Sunday, June 26, 2016

Read about...

...Britain's former Ambassador to the Holy See and a new chapter in the life of a Catholic institution in England...see here...

A grand turn-out...

...and a memorable Martyrs' Walk, with a splendid spirit and some fine singing.  We started at the churchyard  of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate near the Old Bailey, with a short historical overview of the events of the 16th century...Henry VII, Prince Arthur, Henry VIII and Queen Catherine...Anne Boleyn...and so on...and then, praying the Rosary, headed along the route to Tyburn. First stopping-place was St Etheldreda's in Ely Place - particularly dear to me as it was for many years the Guild Church of The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild, and I have spent many happy evenings there with Mass and supper and lively discussions with a range of guest speakers, in good comapny and with that genuine sense of cheerful fellowship which is so difficult to describe without sounding sentimental, and so splendid to enjoy....

Then we progressed along Holborn, where our singing of Ave, Ave, Maria rose above the London  traffic, and  we were led in the Rosary by the deacon of a splendid American contingent of the group...and in due course were warmly welcomed by Fr David Barnes at  the church of SS Anselm and Cecilia. This is a popular church, often packed out on feast-days and special days such as Ash Wednesday with  people working in nearby offices hurrying to lunchtime Masses. And so on to St Giles-in-the-Fields  and thence to St Patrick's Soho. Here we venerated relics of the martyrs, with Fr Doug Grandon of the American contingent presiding. And then we headed in groups to Tyburn.  Here, a magnificent Benediction - the  strong chorus of voices praying the Divine Praises - and a final splendid rendition of Faith of Our Fathers....and then an excellent Tea provided by the dear sisters, who beamed as they plied us with tea and sandwiches and pastries...

We had begun the Walk with three hearty cheers for the good people of St Sepulchre's for letting us use their churchyard, and we finished with three hearty cheers for the good Tyburn Sisters for their wonderful welcome and Tea.

Every year, I think the Martyrs' walk won't get the numbers or will meet with some disaster...and every year it is splendid and crowded and the people are wonderful.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

COME AND HONOUR THE ENGLISH MARTYRS...

The Martyrs' WALK - the Tyburn Walk - takes places tomorrow, Sunday 26th June, starting at 2pm outside the church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, near the Old Bailey. Join us there! We will walk to Tyburn, with stops at, among other places, St Etheldreda's Ely Place, SS Anselm and Cecilia in Kingsway, and St Patrick's, Soho...prayers, and some short talks on the history, along the way. Opportunities for confession. Benediction at Tyburn. ALL WELCOME.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kent...and a thunderstorm...

...of immense proportions. London sticky in pre-storm warmth.  Train from Waterloo East as I was due to speak at St Anselm's, a Kent  parish in Ordinariate care, as part of a series of lectures for this Year of Mercy.    Fr Ed  Tomlinson met me at High Brooms station and we had a quick spaghetti supper at the presbytery in Pembury as I wrestled with trying to get on to Skype for an interview with EWTN's newsroom about Brexit.  Fr Ed is a former Anglican, married to Hayley: they have a bunch of delightful children who came home all damp and cheery from a spell in the local swimming pool. Hayley and I worked hard on the Skype link, but couldn't get the video bit to work (camera on my laptop disabled?) so I did the interview as sound-only...meanwhile Fr E. went off to celebrate Mass and organise things for my talk.

In the warm, sticky evening  I hurried down the lanes to the church,and got warmer and warmer...and rather confused....it was a relief to meet a search party out from the church to rescue me. The meeting went well - a large audience, and the talk was one of a series exploring the Beatitudes. I focused on "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" , and looked at the lives of modern saints, noting in particular St John Paul the Great, and M. Teresa of Calcutta...

As things finished, we repaired to the village pub. Much lively conversation...the Church...current events...Brexit...

As we left, the  rain began. And as we made our way back to the presbytery it was clattering down  in torrents. The evening sky had had a curious glow - now the storm broke over us, and thunder rolled and crackled over Kent.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I was due to meet...

...some American friends, to lead  a walk in London, with Mass at St Etheldreda's .  But their flight was delayed and the plans had to be cancelled.With a sudden bonus day, I went home and tackled the lawn, and the overgrown lane at the back of our house, which had suddenly become impenetrable in the past couple of weeks because of the downpouring rain and warm air.

Our small garden  is full of happy memories of smmer suppers and barbeques, and I enjoy hanging out the washing and bringing it in all fresh and airy. Another batch of J.'s shirts went up today when I'd finished the mowing.

We have a great apple tree that began as a tiny foot-high stalk brought from Fernyhalgh after a pilgrimage there.  It now towers over everything: we had it pruned last year and now it is laden with fruit. If you read up the story of Fernyhalgh you will see why it is so lovely to have this tree in our garden.

The front garden is a small strip of lawn which is always pleasant to mow, as neighbours pass by and there is lots of stopping to chat. Then later, as the light slowly faded,  I sat down to tackle some work at the computer. The rose bush which J. bought for me some years ago has, like the apple tree, flourished over the years and taps against the window as I write.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Auntie will be speaking in the village church...

...of St Anselm at Pembury in Kent tomorrow.,  I have a particular affection for this parish. The priest in charge is Fr Ed Tomlinson, who I first met when, as vicar of St Barnabas church in Tunbridge Wells, he was considering joining the Ordinariate. I became good friends with him and with his wife Hayley, and  when in due course they came into full communion with the Catholic Church, was sponsor for the latter when she was confirmed. It was Holy Week, and a warm, sticky Spring evening.  In some ways the future still seemed uncertain, but going ahead in faith, they prersevered in prayer and in due course Fr Ed was given charge of the small outpost of Pembury, where a somewhat bleak hall was attended on Sundays by a smallish congregation.

And now it is a thriving parish: the old hall has been turned into a a charming church, and a new hall - the Hine Room, named for Bishop Hine who grew up in the village - has been  added for the Sunday School, social events, and other activities. It's where I will be speaking tomorrow.  There is a fine outdoor Calvary shrine, and a lovely garden. Local people know "the church on the green" and it plays a major role in village life, and in the life of the surrounding area.  The parish holds processions and celebrates the feasts and seasons of the Church's year in style.There are lots and lots of young families.

It will be a pleasure and deliught to be part of the Year of Mercy events at Pembury, and I am thrilled to have been invited.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In Old Oscott House...

...Maryvale...

I am staying the night, as I have some work to do here tomorrow. There is such a feeling of homecoming as one comes up the drive... Then a friendly greeting, and pizza and lots of cheery talk...and then in due course Night Prayer in the chapel, the familiar verses of the psalm going back and forth...and the Salve Regina  as the light dies beyond the Madonna window behind the altar and sanctuary....

And, from my window I look out diagonally directly into the chapel, and that sanctuary, and the Lord is there...

In 1846 Newman wrote: ‘I am writing in the next room to the chapel. It is such an incomprehensible blessing to have Christ’s bodily presence in one’s house, within one’s walls, as swallows up all other privileges and destroys, or should destroy, every pain.’