Monday, February 28, 2011

Through the rainy London suburbs... Holy Cross church in Carshalton, for the funeral of Miss Margaret Hignett, who taught me French at St Philomena's School, and who was later among the team of wonderful volunteers at the Sutton office of Aid to the Church in Need. It was the ACN office team who informed me of her death, and I was able to join them at the funeral.

The prayers of the funeral Mass are glorious, especially the final prayer in which we called on the angels and saints to accompany her as she went to meet God...

Holy Cross church stands next to the railway in Carshalton, a simple suburban church, bright with six candles on the altar, a fine great crucifix in the sanctuary, and a sense of being well-loved and at the heart of a busy parish. And as it happens, a church with family links for me - my parents were married here back in the vanished Britain of 1949...

On to the ACN office in Sutton. Always a busy place, and currently lots happening, with a new book, Persecuted and Forgotten,(about the plight of Christians iun various parts of the world) shortly to be published, and the annual conference for diocesan representatives due to be held next week.

I found this...

useful and rather moving statement from Bishop Peter Elliott, in Australia: he was addressing a group of Anglican and discussing the Ordinariate:

"As the historic events leading to the ordinariates unfold, we have around us the prayerful company of the heroes of faith, men and women great in Christian mind and heart. This is where the patrimonies, Anglican and Catholic, merge, a sharing of heritage that is one of the most delightful fruits of unity in Faith. I find that the names of our heroes and heroines are helpful.

The pre-Reformation heritage includes the Venerable Bede, St Columba, St Cuthbert, St Ninian, Duns Scotus, the much loved Dame Julian of Norwich, and, in a wider Europe, the minds of St Albert the Great and St Thomas Aquinas. In the Reformation era, we celebrate St John Fisher, St Thomas More., St Teresa of Avila, St Robert Bellarmine, then in more recent centuries, Rosmini and Scheeben, St Therese of Lisieux, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, St Edith Stein, John Paul II, and our Pope, Benedict XVI.

The Anglican intellectual and spiritual patrimony runs parallel to this stream. The names are familiar: Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrews, Joseph Butler, John and Charles Wesley, John Keble, Bl. John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, Charles Gore, William Temple, Evelyn Underhill, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Williams, Dom Gregory Dix, Michael Ramsey, John Macquarrie, Kenneth Kirk, C.S. Lewis, Austin Farrer, Eric Mascall – and after such a list I ask pardon for leaving out other great souls."

You can read more of his address here

Sunday, February 27, 2011

When in Rome...

...recently, I picked up the atmosphere of anticipation that is already - and it's only February - building up for the Beatification of the great John Paul in May. Today I came across this feature which describes something of it.

Thank the Lord...

....for our Archbishop of Southwark, Archbishop Peter Smith, speaking out clearly defending marriage as the union of a man and a woman and explaining that "No authority has the power to modify the fundamental nature of marriage". There can be no question whatever of the Church allowing any form of "same-sex marriage": this is not something that is negotiable, it's not going to change, it is not ours to change.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly affirmed the importance of the family as central to the stability of society - and he wants a responsible, large and generous society in which we all care for one another and help one another. Plans to belittle marriage by promoting "same-sex unions" will completely undermine any efforts he thinks he is making towards that stable and generous society - it will cut the very guts out of the essence of the thing.

The West is dying because fewer and fewer children are being born. Already we here in Britain have lost over seven million people because they were killed as babies under our abortion law: this has been devastating for us. We have become used to a degree of social chaos that is steadily getting worse. Strong families based on a man and a woman united for life, caring for their children and for their elderly relatives, is the only structure which works: clumsy alternatives centred on an ever-more-intrusive and ever-increasing State are both inefficient and frightening. And they are expensive: so it will be increasingly tempting to complain about elderly people living too well or too long...

Want to learn more about John Henry Newman?

