received into full communion with the Catholic Church by Bl Dominic Barberi.  This year's Walk was  particularly splendid - a glorious Autumn evening, Oxford glowing in lamplight,  leaves russet and brown beneath our feet, and  a large crowd of walkers - including many young as this is Oxford.  The Walk begins at the Oxford Oratory and among the prayer-intentions was one for more vocations for the Oratorians - an apparently unnecessary prayer as there are a good number of young ones and it is all thriving...

I'm doing a good deal of walking at present. The next day, back in London, there was a Westminster History Walk. Again, large numbers. We start at Westminster Cathedral, walk down Ambrosden Avenue, learn about the Choir School and the Archbishops of Westminster from 1850 to the present, and head  down towards the Horseferry Road via the pubs and streets named after charity-schools (Green Coat Boy, Grey Coat Hospital etc), and on to Parliament...

Sunday, October 07, 2018

WALKING....

...and walking....

After Mass this morning I walked around  Southwark and The Borough  to check the route for the afternoon's History Walk. Then lunched, and met the batch of walkers waiting at Precious Blood Church - a lovely friendly group - and off we set.  On every walk I learn new things...this time about St Olaf, of whom there is an unexpected statue in this church which I attended recently when weekday Masses were not possible at Precious Blood because of the renovation work.  St Olaf was the great Viking king who teamed up with Saxons to fight pagan Viking invaders and saved the city of London... I knew the story but until today I had not fully explored the memorial on the rather pleasing Art Deco office block that bears his name...

Friday, October 05, 2018

THE SYNOD...

...has opened in Rome, and THIS contribution by Archbishop  charles Chaput is of great importance. NOTE IT, ask your Bishops to follow it up: the issue is a central one, concerning truth, integrity, and the value of the human person.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Rose hips at Walsingham...

...and plenty of serious things in our hearts as we gathered to pray.

I gathered the rose hips along the Holy Mile, and am taking them home to turn into rose hip syrop for the winter. We of the LOGS group  had gathered at Precious Blood church at London Bridge and  were sent off for Walsingham with a pilgrim blessing after Mass. As we approached Walsingham we  stopped for tea with an Ordinariate family who have recently settled there and our pilgrimage began with a cheery catching-up of news and a real sense of welcome...and of course we met them again the next morning for Mass at the Church of the Annunciation where there is a good-sized congregation for week day Mass...

Our days of pilgrimage included a Rosary Walk along the Mile, a priviledged visit to the ruined Francican friary - the Franciscans are now back in Walsingham and much in evidence at the Shrine - and a most useful afternoon meeting for planning our future activities for 2019 and beyond...

There was also the unexpected pleasure of a splendid Pilgrimage Mass celebrated with pilgrims - and their Bishop - from the diocese of Lancaster, plus pleasant evenings one of which included a glorious long walk along by the coast at Wells.  The sun was setting in rose-ink glory beyond the sands, and the halyards  of the dozens of little  boats in the harbour were making that faint bell-like sound against the masts in the evening breeze. Kathie said "I'd like to sing 'The day thou gavest Lord...'"  and so we did, turning for home with the cheery lights of the town promising a welcome and a good meal.

A happy time, and a good pilgrimage. We had carried ourpetitions in prayer to the shrine of Our Lady and left them there. Plenty of concerns, and mostly not trivial ones: these are not easy times for the Church and the world.and a pilgrimage isn't an escape from reality but a way of connecting our own duties and responsibilities with reminders of God's providence...

Sunday, September 30, 2018

THE GREAT RETURN...

...to church this mornng, as the Church of the Precious Blood at London Bridge opened its doors wide  to reveal its gleaming new marble floor and sanctuary and the congregation poured in.  Candles glowed and incense wafted up. The children's choir sang from the gallery, the  September sunshine streamed in through the windows, and Father C. blessed the new font and we renewed our baptismal promises with great vigour and were splashed with the newly blessed water. It was glorious and solemn and joyful and a new chapter of the Church's long and splendid mission in London.  I hadn't expected to find it so moving...

