Thursday, September 27, 2012

OREMUS... well as being the familiar Latin exhortation to pray, is also the name of the monthly magazine published by Westminster Cathedral. Auntie has a regular article  in it, exploring the feast-days as they come up in the calendar, and some associated customs and traditions. The October edition features two recent beatified figures who are linked. One Beatus beatified the other, and both share a name.

Tried guessing?

OK, I'll tell you. Bl. John Paul - whose name, before he became Pope, was Karol - beatified Karl, the last Emperor of Austria-Hungary.  Bl. JP's father  served in the Austro-Hungarian Army and in due course named his baby son after the Emperor. 

Both Blessed Karl  and Blessed John Paul have their feast-days in October.  And both, interestingly, find themselves in October for unusual reasons: a feast-day has traditionally been the day on which a saint has died,  but Bl. Karl has instead been given his wedding-day, and Bl. John Paul the day on which he was elected Pope.  Both these new Beati would otherwise have had feast-days that clashed with Lent and Holy Week and  Eastertide.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Restrictions on religious freedom...

...are listed in detail in a  most interesting - and very very worrying - feature in the latest VOICES magazine from the USA.

Americans have a choice in the election this Autumn.  What choice does a British voter have, faced with both a Governent and an Opposition committed to rewriting the law on marriage and  forcing on everyone the pretence that two members of the same sex can marry?

And, if my Member of Parliament is reading this: please, Mr Hammond, could you possibly reply to my request for a meeting to discuss the proposed legislation? The implications of the new law are becoming increasingly clear, especially as they relate to the position of teachers in Catholic schools, and the possibility that they could be told that they must not present to teaching of the Church on marriage and related issues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth...

...ordained today in St John's Cathedral.  Significant in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons...just one of which was that this was the first time that the Internet has been used to enable every Catholic school and parish in a diocese to watch  the ordination of its new Bishop, and thus to share in real-time in this great event. The diocese stretches across Oxfordshire and Hampshire, but also across the Solent and even further across the sea to the Channel Islands...and everywhere people gathered in schools and church halls to  watch and listen.

It was thrilling to be part of this: once all the rather complicated technology was in place and I had mastered the bits that I needed, it was just a case of settling down to the task of providing a commentary that was as good as I could possibly make it. What an enormous privilege to be involved in this way:  I will remember today as something special for always.

People started to arrive. Seats at the front were reserved for the Lord Mayor and Mayoress, the local Member of Parliament, etc. There was a massed choir with people from different parishes. Seminarians arrived, to act as altar servers.

The good Sisters from the New Forest were amused to see me  disappear into my cupboard, with headphones and microphone, and took a pic (if they send me a copy, I'll post it here). Once the cathedral began to fill up, I closed the door to seal myself in, and we began.

The Liturgy speaks for itself and much requires no commentary: what was needed was an introduction, setting the scene ("In this cathedral, built in the reign of Queen Victoria, a new chapter opens in this 21st century: today the eighth Bishop of Portsmouth will be ordained here...") and listing, for example, some of the dignitaries present (to anyone with a sense of history, Portsmouth  has delights: it was pleasing to be able to list "The Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight" and "The Commodore of HMS Nelson").  Then, when the great procession (over 20 Bishops, 4 Archbishops,  and goodness knows how many priests deacons) had made its way up into the sanctuary, and the sacred ceremonies began, the aim was to give just enough information to bring out nuances or relevant pieces of information...for example, in the choice of saints invoked in the Litany (St Faustina, Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati,  Blessed John Henry names from the JPII and Benedict  beatification and canonisations) or in the visual drama (Mgr Egan lying prostrate as the chant wafted over him).

The anointing was impressive - Bishop Hollis pouring oil on his successor's head - as was the sight of deacons holding the Book of the Gospels over the new Bishop...I suddenly though of the funeral of  Bl John Paul, and that Gospel Book on his coffin, the pages slowly turned by the wind until the book itself closed of its own accord. "Recieve the Gospel and preach the word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching" said  the prayer in today's liturgy, and that is what every good Bishop does and must do...

