Monthly Archives: October 2015

30th Week in Ordinary Time

SUNDAY – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Entrance Antiphon:

“Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice. Turn to the Lord and his strength. Constantly seek his face.”



“Almighty ever living God, increase our faith, hope, and charity. And make us love what you command.”


“I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us.”

Hardly a suffering but today I am summoned in by the Chief Whip to be sacked from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.


St Jude, the patron saint of lost and desperate causes. And ultimately we know nothing of him save his question at the Last Supper.

Antiphon: “These are the holy men whom the Lord chose in his own perfect love.”


Romans 8:31-39

“With God on our side who can be against us?”

We drive up to Lincolnshire for a formal event.


I go to our village church to read Psalm 68: “Let God Arise”.

Indeed the prose of the Book of Common Prayer arises as no other.


We go to the thirtieth anniversary Mass of some friends at St Mary’s Shaftesbury. I wish we had done the same – a lovely idea.

Perhaps today’s Gospel from Luke is appropriate:

“When a man invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour.”

Twenty-ninth week in Ordinary Time


The psalm today, Psalm 32, is beautiful:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”

MONDAY – St Jean Brebeuf

I am always moved by the deaths of these saints clubbed to death and tortured in North America. Imagine their loneliness and courage in this vast foreboding wilderness.

My day today was more ordinary: a meeting with the Comptroller and Auditor General to plan my next five years as Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, and then I met with the Leader of the House to discuss English Votes for English Laws. He agrees to a sort of compromise by which the Barnett formula consequentials will be reviewed after a year. Thus small steps are made.

Today’s Gospel always makes a strong impression on me:

“I will say to my soul: my soul you have plenty of good things land by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time, but God said to him ‘Fool!’ This very night the demand will be made of your soul and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then? So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

Note that the man talks to his soul. This is his innermost being which is most connected to the good things of life. But at least he speaks to his soul. So far have we fallen from a religious view of society that then even rich men talked to their soul. Now they don’t even bother to do that.


“Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will. You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings but an open ear.” (Psalm 39)

“An open ear…” How often do we do this?


The reading from Luke 12:39-48 today emphasises the necessity of living in the absolute present.

“You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.”

As a victim of burglary, I know this well enough. Yet still spiritually we are not waiting.

THURSDAY – St John Paul II

We debate EVEL on the floor of the House. I gave my four-minute speech with three minutes to spare before chairing the Trade Union Bill.

Strange to think that I went to the funeral mass of today’s saint. It took some doing but I managed it. The then-ambassador to the Holy See said it was all impossible but the dignitaries in the Piazza Farnese helped me get in. A memorable experience to see Cardinal Ratzinger take the Mass and the simple coffin on the floor. Strange I remember this even over ten years ago very well but forget what I said in the EVEL debate a couple of weeks ago.

“Happy the man who placed his trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 1)


Saint Ethelfleda was the daughter of Aethelwold of Wessex. I am reading Bernard Cornwall’s Saxon Tales. His hero Uhtred is a noted anti-Christian so would not have approved of this lady. We would probably find her impossibly remote to understand. We are told only that as Abbess of Romney she practiced an austere life.

Perhaps she would have read this passage from today’s Paul to the Romans: “I know of nothing good in me – living, that is, in my unspiritual self.”


“The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things. It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual. Life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual.” (Romans 8:1-11)

Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time


We have a new priest at Market Rasen, Father Robert, and I am delighted to see a bit of Latin back. I never know why we have discarded Latin for the unchanging parts of the Mass.

“The word of God is something alone and active; it cuts like any double-edged sword, but more finely. It can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow. It can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

I feel this is a point from the separateness of our real presence, our soul, from our mind and body. The soul can lie dormant under the weight of mind and body or we can deliberately create it, be part of it, and know that we are thereby separate from mind and body.

Jesus says today “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:17-30)

Why does he say this? Is he articulating his separateness from God?

But it gives us all hope that, if he can say that, there is hope for us.


I went to a meeting of all the cathedral deans of England at the House of Lords, all struggling to maintain their buildings. In the time I have been associated with Lincoln, great steps have been taken to restore it as a site of pilgrimage – not least with the new statue of the Virgin Mary (even though she does have a slight squint!).


I start the chairing of the Trade Union Bill which will keep me occupied for the next three weeks.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the work of His hands.”


“For the submissive who refused to take truth for their guide and took depravity instead, there will be anger and fury.” (Romans 2:1-11)

This is the key: submission. To fate, to one’s soul.

Cardinal Mercier’s prayer comes to mind: Let me be submissive to that you require of me.

But this is surely not just a quiet submissiveness to fate. It is a determination to separate ones true self, one’s soul from an external form.

THURSDAY – St Teresa of Avila

Strange to think she was almost an exact contemporary of Mary Tudor, just a year older, if that. British history would have been very different if they had died in the same year as well as being born in the same year: 1515 and 1582. But St Teresa’s memorial is infinitely more lasting because of its spirit.


The psalm today is number 31:

“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.”

At one level this can be seen as God-centric; nothing wrong in that. But in another sense it is also looking into our soul – looking beyond body and mind into the soul brings joy and salvation now, not just at some future date.

But the Gospel reading is certainly God-centric:

“Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight.” (Luke 12:1-7)

So some sort of New Age mysticism is not enough. We cannot connect to our soul as our own. We are counted.

SATURDAY 17 October – St Ignatius of Antioch

He was only the second bishop of Antioch after Peter. Thrown to the lions – what a man of courage. He described his guards as leopards: the kinder you were to them the nicer they became.

Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

SUNDAY – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

A breakfast of bread and cheese taken from the pub the night before and then a dive into the waters of Chichester Harbour and a sunlit sail in good wind back to Portsmouth Harbour.


The story of Jonah. How amazing that when things go wrong for the sailors in the storm they decide to throw Jonah in the sea. Yet how even more extraordinary that he offers this solution himself.

As you read through Tolle’s Power of Now you realise more and more how it is rooted in Christian meditation.

Be still, close your eyes, concentrate on your inner being deep within your body – just as Cardinal Mercier suggested. Go into your soul, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

TUESDAY – St Bruno

In 1084, after a very busy life, St Bruno with just six companions settled himself in a wild spot at Chartreuse. There they lived in deep poverty and prayer. They lived as ‘hermits’ in community, the foundation of the Carthusian Order.

Of course in the real world it will never be possible to achieve the meditative heights of the Carthusians, but if not for so long in the day why not for some of the day? We cannot all sit alone in a cottage all day praying and tending plants and meeting several times a day and in the middle of the night in choir. But sitting alone in our offices, can’t we also be still for a moment? Can we not construct getaways to free ourselves for a moment from our swirling, demanding minds? Stand apart from the mind, view it with amusement and comment with something deeper and more universal?

WEDNESDAY – Our Lady of the Rosary

The feast was inaugurated to celebrate the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571.

The entrance antiphon is to-the-point:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

The collect says: “Pour forth, we beseech you O Lord your grace into our hearts.”


The entrance antiphon: “Within your will O Lord, all things are established.”

I am starting to read John Main’s Door to Silence – a Christian version of Eckhart Tolle. He starts by quoting St Paul:

“Your world was a world without hope and without God. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood. For He Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:12-14)

John Main argues that “In this wisdom of the New Testament, peace is one of the essential qualities of human existence.”

We need to understand what peace means. Yet it is beyond understanding and so to enter into this peace we must enter into the experience of meditation itself. This is very profound. Like Tolle, Main meditates to seek an inner being but is explicit that Christ is the vehicle to achieve this. That may or may not be true but Tolle does lead people more gently into the experience not saying that any particular belief system is necessary.

FRIDAY – St Denis Bishop & St John Leonardi

St John Leonardi was born in Lucca. When I was there this summer I should have sought out his memory. It is hard to think that he was heavily persecuted in such a lovely place. Indeed he spent most of his life in exile.

I went to RAF Scampton to present long service awards. It is humbling to give these awards to those who’ve served in the RAF for twenty or thirty years.

Before I went to my last Cathedral Council meeting at Lincoln. I have been on it for over nine years. It is time to give another a chance. I feel the same issues are coming around again and again and I am saying the same things. It has been a delightful Troloppian experience.


“Rejoice you just in the Lord. The Lord is King, let earth rejoice. Let all the coastlands be glad.” (Psalm 96)

How can coastlands be glad? It is part of a feeling that all is one.

The guardians of our cathedrals like Lincoln are truly heroic people. They receive next to no government funding yet they maintain these thousand-year-old world heritage sites. At Lincoln the footfall is barely sufficient to sustain this enormous building but what a delight to go to pray there in St Hugh’s Chapel.

Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time


We drive all the way to St Quentin, mile after mile, hour after hour, traffic ebbing and flowing.

If you drive you should concentrate on the present; it is a way of fuelling the mind. And if in the passenger seat I close my eyes and fall asleep.


I am in Strasbourg and go to Mass in the Seminary. Always a nice experience with beautiful singing. I move my report in the Legal Affairs Committee on religious freedom. A Dutch MP amends the report to delete my criticism of the countries France, Belgium, and the Netherlands which have banned the full-face veil.

TUESDAY – St Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

The priest in the seminary Mass said some people have difficulty in believing in angels. I’m not sure but the idea of a guardian angel looking after one is a lovely thought.

“In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.” (Psalm 137)

“You will see heaven, land open, and above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.” (John 1:47-51)


For the first time and perhaps the last I am rapporteur of a report on the floor of the hemicycle.

St Jerome is not an easy man to like. Respected, yes, as the translator of the Bible into Latin, but prone to anger. An intellectual perhaps who worried too much about the nature of truth and the future.

THURSDAY – St Therese of the Child Jesus

St Therese is truly centred in the present. Because the present is about small things. And it needn’t be a candle or a flower, something beautiful. It could be the stillness of the absence of thought. Every little step counts.

I spoke in the hemicycle on the right to free speech. Probably, maybe my last time.

FRIDAY – The Holy Guardian Angels

Before leaving Strasbourg, I went to the early morning mass – appropriately my last event there. Do you believe in guardian angels?

Jesus says: “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in Heaven always gaze on the face of my Father in Heaven.”

I like this idea because it expenses the idea of unity – that somehow we are all in this together. In some indefinable way, we are connected to Heaven.

But is there some entity who gazes on the face of our God and ourselves at all times? That is more difficult to believe or even to grasp.


We sail, perhaps for the last time, in Naomi to Chichester Harbour. Of course wind and tide turn against us – doesn’t that always happen? – and progress becomes a silent crawl.

Yet we arrive in the mysterious dark, through wide marshlands of wildlife, prosaically to get to the pub just in time to watch the rugby.

“I bless you Father, lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever.” (Luke 10:17-24)

What I like about this is that we intellectualise things too much. It is not just in pouring over texts that we will gain enlightenment. It is by delving down, thinking on our soul, over real being deep within us. We only live in one body. It is there so it must surely be a key to this mystery and finding our soul which is all that is imperishable in us and all that links us to everything.