An inspiring afternoon at the Towards Advent Festival

The Towards Advent Festival is an annual festival of Catholic Culture organised by Auntie Joanna and held at Westminster Cathedral. I always enjoy visiting if I possibly can; today some parishioners were Confirmed at the traditional Confirmations at Spanish Place (article on that when the pictures are in) so I was able to take the tube across to Victoria and spend some time at Towards Advent.

One of the most enjoyable things about the Festival is meeting so many friends and getting to know new people who are working hard in the apostolate. Here are just a few of the stalls:


EWTN, featuring the Catholicism series





At the Ordinariate stall I was glad to be able to have a look through the new Customary as well as the Book of Divine Worship. For the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity in January, I have invited a priest of the Ordinariate to celebrate Evensong in my parish according to the Ordinariate Customary; it was helpful to have a chat with Fr James Bradley about finding which texts to use.

The Franciscans of the Renewal were in the Hall and I got to meet the sisters for the first time. (Looking them up just now, I discover that Sister Catherine was an Olympic speed skater before she joined the Order.) They live in the parish of Blessed John Henry Newman in Osmundthorpe, Leeds. Meeting them, hearing of their apostolate, and being bombarded with such joy in the Lord was inspiring. Lucky Osmundthorpe!

Finding one or two initiatives that don't normally cross my radar was another benefit of the Festival. I was particularly pleased to meet Deborah Jones who frequently writes letters to the Catholic Herald on the subject of animal welfare and the Church's teaching on animals. Her letters always strike me as balanced and sensible so I was interested to find out more about her work and about Catholic Concern for Animals.

Deborah earned a doctorate on the question of whether there can be a Catholic theology of animals. Her book on the subject "The School of Compassion" is a solid theological treatment, drawing on the scriptures, the fathers of the Church, the writings of the saints and, in an extended section, the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To be honest, I'm not known as a great animal lover but I intend to read Deborah's book to be better informed on a subject which is dear to the heart of many good people.

Congratulations to Joanna and all who helped in organising such a splendid gathering of Catholics who in various ways are labouring in the vineyard with generosity and good cheer.

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