Sunday, September 21, 2014

A golden evening...

...at the Kent Country cricket ground...where the St Peter's eleven met the Archbishop of Canterbury's eleven for a superb match.  Among those gathered to watch was the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Mennini -  who hugely enjoyed it all despite being somewhat baffled about the intricacies of the game! - Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark,  the British Ambassador to the Holy See  Nigel Baker, and of course the Australian ambassador to the H. See John McCarthy whose enthusiasm had initiated the whole project.

As the warm afternoon slipped into a mellow evening with the sky a rosy glow, the close-run match finished with a win for the Archbishop of Canterbury's team amid a roar of well-deserved applause, and the two teams were shaking hands and there were speeches and medals and the presentation of a cup and promises of a return match next year...and then there was a glorious dinner in the Pavilion., speeches, laughter, delicious food...

This was Britain at its best and I loved it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paddington, Westminster, and cricket...

...and a warm September day. Spent the day at the Mad Bishop and Bear at Paddington station, which is a convenient and pleasant place to meet my co-author Clare Anderson. We start with coffee and open up the computer and get to work, and then move on in a talkative way via lunch to more coffee and then finally Tea...the team at the MBB know us and ask how the book/TV work/etc is going and the whole thing has a cheery we-feel-at-home-here mood.

On to Westminster Cathedral for the sung 5.30pm Mass - the choir is now back after the summer break - and there was a mild stir and heads swivelling to look as a team of young men in clerical dress and smart blazers arrived. The Vatican cricket team! They are all young priests, deacons or seminarians, and they are a simply wonderful group, and afterwards I had my photograph taken with them on the cathedral steps...and in due course, yes, I'll post it on this Blog.

Auntie feels a special link with the St Peter's team - their blazers are a glorious mellow gold and feature the crossed keys badge - as this whole venture was the brainchild of  HE John McCarthy, the Australian ambassador to the Holy See, and a longstanding friends of the Bogles. John and Christine McCarthy - he is a distinguished lawyer and she is a concert pianist - have a wonderful family and have often welcomed us to their home in Sydney and, more recently, to the Embassy residence in Rome.  The cricket team is just one of a number of goodwill initiatives launched by John McCarthy, and among much else the matches will raise funds for the Vatican's work in supporting international efforts to ban child slavery and human trafficking.

Big match on Friday: St Peter's v. C of E....

Monday, September 15, 2014

St John Paul II...

...and a symposium in Austria, at the gloriously restored monastery at Gaming,  which is now the European campus of America's Franciscan University of Steubenville. This English-language symposium examined the life and legacy of St John Paul and it was an enormous privilege to take part.

Among those attending were bishops and senior clergy from across Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, and the keynote speaker was Dr Hannah Suchoka, Prime Minister of Poland under Lech Walesa's presidency. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall...much to discuss and it was a time to look forward rather than back: new problems, new challenges, new issues, and the theme of the symposium was the New Evangelisation. Among many interesting lectures was one on JP's philosophy and his emphasis on the absolute value of the human person,  and his work exploring Max Scheler's ideas...

Austria badly - very badly - needs the New Evangelisation. People have become used to the notion of Catholicism as a tradition, something that simply keeps going but doesn't require any real assent and certainly not personal prayer and regular attendance at Mass...so vocations to the priesthood are small in number, and there is general acceptance of ideas such as voluntary euthanasia and same-sex unions...a sort of passive inert form of agnosticism beneath an acquaintance  with traditional Catholic ceremonies and calendar...

A great source of hope is the magnificent monastery of Heiligenkreuz,  about an hour or so from Gaming, on the road to Vienna. There are some 85 monks there, living the Benedictine rule...we joined them for midday prayer, and the glorious chanting filled the vast ancient abbey church...they are kept busy and run a large number of nearby parishes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I'm having problems...

...with Comments to my Blog - they are all going into my "spam" folder so I am unable to publish them...I'm hoping to sort this out! Don't give up!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I enjoyed...

...my time in the West Country, but there is something sad about modern British towns on a warm late-summer evening. Teenage children stand about shouting obscenities in the dreary corners of a shopping centre in Taunton, unhappy, and with bored, sullen faces. Even those twirling their bicycles were not having any fun, but just aimlessly going round in bleak circles, muttering 4-letter words amid the litter. I enjoyed a wander by the riverside park, which was empty - why do the children prefer ugliness? 

Taunton has always had a solid, family sort of feel to it in a square-windowed, vaguely Georgian, way, with good shops and a sense of bustle because of the railway and the canal and connections across the West country.  There are some fine churches, and an extraordinary history...Civil war...Monmouth...

The riverside walk putters out into a car park/bridge/main road/supermarket-ish sort of area and I turned back towards the Castle and the Apple and Parrot...and thence back to the hotel and my computer and some work...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Vatican cricket team...

...visits Britain next week. Founder of the  project is the Australian ambassador to the Holy See, HE John McCarthy.  The team recently met Pope Francis, who signed a cricket bat for them.

Auntie will be at the match next Friday in Kent when the Vatican team takes on a Church of England team. You can read more about it here  and here...

I first heard about this venture while in Rome, talking to the McCarthys, and it has been fun watching the project take shape. It's a good initiative and in addition to spreading ecumenical goodwill, it will raise funds for an international charity working to end slavery.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Cardinal George Pell...

...came to Britain   from Rome on Our Lady's Birthday to launch the new School of the Annunciation at Buckfast Abbey. It was a glorious day...read about it all here...