Christmas Eve

I have had a nice week in London after good flights from Melbourne. Jet-lagged, of course! Have caught up with various old friends & definitely enjoying being here for Christmas. I also managed to visit an exhibition on Troy at the British Museum & the London Mithraeum – the newly opened remains of a Roman temple.

Now for Midnight Mass at St Magnus the Martyr tonight. I am privileged to be the celebrant & preacher, thanks to the kind invitation of the Rector, Fr Philip Warner. After the Mass there is a candlelight supper in the crypt. Pics should be in the parish website:  www.stmagnusmartyr.org.uk

Sat Jan 4

It was a real joy to celebrate the Midnight Mass & preach at St Magnus. A beautiful Service, followed by champagne & a marvellous dinner for 60. When I got back to the hotel there was a stocking full of chocolates on my door! On Christmas Day I walked to St Agnes church, Kennington, to join my friend Eileen for Mass. We then went to her place for a traditional Christmas dinner. Eileen only lives in a small council flat, but she turned on a magnificent dinner, complete with Moet champagne.

On St Stephen’s day I went to St Stephen’s, Gloucester Rd, for their patronal festival. In 1974 I lived around the corner & this was my parish church. I remember going to the same Mass all those years ago. The rest of Christmas week I caught up with various friends. New Year’s Eve I watched the fireworks from my hotel room. I had a good view & turned off the lights, with the TV still on.

New Year’s Day I went to St Mary’s Rotherhithe (just 3 tube stops away) for a special Jan 1st Mass. The celebrant was the Bishop of Fulham, who is my bishop when I am in London. The preacher was the bishop of Southwark, who preached a marvellous sermon on the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Rotherhithe. Several people I know were there, incl 2 Aussie priests.

Yesterday I caught the train & bus to Walsingham. I am here for 1 week & staying with the sisters in the priory. The village is quite empty now, as the shrine accommodation does not open until February. I will enjoy the quiet & catching up with friends before returning in 4 weeks time to celebrate my anniversary.

Saty 11

I had a wonderful week in Walsingham. It was cold, but that fitted with the quietness of a 1/2 empty village. On Sunday I concelebrated the Parish Mass at St Mary’s & everyone was pleased to see me. My 40th anniversary is already being advertised & I was asked to write something for a website. On Monday I concelebrated the Parish Mass. This was in the Priory chapel & followed by a shared lunch. Tuesday I said my own Mass in the Holy House. Wednesday was the Funeral Mass for Sr Alma, followed by burial in St Mary’s churchyard. Another excellent lunch followed. Thursday I concelebrated the Sisters’ Mass with Bishop Peter Wheatley. I first met him in 1974, when he was ordained to the priesthood. After he was ordained a bishop I contacted him again & now I see him regularly at Walsingham, as he is the Visitor to the community.

Yesterday I caught the train back to London. Today was the Bishop of Fulham’s Epiphany Festival. It began with Solemn Mass in Southwark Cathedral. The music & ceremonial was wonderful. Over 150 people + 50 priests concelebrating. I was pleased to catch up with many friends. The day finished with Pontifical Benediction at St Magnus – another beautiful Service.

Tomorrow I will be involved with the High Mass at St Magnus, which is followed by the traditional blessing of the Thames from London Bridge. On Monday I fly to Madrid for a week in Southern Spain.

Sun 19

I have had a nice week in Southern Spain. 3 nights in Madrid, staying in same hotels as last Feb. Was very nice to be back in Madrid. On Thurs I caught the train to Cordoba, which I had not visited before. I loved it – a wonderful city. On Fri & Saty morning I attended Mass in the cathedral, which is at the heart of the Mezquita. This is the mosque built by the Moors when they conquered Spain in the 8th cent – previously there was a Visigoth cathedral & when Cordoba was reconquered the Spanish converted it back into a cathedral  Because I attended Mass I could roam the Mezquita afterwards, without paying the €11 tourist fee!  Fascinating Moorish architecture all around in Cordoba & I was intrigued to see other churches converted from mosques.

As well as churches I enjoyed discovering various cafes, restaurants & tapas bars. My hotel was opposite the Mezquita & I had a view of the huge belltower. The hotel was like a Spanish home, with wonderful furnishings in the common areas downstairs. On Sunday morning I caught the train back to Madrid. I stay here tonight & tomorrow fly to Athens via Frankfurt.

Sun 26

I am now in London after 4 nice days in Athens. My hotel room had a wonderful view of the Acropolis. It was awesome to see it all lit up when I arrived on Monday night & was beautiful to look at when the sun rose each morning.

On Tuesday I spent the day at the Acropolis. I was last here in 1975 & it was great to explore it again. Of course, nothing seemed to have changed – except  for the marvellous new Acropolis Museum. Wednesday I spent wandering around the heart of the city, exploring churches & ruins. On Thursday I explored more of the city, visiting the Byzantine Museum & St Paul’s Anglican Church, where I remember attending Mass in 1975.

Today I will attend Mass at St Magnus & this week will be catching up with various friends. On Friday I go to Walsingham for my 40th anniversary. Have been doing a lot of reflecting on the past 40 years – particularly the 3 wonderful but very different parishes I have served. I am also reminiscing on 45 years ago, when I lived here & felt the call.