Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christ the King

SUNDAY – Christ the King

A usual quiet day in Lincolnshire. Mass, a ‘run around the block’, that is three miles keep turning left up the narrow country lanes and bridle ways up out of the deep valley and down again, Sunday lunch, invariably now just Mary and me. A sleep in front of the fire and then at 7 the long three and a half hour drive back.

Here we have Daniel, a likeable chap who calms lions and the book of the Apocalypse foretelling the end of the world. When I read the words of the Gospel for today, I think of the Passion being intoned quietly at that amazing Mass at Downside on Good Friday: “So you are a king then?” “Yes I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth.”

The quiet, weary voice of the monk is very moving.


I ask a question of the Defence Secretary – is it wise to just wound a wild beast, without the ability to kill it?

TUESDAY – St Andrew Dung Lac & Companions

Daniel’s vision of the statue shows how all power breaks in the end – “Its feet part iron, part earthenware.”


At our one-to-one prayer group after Mass at the Oratory, I am reminded that “politics is not fundamental.” We decide whether to build two or three runways at Heathrow yet the fundamentals remain the same. Also the Church cannot change fundamentally. It bases itself on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was written two thousand years ago, once and for all, and is never going to change.

Once again in the crypt chapel we sing the Taize chant: “Bless the Lord my soul, and bless his holy name. Bless the Lord my soul, who leads me into life.”


A two-and-a-half-hour statement from the Prime Minister on Syria. I ask if there are any credible ground troops to finish the job – not a rag bag army.

Later at Mass we read of Daniel being thrown into the lions’ den. I always wonder if on the side the lions were not given a hearty meal by the king but when Daniel’s accuser is thrown in their bones are ground to dust so perhaps they were hungry.


A long drive up to Lincs but first Mass in the Holy Souls chapel – a beautiful exuberant memorial of death in mosaic, and the reading one of new life: the budding vine, the first sign of spring.


The shooters are up early. A black Labrador shifting through our garden, sounds of shots penetrating the thick Norman walls of our village church as I read Psalm 72: God grant the King wisdom.

Leo the Great


Father Robert does a lovely Requiem Mass sung in Latin facing the altar. The most beautiful and spiritual Mass I have attended in Holy Rood.

A red-letter weekend as four of the children are here in Lincolnshire.

MONDAY – Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

The Scotland Bill comes back for the last time and I once more speak in favour of full fiscal autonomy, to the extent that the Secretary of State describes me as a Scot Nat member.

The Lateran Basilica predates all these modern disputes by a long time. It was built by the Emperor Constantine in 324 on the Lateran Hill in Rome and its feast has been celebrated since the twelfth century.

Entrance antiphon: “I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”

I love today’s reading from Ezekiel 47 – it is on a watery theme:

“The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards since the Temple faced east. This water, flowing into the sea makes its waters wholesome.”

TUESDAY – St Leo the Great

We travel to Rome for the All Party Holy See Group. Always nice to arrive there. I walk through the darkening streets to a Mass in yet another baroque church. I feel inadequate, that I should know these treasures but I don’t.

I am in this splendid ill-lit church with two nuns and three old ladies and two elderly priests.

My Universalis app didn’t work either – they seem to have another day’s reading in Italy. Whence the Universal Church?

WEDNESDAY – St Martin of Tours

A papal audience in the morning – an enjoyable spectacle in warm autumn sunshine and as a bonus I get to shake the Pope’s hand. But the highlight is the Mass in the English College – a delight to see the spirit of the young seminarians. Fairly impenetrable meetings with two cardinals.

The readings at today’s Mass seem tailor-designed for a bunch of visiting politicians.

“Listen… kings… power is a gift to you from the Lord. He himself will probe your acts and scrutinise your intentions. If you have not governed justly, he will fall on you angrily and terribly.”


A Mass at the Tomb of St Peter – always inspirational to be literally at the centre of things. St Peter crucified out a hundred yards from here and then dumped into a shallow grave. Whou would imagine that this mighty basilica would stand here two thousand years later – his tomb rediscovered with the inscription “Petros eni”, Peter is here.


I go to a meeting of Lincs county councillors on the way home.

Luke 17: “As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives right up to the day…”


“When peaceful silence lay over all…” (Wisdom)

A day in the country, of autumnal colours, a long walk. I was looking at the Thames first, now in November twilight, and I concentrated on the shifting grey waters, a shift in the mind took place, a shift to memories, plans, receipts of information, to a deeper consciousness of self, a separateness.

All Saints

SUNDAY – All Saints

I go to Mass in the Cathedral before driving to Paris.

“How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the Kingdom of God.”


My last Legal Affairs Committee at the Council of Europe. Today’s verse from the Book of Wisdom is lovely:

“In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die. Their young looked like a disaster, their leaving our annihilation, but they are at peace.”


I find by chance a Mass at La Madeleine.

I pretty much understand Luke 14:11-25.

“Come along, everything is ready now. But all alike started to make excuses.”

In the event, a last group meeting of the European Conservatives.

WEDNESDAY – St Charles Borromeo

A lifetime spent fighting calumnies and laxity. He died exhausted at the age of 46.


I take the answers for the Public Accounts Commission in the House of Commons. Always nice for a change to answer rather than question. Not that I have any more power in answering than in questioning.


I am back in our church, reading now Psalm 69, “Save Me, O God”.


And today Psalm 70, Haste thee O God and deliver me.

‘Deus in adjutorium meum intende’ is how we start vigils in the Monastery. Reading these words in a small village church brings back happy memories.