Tomorrow members of LOGS, the ladies group based at Precious Blood, will  set off on pilgrimage to Walsingham, where we will place our plans and our hopes - and our concerns and worries and personal prayers and more - into the hands of Christ's mother at the shrine where people have been doing the same for a thousand years.

The Catholic Women's League...

...in the diocese of Southwark invited me to speak at their conference, held today at St Joseph's, Roehampton,  and I was given a warm welcome. I spoke about the recent  ADOREMUS Eucharistic Congress, and it was great to share memories of this splendid history-making event, and especially of that grand Eucharistic procession, the crowds, the atmosphere...

Today was a golden September day, and simply travelling by bus along by the Common was glorious.

My only regret about speaking at the conference was that I missed the annual "Two Cathedrals" Blessed Sacrament Procession, held each September to mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain...but I looked up the pics afterwards and it went well, as always...beginning at Westminster Cathedral, crossing the Thames  to Southwark and finishing with Benediction at St George's Cathedral...


Friday, September 28, 2018

Mass in a nightclub....

...has been (sort of ) fun for the past few weeks...but it will be good to be back in church again.

The parish of the Most Precious Blood moved across the street to The Sidings, a nightclub created in, well, the sidings of the great railway network that  is gathered at London Bridge where lines meet from across Kent and South East London. Beneath the great solid railway arches there are cavernous rooms that are now packed with people and  talk and laughter and drink and food in the evenings...and packed even more tightly by Catholics on Sunday mornings as the parishioners seek to squeeze into every corner as Father C celebrates Mass at a makeshift altar.

Meanwhile, in our fine Victorian church, workmen have been labouring to create the new marble floor which will welcome us back again this Sunday.

We've all been peering in to see how things have been going. It now looks superb. A line of red marble leads up the aisle from the font (brand-new, an exact relica of the original design, and due to be blessed and consecrated shortly, with all of us renewing our baptismal vows)  to the sanctuary, where a pattern of further red mingles with  shining silver-grey and creamy white.

Choir stalls have been installed for the children's choir in the choir-loft. For the main part of the church, all pews have been removed for cleaning - at present the church looks like a great Roman basilica - and they will be back once the floor is ready for them. The new altar-rails won't be in place for a while, and work on the Lady Altar and the Newman shrine will wait for a while, too....first comes a massive cleaning operation because of all the dust created by the creation of the marble floor.

It's going to be superb, and the project has been/is being a sort of shared adventure with a feeling that we are all seeing the writing of a new chapter of local history. Watch this Blog for news of further developments, celebratory  events etc.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The forthcoming Synod on Youth...

...looks set to be ghastly, with the initial paperwork a groaning wodge of cliches. Poor Papa Francis seems unable ever to admit that any of his projects might be wrong-headed, so the thing will grind miserably on...

At Vatican II the Bishops courageously ditched some of the initial documentation and verbiage and opted for real debates. Could not something similar happen now?


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

To THE KEYS...

...which is the name of the Catholic Writers Guild of England and Wales, meeting in London. It was a hassle to get there - tube strike on the Piccadilly Line etc - but so good to arrive and be immediately among friends and colleagues. It really is a Guild - something more than a fellowship, more than a meeting of friends, more than gathering of like-minded people engagedin common endeavours...we are friendly, useful, and helpful to one another in the way that members of a Guild should be, but there's a lot more...this evening's chat included discussion of illustrations for a new book, exchange of ideas on recent projects, plus discussion of the splendid recent Liverpool Eucharistic Congress...

We currently meet at Farm Street church for our monthly Mass, going on afterwards to a nearby restaurant where a room is booked for supper, and then back to the  panelled Hall at Farm Street for the lecture. This evening's was about Hilaire Belloc - specifically, his love of Sussex, and finishing with that haunting poem -  and was excellent. A good discussion afterwards, tackling his horrid anti-semitism, his talents, his undoubted pariotism, his loathing of all things German including Nazism,  and the sorrows of his life (two sons killed, one in the First World War, one in the Second...) and more...

The new Master of the Guild is to be Kevin Turley, an excellent choice.  You can read some of his work here  and here...


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On Saturday...

...there will be the annual "Two Cathedrals" procession in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried across the Thames.  The Orocession was started in 2009 to mark the first anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.  I am unable to attnd this year as I am speaking at a big gathering of the Catholic Women's League  in Roehampton.

