Saturday, July 22, 2017

It is important to read....

...this interview about Mgr Georg Ratzinger.

Irina Ratushinskaya...

...the heroic Russian poet has died. She was 63.  Imprisoned by the KGB, she became a voice for freedom.

"No, I am not afraid..." Her poems, smuggled out to the West, had drawn  her plight to our attention.

Keston College, headed by Rev Michael Bordeaux spread news of this remarkable young writer, with a leaflet carrying the message from her husband  Igor "Help me to save my wife". Campaigns, vigils of prayer...I remember sacrificing a bedsheet to paint her name on it, to make an emormous banner, held aloft on struts of wood... a memorable Christmas Eve, standing with placards outside the Soviet Embassy, and passers-by giving us support on their way home from Midnight Mass... the splendid Rev Dick Rodgers undertook a public fast...

After her release, she was flown to Britain... a vast crowd greeted her at Heathrow Airport...the conversations we had with her and Igor stay in the mind. Most of all, I remember her telling us  about the experience that she described in one of her poems -of being in a freezing, filthy prison cell at night, crouched against a wall, and experiencing a sudden glow of joy and warmth: some one out there is praying for me at this moment...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

USEFUL MEETING...

...of the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon Committee!  Somehow, a group of ladies organising a Luncheon sounds like the last word in haven'they-got-something-better-to-do?  activity....but this is a substantial national event, bringing together Catholic women from across Britain, that marks its 50th anniversary, its Golden Jubilee next year.

The 2017 gathering will be something of a preparation for the big Jubilee celebration, but also a great event in its own right...

Today we elected the four Catholic women of the year - as always, by secret ballot, by a committee drawn from representatives of the main Catholic women's organisations in Britain.

Book the date for the 2017 Luncheon in your diary: Nov 3rd 2017 in London. Tickets £45, money raised goes to charity.  The four Catholic Women of the Year, plus our Guest Speaker and other details, will be announced next week (letters have to go to the four first!).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conversation with ...

...a student, training to be a teacher. He was interested in the college history, enjoyed looking through some of the archive material, helped a bit with going through papers in files from the 19th century. He was interesting and communicative and I only later realised why: he didn't use the word 'like in every other phrase. This meant that everything flowed in coherent sentences.

Is this a sign of a new trend, offering hope?




Monday, July 17, 2017

A busy day...

...organising the reading and judging of entries for the 2017 Schools Bible Project. Schools from across Britain enter this Project, which involves studying some of the great events of Christ's life and writing about them, showing some understanding of what the New Testament is all about...

The main winners come to London to receive their prizes - cash awards for their schools plus book prizes for themselves - from our Trustee, Baroness Cox. The Christian Projects group - it is a charity established back in the 1950s, bringing together Christians from different mainstream denominations - is able to cover the fares of the students and their parents and/or teachers.

There are also a number of general prizewinners, and these receive book prizes, posted out to their schools. Doing this packing and mailing is always a massive task, for which a team of volunteers assembles at a church hall in late August, so that the prizes are waiting for the pupils when they arrive back at school in September.

Today's essay-reading was also a marathon session, but one that was well organised, with a wonderful welcome in a lovely house and garden, and a light lunch, so that the work went well in an atmosphere of great enthusiasm and goodwill.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

and if you want to read...

...the latest FAITH magazine, you can do so here... features on faith and freedom, Original Sin, "Making Gay Okay"....

...and Wednesday.....

...which I also spent at St Mary's - this time busy in the archives, working my way through the records of  the 1930s and 40s...fascinating stuff with WWII bombing and so on...I found this event happening in the chapel in the evening. A lively call with something of the old-fashioned mission-hall about it, but with a loud American zest punctuated with zappy music...  Absolutely packed, a different crowd  from yesterday and again hordes and hordes of young Catholics... at the end, there was a rather splendid sound with everyone singing  "How great Thou art"...

I had spent part of the day very agreeably with Pia Matthews, who teaches at St Mary's...we went to Mass in the chapel and then had a delightful picnic (all provided by Pia - she bakes her own bread and scones etc...wonderful) in the grounds. It's a real privilege to be working here , in this glorious setting with green lawns and Horace Walpole's extraordinary Gothic toy palace with its Waldegrave embellishments...eating scones with jam and cream...

And then in the evening, to see a whole new generation rediscovering the Faith in new ways...

The Church is facing problems in Britain that were unimaginable in the 1930s and 40s...the St Mary's of those days was a vastly different place, in a vastly different country. But  the Faith is the same, and offering the same challenge with a forthright freshness that somehow has a new vigour....it is also very different, incidentally, from what was on offer back in the 1970s...and in many ways much, much more appealing.

We are going to need this vigour and strength in the days ahead. It is strange to spend a working day looking across history to the vanished Britain of the 1940s, where it was normal to assume some common values about things like human identity, marriage, parenthood, and people's rights and duties,  and then to go home to late-night headlines where same-sex "marriage" and the promotion of abortion are everyday realities...

At a Catholic University...

...a couple of astonishing events...

The first, on Tuesday,  took me by surprise. I'd had an infuriating day. Arrived early at Euston to catch a train to Lancaster for an important meeting. No trains. Everything cancelled - something had happened on the line near Milton Keynes. Spent some time emailing to explain to others at the meeting etc etc...

To avoid a waste day, I went on to St Mary's. But here, frustration again - the Library was closed for a staff training day. No access to archives so no work  possible on the history project. The study area was open, however, so I settled somewhat grumpily to some other work, After a couple of hours I happened to be looking out of the window when Fr Stephen Langridge was walking past, chatting with a group of people...he is parish priest of nearby Richmond and a great friend and I went out to greet him. And found I was in the middle of a wonderful gathering of students from across Britain and America - an event called The Commission, organised by FOCUS.

I met the founder, Curtis Thomas, and realised that here was a good feature for the Catholic press and websites, so whipped out my notebook for an interview. And then in due course I found myself sitting at the back of a well-filled chapel, listening to him give an excellent talk, and realising that I was seeing something that is a major part of the New Evangelisation.

It was all rather exciting - and I would never have encountered it, had not the trains to the North West been stopped for the day....


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meanwhile, LOGS thrives...

...read here...

IMPOSSIBLE...

...to be ironic these days.

I wrote a spoof (see below) about a lobby group campaigning against the reality of oceans and land.

Today, this news from the Church of England.

You couldn't make it up.  You honestly couldn't.