Monthly Archives: November 2016

Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time and the feast of Christ the King

SUNDAY 20th November – Christ the King, Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We go to Mass at Market Rasen – the words of the good criminal echo down the ages:
“Remember me when you come into your kingdom”
Luke 23.

MONDAY 21st November – Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I deliver some leaflets in torrential rain in North Hykeham and make it down to London in time for a Legion d’Honneur presentation to Dominic Grieve.

The readings are from the confusing Apocalypse:
“I heard a sound coming out of the sky like the sound of the ocean or the roar of thunder, it seemed to be the sound of harpists playing their harps”.

TUESDAY 22nd November – St Cecilia

I ask FCO topical question about Francois Fillon, married to a Britain, Catholic social conservative, Thatcherite in economics.

“… so the angel set his sickle to work on the Earth and harvested the whole vintage of the Earth and put it into a huge wine press, the winepress of God’s anger”.

WEDNESDAY 23rd November

I go to see Aunty Betty in Guildford, chair Westminster Hall, a debate on the North East. In the evening we have a dinner with the Hungarian Ambassador – a refreshing change from the normal tedious Euro speak.

“… what I saw in heaven was a great and wonderful sign”.

THURSDAY 24th November – St Andrew Dung-Lac

I take my architect in to see the Leader of the House of Commons to suggest that instead of vacating entirely the old Palace of Westminster during restoration we keep open Westminster Hall, we sit in the Lords and they sit in the Royal Gallery.

In the evening we have Mass in Westminster Cathedral and our AGM.

“… Then a powerful angel picked up a boulder like a great millstone”.

FRIDAY 25th November

I go up to Durham to speak at DUCA and at the Union. It’s always lovely to go back, especially as Theo is there now. At the last moment, because of a mix up, the President changes the topic I debate on. I am second. ‘This House believes Iraq war a crime, not a blunder’. Always fun to put on the President’s gown and have a real debate in front of a hundred people.

SATURDAY 26th November

I go for a run around the incomparable peninsula of Durham.

“Grey towers of Durham
Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles
Half church of God, half castle ‘gainst the Scot
And long to roam these venerable aisles
With records stored of deeds long since forgot”.

Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time and Remembrance Sunday

SUNDAY 13th November – Remembrance Sunday, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We go to the Cenotaph ceremony in Gainsborough.

They shall not grow old …

MONDAY 14th November

I am criticised for criticising the Liberal Euro establishment. We drive down from Lincs after canvassing for Sleaford by-election.

Entrance antiphon
“The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction”.

TUESDAY 15th November – St Albert the Great

I go to the International Trade Committee. Various experts telling us that the ‘gravity theory’ makes it all very difficult. I’m not sure. The theory itself is controversial. I got into health questions and dare to question whether the NHS can be funded properly and whether charging might have to be considered. That’s as dangerous as questioning the modern religion.

Today is the feast of the great force for renewal, St Albert, at the time of the re-discovery of Aristotle.

Psalm 15
“Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain? He who walks without fault”.

WEDNESDAY 16th November – St Margaret of Scotland

We have Peter Levene at the Procedure Committee. He tells an amusing story about financing the MoD. He was told he could not impose penalty clauses on suppliers because the MoD would get more money and it would upset the accounts.

I chair a Westminster Hall debate on English wine. A jolly occasion and in the evening serve champagne to celebrate Brexit and Brexit plus plus.

“There was a rainbow encircling the throne and this looked like and emerald”
Apocalypse 4:1-11.

THURSDAY 17th November – St Elizabeth of Hungary

We go to see Aunty Betty at Guildford Hospital, she is 92 and has had a stroke. It is curiously peaceful sitting with her for two hours. The most useful thing I have done all week.
In the evening we have Catherine’s show at the Marlborough.

“Is there anyone worth to break the seals?”
Apocalypse 5:1-10.

FRIDAY 18th November

I open phase II of Bishop Burton College Riseholme and announce the Minister will call in Lincoln University’s plan to build 2000 homes and deny the college a home farm.

Psalm 119
“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches”.

SATURDAY 19th November

I read a Psalm in our village church, Psalm 144: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock”.

In the afternoon I go for a long walk with Monty along the edge of the Wolds from Tealby, then on to Walesby and finally to Nettleton and then back to the Caistor High Road. Monti breaks his lead on the far side of the main road and I wait for an hour in a cold, twilight field. Eventually I give up and he makes his own way back in the pitch dark. Their homing instinct is annoying, combined with a powerful sense of smell. He can make his way across a busy tarmac road and miles down a country road.

Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time and the feast of St Leo the Great

SUNDAY 6th November – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

I go to an Evangelical service in Polzeath Methodist Chapel. The quality of the sermon is very good, much more profound than what we get in our church. It is an exegesis on the meaning of the three shelters. I have always heard them translated as tents put up for the transfiguration. Apparently there were shelters in the Temple. Everyone was very friendly and gave me coffee.

MONDAY 7th November

I swim in the still not too cold Atlantic and walk half way to Pentire Point.

In the afternoon, walking through the sun, rain and wind, we let the dog off the lead in Daymer Bay. He can run from one end to the other of this vast beach in seconds.

TUESDAY 8th November

The sea is calm so I can have one of my best swims ever.

We walk around Pentire Point. I am tired but the light is extraordinary.

I wake at 5am and turn on the television to see the amazing has happened, he is likely to win. I got back to sleep and come back to the television at 7.30am to see Trump’s victory speech. What an extraordinary day. As he would say, Brexit plus plus.

Where now the Liberal establishment?

WEDNESDAY 9th November

We drive to St Agnes. After the Poldark series I am fascinated by the ruins of old mines. It is difficult to find the iconic mining house above the sea but eventually I find it, bleak and forbidding.

We go to evensong at Truro Cathedral. We sit in the choir. The singing is arresting and beautiful. We go to Charlestown, a small harbour with square rigged ship, and end the day at Trebarwith in the Port William pub facing an early November sunset.

In the gloom I walk Monti towards Tintagel, the lights of the pub far below me, waves and wind crashing on the shore.

THURSDAY 10th November – St Leo the Great

We drive to Lincolnshire. While at Downside I am inspired to write more on St Benedict.

I have a pocket copy of the Rule. I am interested in the impact of it on my life.

I lie in bed at night wondering why God, if there is a God, given that there are thousands of billions of planets in the universe, would want to manifest himself on Earth 2000 years ago. We will never know, but we can only hope.

FRIDAY 11th November

A busy day meeting constituents, including a meeting on getting the new hotel going in Gainsborough and meeting with the County Council. They have killed off the Mayor idea for the second time.

In the morning I read Psalm 93 in our village church and go to the 11.11 ceremony in the market place at Gainsborough.

SATURDAY 12th November

I read Psalm 100 in our village church. Otherwise it is a day of reading and walking Monti. We watch Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ in the evening. I cannot stop myself crying at the bit where in a television interview he appeals for peace.

Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time and All Saints’ Day

SUNDAY 30th October – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

We drive back from Lincs for lunch with the family and Mass in the Cathedral.

“In your sight, Lord, the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales”.

MONDAY 31st October

I ask a question of the Home Secretary, calling for a Select Committee enquiry into Orgreave that creates a few waves.

The Gospel today is difficult: do we ever do it …
“… Now when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind …”
Luke 14:12-14.

TUESDAY 1st November – All Saints’ Day

I am not sure if the Whips will slip me so I go to the 1pm Mass but business ends so I cannot resist going to the magnificent Mass at 5.30 with the Cardinal. His sermon, of course, is on death; not forgetting it, not dreading it but seeing it as a passport to a different life. We all wish we could be surer, but meantime it is best just to assume.

WEDNESDAY 2nd November

Lovely Latin Mass in the Holy Souls Chapel in the Cathedral. We miss so much with the Mass not being in Latin in a beautiful chapel with the priest facing the altar.

THURSDAY 3rd November

The High Court insists on Parliament having a say on Brexit’s Article 50. I stand up and agree. The only thing to fear with Brexit is fear itself. It will be a brave MP who votes against. The evening Mass marks the 60th anniversary of Cardinal Cormac’s ordination.

FRIDAY 4th November
I travel to Downside.

In the evening I pick up a booklet Father Leo has written for the children – a conversation with St Benedict. It brings alive, for me, his life more than Theodore Maynard’s scholarly thesis which I am attempting to slowly read.

As always, Downside sulks in slowly. Midday prayer passes over to no effect, there is even a slight sense of depression, then a walk through magnificent autumn woods and in the darkened Abbey, lighting a candle, a sudden momentary shift into belief.

Father Leo, citing Benedict, cites pride as the deadliest danger because it leads to self-absorption and he cites the 12 steps up the ladder of humility as a guide.

Today Stephen Phillips resigns. I think you should tight on, not resign.

SATURDAY 5th November

I am at Downside. This is a good place to think. We have our oblates meeting. Father Alexander goes through the Rule of St Benedict. Like all these ancient texts, it deserves patience to dig down beyond the antiquated language. In Chapter 7, Benedict tells us “without doubt, this descent and ascent can signify only that we descend by exultation and ascend by humility.” As I read this I remember a conversation I had with George Osborne – “you are in charge now” he told me. If only. If like me you have no power it is easy enough to be humble.