Thursday, May 23, 2019

WENT TO VOTE...

...and there was something a bit odd.. Very long (almost 2foot!) ballot paper. First came the Parties: top of the list was Animal Welfare Party, and next would logically be Brexit. But no.  For some reason, it had been decided that Brexit begins with T,  Thus: The Brexit Party. But this did not apply to Labour, Lib-Dem etc. Weird.

After the list of parties - finishing with Women's Equality - came a long list of independent people standing.

I duly cast my vote and also had a proxy for another family member. This was arranged efficiently. But it is strange that one is not asked for any identity: when I arrived and gave my name and address they simply checked me, plus proxy arrangement etc, on the list. Trusting, and in its way atractively British. But in today's Britain...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A day...

...with Clare Anderson, co-author of John Paul II:Man of Prayer.  So good to be talking in the sunny garden, catching up on news. When we first met, years ago,  I was an Army wife just returning to Britain after years abroad and establshing a new home, and C. was the mother of a young family....today the Anderson  children are grown up and married, and she and husband L. are joyful grandparents, with two more babies due this year...

Our mutual writing projects over the years have been fun and satisfying. At one point we'd meet up at Paddington station - convenient for both of us - and work on the JPII book together. Staff there at The Mad Bishop and Bear were friendly and interested, and even brought us extra free cups of tea as we worked away...today I dropped in  there for coffee en route to the Andersons, and thanked the team.  The book sells well...I've just ordered some more for some forthcoming events...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trawling the internet...

...for some other material, I came across this and  loved it. ENJOY!





...and meanwhile back in London...

...this feature tells a story...




WE WALKED UP GLASTONBURY TOR...

...and sang "Jerusalem" at the top, with the most glorious view of the countryside all around.

This was a  Catholic group gathered for a for a day conference at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Glastonbury. There was a most beautiful Mass, then a time of silent adoration,  finishing with Benedction...and then a welcome in the parish hall, and I spoke about the Glastonbury Story. Joseph of Arimithea, the Holy Grail, the Arthurian legend...and the Abbey and the centuries of prayer, and the martyrdom of the last Abbott...and today, and all of us gathered to pray for our dear country...






Thursday, May 16, 2019

Come to Walsingham...

...for a special weekend this summer:

Jam, cakes, History, Heritage and Evangelisation 
9th to 11th August. A weekend exploring Catholic culture and history, and how to use it to evangelise. For more details, and to book, contact dowryhouse@walsingham.org.uk

Sunday, May 12, 2019

and Pope Francis...

...meanwhile has pointed out an essential home truth to women from religious orders who asked him about the possibility of female deacons.

Essentially, the answer is: no, women deacons are not a possibility, though no one minds having some more research and discussion in order to help us understand that fact more fully.

“In regard to the diaconate we must see what was there at the beginning of revelation, it there was something, let it grow and it arrives, but if there was not, if the Lord didn’t want a sacramental ministry for women, it can’t go forward. For this reason we go to history and to dogma."
“We are Catholics,but if anyone wants to found another church they are free [to do so].
Which is rather what some of us have been saying for years.

Thank you, Papa.

Another History Walk...

...and again I was late, this time delayed by a demo in Parliament Square...

But I made it to Westminster Cathedral, and  some of us were able to set off for what turned out to be a lovely walk, taking in St James' Park and Whitehall etc etc...

And here we are on the bridge across the Serpentine, with Buckingham Palace in the background:





...

A garden for Mary...

...and a wonderful book launch. It was a joy and priviledge to be invited to write for the Foreword for  A garden for Our Lady by Felicity Surridge, with its enchanting illustrations by Malcolm Surridge. The book was launched with a wonderful party - wine and talk and neighbourliness on a summer evening...and the Mary Garden that the Surridges have created at St Joseph's Church, New Malden,is a joy. The Surridges have done careful research and discovered the old Marian names for many of our flowers and plants - did you know that snapdragons were once known as "Baby Jesus shoes" and that Rosemary is "Our Lady's nosegay"?  And find out about the legend of the juniper tree, and about irises representing the spear that wounded Mary's heart...

You can order the book here, and it would make a delightful present for any Catholic friend - and anyone who enjys gardening or loves gardens.  And just buy it for yourself to enjoy. It combines gentle gardening advice with lovely stories and legends, and is a delightful book to browse through as well as one to consult for specific information - and for prayers and Rosary meditations. Best book that has come my way this year.

Friday, May 10, 2019

NEXT WEEKEND...

...come to Glastonbury!

It's known for a vast expensive noisy rock festival for rich people on some land outside the town.   But its real significance lies elsewhere: the town is linked with Joseph of Arimithea, the Holy Grail, the story of King Arthur, saints including St Patrick and St Dunstan...and much more, including the martyrdom of the last Abbot of Glastonbury, up on Glastonbury Tor.

Come to a prayer-festival organised at the church. Info from the parish: read here...

Thursday, May 09, 2019

WORRYING...

...a planned new law in California  stating that priests must reveal  sins that are confessed to them.

This is evil.

Obviously, priests will refuse.

But think how such a ghastly law, if passed, would be used!
Read here...


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

WALSINGHAM...

...and staying with these lovely Sisters at Dowry House.  And exploring local places associated with the Anglo-Saxons...round tower churches, windswept beaches...

Come on a Dowry House retreat this summer, and discover traditions, heritage, and  new ways to evangelise!

Monday, May 06, 2019

John Henry Newman...

...is much in the news, as his canonisation seems increasingly likely to be quite soon.

DO READ this excellent review of a new edition of Newman's essays.


Sunday, May 05, 2019

Utterly angry with myself...

