UK Trip (Christmas 2023)

It was predominately a trip for FOOTBALL. I saw the Saints play two at home in Southampton and one on the road in Norwich. They won their home matches against Swansea (5-0) and Plymouth (2-1) and earned a draw against Norwich (1-1).

Highlights

  • Using the heated rooftop pool at the TWA Hotel in late December. You could hide in the steam coming off the water.
  • Biking the near empty streets of London after midnight mass at Westminster Cathedral at 1:30 AM
  • Viewing of Eurostar trains from the Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras
  • Riding the Ferris Wheel at the Christmas Market in Southampton
  • Seeing the Saints throttle Swansea 5-0 at St Mary’s on Boxing Day.
  • Visiting my old neighborhood cafe in Richmond before they opened. The staff were my extended family when I lived in the UK.
  • Enjoying a cold shave in Richmond
  • Viewing the football grounds from my hotel room in Norwich
  • Walking to Great Eastern Model Railways in Norwich
  • Attending mass at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich on January 1, 2024
  • Eating lunch twice at Shanghai 1814 in Southampton
  • Enjoying the lights and music of Christmas at Kew

Related
Things You Didn’t Know About Westminster Cathedral (Londonist)
Southampton’s biggest free seniors Christmas lunch feeds 300 people (EFL)
A Look Inside The Stunning St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (Living London History)
Saint Thomas Becket (The Catholic Thing)
Empires (Poems on the Underground)
The Holy Innocents (The Catholic Thing)
Southampton v Swansea City extended highlights (YouTube)

A Spotless Rose
A spotless rose is blowing
Sprung from a tender root
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing
Of Jesse promised fruit
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter
And in the dark midnight

The rose which I am singing
Whereof Isaiah said
Is from its sweet root springing
In Mary, purest maid
For through our God’s great love and might
The blessed babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter’s night.

2023 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey

“I am like a portable sanctuary filled with the real presence of God. Being a temple of God, how can I but see God everywhere I look? Within your temple, Lord, I sing about your glory. I am that temple, but you are the glory.” — Macrina Wiederkehr

My first retreat to St. Joseph’s since COVID and living overseas. I had Faith of Our Fathers: A History of True England by Joseph Pearce in my overnight bag. The book I selected from the retreat house bookshelf was A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary by Macrina Wiederkehr. I added two [books] from the abbey bookstore. The first is Finding Grace at the Center by Thomas Keating, M. Basil Pennington, and Thomas E. Clarke and the second is Passing from Self to God: A Cistercian Retreat by Robert Thomas.

It will take me a couple of days to synthesize all my notes/thoughts/cryptic sketches but here is a seemingly random collection of quotes that may or may not be stitched together at some point.

“Fonts of Saxon rock stood full of God,
Altars rose, each like a kingly throne,
Where the royal chalice with its lineal blood,
The glory of the presence, ruled and reigned.”
— Robert S. Hawker

“Following the ending of the persecution, Bede speaks of the spread of the faith in the times of peace that followed. Those faithful Christians, ‘who during the time of danger had taken refuge in woods, deserted places, and hidden caves, came into the open, and rebuilt the ruined churches.’ Shrines were erected in honor of the recent martyrs, their blood truly serving as the seed of the resurrected Church.”
— Joseph Pearce

“The hour is coming when you will realize that the spirit and the truth live within you. You are a portable chapel. Remember the sanctuary within. You carry God wherever you go. Why quarrel about churches, temples, or mountains? One particular place isn’t necessarily holier than another.

I recall, however, that throughout the ages, special events have made places holy and we ritualize that holiness in many ways. That’s why Abraham was always stacking up stones, creating altars in the places where God visited him. It was a way of celebrating a special event and a special place that had become sacred because of an encounter with God. It’s the encounter that we must remember even more than the place. We humans sometimes put too much emphasis on the place. Places are important, but I do pray we will never lose the spirit of that encounter, for it is that spirit that will heal us.”
— Macrina Wiederkehr


The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never is despair. — 2 Corinthians 4:6-8

God chose to express Himself
Because of me and you…
And so He came on Christmas
To Tell What Love Can Do!

He spoke His Word in Jesus
To thrill the dark with light
And so His Message blasted
An Everlasting Sight!

He gave His Son to make known
His Presence everywhere
And so in crib shaped from tree
God Laid To Show His Care!

Divine gesture handed down…
See Him for Who He is
And so behold Wondrous Life
No Greater Gift Than This!

GOD, THE WORD, BECAME THE FLESH CALLING OUR SOULS FROM CLAY…
AND SO AT WORK WITHIN US
IT’S CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY!

— Sherry C. Lane

“The poets and the saints, artists of all kinds, are ripe for visions because they are always hungry. They are hungry for truth. Their entire beings are filled with hunger, hunger to know, to understand, to create. They are hungry to see to the depths of things. They are not satisfied with our ordinary dim way of seeing.” — Macrina Wiederkehr

The Lord says, “O Jerusalem, you suffering, helpless city, with no one to comfort you, I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones. I will build your towers with rubies, your gates with stones that glow like fire, and the wall around you with jewels.”
— Isaiah 53:11-12

Related
Opening to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman 1989 VHS [True HQ] (YouTube)

Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies.