The Procession starts at 1.30pm at WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL and finishes with Benediction at St George's Cathedral, Southwark.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The government is to choose our next bishops...

....a very, very bad plan.

That's the plan for China, if the stupid and cruel arrangement that seems to have been agreed by the Chinese govt and the Vatican goes ahead.

It's contrary to wisdom and right justice: Christ did not seek that powerful worldly rulers shuld choose who would be the fathers for his flock. He didn't invite Peter to negotiate wth rulers in Rome or Palestine to choose colleagues.

We don't want government - not the Queen, not the Prime Minister, not President Trump, not the European Union rulers, not Vladmimir Putin, not the current head of the People's Republic of China, not any government - choosing Christ's bishops. It has been tried in the past and had mixed results - it's not a mistake that needs to be repeated.

On this blog, I placed a picture of the Pope when he was elected: the idea is to remind us all to pray for him. He needs wisdom, humility, and the courage to do what is right.  He is not popular and is at the core of much controversy: is he being wise and humble, and is he doing what is right? Are you praying?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

To Portsmouth...

...for a beautiful Mass at the Cathedral, of which more in due course.

But there is something that is somehow sad about this great city - once a glorious name in the story of our Royal Navy. Deo gratias, we do still have some fine ships, and there is an instintive sense of pride that wells up when one thinks of all that the Royal Navy has meant in our country's story... but...

Somehow, so many things in Britain now have a strange, uncomfortable overlay of sloganising, that makes for a sense of things-aren't-what-they-should be. 

The last time I saw an official picture of anyone in naval uniform it was a lesbian lady on a poster in London emphasising that the Navy supported a homosexual and lesbian celebratory event.

Pray for our country.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

And on the forthcoming Synod...

do read this...


DO READ....

...and enjoy, this excellent presentation made at the Eucharistic Congress, on how to prepare children for first Communion...

...and there are lots of other reports, and a good DVD of the Procession, here...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Been busy with...

...an Editorial Board meeting for FAITH magazine, in Scotland. Travelled by Caledonian sleeper - my favourite train journey. I had had a very full day in London, and it was a joy to eat supper at Euston and then sit doing some sewing (cross-stitch kneelers, since you ask) quietly and then to get on to the train when it was ready, and snuggle down cosily after a wash and some time to read...

A few days later another journey took me to Southend, where there is a thriving new branch of LOGS, meeting at this church...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Discussion on...

REGISTER RADIO in the USA this evening, about the Liverpool Congress and procession.

And the National Catholic Register has also published this feature about the Walk to Walsingham this summer.

Monday, September 10, 2018

...and don't take my word for it...

...the Eucharistic Congress really was a most remarkable event and even the BBC acknowledged it


.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

So much happening...

...and I went off to Liverpool for what turned out to be a wonderful couple of days....see my first posting about it here....and more follows.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

...and...

...further to the blog post below, George Weigel's older comment on Archbishop Vigano is also worth a perusal: read here...

And in these worrying days for the Church...

...it has happened that I have been in Walsingham, a good place in which to pray....

It is worth reading this, which has personal insights into the latest developments.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A visit...

...to Littlemore, in pursuit of research on Bl John Henry Newman. A wonderful afternoon with the delightful Sisters of The Work, who run the Newman study centre and offer retreats and hospitality...

Now that the hideous heat of a few weeks ago has dissipated, the English countryside shows inits summer beauty. The Thames running along at Henley...the thick wooded lanes of Oxfordshire...a pub lunch by the river...tea at Littlemore with lively chat and a sense of welcome...a happy day...

Come on the next London Catholic History Walks!

The King's Good Servant
Monday 10th September, 6pm. The story of heroic St Thomas More, as we walk around his Chelsea estate. Meet at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyenne Row. SW3 5HS. Nearest Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington.

The City and its Wall
Sunday, 16th September, 6pm. Meet at St Etheldreda's Church, Ely Place, London. EC1N 6RY. Nearest Tube: Farringdon.

For King and Country!
Sunday 23rd September, 4pm. Catholics and Politics: St Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, Pugin, Parliament and the Abbey. Meet on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Nearest Tube: Victoria.

