....well deserves the tributes paid to him for his courage and dignity under pressure. Read about him here
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....read about it here...
The influence of the lobby group STONEWALL is particularly criticised...the judge notes that its approach is taken as a standard one, instead of simply one view among many.
This is of great importance, as the concept of "hate crime" is something that has already created much confusion, and caused real problems.
....on May 29th, National Gardens Day!
The Dominican Priory at Southampton Row in North London has a glorious Garden dedicated to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, and it will be open to the public on National Gardens Day and is well worth a visit.
Info here. The garden is easy to reach and you will find Auntie Joanna there, and can even obtain a copy of her book telling the story of the Garden and the story behind it...which takes in the Fleet river, Blackfriars station, and St John Paul...
...at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, with an inspiring sermon by the Archbishop, and beautiful singing from the choir. As we made our way out into the sunshine from those great arched doors, we were each given a beautiful long-stemmed rose...a lovely way to carry the message out for the rest of the day...
The hymns included "Great Saint George, our patron, help us..." which we used to sing at school, and I have rarely heard since. Found myself singing it as I set about housework later in the afternoon...
...Smart Catholics...and it was a privilege to take part. I was invited to speak on "Women and the Church".
This was my first experience of a large-scale on-line event organised through "Hopin". Previously, I've used ZOOM etc.
The Smart Catholics team work with Catholic Voices and are very friendly, efficient, upbeat and helpful. We had a training session some days before the event.
There really is a strange illusion that there is a genuine conference going on, and one is simply there "on screen" while a large audience is present in person, seated in rows at a conference etc. Actually of course everyone is "attending" like me, by sitting at home with a computer.
The various talks have also been recorded and I think will be available as podcasts etc. This was a joint USA/UK event, and I was speaking at 3.15pm British time. I explained that the funeral of HRH Prince Philip was taking place and my husband was listening to it in an adjoining room. I had asked him to let me know when the National Anthem was played so that I could stand up! In the end this wasn't necessary, because my session conveniently ended shortly before the funeral reached that part of things.
...and memorial pictures of him in churches and Cathedrals, like this one at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, with a message from the Archbishop.
...so do come along!!! You need to let us know that you are coming. Walks will start from Westminster Cathedral, from St George's Cathedral, Southwark, and from St Elizabeth's Church in Richmond. We offer evening and afternoon walks. Come and discover London's magnificent history. Info here
...and I add my own small voice...like thousands of other young people over the past half-century or more, I took part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, and am so grateful for all that I learned and was able to do...
His was a life of service, lived well.
A man of Christian faith, of courage - not least in wartime - and of dedication to our country. May he rest in peace. Read here...
...and shares it here...
Enjoy, and share with others. How lovely that our future king loves the work of Hopkins as so many of us do...and sees how Hopkins speaks to our current longing to reconnect with God and with God's creation...
....and may this holy season bring new hope and joy to our country and to the world which sorely needs it...
...and somehow London looks ugly. The dress-code is deliberately-torn beachwear....for females, very tiny, tight, ripped shorts and fleshy posteriors. For males, oldish teeshirts and ripped-knee jeans. Very loud rock music from ricksaws. People crammed together along the South Bank, with litter stacked on walls and on street corners, mostly randomly, sometimes alongside overflowing litterbins. Cans, pizza-boxes, a lot of chicken bones and pizza crusts, discarded chips in expanded-polystyrene containers, more cans. Plastic bags flapping against bus stops and lamp posts.
People are very much out and about: lots of crowds. But somehow the mood isn't merry. Will this year have a hot summer season of riots and anger?
I had spent part of the afternoon pondering History Walks...several new ideas from routes mapped out over recent weeks. The prospect of good company and a sense of cheerful purpose. But suddenly the idea seemed stale and dull. London's mix of boarded-up shops and scruffy beachwear gives a gloomy feel.
We are promised cooler weather for Easter, but a very hot summer to follow.
...at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. Not praying...cleaning! Very satisfying work, getting dust out of odd corner at the edges of the kneelers, and - much harder work - polishing the brass plates on the doors of the confessionals! Every bit of brass in the cathedral now gleams gloriously...
It's a fine building, designed by Pugin, re-modelled slightly courtesy of the Luftwaffe in WWII, rebuilt beautifully to original design....it lost its original stained glass but has acquired some magnificent new ones, including a fine East window above the sanctuary, and an equally glorious one at the West end. My personal favourite, however, is the superb stained glass by the Blessed Sacrament chapel, depicting Pope St John Paul administering the Sacrament of Anointing in the Cathedral...it is worth visiting the Cathedral just to see it. Next year, 2022, will mark the 40th anniversary of the great Pope to Britain...
....on Radio Maria England.
You can find out about Holy Week and Easter customs - including things that Auntie and her friends and family will be doing!
Last year we were told it was "an Easter like no other" because of the restrictions due to the China virus. But alas this year there are restrictions too...though at least we can get to church, provided there is space and we can book in advance.
There is going to be a great need for evangelism in the months ahead, helping people to rediscover the pattern of some regular life of worship and the use of churches...
It needs to be understood that this is Church teaching: it cannot be changed. The Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith not only make this clear, but also explain about it in some depth.
....has proved to be a challenging employer, whom staff find difficult to please.
Marrying into the Royal Family is not always quite the same as being a rich successful actress, and changing from the latter to the former could be quite a challenge, requiring a great deal of thought and care.
In a world where many are hungry, ill, or victims of war or famine, it's probably worth counting one's blessings if one has a large comfortable home in a prosperous place, lots of money, good health, and an affectionate husband and children.
