Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Sept 30th
"London is now one of the great Catholic cities" a friend said recently.'s at least certainly a place where a great many interesting and creative Catholic meetings, youth events, conferences, and so on happen. Another friend - not English - who is studying in Belgium told me she wants to bring young students to London "just to see people kneeling at Mass, to experience full churches". I made a questioning noise......the Church here is not particularly strong "Oh, I know......but honestly, you should see the way things are in many parts of Holland and Belgium...."

Meanwhile, Bogle family life is interesting by the fact that our WRETCHED Internet provider has gone dead again. So off on my bike to Internet Cafe (where, of course, I have left my useful waterproof kagool.....) and thence to friends, who ply us with chocolate cake and interesting conversation: I write this blog while Jamie discusses atheism, evolution, and more, and the night grows late.....
Saturday Sept 30th
Westminster Cathedral Hall simply packed for a wonderful and inspiring conference organised by Aid to the Church in Need. Cardinal Zen spoke about China, and emphasised that the overwhelming feeling among Catholics there is one of loyalty to Rome: "And the Chinese are patient people", ie they are prepared to wait and wait, until eventually the Party's power and attempts to control over Catholicism crumble and the Church prevails.......we also heard from ACN staffer John Pontifex about his trip to Pakistan: this was during the "Danish cartoons" riots and two churches were torched and another (which he was visiting at the time) surrounded by a mob. Father Martin Edwards, our ACN chaplain, spoke brilliantly about the Holy Father's encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which can really be a sort of manifesto for the work of charities such as ACN. The message is one we need in Catholic charitable work: that we are not political, that all we do must be grounded in love, and driven by our relationship with Jesus Christ. ACN's fabulous collection of Christmas cards, Advent calendars, enchanting Christmas cribs and tree-decorations from the Holy Land, and more, were on sale. And how good it was to be part of a great hall full of people praying the Angelus together - one forgets what a great deep roar of sound it makes when a LOT of people all pray aloud......

In between the sessions, the Board of ACN gave Cardinal Zen and various other guests lunch, very suitably at the "Cardinal" pub. We had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding so the Cardinal certainly knew he was in Britain.....

Cardinal Zen will be on the BBC Radio 4 "Sunday" programme tomorrow morning, and preaching at the 11 am Mass at Brompton Oratory, and celebrating Mass for London's Chinese community at 2.30pm at St Patrick's, Soho Square.
Friday Sept 29th
Press conference at Ecclestone Square, headquarters of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, with Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong. He is in Britain to speak at a conference organised by Aid to the Church in Need, the international organisation which gives practical help to Catholics persecuted for their faith. Their new book "Persecuted and Forgotten?" launched at this press conference, is very good, and chillingly documents the imprisonment of priests and bishops in China, torching of churches in Pakistan, harrasment of Christians in Nigeria, and incidents in India, Laos, and Iran.....Cardinal Zen was succinct, informative, thoughtful. Born in Shanghai, he was studying abroad when the Comunist took hold of China in 1948 and has spent much of his life in Hong Kong, but taught at seminaries in different parts of China for seven years in the late 1990s. He explained the complex situation in China: the "underground" Church which is loyal to Rome, and the "official" Church which is Govt-controlled., and the fact that, at the level of ordinary Catholics, there is a mix. Priests from the "underground church" are routinely imprisoned "in and out, in and out of prison - we are used to it", but there is also much contact between Catholics who go to "official" Masses and those who go to "underground" ones...."Essentially, ALL Catholics simply want to be loyal to Rome. They know that this is what being Catholic means. But they go to Mass when and where they can. It is the Patriotic Association [the bogus structure imposed by the Govt] which we reject."

He said that no one believes in Marxism any more: "The Party is simply about power, about keeping power, about controlling everything. No one really believes in Comunism but that is not really the issue: the Party simply wants control."

The Cardinal speaks tomorrow at a conference at Westminster Cathedral Hall: it is already over-booked and looks set to be a remarkable event.

Ecclestone Square is smart and pleasant, friendly lady at reception desk, light airy rooms. No pic of Pope at entrance or in main meeting-room as far as I could see - seems a pity?

In the evening, went to see the new film "The Queen" about events at Balmoral surrounding the death of Princes Diana. It shows the Queen in a sympathetic light, and altho' it presents Tony Blair as something of the hero of the hour, the message is also in the end a fairly positive one about monarchy and continuity. But I wondered where people like me fit in: I was not there among the weepers and mass-grief-and-floral-tributes crowd and thought it all absurd and frightening. But I am certainly not Royal and wasn't at Balmoral, nor am I a politician involved with making events happen. Where do ordinary patriots of a once-mainstream kind, with a love of British history and a sense of the continuity of things, fit in to a country which sees Royalty as soap-opera and which talks in psycho-babble or slogans?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday 29th Sept

Last night I had one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Willesden Junction definitely isn't the right station for Willesden Green: within minutes of leaving the train I realised I had miles and miles to walk and was soon fairly lost. The man in the fish-and-chip shop said "Just keep on following the road in this direction....". Man on his way to the pub said he didn't know: "Just come here for a darts match". Soon I was out of the shopping district and in a maze of suburban roads. One resident helped me get to to what felt like the right area, but by now I was panicking, running in the warm steamy night, knowing I was already late. Outside one house an elderly man was just getting into his car but saw my distress and came to help. "Peter Avenue" I panted out "Can you help me get to Peter Avenue? I just know it's near here somewhere." He got a map from his car and we looked up Peter Avenue "Why - it's just round the corner. I'll take you there." I hesitated. Isn't this exactly what we have all been warned against, time and again, from the time we were very small? But he was not young, a small, kindly, quiet Asian gentleman....I got in the car. "It's the Catholic church I'm looking for. A red-brick building." We purred up the road and turned into Peter Avenue. I found I was explaining that I was due to give a talk.... "For engaged couples, you know, people who are going to be married. They're all expecting me. " He was looking out carefully "What does the church look like?" "There it is! There's the tower and cross!". He stopped and I opened the door. As I started to thank him he said, quietly and with great deliberation, "It is a great priviledge for me as a Moslem to help a Christian sister like you." I was so touched that for a moment I couldn't speak. I held out my hand and he took it. There was a moment of sudden understanding and great seriousness. I said "Thank you. Oh, thank you. God bless you." We shook hands warmly. I said again "God bless you." I will never forget this.

Next time - and it will probably be today - you hear some news item or comment about Islamic fundamentalists and so on, remember this incident: Willesden Green on a damp Thursday evening, an act of neighbourly kindness and a true genetleman.

The Marriage Prep group was just finishing their first session, and having a tea-break before meeting me, so the timing was just right after all. Later, much pleasant and lively talk with Father Hugh and his brother - who runs the Marriage Prep events - and his parish assistant and then a rush to catch the Tube back to Waterloo and the last train through the rainy night back to Jamie to tell him of my adventures.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday Sept 28th 06
Some entries have come in for my Quiz (see entry for a few days ago - just scroll back) ....all from America! Are there any British Catholics out there? C'mon, I need to hear from you. Otherwise all the prizes will go to American families with (judging from their pictures) rather delightful children bearing confident grins and magnificent teeth.........

While working here at home, one can watch the H. Father on TV, without owning a TV set. Try linking to television catholique. You can see all the events in Bavaria, all on your own screen. There is some glorious music as well as lots and LOTS of wonderful scenes with the Holy Father among vast crowds of happy and enthusiastic people...I have just been seeing great scenes from Munich with First Communicants in white dresses and with tiny wreaths of white flowers on their hair..... beautiful Masses, walkabouts in packed streets with cheering crowds, and all the ceremonies and speeches and greetings....

