Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Time for some more music from my past.

By 1970 I was 17 years old and in the sixth form. American duo Simon and Garfunkel had built up a big following over previous years, but they were saving some of their greatest songs for the album they brought out that year "Bridge Over Troubled Water". The title track became one of the top selling songs of all time, and I think that over-used word iconic can truly be used of it. 

On the album itself Art Garfunkel sings most of the song until he's joined by Paul Simon in the last verse. Ten or so years later the pair performed their famous "Concert in Central Park" in New York. It attracted over half a million people, some say many more. They played all their great songs and many were waiting for "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Garfunkel performed it solo with very small backing, and that's the version I have chosen here.

The song is simple really, but captures the need we all have for someone to be there for us, and, hopefully, our resolve to be there for others.  

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all
I'm on your side
Oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
When you're down and out, when you're on the street
When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you
I'll take your part
Oh, when darkness comes, and pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Sail on silver girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend, I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind

Sunday, 21 February 2021


Having trained in the years after Vatican II, with its emphasis on the community and participation, especially in the Eucharist, I always felt that a priest celebrating Mass on his own was a no-no. What was the 'point', I would say to myself.  Well, the pandemic has had many, many consequences, but one has been that I have now been in situations where it has been helpful to indeed celebrate Mass on my own. I don't mean on my own in the church being joined via webcam by loads of people - I mean literally on my own.

Take today. It was Fr Andy's turn to celebrate the 'public' Mass at 10.30 in the church here at St Brigid's, and it's good sometimes to concelebrate.  But I have also on quite a few occasions celebrated on my own on the dining-table in the presbytery, as I have just done now this evening.  With the world outside silent on a Sunday lockdown evening, the silence seems to fill the room. It's not an empty silence - the needs of the world find their way in, and, more importantly it's a silence that in some mysterious way enables God to be more 'free'. As I make my way through the well-known prayers and the readings, he feels very. very close, around the table with me. And this makes the silence even more potent, so that after the readings or after Holy Communion or at the end, or at all three points, I have to stop to just sit there and be...

I am finding that this experience is filtering into my public celebrations too. I seem to be even more aware of God's presence - and the presence of the people whether in the church or at home - than ever before. I'm coming to realise that this may be an example of what more and more people are talking about as the hidden graces or benefits of this terrible situation in which we find ourselves. 

On the day when the Gospel tells of Jesus being led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, into the place where we are on our own, we discover that, of course, we are not really on our own. And if we can really enter into this situation, just God and I together, we can gain a much deeper understanding of who we are - and who is this God who is with us there.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

"Tapestry" at 50

Time for another musical memory. I heard on the news this morning that it's 50 years since the release of Carole King's landmark album "Tapestry". This came out as I was starting University, embarking on a new phase of my life. "Tapestry" quickly became a big favourite among students, with every song speaking to us. Very unusually, I don't think there's a single dud on the whole album. 

This morning I've been leading a "Service of Love and Commitment" for our diocesan Family Life Commission, particularly aimed at couples whose marriage arrangements have been disrupted by the pandemic, but open to all wishing to celebrate marriage and family life. In my homily I used one of the songs from "Tapestry" as my way into the subject. "Will you still love me tomorrow?" speaks of the end of a day when love has been shared, but also of the fear that it may not last until the next day. Does the love shared reflect a commitment shared too?

 Here Carole King sings it some years later in a beautiful pared down version with James Taylor, another great name from those days. 


Sunday, 7 February 2021

Bringing Lourdes home


I'm taking part in this series of Zoom evenings 7 - 8pm leading up to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on Thursday.  My talk is on Monday, the first day of the series. In case you can't read the above flyer, it is 7pm Monday-Wednesday   Zoom 868 571 1627 / cathedral, and Thursday live-stream from the Cathedral via www.cardiff   Why not join in?

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Another favourite - Darius Rucker

Time for some more music from my favourites.  Back in 1994 a band emerged in America called Hootie and the Blowfish (I know, what kind of name is that).  Leader was Darius Rucker, who is black when the rest of the band were white - unusual combination, and also unusual was the kind of country sound with a black singer. Anyway the album - and the band - were huge in the US though not so big here in the UK, and have never been far off my listening list. 

Seems they went their own way for a few years in more recent times, and here is Darius in 2010 singing one of the best known songs from the album 'Let Her Cry', in a more aoustic version. I love his voice, gritty but also a finely tuned instrument I think as this performance shows. 

I'll include the words as I did recently for Hotel California, because they manage to be moving yet mysterious at the same time, open to different interpretations, but basically about handling messes in relationships.