And this one made a promise to do just that, in his words to us all at the end of the Mass. He spoke of the failure of  politicians, educationalists and others to oppose moral relativism and the "culture of death" and pledged that he would be an orthodox bishop, clearly affirming his loyalty to Christ and the Church. Powerful stuff. We have a good man  here at the service of the Church. Deo gratias.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


...images on a giant TV screen above the shopping centre, rock music pounding out, vast arrays of luxury goods on sale,  a  lack of any sense of friendly bustle, instead a mood  of purposeless loitering and scowling...I found Birmingham's Bullring Centre on a Friday evening rather horrible. There are few buses out to Old Oscott and it's easiest to get a taxi...often there is a religious discussion with the Islamic taxi-driver when one asks for the Maryvale Institute, and more than once I've been warmly urged to convert to Islam, but this time we stuck to generalised observations about the weather.

Arriving at Maryvale always brings a sense of peace.  Evening prayer, a cheery supper, the pleasure of meeting fellow-students who are now old friends.

Lectures this weekend focused on the Sacraments and were fascinating.  Unwell with a bad cold, I went to bed early on Fri and Sat nights  with a selection of books from the excellent library.  On Sunday morning I was woken by music  from the chapel - but it wasn't the sisters singing their morning office, it was our Mass just starting with its preparatory  hymn. Gulp. I washedanddressedandbrushedmyhair quicker than  you might imagine a  middle-aged Auntie could  ever do. Got into the chapel just in time.

During meals at Maryvale we always have excellent conversations. But, as is often the case in Britain in 2012, this weekend's tended to be on the serious side...the restrictions on religious freedom looming with the Govt's loathsome plans to redefine marriage, the grim state of  our social fabric with its splits and tears and the resulting misery imposed on children. The people studying at Maryvale  come from a wide range of jobs and professions, and tend to be unusually active in community life: youth work, local projects - not necessarily church-based -  care of the sick and vulnerable, and of course lots of active involvement in Catholic parishes and schools. They are in general large-minded and tend towards a sense of wanting to be useful, are well-read and enjoy thinking things through.  So you don't get cliches and jargon in conversation, and instead you get the rather frightening recognition of the realities of modern Britain, from people who know what's going on.

The Church's tasks in the years ahead in Britain are huge. As Islam forges ahead, growing in numbers and influence, its adherents will be boosted in their sense of zeal and confidence by the drunkeness and lechery on display in most town centres on Friday and Saturday nights. Violent crime continues to be a major feature of life. Institutions once  justly admired are now tarnished: our police (remember how we used to be so proud of the fact that they were unarmed? That was long ago...), Parliament, local Councils, hospitals.  The number of intact families, where a strong network of people love and cherish one another and foster opportunities for goodwill and service, seems to be diminishing in the general population year on year, and schools struggle to cope with angry, disorientated and sometimes violent children.

Lots to pray about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"The truth...

.... cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power." Powerful words from the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae, on religious freedom.

This is the great ideological battleground of our era: those who believed that the battle was won when the Soviet Union, with its State-imposed atheisim, collapsed, failed to see that each new day brings new challenges.  The Council Fathers knew this and, under God's guidance and inspiration, they took forward the Church's teaching on religious freedom and gave it a new dimension with a fresh understanding, fostered by the harsh realities of the Soviet tyranny which was raging as they gathered, but already looking ahead to whatever was to follow. Just over two decades after the ending of that great Council, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. But new threats to religious freedom were already arriving, and today the Council's words have a great significance than many who first read them could perhaps have known. 

"It is in accordance with their dignity as persons - that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility - that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.  However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed."

No one, not the United Nations, not  any great international consortium, not the Government of any state, has the right to prevent men and women from seeking what is true, and from following their consciences.

And: "There is a further consideration. The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial and temporal affairs. Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious."

The Church is firm about the message she gives to her own children: religious groups must not act in any way that seems to coerce people into religious practice.  As Blessed John Paul once put it "The Church proposes, she does not impose."