...I failed to check about the trains (Bank Holiday weekend)  and so missed the group of walkers waiting for me at Richmond,  for what should have been a lovely History Walk along the Thames to Ham.  They waited and waited...

By the time I arrived all had gone, and there was a (justifiably) hurt and upset message on the History Walks email later on...

I can only apologise to everyone. A throughly mixed-up and annoying day - and all my fault.

Friday, May 03, 2019

On July 1st...

...the Church of the Precious Blood at London Bridge will be consecrated.  It dates back to the 1890s and has been a consistent presence in the life of The Borough and Southwark since that time, through two world wars and massive social change...and its extensive renovations are now almost complete. Mass 6.30pm on Monday July 1st and a further chapter of history opens...

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Meanwhile, Sir Roger Scruton has been cruelly mistreated...

...and you can read about it here.  And here...

He must be reinstated at once to the post he held, doing much valuable and selfless work in helping with the problems of modern housing. This is a great man who is a true servant of the public.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Prince Harry...

...has made a serious error of judgement and must apologise.

In apparently giving  support to a group that supports mutilation of children, he has blundered badly.

Making a mistake is easy - we all do it. The only thing to do is admit it, take appropriate action - in this case issuing a formal apology - and learn from the experience. The Prince will learn to  recognise the need for discernment and wisdom when confronted by new trends and lobby groups.Meanwhile the rule "first do no harm" is a generally useful one.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A talk to pupils at...

...The Laurels School, currently in Balham. A delightful school with a great atmosphere. The girls a cheerful and friendly bunch.  The school is growing fast and has outgrown its current premises and is to move across the river to Chelsea...

The talk was on St John Paul the Great, and you can get a copy of my book  by sending a Comment to this Blog , including, in the text of the Comment, your EMAIL ADDRESS  and your FULL POSTAL ADDRESS.Cost of the book £5.00p...that's a special price for readers of this Blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

LOTS OF...

...History Walks coming up, Read here...

Monday, April 22, 2019

Eastertide...

...after a memorable Holy Week in London...the Maundy Mass at Precious Blood Church,,, the great Passion Play in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday at midday and  the 3pm Liturgy at Precious Blood...

...a family Easter in the country...the train out of Paddington, Auntie with a great bag filled with Easter eggs and various goodies...an Easter Vigil with the fire flickering in a country churchyard and a congregation gathering with candles...and then Easter morning with an egg-hunt, followed by a hearty talkative family lunch and a country walk...High Tea with simnel cake...


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Information...

...of very considerable importance to the case of Cardinal George Pell is here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The traditional Chrism Mass...

...at Westminster somehow had a special quality this year...as the Cardinal spoke briefly and solemnly of the great fire at Notre Dame and I think we all had a quiet sense of what a cathedral means...

The Mass is always packed - people sitting in all the side-chapels and standing in the aisles and crammed in at the back...the long column of priests looks rather splendid as is makes its way up Ambrosden Avenue, and a group of us had, as usual, gathered to say "Thank you" to them for the service they give: we hand out small holy cards and this year's had a quote from Bl John Henry Newman...

Of course we had all, like millions world-wide, watched the drama of the Paris fire on our computers or TVs last night...the intensely powerful scenes of Parisians spontaneously on their knees, praying the Rosary, the haunting voices in song and in prayer "Sainte Marie, Mere de Dieu, priez pour nous..."

And their prayers have been answered: it what seems an almost miraculous way, Notre Dame l has survived intact, and the great golden cross gleams anew across a scene that is messy but certainly not devastated. Teamwork and heroism saved important treasures as they were carried out in hand-by-hand human chains. And the Cathedral will be restored and this will all be part of the long and continuing story of the Faith in France.

Some one tweeted with smug assurance "The West has fallen" and announced that the fire symbolised the end of Christianity in Europe. Not so. It brought Paris to its knees in prayer, the cathedral has been saved, and the world saw a France many thought had disappeared.The young voices singing, the goodwill messages from around the world, the sense of human unity...and the saga unfolds anew.

This evening as I made my way home across Westminster Bridge, the Abbey bell was tolling out in solidarity with Notre Dame, a kind gesture.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Last week's HISTORY WALK...

...along the river from Richmond to Ham, was the first of several planned for this  particular route in this spring and summer. It is a lovely route, with the Petersham meadows on one side and the river on the other...and all just a quick train ride from London. Bl John Henry Newman's childhood home at Ham is marked with a blue plaque and is a fine Georgian house, not far from the river.

NEXT history walks:

Saturday May 4th, Chelsea and the story of St Tomas More.Meet Holy Redeemer Church, Cheyne Row SW3, 2.30pm

Sunday May 5th, Richmond. Meet 3.30pm St Elizabeth's Church, the Vineyard, walk to Ham.

Friday, April 12, 2019

A cramped room, in use as a storage place...

...and we gathered around a makeshift altar on which a cross  was placed in the glow of candles. There was just enough room for Fr Chris to celebrate the sacred mysteries. One saw things normally missed because glimpsed only from a distance: somehow with this nearness the greater depths were sensed. Only once or twice in my life have I been at a Mass liked this, and, as with the other times, it made the  actions seem somehow more richly sacred because of their very simplicity.  The Scripture readings - Abraham and the covenant established - then Offertory and petition...water and wine, and  slips of wafer-bread... .Christ's words...a gleaming chalice lifted high, a sacrifice... God's plan from the beginning fulfilled in time and in eternity...

When the church's renovation is complete - already the pews are back, the marble floor looks superb, the final work is being done on the sanctuary and its baldachino - it will all look glorious. But I think we will have special and powerful memories of these days, with their faint faint echoes of  early Christians gathered in pagan Rome in secret, of Mass said with domestic clutter not far away, of the best and most supreme of prayers wafting heavenwards amid the ordinary...

