Fourth Week in Lent

ALBERTI, The Cardinal Virtues, Fresco, Sala Clementina, Vatican Palace, Rome

SUNDAY 26th March – 4th Sunday in Lent

I got to Mass in Westminster Cathedral. The Cardinal says it is our Christian duty to pray that God has mercy on the soul of the attacker. I make no comment. I am thinking of the fate of the rich man who did no more than not look after Lazarus at his gate and he is condemned to eternal fire. Why don’t all religious leaders stand up and say that if there is a heaven, murderers certainly have no place in it?

1 Samuel 16:
“… God does not see as man sees, man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart”.

MONDAY 27th March

“Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. He himself had declared that there is no respect for a prophet in his own country”
John 4.

TUESDAY 28th March

We fly to Rome for the Vatican APPG visit.

I go to Mass in the Via della Conciliazione and then an official dinner at the Ambassador’s residence.

Rome, the climate, people, streets as always magical.

At one point, I wander into the back of the nuns’ chapel in the Piazza Farnese. They are singing vespers – literally an angelic sound, pius in its sound and tone.

WEDNESDAY 29th March

We go to a general audience in St Peter’s Square and then to a series of meetings starting with the child abuse section at the Gregorian University and then with a Chief Executive, an inspiring Mass at the Venerable English College and then a talk to the young students. One not so young, nearly forty, is truly impressive – his personal pastoral advice brings a tear to the eye.

THURSDAY 30th March

We are up early for Mass in the crypt above St Peter’s tomb and below the Basilica, thronged with people. The crypt is quiet with the tombs of the popes looking on – what an extraordinary place to hear Mass, literally in the centre of Western civilisation.

After, we have more meetings on migration and inter-faith dialogue. We have a robust dialogue with the Jesuit who heads up the Vatican’s Migrants’ Service. He seems to think we are not doing enough and he is perfectly entitled to speak his mind. We remind him that after the USA, we are the second biggest donor to Syria.

I walk back through busy streets from the Vatican to the station past cafés and restaurants heaving with tourists. It seems a long way from Syria. Do many come? Do we take enough? Easy to judge, difficult to do anything really useful.

FRIDAY 31st March

I take a train to Lincolnshire for a surgery then walk past the Old Church in Walesby. The greens are so rich here and coming into spring life. It really is more beautiful than anywhere else.

Psalm 33
“The Lord is close to the broken hearted”.

SATURDAY 1st April

I address the Conservative County Council candidates in Horncastle.

Psalm 7
“Lord God, I take refuge in you”.