I am off to Willesden tonight to give a talk to a group of couples preparing for marriage. Will offer a prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden (revived from the Middle Ages and worth a visit: tube station is Willesden Junction). The marriage group I am addressing is at the other church, at Willesden Green, but I'll allow myself time to visit the shrine first.

Some commentators to this Blog have asked me about my books. Look up my website - just tap Joanna Bogle into the Internet and see what you get - and you can order them from there. And yes, to answer further enquiries, I am also "Julia Blythe" and have started to write children's books under that name: "We didn't mean to start a school", published a few years ago and still in print, is for girls aged approx 9-15 and is about some girls who establish a school of their own....a sequel is currently in the offing....

On Sunday I'm due to speak at a conference at Wickenden Manor in Sussex. Had planned to cycle there from East Grinstead station but it is rather hilly and will take ages, so have reluctantly agreed to opt for a taxi. Sussex in late September will be bliss (horse chestnuts, wide breezy hills, pubs with lights glowing warmly as evening approaches....). I am reading up Hilaire Belloc to get me in the mood.....have walked much of Sussex following the routes he gives in his books, and echo enirely his sense of primeval joy in the rolling Downs, which even the hideous horrs of modern motorways and "development" have not yet crushed. While I am busy with the conference (which is for families, and sounds fun: I am hopeful there will be Proper Cakes....) Jamie will represent us both at a wedding....this has been a summer for matrimony as far as we are concerned, as we not only celebrated our own unforgettable Silver Wedding but have been to various weddings throughout the sunny months. We are told marriage is going out of fashion which is alas true in Britain but not among young Catholics, it seems.....and not in our particular family either, as I am just wrapping and posting a couple of parcels to a dear nephew who is marrying in Australia in February.....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thursday Sept 28th
This is my first attempt to link with another blog. Fr Tim Finigan's blog Hermeneutic of continuity has a delightful video which includes the singable theme music for the Cologne World Youth Day.
Wed Sept 27th lateish at night
O rejoice and be glad! O announce the good news!!

Fountains in the suburbs of London should flow with wine! Have church bells rung! Announce a holiday for all the schoolchildren!!


This means I can start doing more interesting things with this blog: pictures, proper links, even correction of typing errors.

O joy! O bliss! O the gloriousness of not having to whizz about on my bicycle from library to Internet Cafe simply to get things written!
Am settled back here at my own desk in book-filled study, dear pic of Jamie (in unform, taken 20 yrs ago when he was a subaltern), small statue of St James dressed as a pilgrim, stack of books underfoot as nowhere else to put them, rosemary bush outside window faintly scenting the air, mug of ready promising blissful sips....aaah, THIS is the way to write a blog.
Wednesday Sept 27th
To Carshalton, where Mother and I had sandwiches and coffee at Honeywood Lodge overlooking the Ponds. I first walked round this way several decades ago, in the brown school uniform of St Philomena's - the girls still wear something fairly similar tho' without the big velour hats - and have always loved the village, the High Street, and Grove Park especially in September with the glossy conkers falling on the grass. Apart from the traffic, the view across the ponds to the old church can't have changed much in a couple of hundred years.

Display of local paintings at Honeywood - people crossing the ponds by the old Ford, just near where we lunched, or watering their horses further over, where the War memorial now stands.

I bought lavender oil at a shop in the village where Mother and I always stop to enjoy the scents, and then M. caught the 157 bus back to her house and I cycled on to Sutton to work on the computers in the library. There is a big computer-centre here now, next to the office where I did all my first research for books on local history years and years ago.....
Wednesday Sept 27th 2006
Several correspondents to this Blog have asked me how they can enter the Quiz: it's easy, you simply send you answers in the form of a Comment to this Blog. They won't be published, as I have a "Comments Moderation" system, which means that all comments come to me as an email to my home email address first. So I'll read the answers there, choose a winner, and contact him or her directly....most would-be entrants seem to be in the USA. In my experience, many American Catholics know more about English saints and Catholic history than British ones do. Please do send in your entries to the Quiz even if you aren't sure you have all the answers will still be fun to make contact.

A nice message today from Dwight Longenecker, telling me of his blog Standing on my Head - worth a look.

I am embarrassed about typing mistakes on this blog but it's jolly difficult as I only get half an hour at a time in the local library, and feel I am always working against the clock.....yes, the email and internet at home are STILL not working.....

Yesterday I met my godson, now back in London following summer break, for tea. We sat in the churchyard of St Paul's Cathedral and talked and talked. Enormously enjoyable. Cycled on to St Mary Moorfields for committee of Catholic Writers' Guild, planning speakers and events for tradition our annual meeting is on the Feast of St Francis de Sales. Last yr we had a most successful evening with various members invited to talk about "Work in progress" and we'll do that again this time, with the emphasis on how blogging and the Internet are changing the face of Catholic journalism.....

There is a daft letter in the current Catholic Herald from a lady saying that in her part of rural Wales it is hard to get to Mass on Holy Days so she is glad the Bishops have abolished them. She was well aware that it was no sin to miss Mass if attendance simply wasn't possible, but she just wanted to make the point about the annoyance of not being able to go. By this logic, none of the rest of us would ever have any Holy Days at all!

Gossip says that our Bishops really wanted to abolish all the Holy Days - sorry, "move them to the nearest Sunday" - but a slip in the paperwork meant that they accidentally only mentioned a few of them, so the others have been providentially salvaged! I find this rumour absurd enough to be true. I still think we must all work and to get back the ones they have tried to abolish: HAVE YOU WRITTEN TO ROME ABOUT THIS YET??

I have one complete and accurate set of answers to the Quiz from "Mary" in the USA. She's absolutely correct in every answer.....but adds a note to say she did it purely for the fun of it and doesn't require a prize. This is extremely sporting and commendable. However, Mary, I really am happy to send you a prize, if you send me a postal address to which it could be addressed. Meanwhile there are still a couple of other books available, so keep the answers rolling in!

I am not publishing Mary's correct answers yet, so as to allow others to participate too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday Sept 26th
While sitting in the Library yesterday awaiting my turn at the computer, I devised this Quiz. Anyone may enter - email your answers to this blog. This is a serious Quiz: first correct set of answers gets a copy of my new book on Pope Benedict (published by Gracewing earlier this year). Only stipulation is: your entry to this Quiz must be accompanied by a (truthful) statement that you have done one of the things I listed the other day, eg contacted ACW website, ordered one or more of Pope Benedict's books from your local library.

This Quiz is aimed at encouraging greater knowledge of Britain's Catholic heritage, and is also fun. You will find most answers on the Internet and/or in your local library - which you will in any case be visiting because of ordering a couple of Ratzinger books.....

1.Where in Rome is a monument to the man comemorated in the "Skye Boat song"?
2.Which English king established Westminster Abbey?
3.Who was Bishop Richard Challoner?
4.Who is the hero of the London plague, whose body lies in Westminster Cathedral?
5. Who was Margaret Clitheroe and where is her home to be found?
6.What is the Royal Maundy?
7.Why is the Hilary law term so named?
8.Where is Tyburn? What now comemorates the Catholic martyrs who suffered there?
9. Name the village outside Oxford where John Henry Newman was recievd into the Catholic Church.
10. Who wrote the hymn "Faith of our Fathers"?
12.Where is Hilaire Belloc buried?
13.Who was Anne Line?
14.Who was Abbot Richard Whiting?
15. Give the rest of the line of this poem:
"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
16.Who had a vision of Our Lady at Walsingham, causing a shrine to be erected there?
17.Who was St Thomas More's son in law, who wrote an acount of More's death?
18.Who was the first Archbishop of Westminster, following the restoration of the RC hierarchy in England and Wales in 1850?
19. Who was St George?
20. When did Pope John Paul 11 visit Britain?
21. Which famous London Catholic church comemorates a Saxon princess from Ely?