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Email problems...

...are a bore. My email was recently hacked. If any reader got an email which appeared to be from me announcing that I was lost in Marrakesh or something, ignore it.  My security settings etc have since been updated again.


Saturday, April 06, 2019

A walk...

...across London Bridge to the birthplace of John Henry Newman in the City. On the way, we explored the history of Southwark and the City from Roman and Saxon times, via the Vikings, to the Middle Ages and beyond...it s a powerful thing to stand on the bridge  a spring evening and watch the rip current on the Thames, the powerful water surging and hurtling along to reach the high-water marks along the embankment walls, and to ponder the great events that have shaped our history on and alongside this river...

The Monument and Fish Street Hill, Wren and Hawksmoor churches, the Tower dwarfed by vast office slabs, the pubs crowded with cheery Friday-night drinkers...and then a sudden quiet moment at the blue marble slab at marks where the banker John Newman and his family lived, round at the back of the Bank of England, where their son John Henry was born, a man who would  help to re-shape the ecclesial map of England and the story of Christianity in our country.

Want to know more? There are other Catholic History Walks featuring Newman: read here...or come to the Newman Evening being sponsored by LOGS on June 3rd

The Bosnian war...

...was a most terrible one, with ghastly slaughter, neighbours killing one another, atrocities that left villages burned and dead bodies draped in the streets...

Fr Michael Halsall, then an Army chaplain, was with British troops who moved in as part of a NATO peacekeeping force, and spoke about it to us at our LOGS meeting this week. I had invited him to take about his time as an Army chaplain, and had not really thought much about what he would say - it turned out to be an unforgettable evening, much food for thought...




Wednesday, April 03, 2019

THINK ABOUT IT...

...and the Pope has given us all something to think about with his new Apostolic exhortation...Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he gives a message of hope to the young...

Read it all here, but here is a sample:

Christ is alive! We need to keep reminding ourselves of this, because we can risk seeing Jesus Christ simply as a fine model from the distant past, as a memory, as someone who saved us two thousand years ago. But that would be of no use to us: it would leave us unchanged, it would not set us free. The one who fills us with his grace, the one who liberates us, transforms us, heals and consoles us is someone fully alive. He is the Christ, risen from the dead, filled with supernatural life and energy, and robed in boundless light. That is why Saint Paul could say: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor 15:7).
125. Alive, he can be present in your life at every moment, to fill it with light and to take away all sorrow and solitude. Even if all others depart, he will remain, as he promised: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He fills your life with his unseen presence; wherever you go, he will be waiting there for you. Because he did not only come in the past, but he comes to you today and every day, inviting you to set out towards ever new horizons.
126. See Jesus as happy, overflowing with joy. Rejoice with him as with a friend who has triumphed. They killed him, the holy one, the just one, the innocent one, but he triumphed in the end. Evil does not have the last word. Nor will it have the last word in your life, for you have a friend who loves you and wants to triumph in you. Your Saviour lives.
127. Because he lives, there can be no doubt that goodness will have the upper hand in your life and that all our struggles will prove worthwhile. If this is the case, we can stop complaining and look to the future, for with him this is always possible. That is the certainty we have. Jesus is eternally alive. If we hold fast to him, we will have life, and be protected from the threats of death and violence that may assail us in life.
128. Every other solution will prove inadequate and temporary. It may be helpful for a time, but once again we will find ourselves exposed and abandoned before the storms of life. With Jesus, on the other hand, our hearts experience a security that is firmly rooted and enduring. Saint Paul says that he wishes to be one with Christ in order “to know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10). That power will constantly be revealed in your lives too, for he came to give you life, “and life in abundance” (Jn 10:10).
129. If in your heart you can learn to appreciate the beauty of this message, if you are willing to encounter the Lord, if you are willing to let him love you and save you, if you can make friends with him and start to talk to him, the living Christ, about the realities of your life, then you will have a profound experience capable of sustaining your entire Christian life. You will also be able to share that experience with other young people. For “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”.[69]

Monday, April 01, 2019

Check out the new website of

...the Association of Catholic Women...and come to the conference on THE GENDER AGENDA on Wednesday June 12th at St Mary Moorfield, London EC2.   Speakers include Kerri Christopher of the Humanum Institute.  More info: acwconference@gmail.com  or simply book a ticket:   £15 to ACW, Flat 2, Salamander Court, York Way, London N7 9LG. Ticket covers a buffet lunch.

This "gender" thing is becoming quite sinister. Recently a young soldier described to me the ghastly compulsory propaganda sessions to which they are subjected promoting the whole lesbian/homosexuality message and also the notion that the Army warmly accepts people who "identify" as the opposite sex and will go out of its way to make special provision for them. Meanwhile of course the Army itself is shrinking, and the decreasing number of soldiers feel that they are less and less part of something worthwhile and effective. And no, he wasn't doing an April Fool.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sign up to...

....THE VALUES FOUNDATION.  An excellent organisation - read Louise Kirk's most useful introduction here  and give the venture your support.




Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A letter to a German cardinal...

...worth reading   See here...


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spent the afternoon...

...dusting and hoovering....

Nothing special about that, of course - except that it wasn't at home, but on the bare wooden planks of an empty church.  The fine new marble floor at Precious Blood Church has been covered for these past few weeks because of building work, which is now nearing completion. We have been having Mass in the night-club opposite, or in the bare church with a makeshift altar. The wooden flooring is very very dusty - my backpack was covered in dust when I picked it up after (stupidly) putting it down during Mass last Sunday.  So...as the planking was slowly unscrewed and removed, we had to hoover each piece before it was carried away to be stacked in the hallway,  or the dust would have settled again on the new walls and ledges and steps etc... and then hoover again the cardboard layer beneath the planking...and in due course we'll finally be hoovering the finally-revealed new marble flooring....

