Friday, August 31, 2007
Parliament Square looks a mess at the moment. They've put up a big fence around the green at the centre of the Square, to try to deter the anti-Iraq-war campers whose tents and makeshift shelters, banners and placards, give the whole place a shanty-town appearance. Winston Churchill is behind the fence, and his belligerent stance looks a bit sad there. The Middlesex Guildhall is under scaffolding because of some work being done on it (Oh dear - I do hope it's restoration, not demolition? The building must be listed, surely? It's not that old, about 140 or so, but it's v. pleasing and its facade has some beautiful sculptures...)
Then further along the road has been blocked off and the traffic lights covered, to stop terrorists being able to get near Parliament. Thus traffic can no longer go along down that stretch by the river towards Millbamk - this actually makes the road between the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey rather nice, because for the first time in (??) about 170 years it is free of traffic, and one can walk there and enjoy the glory of the Abbey's Medieval gothic and the Palace's Victorian gothic-revival - there's 1,000 years of history between the two of them as you stand in the middle of the street, and yet they match most gloriously.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
We had a barbeque in the garden, using up a couple of our old, very bashed and broken, chairs, for firewood. I had made a big apple-and-blackberry crumble. Then we went inside and watched - as I have wanted to do for ages - the film "Pope John Paul" starring John Voight, on our new DVD which plays American films. It's a very very good film. Comes with footage telling a bit about how it was made etc. There's a bit where JP11 talks to Cardinal Ratzinger, which must have been weird for the present Holy Father to watch...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
A correspondent to this Blog asks if my book is Victorian or contemporary! It's written for now, for heaven's sake - precisely to help create a vivid new alternative to the lifestyle mentioned above...the illustration on the cover was simply chosen because it is charming...
New bulletins dominated by accounts of the child shot in Liverpool, latest in a series of public killings of children by teenagers. Perhaps now it will be admitted that public order, the punishment of crime, and safety under the law, should be among the priorities of our rulers, rather than banning hunting, imprisoning good parents who smack naughty offspring, and promoting lesbianism and homosexual activity. But don't hold your breath.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The Tor is a tall hill, dominating the skyline of Glastonbury. Pilgrims come here, and have done for centuries. It's a place of mystery, and of faith.
Legend says that Joseph of Arimithea came here, when the small band of Christ's first followers left the Holy Land to spread the Faith everywhere after Pentecost. He planted his staff in the soil and after a time it took root, and grew - and certainly today a bush of Glastonbury Thorn, native to the Middle East, grows in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey.
There's more to the legend, too - some say that Christ himself came here, and stayed for a season, while on a trading trip with his uncle, during those "hidden years" of his early adult life before he started his public ministry and was working as a carpenter in Nazareth. This is the origin of the idea behind Blake's "Jerusalem": "And did those feet, in ancient time, walk upon England's mountains green..."
As I drew breath and rested on my way up the Tor, I got chatting a a couple of other walkers, who talked about the legend. "We should keep our minds and hearts open to it anyway" one said...
Glastonbury made a glorious end to a happy weekend family visit, which included camping in a field (very wet, but fun!), gathering blackberries at a heavenly place where Somerset meets the sea, lots of running about with children and a puppy, a successful session in a busy seaside High Street in pouring rain finding bargains in charity-shops (a couple of really nice skirts and shirts, all for less than £12!), and a cheery Sunday Mass in a crowded church where the parish priest welcomed visitors and urged us all to gather as many apples as we wanted from his garden as he simply couldn't cope with all the bounty...
We drove home via other friends whose enchanting baby was toddling slowly across the room with deliberate steps and beaming at his achievement, and who loaded us with fresh eggs from their hens, and beautiful damsons from a plum tree groaning with fruit.
If Christ the Lord really did live here for a season, and walked the Mendip hills, and ate the apples of Avalon, and saw the evening sun going slowly down in the west, oh I hope he will give us strength now to cherish the Christian faith and not let our lovely country slither into whatever chaos descends when the message of that faith is lost...