I need your answers by Oct 15th. If this Quiz is popular, I'll do others.

Teachers/catechists: why not download this quiz and get your pupils to work on it?
Tuesday Sept 26th
Last night I cycled through Tooting, a very Islamic area of South London. It is Ramadan: large crowds of young men emerging from a mosque, special celebratory lights all along the street, sponsored by local tradesmen. (Would they do the same for, say, a Corpus Christi procession? Just possibly - if we could muster the numbers and enthusaism and courage to get a large enough event going). I would say the mood among followers of Islam in Britain is buoyant at present: numbers are rising, there is plenty of money, and it is a very youthful religion with a big attraction for young men. In Britain generally, media coverage in the mainstream non-Islamic media will probably shift over the next weeks and months from general dislike of Islamic response to the Papal spech in Regensburg to an assumption that the Pope was and remains at fault.

Dinner with friends who own a tiny, Georgian (possibly originally Tudor) cottage in a corner of Streatham Hill: it is a listed building and even has its own well, now filled in. It is squashed between vast tower blocks of flats, a garage and car-repair area, a rubish-dump and a busy main road. They are a delightful family: their younger son is just off to Rome to train as priest, and the mother of the family runs an excellent Natural Family Planning centre which is overwhelmed with clients and does a great deal of good work. The father of the family has an encyclopediac knowledge of English history: I found myself wishing I had consulted him before writing my feature on St Edward the Confessor for the Catholic Times. (In response to enquiries, incidentally: no the paper is not avilable on line: try googling the name in and see what you get - and maybe contact them?)

Somehow, the evening felt vaguely recusant: hidden, cosy, comfortable old house, warm welcome, sense of history and living traditon, excellent and lively conversation.....and the message on the streets outside as I cycled home so different.

Comment on modern Britain: as I cycled along, a young man spat juicily on to the street just in front of me, mising me by a split-second. "Ugh - don't do that. It's so gross" I said (am indebted to American tenagers for this useful and descriptive adjective) and then felt a bit panicky as I whizzed on, because it was just an instinctive coment, but it probably annoyed him and had I been on foot he might have pursued me and thumped me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Sept 25th 2006
In blissful gentle rain I cycled across to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, to hand in some vital work from Jamie at St Mary's College. As our Internet access is still down, he couldn't email it, and as he was working in court all day, all we could do was print it off on paper and deliver it by hand. Thank the Lord for cooler weather - still not proper Autumn breezes, but something less than the oppressive sticky heat of recent days. Some of the trees along the river at Kingston are just starting to turn golden-brown. There were notices at the park gates about the deer-cull. The magnificent Victorian High Anglican church at Teddington - where my mother remembers being taken as a child, before her father finally became a Catholic - is now an arts centre.

Back at home, it was just eleven o'clock and as I turned on the radio for the news, I thought I would say a prayer for the Holy Father, meeting Muslim leaders this morning at Castel Gandolfo. As I prayed the Hail Mary, the radio prattled on in the background about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and the Labour Party conference, and then moved on to "The Pope is meeting Moslem leaders today at....." I do hope lots of others were praying, too.

On to the local library, where I raced through a feature about St Edward the Confessor (please read my weekly feature in the Catholic Times, which tackles the various feast-days as they come along!) and just managed to click "send" before my time ran out and the computer automatically switched off and the library closed for lunch. This really is a slightly nerve-wracking way to work! I went to an Internet cafe and ordered a sandwich. They are beginning to know me rather well in here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Sept 24th
The London suburbs on a hot sunny weekend means a great many groups of rather overweight girls screaming and shouting drunkenly, hanging around ugly shopping centres. It's not an appealing sight.

Latest figures show that about half of all births in Britain are now out of wedlock. A good proportion of young people grow up with a succession of different adult males in the household - they may be on reasonable terms with their own biological father but know they should also accept the presence of their mother's other boyfriend(s) as part of life too. In addition, massive propaganda on homosexuality means that most young people regard acceptance of some form of "gay marriage" in principle is a very important aspect of being a good citizen. All this means that in the fairly immediate future it will be increasingly difficult to draw on a sense of common culture and understanding when matters concerning family are discussed: the idea of a passed-on surname, of a family heritage, of traditions that build up a sense of tribe, are all surprisingly fragile, and it will feel odd and uncomfortable to live in a nation where these things do not exist as part of everyday life. I am not sure there is no map for a society that has lived this way: has any such grouping ever survived?

Cycled to Mass in hot sunshine, and on to Internet Cafe to tackle emails and private prayer at the Bidding Prayers was that our Internet Provider GETS THE CURRENT TECHNICAL PROBLEMS SORTED OUT.

Sent copies of this week's Catholic Herald to various (non-Catholic) relations just because I think it tackles the recent Islam business so well. Am sure they will simply think I am tiresome: but we all get on well, and they are all so nice, that they will be kind and tolerant.
Father Richard Whinder gave an excellent talk on Bishop Richard Challoner at the annual meting of the Association of Catholic Women today at St James', Spanish Place. Challoner was the heroic bishop who was Vicar Apostolic of the London District during extremely difficult years in the 18th century. The slaughter of priests by hanging, drawing, and quartering had ended but it was still illegal to be one, so he lived a life of semi-secrecy, ministering to Catholics up and down the country, travelling from place to place.....he wrote several books and Fr Whinder pointed out that it is thanks to him that we know the facts about the martyrs of the 16th century, as he collected together information from documents and from family histories, from information passed down, from eye-witness accounts written and hidden in attics and cupboards. He also wrote prayer-books and a catechism that sustained people and engaged non-believers, starting a debate that even achieved some conversions to the Church: no mean feat given the extraordinary difficulties that all Catholics in England had to endure. Challoner - as Fr Whinder concluded by reminding us - has several mesages for us today, of which the chief is the importance of prayer, and another is the virtue of patience. At the end of his long life - he died aged over 90 at the time of the Gordon Riots - the Catholic Church in England had had not increased in numbers, but it had not declined either. The scene was set, tho' Challoner did not know it, for a "Second Spring".....

At the ACW meeting we also heard from Jeremy de Satge of The Music Makers : this excellent organisation offers training in singing plainchant, sells CDs of good church music, encourages those who are getting young Catholics to sing, and more. Latest venture is sessions in seminaries training future priests to sing the Mass. What joy to hear a lectuire on church music that was full of positive and practical ideas: it is a given that we have all endured ghastly music for far too long....the experience of liturgical and musical horror in church has become something that we all know needs tackling, and it's so refreshing when we find the tools available: like discovering a good brand of disinfectant or something that really does get rid of nits in children's hair.

Many thanks to all who have commented on this blog, especially from America and Australia: well done the chap who answered correctly about the tradition of a white sheet hung on a hedge - this was the signal, in recusant time, that a priest was be at that house and Mass available.

A chap called Joee Blogs has asked me to link to his blog and I do so gladly.

Piers Paul Read has an excellent piece in the latest Spectator about the Holy Father. Press here in Britain is largely silent on the topic now: presumably the next thing will be a rash of hyped and tiresome features, plus TV and radio discussions, by lefty shallow thinking whdoesn'tthechurchchangeallitsteachingsotsuitmywayofthinking types, linked to whatever is the next papal statement that they want to denounce.

Am I alone in wishing for a little more support for the Pope and the Church on the topic of Islam from some of our Evangelical friends - often so militant in private conversation?

