Friday, October 31, 2014

Cardinal Vincent Nichols' letter...

...following the recent Synod in Rome...

Best comment on it so far comes here...

Unpleasantly warm, sticky weather...

...giving London a disagreeable feel on this last day of October. We are told we may get some cooler weather soon...oh for some crisp, fresh Autumn days...

News about the John Paul Walk by the Thames..

...and the statue that we carried, is in the latest issue of The Portal. You can access it here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The presentation of the 2014 Catholic Young Writer Award...

...took me to St George's College, Swaythling, Southampton, recently. You can read about it here...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's irritating...

...to see nonsense written about the Church...

For example, silly media comments today suggesting that Pope Francis is doing something entirely revolutionary in suggesting that the theory of evolution is consistent with the Book of Genesis. This is not news!    It is what Popes Benedict and John Paul were saying, and indeed has been discussed, enjoyed, debated, analysed, prayed over, and made the topic of conferences and study sessions and lectures and books and academic papers and more, for years and years and years.  And rightly so.  It's an important topic.  Read Papa Benedict on the subject here  and here  and here...

When Papa Francis says that “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve” he is saying  what Papa Benedict said with considerable wisdom and insight...and one cannot help feeling that the only reason for making the new headlines about Francis  is to hint that his poor old predecessors were sooooo out of touch and soooo stupid and they couldn't cope with topics like evolution...

Time magazine has a sane comment on this here.

Pope Francis actually made his comments at a conference honouring Benedict -  get the real story here -  and, praised Papa-Emeritus Benedict as "a great Pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love for the Church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.”

 To which one can only add "AMEN!!!  YES!!!  YES!!!"


Meanwhile...

...Auntie is also busy with academic work, in pursuit of which some hours are spent in study, attending lectures, reading, pondering, writing...post-graduate academic work is enormously satisfying but is also a challenge. Our home has always been crammed with books, at times to the point of absurdity. Recently a bookshelf became detached from the wall, unable to carry any more weight...

One book has a cherished place: it's a Bible, and would in any case be given special status on that account. But it was placed in my hands by my husband after a visit to Rome with the words "Look inside!" and, on the first page, it carries our names and the signature of (now Saint) John Paul.

I have consulted this Bible - it's a paperback, handy size, good translation - a great deal. But I sometimes feel that perhaps I really shouldn't, and it should be kept safely as something to be treated with special care rather than subjected to everyday use...it is kept on the sideboard, along with a great range of family photographs, including one of Jamie meeting St JP on the occasion on which the Bible was signed...

Off to Chelsea...

...to talk to young people on a half-term training course, part of the  "t!" magazine project.    You can pick up this attractive glossy magazine  FREE in various supermarkets - and it is run by young people, and offers lots of scope for them to train in writing about fashion, travel, cookery, sport, and more.  My task is to be part of the training team, and I enjoy it - having worked in journalism since my teens, I am glad to encourage others along the new paths being forged in the new world of internet/TV/radio/print communications...

"t!" began something like 15-18 years ago, and has grown and flourished...it's grand being part of it all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Read Auntie...

on London and poppies etc here...

A niece...

...has been staying with us, and, as always, it is fun having some one young around the house. I am touched by the good manners and courtesy of the next generation: they are a joy to have around.  Some while back we  had a nephew from New Zealand with a wildly-painted guitar, and now a niece in theatre who currently has to spend part of each week dressed as a frog. And in both cases, charming manners, lively pleasant conversation, and a genuine and open sense of family affection. I do enjoy being an Aunt.

"Is it true...

...is it kind, is it necessary?"  These useful questions are a quick reminder for bloggers, and their commentators.  I have been sent some comments that will not be published, because their authors failed to get this right.

One correspondent announced to me that an archbishop had written, in an official letter, something that the archbishop had certainly not written.  Because my immediate instinct was to check the facts, I didn't make the mistake of slandering the archbishop. I checked to see what he had actually written, and it didn't include the words about which my correspondent was waxing indignant.

Some correspondents simply write angry stuff, others are fond of predictions. The "Fatimists" - the campaigners who assert that St John Paul and Papa Benedict XVI were/are part of  A Great Conspiracy to Silence the Real Secret, and all that -  have got odder and odder. One of their number announced a little while back that Pope Francis isn't really the Pope. Another  had confidently asserted that A Norfle Dreadful Catastrophe  could be expected  in April when St John Paul was canonised (several of these people were obsessed with trying to stop the canonisation of  St JP)  but the day passed joyfully in the soft golden sunshine of a Roman spring, and he fell silent...