There's another talk coming up: March 16th, 7.30pm at St Winefride's, South Wimbledon, London SW19. (V. easy to reach by Tube - South Wimbledon on the Northern Line). Anyone and everyone welcome. Coffee and cake - the tradition at these Newman events is to serve marmalade cake, because among his correspondence historians found a charming letter thanking a kind friend for the gift of some marmalade to the Oratory Fathers, so it seems appropriate. Donation £3.00 - funds raised will go to the work of the Maryvale Institute.

Today at Mass...

... a family in the queue as we walked forward for H. Communion, small children making rather a noise and pushing about.Older brother, aged perhaps 6, in front of them, arms crossed devoutly, ready to recieve a blessing, turned round and said "SSsssshhh! We're in church!" and they were instantly quiet.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today and yesterday...

...various meetings talking about the new Ordinariate All such discussions are bittersweet. What will happen to the church buildings which the Ordinariate is now obliged to leave behind? Most will not have congregations large enough to support them in the longer term, as the majority of committed parishioners will be joining the Ordinariate. At first, the church building will remain open and the parish will be given a new minister. But in due course it could be given a lady priest and/or be merged into another parish with different beliefs. And the days of closure loom: the building turned into a carpet warehouse or a mosque.

With the Ordinariate, things look good and it teems with potential. Numbers are substantially larger than most onlookers and commentators - including the friendliest - had imagined, and the whole project more deeply and widely based. And a second wave of entrants is likely within a couple of years.

There is a genuine "Anglican patrimony" that these men and their congregations are bringing: customs, networks, traditions, hymns, music, ideas, ways of talking,ways of celebrating, ways of doing things. It's likely that in this way a number of things which were once sort of "normal C. of E." will be sustained and allowed to grow, which would otherwise have vanished. Which is good, but also rather poignant: the C. of E. itself will limp on, but changing more and more into something quite different.

The crucial need in our country is for evangelisation: to teach about Christ, to help people to know and love God. All the Ordinariate people that Auntie has met thus far have this as their priority., and have an energy and zeal about them.

Came across...

...this piece of quietly good news when looking up some things on the Internet today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pray for...

...the people of Christchurch, New Zealand. Like so many British people, I have close family in NZ (all safe).

New Zealand is a great country. You are going to hear of courage and heroism over these next days. Pray for those working to rescue the trapped, for the injured, for the homeless...

Monday, February 21, 2011

...and while on the subject...

...of John Paul II, why can't people in Britain (and elsewhere in Europe?) obtain copies of the brilliant film, starring Jon Voight, that tells the story of his life?

I have the DVD, a kind gift from an American friend, but it is not generally available in Britain, due to some - surely hopelessly out of date? - export/copyright restrictions. In the age of the Internet, this seems daft.

What can we do about this? You aren't even allowed to buy a copy by post from America, even for individual use. It's weird. Surely these restrictions belong to the 1950s?

Every time...

...I work on an essay for my Maryvale course (see column alongside), I use a Bible that looks just like any ordinary paperback Bible.

But it's special. It's signed by soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II.

Some twenty years ago, after organising the XVIth International Congress for the Family, in Britain, my husband went with other Congress organisers to Rome and were granted an audience with the Holy Father. J. had prepared some gifts for him - a Congress teeshirt, an information pack giving details of the event - and also presented him with a Bible which he had already inscribed to "Mr and Mrs J. Bogle" and which he asked the H. Father to sign. Now, you're not really meant to do that - protocol forbids, etc etc - but this was JPII and he took the book like the father that he was, and smiled, and signed it, and now it stands on the shelf beside me as I write, and I use it for my studying, and for my prayers, and I value it more than I can really put into words. And I have a picture of J. with JPII to confirm this story, and JPII also gave him a rosary, which I use, and will use for the rest of my life.