Southwark and the Borough
Sunday 7th October, 4pm. See the 'other side' of London, including St George's, the capital's first post-Reformation Cathedral. Meet at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, O'Meara Street. SE1 1TD.

For King and Country!
Tuesday 9th October, 6.30pm. Catholics and Politics: St Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, Pugin, Parliament and the Abbey. Meet on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Nearest Tube: Victoria.

The King's Good Servant
Sunday 21st October, 4pm. The story of heroic St Thomas More, as we walk around his Chelsea estate. Meet at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyenne Row. SW3 5HS. Nearest Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington.

Friday, August 10, 2018

To get a flavour...

...of the message we'll be receiving and spreading at the forthcoming Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, read this feature by one of the speakers....

Religious Freedom...

...is the basis of all our other freedoms. This is explored in the latest issue of FAITH magazine, now online here...

Monday, August 06, 2018

The NEW DAWN gathering....

...at Walsingham. This is a vast gathering of young Catholic families - lots of children and teenagers - in a meadow at the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. In a giant tent, a sort of temporary cathedral,  Mass is celebrated and talks are given - and around the meadow are various other substantial marquees in which there are talks and workshops, with  music, activities for children and more...it has been held annually for just over 30 years and has played a major role in the great revival of Walsingham which began in the first years of the 20th century and is continuing at an expanded rate in these first decades of the 21st.

A great highlight of the week - held on Wednesday at the mid-point of things - is a pilgrimage down the Holy Mile, singing and praying the Rosary, to the ruined Priory where Mass is celebrated. It is a powerful experience to be part of a crowd of more than a thousand people singing "Ave Ave Maria", many walking barefoot in accordance with tradition, walking along the lane in the way that pilgrims have done for centuries.

Auntie Joanna's involvement in New Dawn included a talk on the significance of Mary in the plan of salvation and in the life of the Church: the New Eve, and Daughter of Sion...and part of this is the significance of male/female roles...

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A pilgrimage by boat...

...with LOGS. Read here

Sunday, July 29, 2018

An important read....

...for an important anniversary. Read here....

Friday, July 27, 2018

On Monday....

...I will be off to Walsingham for the NEW DAWN gathering. Then, after a visit home to sort things out and reorganise....I'll be going back to Walsingham, this time on foot with a group led by the Dominican Sisters 

Other summer events for Auntie include a pilgrimage by boat, and two very important family gatherings, one of which is also on water...

St Teresa's Home...

...in Wimbledon is a most wonderful residence for elderly people, offering superb care and always in an atmosphere of great goodwill, joy, and peace. In this Blog, I have frequently written of a believed elderly relative who spent her last years there....it became also a sort of home-from-home for me too, where I was always welcome.

Recently, this wonderful Home marked its 30th anniversary, and we all gathered for a beautiful Mass, celebrated by Bishop Howard Tripp, and a delicious Tea, with scones with lavish jam and cream, magnificent cakes, lots of prosecco, and the joy of being among so many people with a shared affection for this lovely place.

I mention all this because I'll be back again shortly with some home-made blackberry jam...and will also (if only this hot weather breaks for a while) be joining the group taking some of the residents out for a visit to Richmond or one of the other pleasant local places where we enjoy a wander through parks and gardens, a lovely tea. and lots of chat and laughter...I love St Tetresa's.




Gratitude....

...to God for the glorious rain this evening. London has been parched and ghastly, lawns scorched and grey, great cracks appearing in flower-beds.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

...and the family...

...gathered for the beautiful and moving traditional funeral of a beloved mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother,

SUSAN GOWAN BOGLE

in the village church, with lovely music and tender memories....  The family crest stood in the sanctuary, and flowers covered the coffin, and the Rector led the service before a congregation of family and friends, and then we walked in procession to the grave, the church's flag at half-mast in the still air of the summer afternoon,  It was fitting and solemn and beautiful, and difficult to write about, because days like this are the essence of the story of our lives...

An Army wife, the creator of a happy home for her husband and sons, a dear mother-in-law and grandmother,  a wonderful  hostess, a much-loved woman, with a joyful spirit and a welcoming heart. May she rest in peace.