It was warm work, and the tea that finished the afternoon was hugely welcome. Then I hurried across the river to the City, where a group of French missionary priests were meeting...they are busy at St Patrick's Soho for the next few days, at a conference on evangelisation, gathering and sharing ideas and information...we made our way together to  Tyburn. It was a powerful moment as we gathered at the site of the gallows, and knelt to pray there, and to kiss the hallowed site where martyrs shed their blood for Christ and the Church...it's on a traffic island where the Edgeware Road meets the Bayswater Road opposite Hyde Park.

Monday, March 25, 2019

On the subject of Cardinal George Pell...

...it is worth reading an analysis by a man who is no admirer of the Cardinal: read here


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Re that petition to the Dept for Education...

... re the plan to teach small children about lesbianism etc...here's a thoughtful and useful analysis. Read on...


Want to give a child a special Easter gift?

Try "A Book of Saints and Heroes" and/or "A Book of Saints and Heroines". Yours for £5.00p - contact this Blog WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR  POSTAL ADDRESS AT WHICH I CAN REACH YOU.  These are satisfying, readable, stories, attractive paperbacks, about some of the great men and women of the Christian centuries.

Enjoy school-stories? Ask me about "We didn't mean to start a school", a cheerful girls'-school story.

Chocolate eggs are a must for Easter - but a really satisfying book adds to the joy...

SIGN THIS PETITION...

...it is rather urgent.  Join with others to tell the Government to drop this ghastly scheme to teach small children about being lesbians and homosexuals.

Sign here: and pass the word on to friends.

It's important.

And on St John Paul...



... and his pontificate...read this by one who worked with him for years...


Thursday, March 21, 2019

WORTH READING...

...this





Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A fellow Catholic writer and journalist...

... Caroline Farrow, has been questioned by police because she used the pronoun "he" in a discussion about a man who now says he is a woman.

I am not making this up.

Apparently she might be prosecuted under a law that could imprison her for two years.

Today's Daily Telegraph sums up the situation well:
'She is to be interviewed under caution  following a television debate with a transgender activist who took exception to Mrs Farrow's refusal to say "she" instead of "he".This might be a point of issue between the two individuals but by what possible measure of sanity does it become a matter for a police investigation?

'Moreover, what law has she broken? It is not the job of the police to dance to the tune of the aggressively militant and miniscule trans lobby but t uphold the law of the land. Whatever misgendering is, it is not an offence.'

There is something evil around in Britain at present - a spirit of vindictiveness and spite, in an atmosphere of confusion.  Pray for our country.



LET'S HEAR IT FOR MEN!


....read this piece in the Catholic Herald...


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By lantern-light, a walk exploring history...

...across Richmond Green and through the archway of the Old Palace, and down to the river...

We met at St Elizabeth's  church at 7pm, and I had brought my lantern, and a spare supply of candles for it. The walk took us through the stories of Henry VII, Henry VIII and the Tudor saga...and plunged further back into history with Henry I and the first Royal palace built at what was then Shene...

After the Walk finished, a small core of us went on to a riverside pub...much enjoyable talk...many good things happening at st Elizabeth's, a parish with a fascinating history, and with a sense of evangelism...

Monday, March 18, 2019

Come to DOWRY House, Walsingham, this summer!

Starts: Friday 9 August 2019 @ 5pm
Ends: Sunday 11 August 2019 @ 2pm
A weekend celebrating Catholic culture – and how to use it to evangelise.
Talks and practical activities to celebrate and spread the Faith
To book, contact Dowry House Tel: 01328 801018

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Good to be back in church...

...for Mass, instead of in a night club. But the Church of the Most Precious Blood is still a building-site. Masses of dust on the floor - but not on the seats which a team of good parish volunteers cleaned carefully and energetically beforehand. The proper pews will be back soon - with some new ones added as the congregation is growing substantially. The children's choir sang enchantingly.

In the afternoon I led a cold wet History Walk from Westminster Cathedral down to Parliament.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

PRAY...

...for Cardinal George Pell,     Watch this for a useful discussion.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

I've been asked...

...to publicise this Retreat, which seems of value...


A Retreat with a Difference
A Foyer de Charité Retreat will be held at Hinsley Hall, the Diocese of Leeds Pastoral Centre, from Sunday 21 July (6pm) – Saturday 27 July (2pm) 2019. The theme is God’s Plan for the Fullness of Time, and the preacher will be Mgr. Keith Barltrop, with help from past retreatants. Foyer retreats are held mainly in silence, with three talks a day, and offer a holistic way of deepening our faith in the Church’s teaching and our life in Christ.  The Foyers are communities of consecrated lay people living with a priest in order to help others grow closer to Christ and live the Catholic faith more fully. For further information or to book a place, contact Mgr. Barltrop:keithbarltrop@rcdow.org.uk07879 953953; St. Mary of the Angels, Moorhouse Road, Bayswater, London W2 5DJ

In bright sunshine but a bitterly cold wind, we walked around an ancient palace yard...

...and along the Thames at Richmond, learning about Edward I and Edward II and  Henry VII and Henry VIII, and an ancient Carmelite Friary, and more...

Sunday afternoon History Walks are proving popular.  See here for future walks...


Saturday, March 09, 2019

The bogus rubbish ...

...that calls itself International Women's Day needs to be exposed. I did so, last time this nonsense came around. In case you missed it, read here...

