After seeing the Pope yesterday afternoon, I had to collect my bag from the media centre and then rush down to Chislehurst where Fr Briggs was holding a celebratory dinner at the Chislehurst Golf Club: Camden House which was once the home of Napeleon III and the Empress Eugenie in their exile after the Franco-Prussian war.
Back home afterwards, we were in time to see off one of the Bexley Deanery coaches going to Birmingham. Gregory was still sporting his holographic yoof badge which was, it must be admitted, somewhat more kewl than the press pass that I had.
There was a great atmosphere as the coach was leaving.
Pilgrims I spoke to told me of a gruelling night, arriving at Cofton Park at 4.30am, then having to walk up a hill to the security (though that was not too intrusive.) It was drizzling most of the rest of the night; one family brought a large tarpaulin with them which made it a little less unpleasant than being on wet grass. They also had a giant sleeping bag which did for some of the younger children. As usual at such events, it was a chance to meet other Catholic families. Mine met up with the Preeces and the Herberts, both stalwarts of the family apostolate.
This morning, I watched bits of the Mass before and after my parish 10.30am Mass. We had to have low Mass today since the organist was the pilgrim leader, and some of the choir were with her in Birmingham. We took over the large screen TV in the parish club after Mass and swapped between EWTN, Sky and the BBC until it was all over.
In his sermon, Pope Benedict recalled the evil ideology of Nazism and the suffering undergone by nearby Coventry which was heavily bombed in 1940. In the list of those the Holy Father recalled as a long line of England's saints and scholars, the Blessed John Duns Scotus gained a mention. The dear Sisters of the Immaculate who often come to my usus antiquior Mass will be pleased at that.
Speaking of the Blessed John Henry Newman, the Holy Father drew particular attention to his work for education, taking a further opportunity to stress the importance of proper attention to the needs of the human person:
Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together.
Along with many priests this morning, I preached about Blessed John Henry Newman and encouraged people to seek his intercession as is now permitted after his beatification. I look forward to celebrating his feast day on 9 October