(1) A quote from Naked Airport by Alastair Gordon

“Everything inside the terminal—flight information board, lights, staircase, railings—was designed to be part of a total environment in which each part was the natural consequence of the other, all belonging to what Saarinen called the same “form-world.” Even the heating ducts (“air fountains”) looked like free-from sculptures rising off the floor. The semicircular waiting lounge was a softly cushioned environment, a bit like the conversation pits that were popular in the 1960s—with deep red carpeting and a convex window that slanted out toward the airplanes and the drama of flight.”

(2) On my desk…

Designing TWA: Eero Saarinen’s Airport Terminal in New York by Kornel Ringli

(3) At this time in 1941, a Clipper plane was trying to get home the hard way — flying around the world! (Navy Times)

(4) A cartoon from Robert Day / Saturday Review, April 25, 1970

Weekend 575.0

(1) More quotes from On Modernism’s Ruins: The Architecture of “Building Stories” and Lost Buildings by Daniel Worden:

“For Samuelson, as for Ware, history is present through objects, and the passage of time entails a regretful decline in the value ascribed to those objects.”

“Ware comments that one of the things that drew him to the project was its emphasis on Louis Sullivan’s early modernist architecture, which seemed to be ‘frozen life.’ As a form, comics rely on dialectical relationships between the fragment and the whole; each panel is both discreet and bound to its predecessors and antecedents. Ware’s phrase ‘frozen life’ suggests an analogous fragmentation, a necessary episodic moment that can be observed in and of itself, yet also placed in a temporal continuum.”

Downtown Local by Hudson Talbott 1980 (Paper Moon Graphics)

Immortalized in Stained-Glass

A quote from Bermuda’s Story by Terry Tucker:

“On the north side of the nave in the Bermuda Cathedral in Hamilton you will see a stained-glass window picturing the storm on the sea of Galilee and the small boat struggling through mountainous waves. At the foot are the words: ‘In Memory of the First Settlers in these Islands and of their Historian, Sir John Henry Lefroy, K.C.M.G., sometime Governor of this Colony.’ This seems a meagre public reminder of a governor who did more for Bermuda than would seem possible for one man in the short span of a six-year tour of duty. To you who want to know the story of your home-land, no name can mean more than that of Lefroy who was Governor and Commander-in-Chief from 1871 to 1877.”

Weekend 560.2 (pro Ecclesia contra mundum)

Excerpt from “Benedict XVI and the Call to Holiness” by Joseph Pearce

The spirit of worldliness within the Church, which is made manifest in modernism, can only be countered by a spirit of other-worldliness, a spirit of sanctity. “Saints … reformed the Church … by reforming themselves,” Benedict reminds us. “What the Church needs in order to respond to the needs of man in every age is holiness….” The Church does not need modernists calling for the power of the people, she needs saints, the true people of God who live and love in communion with the Mystical Body of Christ.

And so we return to where we started. It’s all about the battle between good and evil. As Pope Benedict reminds us, the Church doesn’t need programs, or committees, or bureaucracy; she needs saints. “The Church, I shall never tire of repeating it, needs saints more than functionaries.”

Weekend 557.1

“Let us not hesitate to give pride of place to silent daily prayer in the solitude of our room. In a perfect symbiosis with the cloisters of monasteries, it is necessary to experience an intimate relationship with God in the sanctuary of our room and to fight the good fight of faith through prayer and silence. Today, in this pagan would besotted with idols that boasts of the most abominable sins, God himself demands through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah that we go into our rooms to keep ourselves safe from all contamination and all slavery of sin, but especially to pray intensely with a view to our conversion: ‘Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while…. For behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of earth…. Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me’ (Is 26:20-21; 27:5). We can become true contemplatives by living in peace with God if our houses become temples of God.” — Cardinal Sarah

Weekend 555.0

“The monastic tradition calls ‘Great Silence’ the nocturnal atmosphere of peace that is supported to reign in the communal areas, as well as in each cell, generally from Compline until Prime, so that each one can be alone with God. But each person ought to create and build for himself an interior cloister, ‘a wall and a bulwark’, a private desert, so as to meet God there in solitude and silence.” — Cardinal Robert Sarah

Orval Abbey in Belgium

Pope Benedict XVI (1927 – 2022)

VENERATION OF THE HOLY SHROUD, MEDITATION OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 2 May 2010 (Vatican)

Effectively, the Shroud was immersed in that profound darkness that was at the same time luminous; and I think that if thousands and thousands of people come to venerate it without counting those who contemplate it through images it is because they see in it not only darkness but also the light; not so much the defeat of life and of love, but rather victory, the victory of life over death, of love over hatred. They indeed see the death of Jesus, but they also see his Resurrection; in the bosom of death, life is now vibrant, since love dwells within it. This is the power of the Shroud: from the face of this “Man of sorrows”, who carries with him the passion of man of every time and every place, our passions too, our sufferings, our difficulties and our sins Passio Christi. Passio hominis from this face a solemn majesty shines, a paradoxical lordship.