Thursday, August 10, 2017

...and if you want...

...some of Auntie Joanna's Blackberry Jam, Bramble Cheese, or Apple Butter, you must come to the 11 am Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, London Bridge, this Sunday, as there will be lots and lots on sale over coffee-n-biscuits afterwards...

If the nice "Yorkmum"...

...who recently wrote to me at this Blog would give me an EMAIL ADDRESS (which I will not publish) I would love to reply...

To Sussex...

...for a meeting with the wonderful team that run the admin for the Catholic History Walks...over a cheery supper at their home not far from the sea, we reminisced about how the History Walks project began some years ago, and looked at practical plans for the future...

Then the next morning, a glorious walk along by Chichester Harbour. Blackberries ripening on the bushes, wide fields where the harvest has just been brought in, and the great spire of Chichester Cathedral as a landmark in the distance. Out across the water, dozens of sailing boats nipping about, and at the harbour entrance, some very impressive motor craft moving through the lock gates taking people out for a day of cruising...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

and then...

...after some repacking and organising things at home, another trip to Walsingham. But this time, a Walking Pilgrimage. The Dominican sisters of St Joseph organise an annual John Paul Walk for the New Evangelisation. It starts with an open-air Mass at Bury St Edmunds, but I joined them at Swaffham. Here, we all slept overnight in the sports hall of this school...and after an early morning start, we walk along the footpaths and lanes of Norfolk, alongside great fields of sugar-beet and rustling wheat, making our way sometimes through nettles and brambles, sometimes across mud and puddles, sometimes along comfortable cart-tracks or lovely soft grass...

Mass at this church at Castle Acre, by kind invitation of the vicar and churchwarden. A picnic in the churchyard: Sister Julie is in charge of catering, driving a minibus with supplies of bread and ham and cheese and apples and crunchy chocolate biscuit bars... Then on again, praying the Rosary, and hearing some excellent catechesis from Sister Hyacinthe.

Another warm welcome from the Anglican Rector at West Raynham, and an unforgettable Evensong, led by  him in the ruins of an old church  before a hearty supper in the village hall. The Rector's wife brought glorious rich fruit cake, and a kind parishioner brought delicious scones with jam and cream. We had use of showers and bathrooms in a local houses, where we were also able to bed down for the night.

And then, on the Sunday morning, the final march into Walsingham,singing and praying...our young Dominican priest joined other clergy to concelebrate Mass, as we joined other pilgrims in the packed church. Then a final walk - this time along the Holy Mile along the old railway line, finishing with Benediction in Church of the Annunciation...

This pilgrimage is so fabulous that it's hard to say goodbye at the end...long farewells and hugs and swapping of email addresses and so on...the minibus to Cambridge, and while the young people chattered away I just slumbered. And then the train to London, and so home...

After the New Dawn gathering at Walsingham...

...I paid an all-too-brief visit to the FAITH Movement's great Summer gathering. As always, crowds of young people. A ceilidhi was in progress as I arrived - there is always a strong Scottish contingent at FAITH events, kilted and enthusiastic, and the dancing goes on until a late hour. The week included daily Mass and prayer, talks and sports and more...it has all grown hugely from the days when we gathered, 40 years ago, in much smaller numbers, at what is now Roehampton University. But as the music swirled and the talk was warm and lively around the bar, and there was the buzz of youth and energy, lots and lots of  laughter and fun...it brought joyful memories and an enormous sense of gratitude...

The Summer Session is now held at this school with its beautiful grounds, approached by a walk from the railway station along by lush meadows in the fold of the Surrey hills - every year, I relish this lovely walk, and the peace it brings, especially as I know it will end with a meeting of old friends and a sense of homecoming.

for the Feast of the Transfiguration...

...I found this a moving and powerful read. Blessed Paul VI died on this feast-day. We owe him a debt of thanks for, among much else, the courageous encyclical Humanae Vitae...

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Rosary...

...said - and sung - as a vast procession made its way down to the ancient Walsingham Priory, and then the cool lawn beneath one's feet as we settled for Mass in the Priory grounds...this is always one of the highlights of the New Dawn gathering. An enormous crowd - if the old Priory Church had still been standing, we would have filled it. Thanks to Henry VIII we were in the ruins, and spilling out from what would have been the church, into all the ancilliary areas, and still the crowd kept coming, singing, down the Holy Mile from the Slipper Chapel at Houghton St Giles...

New Dawn was a glorious few days, and it was a delight to meet friends, to have some wonderful discussions, to celebrate the Faith and to tackle serious subjects in an atmosphere of prayer...

There is an underlying seriousness when Catholics get together at present. Things in our country feel bleak, with a sense of social and moral fragility and breakdown,  an awareness of great confusion and anger among too many of the young who have been given no understanding of what life is about or how much they are loved by God...

The poor old CofE is not helping much...read Auntie on the subject here...

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

and now...

...on to Norfolk, to the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, for the great NEW DAWN gathering...

I'm staying at the very comfortable Elmham House, the Shrine Bureau - and am writing this in the pub next door, where I have been enjoying a good supper and a pin-and-tonic while using the somewhat intermittent Norfolk wifi to catch up on my emails. Which gives me also the opportunity to offer you the latest Portal magazine, in which there is a feature by Auntie about Bl John Henry Newman and a recent trip to his childhood home along by the Thames at Ham...