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The latest issue of FAITH magazine...

...can be read here...

Or, if you send a Comment (which I will not publish)  to this Blog WITH A FULL POSTAL ADDRESS, I will post you a copy.

ASHES...

...and churches are always crowded. I went at lunchtime at the University and the chapel, though not full, had good numbers.

If you want a good cause for your Lenten alms, then the good sisters at this thriving community would value some help - they have an old building which is in a poor state and needs various repairs...

Spring is here. Come to the HISTORY WALK on Sunday in RICHMOND. Meet 3.30pm at St Elizabeth's Church, The Vineyard.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

and in answer...

..to the anonymous correspondent who wrote in to this blog:
 Dear Sir, No - the whole point about the Cardinal  Pell case is that the jury - and all of us -  must  not leave the facts aside and talk only about child abuse affecting various families, or about the Church, or about our feelings on these or related matters. We must, on the contrary, stick to examining the facts alleged about a particular event at a particular time. That is what a court is asked to do, and all concerned must remove all other considerations from their minds. So: was the Cardinal in the sacristy at the time alleged or was he, as witnesses have stated, in a procession walking through the crowded  cathedral and then greeting people outside?   How did the man who now makes the allegation explain his ability to go to his place in choir, unhurt, and sing as if nothing had happened? Why, if attacked as described, did he not shout or scream for help, especially as there were a large number of people nearby? Why did his friend not do so? These are among the many questions.

Our entire justice system rests on the understanding that the facts of a case must be established, on evidence given and examined. Whatever your opinions about a man's work or about events in the news, or about religion or race or nationality, you must leave these aside as you concentrate on listening to the information about the incident and establishing what occurred.

I am honestly appalled - and slightly frightened - by the realisation that in Australia today this is not the common understanding of what a court should do.




And you need to read this...

...on events in Australia...

Anglo-Saxons...

...and their prayers and poetry came alive for us this evening at this church at London Bridge. An evening led by Sarah de Nordwall and organised by LOGS - the ladies group based at the church, in conjunction with CATHOLIC HISTORY WALKS...we heard the history of Roman Britain/Saxon invasions/Vikings/Normans  and we listened to, among much else, some Beowulf, and some of the Song of the Rood...

The room was packed - we had just about enough space for everyone to cram in. LOGS did us proud with snacks and wine and pancakes  and pancakes and pancakes...it was a perfect way to mark Shrovetide, and one ofthe most successful-ever LOGS evenings...

Monday, March 04, 2019

The Sisters...

...at Minster Abbey in Kent  are inviting young women to a "Come and See" weekend, April 12th-14th .

They are delightful nuns:they live a contemplative life, have restored a Saxon convent, sing the Offices daily together in chapel, lead retreats, and have a welcoming  guest house. They offer weekends where you can learn various crafts, and have retreat-times for people who have been bereaved and for families with special needs.  I recommend a visit.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

This past week...

...each evening I have been listening to CS Lewis' That Hideous Strength  as an audio book. It is some 45 years since I first read it.  It is, in the real and not the attempting-to-predict-the-future sense of the word, prophetic. And important.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

And on the subject of Cardinal Pell....

...you must read this excellent analysis which looks at the whole subject,.

The issue at stake is justice: the jury is not meant to give an opinion on whether or not they like Cardinal Pell, but whether or not he committed the deeds alleged. One correspondent to this Blog wrote to me about this: his point was that it didn't matter whether or not these particular crimes had been committed: he just felt that the Cardinal seemed an unsympathetic character and so it was "karma" that he should go to prison. If that's a common view in Australia, then the justice system there cannot work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

...and here is why:

1. The allegation was that he had committed a sexual act in the vestry. At the time stated, he was actually walking in a procession in a crowded cathedral  accompanied by a number of other people, and then greeting people outside, watched by a large crowd. Witnesses gave evidence to this.

2. He was not in the vestry at the time described, nor could it have taken place later (see 3). He was fully robed and it would not be possible for him to perform the act described in the way described. On returning to the vestry after greeting people he was accompanied by other clergy, who were present with him until all left the cathedral together. They gave evidence to this.

3.The man making the allegation stated that it took place in the vestry while he was a chorister. Choristers did not use the vestry  nor could they have been drinking Communion wine as claimed as it was locked away elsewhere. At the time of the alleged act, the then-chorister and his companion (who has since died, and before doing so admitted that the whole event had not occurred) were with the rest of the choir, rehearsing for a Christmas recording. Had they been absent, this would have been noted.

4.All of this was established at the first trial when the Cardinal was acquitted. Attempts to invent other incidents have failed.


INNOCENT.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL IS INNOCENT.





Monday, February 25, 2019

MASS in the nightclub...

....in The Siding, opposite Precious Blood Church - was  extremely packed,the somewhat catacomb-like atmosphere enhanced by the decorative style, which in this particular part is deliberately distressed-spooky-shabby with no windows.  The overflow congregation spilled out into the corridor and hall and entrance-way. The club had offered their largest space but it still wasn't big enough...it will be good to have the church back in use!  We all peered in later.... gathering in groups around the doors...the walls are now being painted and it will look beautiful, light, and dignified, with the magnificent font and marble floor leading the eye to the sanctuary and altar.

I had planned...

..that this weekend's History walk would include a wander around Southwark and finish at St George's Cathedral, but , while sticking with Southwark and tackling  The Borough, St Olaf, Saxons and Vikings and more, we decided to finish by crossing the river and visiting the site of Bl John Henry Newman's birthplace, at the back of the Bank of England.  Most satisfactory.