Friday, August 17, 2007
A young friend alerted me to the needs of Christians in Iraq and there is useful information on this at this blog. A donation to Aid to the Church in Need (1 Tiomes Square, Sutton, Surrey SM1) wouldn't go amiss either - they are currently trying to help Christians there.
The Christian Institute website has a lot of useful material on parents rights and talks a lot of common sense. There is a worrying possibility of a new law which would criminalise good parents - go on, look it up, and write to your MP. Look up their new YouTube on religious freedom, too.
Until the Daily Telegraph made me think about it, I hadn't honestly given any thought at all to the plight of our soldiers in Afghanistan. They are doing a desperately difficult job, in vile heat and in the knowledge that few people at home care at all about it. Over 80 per cent of the heroin that our drug addicts use in Britain currently comes from Afghanistan: there is a pious hope that at some stage a sane government there might help to stamp out this nasty trade and in theory our Army is there to help bring forward that day...meanwhile the drug culture here continues to create the demand which Afghanis and others will naturally supply...what a mess. Our soldiers' bravery deserves your thanks and mine: it hadn't even occurred to me to think of them in my prayers. What about you? The Telegraph is urging the soldiers' valour to be marked with a proper campaign medal - before you sneer that this is an irrelevance, find out what soldiers think about it. One died the other day, heroically refusing morphine because he wanted to be alert to help get his men to safety.
...which is slightly uncomfortable as they are usually associated with Autumn. What's happening to our seasons? I paused to gather a huge bowl of rosehips on my way to Mother's, then made them into syrup while I was there. I wasn't quite sure how to do this: I put the berries in a saucepan with cold water, stewed them for a good while, added more water from time to time as they seemed to soak it up. Then poured the lot through a sieve, crushing the berries with a wooden spoon as I did so. Ditched the mess left in the sieve, added sugar to the liquid which had strained through, and brought it to boiling point and let it simmer a bit...decanted it into jars and put some in a bowl. M. and I both had a spoonful...it was absolutely delicious! Will use it on pancakes, or poured over ice-cream.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The post brings the excellent new catalogue from Family Publications - as always, so many books I'd love to get. Some while back, a correspondent to this Blog asked for information on any good material teaching children the Catholic Faith. The Faith and Life Series, available from Family Publications, looks very good indeed.
Also info in the post about the conference to be held by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children on Sept 7th-9th at Leeds - speakers include Nicole Parker of Central London Fertility Care , and Sister Roseann Reddy of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, who runs Cardinal Winning's Pro Life Initiative.
It's the feast of the Assumption - a proper Holy Day, not moved to merge into the nearest Sunday, hurrah! - and I'm off to evening Mass in Wimbledon, dropping in to some friends afterwards to give them some of my freshly-made blackberry jam. Did you know that the proper tradition for the feast of the Assumption is to go bathing or paddling? There's said to be "a blessing in the water" on this day. In some places, there is a ceremony of blessing the sea, and throwing a wreath of flowers into it...if you read this week's CATHOLIC TIMES, you'd be able to find out all about this, and other Assumption traditions, in my column...
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
It's crucial to take the right action about this.
First, don't make silly comments about there being no decent priests in Britain: that's rubbish. I know a number of superb, dedicated and rather holy priests, and of these there are several who would make excellent bishops. They are (in no particular order of importance) intelligent, capable, prayerful, well-read, fluent in two or three languages, knowledgeable about the Church and the world, close to Christ, warm-hearted, and lead good lives. From these men could come the bishops of the future. Why not pray about this?
Second: write to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome about the appalling booklet produced by "Caritas Social Concern". (The CDF's address: Piazza d. S. Uffizio 11, Rome 00193 Italy. Put on two normal second-class stamps and the letter will get there. Do it today).
Three: your own Bishop needs to know about this Write to him. Be respectful of his office, and fair, and thank him for the fact that he is dedicating his life in service to God and the Church. He probably doesn't know anything about the rubbish being produced by "Caritas Social Concern" in his name. You are there to inform him and to ask his help and getting something done. Bear in mind that "Caritas" will probably try to suggest that anyone who writes is ill-informed, bigoted, uncaring about the plight of the poor, or lying. Ensure that your letter conveys the fact that you are none of these.