Tuesday, July 24, 2018

...and the blackberries...

...are just astonishing this year.  Two shelves in the Bogle kitchen are already stacked with jars of Blackberry Jam and Bramble Cheese, and as I write another vast batch of berries is gently stewing ready to be made into jam tomorrow...

Bramble Cheese? It's a creamed mixture of blackberry-and-apple, created through careful cooking and then pushing through a sieve. The "cheese" refers to the texture rather than to any link with dairy food. It's delicious on scones or buttered toast, and popular with people who don't like pips in jam. Also goes nicely with pancakes.

Signing a book contract...

...seemed a serious and exciting thing the first time.And in due course  we took a photograph in the kitchen where I posed with my completed manuscript, all wrapped up in a big envelope  and ready to be posted  Many years and many books later...well...it's still somehow exciting.  In the steady, scorching heat of this torrid summer of 2018 the post brought my latest contract, and the quickened heartbeat was just the same as thirty years ago.  Then, happy and excited, I set off to pick blackberries and ponder the work ahead.

No, I'm not going to tell about the book yet. Wait and see. There are in fact two books now in the offing. Plenty of work ahead.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The passing of...

...a great lady from the finest days of the BBC World Service. Dora Lavrencic had a remarkable life. She was brought up in Maribor, Slovenia, and was studying law, planning to be her country's first female judge. Her father was acting Mayor of  Maribor when the Nazis invaded. He refused to fly the swastika flag and was arrested. He died in Dachau. Dora and her mother later escaped over the mountains to Austria  where in due course  she worked for the British Army as a translator. She married Karl Lavrencic, lawyer, linguist, and author and together they worked for the BBC World Service and were leading figures in Britain's Slovenian community, and a voice for freedom in the dark days of Communism.. Read more about it all here: it's inspiring.  Their daughter Alenka, herself a distinguished journalist and author, is one of my greatest friends. It was a privilege to be at the funeral Mass held in the church at Cobham in Surrey.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It was a real pleasure...

...at Westminster Cathedral the other day, to meet the Vatican Cricket team, enjoying a most successful visit to Britain. They have played the Royal Household, and a team from the Houses of |Parliament, plus an inter-faith game in which they joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI plus cricketers from the Sikh, Hindu and Moslem religions...

On Sunday J and I  had the pleasure of  spending the evening with John McCarthy, former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, who initiated this whole venture. It is superb to see it all flourishing: the Queen attended the Royal Household match.





Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In scorching heat...

...London's lawns are turning white, grass is dying, and feet  are pounding dry baked earth.At St Mary's University  the traces of the underground WWII air-raid shelter can be seen  as the drought reveals the pattern beneath the scorched grass.

You can read Auntie's take on it all here...

Monday, July 09, 2018

Recent news...

...a glorious First Mass for newly-ordained Fr Jonathan Creer at the Church of the Most Precious Blood on Sunday July 1st. He had been ordained the previous day at the Birmingham Oratory.

The Mass at Pr Blood was packed and was the last to take place in the church before big renovations begin with the laying of a new floor.

Afterwards, celebrations over fizz in the Redcross Gardens nearby: scorching sunshine across all of London so it was good to be in a place with some trees and greenery.The Gardens were initiated by Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust and much more...as she was a fervent High Anglican, it is somehow appropriate that the Gardens she created are now in regular use by the Ordinariate with that special heritage.

As the afternoon drew on, I made my way to London Bridge station where after a badly-needed cup of tea I  travelled to Tunbridge Wells, and thence to Pembury for Evensong and the blessing of a beautiful stained glass window which completes the transformation of what was once a dreary hall on the village green into a charming little church, St Anselm's.  A beautiful traditional Evensong with splendid singing, and then out into the gardens for more fizz and talk and celebrations...

An Ordinariate day...


Wednesday, July 04, 2018

THIS BLOG...

...has been silent for the past two weeks.

Pray for the beloved soul of

Mrs Susan Gowan Bogle, much-loved wife, mother, grandmother and mother-in-law. "Far above rubies" (Prov.31:10).

This Blog will recommence shortly.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Eucharistic Congress...