The weird, unusually warm, weather made this a pleasant but tiring walk.I was very thirsty as it finished, and dropped into St Mary Woolnoth where there is a tea-and-coffee place.  This was closed but very lively Evangelical service was taking place, with young people from St George's Holborn singing and praying...they were super and readily brought me quantities of water and a brew of good tea...and I was glad to have a quick prayer there with them.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

To St George's Cathedral...

...Southwark for the Mass welcoming the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in its Dowry Tour.  Traditional Marian hymns,and the main part of he cathedral full. Main focus of the display is a reconstruction of the Holy House, flanked by candles, with a box into which people can drop cards listing their prayer petitions...and all around the Cathedral displays tell the story of Walsingham and the Dowry dedication...

Friday, February 22, 2019

For over 50 years...

...a penfriend and I have been corresponding, following a link established when we were both Girl Guides!  We now have an annual get-together...and by tradition, this is always on or near THINKING DAY, the annual day on which Guides across the world think of each other in gratitude for this great movement and all it has achieved...

I met A. at Paddington as arranged, and we had a happy day in London...in Parliament, where we saw the commemoration of the bravery of PC Keith Palmer....in Westminster Abbey where we prayed together and lit candles...and in Westminster Cathedral where A. was amused to see me featured in the current issue of Oremus magazine...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Come and meet Auntie Joanna...

...and enjoy a weekend celebrating our heritage, with cookery, rhymes,  stories, history, and more!!
Find out about it here..and book in!  And tell your friends!

Everyone is welcome...come on your own (you will quickly make friends!) or with family...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

England re-dedicated to Our Lady...and on a grand scale...

...read here. This is of real significance.

Friday, February 15, 2019

History...

...in the making, as we made our way on an afternoon Catholic History Walk, starting at St Mary Moorfields (a packed lunchtime Mass!  Lots and lots of office workers...and it's like that every day!) and making our way along London Wall and down towards the Bank etc...

We explored Roman, Saxon, Norman, Medieval and Tudor history, and then as we reached our final goal there was a gently celebratory mood as as a new chapter of history sparkled: at the birthplace of John Henry Newman we rejoiced at the news of his coming canonisation.

SUMMER SCHOOLS...

...at the School of the Annunciation in the glorious surroundings of BUCKFAST ABBEY in Devon. Dates: Aug 8th-11th 2019/ for  DISCIPLESHIP AND THE HOLY SPIRIT  with  sessions on:

❖ The Holy Spirit ❖ Theology of Grace ❖ The Sacrament of Confirmation ❖ The Gifts of the Holy Spirit ❖ Authentic Christian Discipleship ❖ The Sacramental Life & the Love of Jesus ❖ Meditation & Contemplative Prayer ❖ The Effects of the Holy Eucharist ❖ St Therese & the Martyrdom of Love


or Aug 12-15 for CHURCH HISTORY AND THE FATHERS  with sessions on:

❖ The Founding of Christendom ❖ Fundamental Themes in Medieval Church History ❖ Themes in Modern & Contemporary Church History ❖ The Apostolic & Pre-Nicene Fathers ❖ The Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church

Or: Aug 15th-18th for PHILOSOPHY AND APOLOGETICS with sessions on:

❖ Philosophy and the Existence of God ❖ Can we know the truth? ❖ Can we know Christ Who is the Truth? ❖ Philosophy, Catholicism & Moral Questions


You can find out more from:enquiries@sota-edu.com

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Just been introduced to...


...THE VALUES FOUNDATION, an excellent organisation:  find out more about it here

They endorse this Statement of Values agreed by a group in Parliament led by Lord Alton.

This is an initiative that is badly needed. Why not contact them, show some support, and help give this group an effective voice?


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

REJOICE...

...our beloved John Henry Newman is to be formally declared a saint. Read here...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Save the date...


THE GENDER AGENDA

           A conference sponsored by the Association of Catholic Women
What does it mean to be male or female? How – and why – are the two sexes different?
Come and explore a Catholic perspective.

WEDNESDAY June 12th 2019      
                 St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street London EC32M 7LS

11 am Coffee and welcome  

11.30 am Kerri Christopher, The Humanum Institute.
What does it mean to be human? Discovering an authentic understanding of the uniqueness of human personhood and human identity.

1.05pm Mass, followed by buffet lunch

2.30 pm Louise Kirk Alive to the World.
What are the current trends in schools on teaching about human identity and human relationships? How can we help children understand and value the truth about human beings and our responsibilities and care for one another?

Discussion
4pm Tea and depart

Admission by ticket, £15.00p Send cheque made out to Association of Catholic Women to: ACW, Flat 2, Salamander Court, 135, York Way. London N7 9LG

Kerri Christopher holds an STB and STL from Pontifical University of St. Thomas through the faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Michigan, focusing on the New Feminism. In 2012, she became the first woman in the world to receive a Licentiate in the New Evangelisation. As part of her doctoral studies at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, she researched the nature of gender and the vocation of woman. She regularly teaches courses on the thought of St. John Paul II, systematic theology, and issues of sexuality.

Louise Kirk is the UK Coordinator of the character education programme Alive to the World.  and author of  Sexuality Explained: a Guide for Parents and Children. She serves on the Commission for the New Evangelisation in Shrewsbury Diocese and  is a member of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group and co-author of its latest report on sex education schemes in Britain’s schools.

I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but…who know their religion, who enter into
                    it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not…
John Henry Newman
                             
                                 Association of Catholic Women: acwconference@gmail.com


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A fascinating day...

...in glorious Sussex countryside, with the Bruderhof community. Established in Britain since the 1970s, flourishing for long years before that in Germany and elsewhere, it is full of young families. Find out more here...