Four: If/when you get any replies, inform me or other Catholic bloggers about them, so that we can get a proper action going about this.
Five: DON'T just say "oh, isn't it terrible...nothing we can do...state of the Church...oh, I remember when...so different today...dreadful...guitars...can't abide..." and then do none of the things I have suggested.
Friday, August 10, 2007
It is possible that Bishop Budd would like to have the views of faithful Catholics, whose money is being used for this nasty rubbish. He is Bishop of Plymouth.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
... and have brought back some pebbles from Brighton beach to prove it!
The Sussex countryside on an August evening was beautiful as I left West Grinstead and headed through Partridge Green , then past fields and woods to Cowfold and Bolney. I stopped briefly at Parkminster - the great Carthusian monastery of St Hugh, standing alone and silent up a driveway. No one was about, but you can peep through a window-slot in the great door to an inner courtyward with immaculate lawns leading to a great church.
The next morning, after much consultation of maps, I was off to Brighton. It was delightful until I was forced to use the main road. I couldn't locate any cycle track - with relief I saw a sign marked "Equestrian route" and felt that, where a horse could go, a bike might too. This was great for a while, but then veered off up to the South Downs, whereas I needed to keep on to Brighton. It was horrible, in terrific heat, trying to keep safely up against the verge and away from the great trucks and lorries thundering past. Eventually, there was a turning where I pulled off, and while I was resting a rider came by: we hailed each other with the sort of vague solidarity that cyclists and riders have, and she told me there was a cycle track that began just across the bridge:"follow the pink track, all the way to Patcham". I did as I was told and I was soon on my way to the coast.
I was late arriving at St Joseph's, and midday Mass was just ending, but at the church door a lady greeted me with "Congratulations! You've arrived!" and in the cool church I was welcomed with evident relief by some kind people and was soon chatting to them and to Father Paul Williams, chaplain to Sussex University, who had just said Mass. I wanted some something formal to show my sponsors, so he wrote on a parish newsletter: " Joanna Bogle arrived safely, if hot, at 1.00pm on Tuesday 7th August."
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The parish at New Malden had planned this Pilgrimage to coincide with my arrival at the Shrine and to celebrate the Feast of the Trasnfiguration. We had Benediction in the beautiful shrine church, with Father Peter and our Deacon John, and a most interesting talk about the shrine by the priest in charge, Father David Goddard. There is a hidden chapel in the attic of the priest's house, where priests celebrated Mass in the days of persecution, and a priest-hide where they could go if the house was searched. The magnificent shrine church dates of course from a later period and was begun by a French emigre priest who, in an extraordinary turn of events, was here as a refugee from France when the Church there was facing its in time of danger. In due course there were all sorts of things here, including an orphanage and even the beginnings of a small seminary.
It was a beautiful afternoon. Groups went up the twisting stairs to the little chapel, while others explored the lovely Rosary Way in the garden. Father David is a former Anglican, and married, and his wife took the groups up to the chapel and told its story. There are so many layers of history here. The land was owned by the Carryl family, staunch supporters of the Old Faith, and when they were driven out after years of fines and persecution, they finally went to America: a member of the family, Bishop John Carroll, was the first Bishop of Baltimore.
I was given a grand farewell by Father Peter, Father David, and Deacon John (who took pics - some will appear on this blog in due course) as the parish group departed for home...as I set off down the lane the scent of the lavender I had gathered in the churchyard wafted up from my bicycle-basket, and there were birds chirruping, and I had Father David's final instructions in my head:"Straight to Partridge Green, and then turn left there and down the lane..." I followed his directions and was soon on my route to Ansty, past fields all golden with the harvest.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I was given a splendid send-off from St Joseph's, New Malden, yesterday, with a blessing from the parish priest with lots of holy water as Mass ended, and lots of people signing up to sponsor me, and a cheery family of cyclists to accompany me down the Kingston Road and wave me off as I headed south to the A3...
