Second Week of Easter and the feasts of the Divine Mercy and of St George

ALTICHIERO da Zevio, St George Slays the Dragon (1378-84), Fresco, Oratorio di San Giorgio, Padua

SUNDAY 23rd April – Divine Mercy Sunday

Apparently, according to our Parish Priest, if you go to confession over the next fourteen days and to Mass every day, all your sins are wiped clean. Quite a tempting prospect but if there is a purgatory it all seems too easy to me.

“They went to the Temple everyday but met in their homes for the breaking of bread”
Acts 2:42-47.

MONDAY 24th April – St George (martyred 303 A.D.)

We squeeze into the fine Chapel of St George in Westminster Cathedral for Mass.

Who was St George, except that he was martyred in the Diocletianic Persecution? And why is he the patron saint of England, except for that Richard I adopted him as the epitome of Christian Chivalry? Who was he and what did he do …

Anyway, the Entrance Antiphon is nice:
“Rejoice, you saints, in the presence of the Lamb; a Kingdom has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Alleluia”.

TUESDAY 25th April – St Mark

I chair Westminster Hall, juggling how to get fifteen colleagues in the time available and ask a question in Justice Questions.

Apparently Mark, a disciple of Peter, tells his Gospel from Peter’s point of view, but what was this scene like:
“And so the lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up to heaven…”
Mark 16:15-20.

I often wonder, how was he taken up into heaven?

WEDNESDAY 26th April

Our APPG entertains the French Ambassador at lunch.

Macron and Le Pen are through to the final round. She says Macron is highly intelligent. We shall see. Intelligence without a parliamentary majority is not enough.

“But at night, the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out ‘Go and stand in the Temple and tell the people all about this new life”
Acts 5:17-26.

THURSDAY 27th April

I ask a last question about Brexit and wait for the quaint ceremony of prorogation. One or two colleagues are sitting on the green benches for the last time. There is always the feeling: will I be returning here?

Today’s Entrance Antiphon:
“O God, when you went forth before your people, marching with them and living among them, the earth trembled, heavens poured down rain – Alleluia”.

FRIDAY 28th April

Our last surgery of this Parliament. A busy one in the Guildhall at Gainsborough, then I visit the Heritage Centre. I buy a book about the impact on the town of the First World War. The Gainsborough News is filled with the deaths of the sons of the town. Five-hundred killed during the war from the small manufacturing and market town.

In the bookshop I bought a book about childhood in the 1950s, a happy time when we could play in the street and I could cycle as a seven year old on my little red bike all the way into the City.

I also buy a book by Richard Osborne on the Universe. When you read of the extraordinary discoveries even being made as you speak, I find it difficult to reconcile with my religious faith. The more we know, the more fantastic questions arise. There seems to be less not more universal laws, more vast galaxies and black holes, the universe expanding and the parts furthest away accelerating the quickest and the weird findings from quantum mechanics and the problem of gravity, and antimatter. There may be other dimensions in the universe or other universes.

All this seems so enormous that it is difficult to understand how the God of the Bible could create it all. It is enough to shake ones belief.

Maybe our God is the creator of concepts such as truth, or love, or justice but is not the creator of the physical universe which just is, or maybe the concept of many Gods is not so daft.

Yet Christianity and religion seem correct not just by powers of reason but by one’s own inner feelings, sensations and sense of joy. God seems at once very close and very unbelievable.

One thing is certain given the immensity of the universe and its extraordinary nature: it makes our efforts on earth and our obsessions with them, parliamentary differences and hatreds in politics and religion, seem so futile. Really as we look at the night sky we should just stare and wonder. Yet we go one killing and hating each other, to what end?

Another remarkable thing is that whereas since the 1920s we have been pushing radio waves into space and listening, we have as yet heard nothing in return. If there is intelligent life in the universe, it seems very remote or may not even exist at all. We may indeed be alone, which would explain the interest a god takes in us.

Psalm 132
“Lord, remember David and all his afflictions”.

SATURDAY 29th April – St Catherine of Sienna

We canvass in Scotter and eat a takeaway fish and chip supper sitting in the churchyard of Scotter church.

Every day I am here I read a psalm in our village church, the verse of the King James Bible resonating as no other English can. Today is the turn of 133, over the weeks I have gradually worked through the previous 132.

Psalm 133: Ecce Quam Bonum
“Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”.