Monday, January 08, 2007

Catching up

I've been gradually catching up with the world's news, much of it grim. Fr John Boyle had a thoughtful post on Saddam Hussein's execution. He finishes by inviting us to dare to pray that the Lord will have mercy on his soul. I will do so, although I find it very difficult to pray for the soul of people I'm angry with. It actually probably does me more good than it does them. The one I pray for most often is Henry VIII. I started doing this after a friend of mine suggested it as we were wandering round the ruins of one of our great pre-dissolution monasteries. If ever there was a good candidate for purgatory, I would definitely include Henry.

The other news that I found really sad was the bombing at Madrid airport, and the renewal of a cycle of violence that it represents, when there was such a hope for peace.

I'm actually rather fond of Madrid airport, because I tend to judge airports on the quality of their Chapels. Barajas actually has proper Catholic Chapels with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Once when I had a longer wait between flights, I even got to go to Mass there.

I think airport Chapels say rather a lot about a government's attitude to religion. Do you include facilities for all faiths, and if so do you do so in separate rooms?
One predominantly Muslim country that has a secularist government that is in violent conflict with Islamists provides prayer mats and the sign pointing to Mecca in the corridor leading to the toilets.

The Gildas award for worst airport Chapel, however, has to go to our very own London Stansted. This is inconveniently located landside, poorly signposted, rather smaller than your average broom cupboard, and dominated by a splendidly meaningless rainbow image. It rather neatly encapsulates the spiritual vacuousness that results from British religious plurality.

2 comments:

DilexitPrior said...

I went to Mass once at the chapel at Heathrow. It was hard to find but well worth the hunt (I had several hours to kill anyways and I was on my way home from spending Holy Week in Rome. . . definitely in the mood for going to Mass). There were three people at Mass: myself, the priest, and a pilot, all from different countries. Neat experience. Same Jesus. :-)

Gildas said...

Wow. Didn't even realise you could get Mass at Heathrow.