Kuukausittainen arkisto:kesäkuu 2008

Cambridge 27.5.2008

My first full day in Cambridge began with an early breakfast and bus ride to the centre. After visiting several bookshops and attending Mass at a student chaplaincy I met up with David and Hilary Larkins, my Irish friends. Actually my first contact with the Larkins family was Andrew, their brother, whom I met in Lithuania. Then I met David in Rome. Then I met Andrew and David in London. Then I met Andrew and Hilary in Cologne. Then I met Andrew in Rome. And now I met David and Hilary in Cambridge.

Thus all possible combinations done, except meeting only Hilary somewhere. How strange – it’s only this family that I keep meeting abroad, never at my place, never at their place, but we often end up in the same place (and none of these meetings were planned in the sense that we’d go there simply to meet each other). David’s English was very English – otherwise nobody back home would know he studied at Cambridge university;) but Hilary has kept her Irish accent – or at least she spoke Irish English with me, which pleased me very much indeed:) It was through the Larkins I had the chance to enter King’s College. Here are some photos from both inside and out, chapel and other.

David also showed me Trinity College and St. John’s College, big competitors. Everyone obviously thinks their college is by far the best one. But these are some of the most famous. First Trinity, then St. John’s below.

After meeting David I went punting, which one can only do in Oxford and Cambridge (at least in England, Venice is another story altogether:). I went on a guided tour where the chauffeur would tell stories and explain the histories of the buildings and places we saw on the way…

Then I took a bus back to Histon (where the Marchetti family’s house is specifically located) and we went


Cambridge 26.5.2008

So on Monday I arrived in Cambridge, the first visit there in my life. While waiting for my host family to come and get me from downtown I was drawn and attracted (actually that’s twice the same word in a German and Latin form;) by King’s College, whose fame and glory I was rather unaware of at that time still. As all the other colleges (there are 31 in Cambridge!), King’s was closed to visitors due to the exam period (but I got around that later as you’ll see – with more photos then:).

I met the Marchetti family in front of the Fitzwilliam museum after a couple of years’ break. The family lived in Finland but then moved to England and now live there happily, Michele, Anna Maria, Agnese, Rachele and ”baby”, who will be born soon and might be named Paolo thanks to the upcoming Pauline year:)

The girls are really sweet – here they are with some princess stuff I brought them from Finland (originally from Iraq through my grandmother)…

One of the funniest things was that while Frida said ”Emi” instead of ”Emil”, these girls said ”Mil” instead of ”Emil”, so both omitted one letter, just from the opposite ends. To the Italian version, however, there’s a pretty reasonable linguistic explanation, so bear with me. My name in Italian is actually Emilio, where the E is closed (and rightly so) because of the open syllables following. But since the real version of my name is Emil, carrying with it a closed syllable following the E, the Italian tongue can’t keep the closed E there but changes it into an open È pronouncing it Èmil, close to what in Finnish would sound like Ämil.

But if the Italian mind is sharp enough (like my host family’s) it realises that the E in my name should be closed as in Emilio, but since there’s no -io but it’s simply Emil, then the accent or stress has to be shifted onto the i from the E. This way the E stays closed but now you almost can’t hear it since the stress is on the i. And this leads naturally to the E disappearing totally, making my name ”Mil”. Since both Agnese and Rachele repeated Mil all throughout the day for a couple of days, when I’d go to bed in the evening this sweet Italian ”Mil” sound would play inside my head… so here it is for you:)

London 25.5.2008

Day 3 was Sunday and also the feast of Corpus Christi. I went to Orme Court, the headquarters of Opus Dei for morning Mass and breakfast. There I met, among others, Jack Valero (see previous post) and Neil Pickering, who is my model of the perfect stereotypical (in a very positive sense) English gentleman. Actually, on both my visits to England I’ve found the same thing – whereas usually you have stereotypes and then the actual very different reality, in England all the stereotypes are simply fulfilled right in front of your eyes:) Extreme politeness, high tea, black taxis, red buses, rain, fish and chips, the English accent, everything… So here I am with Neil Pickering.