It was a glorious ride in good sunshine, and I stopped in Epsom, past the Spread Eagle where I remember going for lunch years ago with my mother and grandmother - it's now a smart clothes shop! - then past a bustling Sunday market with rather nice foods on sale, then the Assembly Rooms, doing a good trade in Sunday brunches...and so to St Joseph's church, where the last Mass of the morning was just finishing. Vast modern church - I've been here before to give talks at Family Days and Confirmation groups. I was HOT and the cloakroom was beautifully cool and air-conditioned! Into the church for the end of Mass - they had "Soul of my Saviour" at Communion which is one of my favourite hymns.... A friendly Polish priest who had just come from Africa, and was thanking the parish for its support of his work there...he greeted people as they emerged, and I got some one in the parish office to sign a piece of paper saying I'd been there (I'll put that on my Blog in due course just to prove it to you!) and then I was sitting down with the parish priest and gulping lots of water and chatting...duly refreshed I set off again, and the next stretch of the journey became steadily more rural, green fields and cool shady woods. I got away from main roads as much as I could, cycled through Leatherhead (still a pretty town, and largely unspoiled by slabs of concrete) and off towards Mickleham.
It got extremely hot as the afternoon began, so I turned off at Westhumble, remembering a little ruined chapel there which I thought might be worth visiting. I rested agreeably in the shade next to a dear little St Michael's Church ("Prayer Book services: 8am Communion first Sunday of the Month. Prayer Book Mattins 11 am Third Sunday in the month"). Some hikers went by asking for directions and on looking at their guide-book I realised that the ruined chapel was the predecessor of this small church, so cycled off and found it. Wrecked by Henry V11, just one main wall and some stumps still standing, in a cool green lush corner. I scrambled over a wall and knelt and prayed...it would be simply lovely to have Mass here...could easily be arranged, the place belongs to the National Trust, you could put a table up against the wall and just have Mass on it, where the altar presumably stood 400 years ago...the chapel was dedicated to St Michael - is this the origin of Mickleham??
Off again and it was very hot on the final lap. Stopped in Dorking, freshened up and ate a late-lunch snack, then took off again.
Wonderful to arrive in the afternoon slanting afternoon sunshine at the lovely home of the L. family: cool drinks, a wonderful shower and change of clothes, everyone being very nice to me...and then people (including my Jamie, bringing some things I'd forgotten!!) arriving for a dinner-party...delicious food, lively conversation, parish priest Fr Dominic writing out a splndid Formal Announcement of my arrival on headed notepaper...coffee and chocolates afterwards, then a blissful sleep in a cool bedroom overlooking the lovely garden...
This morning I was awoken with promises of bacon-and eggs, and after this excellent breakfast I was off on the road again, through Capel - very pretty - and down green lane and along some slightly scary main roads...brief stop at the Catholic Church in Horsham and now I'm off to West Grinstead...
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Sister Roseanne and Sister Andrea look great in their religious habits, though I sometimes spare a thought for the vision allegedly first discussed at one of the early gatherings of interested young women: tartan veils!
For Jamie and me, it was a time to meet old friends - the talk and laughter greeted us as we approached the (beautiful, ??? vaguely Jacoebean-style) school building with its wide steps leading down to the lawn. In the evening cool children ran about and their giggles and shrieks made a background to the adult chatter - a nice feature of the Faith Movement is the arrival at this summer gathering of young couples who met through the movement and now return with their families for this agreeable get-together. An even more noticeable feature is the large numbers of priests who arrive here - men whose vocation has been directly or indirectly formed with and through the Faith movement, now active in parishes across Britain. And among the young people taking part, an even larger number this year seemed to be training for the priesthood, or just off to the seminary this Autumn.
We stayed until much too late - Jamie had joined in the dancing and both of us were also hugely enjoying the company of young relatives among the attendees. As we left, people were wishing me well for the Sponsored Cycle Ride. One young cycling enthusasist assured me that I ought to be able to do 20 miles in about two and a half hours. Hmmmm.