This week, I've been reading up about JPII, especially the book by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz describing his forty years of working alongside him. More and more details are neginning to emerge about JPII's life, especially the amount of time he spent in prayer, his physical courage, his commonsense, and his wisdom. This was an extraordinary man: we all knew it at the time, but as he finds his place in history, it is becoming even more apparent.

Various adventures...

...that are fun to mention on my Blog:

En route to Rome, I had time to spare at Gatwick, so dropped in to the chapel. A Ch. of F. Communion service was just beginning. I stayed, and a couple of other people dropped in, too. It was peaceful and prayerful, and it was good to be able to join in the Our Father, and to know that prayers were quietly going up, in that busy airport, in the middle of all the rush...

In Rome, I looked in at Vatican Radio, got chatting, ended up being interviewed. They were interested in the book about Mother Riccarda, and then asked me about Caroline Chisholm. Vatican Radio has a rather grand headquarters not far from St Peter's, all smart and modern and w. the latest equipment.

It was odd that Caroline Chisholm should re-enter my life , as she had done so just a few days earlier too...BBC Radio Northampton contacted me on January 26th, Australia Day, to do a feature about her! (If you don't know why Northampton, and why Australia Day, you'll have to read my book about her to find out, won't you?)

Here at home, a rush of meetings, and hospital appts (physiotherapy on my wrist...BTW many thanks to those who have made kind enquiries, things are healing well, all should be back to normal in a few weeks), and work.

Entries are beginning to arrive for the Religious Education Project run by the Association of Catholic Women - it's for children at Catholic primary schools and involves studying some of Scriptural events in the Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful and Luminous Mysteries). It's very touching to see the children's work. The latest Catholic Times carries a review of the booklet produced following last year's Project in which children wrote about St Peter, the Papacy, and the visit of the present Holy Father to Britain. If you want a little lift, get a copy of the booklet: 70p from ACW - why not send a cheque for a bit more, as a donation to ACW's work, and get a couple of copies, and pass one to a friend? - 22 Surbiton Hill Park, Surbiton KT5 2EE...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Auntie has been in Rome...

...and you can read my despatches here...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Came across...

...this site for World Youth Day.Watch the DVD!

And this general background piece has some good links too...

On the news... the weekend, lots of prattle about planned new legislation concerning churches and same-sex "civil unions". I felt a real chill - is this going to mean some ghastly and crippling legal cases, in which campaigners sue RC priests who refuse them a ceremony? Or will it outright compulsion - a law which attempts to force us to abandon the Faith and the teachings of the Church by holding such ceremonies? The latter seems unlikely, the former of course a real possibility. Will the Govt give fair and just legal protection to Christians so that we can teach and celebrate the Christian faith in Christian churches? It was a quiet relief to hear Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark affirming calmly and firmly that no Catholic church could hold a ceremony to mark a same-sex union: it is the very nature of marrige that it can only be a union of a man and a woman.

The Church is going to have to be very firm and very clear on this. There must be absolutely no legal loophole in which campaigners can force huge fines on the Church for doing what the Church teaches. There must be freedom for the Church to preach and teach Catholic faith and morals. No compulsion on same-sex unions, no compulsion to teach anything that is contrary to the Catholic Faith, no possibility of people trying to use civil lawsuits to cripple the Church or force church closures.

More info here.

It's official...

...a vicar announces he is joining the Ordinariate. This is Ed Tomlinson, at whose parish in Tunbridge Wells I had the priviledge of speaking recently.

This whole project ois beginning to take shape, slowly, firmly, and prophetically. It all needs to be nourished by prayer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This is important::

the brave parents at the Cardinal Vaughan School need help. This is a fine school and the parents are rallying to its defence: read the saga on that parents' website. They have right and justice on their side, and they deserve support.

There are some fantasists out there... America. A friend, looking for Mass times on a visit, came across a parish website which told women to wear different sorts of headgear according to their marital status. I'm not inventing this. Apparently the priest wants a tradition to be established for this in his church.

Uh? I thought it was a joke at first, but no.