To Portsmouth... make arrangements for the broadcasting of the Consecration of the new Bishop in St John's Cathedral. Auntie has been asked to do the commentary for the broadcast which will go out to Catholic schools across the diocese, organised by Heart Gives Unto Heart Radio.  We rehearsed  the use of the technology, which involves me sitting in a small soundproof cupbard with microphone, headphones etc. Usual system of green and red lights, monitor screen, etc but it's unnerving to be doing all this in a cathedral where the priority is not to allow anything to disrupt the sacred action: I was comfortable once I had checked and re-checked and realised that my commentary will not be audible anywhere within the church, not even by some one who stands right next to my tiny enclave.  And what an enclave! It's a tiny cupboard where I will sit surrounded by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...and the Three Wise Men, shepherds, a lamb or two, some big wooden crosses used for Lenten events, a couple of spare thuribles, boxes of candles, and more...there will be just enough room for the radio equipment, the monitor screen which will show me what is going on in the sanctuary a few feet  where I am sitting, a chair, and me.

Portsmouth's history is all bound up with the Royal Navy, and there's something very sad about the feel of the city today with the days of Britain's great fleet long gone. It has a sunset feel. Walking back to the station, I had sudden memories of  a dinner on a warship back in the 1970s, of a wardroom mess and young midshipmen making grapes explode in cigar-tubes over after-dinner coffee, of the look of great grey silent ships and the city lights shining on the water, and talk of Nelson and Trafalgar and of Arctic convoys and the Battle of the Atlantic and of NATO exercises and peacrtime, of generations linked by a shared heritage... all  really gone now.

In a world where so much changes, the Church doesn't and in this cathedral a successor to the Apostles will lie prostrate while the Litany of the Saints is invoked and rise to be anointed and to recieve the laying-on of hands. And sitting in a cupbard explaining something of that to today's teenagers will be my job next Monday.

THIS IS A THREAT... freedom, to children's health and wellbeing, to medical ethics.

Read this:

"Laws and policies that impede access to sexual and reproductive health services must be changed, including laws criminalizing certain services only needed by women; laws and policies allowing conscientious objection of a provider to hinder women’s access to a full range of services; and laws imposing third-party authorization for access to services by women and girls."

It comes from a United Nations report, just published, and translated it means: "Every country must enforce abortion as a part of routine health care, with any objections banned by law and young girls given abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent."

The report is  labelled "Human Rights Council  -    Twentieth session -  Agenda items 2 and 3.   Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,including the right to development".
You can read the report here . Your Member of Parliament needs to know that the UN is trying to crush our freedom to have laws that offer even some  tiny degree of ethical standards in health care. Taken at face value, the statement above effectively bans any restriction on even the most sordid and ruthless of backstreet abortionists,  removes the rights of all doctor and health-care workers to refuse procedures that involve killing babies, and under the guise of "access to services by women and girls" makes it illegal for anyone to be informed when a teenager is given a medical procedure about which she does not have full knowledge and to which she is too young to give consent. 

The jargon of a "rights-based approach" means that the supposed "right" to have an abortion trumps any other right. So abortion can be subject to no legal restrictions whatever. The Report's aim is tro impose the killing of babies worldwide, with all opposition crushed.

Don't just mumur  how "Oh, how terrible..." Write today to your MP: you can get  his or her name on this link.  Might be useful to write to the Foreign Secretary too. In your letter, explain that you do not need a standard reply: you need a specific assurance that this United nations report will be opposed. The issues here are not only the horror of imposing abortion but also the question of our freedom: to debate and make laws according to our consciences, to  care for the young, to uphold medical ethics. And we must insist on freedom of speech: if  we disagree with a United Nations report on abortion, we must be free to say so whenever we want and to teach others why we disagree with it, and to organise opposition to it. We need our legislators to state clearly their support for this freedom.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


...liturgy, glorious music, a rousing roof-raising hymn "Hold High the Cross!", a grand crowd, a packed church, and the Norfolk countryside in September beauty - this was today's Pilgrimage of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Magnificent.  The Ordinariate has grown and flourished, and today  resounded with joy,  reverence, goodwill, and  unity - and a certain confidence.

We set off early - it meant a 5 am start for the Bogles - from Precious Blood Church at London Bridge, with a packed minibus and a very cheery atmosphere.  At Walsingham, large numbers had gathered from across the country, and there was much agreeable greeting and exchanging of news and so on...and there was time to pray at the Slipper Chapel shrine (there is a box for petitions to Our Lady, and that gentle smell of soft wax candles, and fresh flowers), and to go to confession, and to visit the Shrine bookshop... and then we crowded into the big barn church for Mass.

