Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rome...

...and mercifuly, a cooler day...and a very busy one with lots of work for a new EWTN feature.  It was, as always, a great pleasure to spend time with Joan Lewis, an excellent journalist and one with whom it is always a delight to work.

THE THIRD SECRET HAS BEEN REVEALED IN FULL SAYS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT...

...in a special commique issued in Rome on Saturday.  It is rare for Pope Emeritus to speak out, and this is a most  significant intervention.

Here it is...



Monday, May 23, 2016

Pilgrims...

...are pouring into Rome, and there are signs signs directing them to the "Porta Sancta", with "Holy Door" in English underneath.  A tent on the St Angelo Bridge is labelled MISERICORDIA and welcomes pilgrims, giving information and tickets, dealing with facilities for wheelchairs etc.

Yesterday as we went through the great door, we were behind a group of  young Sisters, one of whom kissed the door devoutly  as she entered, another reverently  placed her hand on the feet of the crucified Christ on one of the panels...

The pilgrims are all sorts, all ages, all races - the main  common item of dress is a baseball cap, sometimes worn over a nun's veil as the broad peak makes a good protection against the searing sun. Another crucial item is of course a mobile phone - and for many also a selfie-stick.  A  bright coloured scarf worn Scout-style  around he neck is also a must, identifying the group and making it easier for the leader to gather them together.  For younger pilgrims, obviously a teeshirt completes the outfit.... all this is esdsentially the modern equivalents of the Medieval pilgrim cloak and scallop-shell...

The Vatican Post Office is kept busy selling stamps and so on...they are endlessly patient. I hurried in today with a gift to be posted for a niece's 21st  birthday...despite a cosmopolitan crush of people, the atmosphere was friendly and  had something of the pleasant bustle of the suburban Post Offices of my youth, complete with friendly queuing.

Filming in  Rome means getting special accreditation from the Holy See's press office in order to be allowed access to sites within the Vatican...and struggling against traffic noise and all the usual hassles when filming everywhere else. Just when you are well into your stride, on the third or fourth retake.... nee-naw, nee-naw, another police car or fire engine screams above the general roar...

I think we are getting there...and the work is satisfying and in many ways a great privilege.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Under a piercing blue sky...

...Rome sizzles in summer heat.  A most beautiful Mass for Trinity Sunday in the blessed coolth of St Peter's.  A choir sings the Missa de Angelis , sundry cardinals and bishops sit in the stalls, a priest preaches about the Trinity quoting much from Benedict XVI.  We stand  packed together, some people take pictures and are swiftly reproved...but there is surprising dignity and reverence, despite the crowding, as people go up to receive Communion. There are lots of pilgrim groups, wearing scarves or teeshirts and badges...  Around the basilica, people wander, talk, pray, go to confession  (yes, we took the opportunity of that too)...

We pray at the tomb of St John Paul II...always a good many people here, but as the crowds diminished after Mass   I was able to go and kneel right up at the altar rails by the tomb, resting on the lovely cold marble...

Outside, a vast crowd in scorching St peter's Square greets Pope Francis  as he leads the Angelus,, a tiny figure at that upstairs window,  but made larger on immense TV screens at a couple of points in the Square. The great bells clash out across Rome.



Friday, May 20, 2016

Brompton Oratory...

...has played such a big part in my life, and it was rather moving, earlier this week,  to be giving a talk there on a summer evening...in the room where a few years back  J. and I held the celebrations for our Silver Wedding, and where I have attended so many other events...

The talk was part of the current series of Evenings of Faith, which are being held at various London locations  (next is at Notting Hill Gate. Info here...)

Way, way back...before most readers of this Blog were born...before things like the Internet and mobile phones and baseball caps and texting-while-you-eat...loooong ago.... I had a dear little room, all Laura Ashley and pretty,  just off Sloane Square, and was working in Parliament, and  rushing around by bicycle, having a most wonderful time....and  on Sundays I'd be at the 11 am Mass at the Oratory, and I was on the Oratory Parish Council, and a Governor of the London Oratory School. In due course the choir from the School came to sing at our wedding...and a picture of them with us stands in our study as I write this....the local newspaper ran a story under the headline "and the choir came too"...

