Saturday, January 31, 2015

Next Catholic History Walk...

...Wednesday February 11th, starts with 12.45pm Mass at St Patrick's, Soho. We'll explore Holborn, visit St-Giles-in-the-Fields, head down toards Fleet Street...all welcome, no need to book, just turn up.

Ireland...

...is having to vote in a referendum on whether or not the government should impose same-sex marriage. The Irish Bishops have issued a pastoral letter with  a sound and useful message on the subject. They are to be commended.  Politicians seeking to impose the planned law are making some very poor attempts to justify themselves...the whole project has a silly sloganised feel to it.

It would be glorious if Ireland could have an outbreak of quiet wisdom, kindness, and common sense and vote "No".

Random discussion recently...

...about the Harry Potter books. There's a whole urban-myth thing that has developed about them that has its fans "Didn't you know that in fact there's secret witchcraft language in there? Oh, it's all been researched..."   and mothers who believe all this have banned the books from their homes and urge others to do the same.  I'm unconvinced,

I've been getting, over recent weeks, various panicky messages...

...from Catholics who  describe themselves as Traditionalist  (often with a captital T) and who don't like the way Pope Francis talks. They seem to feel that they ought to feel all comfortable and gosh-this-is-absolutely-right about everything that a Pope says and does. And they get angry when they don't feel that way. They panic and worry and write a lot of complicated stuff. Some  get postively weird about it...

 Ordinary orthodox faithful Catholics don't feel this way.  It isn't the way ordinary faithful Catholics are. I like and admire a lot of what Papa Francis is doing and saying. But even if I didn't, I wouldn't panic about it. I remember reading a book about Pius IX - he's been beatified - and deciding that he was on the wrong foot on a couple of tactical issues, and not particularly aware of  damage done -  I don't think I would have been a great fan of his (though  the book enthused about him and apparently he was a perfectly jolly soul with people he knew and liked, said his prayers faithfully etc).

You don't have to worship Popes. You can stand and cheer a Pope simply  because he is the successor of St Peter. Or you can  cheer with a full heart - as so many of us did with beloved St John Paul the Great and beloved Papa Benedict when they each came to Britain - because you also have deep affection, admiration and love added to the knowledge that this man is Peter's successor.

But you are perfectly entitled to have reservations about a Pope's tactics or conversations. There's no need to panic, and no need to wish him ill. Think Catholic, don't give yourself a factional label, and be prepared to think along larger lines.

HLI Ireland...

...that stands for Human Life International, a group run by the splendidly energetic Patrick McCrystal...we gathered at a large hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Excellent talk from Joseph Meaney, HLI representative in Rome...discussing the Synod on the Family, the recent gathering of large families addressed with such enthusiasm by Pope Francis, etc...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Auntie is in Ireland...

...to give a talk at a conference in Dublin.   My self-chosen topic for my talk is St John Paul and his message about family, human dignity  and the value of each human life. His message is not widely understood. People like to think of the Church as having "strict rules",  which can be affirmed, broken, or changed depending on whether or not you agree with them.  But it's not like that at all. God calls us to fullness of life, to be part of his glorious idea for his beloved humanity - humanity so beloved that he arrived to become one of us...and the Church is custodian of the truth of all that,  and can too easily mess things up if she becomes a nagging voice talking about rules instead of a mother who explains and teaches and cherishes the truth...

Today's press...

...brings a lot of comment about planned legislation to make it easier for women to allege rape.  Apparently there is a plan to make it legally neccessary  obtain evidence of full consent before sexual activity commences. There are all sorts of obvious flaws to this scheme, and all sorts commentators are pointing these out.  But one commentator today starts her  full-page analysis in the Daily Mail with the chatty statement that "We've all done it..." referring to meeting some one casually  - perhaps sharing a taxi and getting chatting, or whatever - and then engaging in sexual activity. Apparently we are meant to assume that it's an absolutely normal thing to do and that afterwards, one has a bath and perhaps a bit of a weep with a girlfriend while chatting it over, and that's that.  Uh???  Does she really, honestly think that's how most women behave?  Or are we all meant to pretend that we do?

What a very odd country we now inhabit.

...and on the subject of marriage...

...this speech brought a recent conference in Rome to its feet in a standing ovation....and is an inspiring read...

How are things in Britain?...

...read here...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Every now and then...

...I reproduce on this Blog an extract from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is because I want to make a statement about human freedom - specifically, the freedom to state truths that are important and currently unfashionable.

I started doing this because a little while ago some one quoted the Catechism during a conversation about same-sex unions, and was immediately told:"You can't say that!". And I have been told on various occasions that the Catechism "should be banned" or " should be burned".

So:

"Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.
2334 "In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity." "Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."
2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." All human generations proceed from this union.

The 2015 Catholic Women of the Year...

...will be chosen in the summer, and honoured at a Luncheon in October. Nominations are now being sought - you can read more about it here.   The idea is to honour Catholic women who serve the Church and the community by neighbourliness and caring for  the poor, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned, helping with education, supporting charities and good community projects...those who are elected as Women of the Year don't get any prize, just warm recognition at a Luncheon, and the whole project is aimed at foistering a spirit of service and general goodwill. Find out more by following that link...

Speaker at this year's Luncheon in October will be Fr Alexander Sherbrook of St Patrick's, Soho.

Bitterly cold...

...in London - Westminster Cathedral glowing with candles and a sense of welcome.  Auntie writes each month in the Cathedral magazine, OREMUS.  Took a copy to read on the bus going home. The Cathedral has just launched a new group, named in honour of London martyr St John Southworth, to act as guides and to welcome visitors, show the various chapels, etc.  Apparently the most frequently asked question is "Is this the place where Prince William married Kate?"


