all recovered and that the decorations are back up in the loft ready for next year.
There were great moments In my small world. A long journey into the petrol-rich North — what did we in Central London ever do to the Arabs? — for the ordination of a student friend who sailed on steadily through his university life towards the priesthood.
A Christmas dinner involving some 80-odd people at the chaplaincy, lasting over two hours and ending up with French, Chileans, Africans, Lebanese and Irish all singing "Danny Boy" at full emotional blast. Midnight Mass with many old friends corning to join in and carols taking us all hack many nostalgic years.
Perhaps the most extraordinary scene of the whole week was Westminster Cathedral Hall looking like Fagin's kitchen full of dossers, mostly male, hairy, smelly and delightfully eating their hearts out in the care of Mother Teresa's nuns, while the Children of Cod made very cheerful music on the stage.
The hardest episode of the week was the call to the maternity wing nearby to see a young wife, married not much more than a year, who had just lost a second baby at 18 weeks. What does one say? Very little probably.
I sat on the side of the bed as tears rolled down her cheeks while through the darkened corridors into the ward went red-cloaked nurses, candles in hand. singing
Us a Child is Born." The irony of it all, when so many of our London hospitals now spend so much time destroying life!
How many applicants are now supposed to be wanting every child available for adoption? Society ' seems to be run on a strictly commercial basis . . . perhaps people should be allowed to buy babies from those otherwise determined to destroy them.
The most stimulating event of the week was reading "The First Christmas" by Fr. Hubert Richards. In an entirely unsolicited plug, note that it costs only 40p for 128 pages from Fontana, and is clear, honest and very helpful. Many of us may not even realise that the Christmas stories occur only in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and that the stories themselves are in many details quite different. Why?
Fr. Richards has produced not a destructive commentary but a very enriching piece of popular theology. In the unbelievable process — now much changed — which was once known as seminary education, where lecturing was supremely the process of passing information from the notebook of the lecturer to the notebook of the student without passing through the minds of either, Fr. Richards stood out, mixed metaphors apart, as a lighthouse. May he continue to
Meanwhile a happy, holy, and warm New Year to you all.