Fourth Week in Ordinary Time and the feasts of St John Bosco and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple


SUNDAY 29th January – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A day consisting of Mass in the Cathedral and Sunday lunch.

MONDAY 30th January

Everyone wants to cancel Trump’s state visit.

I say that if we force the Queen to have tea with the President of China, surely we can ask her politely to take tea with the duly-elected President of the USA.

TUESDAY 31st January – St John Bosco

The day of the great Brexit debate. 99 members have put in to speak. I am lucky to be called early at 3pm, with two interventions giving me eight minutes. I decide deliberately to be counter-intuitive and say Brexit is truly internationalist. Outside of the Customs Union we will trade with the rest of the world.

After going to the International Trade committee, hours in the Chamber and Chairing Westminster Hall, the evening Mindfulness course is a relief. Focusing on the present moment and the breath.

Christian meditation reminds us that if we regret the past, God did not say “I was”. If we fear about the future he does not say “I will be”. If we focus on the present he says “Yahweh”, “I am”.

The Brexit debate only finishes at midnight. Little perhaps achieved but those who spoke are at least in Hansard.

At University I read the 1972 debates on joining the EEC and here we are just over 40 years later reversing it.

WEDNESDAY 1st February

Dr Liam Fox is at the International Trade committee. I ask him about confusion over the Customs Union.

There is a massive majority for the Brexit Bill of 498 to 114. Tomorrow the Chancelleries of Europe all finally wake up. We are leaving.

THURSDAY 2nd February – The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

David Davis does another statement on Brexit and confirms to me that yes, we are all leaving the Customs Union as well as the EU and the Internal Market.

At the Cathedral the Cardinal takes a mass for the consecrated religious. I feel a bit of an interloper and sit at the back.

FRIDAY 3rd February

I travel down to Downside for an oblates’ weekend. As always the atmosphere fades in gently but at Vespers I feel inspired to write more about my reaction to St Benedict over the life of our family, coming here for over thirty years.

SATURDAY 4th February

In his talk, Father Alexander urges us to silence and stillness. He likes talking to the sound of scattering pebbles, silence to gathering in.

In the afternoon I walk for two hours ending alongside a quiet black stream, bubbling very gently in wintery woods.