"FHB"...

..."Family Hold Back"...the old expression used in Britain when there were unexpected guests and not enough food to go round.  You held back, pretended you weren''t hungry, so the guests could eat well.

In today's Daily Telegraph, there is a wonderful interview with the daughter of the founder of Abbeyfield, the network of care homes for the elderly. She recalled her father, Richard Carr-Gomm  - a soldier, decorated for bravery in WWII -  who raised his family in a household where unexpected visitors could include ex-prisoners, homeless people and - on two occasions - Mother Teresa.  On one of her visits, Mother Teresa was too frail to manage the steep staircase, and Carr-Gomm gave her a piggy-back ride.

Carr-Gomm's daughter recalls not only  "FHB" being announced by her mother at meals when sudden hungry guests turned up, but also the whole atmosphere of a house where service to others was regarded as the norm and her memories are warm, loving, and joyful...it's absolutely the reverse of so much of today's fashionable thinking on child-rearing and instant gratification - and it's an inspiration. Do read it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Excellent evening...

...with the FAITH Movement, with a talk by Mgr Keith Barltrop, tackling the question of scandals in the Church. It was honest, thoughtful, and extremely useful. He began with the description of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles - the small community of believers united in faith, holding things in common, praying together, and then at the growth of the Church and the problems that can arise when the Church - or any instiutution - becomes powerful...

Among other issues, he explored how things that can of themselves be  good - respect for privacy and confidentiality, or a sense of brotherly unity among priests - can become bad.  Much food for thought there...and other issues tackled were the need for good spiritual support for priests, a sound understanding of the Church's teaching on sexual ethics, and an authentic sense of communion within the Church. In this he included a recognition of the different and complementary roles of priests and lay people, and a good relationship between the two - something which is emerging in some of the New Movements although these too can have their problems.

There was much more in the talk, and in the discussions that followed. These Evenings of Faith are provng extremely popular, and the parish hall at Warwick Street is packed. The meetings are held on alternate Tuesdays, starting at 7.30pm: more info here...

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Inclusive" or exclusive?...

...odd the way some words are used.  The other day, visiting an Anglican church in London, we came across a group of people who were engaged in something they called an "inclusive Church" project. All part of a lobbying group aimed at the General Synod. Turns out it isn't about an inclusive Church at all...it aims at a specifically exclusive Church, dominated by a politically-correct mindset. It seems that the aim is to squash vocal opposition to same-sex unions, and to take every opportunity of making things difficult for anyone who still opposes having priestesses in the CofE. It's all very sad and somehow has a tired, flagging sort of feel to it. Rather stale jargon, and made-up prayers that deliberately avoid calling God "Father" and so on and so on...I expect they'll do well at the Synod.

The liveliest parts of the CofE are the Evangelical churches that run youth groups and gatherings with rousing hymns and a sense of mission centred on teaching people about Christ.   They tend to avoid the bureacratic mindset that produces "non-sexist" prayers and to be committed to a more daring and authentic grasp of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...



Latest issue...

...of FAITH magazine plops through our letterbox. A review of two of Auntie's books, Saints and Heroes and Saints and Heroines ..."In writing these books Joanna Bogle has provided an entertaining and robust alternative to reading about celebrity culture. She has presented us with a vision of faith and courage and examples of true heroism."

BTW, you can find out more about these two books here  and here...

The reviewer says they would make excellent gifts to young people preparing for Confirmation and wanting to choose a patron saint...

More about the FAITH Movement here...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Where does the family start?" mused Sir Winston Churchll...

"...It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."

Today he would be roundly denounced for saying that, and probably made to retract the statement.

Oh, please let's bring back sanity to Britain, so that people can make kindly remarks about blindingly obvious truths on marriage and family without fear of formal censure .

On a crisp, cold London January morning...

...we walked from church to church around The Borough as part of Christian Unity week. Southwark is so rich in history, and I've mostly known about London Bridge and the river, and Saxon battles against the Vikings, and so on...but there's simply lots and lots to explore as you walk through the network of streets that lie between the Borough High Street and Waterloo station.

St George the Martyr is all  18th-century-with-high-pulpit, then tucked away in a side-road is a Welsh Chapel, built by the substantial Welsh community that settled in these parts in the 19th century - it's largely disused but, pleasingly, it does host occasional services which the local MP, Simon Hughes is invited to address as he speaks good Welsh...  Not far away is the charming garden which marks where a big and once popular "High Church" Anglican parish thrived: the church was hit by enemy bombing in WWII and only one part now remains,  owned by the Anglicans but now closed...and then only a few streets from that is another former High Church bastion which also suffered from WWII but has a small house with some Anglican Franciscans in it, who kindly invited us to visit  a charming tiny chapel restored in the 1970s...

And of course there is the great St Saviour's Cathedral - a glorious peal of bells every Sunday - and then the Church of the Precious Blood which will be familiar to readers of this Blog...

I had a dozen things that needed doing at home, but am so glad that this cold day of bright winter sunshine was given over to a throrough exploration of a corner of London I have come to love. I first knew Southwark as a young woman, visiting my father's office at Tower House, Hopton Street, next to Blackfriars Bridge. I remember a tall rather bleak building but with superb views over the Thames, and, excitingly, down below, magnificent printing works gloriously clattering and rolling with a satisfying noise, and the smell of ink...

Friday, January 23, 2015

for family reasons...

...this tune came back into our lives today. It has a charm that hasn't faded.