...takes place in Liverpool in September and I'll be there...the ticketing seems unecessarily complex - there are meant to be 2 delegates from each parish, but of course that means lots of discussion and checking and fuss... Why don't they just say:"All welcome! Buy a ticket!"

Anyway, my ticket is all organised, and I'm looking forward to it all, especially as Bishop Robert Barron is to be a keynote speaker.

MASSIVE History Walk on Thursday...something like 100 people. We began at Westminster Cathedral and although we had a formal completion at the gardens alongside the Houses of  Parliament,  a large crowd wanted to continue down along the Thames to the Tower. A great atmosphere and a wonderful afternoon. Some of us peeled off at London Bridge for Evensong and Mass at Precious Blood church...and then afterwards I hurried across the river to the the pub near the Tower where the final group had agreed to meet for supper....and things finished at a very late hour...a hearty meal, prosecco,  lots of lively talk...and then out into the summer night and I caught almost the last Tube trundling out to the suburbs...

It was a busy week...a LOGS meeting at Norwood on Monday evening...excellent talk from Fr James Clark, chaplain at the John Fisher School.  A family connection with the school goes back a good many years...and in the chapel there are some altar-kneelers worked by Auntie Joanna...

LOGS has some good plans for the Autumn, starting with a three-day pilgrimage to Walsingham, staying at Dowry House.

At the weekend, a wonderful Silver Wedding party given by a couple whose wedding J and I attended...golly, it just doesn't seem 25 years ago...Saturday's gathering was joyful and full of friends and fun...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Meanwhile in Ireland...

...what on earth do the organisers of the World Meeting of Families think they are doing by inviting  this priest to be among the speakers?

Ireland badly needs a large-hearted, open and joyful gathering to celebrate God's plan for love and life. For far too long in the last century,  there was more than a hint of Jansenism in the approach to married life and to sexual communion. It created a whole sort of myth about the true nature of the Church's message, that bore sour and poisonous fruit in more recent years, with this ghastly result in the referendum on abortion.  It's time for a fresh new approach...not stale rubbish from an American talking about lesbianism.

FOR GOODNESS' SAKE, IRELAND!  Wake up! Look to the truth and beauty of the Christian teaching - and give it a fair hearing with open hearts!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

and for more on that Arundel procession...

...read Auntie Joanna here...


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

"Why haven't you written up your blog recently, Auntie Joanna?"

I am flattered that people have been asking. It's only been a few days.  But they have been busy days.

Minor adventure in Arundel. After a glorious Corpus Christi procession - packed cathedral, wonderful music, excellent sermon from the Bishop, fabulous procession across the moat and through the castle grounds, glorious gardens and meadowland, Benediction there and then again in the Cathedral - I took a lingering walk through this lovely Sussex town, dallied over a glass of wine, tackled some emails. Then went on to the station - and found there were no trains!  A substitute bus would take me to Billingshurst, and the driver was kind and went on to Horsham for me. But the station there was also bereft -  must have been engineering works, or something. Another stranded passenger said a mate ran a good hotel not far away and gave me the number...I phoned, got a room, and spent a very comfortable night with an excellent breakfast in the morning.

Trains were running by then, so on to London to meet a colleague to map out some more History Walks.Pub lunch at the Mitre, after Mass at  St Etheldreda's...it was good to be back there, a favourite haunt when St E's was the Guild church for the Catholic Writers' Guild...

The weekend saw the regular First Saturday Mass at this church, honiuring Our Lady of Walsingham: I had invited a friend and we had an agreeable chatty lunch afterwards near the river. Then on to Night Fever at St Patrick's, Soho.Sunday saw another History Walk, and then the Procession from St Patrick's through Soho with the Blessed Sacrament, and giving out devotional cards to all the crowds...Benediction in the churchyard at St Giles-in-the-Fields and then, chatting afterwards, a sudden late-night and enjoyable Chinese meal nearby.

There's more. But that's roughly why I didn't have much time to blog.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On the train to...

...Arundel, where every year there is a glorious Carpet of Flowers in the cathedral to honour the feast of Corpus Christi. Things culminate in a procession through the town, with Benediction in the castle grounds. I'm on the train whooshing through the London suburbs and in due course we'll be in the Sussex countryside. Knights and Dames of St Gregory take part in the procession and I have my green cloak etc with me.

