Fifth Week in Ordinary Time and the feasts of St Scholastica and Our Lady of Lourdes

RESTOUT, Jean II – The Death of St Scholastica (1730), Oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours

SUNDAY 5th February – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Some people pay £500 to go to a health farm. I pay £50 a night to go to Downside. No alcohol, just soup and bread on a Friday evening.

As for mindfulness and yoga, what is more mindful than going to sit in the choir and singing the Psalms?

At Mass, Father James recalls an incident visiting a very poor and very old man in a Chilean slum. Suddenly, for a moment as he took communion, his face lit up and was filled with beauty and youth. It last just for a few seconds, but Father James saw in this moment the face of Christ.

Psalm 111
“The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”.

MONDAY 6th February

We have three days of the committee stage of the Brexit Bill. Everyone is locked in the building.

I chair a long meeting of the European Regulation Committee. A lot of argument about why it is not being taken on the floor of the House.

The Speaker creates a stir by saying he would not welcome President Trump to the House.

TUESDAY 7th February

I decide to make a point of order. The House is full.

I say “As a democratic assembly, the only way we can work is to respect the authority of the Speaker, otherwise there would be complete chaos. Personally, I think that the Queen has issued an invitation to Mr Trump under the advice of her ministers. He is the leader of the free world, and if we have entertained the President of China, we can entertain him. That is my view, but at the end of the day we have to respect and support the office of Speaker.”

I’m not sure my point met with universal approval, not with all my colleagues who thought I had been too kind to the Speaker, but there it is. I might have added that the Speaker cannot be looking over his shoulder all the time at the majority.

WEDNESDAY 8th February

The Brexit Bill passes all its stages triumphantly. Who would have thought during all these years that there were a handful in our lobby that we would be going through it with hundreds of people. There is much talk of giving solace to EU nationals already here. I make the point that in practice we cannot even deport foreign criminals. There is not the slightest possibility of any EU nationals being deported.

Between votes and going to the Catholic Union I go to Mass where we hear the poetry of Genesis:
“The Lord God planted a garden in the East and there he put the man he had fashioned”.

In the morning the APPG for Russia hosts President Putin’s cultural envoy on a visit to open the exhibition in the Royal Academy. He is given a hard time by colleagues over Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, but I doubt if he has much to say on those matters.

The film ‘The Remains of the Day’ is a take on Lord Londonderry’s appeasement, along with most others, in the 1930s.

Are we appeasers too? I think not. It is no bad thing to attempt to understand Russia. You don’t need to defend it.

THURSDAY 9th February

I do an adjournment debate on the siting of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Victoria Tower Gardens. Clearly it is the wrong location, taking half a Royal Park and converting it into a fortress next to an existing fortress seems a bad idea.

FRIDAY 10th February – St Scholastica

I am in Lincolnshire doing surgeries and walk home from Walesby.

SATURDAY 11th February – Our Lady of Lourdes

I return to London, the journey takes six hours, two hours walk to Market Rasen. There is no taxi, then a four hour train journey diverting via Nottingham and Leicester – a tour of the East Midlands – but it is worth it to get back for Marina’s party.

Before setting off, I revive myself by reading Psalm 114 in our village church:
“- when Israel came out of Egypt”.