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]