And it was also at the Oratory, in those days and for a long while afterwards,  that the Board of Aid to the Church in Need used to meet, all of us round the big table in one of the Parlours...and so in a sense it was from there that some of the great adventures in Auntie's life began...going to Poland at the heiught of martial law...

And now here we were, with a new generation,  a good crowd, tackling the theme of "The Sacraments - Sunshine for the soul", with the evening light coming through the big windows, and with wine and conviviality and much talk....


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Small world....

...and a sense of community in the London suburbs  When I embarked on some post-graduate study, I found I was sharing lectures with a Dominican sister from the community that I already knew well....and with Fr J., a priest working in a local parish, whom I had met when we were having a family dinner at a restaurant in the High Street and he was joining our parish priest and some other people at a neighbouring table...

Now at college the current  - superb - lectures on church music are being given by the Music Director in the local parish.  This evening, discussing music and choirs etc it turns out he knows  my nephew and family...

This evening after lectures  Fr J. gave me a lift as far as Kingston, and  we reminisced about how we had met back at that meal on St Monica's day last year...and talked about local things...then  at Kingston I hopped on a bus...to find myself greeted by another friend, who is working with me on the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival (Sat Nov 28th - make a note in your diary), and so we chatted away cheerily, and he told me about John Newton from Aid to the Church in Need giving a talk at a meeting organised recently by Churches Together in South London....

"People today often feel isolated". The solution is to live as people in our country have done for generation after generation after generation - as part of the Church.   Quite apart from the central Divine importance of our faith, it is also a wonderful interlinking of us all...


INTERESTED IN LONDON'S CATHOLIC HISTORY???

...then this is for you...

And if you are on Facebook...

Monday, May 16, 2016

COME TO......

.the Evening of Faith:  Tuesday (May 17th), 7.30pm, in the hall at BROMPTON ORATORY,  Auntie is speaker.  All welcome. Topic is Confirmation: how to retain our young people.

These Evenings of Faith have proved immensely popular. Things conclude with wine and pizza...but then generally continue for many at a pub, with discussions until a late hour...




Last weekend, late at night...

...a train out of Paddington heading west, to spend a weekend with the Anderson family.  Clare and I work together on feature programmes for EWTN, and are shortly off to Rome on a new venture...it has involved a great deal of work and some anxiety as previous features  have gone well and we are keen to make this one the best yet...

I'd spent the morning with Tadeusz, our brilliant producer/director, then hurried back across the suburbs to tackle a range of domestic duties at home  including mowing the grass and tidying up our small London garden, in great heat, and hanging out washing, and more...while mentally still busy on the TV work.Then  back into town, and at Paddington I bought a Spectator and settled on the train to relax and read for 40 mins...which was fine until I found I was marooned at Reading with no connecting train for over an hour, and everything running late...and my mobile phone in uncertain health, and my computer dead.

But people are kind. On this and subsequent days, I found people ready to offer the use of a mobile phone, info about trains, etc etc...

The Anderson family car arriving on a rescue mission was a glad sight.  Then a long pleasant weekend of work and talk and planning, interspersed with family meals and talk and laughter.

And on returning to London, the computer problem sorted out by a wonderful nephew...see blog post below...

Extraordinary...

...how we have all come to rely on computers/internet/blogging/emails/thewholething...

When my laptop died with a crucial little bit of interconnecting metal  dropping out from the back where some plastic had cracked, and falling on to the desk, I felt helpless...

Fortunately I have the most important safeguard and help for any computer user... what do people do if they haven't got nephews?

A poignant plea by text.  A reassuring response. A train journey and soon I'm in a cheery house., tumbling with lively children, a wonderful family supper, and a dear nephew patiently working away at the kitchen table..a borrowed laptop all carefully adjusted to Auntie's needs...

HAVING NEPHEWS AND NIECES IS ONE OF THE GREATEST BLESSINGS IN LIFE!!!!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Come to...

...Spirit in the City. Starts June 2nd.  

The annual...

...Martyrs' Walk, honouring the Catholic martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries, takes place on Sunday June 26th. Starts 1.30pm for 2pm, churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, near the Old Bailey. (Nearest tube: St Paul's). All welcome. We walk the route to Tyburn, praying the Rosary, and stopping at places of historical significance, including St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, SS Anselm and Cecilia in Holborn, and St Patrick's, Soho. Finishes with Benediction and Tea at Tyburn...