 I was pressed against the wall at the very back, and  as the great procession of clergy made its way  directly past us, along to the central aisle it was a rather impressive sight. But what lingers most in the memory - apart from the beauty of the Mass, with the Host and then Chalice raised against that great window with its engraved angels and glorious backdrop of trees and sky, and the great roar of voices making the responses- was the singing.  What singing!  The last hymn "Hold High the Cross!" was unforgettable.

In the afternoon, a  Rosary Walk, led by the Cross, with the clergy in white surplices, along the Holy Mile.  The rosehips were ripe on the bushes, and the sky wide and blue with those faint trails of late-summer cloud.  At  the Anglican shrine where there was a beautiful welcome, and prayer, and we were each blessed with water from the ancient well....the water having been drawn in great buckets which were placed around the wide lawns, and we lined up to recieve the blessing one by one.

Today we saw the Ordinariate as it was meant to be, as a bridge across the divide between Anglicans and Catholics, as a promise of an achieved and achievable unity. A beautiful day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

That Fatima secret and all that... the subject of a new feature, which you can read here.

It really is getting to be worrying that people will believe all sorts of daft- and often wicked -  nonsense about secrets and freemasons and the Pope being a liar and so on, and not bother to find out the real Fatima facts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

London... faintly Autumnal, some leaves just beginning to turn golden. Sunshine sparkling on the Thames, and the  clouds gather and splashy rain gives the whole scene that authentic look of, well, London. It all looks so very traditional. Small girls in school pinafore-dresses of grey or navy blue with slightly oversize blazers ("You'll grow into it") and brand-new schoolbags signal the start of a new term. At Westminster Cathedral the choir has reassembled after the summer break.  I'm hurrying to a hall in Hammersmith to give a lecture to a branch of something called the University of the Third Age (topic is "Caroline Chisholm: forgotten heroine". You might enjoy the book...). I'm having coffee with a friend in Wimbledon as some riders clip-clop past on glossy horses, heading for the Common.

Everything feels normal and this-is-the-way-things-have-been-for-years. But the horrible proposed new law on marriage - and the restrictions that will be imposed on  criticisms of the new laws - give a nasty haunting feeling to everyday things.

There is nothing more everyday than marriage: a man and a woman united for life and starting a new family. It's what has made London a city. It's what establishes a civilisation, a nation. 

Under the proposed new law, not only will marriage be redefined so that it will state that two people of the same sex can "marry", but a teacher or a public official who openly states that this is absurd, or who wishes to teach the (sane, normal) view that marriage is between a man and a woman could face dismissal.  This could mean that a clergyman who is employed by the health service or the Armed Forces or the prison service as a chaplain could be told that he may not preach the Christian doctrine of marriage openly in the course of his duties. It could mean that a teacher who teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman - for example in a Reeligious Education class - could face dismissal. It could mean that pupils, knowing this, could deliberately instigate a classroom discussion that results in a teacher saying something that some one could deem "homophobic" and get the teacher into trouble.

This Autumn, this London doesn't feel as it should.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan...

...beams cheerily from a book cover as I unwrap the parcel that arrives by today's post.

I was just leaving the house when the postman arrived and in fact I had just been pondering what to take to read on the train. With excellent timing, HM's mails produced the answer.

A People of Hope is a good read: honest, uplifting, informative. In a sense, it was just what I needed as I embarked on a day of sundry errands but also much pondering...Cardinal Dolan is a wise and cheerful man, with something Chestertonian about him. A good read.

Today: grim news concerning the Govt's renewed efforts to force through a redefinition of marriage: Nick Clegg's branding of us as "bigots" and then hurriedly having to explain didn't of course mean that...C'mon, Nick, who are you trying to fool? You honestly do seem to  think that those who disagree with you are simply bigoted, and you cannot seem to grasp the real issues at stake.Oh, dear...

I love my... Missal. Its useful prayers in preparation for Mass, and before and after Communion, its beautifully laid-out Latin and English for all the feasts and  Sundays of the year, its  ribbon markers and gold-embossed front, its quotations from Pope Benedict and Blessed John Paul  as inspirational teachings week by week. I love its  solid feel and its beautiful binding, its pleasing use of enchanting illuminated Medieval images.  I love its practicality - it's got the Stations of the Cross, and the Mysteries of the Rosary, and the rite of Benediction, and it's all  in a solid, usable size.