After it had stopped raining I left for Hyde Park with Jack Valero. On the way we saw a chapel in memory of the English martyrs where benedictine nuns have perpetual adoration. We visited Speakers’ Corner which runs on Sundays almost all day – I was to return there twice more during the day. Here’s a collection of the different kinds of people speaking or preaching there…

… the fellow in the picture above was wearing devil’s horns and preaching something about politics… whereas the next group was sharing the basic evangelical gospel: you’re a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath, Jesus died to pay for the punishment of your sins, now you can have forgiveness, so put your faith in Jesus Christ. One of the missionaries came to Jack and me. Jack aroused his appetite by saying ”We’re fine, we’re very good Catholics, very committed, I’m a member of Opus Dei” (which to a Catholic would work but for an Evangelical is just proof of the Catholic’s self-righteousness and trust in ”religion” instead of Christ)…

… and so when he asked us to share our idea of the Gospel with him, I went ahead and made reference to the synoptic concept of the Gospel being the Kingdom of God restored and that being found in the Church. It was obvious the man didn’t expect such a response at all and awkwardly went on to ask about what Jesus did to our nature. After my ”correct” response he used the last weapon and went for the classical ”as Catholic’s you’d believe in Purgatory, right? then Christ’s Cross isn’t sufficient” and ”you’re earning your salvation”. Duh. I pointed out his misunderstandings and theological and historical problems and said the conversation could go on for hours which we didn’t exactly have…

…later on when I returned there was another long discussion going on which I was very tempted to join but didn’t in the end (perhaps fortunately so), between a Muslim and a Christian end-time-preacher… these were not the only Christian and Muslim preachers around, there were several:

… but there were others there, as well… including a Marxist…

… huggers…

… and a guy with no message at all…

Yep, that’s Speakers’ Corner on Sundays in London. A lot of noise and extremely bad argumentation, basically. But I did go other places as well on that Sunday. Actually I did quite a lot of sightseeing. I visited the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral (where 2 Finns sat next to me) and read about St. Paul (a project of mine going on currently, in preparation for the upcoming Pauline year).

I also visited the British Museum where I saw the famous Rosetta Stone which allowed scholars to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs for the first time because of the Greek text in it. It was quite an accomplishment. There was an explanation next to the stone that the hieroglyphs actually marked both sounds and concepts, for example the word ”cat” first has 3 signs that represent sounds and then at the end a picture of a cat representing the whole word/concept.

I then went to Baker Street to see the famous Sherlock Holmes house and Big Ben. Here are two photos – and what did I say about stereotypes… is there anything more English than what you can see in these two pictures?

Then I saw the impressive Westminister Abbey and visited the Westminister Cathedral, where there was a beautiful evening service on the occasion of Corpus Christi. After a moment of rest and recollection I went to Trafalgar square and the National Gallery (entrance was free but a donation was kindly asked for to keep it free:)

In the evening I returned to Ewan and Heini’s place. Since it was my last evening at their place before leaving for Cambridge (although I did come back after the trip for the last night), it’s time to share a few photos from ”home” as well. This is Heini doing her work/study on the computer with little Anselm, sweet dreams…

And here is Ewan the wonder-man, Jewish boys, English literature, history, Ressu, piano, guitar, Christianity, singing, feeding, Finnish, laughing at funny YouTube videos, personal training in punting techniques… you name it, it’s Ewan:) Here speaking on the phone (but he has no cellphone, and that’s another story for the last post when I come back from Cambridge to London…):

Stay tuned for Day 4 and Cambridge.

Our Lady of Walsingham 24.5.2008

Day 2, Saturday. I woke up early to go back to Netherhall House where I attended morning Mass in a beautiful chapel, perhaps one of my favourite chapels, I especially love the absolutely wonderful and holy smell of the place. After Mass some 25 people from Netherhall went on their annual Marian May pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. More about the shrine later, but here’s the favourite chapel:

Well, Our Lady of Walsingham was apparently one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in the Middle Ages, comparable even to Rome and Santiago de Compostela (remember Czestochowa, Fatima and Lourdes weren’t there back then:). But then came Henry VIII and destroyed it. What was left was a tiny chapel which is now the Catholic shrine, while the Anglicans have a new church where the original shrine was located in the Middle Ages. We visited them both and prayed the Rosary, walked and talked with friends and bought some souvenirs. Here is the Catholic chapel with again absolutely wonderful smelling candles. (I bought two and have one of them lit and burning right here in front of me:)