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Horror in New York...

...read here.   The Catholic Bishops have rightly denounced it.  But where are the other voices? Evangelicals seem to be less vigorous than 20 years ago.Episcopalians have long ceased to be a moral voice.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

In response...

...to enquiries about getting my books, especially the one on John Paul II  - you can use this link...or, if you want a signed copy, send a COMMENT to this blog, with an email address to which I can reply and I will give you the info.

Candlemas...

...and, it being the First Saturday of the month, we had our regular Mass and spiritual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. At the door of the church, before Mass began,  we each took up a candle and Father Chris blessed them all, and us, with holy water, and we processed, singing, around the church...

It was all rather dramatic because the church looks extraordinary at the moment - bleak wooden planking on the floor covering the fine new marble, scaffolding along the walls, notices proclaiming "DANGER - keep out" at strategic points...

After Mass, we enjoyed pancakes, produced by Auntie Joanna following a French tradition...to eat large round pancakes is customary on this day because it marks the slow ending of winter and the re-arrival of the sun...

Today at Mass, more blessing of candles...this time the great boxes of them, stacked in the sanctuary. These are the candles to be used in church through the year ahead.

I love Candlemas...but am not enthusiastic about the slow disappearance of winter. I love cold, bright days like today. The Thames is magnificent in wintry grey with sparkles of sunlight, the pub windows glow and there is good cheer within, buses look splendid trundling through the dusk. I am in no hurry for the heat and glare of summer.

Friday, February 01, 2019

At St Mary's University, Twickenham...

...continuing work on the History of this remarkable institution. The Library and the Refectory are warm and cheerful while icy rain lashes down outside. 

On the first Saturday...

...of every month, we have a special Pilgrimage Mass honouring Our Lady of Walsingham here.  10am.  We make a spiritual pilgrimage to Walsingham, and say the traditional Walsingham Prayer. Afterwards, we have some tea and snacks and hear the latest news from the Shrine.

On the ghastly topic of sexual abuse...

...there is a lengthy but important contribution here.

We need to understand the truth, and grasp what has really happened, and is happening.

St John Paul...

...and a most enjoyable evening lecturing to a large gathering at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Interested in the book? Contact me, or read here

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Anglo-Saxons...

... were a most remarkable people, and you can connect with them  now at the British Library.Thousands of people have been doing so..

Once baptised and made Christian,  the Anglo-Saxons - barbarians from outside the Roman Empire, who invaded Roman Britain as that Empire crumbled -  produced the most magnificent books and illuminated manuscripts,  and in an extraordinary once-in-a-generation event, the most important of their prayer-books, psalters, Bibles and missals have been gathered as part of this magnificent exhibition.

I visited this superb collection with Sarah de Nordwall right at the beginning - the exhibition runs until mid-Feb - and we were riveted by it all. We had already been planning to offer a day of discovery of Anglo-Saxon Christianity, and this exhibition strengthened our enthusiasm. You can enjoy discovering Anglo-Saxon Christianity with us on March 4th, with pancakes too as part of Shrovetide. You will need to book: details here.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Scotland...

...and a meeting of the Editorial Board of FAITH magazine.

Back to Londn on the Caledonion Sleeper, a most agreeable way to travel.

This evening, to an excellent production of The Hiding Place, telling the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family who hid Jewish people in their house in Haarlem, Holland,  in WW2. Her father was a watchmender and with her sister Betsie, Corrie led a quiet busy life, taking a special interest in the needs of mentally-handicapped children for whom she ran projects at their church. Then the Nazi invasion came, and there were people in Holland who were sympathetic to Nazi ideas and were also openly anti-Jewish. The Ten Boom family risked their lives to help Jews...eventually they were arrested, and taken to prison and from there to concentration camp. Betsie died in Ravensbruck. Corrie survived to tell the story and, especially, the Gospel message of love, mercy and forgiveness...

A powerful story, and one that we need to hear today.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Finally...

...the reputation of Bishop George Bell has emerged untarnished following a report into the unfounded allegations made against him. A statue of this great man - a truly noble figure, who helped refugees fleeing Nazi oppression and spoke up for true justice and decency in war - is to be installed in Canterbury Cathedral.

It would be right for the Archbishop of Canterbury to offer a proper apology for the way in which the memory of Bishop Bell was smeared. An opportunity will present itself when the statue is installed, and we must hope that he takes it.

I was glad to chair a meeting at Church House, Westminster, defending the reputation of Bishop Bell last year. Worth doing, and I found it moving to hear people who knew him, and/or knew of his life and work in detail, speaking of him.

The name of George Bell House in Chichester should now be restored, and a school bearing his name should now use it once more with honour.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Visited...

...this school to give a talk on the life and message of St John Paul II to the VI form.  A warm welcome, and a very enjoyable morning.  It was a particular pleasure to be greeted by a pupil who, when younger, had been a prizewinner in the Schools Bible Project. Info about this year's Project is here...open to pupils at all secondary schools in Britain.

The train journey back to London goes via Richmond, so I hopped off there to do some further research for the Catholic History Walks I am leading during the next weeks. Henry VII...a royal palace and the story of the Tudors...the Friars...Bl John Henry Newman...St Elizabeth of Portgual...and more...come and learn all about it! There are several Walks organised in this lovely riverside town...a place I know well as I began my journalism, long ago,  as a junior  reporter on the local newspaper, based in the main street...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A museum in Israel...

...had a display on the theme of religion and commercialisation. One item displayed a Cross and a McDonads figure: Christians objected and it was immediately removed.

When offensive material has been on display in Britain, Christians have often protested in vain. It seems that our sacred images are better respected in Israel.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Been visiting...

