Thursday, 15 October 2009

Matthew Parris Visited Relics of St Therese at Westminster

And appears to have calmed down now...

'Another miracle! Having now visited the casket containing pieces of her foot and thigh bone, all my doubts about the supernatural powers of St Thérèse of Lisieux have fled.

You may remember that some weeks ago, as a lapsed militant atheist, I experienced a miraculous reconversion to my dastardly faith after contemplating the arrival at Portsmouth (for a tour of Britain) of a casket containing some of the relics of St Thérèse. Well, yesterday the 19th-century French saint sent me another sign. It happened like this...

I had decided to visit the bones yesterday at Westminster Cathedral: a vast, gloomy, late 19th-century, brick-built cavern combining memories of Byzantium with aspects of a biscuit factory. Hoping to avoid the queues I emerged from the Tube around 7.45am. Whereupon something strange happened. An inner voice told me to wait; take a coffee; read the papers for a bit. I read The Times carefully, noting an infelicity in our poll questioning on Afghanistan (of which more later) — until, at 8.25, the Voice told me to go to the cathedral. I went.

Already there was a near-carnival atmosphere surrounding the bones. A temporary fish-and-chips stall had sprung up beside a smoothies-and-coffee tent. In front of the cathedral was a huge array of steel-barriered paddocks for pilgrims queueing for the relics. A kind pilgrim stopped me going down the eastern flank of the cathedral: “She’s gone the other way.” So I crossed to the western flank and, following other pilgrims, made my way into the cathedral, joining a long queue. Something like a shopfront faced me: Candles £1 — Roses £1. I bought a red rose. I passed a first-aid alcove for those seeking medical help from St Thérèse, and huge banks of burning candles. A notice declared “Lighting a candle is a prayer”, which is not the case...'

Click here for his full account. It is less scathing, still a little chiding and disrespectful, but more playful. More than anything its more Protestant than atheistic in content. Outside the Cathedral he saw one Tony Blair, who apparently looked a little embarrassed that he had been spotted by a journalist at the veneration. I shall bite my lip and not say anything derogatory about our beloved former PM and soon to be Supreme Ruler of the European Nations...for once. May the Little Flower intercede for both of them and thus shower graces and blessings down upon them!

Meanwhile, the BBC cover the Relics quite respectfully, but get an Anglican vicar in to denounce Relics as idolatry because the veneration of Relics and apparently even the Mass itself covers up Our Lord Jesus Christ. What with all the guitar Masses in Catholic Churches nowadays you have to sympathise with his position on that one.

Still, nice one BBC. "Westminster has the Relics of a great Saint! Let's get a quote from the Protestant vicar!"


Crux Fidelis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crux Fidelis said...

I liked this comment on MPs article -

Guerit D wrote:
Tuesday, I too took the tube to Victoria and then made my way to Westminster Cathedral. I joined the queues, bought two roses and touched the perspex cover of the casket containing her relics. Afterwards, I picked up a copy (free) of a booklet by the Little Way Association helping missionary projects in her name - the little way of love. Inside the leaflet were pictures of the poor people helped in Bangladesh,Kenya, India, Nigeria and elsewhere. On the cover was a a picture of a fresh-faced young nun with a twinkle in her large brown eyes together with a some unshakeable determination to pursue what she saw as goodness. Not just a humble girl, but an extraodinary girl who went to see the Pope when she was fifteen because she wanted a special dispensation to become a nun - to give her life to God. When I read her memoirs, i discovered not a Saint, but a strangely modern young woman who went on with her mission in spite of her doubts. She would spend her heaven doing good on earth. I went to Westminster to honour that her and her extraordinary destiny. And when I lit my candles, it was a prayer for my dead, but also, I realised afterwards, a prayer for me. As with everything else, what you see is what you look for.

Fr Paul Johnson said...

I loved the line in the original article, when Matthew Parris describes himself: "I think I’m a Protestant atheist." Priceless.

Crux Fidelis said...

"Few in my queue were English, I’m pleased to say."

Of course, only Johnny Foreigner would be as gullible as to stand in a queue for hours to gawp at a box which may or may not contain the bones of some French nun who nobody had heard of until last week. Thank God the English aren't as stupid.

Ronan said...

He's obviously lying about the foreigners. Every englishman knows only the english can queue, and even that virtue seems to be disappearing these days.

I honestly thought the Matthew Parris article was a hoax til I followed the link!

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