Thursday, 28 October 2010

Polish puzzles, Roath Park leaves, Waterloo teas

So, one of my nephews is representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships in Poland. The what? Yes, and if you don't believe me that there is such a Championship, visit competition ends tomorrow, Friday, and at the moment he is 69th in the table.   Click on "results" and you'll find him - Gareth Moore.
I found out about this yesterday when my sister came to visit. After lunch at the Traveller's Rest we went for a walk at Roath Park Lake. Aren't the autumn colours stunning this year? I thought of Fr James in his parish in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, who loves our autumns. None of that in Florida, James - I know you read this blog! Loads of kids were happily playing, the sun was shining, the swans and ducks seemed particularly happy...
Then we drove on alongside the park to my old favourite the Waterloo Gardens Teahouse. Hadn't been since Easter, and we were glad to see it's keeping up its high standards (and, er, pretty high prices too, but worth it for something special).  We had a lovely day and it was good to be out and about after a heavy week or so of Saturday's day of recollection, Sunday and Monday's busy funeral, Tuesday's all day clergy meeting, and Tribunal judgement session - and Fr Tomy being off the map with chicken pox last week.. 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Heal me, honey, honey, heal me

Everything going well on the optical and medical front. Despite someone telling me on Saturday that because of her vari-focals she fell off a chair she was attempting to sit on, and ditched them after a  few weeks, I have not fallen off any chairs or down any stairs, and seem to be doing OK.
Amazing news this morning from my weeky visit to the nurses. After weeks of trying to get rid of the last ulcery bit of my cellulitic ankle thing, a switch to HONEY therapy has done the trick in two weeks. A check-up next week should be my last visit. Llanishen Court nurses gain the coveted award - Fr M Approves.
On a less optical/medical note, I confess to watching "The X Factor", all in the cause of what Pope John XXIII and the Lord Himself called "reading the signs of the times" - of course!  I was really taken this week with painter-decorator-plasterer-whatever Matt Cardle's rendition of Britney Spears's "Hit Me One More Time". No fuss, no dancers, no fireworks, good voice, good interpetation, nice combination of gutsy and vulnerable - and rapturous reception from the audience. Take a listen. Fr M Approves - goodness, that's two awards in one blog posting...

Friday, 22 October 2010

New perspectives

Hmmm... so these are vari-focals... Picked up my new specs this morning. Everyone says how wonderful varifocals are, and I'm already aware that I can read the paper and look out of the window without changing 'em! So I'm told I've got to give them a week or two for me to adjust. Watch this space for the vari-verdict.
Meanwhile, in preparation for my day on the Eucharist tomorrow, I was hunting on the web for an image I wanted. When we were in Czestochowa with our September Pilgrimage, many were struck by the modern painted Stations of the Cross there. The group gave me the accompanying book as part of my thankyou gift, and the commentary I find very useful. The one that I'm going to incorporate tomorrow is the tenth station - Jesus is stripped of His clothing. You can see the whole set on a Catholic blog I found called Lioness Blog. Take a look - I think they are stunning. Notice how the presence of Our Lady is represented by the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. And here is the tenth station 

The artist brings together two senses of the exposing of Christ - in the Eucharist and at Golgotha. The one Jesus we surround with candles, flowers and processions. The other one we deserted, and left to the criminals, to the soldiers and to those who could stand the humiliation - his mother and a few others. Nobody is looking at that Jesus in the picture... Yet it is the same Jesus, the same body.
Indeed, a different perspective.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A free hug from Italy

Hot on the heels of Flash Mobs come free hugs. Personally I love hugs - can't get enough of 'em! I would hug my mum and dad right up until the day they each died. I wonder if we're a little more reserved in the UK when it come to hugs? In church circles, hugs are I suppose more freely shared in charismatic circles. 
Well, here is a lovely little video from the town of Sondrio, in the very north of Italy. Beautifully made, in terms of editing, it builds nicely, and I found it surprisingly moving. I love the lady who dances down the street, just for a few moments. We don't know what joy that hug may have brought her... Who's your favourite?  And when did you just share a hug?  Thanks to Anna and Monica.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Salzburg to Cardiff via Antwerp

A while ago I posted a few flashmob videos, including the famous Antwerp Station one. I didn't realise that we had a copycat one made in dear old Queen Street last year. Never a city to be outdone, Caaaardiff. So here's the Sound of Music - a la Queen Street.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Varied focus

Mixed sort of week. My voice slowly came back in first few days - and I seem to have managed to stave off a cold. Newbie Fr Tomy is getting his feet under the parish table as it were. Monday we met with Rob Coyne, chaplain at Corpus Christi High School, and are paying the school a visit a week today. I was up there on Wednesday for a Full Governors' Meeting. I'm the only priest on the Governors there, which surprised me when I first came here, as the four High Schools I'd previously been involved in - Mary Immaculate, Lugwardine, St Richard Gwyn, St Illtyd's - all had more than one priest governor. I know it's not an easy task, but well, Corpus is a community of over 1,000 Catholics, and I think it's part of our pastoral ministry to have a say in the welfare of that community.
On Tuesday Fr Tomy came with me to meet the folks at the local GPs that I attend. I'm still not finished with my ankle from earlier on this year - though I don't see the nurses so often now. They're trying a honey dressing thing to try and budge the last bit of ulcer. No, not the sort of dressing you put on salad! So, anyway, when I had a bad throat, I was tempted to "lick my wounds", haha.
Bernadette Charles' Requiem on Wednesday was a good celebration. Someone observed that my homily was more like a meditation, with me thinking my way through it. I thought it was a very good comment, actually. Husband Peter was very well supported by the Christ the KIng 8.30 congregation and others. Another nice observer said that it was a day for the parish priest to be proud of his parishioners - and vice versa. Great people!
Today I eventually got round to getting a replacement for the reading glasses that I left on the plane coming back from Krakow. Optician asked why I have been on different pairs of specs instead of varifocals, so I'm going to try 'em. Anyway, next week I'll get my new specs and we'll see (I hope)...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Soothing for the hacked