I got it from our parish bookshop, which ordered a good number from here, and I think all parishes should do the same. Banish those ghastly messy "missalettes"...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mother Teresa...

...a film about this much-loved and remarkable woman: COME AND ENJOY!  It stars Olivia Hussey, and it's terrific.

Venue: Visitation House, Nightingale Square, Balham, London  SW12. MONDAY Sept 17th, starts 7.30pm. Coffee, tea, snacks: donation £5, and funds raised will go to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Nearest Tube station is Balham: Nightingale Walk is about 5 mins walk from the station.

An Olympic skater...

...will be our special guest speaker at this year's TOWARDS ADVENT FESTIVAL, on Saturday November 24th at Westminster Cathedral Hall. Read more about it here - and come and join in the Festival, in this Olympic Year in London!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Tower of London... the venue for the next CATHOLIC HISTORY WALK, the first after the summer break. Come and join us!  No need to book, just turn up.  THURSDAY September 13th, 6.30pm, meet at the EXIT (note EXIT - there are various entrances,m but we meet at the EXIT) of Tower Hill tube station.

We'll be walking along by the Tower and learning its story, and then walk into the City and see some of the churches there.

The message of Fatima...

...included that mysterious promise about Russia's conversion. Immensely puzzling to a trio of  Portugese country children who knew nothing of Russia or the 1917 revolution, or the horrors that were to come in the USSR and in Europe with WWII and more... And then we got a Polish Pope, and the consecration of the world in 1984. And today a new Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima is consecrated in the heart of what was once Russia's Gulag Archipelago. Watch this...

I came across this news item as I was looking for various other news items on the Internet.  Watching it, I thought again about  Solzenhitsyn's Gulag Archiplego back in the 1970s, and then being in Berlin one Spring Sunday in 1984 and talking about the significance of the Pope's world consecration in Rome. And now,  with the collapse of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin Wall already history,  this is happening, something unimaginable to those suffering in the Gulag decades ago...

Earlier this year I wrote a review of the new book on Fatima with a Foreword by the excellent Cardinal Raymond Burke  in which some of these issues are explored.

London's river and John Paul II....

...and a warm September Sunday.  After the glorious John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham this summer, perhaps it's not surprising that there has been so much interest and enthusiasm for the River Pilgrimage planned for Oct 28th...and today one of the enthusiasts joined me on mapping out the route and getting things organised, and we had a wonderful day. We set out after the 10.30am Mass at Westminster Cathedral (beautiful: the Choir is back now after the summer break, wonderful music) and a good brunch. My original plan had been to walk down to Westminster Bridge and start from there, but Ellie suggested that a much better plan would be to avoid the tourist crowds and head down Vauxhall Bridge Road, and turning along through Pimlico.  We did so, and it turned out to be excellent. Under the gaze of MI5 (vast HQ on the Vauxhall bank with weird green windows) we walked all along the river, noted a park which will be a perfect lunch-stop, and on, via Chelsea,  Battersea and Wandsworth (where the Wandle,river of my suburban childhood, joins the Thames) and on to Putney...en route we worked on various arrangements for the Pilgrimage, which will be led by the excellent Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, with a Chaplain from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  The Pilgrimage will end at Hampton Wick, at the shrine of Our Lady of Westminster, with Evensong, Benediction, and a hearty Tea.

This will be a good pilgrimage - walking along one of the most famous rivers in the world, praying for the New Evangelisation, in good company and with the heavenly aid of the recently-beatified John Paul the Great. Come and join us! Send a Comment to this Blog, with an email address at which I can reach you (I can't reply to any Comment unless there is an email address incorporated into the text of the message). You will need sensible walking shoes, a packed lunch, and suitable clothing (today was HOT and I had a big hat. October may be cold and wet...).

Saturday, September 08, 2012

I like this Cardinal...

...and found this prayer a powerful one...

And there's a good and thoughtful comment on it here...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

...and have you tried...

this Novena?  You can pray it while listening to this...