I started this blog because of the excellent Fr Tim Finegan's blog hermeneutic of continuity: a crucial read and setting the pace for what Catholic writing of the future is going to be like. The blogosphere is where the discussions are taking place, so despite an instinctive sense of dontwanttodolearnsomethingdifficult I knew I had to get on with it. I take this opportunity of thanking Fr Tim for his encouragement - and for being a simply splendid priest, one of several really excellent priests in London for whom we are all hugely grateful.

I decided that my blog would be an action blog: my opinions and insights aren't particularly valuable, but working as a Catholic journalist does give me access to isdeas, contacts, and information worth passing on.

Have you visited the Association of Catholic Women website yet?

Have you ordered a couple of books by Pope Benedict from your local library? Why not? Inertia? Or just a desire to play your part in keeping useful and helpful teachings away from the general public?

Have you bought a copy of the current Catholic Herald and either passed it to a friend, or left it deliberately on a train for others to read, or sent it to some one housebound? Do you think it is better to leave good Catholic papers unread in stacks at the back of Catholic churches?

I love getting comments on this blog, but won't publish the next ones unless they start with a brief note explaining that the writer has done at least one of the three things I have listed above.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Sept 22nd
Asked for advice by another Catholic commentator invited to do a BBC interview....I have also been thinking of things I would like to say when given next opportunity. Here's one: life was not easy for Catholics in Britain for approx 300 years - illegal to be a priest ( for many years, it meant death penalty) , Mass was banned, Catholics banned from public office, etc. Islam has never been subject to these restrictions, and when Islamic immigration began in 1960s, special laws were introduced to give extra protection so that they and other arrivals would would have complete freedom to flourish. Today, there are still officially some restrictions on Catholics - but we honestly don't mind and mostly laugh at them (eg we can't marry into the Royal family without special consent!). But we do ask that our Moslem friends and neighbours refrain from yelling abuse at us when we go to church and from insulting our Holy Father.

Current Catholic Herald newspaper is a must-read - has full text of Holy father's Regensberg lecture and some xecellent features, notably one by Stuart Reid of the Spectator.
Friday September 22nd 2006

Well, if there was meant to be a "Day of Rage" by Moslem campaigners today at Westminster Cathedral, it must have been mostly rained off: London deliciously drenched with much-needed downpour.

Last night, in oppressive heat, went to St Mary Moorfields for meeting of Catholic Writers' Guild. Father Peter Newby, our chaplain, had installed fan in church and I was sitting near it - bliss! Dinner in crypt: speaker was journalist and author Mary Kenny on "Shamrock and Crown", the theme of her latest book, the relationship between Ireland and the British Crown in modern (ie Queen Victoria and onwards) history. Extremely interesting, witty, well-researched. Watch for this book when it comes out - it will be well worth reading. I distributed handbills re TOWARDS ADVENT FESTIVAL OF CATHOLIC CULTURE, Sat Nov 4th at Westminster Cathedral Hall and also announced 2006 Catholic Young Writer Award, open to all pupils at Catholic secondary schools in Britain (send message to this blog with postal address and I will send brochure with details).

Walked from the City, via St Paul's (magnificent, glowing with light on this hot summer night) and across the river to Waterloo: the idea of travelling by Tube in this oppressive heat was insupportable. Once home, with every window open, everything still felt too warm. Late into the night, the rain fell, and I ran into the garden, ostensibly to get damp washing hanging on line but really just to relish the delicious coolness.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Sept 21st
A very happy evening yesterday, addressing a women's group at a local Methodist Church. Everyone very supportive re. the Holy Father. I had been invited to talk about "being an author". We had a very enjoyable discusion about books and words and writing - even explored the whole idea of the "logos" and the importance of "word" in the Christian tradition - with lots of interesting and creative ideas, memories of childhoood books enjoyed, etc. One lady, who taught for some years in Pakistan, offered a useful insight: many of her pupils were the first generation to be given the opportunity to read and write at all, and in fact were by-passing the whole idea and using TV for communicating instead:"They simply don't have a tradition of books or writing - don't read, don't possess literature, don't own any books. TV images are immediate, and offer soundbites. They get their ideas and information through pictures, flashed on to the TV screen." We also lamented the loss of reading as an enjoyable activity in many families in Britain: a childhood minus joys like "Swallows and Amazons" and "The Treasure Seekers" is a childhood bereft.....

I am spending a lot of time in public libraries using the computers - fortunately I belong to libraries in two neighbouring Boroughs and can use equipment at libraries in either....but, golly, it's frustrating : the computer network is still ensuring that the Bogle family are cut off at home, no email, no Internet WHY WON'T THE ORANGE NETWORK GET ON AND FIX IT???? Jamie spent much of the day on the phone to technicians etc.

The Islamic "Day of Rage" tomorrow sounds a good plan....why don't we all have such a day and direct our rage at whoever we consider to be at fault? My list would include Internet provider as above, plus the people who stole my bike a couple of months ago. Also the weather is TOO HOT: I want Autumn now. I want cold: I want crisp, fresh mornings. I want the pleasure of hot drinks after a cold walk. I want pleasant Autumn clothes and decent shoes instead of squashy sandals. I want buses and trains in which one doesn't feel like a chicken being roasted. I want a faint smell of frost, and golden leaves falling from trees.

Thought re public libraries: does yours stock any books by Pope Benedict/Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger? The library where I was working yesterday had NONE. They are now ordering some. Go to your local library today or tomorrow, and order two Ratzinger books. You simply fill in a card and pay, usually, something like £1 or 75p. His books are published by Ignatius Press and in Britain are available from Family Publications, King St, Jericho, Oxford. Ask for God and the World, and/or Salt of the Earth written jointly with Peter Seewald. Ask for Milestones, his autobiography.

I DON'T CARE if you have already read these books, or have copies at home. The object is to get them on library shelves. Go on, do it now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wed Sept 20th
A rather peculiar letter in yesterday's Times from the Chief Executive of the Manchester Community Relations Council, attacking the Catholic Church for, among other things, its missionary policies in South America.....surely it cannot be acceptable for an empoloyee of an official body to use his position to vent his private hatred against the Church (or against any other body, come to that) in this way? The letter was only and exclusively attacking the Church - it did not mention any surrent issue and was simply a tirade against catholicism, gratuitous and bizarre. Shouldn't he be officially reprimanded, or suspended from his job while this is investigated?
Wednesday Sept 20th
To the office of Aid to the Church in Need (1 Times Square, Sutton, Surrey SM1) to collect some small prayer-cards for the Holy Father which I intend to distribute widely. Why not order some yourself and pass them around? (Just send a donation to ACN and ask for some cards). Yesterday when I visited the CTS Bookshop on Westminster Cathedral piazza (excellent selection of books, magazines, Catholic items - well worth a visit) I learned that it seems the Islamicists are planning a "Day of Hate" on Friday to follow up their picket of the Cathedral this past weekend. The picket - hooded men with covered faces displaying horrible banners threatening the Pope - was watched calmly by the police who failed to arrest or warn any of those who were yelling hate-filled abuse at Christians entering the Cathedral and brandishing vicious messages against the Church. This is in contrast to the police action against a woman who, on a radio programme a short while ago, expressed the view that practising homosexuals should not be encouraged to adopt children - she recieved a visit from the Police and was told her name was "on a list" and she was warned about committing "hate crimes".