Throat's a bit better today, but a cold may be on its way, and stayed in. So, of course, even more people than usual have phoned!! Apologies to anyone that I've been a little curt with - it hurts in more senses than one!
Anyway - "hackings". Yes, a hacking cough but worse than that, somebody hacked into our parishes' website today, so you get a skull and crossbones when you visit it. SImon, our excellent webmaster, is on to it even as I speak, or, rather, as I type.
So, with all this hacking going on, something to soothe us all. During the summer we had a Baptism during Mass, and as the family were all musical, they had a small choir sing a John Rutter piece "For the Beauty of the Earth." If you want to chill for four minutes, click below.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

...But not speaking for long!

Had a great visit to the Hereford Catholic Conference on Friday and Saturday. Very impressed with a speaker who was new to me - Derek Williams (right), a Catholic lay evangelist who specialises in scriptural teaching. Visit his website here. I think my talk on Friday evening went OK. I connected Catholic Charismatic Renewal to Vatican II, to the sacraments, to the Mass and so on, and people seemed to appreciate it. On Saturday I preached at Mass continuing my theme from Poland of not letting the wounds of life deflect us from our tasks. This time I went on to distinguish between wounds and scars, quoting my two ankles as examples!
However, by the afternoon, when there was time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my voice was failing. By evening, when I got home, it had disappeared, and when I got up this morning it was nowhere to be seen. Somehow I got through 9 o'clock at St Paul's and 10.30 at St Brigid's. I suggested at homily time we all take a few minutes' silence to run through in our minds those things and people for which we wish to thank God. Several wags thought it was my best homily ever, hahaha.
This afternoon our St B & St P Liturgy Group had suggested we have Rosary and Benediction, which went very well. I thought it was clever of Ol' Nick to have a go at my voice the day I should be leading Our Lady's prayer and giving her Son's blessing, however, with five people leading the decades and everybody praying together, it was all very dignified, and my voice even managed to sing the Collect pray in Latin! However, that's done it in now, and so I'm back to croaking....
On the way up to Hereford on Friday afternoon, we diverted to Hay-in-Wye, partly because it's a nice route via Abergavenny and Talgarth, and partly to try tea at the highly recommended Old Stables Tearooms, only to find it shut at 3 and this was 4. No tea after 3? What kind of tea-room is that? Blow me, Oscar's, where I've had a nice lunch or two, was also shut. Luckily Shepherd's Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe was open and I had a tasty panino and cappucino. Well done, Shepherd's - you get a picture on Fr M's blog !

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Speaking personally

A few speaking engagements coming up this month. This weekend I'll be at the Hereford Catholic Conference on Friday evening and Saturday. This has been organized for the last half dozen years at St Mary's High School Lugwardine just outside Hereford. Speakers, Mass, ministry and other activities attract a good crowd from across the county and beyond. My connection was that I was parish priest in Ledbury 1983-1986, when I got to know several of what are now the Conference organizers.
Later in the month on Saturday 23rd October I will be at the University Chaplaincy leading a day on "The Real Presence". I love talking about the Eucharist, and you might think that's no surprise for a priest. Yet it seems sometimes that chaps aren't confident enough in their own faith to share it. I'm looking forward to a good day, and spent an hour or so this afternoon planning the day.
Also in the planning at the moment is the Requiem Mass for a special lady from Christ the King, Bernadette Charles, who died on Sunday. She was a regular at 8.30 Mass, and in latter years her husband, of Baptist background, joined her. Indeed, I think that the 8.30 congregation more or less became their family. What a loving person, and such a great Yorkshire sense of humour! In the best possible sense, I am sure it will be a good funeral...

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Up in the Air

Picked up a new word this morning. I was visiting a few other blogs, and dropped in on Fr Stephen Wang's. He had a link to a beautiful 5 minute BBC film about Britain from the Air, based on an exhibition in Bath. It's a lovely little piece, with Vaughan Williams music, and commentary from the Director of the Royal Geographical Society. As a lifetime lover of maps and stuff, and GoogleEarth addict, this is right up my street! Fascinating that the Director's favourite shot is of the multi-coloured spoil heaps at Port Talbot steelworks!
Further down the page I then saw further links to other short films, including one on what is my new word "Noctilucent Clouds". These are clouds that are 50 miles up in space, only visible in summer at dusk looking north. And beautiful they are, too. Latin scholars will see that "noctilucent" indeed means "night-shining." These special and mysterious clouds are new to me, and are well worth a quiet and restful viewing. Enjoy both of these lovely films.