I can't imagine why any priest would want to force this sort of nasty humiliation on anyone - or why anyone would go along with it.

Is the idea that the unmarried ladies are expected to feel worse and worse as the years slip by and no one makes an offer of matrimony? Are they gently allowed to slip into more anonymous headgear as they reach a certain age, and their hopes fade?

While on the subject, I got an email from some one who asked if I was "veiled". This baffled me, but I discovered that it's a cult phrase among groupies (yes, I'm afraid it's the USA again) who like wearing lace mantillas in church. They don't use the word "mantilla", but prefer the notion of "being veiled" and are pushing for it to become something that Catholics feel they ought to do.

I had always rather liked the tradition of black lace worn as a decorative headgear for Mass, but this new approach isn't Catholic at all. Being at Mass is the most important and glorious thing that any person can ever do, and to mix it up with obsessions about "veiling" is just nasty.

Any woman can wear a hat - of any colour or design - at Mass and give glory to God by doing so, provided she isn't being smug or vain, and it's a joy to see an array of lovely hats for a wedding or a special occasion. God loves his daughters and good clothes can be a form of artistry and beauty just as other things can. We do NOT believe that women have to "be veiled" and our theology of human dignity, beauty and form helps us to understand why. Our understanding of these things is one of the things that makes us different from Protestants and, as it happens, Islam.

We walked...

...a group of people, at a rather brisk pace, from Westminster Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament last night for Mass. Mass? Yes. For over 30 years now, Mass has been celebrated regularly in Parliament for the MPs, peers, and staff and we were priviledged to be able to attend as the guest of a kind Member of the House of Lords. It was an unforgettable evening: the Mass was one of the most beautiful I have ever attended. Canon Pat Brown, who is parish priest of Pimlico, is the RC chaplain and he has a fine singing voice. We sang the Sanctus and Agnus Dei etc, and Ubi Caritas at Communion, and some fine hymns. An MP did the first Reading. It was rather moving to see busy politicians taking time out to attend a weekday evening Mass. The chapel of St Mary Undercroft is beautiful. My thoughts went back to the afternoon, now more than three decades ago, when Cardinal Basil Hume said the first Mass there. I was working in Parliament at the time for a team of MPs, and it was thrilling to be invited to be at the Mass, which was a very simple and calm but utterly memorable event...the start of a new chapter in history.

At last night's Mass finished, we gathered in WEstminster Great Hall and studied its history. A section of the stone-flagged floor was blocked off and I presume this is for the insertion of a plaque commemorating the Pope's visit last year. It will join the other plaques martking the great events that have happened there...St Thomas More's trial, Sir Winston Churchill's lying-in-state etc.

John Henry Newman...

...was the subject of a really excellent talk at Holy Redeemer Church, Chelsea, this week (see announcement below). The hall was packed - every chair was used, people were sitting on the window-ledges and standing at the back and in the kitchen. The talk, illustrated with power-point, was superb, and everyone was gripped. Newman's story really is a fascinating one, and sheds light on so much that has happened in the development of the Church in our country since.

The plan is to offer this talk to other parishes, so watch this space.

We made a good sum for the Maryvale Institute.

Next time some one tells you the Church is dead, dying, all-gone-downhill-since-Vatuican-11 etc etc etc etc, tell them to get real.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Interesting statistics... discussions re the Ordinariate.

Apparently in gathering figures for official records, a "large" congregation in an Anglican church is deemed to be one of 55 or over. Can this really be true?

Obviously, for reasons of history, Catholic parishes cover in Britain cover far wider territories than do Anglican ones, so a congregation in any given church is likely to be larger. But even so...most Catholic parishes that consider themselves to be fairly small still count people in hundreds, and I know of several suburban parishes that are in four figures,and some of more than 2,000.