Later, emerging from a tube station on my way to St Mary's Church in Chelsea where I was due to give a talk to young engaged couples as part of a Marriage Preparation course, I had a most extraordinary and wonderful experience. There are eight million people in London. And there, walking towards me, was the one person dearest to me in all of them: my husband Jamie. He would never normally be in that part of London, and it is unusual for me to be there too. Neither of us had co-ordinated our activities today, just normal busy schedules for us both........ He had been at some event at Brompton Oratory followed by lunch and a meeting was a chance in eight million that we should both happen to be in Sloane Square at that precise moment.

We hugged, exclaimed, hugged again. I do think it was nice of God to arrange that meeting. Then he went on home and I did my Marriage Prep talk (where, as always, some encouraging young people and much goodwill - great earnestness and desire to "make this marriage work", great idealism....but woeful ignorance of Church and faint embarrassment at idea of praying together, sharing family traditions, etc). Home later to big mugs of tea and laughter together.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday Sept 19th
To the London office of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children - they've just had a successful annual conference with a good number of younger people attending, and the office is busy with all sorts of things ranging from sales of Christmas cards to preparations for the next Parliamentary battle against legalising euthanasia.

Discussion with Liverpool branch of the Assn of Catholic Women about our taking a stall at the Northern Festival of Catholic Culture on Sat Dec 2nd in Liverpool: I definitely think we should and have offerred to go there and help run it. There'll be a chance to sell our books, including Engaged to be Married, produced jointly with Gracewing Publishing, which I edited and which has proved popular with a number of parishes which use it as a gift-book to present to couples who come to discuss wedding arrangements. It gives the Church's teaching and looks at many aspects of marriage, including Natural Family Planning, and has prayers for couples to use, emphasises the importance of establishing a family tradition of praying together, etc.

Trawling the Internet produces some very good material re the Holy Father's recent lecture on Islam....also some comically bad stuff such as the sneering by the (woefully ignorant!) opinionated Madeline Bunting in the Guardian, and some amusing show-off stuff by some intellectual-poseur in Rome who disagrees with the Pope's spelling of one of the Islamic names. I am getting tired of people telling us that the H. Father "needs to acquire diplomatic skills" and giving their advice on what he should do/write/ for the modernists who will be announcing to anyone who will listen that the "real problem" is the Pope's "refusal to listen", etc etc...zzzz...zzzz...condoms....zzzzz...contraception......
Tuesday Sept 19th
To the London office of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children - they've just had a successful annual conference with a good number of younger people attending, and the office is busy with all sorts of things ranging from sales of Christmas cards to preparations for the next Parliamentary battle against legalising euthanasia.

Discussion with Liverpool branch of the Assn of Catholic Women about our taking a stall at the Northern Festival of Catholic Culture on Sat Dec 2nd in Liverpool: I definitely think we should and have offerred to go there and help run it. There'll be a chance to sell our books, including Engaged to be Married, produced jointly with Gracewing Publishing, which has proved popular with a number of parishes which use it as a gift-book to present to couples who come to discuss wedding arrangements. It gives the Church's teaching and looks at many aspects of marriage, including Natural Family Planning, and has prayers for couples to use, emphasises the importance of establishing a family tradition of praying together, etc.

Trawling the Internet produces some very good material re the Holy Father's recent lecture on Islam....also some comically bad stuff such as the sneering by the (woefully ignorant!) opinionated Madeline Bunting in the Guardian, and some amusing show-off stuff by some intellectual-poseur in Rome who disagrees with the Pope's spelling of one of the Islamic names. I am getting tired of people telling us that the H. Father "needs to acquire diplomatic skills" and giving their advice on what he should do/write/ for the modernists who will be announcing to anyone who will listen that the "real problem" is the Pope's "refusal to listen", etc etc...zzzz...zzzz...condoms....zzzzz...contraception......

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mon Sept 18th
Hurrah for kind friends who are letting me use their computer...children tumble about, a big mug of tea is offered, there is talk and laughter. Yesterday in Kemsing our kind hosts at the St Edith pilgrimage gave me a couple of beautiful pumpkins from their garden, to keep for Hallowe'en - so I was able to bring one along with me today as a thank-you gift and the children are very enthusiastic, though October seems a long time to wait and I feel it may be turned into a lantern well before then....

As I left the house on my walk here, neighbour Joe got chatting - he's RC too and happened to be in London today and wanted to drop into Westminster Cathedral: "Crowd of these Islamic types in front of the Cathedral doors, shouting into a megaphone, and carrying cards saying vile things about Our Lord and about how Islam will crush Rome. But will the police do anything?"

Have managed to get my Catholic Times column written: you can get this paper at the back of any Catholic Church. If you read my blog, why not get the CATHOLIC TIMES too? Catholic newspapers are worth supporting. And while we're about it, have you looked at the website of the Association of Catholic Women yet?

While chatting to Margaret and Ashley here, Margaret ensures the children are out of the room and then sighs:"I didn't want to have to be the tiresome know, asking to see the Headteacher and saying,um, well, it's about the sex education.....but look at this." It's horrible. For six-year-olds. Learning the names of intimate body parts, doing a quiz about them, looking at pictures of naked people and showing which bits of underwear cover which bits of us (I'm not making this up). "The irony is, the other mum who shares my concern on this and is extremely nice, is a Moslem - we've been friendly for a good while, and then found we shared the same worries about this stuff. So we're talking to other parents and hoping to get enough of them together...." And it could be worse - a lot worse. In the post today, from the Christian Institute, comes news of gross material promoting the homosexual lifestyle, aimed at the littlest children in schools.

Somwetimes I feel the only really useful thing I do each day is say the Rosary. What kind of a country are we living in?
Monday Sept 18th
Radio interview on BBC Asian Network. In Britain, I detect a "let's move on" feel to the discussion re the Pope, and a dislike among Muslims of being identified with shouting crowds in Pakistan, burning of churches on West Bank, etc. But alas I fear that this is not the case in much of Asia etc and Islamic activists who fomented all this anger have much for which they must take responsibility - they must now try to minimise harm by emphasising Pope had no intention to offend, speech should be read as a whole, whole message of lecture was to remind all of requirement to place use of human reason at the service of good religious dialogue....

After radio interview (carried out in cramped conditions at home, as Jamie in next room tried to struggled via telephone to get crucial internet connection mended) , hurried out to local library to try to work on computer there. Not possible: OAPs all using computers as part of helpful local community initiative in training..... went to Internet Cafe near station. Have half an hour in which to write column for Cath Times....
Sunday Sept 17tth
Delightful gathering at St Edith's Well in Kemsing, Kent, to honour this little-known Saxon saint (princess, refused crown of England, became nun, cared for leper children, patron of people with diseases of eyes or suffering spiritual blindness). Walked there from Otford with friend as pilgrims, stopping in (lovely, medieval) Anglican church to say the Rosary - Mysteries of Light, with September sunshine pouring in through ancient windows, gentle words of "Hail Mary" renewing one's soul). Bishop John Hine of Southwark gave us Benediction in glorious garden of local family, who then hosted tea and cakes....they had also arranged special competition, hung white sheet over hedge and invited people to guess what this represented. Any takers from readers of this blog?