Readers may recall...

...that Auntie was in Poland earlier this year. Reflections on the visit are in the latest issues of VOICES. Read here

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sons of...

Divine Providence. What a very suitable name. They run homes and accomodation  for people with special needs, notably at Hampton Wick along by the Thames near Kingston. I went there today, because I had it in mind to ask if our John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage  along the Thames could finish there.

As I arrived, a couple of Gentlemen of the Road were sitting outside the house, one of them tucking in to a nice plate of supper, the other sitting looking hopeful. They greeted me with a cheery "Good Evening" and I rang the doorbell. A priest came out, carefully carrying a plate all nicely set out  with meat pie, potatoes and vegetables "Hallo - good to see you. Just got to give this gentleman his supper..." and then he welcomed me in for a cup of tea. I had earlier telephoned and talked about the Pilgrimage plan, and he just immediately said "Yes, of course!" and we'll have Evensong and Benediction in the chapel, and then a good Tea.

But there's more. The chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of Westminster: in the 1950s the Sons were  was given a Medieval statue of Our Lady which had some link with London and so they gave it that dedication, and it was blessed by Cardinal Godfrey in Westminster Cathedral. So  this is a real place of pilgrimage. I hadn't known that. Providence.

The John II Walking Pilgrimage sets off from Westminster Cathedral on Sunday October 28th and will walk some 20 mile down-river to Hampton Wick. From Westminster Cathedral to Our Lady of Westminster. What could be more appropriate...and we'll be praying for the New Evangelisation of our country.

"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man’. He alone knows it.” Blessed John Paul.

Croydon Airport...

...was once the air port of London, and world-famous because it was from there that Amy Johnson flew solo to Australia, and Lindbergh arrived after his great solo flight across the Atlantic... During  the Second World War it was the Headquarters of No. 11 Group in the Battle of Britain, crucial to our survival as a nation.

The airport closed in 1959 - the last commercial flight out was piloted by a Captain Last! - and when I was growing up in the 1960s in a house not far from what had once been the most famous aerodrome in the world, it was just a great glorious endless  grassy territory that stretched gently uphil towards Purley. Then a big housing estate was built on it, and in 1974 I was elected as borough councillor for the district.  I was, I think, an irritating young woman - the youngest councillor in Britain and enthusiastically aware of the fact. But among my few redeeming traits was a passion for local history, and over the next years, a team of us produced a series of books on the history of the airport. You can find out about them here and here  and there's a pic of a Mayor holding one  of the books here and...oh...trawl the Internet with "Croydon Airport" and "Joanna Nash" and see what you get...

And last night, at the John Fisher School in Purley, there was a showing of a film, made by pupils, about the history of Croydon Airport. And a very good film it is - a good piece of work from boys at a very good school. They had interviewed all sorts of people who remembered the airport, had worked there or lived nearby, or were caught up in the big air raid of Augut 1940s, and also some other people, including Auntie, and they also found some fascinating old archive footage of aircraft taking off in the 1920s and 30s (the HP42, a wonderful machine, on the 12.30 flight to Paris...).

The school hall was packed - actually almost to discomfort, as it was very warm - and there was enormous interest and enthusiasm. The Croydon Airport Society, and a local history group, the Bourne Society, had combined to support the venture, and the teacher who had initiated the project spoke, and there was a great feeling of local pride...

An evening of nostalgia for Auntie...made me feel a bit solemn and full of memories.  I started to make my way to the station, but then on a whim suddenly turned back and knocked on the door of some local friends, the Phillips family and am so glad I did as they welcomed me in and we had a long happy time of chatting. They have a lot of children, now all in teens-and-twenties, and lots of other young people always visiting, so it's a place where there is always a welcome and a mug of tea...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Spread the word...


Saturday October 20th 2012


Finishes: St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, with Benediction.

The Procession will go down Ambrosden Avenue, and cross the river at Lambeth Bridge.  Bring a group from your parish, or just come on your own or with family and friends.
More info from:

Youth 2000... a splendid group with which I have had contact over the years...there is an excellent description of their recent great summer gathering at Walsingham, here...

...and this is a useful link... the campaign to defend marriage...go here.

A depressing Monday...

