Monday, 15 August 2011

A work in progress

I have decided to return to the blogosphere (assuming that is what its still called). I do so against the background of a journey which I was close to completing when I last posted and which has since led me to a new spiritual home.

My decision to join the Roman Catholic church as a member of the newly established Ordinariate was both one of the easiest and most joyful decisions I have ever taken. From the Rite of Election in March to reception on Maundy Thursday I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome which the Ordinariate group received. It is true that we are currently modest in size. But then, as we are reminded in the gospel, so is the mustard seed.....

There are a lot of good catholic blogs and websites around. I will add a few favourites of my own in due course. But I have decided not to add to their number. I would add nothing of any particular value.

Instead this blog will be sort of about my life as a continuing journey and the success or otherwise I have in negotiating it. There are still a few details to be sorted out but I aim to be posting again come September....

Saturday, 18 December 2010

End of Part One

The loss of a close family member is never easy to take. I think grieving is the loss we feel for someone taken from us. In this case someone very special who I know I will miss. The funeral service yesterday was a reminder how great that sense of loss will be.
But there are consolations. The loss of someone dear can be a time when those left behind can give and draw strength from one another. A large family meal on the eve of the funeral (an even bigger one scheduled for last night fell victim to the weather - we were all a very long way from home and travel prospects for the next day were not promising) underlined the point. I just hope that we don't lose that real sense of the ties that bind us.
And there was a final act still to be played out. Following the committal the church was filled with the sound of a cherished favourite of hers - Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending. It was a present I remember buying her a few years ago and for a few minutes I realised that the gift I had given was now being shared. This beautiful piece of music had become a keepsake, one that will always remind me of her. What a wonderful way to say goodbye!

This is the point at which I have decided to reflect on where this blog is going. It began as an attempt to try and make sense of the world I live in. 3 years on and rather than continue to allow myself to be confused, frustrated, angered, heartened, inspired or amused by what goes on around me I have decided to stop being bemused and anchor myself to something more solid. In the past 14 months or so, in common with other Anglo Catholics I have been reflecting on how to respond to the prospect of joining the new Ordinariate. During the autumn I had one of those 'got it' moments, when things just became really clear. Now, inasmuch as anything makes sense to me, the Universal church does. I think now I would prefer to be there. I hope they'll have me.

So I am not sure I should really carry on with this when there are scores of far better informed and more erudite bloggers out there. I am not sure I have anything left worth saying. So for a while, I may just not say it.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Ordinariate Exploration Day

We live in changing times. For many Anglo-Catholics its time to consider how we should respond to the Holy Father's offer of full Communion with Rome through a new (yet to be established) Ordinariate.

For those of us resident in this part of Kent we have the good fortune to be able to hear more about the Ordinariate next Saturday, 20 November. There are three excellent speakers so we should have, after an hour or two, a much better idea of what the Ordinariate is and the options available to us.

The meeting was originally going to be at 10:00am but this may have denied people the opportunity to attend the Bishop of Fulham's final Mass in London. So in keeping with the theme of changing times, the Ordinariate meeting will now start at 3:30pm. If you are planning to attend, please note the new time.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

North of the Border (and The Big Silence, last time)

A couple of days north of the border to mark our 20th wedding anniversary. It was a wet and cold Friday evening when we arrived. The city in the twilight looked every bit as gloomy and unforbidding to my French wife as it must have done to Mary Queen of Scots roughly 450 years earlier. But a bit of sunshine transforms even the most sombre of places and so it was on Saturday morning.........

.... we set out reasonably early and visited Edinburgh Castle in bright autumn sunshine. By late morning we were ready to continue the well trodden path down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Royal Mile has turned into a bit of a tourist trap with plenty of opportunities to part the unsuspecting tourist from their hard earned groats. I thought we were doing well when we stopped to pay a visit to that most uncommercial of venues, St Giles Cathedral - only to discover that if you did want to take pictures, that would cost you. In practice the extensive restoration works there meant that we should perhaps await a future visit before taking pictures.

So....back to the Royal Mile and on to the Palace.............

.........which greeted our arrival with a traditional Scottish deluge. You'll have to take my word for it that we actually visited. It was too wet to take pictures of the Palace from outside whilst, inside, photography was strictly forbidden.

For all that and in particular the rain, a wonderful couple of days. But for our next anniversary I promised my wife to chose a location with a more equable climate. That will be a challenge given we were married in early November. The UK certainly is out!

Returned home and caught up with the last episode of The Big Silence. The programme finished with each of the 5 volunteers setting out to find silence in their everyday lives. That each of them appeared to be determined to succeed, in spite of initial difficulties, was enough to reassure me that silence is more than golden, it really is transforming.

For obvious reasons we were not at home when the programme went out. A few years ago I would have attempted to video the programme on the Delay Timer facility on my Video and hope for the best when I got back. Nowadays the video recorder is pretty redundant. Many channels show their programmes more than once a week; or they have a +1 (Hour) channel (Channel 4, for example); or they allow you to view programmes on-line through facilities like the BBC's i-player. It was the latter I relied on to catch the last part of The Big Silence.

The downside of the BBC i-player is that programmes are removed a week or so after transmission. Fortunately some very bright person has put the whole series on YouTube and you can find it here . As far I can see it has been uploaded in the form of 12 x 15 minute segments. Perfect to digest in small segments if you don't want to watch it all the way through in one sitting . And a case of Youtube matching the BBC in Public Service broadcasting.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Guardian Angel

'See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven' (Matthew 18:10)

A wonderful story from France about an 18 month old toddler who survived falling seven stories from the balcony in the flat where he lived, by landing first on to a cafe awning and then bouncing into the arms of a passer-by. The little boy's saviour had to move a little to get into the right position but having done so, caught the boy. Apparently the toddler was fine, cried a bit but then calmed down straightaway. Not a scratch. Even more extraordinary is that the cafe itself was closed and normally, when closed, the owner wound up the awning. It was however broken so on this occasion he hadn't been able to.

It transpires that the boy had been left alone with his three year old sister by their parents, who had gone for a walk, so I guess he needed a guardian angel to look out for him. Whatever you think about that, it is still a miraculous escape and unusually in the press these days, a story that leaves you smiling.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Big Silence (3)

The second of the three-part series following 5 people who embarked on a journey through silence to better understand their deeper selves was broadcast last night. The five volunteers had been taken out of their busy everyday lives to spend 8 days at St.Bueno's in North Wales, time that was spent in silence save for a daily half hour session with a spiritual guide.
The pace of the programme was very slow as the transition of each volunteer into acceptance and the embrace of the deeper silence took place in front of us. At the end each had undergone a transforming experience, one that they would now carry back with them to the 'real' world.
Next week's programme will follow their subsequent progress and will allow us to see whether they can hold on to what they had gained at the retreat. It is compulsive and at times very moving. Both the first programmes are available on BBC i-player. If the Channel Controller BBC-1 is reading this, can I suggest a repeat showing at a more popular time. All religious programming should be this good.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Big Silence (2)

An intriguing first programme. Meeting my son in London for a weekend home from university meant I missed the original transmission (which just tends to prove my point that 7:00pm is just simply the wrong time, 9:00pm would be far better) , so I caught up with the programme this morning via the BBC iPlayer.

"When people enter into the silence that's when they meet God.......". For those of us lay people whose lives surrounded by noise and busy-ness, that is a potentially disturbing yet truly inspiring reflection. I look forward to the rest of this series.