Many thanks to all who have emailed me with encouragement re my TV debate re the H. Father. I am due to do some more media interviews on this: PRAYERS BADLY NEEDED, especially that I will remain calm. And greetings to old friends who have contacted me via this blog - esp. Paul from Adelaide: yes of course Jamie and I both remember that lovely day exploring the S. Australia coast, and walking round the island.....
Saturday Sept 16th
What a day for my email to go down....deeply frustrated. Kept on radio to tarck news: God bless our Pope! (see my website for full words of hymn: tap in Joanna Bogle to Google).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Sept 15th 2006
Joanna Bogle defends the Pope....just as I was planning a comfortable evening at home, the phone rang and it was BBC News 24: would I come and talk about the Holy Father's remarks in Regensburg where he had quoted a 15th century Christian Emperor in connection with dialogue with Islam. Had already seen this was being brought to a bubbling row so agreed to do it....had presence of mind to phone a friend to beg for prayer-support, then washed hair, put on new blouse, downloaded material re Regensburg speech and (from Jamie, who was already on the case) re Emperor's remarks and whizzed off to White City. Reasonably civilised discussion tho' I always feel I let the side down and could/should do a lot better.,.......essential problem here has nothing to do with Emperor's remarks - turned out that the (perfectly pleasant and indeed friendly) Islamic spokesman in studio with me felt all could be OK if Pope would simply acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet. "But he doesn't think he is a prophet" I said "Nor do I, come to that". I would have thought it could be understood that this must be the case: after all, if Pope thought Mohammed a prophet, he would resign as Pope and adopt Islam....Our dialogue continued (much to amusement of young TV researcher, with whom I'd earlier been chatting amiably about riding and Sussex and things) with courtesy but vigour in the BBC foyer. Came home to find encouraging comments on this blog, for which many thanks.
Good long talk with Josephine Robinson of the Association of Catholic Women yesterday (have you visited their website yet? PLEASE do: every click they get moved the site up, as it were, on Google, and that means that sane Catholicism replaces loony/vicious feminist rants when the words 'Catholic women' are googled....) - the only problem with our chats are that they always generate more energetic work and ideas for ACW, though this is of course fun too...latest thought is more help for children with Downs. Josephine needed an address to pass on to a family with a new Downs baby- this generated a discussion about the Anna Fund (excellent initiative to raise funds, started by the family of a much-loved Downs child) and we found we were planning a fund-raiser......fortunately I was offered, a few weeks ago, the use of the lovely house of a friend in London for a coffee-morning or similar.

The Minutes have arrived from the latest meeting of the National Board of Catholic Women. Honestly, we do try very hard to work with this organisation, but it's rather difficult as it is run by a little group with such tired ideas. Suggestions for their annual weekend conference with something called the Joint Dialogue Group included "marginalisation of women in the Church". Of women? Give me a break: most church discussion groups, liturgy workshops, social gatherings, study evenings and so much else are absolutely dominated by's the young men and boys who feel marginalised. Modern liturgy is often horribly feminised, prayer-groups (even good ones) lack masculine "grit" could go on. Another (much better!) suggestion for the conference was to look at care of the elderly: a practical need and one in which members of various Catholic women's movements could contribute knowledge and experience as most of us ast some stage will be involved in looking after older relatives....ACW has a special prayer-bulletin and network for housebound people and at our last couple of committee meetings we've been alerted to first-hand some of the (grave) problems associated with inadequate nursing of the frail elderly in hospitals. Is there not scope for some practical action here? Opportunities for volunteers (eg just to feed patients, and help with tasks like washing and doing hair etc) are now so restricted - everyone seems scared that they'll get sued. I did some Red Cross training a while back with the specific thought that practical skills would be there scope for getting some home-nursing taught in schools/youth groups? Now that there has been a belated recognition that cookery is useful, perhaps there could be an awakening on other issues too....

I'm writing this at my own little desk in a freshly-painted room. It all looks super - after all the worry, the chap did it without hassle and it's a joy to have everything sound again.

The papers today list 101 annoyances of modern life. What about the modern Church? Apart from obvious things (self-important self-appointed campaigners censoring the Gospels and rewriting prayers to conform them to feminist ideology, nutty anti-semitic ranters sending emails announcing that the Pope is a heretic) my list would include: bogus visionaries, people who allow or even encourage their noisy children to run about and make a noise during Mass, and (I'm afraid) well-intentioned pro-life poetry filled with cliches.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday Sept 14th
I have become worryingly addicted to looking at the Holy Father via computer: it gives one such a reassurring feeling. By tapping "Bayern television papst Benedikt" or a similar collection of words into Google, one can get Bavarian TV and they have been covering every moment of his tour - and it looks glorious. Vast crowds, lots of church bells pealing, some grand singing, great waves of applause, and this dear and most appealing figure at the heart of things, teaching about God, and celebrating Mass, and blessing babies (parents hold out their children to him over the heads of others in the crowds, and small children wait to be hugged) and responding to hundreds and hundreds of outstretched's all most heartening. Yes, yes, I know.....German Church in a mess, dreadfully divided, lots of dreary muddle as hordes of people think they ought to believe that aborting babies could be acceptable or that three men can get married to each other, or whatever.....But here is a man they recognise as being their special link with Christ, the one whom God is using to run His Church, and he's one of their own, and he's gentle and speaks with wise authority and there's a sanity about him, and he's teaching the truths that challenge the dreary muddle and make sense of things. So there is a possibility that one can hold on, and truth will prevail.

Meanwhile, back at home, the Daily Telegraph obviously won't refer to the Church in seeking answers to its questions about the huge problems facing childhood in Britain - but it's a pity, because the Holy Father gave straightforward reminders about simple, loving , and basic ways of living. He spoke gently about doing the traditional things: take the children to church on Sunday, pray with them at meals, kneel down together at the end of each day for bed-time prayers.

Incidentally, there are some extremely good Catholic websites which give widespread coverage of events in Rome and elsewhere: tap into television catholique and you can get videos showing all sorts of things from Christmas midnight Mass to the baptism of infants in the Sistine Chapel, from the (rather moving) Good Friday Way of the Cross in Rome - and the ceremonies in St Peter's with the Holy Father lying prostrate - to cheery scenes in the Alps and at Castel Gandolfo.

My new book now sent to publisher, I'm plodding on with next projects. Life would be easier if domestic events didn't occasionally erupt into mess. I work at my computer in a small room here at home, and Jamie has his in the main room alongside. When we are both tapping away busily, our work is punctuated by his pleas for cups of tea (sometimes he just makes a sort of bleating noise - it's really quite heart-rending) and by the telephone ringing (annoying - so we often leave the answerphone on and deal with calls later). Tomorrow this comparative peace will cease as a man comes to repaint the ceiling and all of one wall, repairing damage done when the upstairs' people had a radiator leak earlier this summer. It means removing stacks of books, pushing furniture about, disrupting everything on my desk, finding space (in the bath? garden? Dunno) for all the things that will have to be moved elsewhere......

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wed Sept 14th
THE ADOREMUS BULLETIN - very readable publication produced by the Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, based in the USA, has published my feature on "Why we need holy days". There are a number of useful features in the magazine: if anyone wants a copy, send a message to this blog, giving a postal address and I'll put one in the post. In return, please tell people about this blog! I don't like writing things that people are not likely to read. The point about creating a blog was the assumption that this is the new way of communicating with people. So I want to communicate with people - pass the word along that if people simply tap "auntie joanna writes" into google, they'll get to this blog, and it's worth reading.....

