Friday, August 29, 2014

WORLD YOUTH DAY...

...in London, 2022? Read here...

Oh I know, I know...years and years ahead. Auntie will  be v. old  by then etc etc etc.  But think about it: WYD is going to grow and thrive, and it's worth thinking ahead from time to time and having large ideas.

St Clare Media...

...is the British branch of EWTN, the international Catholic TV network. A meeting today of the directing committee. Funds are coming in, there is no shortage of good ideas for features and projects, the whole thing is humming with creativity...but the harder thing is getting the message across that this is all available. It is tough persuading people to watch something specific when there is such a vast range of stuff on the internet, from all over the world, all the time, and all available on a mobile phone...some years back, when we were a TV channel among TV channels, it was easy to say "Try this one!"  but it's much messier now...

However, the EWTN news is general is good, and in America is superb - high viewing figures, and the whole EWTN project is embedded into the growing ventures of the Church in the USA... read about  Christ Cathedral in Orange, California: EWTN  will have a media centre there. And there is also an EWTN news studio and office in Washington with its own chapel, overlooking the Capitol...and at the headquarters in Alabama, new studios (badly needed - we were back-to-back in a crammed timetable when I was working there last Jan, huge pressure on workspace) and everything humming with  hard work and prayer.

The Church in America has a sense of hope and confidence now that is tangible.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If you want an adventure...

...I don't recommend getting stuck in a lift. It's v. disagreeable. We'd spent a very busy day  in the parish centre, packing and posting the prizes for a big schools project, and finally, hot and tired but pleased that the work was done, we tidied the room.  Amanda set off to pack the car.   I collected various things and  headed for the lift...I was hot and thirsty and thought of getting a quick gulp of water but, - well - why not wait until the kitchen on the lower floor?

We'd used the lift several times before, and it always worked normally. Dunno why it suddenly refused lateish on a hot afternoon, with Auntie, a suitcase full of children's essays, and no water.

The worst thing about setting off an alarm and hearing it ringing and ringing is the recognition that it sounds like dozens of other alarms and might be ignored. I shouted and shouted "Help me! HELP ME!".

A blessing: it was Thursday. So there were people in the church, praying silently before the Blessed Sacrament. And one of them decided that the siren alarm didn't seem to be coming from the road outside...seeing his face through the glass door of the lift, part of which was visible to me, was SUCH A RELIEF!  And then things began to happen... he reassured me, had a mobile in his hand...made  telephone calls...the Fire Brigade...

They were able to remove some panelling and start a hand-cranking mechanism which slowly, slowly, drew the lift down to the ground floor. And then I was walking out into the cool air, and there were big firemen, and Amanda with a bottle of water...handshakes and thanks all round...

Firemen in their clumpy boots and  read teeshirts  and carrying equipment are a very, very reassuring sight.

Leonie Caldecott...

...Catholic writer, co-editor of Magnificat,  is a Catholic Woman of the Year for 2014. Read more about it here...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calling all JOHN PAUL WALKERS...

...and anyone and everyone who enjoys a Sunday walk along the Thames in the heart of London...

Come to the John Paul II Reunion Walk on Sunday October 26th. This is a reunion walk for all who have taken part in the John Paul II Walk to Walsingham in recent years. The Reunion Walk will start with 11 am MASS at the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge, and then after a sandwich lunch (BRING SANDWICHES - fresh coffee and biccies etc provided) we will walk along the Thames, arriving back at Pr Bl for Benediction and TEA (with lovely cakes...all provided) at about 3.15pm.

Come and join in!  For pictures of the 2014 John Paul Walk to Walsingham see here  (scroll down)...the pic of everyone arriving at the shrine in pouring rain is too good to miss, and there are also some pics of the sunshine and the fun  and the joy of it all...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peaceful countryside...

...on a glorious day with just a hint of Autumn in the cool air. A long and enjoyable walk with friends in Oxfordshire, dipping into a fine old church, sipping tea while enjoying a particularly lovely view, mooing in a friendly way at cattle, picking blackberries, and talking over many things...

To have a sense of place is an interesting thing. John Paul II, for instance, was a man of place: he loved Poland and above all Krakow "where every stone and brick is dear to me". This did not prevent him from seeing things from a much, much wider perspective, and being able to communicate deep things to men and women of quite different places and with worldviews centred on a vastly different sense of geography and history.

A sense of place can help, rather than hinder, a sense of fellowship with one's fellowmen.

Can a young man reared on computer-screens and TV and hanging-out-with-friends and some football have a sense of place? Of identification with some bits of cityscape or townscape or  countryside that evoke affection and loyalty and a desire to know more of the wider world?  If not, would a passionate ideology perhaps replace it?

If a sense of place is useful and important, how can we help to foster it? Do local loyalties matter? How can, for example, our schools, help to foster such loyalty?

