Keeping the "Benedict bounce" going

Twenty priests gathered today at St Bede's, Clapham Park for "Ratzinger Fest No. 2" to go over the Papal Visit and highlight the great blessing which God gave to us in the few days when the Holy Father came to our country. Fr Basden, "Monsieur le Curé" led the proceedings, referring to many of the great moments of the visit and emphasising the way in which the Holy Father changed the terms of discourse in our secular society. My brief was to speak about the media coverage of the visit - I focussed on the remarkable change from the vitriol in the weeks leading up to it, to the positive coverage once Pope Benedict's plane landed in Scotland. I also took the opportunity to speak a little about the contribution of Catholic blogs. Fr Zuhlsdorf of What does the Prayer Really Say gave an interesting reflection from a US perspective, comparing and contrasting the way in which Pope Benedict made an impact in the US and the UK. Fr Andrew Southwell took us through some of the principal themes in the teaching of Pope Benedict, especially concerning the revival of the sacred in the Church's liturgy.

We also discussed some practical ways of keeping up the momentum of Pope Benedict's visit. One of the priests present reminded us that the Holy Father issued two invitations to young people to join him for the World Youth Day in Madrid. It would indeed be good if the contingent from England and Wales could be a substantial number.

As usual at these gatherings, after the discussion there was Benediction, with a period of silent adoration, in the Church, followed by a convivial lunch, courtesy of the great team at St Bede's.

I was interested in the cope that Fr Southwell wore for Benediction. Apparently it is part of a High Mass set of vestments on loan from the nearby Redemptorist Church at Clapham. Here is a closer look:

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