Fascinating chat today with Halina Kent, who is working with people in Poland promoting the cause for beatification of Sue Ryder:I'm doing a feature about this for one of the Catholic papers. There is a good case for the suggestion that Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder, as husband and wife, could be honoured together by the Church. Anyone interested in finding out more should write to: Sue Ryder Beatification, Reading Room, Green Rd Wivelsfield Green, Haywards Heath RH17 7QL. In the extraordinarily difficult years in Poland just after World War 11, Sue Ryder went to help people living there in poverty and squalor - she helped create some semblance of order in the ruins of Warsaw, took care of the desperately poor and needy, and then went back year after year, fighting with Communist bureaucratic officials to drive in truckloads of food and clothes donated by people in Britain. Many many years later, and with a string of homes for the elderly and handicapped across Britain plus a vast range of other useful work, she was honoured here and became Baroness Ryder of Warsaw - and she still went on taking aid to Poland and elsewhere, driving vast trucks in bitter weather, wearing clothes from her own charity-shops, sorting out complicated problems and overcoming immense difficulties to give help who people who needed it....this was a life given generously and worth honouring.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph (today's edition) is launching a commendable campaign to "save childhood", citing all sorts of child-care experts, children's authors, etc, who lament the computer-obsessed , TV-based, highly pressurised, lives of modern British children and want to awaken us all to the need to offer again a vision of carefree childhood days. Absolutely. But how? What actual practical ideas are being presented? My list would include: restore marriage as the basis for family life in Britain by encouraging it through the tax and welfare systems; ban the distribution of contraceptives to anyone under the age of 16; impose penalties on the publishers and promoters of any publication aimed at under-18s which in any way condones extra-marital teenage sexual activity; postively encourage the use at every official level of the words "husband and wife" "father and mother". And that's just for starters. Other ideas?
Tuesday Sept 12th
Excellent meeting of The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild, at our new home, St Mary Moorfields in the heart of London - nearest tube station, Liverpool Street. Fr Peter Newby celebrated Mass in this beautiful and peaceful church - but it was dreadfully HOT as it has no windows and is extremely popular, with a vast number of candle-racks simply crammed with votive candles all burning and flourishing.....a delicious supper in the crypt-hall, and then a superb talk by Clare Asquith on Shakespeare and Catholicism: her book "Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare" explains that his plays have all sorts of messages about the situation in Elizabethan England following the tempest of the Reformation and the destruction of all that had made up people's Christian lives. There are references to the killing of Thomas More - and to Edmund Campion. (Did you know, incidentally, that the day Campion arrived in England to begin his mission, the country experienced its only recorded major earthquake?). There are all sorts of references to the great and savage changes that had followed Henry's break with Rome, to the destruction of so much that mattered and that was valued and led people to God, references to people's bewilderment, to the debates going on about these things, and to the ghastly and horrific things that were being done in the Tower of London, to Campion and others.

This is a book that will be like a slow-burning fuse, ultimately making much of the superficial commentary on Shakespeare look superfluous. A most fascinating evening.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mon Sept 11th 2006

To Westminster - for a party at the bookshop next to the cathedral - for the launch of the new CD by "The Music Makers" - it's Latin chant in honour of Our Lady and is called REGINA CAELI. The CD is very delightful - and is also designed as a teaching instrument. Jeremy de Satge, and the work he does with "Music Makers" is part of the revival of good liturgy....and it was a great joy to have Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary in Westminster, as the special guest. Bishop Alan spoke most warmly of Jeremy's work, quoting the Holy Father and emphasising the great importance of beautiful music in the liturgy. There was enthusiastic applause and a general buzz of real conversations (over very good sandwiches and snacks and drinks) a lot of encouraging ideas came up....especially talking to young teachers (and yes, there were the usual horror stories of ghastly liturgies - especially when the conversation turned to France, where, as one girl put it "We went along to the local church quite happily on our first Sunday - but then found the priest thought 'liturgy' meant giving little talks into a microphone, he had no idea about following the rubrics, ....and he simply believe in transubstantiation, said he had never been taught it.")

"REGINA CAELI" is available from St Paul's Bookshop, Morpeth Terrace, London SW1, or direct from The Music Makers - visit their website, just tap the name into Google - and from the Association of Latin Liturgy (visit their website too). And it will be on sale at the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival of Catholic Culture on Sat Nov 4th at Westminster Cathedral Hall - be there!
Mon Sept 11th 2006

To Westminster - for a party at the bookshop next to the cathedral - for the launch of the new CD by "The Music Makers" - it's Latin chant in honour of Our Lady and is called REGINA CAELI. The CD is very delightful - and is also designed as a teaching instrument. Jeremy de Satge, and the work he does with "Music Makers" is part of the revival of good liturgy....and it was a great joy to have Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary in Westminster, as the special guest. Bishop Alan spoke most warmly of Jeremy's work, quoting the Holy Father and emphasising the great importance of beautiful music in the liturgy. There was enthusiastic applause and a general buzz of real conversations (over very good sandwiches and snacks and drinks) a lot of encouraging ideas came up....especially talking to young teachers (and yes, there were the usual horror stories of ghastly liturgies - especially when the conversation turned to France, where, as one girl put it "We went along to the local church quite happily on our first Sunday - but then found the priest thought 'liturgy' meant giving little talks into a microphone, he had no idea about following the rubrics, ....and he simply believe in transubstantiation, said he had never been taught it.")

"REGINA CAELI" is available from St Paul's Bookshop, Morpeth Terrace, London SW1, or direct from The Music Makers - visit their website, just tap the name into Google - and from the Association of Latin Liturgy (visit their website too). And it will be on sale at the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival of Catholic Culture on Sat Nov 4th at Westminster Cathedral Hall - be there!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday Sept 10th 06

To Mother's for a family celebration to mark her 86th birthday - my brother and his wife and family had taken her out for lunch and there was then a general gathering for Presents and Tea, and a most satisfactory moment when my sister-in-law produced a birthday cake glittering with candles that spelled out HAPPY BIRTHDAY and we all sang and everything was extremely enjoyable. There were presents for me, too, and a very delightful time of hugging and celebrating and afterwards I went home all in a happy glow and was sitting at the station with my book and a feeling of deep contentment and with two slices of cake in a box for later....and on the opposite platform a crowd of shouting people came out of a train all sullen and kicking and shouting obscene things at one another, and one sprayed drink from a can everywhere and then threw the can on the stairs and another took one look at me and spat on the ground. Oh, dear.

But it was fun to come home and find that people had written things to my Blog. The nieces and nephews had seen it too and expressed general approval of my ability to use a computer: I think they generally feel that my technical abilities lack behind those of the public at large and worry that I function rather at the level of an early 20th-century Girl Guide. It is nice to show them that I am competent.

In reply to the kind enquirer who wondered whether Jamie would be allowed an occasional contribution to this blog - I'm afraid the answer is: no jolly fear. He writes superbly, has lots of ideas and very effective ways of expressing them, and he can have his own blog. We love each other very much but a blog is one's very own, like a toothbrush.

Sunday supper together in the garden, with the lovely lamp that was given to us as a Silver Wedding present from Cristina Borges at EWTN. Birds gathered in the sky overhead, fanning out in a glorious swoop: "They're all gathering to be on their way....Autumn coming" Jamie said and I thought about Keats "...and gathering swallows twitter in the skies." This is my favourite time of year.
Sat Sept 9th 2006

There's an important feature in this weekend's CATHOLIC TIMES, about the legal implications of new restrictions on our freedom of speech: putting the traditional Christian teaching on the wrongfulness of homosexual acts could get us in troube with the police. This sounds like scaremongering, but I don't think it is: already three different groups of Evangelical Christians and one Catholic have experienced this. The idea is that some one complains that you have made "homophobic" comments, and the police start to ask questions....there are going to be difficulties, too about Christian conference centres offering residential accomodation which refuse to give a double room to two homosexuals - who perhaps deliberately ask for one in order to start a test fact a number of worrying possibilities are now on the visible horizon and steering towards us. Get the CATHOLIC TIMES for Sept 10th 2006 (available at the back of any Cath church) and read the feature. (As it happens, it is on the page before my weekly feature on asaints and seasons....which of course you should read too).