         She sits alone by a lamp post Tryin' to find the thought that's escaped her mind

She says, "Dad's the one I love the most   But Michael Stipe's not far behind"
She never lets me in, only tells me where she's been
When she's had too much to drink
I say that I don't care, I just run my hands through her dark hair
Then I pray to God you gotta help me fly away
He said: Let her cry if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing if it eases all her pain
Let her go, let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be, let her be
This morning I woke up alone, found a note standing by the phone
Sayin', "Maybe, maybe I'll be back someday"
Like a fool I wanted to look for you  You walked in, I didn't know just what I should do
So I sat back down and had a beer and felt sorry for myself
Sayin' let her cry if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing if it eases all her pain
Let her go, let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be, let her be
Last night I tried to leave, she cried so much I could not believe
She was the same girl I fell in love with long ago
She went in the back to get high  I sat down on my couch and started to cry
for my momma, I said "Oh, mama, please help me
Won't you hold my hand, get me outta here", and
She said:  Boy let her cry if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing if it eases all her pain
Let her go, I walked out on her,
And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Local news


And now for some local posts...

First one of our local icons, to use that over-used word - the Scott Memorial lighthouse in Roath Park Lake. It's had an overhaul, partly funded by local resident Mike Temple. 

Erected in memory of Captain Scott who sailed out of Cardiff, this is one of my earliest memories on walks "down the Lake". We're so blessed to have Roath Park on our doorstep. I always thought all towns had such lovely places in them - but sadly not...  Never take Roath Park and its lake for granted

 Looking good!


Next, and not far away from the Scott memorial, the shops "on Lakeside" ie in Clearwater Way. These have been there since the Lakeside housing was built (in the 60s?). A few hours have been passed by Fr M in the Disc(overy) opposite the shops, especially in my student days.  Now it seems the shops are going to be redeveloped. They do look a bit tired at the moment, though a lot of work was done not long ago on Tesco at the top end.  The branch of Waterloo Tea at the other end is popular too. From the pictures it looks like it will go from 2 storeys to four if you look closely...

Lastly, one of Fr M's highly sought after recommendations - and it goes to Fintans Fish & Chip Co, specifically to the Llanishen branch (coz I haven't sampled the others in Whitchurch etc). Basically all I have to say is  - yummy!  Once a week Fr A and I usually get something in and I must say Fintans never fails.  To be fair I haven't wandered far from cod n chips on the menu, but why would you when the food and the service are so good!  As I say - yum!

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Summons goes on

Need a little calm? Here is parishioner Max Davies improvising on the modern hymn tune "The Summons" (Will you come and follow me). 

Monday, 25 January 2021

St Paul's Conversion

Here is today's post from Patrick van der Vorst, seminarian at the Beda, my seminary in Rome, from his site ChristianArt.

"Today the church celebrates the Conversion of St Paul. Saul, the former instrument of terror, cruelty and persecution, becomes Paul, the chosen instrument of God. Over the centuries the Conversion of Saint Paul has always been one of the favourite topics to paint. So there is a myriad of paintings to chose from. Today I am sharing with you this painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder, as you may not be familiar with it. Breughel shows Saul's army on its way to Damascus in contemporary dress and with sixteenth-century armour and weapons. The saint himself is depicted in the centre right (to the right of the tree) in blue dress (click on picture to enlarge). He has just fallen off his horse. Bruegel places the principal figure, Saul, in the middle distance, almost lost amongst a mass of small figures. This is a familiar device he uses, intending to tease us, the viewers, and draw our eyes deep into the pictorial space in search of the principal subject. By doing so, we become part of the crowds, we become part of the picture, we become prime witnesses to the story.

As the tomb of Saint Paul is literally across the road from our seminary here in Rome, I have somehow lived with Paul for the past year and a half. Nearly every day I go to visit his tomb. Little by little I get to know him. He is a man who inspires me, a man whom I sometimes fear, someone I trust, someone I look up to, someone who challenges me, someone to offer my daily worries to… He has become very real and present to me, that’s all I can say… someone I have grown to love a great deal…

Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus provided the catalyst for his mission to spread the Christian faith. Please pray for us seminarians especially on this Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, that he may guide us and inspire us on our own mission to ‘Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation’, as in our Gospel reading today. 

I will pray for all you Christian Art readers too, later today at the tomb of Saint Paul…"

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Our great schools

The current Covid stuff affects every aspect of life at the moment. This week I have been reminded of one section of our society that is hugely touched, namely our schools. Yesterday I attended Zoom governors' meeting for both Christ the King Primary and Corpus Christi High schools. I am very happy to report that they are both doing a fantastic job in such difficult circumstances. I felt I should share with the Christ the King Governors my experience of last Thursday...

Year 4 (Standard 2 Juniors for oldies!) look at the priesthood in their RE syllabus and we often are asked to pop into the schools to chat with the kids. This year, of course, this was not possible so I "popped in" to a meeting with them and their teacher by Teams (that's Microsoft's version of Zoom for the uninitiated). I enjoyed it a lot, answering their 8/9 year old questions and chatting with them in their homes. Their questions were good, they were well-behaved and engaged with what was going on. When did I decide to be a priest, where did I train, what's good and what's difficult, were among the questions, the last one being did I think Fr Andy's jokes were funny!

Anyway, I told them how I trained in Rome, which caught their imagination, so when a thankyou card arrived, this was what they had drawn - that's the Colosseum of course, beautifully drawn, with me in front looking very clerical. Sorry the pic is a bit blue - my scanner is too old for my one year old computer and they won't talk to each other, so the pic is taken off a computer camera shot. Thankyou, Year 4!