Thought this worth mentioning.
...denying biological truth and promoting the mutilation of children, is a real threat to civilised living.
We need to challenge it: read here to get started
Pope Francis has alerted us to the dangers of gender ideology calling it " a great enemy of marriage". But too many people think "Oh, it's a passing fad...nothing to do with me". But you are funding it with your taxes. It is important to take responsibility for what is being done in your name.
A good many families are now beginning to experience the misery this new ideology is causing. There is help and advice for parents here
...has been made easier by being able to volunteer to serve breakfasts and lunches to homeless people in central London. It has made some sort of sense in a dreary and difficult time.
Walking across London on dark mornings, a silent, strange city...the grey Thames just the same as always, but the buildings along the banks grey and silent too. And in the afternoons, worrying to see all the Govt offices abandoned - grey grubby nylon curtains hanging limply at the Foreign Office in the lamplight. Somehow there is a sense that a confidence has been lost that won't return in any hurry. All this, plus the planned destruction of reminders of our history - the Mayor of London is Drawing Up a List of statues etc that he wants banned - make for a ghastly sense of impending nastiness. Our poor country...
Working at home - a couple of good writing projects on hand - has been enlivened by finding good material on the internet to enjoy over a tea-break. Bishop Robert Barron is excellent - listen in here...there are lots of options and I tend just to click on to "latest".
...the team serving lunches to homeless people in London met as usual at Farm Street...and after the fish pie (the meals are provided by local hotels, in generous quantities, and of a very high standard) we did the usual extensive cleaning and washing-up etc ...and then, socially spaced as required by the regulations, gathered and Fr Dominic, in alb and stole, blessed and distributed the ashes, sprinkling them on our assorted heads, with all the traditional Scripture readings and prayers...in union with all the Ash Wednesdays down the years and across the world....and it was one of the most moving and powerful I've known.
...there's a lot of good material.
Auntie Joanna also has a weekly series, talking about upcoming feasts and seasons. Lots of material on Lent...did you know that the word simply reminds us that the days are lengthening as Spring arrives?
.....a couple of days ago? A speaker appealing for catechists to stick with the truths of the Church, and not to stray:
It makes me think of a group of bishops who, after Vatican I, left, a group of lay people, groups, to continue the “true doctrine” that was not that of Vatican I: “We are the true Catholics”. Today they ordain women. The strictest attitude, to guard the faith without the Magisterium of the Church, leads you to ruin. Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that does not agree with the Magisterium of the Church.
...and sentimental talk about President Biden's religious devotion is silly and embarrassing.
...and the troubling thought is this:
If something isn't working, is it wise to go on doing it?
Last year's general lockdown was meant to crush the virus, but it didn't. It turned out to be the wrong policy. The virus doesn't affect everyone: in the young and healthy it isn't the problem that it is for the old and frail. So why enforce a general lockdown?
At least we can now hope for the vaccine to start being given out. Weirdly, my experience is that some of the people who were most emphatic about supporting lockdown, even seeming to relish it, are now among those saying they are nervous about having the vaccine!!!
...so here's Auntie's:
The notion that Mr Biden and his team"stole" the election and that thousands - millions - of votes were fraudulently misused, was shouted by President Trump immediately the results of voting arrived. But this was absurd. It was obvious that Trump was talking nonsense: it just a cry of outrage, anger and disappointment.
Trump had clearly been hugely impressed by the vast enthusiastic crowds at his rallies, and simply couldn't imagine that the the vast majority of Americans didn't share that enthusiasm.
It's easy to have that feeling. Back in 2016, a great many people were absolutely convinced that Mrs Clinton would win. Some commentators admitted they simply had never met anyone who would vote for Trump. And TIME magazine famously went ahead and printed an issue with the front cover announcing "Madam President" and a pic of Hillary...and interviews and analyses and commentaries and discussions exploring her life and her plans and more. But the plain fact was that lots of people didn't vote for her, and a Tump was actually going to be President...and the magazine had to be pulped.
In the British general Election of 1945, Winston Churchill lost. It seemed inconceivable - the great war leader, hero and statesman whom the nation rightly revered. But the fact was that a lot of people wanted change.
Elections are like that: they can produce unexpected results.
Having committed himself to announcing that there had been fraud, Trump couldn't let it go. And hence the events that led up to that rally in Washington.
What was his exact motive? Some of his supporters are now claiming that the troublemakers were actually Trump's enemies, deliberately stirring up violence. There's no evidence for this - as they now emerge from their own tweets and websites, etc, it's clear they are strong Trump supporters. But if there were indeed anti-Trump people around, surely it's something that was entirely predictable? Why be so stupid as to announce a vast rally, without allowing for that possibility?
The biggest issue, however, is this: if the President of the United States of America really, genuinely believed that some mammoth fraud had taken place, on a gigantic scale, in the country, surely the most bizarre thing to do is shout about it and call a rally? It required solemn, considered, deeply serious action, possibly involving a gathering of the highest officers of State, plus representatives of the opposition party, to consider all the information available and the legal actions necessary...and much more.
Calling a vast rally with the apparent aim of simply urging thousands of people to disrupt Congress, simply looks like a an angry panic with no aim at all. Or, worse, an attempt to overturn the election result and seize power? But if that was the aim, the strange collection of young men and women who broke into the Congress building, some in fancy dress, some just larking about and taking pictures of themselves, almost all confused about they they were there, look bizarre
Time for Mr Trump and apologise and retire with what grace can be managed.