J. and I had a glorious walk on the Common and tea at a favourite teashop before spending much of the evening at our computers. I told myself I was picking up skills re. my blog, but actually I spent quite a lot of time trawling the Internet, especially some of the religious sites. Found a delicious nutty the-end-is-nigh website which had detailed information explaining that Prince Charles is the Antichrist .

Also checked on German TV to see the Holy Father in Bavaria. He looked splendid and very happy and was greeted by children in dirndls and much cheering and formal presentations and so on. But he spoke rather seriously about passing on the Faith to the next generation, valuing what we had been is going to be quite a job to keep the Church alive in these traditionally Catholic areas given the sorts of comments made by even people of goodwill among the crowds (assuming the quotes extracted by vox-pop reporters) to be accurate.("I like the Pope but I don't agree with him about homosexual marriage and about abortion. But we do need some values, and I'm definitely Catholic." Oh, help).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Sept 8th

A cheery meeting of the committee running the Association of Catholic Women (tap the name into Google and look up the website). The group was founded some years ago as a voice for women who seek to give "glad assent to the teachings of the Catholic Church"and it has grown by leaps and bounds, and flourishes enormously.....this, our first meeting after the summer break, saw us with a packed agenda and, as always, a great deal of laughter and talk and enthusiasm......We worked on the 2007 Religious Education competition that we run for Catholic primary schools (this year's was a big success - we asked children to write about "What I see in Church" with a list of items to study such as Tabernacle, Confessional, Crucifix, etc, and the result was some very good essays, with Josie Robinson our chairman, and myself, going off to various schools to present prizes, copies of the new Compendium of the Catholic Catechism).

Major discussion about Holy Days. The Association is writing to our Bishops, and to Rome, about the tragic decision to drop some of our most important and significant Holy Days from their place in the calendar, and move them to the nearest Sunday.......why on earth has this daft and pastorally insensitive decision been made? When did we as laity get consulted? For today's Catholics in Britain , having a tradition and a sense of identity is crucial - being a Christian isn't just for Sundays, it's a whole way of life. Having a Holy Day during the week gives us a practical reminder of the measure of things. It also has lots of bonuses: a lapsed or semi-lapsed Catholic can be reminded of the claims of the Faith by people pouring in and out of a busy city church on a weekday, Catholic schools can get children together to honour a major day in the Church's year even if the parents don't get them to church on a Sunday......there are petitions circulating about this, but I think it's also crucial to write to Rome. Email me at this blog if you need more info.....

News of the Northern Festival of Catholic Culture, planned for Sat Dec 2nd in Liverpool. Speakers include Prof Jack Scarisbrick, (Catholic historian and pro-life campaigner) and author Father Mark Elvins whose delightful book CATHOLIC TRIVIA is a deserved success - it has all sorts of nice things in it such as explanations of the origins of pub-signs and nursery rhymes and even children's toys (did you know that the Jack-in-the box originated as a Protestant an insult to Christ's presence in the Tabernacle, a way of mocking Catholic beliefs in the 16th century?)

The Assn of Cath Women has its annual meeting on Sat Sept 23rd at St James Church Hall, Spanish Place, London W1. Starts at 2pm. Speakers are Jeremy de Satge of THE MUSIC MAKERS, on "Music and Liturgy" and Fr Richard Whinder on "Bishop Challoner - a good shepherd for hard times". Things finish with tea (and, usually, rather good cakes).

Earlier, I took part in a BBC Radio 2 ("Jeremy Vine SHow") discussion that tackled issues connected with euthansia, suicide, and related's scary how somehow all such discussions seem surrounded by a sense that we are being nudged further and further along the road of accepting the notion that anyone who is unhappy and fed up with life should be encouraged and "supported" (new buzz-word, I have noticed) in any decision to end it. This doesn't just have to be some one who is gravely ill or in agonising pain - just some one who feels that life has ceased to be worth living. When Pope JP11 spoke about the "culture of death" I thought he was exaggerating a bit, but I am beginning to see what he meant....

Home to try out my new blogging skills. And waiting in the kitchen for the past three weeks have been bottles of home-brewed ginger beer, labelled as being ready for drinking on Our Lady's Birthday. Opened with glee - haven't made ginger beer for years. I deliberately made this lot with less sugar than the recipe suggested as this seemed healthier. The result is a refreshing drink, with the right sort of fizz and a good flavour - but not quite sweet enough. I dropped some sugar in mine and this made it just right. Moral: with traditional items, stick to original recipe. And the Bishops should do the same with our Holy Days.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Probably, I will spend at least part of it learning how this blog thing works. One reason why I typed out that long quote from the Pope was to see how words would appear on the blog. And I clicked the right things and there it was, out there and unable to be erased, in cyberspace.

I will also be doing the following:
- sending my publisher (Gracewing, 2 Southern Ave Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 0QF, catalogue recommended - he produces all sorts of interesting things) the text of my new "Yearbook of Feasts and Seasons which I hope will appear in print in 2007;

- posting to various groups and to clergy lots and lots of leaflets and handbills advertising the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival of Catholic Culture which is on Saturday Nov 4th at Westminster Cathedral Hall (yes, yes I know it seems ages ahead, but it isn't really - get the date in your diary now. Admission free.
Excellent range of talks, music, displays by different Catholic organisations);

- working on various bits of journalism (regular column in the Catholic Times - you can get a copy at most Catholic churches in Britain);

Auntie Joanna writes.....

7th September 2006

This is my Birthday and my first BLOG.

Some years ago I wrote a weekly column for the Catholic Times newspaper. It was a diary and we called it "Seven Days with Joanna Bogle". The idea was to pass on useful ideas and information that came my way as a Catholic journalist. I will follow this same plan with this Blog.

It seems that the convention when starting a Blog to explain the identity of the author. I am a writer and live in London with my husband Jamie who is a lawyer. I hurry about and write books and also feature articles for newspapers. My object, in writing a blog, is to pass on information and to comment on issues of general interest and specifically those relating to the Catholic Church.

I take as an inspiratiion these words from the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, writing when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in a collection just published under the title Values in a Time of Upheaval (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006. Hugely recommended): "The historical experiences of man, which have been reflected in the great religions, are an abiding source of knowledge and provide directives for reasons that apply even to those who do not identify with any one of these great traditions. The attempt to think and to live without any contact with these great traditions would be an arrogance that ultimately leaves man helpless and empty."

He wrote this with specific reference to the importance of marriage - as a lifelong union between a man and a woman, open to children. Elsewhere in the same collection of essays, commenting on this same topic he writes: "Monogamous marriage, as the basic structure for the relationship between a man and woman and as the cell for the construction of civic society, has been formed by biblical faith. It has given Europe - East and West - its specific "face" and its specific human character, precisely because one must struggle again and again to realise the form of fidelity and of renunciation that monogamous marriage by its very nature requires. Europe would cease to be Europe if this basic cell of social construction were to disappear or to be changed in its essence. We vare all aware of the risks confronting marriage and the family today - partly because its indissolubility is watered down by an ever-easier access to divorce, and partly because of the increasing cohabitation of men and women without the legal form of marriage.

"The paradoxical modern demand of homosexual partnerships to receive a legal form that is more or less the equivalent of marriage is a clear antithesis to this tradition. This trend departs from the entire moral history of mankind which - despite all the variety in the legal forms governing marriage - has always been aware that this is essentially a special form of the relationship of men and women, open to children and hence to the formation of a family. This is not a question of discrimination. Rather, we must ask what man is as manand as woman, and how we may coirrectly shape the relationship between them,. If this relationship becomes increasingly detached from legal forms, while at the same time homosexual partnerships are increasingly viewed as equal in rank to marriage, we are on the verge of dissolution of our concept of man, and the consequences can only be extremely grave"