Friday, March 24, 2017

This weekend...

I am off to Bristol to give a talk about St John Paul the Great at the University Catholic Chaplaincy.

While in the West Country, I'll be making a Mothering Sunday visit to my beloved mama-in-law. We always enjoy our special times together. For many years, I used to bake two simnel  cakes for Mothering Sunday, one for my own mother and one for my mother-in-law, to be enjoyed at family get-togethers...you can get the recipe here .   This year, for the first time in my life, I will not be visiting my own dear mother on this special day, but she will be much in my prayers with love and gratitude...

Travelling to the West Country in the spring is always a delight...lambs in the fields, daffodils bobbing in the breeze...and here at home we are in the final stages of massive repairs/renovations, and over the next days books will be stacked on to new clean shelves and old papers sorted and thrown out or tidied away...

The house is scented w. the lovely flowers I received for graduation.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunchtime Talks...

...are being organised at the CTS Bookshop in the Westminster Cathedral Piazza at 1.15pm. Auntie Joanna will be speaking on Thursday April 6th and again on Saturday April 8th. Topic "Celebrating Traditional Feasts and Seasons of the Church",  with a special emphasis on the customs associated with Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.  ALL WELCOME.

The CTS is also inviting people to write reviews of books - not necessarily bought from their bookshop - and to win discounts on further books. Info here...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday...

...in London. Mass... the Scriptures linking Moses striking the rock and the fresh water gushing forth...and then Christ at the well and bringing us the living water...

The Angelus as Mass ends and everyone singing.

In the afternoon, a Catholic History Walk along the Thames...the grey water surging with a chill wind, but a sense of spring in the air, boats chugging up and down.

And then, in the evening, meeting a dear niece for supper...great fun to swap news and lovely to relax and talk over lots of things...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

At a ceremony today...

...at St Mary's University, I received my Master's degree in Theology from the vice-chancellor, Francis Campbell. It was a moving ceremony, with the academic procession entering  the chapel to the sound of trumpets, a service of prayers and hymns, and the calling out of our names as we went forward one by one in our academic gowns and caps.  The hood of the MA gown is lined with rose-coloured  silk of the shade used by Bishop Richard Challoner, hero Vicar Apostolic of the London District in the 18th century.

It was so lovely to have family and friends with me to celebrate this day...a day that I will remember for always.

After the ceremonies, there was an excellent lunch in the Waldegrave Room, in the splendid Gothick Strawberry Hill House, and then we enjoyed the lovely grounds in pale spring sunshine.

Bogle celebrations continued with a dinner in London along by the Thames...I am now writing this late at home surrounded by flowers and cards and with  a grateful heart...

Friday, March 17, 2017

The splendid Norbertines...

...at this church in Chelmsford  invited me to give a talk as part of the parish programme for Lent , on my favourite topic: St John Paul the Great. It was an honour to be invited. Things began with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction in the lovely church. Candles glowing,, the peace of united, unhurried silence... and then the blessing and the voices together: "Blessed be God...blessed be his holy name..."

The original invitation had been for a Thursday evening but I pleaded that I could not do it, because the church I usually attend is running the excellent Pivotal Players DVD  (Bishop Robert Barron) each Thursday in Lent...back came a cheery message from Abbot Hugh at Chelmsford saying that was fine, he perfectly understood, because they too were running the Barron DVD and he shared my enthusiasm! So he invited me for Wednesday instead. And it was a wonderful evening... the lovely time of prayer, a warm welcome at a good sized gathering in the parish hall, and an opportunity to share some insights about St John Paul and some glorious memories of him...


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Theresa May and the Catholic Church...

.. an American Catholic newspaper asked me to answer questions raised by Michael Gove in a feature in The Times about Theresa May's Catholic leanings. You can read me here....

Hurrying...

...to St Paul's Cathedral to lead a Catholic History Walk. A friendly group, and we explored some of the City churches,beginning with  the splendidly-named St Vedast-alias-Foster, and going on to St Lawrence Jewry at the Guildhall, and then St Margaret's, Lothbury.  It isn't just a matter of enjoying Wren's architecture....it's also getting the whole sweep of history, from the original foundation of St Paul's at the top of Ludgate Hill, and the growth and changes of the City over the centuries...

One thing which is important to grasp is about names. People tend to think that a place-name was somehow invented at a set time, by the local Borough Council or some such body. But it is not like that in a city like London, in a country as old as ours. Place-names have meanings - no one invented them, they emerged because they describe the place. Thus Catford is where cattle crossed the ford, Westminster is the Minster to the West of London...and the names of the City's ancient gates still echo: Moorgate, Aldgate, Newgate...

"Ham" is the old word for a village - hence Birmingham, Chippenham, Walsingham, Nottingham, Cheltenham...and also Tower Hamlets, and the pleasant village of Ham at Richmond-on-Thames...

And a Minster is where monks lived...hence Upminster, Leominster...

The Saxon (German) word for a stranger - ie one who does not speak a language I understand - is "Welsh". So as the Angles and Saxons swept steadily across Britain from the East (settling in places we still call Sussex, and Essex, and Middlesex), they tended to name the remaining settlements of the (Romano-)British people as places-of-strangers. Hence Wallington in Surrey and Wallingford on the Thames...and indeed Wales...


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Last weekend...

...I was visiting some young relatives.  We had agreed to meet at the 6pm Mass. Trains were tricky and I had to rush by cab from the station. Mass was already under way. A modern church, well filled and with one of those glass doors, slightly embarrassing when you are arriving late and people are standing at the back...

But up by the sanctuary  was a sight to make Auntie suddenly go gulpy...two small beloved figures, solemnly handing over the Offertory gifts for the holy Sacrifice...my great-nephews...doing it all beautifully and then returning to the rest of the family, wriggling baby sister and all, in the pew...

Moments like that can't be discussed or noted within the family...part of the  gulpiness is the very ordinariness of it. Just family. At Mass. On a rainy evening.

Deo gratias.