Then the Anglican shrine. Now this really shocked me, and it shocked some of my Lutheran friends here in Finland, and it might (depending on your knowledge and views) shock you as well. If you’re ever going to see Catholic Protestantism, it’s here. Well I guess of course these Anglicans wouldn’t call themselves Protestant, but the fact remains they’re ”one” with the mainline Lutheran churches (Porvoo agreement). So here goes the list: statues of Mary, statues of post-reformation Roman Catholic saints (Therese, John Vianney), altars with six big candles, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, tabernacle, priests wearing cassocks, prayers and Masses (!) for the dead (!), holy water, benediction, confession… and on it goes. Here are some photos to give you a taste of it. Statues…

…Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with huge Latin letters as in St. Peter’s in Rome saying ECCE PANIS ANGELORUM…

…Way of the Cross, this one being the Station where Veronica wiped the face of Our Lord…

…and finally the beautiful main altar…

Unfortunately the ”Catholicism” wasn’t the only thing to shock me… namely, two of those priests wearing cassocks seemed to read the biblical command ”greet each other with the holy kiss” a little bit too literally… yep, right there in public. It’ll be interesting to see what the Anglican Communion decides about the gay issue in their major conference this summer. But well, to move on, here are some sheep from the neighbourhood:)

And since we were near the east coast, we drove to the beach and had a football match there. The sand and the sea were nice but the wind was terrible.

And here I am then with the two greatest Opus Dei men in London, Jack Valero who appeared on BBC after the Da Vinci Code scandal and who loves to give announcements, and Peter Brown who’s not actually brown but he supports Leeds United and has a very British accent and sense of humour:)

On the way back the boys had to have dinner so we stopped to have what else but Fish&Chips:) I learned that the fish that goes with fish&chips is cod which in Finnish translates as turska which is actually quite a rare dish (or fish;)) on Finnish dinner tables at least in my experience… But well it wasn’t bad at all and we got home safe and sound (though late) and I was ready for the next adventure. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write tomorrow since it is my birthday and I will have a lot of things to do but be sure to check back in a couple of days for part 3.

London 23.5.2008

Yesterday I came back from England. I had a beautiful trip and it’ll take a few posts to relate the whole story but let’s start with the first day right away, the 23rd of May. The evening before my aunt had told my father I should visit my Iraqi family’s neighbours near London. So without knowing them or phoning them I found the place and walked in and totally surprised them. I delivered a present from my dad and spent some hours in a very homely (in the English sense) atmosphere. Aunt Evlyn and her sister were at home when I arrived, and they offered me some English-Iraqi breakfast:)

I found out these aunties had basically gone to school together with my grandmother and lived all their lives next to our family. They have become relatives, practically. One of them taught my father in school! Later Evlyn’s son-in-law came in and he also was from a close family, he was good friends with my uncle. We had some nice chats and in the end took a photo. Despite his being in a wheelchair for about a year or so now (if my memory is good) his faith was firm and encouraging. ”Every day I say thanks to God for everything”, he said.

After lunch (Iraqi grandmothers are good at feeding you) I headed toward the British Library to see the most famous Bible manuscript, Codex Sinaiticus or Aleph. Below a secret photo of it – it’s dates from the beginning of the 4th century, being the first complete Bible to have survived to our days. With my own eyes I could read that Jesus is the kharakter tes hypostaseos autou (Hebrews 1:3), the very stamp of God’s nature/exact representation of his being/figure of his substance/express image of his person, depending which translation one would prefer. This has immense implications i.e. in dialogue with Islam which tells Christians to judge their message by what the Christian Scriptures reveal at the time of the Quranic message. This predates and refutes it.

After this I visited Netherhall House, the Opus Dei residence where I stayed when I was in London four years ago. Thus I surprised even more people and also agreed about the pilgrimage I’d be going on the following day, about which you’ll read more in the next part of the story. After this brief visit I started looking for the place of my accommodation, which was Ewan and Heini King’s flat on Addison Way near Henly’s Corner. It wasn’t that simple, I got lost several times before finding it, but well at least I got a nice bus ride and a good walk in a very pretty area. After about a hundred minutes I finally found it.

Ewan and Heini used to live in Finland, Ewan actually used to teach in my high school and that’s how we met. He now teaches in a Jewish school in London and is involved in a band slowly but surely moving toward becoming professional musicians. Here’s a nice piece of Ewan’s music. And below you get an idea of the area where I stayed – a very nice neighbourhood. That’s the first day. To be continued.