Here's the basic rule, to be applied to all of us when sharing information or chatting about some topic or person of interest: "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Visiting...

... an elderly relatives in a (lovely, friendly, Catholic) residential home, the room had a warm and cheery atmosphere as an afternoon of music and crafts and games was drawing to a close. Tea was over, and supper a longish way off. Dusk was falling. An elderly gentleman began to sing. He started with  "There'll be bluebirds over/The white cliffs of Dover"... in a quavering voice but it grew stronger, and others began to join in, knowing the words, because they belonged to that generation, and the words were simply part of themselves: "The shepherd will tend his sheep/ The valley will bloom again/And Johnny will go to sleep/In his own little room again..."

And when that song was over, some one started another - and then another. Soon we were all singing - residents, staff, me..." On Ilkley Moor bar t'at" (yes, all the proper words: "Tha's been a-courting Mary Jane..." and the rest), and then  "She'll be coming round the mountain..."  with my favourite verse "Oh, she'' have to stay at grandma's when she comes..." and then "Daisy, Daisy" and - this one raised a grand sound "Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner"...and then of course "Tipperary" and "Pack up your troubles..."

The old gentleman sang - really rather  beautifully - "Lily Marlene" first in German and then in English, and reminisced about hearing it in France - "absolutely everyone was singing it" in 1945...

And as I left I found myself wondering: what songs will my generation be able to sing, when we are old and sitting around on an Autumn evening? What will the songs say to us? What will we remember?

25th anniversary...

...of the Association of Catholic Women, celebrated at St James Church, Spanish Place, on Saturday. A beautiful Mass with some lovely music, and then  lunch with the cutting of an anniversary cake...

The Association's activities range from meetings and conferences - the most recent was a celebration of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry, which proved so popular that some people had to be turned away - to a nationwide project for Catholic primary schools. Over the years. we've had pilgrimages, Days of Recollection, music and art workshops for teachers, a popular quarterly Review, and more... Perhaps our best-known event takes place each year at the Chrism Mass at Westminster Cathedral, when we arrive with our "Thank you to our priests" placard - what began as a simple gesture is now an expected part  of the whole scene, and it is always a pleasure to greet the priests and hand out our small holy cards, freshly designed each year with a suitable prayer from the treasures of the Church's liturgy and traditions...

But not to be undervalued is the ACW's provision of refreshments for the annual TOWARDS ADVENT Festival...tea and coffee and home-made sandwiches, all at moderate prices, and an opportunity for people to meet and chat, and linger in a cheery atmosphere...Come and join us on Saturday November 22nd at Westminster Cathedral Hall!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A happy day...

...with the John Paul II Pilgrims: Mass at Precious Blood Church, and then our Pilgrim Walk along the Thames. Prayers in a side-chapel at St Paul's Cathedral. An unforgettable visit to the Sea of Poppies at the Tower - thousands and thousands of people were there, and we joined them...

Benediction back at Precious Blood Church. Earlier, at the morning Mass, Father Christopher blessed our Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady, which I had brought from Poland. This statue has a special, and extraordinary, link with St John Paul - see here....

We carried our little Pilgrim Statue all along our Walk. It will be kept at Precious Blood Church and come with us every year to Walsingham and on other walks...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"In the footsteps of John Paul..."

People keep asking me about "that TV programme about St John Paul".  You can  now order a DVD here... It will take you to Krakow, to Jasna Gora, to Wadowice "where it all began", and to the great new Divine Mercy shrine...oh, and it'll give you a preview of the vast "Do Not Be Afraid!" pilgrimage centre and basilica, which the world will see when vast crowds of young people gather for World Youth Day in 2016...and you'll find out about JP's wartime life, his introduction to the "Living Rosary", his spiritual mentor in a Krakow suburb, the rooms he occupied as a student in the war years and then again as Archbishop in the 1970s...and much, much more.

And, just to clarify things - my recent trip to Poland was to produce a follow-up programme for EWTN, focussing on St JP's teachings and message. Filming was hard work, but deeply satisfying, and the next stage involves editing and checking...lots still to be done...

Working on all of this has been a great adventure. Now you can start to share it with me...

You might enjoy...

...this piece by Auntie...