...although September is my favourite month, and there are lots of good things happening in it this year.  I dislike hot weather, and the Autumn invariably brings joy. I love the cool mornings and the feeling of things bustling again as long hot days end and schools return and social groups meet again. Even clothes are nicer as people stop trying to squeeze themselves into tiny tight ugly things, and start to cover up: skirts, jackets, dresses, reappear.

But as the summer ends, the politicking starts anew with vigour. It is so very depressing watching our country slither into social misery. The long drawn-out dreariness as the politicians wreck our laws, destroy the heritage of generations, and attempt to redefine marriage is horrid to watch. Of course we must fight on to protect human values, and we'll do so: Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien is magnificent in this weekend's Mail on Sunday.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

...and read about us...!   

Today I went to Westminster Cathedral - glorious Mass, and then afterwards I talked to the Cathedral clergy to check about arrangements for the John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage on October 28th.  All now organised: our chaplain for the day, Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate, will concelebrate the 10.30am Mass at the Cathedral and then we'll all set off from the Cathedral steps...unfurling our Walsingham banner as we go. 

In addition to Fr Simon, we will have a deacon, Henry Whisenmant, with us, and the pilgrimage will end with Evensong and Benediction - and a hearty Tea, which we'll need as we will have walked some 20 miles.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Walsingham walkers reunite...


Join us for the Big Walk along the Thames. Starts with 10.30am Mass at Westminster Cathedral. This is a John Paul Pilgrimage Walk for the New Evangelisation, and we'll be walking along the Thames, praying the Rosary, singing, and talking and learning and being together...and praying for our country, and giving Him our hearts. We'll have our own chaplain with us, from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. We'll walk approx 20 miles, following the river...and we'll hand out small cards and medals to anyone we meet...finish with Evensong and Benediction.

This is a big reunion for all of us who walked to Walsingham in August in the John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage - but anyone and everyone is  also welcome to join us. Interested? Send a comment to this Blog marked NOT FOR PUBLICATION, including an email address to which I can reply to you.

Walking to Walsingham: do read...

...THE PORTAL, the on-line magazine of the Ordinariate. September edition is just out. It has an account of the JPII Walsingham pilgrimage - Auntie splashing her way across a ford in Norfolk, young people saying the Rosary as they walk along by golden cornfields - and it updates you on the Ordinariate generally. They now have some 80 priests, and more to come...

Croydon is not a beautiful town... fact parts of it are downright ugly. (Yes, I am allowed to say this: I grew up locally, and I know Croydon well and love it as one loves whatever has been close and and important in one's life).  But the Catholic Church  at West Croydon has never looked better, and was filled to capacity today for a new chapter of history as three priests were ordained for the local Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.Their ordination means that this church, always a busy place, will now have EIGHT Masses every Sunday, starting at 7am, to accomodate all the people that want to worship there.

My childhood and teenage memories of St Mary's are of a rather dark interior: not so now, all is light and fresh and beautiful, and at Mass the eye is drawn to the candlelit sanctuary with its great Cross. A great procession as  Mgr Keith Newton of the Ordinariate, and the Archbishop of Southwark, and a large contingent of priests, came up the aisle. There was - as always at Ordinariate events - much glorious singing: a Missa de Angelis, a beautiful Ave Verum at Communion, and some fine hymns.  Archbishop Peter Smith ordained the men - as always, it was very impressive to see them lying prostrate before the sanctuary as we prayed the Litany of the Saints, and then to watch as each one  was ordained, knelt to promise obedience,  exchanged the Peace with fellow-priests, recieved a chalice, and so on...the Mass was beautiful, the prayers inevitably punctuated by the shrill screams of children and babies, especially at the most sacred moments...but then, that seems to be a tradition of Catholic suburbia, and one  parent did actually take a screaming child outside only to have its shrieks  redouble in effort and anger, the sound piercing the hastily-closed doors...

Afterwards, a delicious and substantial buffet, great crowds of people settling at tables set with white cloths and golden paper napkins, wine, the cutting of a cake, much joy.

And so a new chapter opens for the Church in  Croydon, where there has been Christian worship for over a thousand years of recorded history, and where perhaps the best is yet to be as a divided Church regathers itself and prepares for  fresh evangelisation in this new century...