While on the subject of church attendance: I was informed by a Catholic writer back in the 1980s that there would be no one at Mass at all in England and Wales by the start of the 21st century, based on his projections. I think of this from time to time. How wrong he was. About a third of the people at a Sunday evening Mass in our parish were hardly born when he made that prediction: but there they are, kneeling and praying. His prediction was made with a sort of gloating ooh-isn't-it-dreadful approach which at the time seemed to me very impressive and knowledgeable and grown-up. But when I came acros it in some old papers I was sorting a few months ago, it just looked cross and sour - and, of course, wrong.

So making predictions is dangerous. But here's one anyway, as a hostage to fortune. I believe that the Anglican Ordinariate parishes being etablished in Britain over the next year and a half will survive and thrive. They will not grow dramatically at first, but will flourish quietly and significantly. Revisit this prediction with me in five years' time and let' see.

A talk...

...tonight (Tuesday Feb 8th) at Holy Redeemer Church, Chelsea, about John Henry Newman. Speaker: Dr Andrew Nash.

We are serving coffee and marmalade cake. Among Newman's correspondence is a charming letter to some ladies who had kindly provided the Birmingham Oratorians with some jars of marmalade. So we felt marmalade cake would be a suitably Victorian thing to serve...

Donations of £3 per head are invited, proceeds will go to Maryvale.

Monday, February 07, 2011

You may find...

...the current issue of New Directions interesting: gives insights into what is happening with the Anglican Ordinariate.

Interested in the Royal Wedding? Click on that link to get Auntie's take on it.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


...has been a bit difficult with a broken arm, so I have been doing only crucial reports, academic work, neccessary journalism etc. Hospital appt on Tuesday so things will be better after that.

Life v.v. busy - meetings re Ordinariate, also plans for Rome trip next week.

But there's also been a need to relax, so a happy day with young relatives in Surrey, and a lovely afternoon at the National Gallery w. a dear niece, where we decided to tackle the Impressionists so enjoyed Monet and Degas at length. Then Tea and talk as the London sky darkened beyond the Gallery windows. You get a rather dramatic view of Nelson's column from the cafe/restaurant basement as you look upwards. As we left, there were all sorts of activities arranged around Trafalgar Square to mark the Chinese New Year.

Some of the London pubs are beginning to put up listings for various celebrations for the Royal Wedding in April. But there is somehow a slightly wistful feel to the talk on this subject. Britain has such muddles about marriage and family life at the moment. Officialdom has for the past decade been urging that marriage should not be honoured above any other "relationship" and that the words "husband and wife" should be shunned in favour of "partner" etc etc etc... But we are now allowed to celebrate and honour the marriage of our future king. And with a Royal Wedding comes a hint of promise about the future: an assurance of continuity in Britain, of some sort of heritage that is not yet dead.

In the weird and bleak culture of today's West, our Monarchy holds out, wobbly but still present. Can it survive if the Christian culture of which it is a part is so much under attack?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Things have been busy...

...and Auntie is hampered by having a broken arm. You can catch up with me here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A glorious Mass...

...for Candlemas at Westminster Cathedral. Things are depressing in any British city as 2011 opens. The Christian presence seems - at best - muted, the increasing presence of Islam is the most notable religious feature. Lurid magazines shriek pointless headlines about the sexual antics of nonentity TV "celebs". Young people seem angry and cross and sulky and frightened - you don't often hear laughter or giggles and the predominant noise from groups of people is often sullen sexual expletives or very loud crude obscenities as an argument breaks out.

Then the Cathedral and people are drawn to its presence as it is illuminated at night and looks warm and glowing across the piazza. Inside, people hold candles, and faces are lit up, and music soars. A great rumble of voices responds as the back-and-forth of the Mass begins. There is appropriately glorious music at the Gloria. Christ is our light!

Is it...

..."The Ordin-air-ree-ate" or "The Ordin-ah-ree-ate"?

Mostly, people seem to use the former. And is the latter a mite pretentious? Opinions?