New Dawn is  rather wonderful...lots of lovely families, a variety of talks on Catholic doctrine and moral teachings, rousing  singing - though not all to my taste (the words are inspiring, tunes and general style...not so sure) -  an atmosphere of prayer,  enthusiasm, and great goodwill,  There is a tremendous sense of loyalty to the Church  and knowledgeable, well-informed discussion about living as Catholics today and celebrating the joy of the Faith.  There is much concern about the threats to Christian families seeking to raise their children in freedom. Of course, some can and do educate their own children at home - but this is not possible for all, and anyway the Church must, as of right, be free to run schools and colleges and has a reasonable claim on public funds for some of this as she educates vast numbers of children and has done so for generations. The history of education in our country is Church history.

From the Thames Valley - via a rushed couple of days at home in London - to the wide Norfolk fields...it's been an opportunity to feast on a glory of English views...

New Dawn happens in a vast  near the Shrine, with families camping in adjoining field, and a linked youth camp in another alongside...one of the most powerful sights occurred this evening, as people were chatting in the evening sunshine, children frolicking about, strains of singing coming from one group, a buzz of talk from another....the sudden sound of a bell ringing, and a little procession crossed the meadow, a robed priest bearing the Blessed Sacrament aloft, preceded by a server.. Children and adults alike knelt down with complete naturalness and  quiet reverence. A lovely moment.

I remembered a similar moment last year and the beauty of it.  Oh, may there be, in long and happy years ahead, children at play in a Norfolk field and kneeling joyfully before the Lord in his Sacrament is borne along....

To the Thames Valley...

...and the EVANGELIUM conference, in the splendid surroundings of The Oratory School, Woodcote. This conference, now in its 10th year, draws a good numbers of young Catholics from across Britain. Excellent presentations by, among other, Dr Jacob Phillips, on the theology of Pope Benedict XVI,  Fr Andrew Pinsent on Faith and Science, Sr Hyacinthe du fos du Rau on on the Virtue of Hope...glorious singing at Mass every day in the big chapel with its poignant War Memorials...a talkative social evening in the main hall with its portraits of the Pope and the Queen and boards with listing School Captains...

I was speaking on The Gender Agenda, and began by expressing thanks to HM Govt for producing such a grossly absurd and horrible plan (changing birth certificates at will when people decide they'd rather pretend they were born a member of the opposite sex) thus ensuring me a large audience - every seat taken and I gave the talk twice.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Been reading...

...Bernard Levin's The way we Live Now...some of his best journalism from the 1980s. Recommended. He is particularly good against cant and humbug.

It's distressing to recognise how much more open and large-minded such a commentator could be at that time: today vicious correction would result following some of his more acute observations. For example, he explores the shrieking attacks by feminists on Erin Pizzey, and is also trenchant on the subject of the relationship between rights and duties...

If we all...

...picked up just one piece of litter a day, and put it in the nearest litter-bin, how much, much more pleasant our cities, suburbs and countryside would be...please join me in this campaign. One piece of litter a day.... 

If necessary, carry the wretched bit of litter with you until you find a bin. (I carry a small packet of baby-wipes to clean my hands). You will find bins in shops and in fast-food places, and in offices and on trains...and more than once I have dropped in to an estate-agent or similar office and said "May I just drop this in the bin here?" and have never been refused.

Incidentally, one of the things I have learned in this campaign is that smoking is still very popular, but that people are uglier about it. They aren't allowed a smokers-corner in a pub or any other comfortable place.  So far more cigarette-packets are now dropped in the street, which is the only place where people are allowed to smoke. The habit of simply chucking the packet down especially applies to younger people, who have not been given any code of manners for smoking: they don't know about bins and ash-trays, about offering a light to others, or passing around a packet to share while sitting comfortably together talking. They smoke in a rather ugly, semi-furtive, greedy sort of way...it's not unlike the ugly shovelling of food that the overloaded-hamburger-in-polystyrene-box has produced. The cigarette and the hamburger are both consumed hurriedly in the street, and the wrappers discarded, and the everyday human ordinariness of eating and talking and relaxing together somehow just isn't there...


Monday, July 24, 2017

The lush meadows and glorious hills...

...of the West country...staying in a Tudor cottage... visits to family and friends...

A crowded Mass on Sunday, lots of holidaymakers in the small Catholic church of a seaside town...

In the evening, we went to see the new film Dunkirk.  If you don't understand about why it is all so central to the British tribal inheritance, you can learn a bit here.  And here.   If you were born into the tribe...be ready for what will happen to you when this superbly crafted film, with no gimmicks, shows the little ships...coming steadily across the choppy waters of the Channel...oh, I don't need to explain.

If you don't gulp a bit,be ashamed.




Saturday, July 22, 2017

It is important to read....

...this interview about Mgr Georg Ratzinger.

Irina Ratushinskaya...

...the heroic Russian poet has died. She was 63.  Imprisoned by the KGB, she became a voice for freedom.

"No, I am not afraid..." Her poems, smuggled out to the West, had drawn  her plight to our attention.

Keston College, headed by Rev Michael Bordeaux spread news of this remarkable young writer, with a leaflet carrying the message from her husband  Igor "Help me to save my wife". Campaigns, vigils of prayer...I remember sacrificing a bedsheet to paint her name on it, to make an emormous banner, held aloft on struts of wood... a memorable Christmas Eve, standing with placards outside the Soviet Embassy, and passers-by giving us support on their way home from Midnight Mass... the splendid Rev Dick Rodgers undertook a public fast...

After her release, she was flown to Britain... a vast crowd greeted her at Heathrow Airport...the conversations we had with her and Igor stay in the mind. Most of all, I remember her telling us  about the experience that she described in one of her poems -of being in a freezing, filthy prison cell at night, crouched against a wall, and experiencing a sudden glow of joy and warmth: some one out there is praying for me at this moment...