Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A meditation

I came across this in a novel I'm reading: Night Train to Lisbon, by Pascal Mercier. Out of context, with the author clearly having a different style of architecture in mind, it is nevertheless an attractive and thought provoking passage:

I would not like to live in a world without Cathedrals. I need their beauty and their grandeur. I need them against the vulgarity of the world. I want to look up at the illuminated church windows and let myself be blinded by the unearthly colours. I need their lustre. I need it against the dirty colours of the uniforms. I want to let myself be wrapped in the austere coolness of the churches. I need their imperious silence. I need it against the witless bellowing of the barracks yard and the witty chatter of the yes-men. I want to hear the rustling of the organ, this deluge of etherial tones. I need it against the shrill farce of marches. I love praying people. I need the sight of them. I need it against the malicious poison of the superficial and the thoughtless. I want to read the powerful words of the Bible. I need the unreal force of their poetry. I need it against the delapidation of the language and the dictatorship of slogans. A world without these things would be a world I would not like to live in.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A glance from the Grand Organ

Matthew Martin, currently acting Master of Music during Martin Baker's sabbatical term, can just be spotted looking out from the gallery of the Grand Organ.

A Dear Friend of the Cathedral's Music

I spotted the obituary of Noel Davies in the Times last week. Noel was a long standing, and much respected, conductor of English National Opera, highly regarded for his stylish conducting of Mozart, Handel and Puccini.

He was also a passionate supporter of the Cathedral's music. Each Sunday, when in London, he was present for Morning Prayer followed by the High Sung Mass, and would never fail to register his appreciation. He became a friend of the then Master of Music, James O'Donnell, and was generous in financial and personal support. May he rest in peace.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Modern Life - c 1913

The Tate gallery is hosting an exhibition of modern painters known as the 'Camden Town Group'. It includes this painting by Charles Ginner, entitled The Sunlit Square, Victoria Station 1913. Clearly visible is the tower of Westminster Cathedral (then less than ten years old) rising above the red brick mansions on Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Wedding Season

A lovely picture from 1934 of a Cathedral wedding.

Thanks for all your prayers and messages during my bout of Shingles. Again, I cannot promise regular postings, but hope to be returning to full health, and duties, before long.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Maundy Thursday - and another break

A beautiful image from Marcin Mazur of the Cardinal washing the feet of the Chelsea Pensioners on Maundy Thursday.

With which, I must take your leave for another couple of weeks. Continuing ill health necessitates a longer period of absence, at least until the end of April. I apologize sincerely for these intermittent postings, and hope that I may be able to return to full strength, and Cathedral life, as soon as possible.

Aid to the Church in Need

Lord Alton and Fr Alexander Sherbrooke with Neville Kyrke-Smith and members of the ACN, publicising their timely campaign in support of Christians in China. We have a long association with ACN, whose tireless work highlights the plight of Christians who face persecution or starvation throughout the world.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

More Snow

Following our white Easter, it seemed that spring was here, with bright skies and warm days. However, this weekend the weather has turned back the clock, and snow flutters down. Never enough to be picturesque, just enough to be miserable ..

Above, the view behind the Cathedral, looking south towards Vauxhall and the river.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

The "Westminster Paintings"

In this picture from September 1955, the sacristy is dominated the 'Westminster Paintings', the organ doors from San Bartolomeo in Vincenza, which came to the Cathedral via Norfolk House. They are long gone, sold at some later stage. Incidentally, in the right hand case you can glimpse Bishop Challoner's tin mitre, now at St Edmund's College in Hertfordshire. The other treasures are still with us and regularly used.

Friday, 4 April 2008

The Cardinal's Lecture series

Last evening, the Cathedral hosted the first in the series of lectures on 'Faith and Life in Britain'. Former Prime Minster Tony Blair spoke (for the first time in public) about his faith, but his theme was about the need for faith to play a greater role at the global level. As economies and politics grow ever more universal, faith has an essential contribution to make to ensure that true values are respected.

Mr Blair also spoke about his Faith Foundation, encouraging young people of different faiths to learn more about each other - an essential development if extremism is to be combatted. You can see a video of the speech and comment on it at the Diocesan website

The lecture also received good coverage this morning on the radio and in the newspapers. The items below appeared in the Independent.

For us, the lecture involved a huge security operation, which involved closing the entire complex from noon, not being permitted to open post, and dog searches of every room. On such occasions, staff and clergy are preoccupied with security, rather than participating in the event itself.

There was a sizeable demonstration against Mr Blair's presence; Pax Christi staged a silent protest before the lecture, while during it large crowds representing various groups surrounded the Cathedral and used intruments, loud-hailers and sirens to try to drown it out. Above was the scene in Francis Street, behind the Cathedral, during the lecture.