Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Dark End of the Street

Fr Ray Blake sent me on a mission to 'The Hanover', a pub in Hanover, Brighton, to collect money for the Soup Run. It was a comedy night of about 8 short 5-10 minute bursts of stand-up comics doing their thing. The organiser, a lovely lady called Susan, wanted the evening, which she has just started, to be a comedy night with a social justice edge and what better way to express that than to ask the well-attended event's audience to dig into their pockets to help to fund the Soup Run of St Mary Magdalen's Church. I was a little nervous as I had thought I was going to have to do a little speech in front of a packed pub, but the compere did that very well himself, asking people to donate very graciously. People also gave, very graciously, which was wonderful.

In a town hardly renowned for its Catholicism, even though some great Catholic legends have lived in and around the area, it was heartening to meet, in Susan, someone who recognised the valuable work of the Church Militant feeding the hungry at Christ's command on the seafront. If I had been given a platform I would have talked a little about the history of the soup run and the enormous love and selfless dedication of Ann Roberts, who ran it, almost single-handedly, until she died a few years ago, after what parishioners of St Mary Magdalen's describe as scandalously woeful treatment by the NHS. After Ann died, a void was exposed in the organisation and manning of the Soup Run and more people came forward to volunteer. I met a homeless guy recently who in recalling her work described her as "a Saint". She fed the hungry in all weathers for a long time, nearly everyday I hear and always chatted with them familiarly. She based almost her whole life after her conversion to the Faith around the homeless of Brighton. Fr Ray blessed a bench dedicated in her honour there a year or two ago. It is co-ordinated now by an heroic Catholic woman called Karla, who also fundraises for the Sri Lankan victims of the 2004 tsunami.

In the Soup Run on the seafront, St Mary Magdalen's has something very concrete which unites the secular man to the Catholic layman. In what appears a dichotomy of worldviews in regard to Catholic teaching on matters of sexual morality or even matters doctrinal concerning God's intervention in the Redemption of the World, the secular World and the Faithful can unite in solidarity with the Poor. If this were not so, Live Aid, even if it was a parade of gigantic musical egos, would not have been so successful.

When I think about fundraising for the Church and the potential avenues, it has to be said that the World will not unite around the Building Fund. The secular man cannot connect to it, nor can he see its worth. What the secular man can connect to, can identify with, is the fact that people still queue at the seafront for a sandwich every night and that, he is prepared to dig into his pocket for. All of which gives me an idea. I have a band, I have musical friends, so let's start gigging, dress up like Bob Geldof and ask the public to "give us your f***in' money!" I know that doesn't sound like a great plan for an unemployed man who's on the path to marriage, but all I know is this...God will provide.

Believe me, the Blessed Virgin Mary would be more pleased to have the Gospel of her Son kept and her altar stripped bare than that the altar should be ornamented and her Son despised! ~ St Francis of Assisi

My great hope is that in keeping the Gospel of her Son, the altar shall be ornamented and generously so! And anyway, if The Astonishing and friends start gigging, it'll be good practise for, God willing, the reception party.

Here's me and my band, or what was my band, as only the drummer and I remain. This is sooooo embarassing I could die. I think we'll have stick to covers...Check it out! Another band with a singer who can't sing! How odd it is that I met the drummer on my fiancee's birthday a few years ago. Here you go, my little moment of fame. Who needs X-Factor when you've got Youtube? For a fee we'll do anything, weddings, baptisms, first Holy Communions parties...Oh God, I just watched that video. What a twerp!

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