Sunset at Blackfen
The smear campaign in preparation for the Papal Visit is now thankfully coming to a close as the last night draws on before the Holy Father arrives. For four days, at least some attention will have to be given to what he actually says. Among my parishioners, there is a great enthusiasm for the visit. While on my way to the shops this afternoon, a teacher in one of our local Catholic secondary schools stopped me to say how the students were becoming excited about it all, and a young boy who came with his dad to pick up the family's Pilgrim Packs for Hyde Park told me that at Our Lady of the Rosary school he had learnt that Benedict means "blessed". I know that the school has been working hard to prepare the children for the visit in many different ways.
Well never mind the schoolchildren, I'm getting quite excited about it all myself. I have managed to keep Thursday and Friday clear of appointments so that after Mass I am free to go up to central London. The media centre may be useful but I also want to walk around, pick up the atmosphere, see whether the shops are selling souvenirs, that kind of thing. It would be really good to get some photos of the popemobile (plus Pope) on Friday afternoon, with obvious London landmarks in the background.
I'll be staying up in town overnight on Friday as we have been asked to get to Westminster Cathedral early for the Papal Mass on Saturday morning. From a liturgical music point of view, that will be the highlight of the visit - more about that tomorrow, perhaps. After the Mass, I'll go over the Hyde Park and have a wander round to see people, marvel at the "liturgical entertainment", and then try to get a photo of the popemobile passing Buckingham Palace.
On Sunday I'll be in the parish but we should be able to catch the tail end of the Beatification Mass on the big screen televisions in the Club. Don't forget - the most important thing will be the addresses. He is giving thirteen over the four days and I think some of them will be very significant for us. Pope Benedict speaking at Westminster Hall: imagine!