...this morning, a good crowd for weekday Mass. In fact, it is always a good crowd on weekdays in this parish - but this morning was special because the parish priest had arranged an extra Holy Hour to pray, in accordance with the plan initiated by the Bishops, in reparation because of the abuse crisis. And a good number of people stayed on for the Hour to pray. It finished with Benediction. Impressive.
We are all meant to be praying and fasting on the four Fridays during May. Looking at the touching essays and projects sent in by children - yes, they are still pouring in in from across Britain - to mark the Pope's visit, makes me realise how much it means to so many Catholics and it is so crucial that it is a success.
If prayer and fasting are all part of that, well, let's pray and fast...
Election results. As I write this, I'm listening to the radio and hearing David Cameron, sounding Prime Ministerial, laying out possible plans for a Government that would require some Lib-Dem support. Gordon Brown has also spoken, but managed to sound both pompous and panicky at the same time - a mix of I'm-Prime-Minister-and-I-intend-to-stay and and er-I'll-find-a-way-of-doing-so-somehow.
It's been a strange election: at one level it looked ordinary and familiar - candidates with rosettes, volunteers putting leaflets through doors, more and mostly elderly volunteers sitting outside the Polling Booths taking voters' details as they went in, so these could be cross-referenced with the information obtained by doorstep questioning and any possible stray supportters rounded up and urged to vote. I voted, as I've done so often before, in the hall of the local Catholic primary school which also doubles as a Mass-centre on Sundays. Wooden booths, freshly-sharpened black stubby epenncils on string, and anxious local-authority people sitting at tables handing out ballot papers and checking things on lists. But somehow it all felt very different from usual - the homely and local chafed against the weirdness of the TV-domination, the moment-by-moment following of events on computers and laptops, the omnipresence of instantaneous information and opinions, the sense that major issues were being overlooked amid spin and photography and image-making.
In this, as in so much of modern Britain, there is a somehow fragile feeling - as if what is solid and reliable and functioning is at the mercy of what is transient and untested and possibly volatile. Cameron now needs to create a workable government that feels reasonably solid, and then seek a fresh mandate in a year or so that will give him the majority he really wants. Retaining Brown and getting a coalition framed around his party would be all wrong and an attempt to reverse the election result by backdoor means, a manifest injustice.