Yesterday evening an excellent meeting of the Catholic Writers' Gyuild, held as usual at Farm Street.    Topic was  Hanna Chrzanowska.  No, I hadn't heard of her either. But it's a fascinating story: she is the woman who, among much else,  organised and ran a system of home-nursing  in Krakow in the difficult years under Communist rule, transforming the liives of sick and handicapped people who were marooned in grim conditions in dingy flats, unable to get out and lacking proper care. With teams of volunteers, Hanna  gave practical care and also organised day-trips, singalongs, gatherings for prayer and celebration...all this with the support and encouragement of Archbishop Karol Wojtyla. We in the West are now only just beginning to grasp the significance of how the Church provided for human and spiritual needs under Communism, and these stories are emerging...lessons for us to absorb and examples to follow......

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A tragic...

... and alas not unexpected, result in Ireland.

One of the most baffling comments in the post-referendum round-up of interviews: a jubilant lady who announced that she had voted  for repeal "for my daughters...I have two daughters, and I want it for them"  Can she really be saying that she cheerfully assumes her daughrers will want to abort their babies?  Does she really want to tell the world that is how she expects her daughters to behave? Ugh.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

After the Royal Wedding...

...read Auntie's take on the subject: here...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

An excellent lecture...

...by Fr James Tolhurst, who has just brought out a new edition of John Henry Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.

Fr J. is a great Newman scholar, and his lecture illuminated Newman's message.  Newman's journey into full communion with the Catholic Church was of course bound up with his understanding of the development of doctrine - and through his work the Church has been enriched.

The lecture - extremely well attended, every seat filled and people standing at the back - was in the Challoner Room at the Church of Our Lady and St Gregory, Warwick Street. The Church is in the care of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the evening was chaired by Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, who noted that this was in fact the first Catholic Church that Newman ever attended - he went there when young with his father, to hear the music at the sung Mass. Newman is now a Patron of the Ordinariate.

This was a very enjoyable evening, with a celebratory feel - and a particular joy for our family as Fr J. is a good family friend of many years' standing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

...and read Auntie Joanna...

...on Cardinal Newman... here...

at St Mary's....

...University,Twickenham, in strong sunshine. The exam season - students busy with papersstudying everywhere, in the refectory and grounds and library and so on...

Want to learn something of the |University's history - and the history of the extraordinary house created by Horace Walpole, which gives this whole district its name?

Next WEDNESDAY, May 23rd, meet 12.30pm at the main entrance. Bring some sandwiches if you like: there ius also a refectory and coffee-bar where you can buy some. We will look around, enjoy the beautiful grounds, and learn the story. There is Mass at 1pm for those who wish.

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Mass, a parish barbeque...

...for the feast of the Ascension (see previous blog post) and then an overnight train to Scotland for a meeting today of the editorial team for FAITH magazine. The Caledonian Sleeper has all modern comforts - a cabin with freshly laundered duvet, washbasin, welcome-pack with soap etc - and there is just a hint  of the Great Railway Age as the train rumbles its way up through England and across the border, to arrive at  Edinburgh's Waverley station by 7 am...it's not WH Auden, but there are faint echoes...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

HURRAH!!!

WE ARE TODAY CELEBRATING ASCENSION THURSDAY.

We are celebrating it on the right day, and the churches will be well-attended.

WE LOVE OUR FEAST DAYS!

At this church, there will be Masses at  10am and 1.05pm, and  the children's choir will be singing at a special Mass at 6.30pm  in the Ordinariate Form, preceded by Evensong at 6pm. Come and join us!

It is a great relief to have the Feast of the Ascension back on its proper day.



Friday, May 04, 2018

Find ouit about the efforts of Auntie and team to teach the Lord's Prayer to London children...

...report in the latest PORTAL magazine

Local elections in Britain...

...and some relief on Auntie's  part  that her reflections shared in advance proved to be rather gloomier than the actual events...

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

...and on to the offices of ...

...the Catholic Union, which has a Charitable Trust  sponsoring some useful projects for schools.    This will mean another day of packing and posting prizes in due course...this will happen, not at the Catholic Union office but at this church which has hosted many such gatherings in recent years.

