Friday, October 20, 2017

Golden, orange and russet leaves glowing...

...in the afternoon sunshine...and the Thames lapping along, and  I walked from Teddington down to St Mary's University, and settled in the Senior Common Room with the history project. .  No one uses the Senior Common Room for its official purpose - it's a fine room in the Waldegrave part of the Strawberry Hill mansion, and it's used for conferences and meetings.  The whole idea of a Senior Common Room just doesn't fit into the way things work any more -  and all the teaching staff simply go to the refectory and the coffee-bar in the modern part of the University like everyone else.  But  when it's free, its dark heavy wallpaper and wide windows,  fine paintings, and reassuring bust of John Henry Newman make it a pleasant room in which to work, and a young student was playing the piano in the Waldegrave drawing room nearby, and I had a good-sized table on which to spread my notes and books. After a couple of hours or so I felt the need of Tea, and plunged back into 21st century life, with on-line topping-up of my refectory card, and fitting a plastic lid on the top of an expanded-polystyrene cup and lining up with the lads in baseball caps and girls in ripped jeans.

I continued my work in the more prosaic surroundings of the library. I needed a list of the St Mary's men who died in WWII, and asked a student if he could possibly help me by photographing the War Memorial with its list of names, on his mobile phone. He couldn't have been more helpful, and we went into the large silent chapel together, and found the Memorial and he got a good picture of it. Three long columns of names, and I started to look some of them up on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website.

In the dusk, solemn thoughts as I swished through the golden and brown leaves in the lamplight, walking down towards the river...

Busy at...

...a meeting of the Catholic Union Education and Events Committee. Planning a day-conference for 2018, good discussion...

Partly because of something I was writing, I was thinking about the great St John Paul... the anniversary of his election fell this week.  J and I, chatting in the kitchen, raised a glass together in his memory. He is sort of our family patron saint...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The FAITH Movement...

...is holding another series of EVENINGS OF FAITH.

All welcome.

Theme: Lord, teach us to pray

Tuesday 7 November: Jesus, my way to the Father Fr Christopher Findlay-Wilson

Tuesday 21 November: Meeting God in the Liturgy of the Church Fr Dylan James

Tuesday 5 December: Life in the Spirit: A call to continual conversion Fr Luiz Ruscillo

TIME  7:00 pm   Venue: The Challoner Room, Basement,
24 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JR Tube: Piccadilly Pizza & wine / juice served

Many thanks...

...to all who have sent kind wishes on hearing that I was unwell....

I am fine now, and back on form. I had a wonderful time relaxing w. family in the country - this  Autumn so glorious, and the company excellent!  We walked to the prehistoric (Iron Age)  White Horse at Uffington...the party included a good archaeologist and historian... we pondered Iron Age Britain...hundreds of years BC...

Also visited Wantage with its splendid statue of  King Alfred the Great...more history, all good to discuss...

We had comfortable evenings, watched the film classic  Roman Holiday (a delight - saw it on video 20 years ago, loved it then, and loved it again on DVD this time)...

I made some jam (yes, I enjoy doing that, so it was truly relaxing), bought some new shoes and even organised some Christmas presents. So it was a good time and almost worth being unwell beforehand to get this bonus holiday...








Friday, October 13, 2017

Towards the ending...

...of a busy week, I realised that it had been too busy.

Mildly enforced rest. Opportunity to catch up on reading. Recognition, on looking through the diary, that it had indeed been rather hectic. The problem is that I wouldn't have missed any of it.

A delightful visit to a delightful school to present prizes won in the 2017 Schools Bible Project.   A talk to a packed gathering of the Pure in Heart group in London.

Earlier in the week, two London Catholic History Walks...and each time there are new links with history to discover, origins of  words or place-names, folklore, battles, traditions...info on the next Walks is here

And, all week, when not otherwise engaged, busy on research work at St Mary's University and loving it.


Monday, October 09, 2017

...and then...

...a Newman Sunday....after Mass here, and a convivial lunch w. friends, off to Evensong at this church, to mark the feast-day of Bl. John Henry Newman.

There is a Night Walk through Oxford every year, retracing Newman's steps...Oriel....the University Church...and finishing at Littlemore. You can read a first-hand account of it all by Auntie here...

St Pius X...

...Church at Merrow in Surrey, is a modern building, not large, not specially beautiful, well-filled for a Saturday eve-of-Sunday Mass. Auntie Joanna is not usually among the congregation, but was there with family. If any of the congregation are reading this, and might have been puzzled by the sight of a lady carrying a small bag of squashed mushy-looking berries....it was simply that we had all been out on a last-of-the-season hunt for rosehips.  After a disappointing haul, we hurried home across the park, and there was a rush of tidying-up and getting ready for Mass...but Auntie kept the bag of hips because there might just be some more growing somewhere near the church...and in the last of the evening light, great nephew A-H and I went hunting. Alas, to no avail. We joined the rest of the family in the pew and in due course Mass began....

As a childless aunt, I am not often at Mass with family...one child was serving Mass, two more brought up the Offertory procession, another wriggled her way along the pew and snuggled up to her mother just as small children have done at church down all the years...and then at home there was a chicken supper and lots of talk...

This is the sort of day that Auntie loves best.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Auntie in action!

...giving out prizes at a school assembly. Goodness, I didn't realise I waved my arms about so much. Read here for an account of a recent prizegiving at a boys' school in Kent. I was giving out prizes won in the 2017 Schools Bible Project. More info, and a list of all the schools that won prizes, is here.   The main prizewinners will be coming to London in December to receive their prizes from one of our Trustees, Baroness Cox, at the House of Lords.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

While feeling...

...some sympathy for the poor Prime Minister, who was obviously unwell yesterday , my main concern is for our country, which must endure the nonsense which formed part of her speech. What on earth did she mean by suggesting that reinventing the legal base of marriage can in any way be regarded as compassionate? It was a cruel and mean-spirited thing to do, and has helped to undermine further the central institution on which a just society is based.

The Tories did a great deal of harm by forcing same-sex "marriage" on Britain.  The only possible thing for a just and fair government to do now is to ensure that those who defend marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman are given a fair hearing and not penalised. That means teachers, magistrates, school governors, youth workers, church leaders and others whose work includes teaching and guiding the young.

Mrs May is a Christian woman who personally honours marriage: it was touching to see her husband hurry to hug her as she finished her unfortunate speech. But she is Prime Minister: what matters is not her personal views on marriage, but the policies she is promoting for the rest of bus. If she cannot refrain from continuing to promote the cruel undermining of marriage, then it is probably time for her to make way for some one who will at least remain silent on the subject, and allow true freedom for policy-discussion to flourish.

The CATHOLIC YOUNG WRITER AWARD...

...launched by The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild, some years ago, is now sponsored by the CATHOLIC UNION CHARITABLE TRUST.

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Award, who wins the coveted Keys Shield with a cash prize and a selection of books. Two runners-up also received book prizes.  A number of other book prizes were won by pupils at various schools. You can read more here: and as one of the organisers I record my special thanks to the excellent Catholic Union Charitable Trust which makes this Award possible.