...the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, at their new convent - in a converted barn! - at Dereham in Norfolk. A happy, peaceful time. They are very busy and hard-working,  running Dowry House in Walsingham, but have a structured life which includes a free day each week...and this week  they invited me to come and teach them how to make cross-stitch kneelers for their chapel!

It was fun tackling this together in their pleasant  and well organised craft-room. I think the resulting kneelers - each one dedicated to one of their varius Patron Saints - will look well in the community chapel up in the rafters of the former barn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

CALLING ALL RELIGIOUS EDUCATION TEACHERS...

...do make sure you know about the 2019 SCHOOLS BIBLE PROJECT. Open to every secondary school in the United Kingdom.  There are prizes to be won for individual pupils and for schools.

Find out about it here...






A delight...

...to lead members of the Sion Community through London on a Catholic History Walk. They are a wonderful team of people...doing excellent work in schools, and to my pleasure I learned that they have recently carried out a mission to my old school, St Philomena's in Carshalton.

We began at a section of the London Wall, and went on to the Tower, All Hallows, and then other churches including St Margaret Pattens and St Mary-at-Hill, and then finally crossed the bridge and finished at this church for Mass...it looks a bit bleak at the moment, but will look superb when the restoration work is completed. At present the new marble floor is hidden beneath protective wooden boards, and scaffolding is around the sanctuary sides...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I AM FED UP.,.,.,

...with campaigns against men.  So it was a relief to read this excellent feature.

This morning I led another History Walk around London. We stopped to pray at the site of St Thomas More's martyrdom on Tower Hill. Its stands in a small secluded garden, with his name listed along with those of others who were executed there.  It adjoins the large garden area that is sacred to the memory of the hundreds of men who died at sea serving in the Merchant Navy in two world wars.  These were the men who died bringing food to our beleagured country. They included boys in their teens. People like me were born into a free country because of men like that.

I AM FED UP WITH CAMPAIGNS AGAINST MEN.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A weekend of History Walks...

...first with a delightful group of young people, members of the Order of Malta Volunteers, from various European countries. We met at Westminster Cathedral and walked down to Parliament. A most enjoyable and happy afternoon. After I left them, a quick Tube dash to London Bridge, where another group of young people, led by Fr Hugh Mackenzie, based at St James, Spanish Place,   gathered for an evening History Walk, taking in the southern bank of the Thames, with stories  of St Olaf and Saxon/Viking battles. This was preceded by a cheery pizza supper with quizzes and games...

On Sunday, another group met at The Monument, and we walked to the Tower, taking in St Magnus the Martyr, St Mary-at-Hill, stories of the Great Fire, and more...

Jan/Feb issue of FAITH magazine has arrived.Copy sent on request: send an email to this blog, whuch I will not publish, with your name and FULL POSTAL ADDRESS...

Monday, January 07, 2019

Read Auntie Joanna on...

...the anniversary of Catholic Emancipation.  190 years.    Read here...

Sunday, January 06, 2019

MASS for the Epiphany...

...and Father C. blessed pieces of chalk for us to take home for our house-blessings  with  the C+M+B inscription.  . I have duly replaced last year's date with 2019 over our front door, saying the traditional prayer...

J. unwell with a bad cold, so I took our Advent wreath and big Christmas candle into the bedroom for  him to enjoy a last lighting of the candles before it was all put away until next year...

Pleasant quiet Christmasssy days with books and visits now give way to the reality of neccessary work and worries...I have kept up with various writing and with other projects over the holiday, but things now continue in earnest.

Twelfth night...

...and a party at the home of an Anglo-Polish friend, Gosia Brezinska. Wine and bigos and delicious cakes...lots of friends...and we had the Polish tradition of the "Fourth king", and sang carols in English and in Polish. The chosen "king" also supervised the collection of funds, which will go to help London children needing special care...

Gosia is illustrating my latest book, due out in the spring (info on this Blog in due course...I'm not putting details yet - you will have to wait!!) and we have enjoyed working on this project together.  Her own book on Polish WWII nurse Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska has been highlighted this year with the latter's beatification by Pope Francis...

For the fun of it, I went to this Twelfth Night party carrying a small candle-lantern: it is lovely seeing this mellow light in suburban streets and is useful in checking names of roads, and house-nu,mbers etc. It also made for friendly contacts: pleasant conversations on the Tube and at bus-stops...



Thursday, January 03, 2019

...and you may be interested to read these predictions for 2019...

...read here...





Looking ahead to the summer...

...already the travel brochures and websites are urging holiday plans...

Give yourself a treat at Walsingham, and come and enjoy this weekend with Auntie!  Read here...

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

On New Year's Day...

...an evening Mass at this church, very crowded. Beautiful Christmas garlands highlighting the fine gothic interior.  For the sheer pleasure of it, I walked part of the way there carrying a lantern. Met some friends at Mass and exchanged New Year greetings...they offered me a lift back which I accepted...candle in lantern now nearly expiring.

Mulled wine at home, supper, and gratitude for a beautiful Christmastide with rest and relaxation, family and friends.

I'm busy with various writing projects...and have another History Walk tomorrow...

Looking at the reality of Britain as 2019 opens...the collapse of  important social and moral values in community life, the inanity and vulgarity of so much of our common culture, the problems facing the Church...and more...there are plenty of serious things about which to pray...and there will be a need for courage among Christians in the years ahead. This Christmas has been a time to be grateful for everyday mercies and to stock up, as it were, on Christian inspiration, with lots of faith hope and charity for whatever is coming.

An important read - with thanks to a reader who drew my attention to it...

... a forthright and neccessary comment on a disgraceful situation in Australia...