And then an afternoon at the computer tackling various writing ventures

Want to see the latest FAITH magazine?  Feature on pro-life event at Westminster, announcement of a new initiative, The Humanum Institute, book reviews , and more...if you are interested, send a Comment to this Blog (which I will not publish) with your POSTAL address and I will send you a complimentary copy.

The Catholic History Walks are flourishing: read here for info on the next Walks coming up in May and June...



Monday, April 30, 2018

Rosary on the Thames...

...and we gathered on the south bank, near the Royal Festival Hall, to join the nationwide Rosary on the Coast campaign of prayer. Huddled against the rain and cold, we were quite a good crowd, with people from various  parishes in the Southwark deanery including  including St George's Cathedral. We prayed the Glorious Mysteries, had a reading from the Prophet Daniel, and prayed a nunmber of other prayers...as I walked back along towards London Bridge, I heard singing wafting across from the opposite bank, where a similar group had evidently gathered: "Faith of Our Fathers"  drifted across the water.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

To Richmond...

...in pursuit of research on the history of St Mary's University, in local archives held in the Old Town Hall...

Evening Mass at St Elizabeth's. Saturday evening Mass is not the most-attended one, but there were a goodish number of families as well as stray people like me.  The whole parish has a youthful feel. There was a report on the parish finances, delivered after the end of Mass.I thought it would be dull and settled down with an I-shan't-bother-to-listen mood. But it turned out to be rather interesting: Mass attendance has increased by 25 per cent over the last two years, various plans for future parish development and mission...

In lots and lots of ways, the Britain of today is so radically different from the one in which I spent my childhood. I've become used to feeling somewhat alienated. Suddenly, waiting in the rain for the bus I had a  different feeling, a quiet understanding of what it might be like being a child at St Elizabeth's that evening...or, rather, some one looking back in many years' time, and saying "My dad used to take us to the Saturday evening Mass at the Catholic church in The Vineyard, up by Richmond Hill..." There are still cosy family memories being created.

To mark its 125 anniversary...

...a splendid concert presented by my old school, St Philomena's, Carshalton, in the superb setting of St John's, Smith Square. All v. impressive...the school's House Flags (didn't have such things in my day) were marched up to the accompaniment of deafening African drums (didn't have those, either).  Some fine singing,  the "Dance of the Mirlitons"  by a flute trio, with and some fun things - a lively rendition of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 1920s dress, and a concert band playing the theme tune to "Raiders of the Lost Ark".  A great atmosphere, the whole place filled with cheering and applause. Most  moving bit was, at the end,  the School Hymn sung by a massed choir plus all the pupils lining the galleries, followed by Rutter's "The Lord bless you and keep you..."

Gulp. There's going to be a special Mass in the school grounds in July. Might go...

You really must read...

...this trenchant comment on the ghastly way in which the great Bishop Bell of Chichester has been treated by today's Anglican establishment.

And while you are about it, do read other features on the excellent website..well-written, challenging, perceptive.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Valerie Riches, RIP...

...a woman of courage and kindness, wisdom and good humour...a mentor and friend, died recently.

Valerie was one of the founders of a group that became Family and Youth Concern, upholding and defending marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman, researching issues inpacting family life and with great courage opposing the promotion of homosexual lifestyle, abortion, and the sexualising of children.

Her family home was destroyed by bombing in 1941 but Valerie belonged to a generation which did not think of themselves as victims. She worked in the Admiralty after leaving school, and then for a musicians' agency, and it was through love of music that she met Dennis Riches: they wrote a most readable biography of their family story together under the title Built on Love - warmly recommended. As her children grew up, Valerie began a new career as a social worker, and it was this that became the spur  for involvement with groups defending the family. Always a careful, thoughtful researcher producing publications devoid of loud polemic, she was not particularly fond of personal publicity, but could be a powerful and effective debater and contributor to TV and radio discussions.

Britain owes a debt to this courageous woman, and her work continues today.in the Family Education Trust. There is a fine obituary of her in the press today. And  in my heart, I add my own tribute of affection and gratitude.




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.”