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm reading...


...JPII: access all areas, a good read, with contributions from a range of good writers of the John Paul generation. I was intrigued by  the title, then worried that I might be disappointed. I'm not. Writers include Dr William Newton of the International Theological Institute and Hannah Vaughan Spruce of the diocese of Portsmouth...there are sections on Veritatis Splendor, World Youth Day, John Paul's poetry, his vision for Europe...and more...and more...

CALLED TO BE ONE...

...an exploration of the possibilities for the reunion of Christians in Britain...

Come to CALLED TO BE ONE  at Precious Blood Church, London Bridge, London SEI, on Saturday September 6th. Starts 2.30pm with an illustrated presentation from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Questions-and-answers with a panel.  Then Tea, cakes, sandwiches, in the Rectory, followed by Evensong.

Pope Francis has sent his special blessing, and his "good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event". Come and be part of it...

After leaving the prison...

...where I visit,  I was still thinking about the young man  to whom I had been talking, who is preparing for baptism (prayers for him, please).  The one common factor with the men is that they come from homes without fathers...


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

...and still with thoughts of America...

...I came across this feature  and this one,  both giving different insights into the Church in the USA at the present time.

Hurrying around on errands...

...including a visit to the office of Aid to the Church in Need in Sutton, Surrey. A slightly nostalgic trip for me, because I was chairman of the organisation in Britain for some years, and sat on the Board for over three decades...

A warm welcome at the office: I had gone there to collect some copies of YOUCAT  which ACN is generously giving for a Catholic youth venture sponsored by the Catholic Union and The Keys, the Catholic Writers Guild.  But I didn't want to take up people's time...there was an air of quiet urgency, as plans for rushing aid to the beleaguered Christians and refugees from Iraq were going ahead, and more news was coming in all the time...so a quick chat, an assurance of prayers, and as we stacked the books and packed them for transport, an awareness that at least through the work of this organisation, people here in Britain can give some help and show solidarity...

Best one-liner...

...at the EWTN conference came from Fr Mitch Pacwa during the evening televised discussion, with a packed conference hall. Anyone could ask a question, and one young woman, citing the  events in the Middle East, and mentioning various visions and prophecies asked if we knew when the End Times would come.  Fr Mitch :"That's for management. I'm in sales."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

At Heathrow airport...

...a multi-faith prayer room. Used to be called a chapel. No cross marks it now. It is divided into three: two rooms (male and females) for Muslims, one for Christians. I went in. The Christian space had a table, with a cloth on it and a couple of Bibles, and some Christian leaflets. No cross. I prayed the Lord's Prayer aloud, and could sense the silence descending in the adjoining rooms where there had been voices.  I took up one of the Bibles (attractive, a gift from the Gideons) and read aloud from St Paul's letter to the Corinthians. I prayed silently for a while, made the Sign of the Cross aloud, and left.

Now:  let's all make a commitment. Next time you are in an airport, find the prayer-room and go there and pray aloud. Alone or with others. It is good to pray before you travel, it is an opportunity to praise God and ask his blessing, and it is an act of witness. Claim the space for Christ.

LATER NOTE:

I've been corrected - see COMMENT to this blog. There is indeed a proper  chapel at Heathrow. The one I encountered was simply a Prayer Room at terminal 4. Thank God for the work and witness of all involved with St George's Chapel at Heathrow, where a Cross stands tall, and where Mass is regularly celebrated.

grim news...

...continues from Iraq.
 And if you want to help send some aid, you can do so via this charity...

What will happen to the young Islamic jihadists from Britain who have gone out to join in the slaughter? They have been bragging on the internet about their exploits, posing with the bodies of their victims and so on. If, on their return to Britain, they are arrested and sent to prison, they will start to recruit other young men to their cause. Islam is very strong on British prisons, and declaring oneself a Moslem brings a number of advantages, from special arrangements for meals and times of prayer-chanting, to a strong sense of mission and identity, bonding with a group, feeling strong and important, etc...

...and one of the topics...

...that came up, inevitably in our discussions during the EWTN weekend, was the ghastly imposition of same-sex marriage laws and the way this is all being used to restrict our freedom to speak publicly about the Christian teaching on marriage. On same-sex marriage, this is a good read.

In Birmingham, Alabama...

...at the conference hotel where I was staying, there was also a large group of  lovely people from one of the big Black Churches, the ladies all looking absolutely superb in the most beautiful outfits, of a sort I've only ever seen at Buckingham Palace garden parties, elegant suits and the most glorious hats. They were extremely friendly and so delightful to meet, and they were Primitive Baptists, and faith-filled and joyful. When I asked about what made them different from other Baptists they explained that they wash each other's feet, like Our Lord at the Last Supper...talking to them was a joy and we promised to pray for each other and for a great revival of Christianity in both America and Britain...