Sunday, December 16, 2018

Decorating the Christmas trees....

...after Mass, on this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.

Two tall trees, one of either side of the sanctuary. They look superb, gleaming with lights and golden and silver baubles. The trunks, wide and thick. were hard to fit into the metal stands, and a strong parishioner chopped away at them with an axe to trim them. A rather notable sight to anyone passing in the street  as he swung the axe with vigour and wide-eyed children watched from a safe distance across the aisle.

A dropped bauble was found to have a neat hole - so with the assistance of an enthusiastic member of the Sunday School I wrote a note to put inside, and we hung the bauble on the tree...for the note to be discovered next year, or maybe in 10 or 100 years time, a secret hanging there amid the glitter...

On to Westminster, where I was leading another History Walk. Stopped briefly in the gardens by St James' Park tube station to eat a sandwich made at home earlier. The Walk went well - a good attendance and a cheery atmosphere. They were particularly interested in why and how we date Christmas and how it fits into the rest of the calendar - Lady Day, Midsummer etc...and we had a great time with fun and friendship and a sense pof the joy of the season...

Then afterwards, on arrival at the station to go home, I suddenly felt exhausted, and drooped. . The kind people at the Pret a Manger gave me a cup of tea for free and added a bar of cocolate. I nearly wept with the sudden feeling of being rscued. I needed it and, rested and fortofied, made it home...where I plan an early night.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

...and carols...

...at St Mary's University, with a group standing manfully in the main concourse  as people hurried in the cold to and from the library and refectory.  I had baked some mince pies and we handed these out too as a goodwill gesture. The singing was good and  when we felt we had done our bit we repaired to the chaplaincy and finished off the last of the pies with mugs of tea...

I'll be singing more carols on Monday, in Flat Iron Square near London Bridge, with the LOGS group.  We have previous sung in London Bridge station, but Flat Iron Square is the new trendy place with pubs and clubs so we wanted to be there.  There are all sorts of trendy places set into the arches of the railway: we will be singing in one of these and the accoustics are excellent.  The night-club opposite Precious Blood Church has been a good friend to us all in recent months as we have had Mass there when the church floor was being relaid.

A GLORIOUS CONCERT...

...at St Clement Danes Church in London. It stands at the end of The Strand, opposite Australia House and near the Law Courts. It's a beautiful church, originally established shortly after the Norman Conquest, and rebuilt a couple of times, most recently following the WWII Blitz.

The concert was by a superb chamber choir,  Vivamus. Among the works presented was a most beautiful setting by Mendeslssohn of the Magnificat.  The words sound rather fine in German:"Mein Herz Got/ den Herrn, und es freut sich/Mein Geist Gottes/Meines Heilands..."  We also had a pleasing setting of "O Holy Night", a modern carol "My Lord has come", and lots  more, including some of good hearty traditional stuff in which we were all encouraged to join, which we did with great enthusiasm. A most inspiring and uplifting evening.

A young relative was singing in the choir and, this being the Royal Air Force church, her great-uncle's name is among those commemorated in one of the  glass-fronted memorial stands along the walls. He was shot down somewhere over the North Sea 75 years ago.  As it happens, he had a particular link to this part of London, as he worked for a while near Fleet Street and was married at St Bride's church.  As the music soared, I pondered that, and the story of our family that it represents, binding us to the story of London and of our country...

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Cardinal George Pell is innocent...

...and I make this statement clearly and publicly. Truth matters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The young prizewinners...

for the 2018 School Bible Project came to Parliament today to receive their prizes from our Trustee Baroness Cox. This is always a very delightful occasion and it is a joy to meet the young people and their families. It gives one new heart :a mix of religious and racial backgrounds, a great sense of goodwill and good cheer, a sharing in a celebration in the magnificent setting of the most famous Parliament in the world.

Friday, December 07, 2018

To St Martin-in-the-Fields...

...which now stands not in fields ploughed by Westminster's monks, but in a busy street adjoining the great Square laid out to mark the great British naval victory off the coast of Traf-al-gah in 1805...

Some weeks ago I found a tiny inexpensive gift in the very attractive shop in the church's basement, and sent it to a friend to be opened at Christmas. It occurred to me that the gift would also amuse my great-nephews and nieces soyesterday went to get another one. Then I sat in the very agreeable cafe and wrote my Christmas cards. It occurred to me that I was supremely happy sitting there. How rarely we give thanks.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The CATHSOC...

....at St Mary's University invited me to give a talk about St John Paul...we met first at the old chapel-in-the-woods  for the Angelus - the students gather there and ring the Angelus bell three times, and  pray together.  Then on to a lecture room in the Shannon suite - named after a former Principal of the College - where there was a pasta supper. A friendly group, and we were joined by some Sisters of the Assumption who have a small convent at the University to be a praying presence there.

If you would like  a copy of John Paul II - Man of Prayer just send a Comment to this blog - which I will not pubsh - with your name and address and I'll send it to you, and you can post me back £5.00 (This also applies to the USA, but make it $10).

John Paul is particularly interesting on the subject of authentic religious freedom - some insights here....

We will be singing carols...

...in the trendy hot-spot of Flat Iron Square, near the Borough Market, on Monday Dec 17th. Come and hear us!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

To Sussex...

...for a meeting with the team that runs the Catholic History Walks.  The programme of Walks for the firstweeks of 2019 is now available: read here...

Earlier, on Friday, I took a group of young Australians on a walk around the Tower of London and a visit to Tyburn.   Starting at the gateway to the Tower, one can walk around the moat, pausing at Traitors' Gate and then continuing towards Tower Bridge  and going along the road to rejoin the moat path and thence into the Memorial Gardens where the young men and boys who lost their lives at sea in the Merchant Navy in two world wars are commemorated...and finishing at the site of execution where among many others John Fisher, Thomas More Archbiship Laud, and Lord Derwenwater were beheaded...