Saturday Oct 14th
I love the way Brompton Oratory stands looking secure and sort of reliable, in the Brompton Road next to the Victoria and Albert Museum and with that lovely row of trees - today with just the merest hint of Autumn russet promise. Mother and I enjoyed coffee and cake in the small Italian cafe almost opposite the Oratory, and then went to watch the Rosary Procession arrive....they came at a measured pace down past Harrods, with a great Cross in front, and then clergy and altar servers and chaps (incl Jamie) in their robes, and a good crowd of people (a good social and racial mix - at a guess I'd say white middle class would be a smallish minority within it!), with small girls in white dresses scattering petals, and a statue of Our Lady borne aloft by burly members of the Catholic Police Guild wearing blue sashes....all most satisfactory, and as they approached the church and the group broke into sections to move inside, Fr Tim Finigan saw Mother and me and raised his biretta which we thought v. nice. Inside, the vast church looked magnificent with candles glittering on the altar, and soon became packed, with small children sitting cross-legged on the floor in comfortable corners, and people squeezing hospitably along seats to offer room for "just one more". We sang all the wonderful old hymns, and it was a glorious sound. Fr Tim preached about Our Lady, quoting Archp Fulton Sheen on the subject of Fatima - Mary is some one the Moslems honour, and so she can lead them to Christ. She does that with everyone, and this is the way forward. But we must all do our part, and renewal involves many important things: more people seeking mercy and forgiveness through Confession, commitment to daily prayer, an inspired liturgy......
During Benediction we said the Prayer for England, and I found my throat went tight when we got to the words "look down in mercy, upon England, thy dowry....."
Afterwards a kind friend gave Mother a lift to Victoria station (thanks, Mac! She was v. grateful and loved the chance to chat, as well as the comfy ride) and I stayed on to give out leaflets after the 6pm Mass re the Nov 4th Festival of Catholic Culture (oh, do come!)....this Mass always has glorious music from the Schola of the London Oratory School. I have a godson who used to sing in this choir - I would go to the Mass and he'd come back with me for supper and to stay the night with us. The sound of boys' voices is so terrific - that pure, clean sound with wonderful energy behind it, lacking prissiness. And it was so amusing to see the boys, newly released from choir, tumbling out of the Oratory House in their grey and maroon uniforms, with whatever craze was the latest thing - yo-yos, I remember, and minature skate-boards three inches long, and so on - and just being noisy and ordinary, and not angels at all......we'd catch the bus from Wimbledon, and often it seemed soooo long in coming, as we were hungry. "Oh, come ON, bus!" we'd mutter..... "As it's an omnibus" I suggested once "Perhaps it only responds to Latin" So we tried chanting "Veni, veni, omnibus" and it did seem to help.....and the other people at the bus stop enjoyed it too....and then the years went by and his voice broke and now we just exchange emails and I send him books about aeroplanes for his birthday.....
Last night a most enjoyable dinner with Fr Michael Cullinan, newly back from Rome this summer after a period of study, and full of interesting ideas and good conversation. He has a book coming out shortly.....much excellent reading material has come my way recently, including the superb Evangelium teaching pack from the Catholic Truth Society (look up their website, just tap the name into google). And a brilliant idea from their latest newsletter: a young Catholic bought - after raising funds from wellwishers for the project - 5,000 copies of the CTS booklet Cracking the Da Vinci Code and organised a team to leave copies in busus, trains, cafes, phone boxes, etc around Britain, each copy bearing a sticker saying "Pick me up and read me". It all sounds terrific fun: "Once, I and a friend spent our day on the Circle Line, changing carriages at each stop and leaving a booklet on empty seats every time we got up to move on....." It is suggested that others now offer ideas of their own: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to American readers: I hope this doesn't sound too London-ish. Useful background info: Circle Line=main loop at heart of London Underground system; Brompton Oratory=v.large Catholic church in Kensington, links with Frederick Faber and with John Henry Newman; Victoria=railway terminus for the Southern suburbs and trains to the Sussex coast. Prayer for England.....oh, look it up.
Important note: at the Rosary Rally, we were urged to pray for the safety of the Holy Father. Suggestion: all readers of this blog (incl me) undertake to pray for this every day, specifically covering his forthcoming next foreign trip?