Another trip, yes indeed, this time to England again…:) And what a weekend it was! I flew to London with my friend John. We stayed at Ewan and Heini’s place. It took a while to remember how to get there but we found the place and a key was waiting for us. We stayed home to plan the day and soon the family was home too. We had lunch and talked with them for a moment before going downtown to see some sights like Big Ben and Westminister Abbey (still didn’t go inside, I have yet to trod on Darwin…) and Marble Arch&Hyde Park (photo below).
We walked to Orme Court to the Opus Dei headquarters to meet my old friend uncle Jack, i.e. the famous Jack Valero. Together we took the tube to Finchley where we met Ewan to go to Netherhall House, an Opus Dei residence. We met Peter Brown and others. We went to the nearby Opus Dei parish as well (photo below) where we met fr. Gerard and fr. Joe.
The main reason for the trip was Scott Hahn’s visit to England. Scott Hahn of course is one of the best Catholic theologians and apologists in the world and the object (or subject:) of my seminaarityö (sort of comparable to a Bachelor’s Thesis) last year at the university. He was going to give a lecture in London and participate in a theological conference in Oxford. I had reserved a ticket for Saturday evening but the event was sold out by the time John wanted to go. We tried to phone the organizer from Orme Court but they gave a negative answer. But how good it is to know the right people like Jack Valero! And to have a Father who likes to provide. Fr. Gerard had an extra ticket and he gave it to John at the last moment! And so after a visit to the local Subway (photo below, Jack on the left)we got to see Scott Hahn (photos below, what a good continuation to meeting R. Sungenis):
After the amazing lecture all were excited and went out somewhere. Jack, John and I went to a pub to have a traditional English pint! Finally got to do what I didn’t do last time! The next morning we headed towards Oxford. It took us way too long to find the bus and to get there but at least we were there in time to register and to visit the most important sight (for us) – the pub where the Inklings i.e. C.S.Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others met regularly to discuss their writings etc. John ordered a traditional English fish&chips and I read Some Thoughts by C.S. Lewis out loud (not too loud though).
Before the conference started I got another chance to say a couple of words to Scott Hahn and give him something. Later I bought the only one of his major books that wasn’t yet in my bookshelf (Spirit and Letter) and got it signed. As you can see the queue to see him was rather lengthy so there was no chance for extended conversations. In the photo below Hahn is on the left and the rest is the queue.
After the talks there was a panel discussion where I got to ask a question to Dr. Hahn. He gave an impressive 6-minute answer to a very confused/confusing 1-minute long questions in which I combined several questions because the rule was one question per person. If you’re on Facebook the recording is there in my videos. After the conference it was raining cats and dogs (on Friday the weather in London had been perfect which greatly delighted us!) and so we arrived wet to the nearby Opus Dei centre for a meditation. For John this was all special because he had joined the Church 2 weeks earlier and been in touch with Opus Dei in Finland but never seen a centre in another country, and now suddenly he saw 3 in 2 days. After the meditation we had dinner and a get-together before taking the bus back to London together with Jack. On the bus J&J listened to some catchy music:)
On Sunday morning we made our way to Westminister Cathedral to All Saints’ Day’s Mass. The priest gave an interesting homily pointing out the irony in Halloween: now dead and horrible monsters are scaring people, while originally the point is that on this saints’ day the terrible dark powers of death tremble and run around trying to escape the frightening force of the shining light of the saints on this day when the Church honours them all.
After the Mass in this beautiful big Church we took the tube to Heathrow and eventually flew home. All went well and John’s parents came to fetch us. I just wanna say THANKS to them and to John and to all who were involved in making the weekend into what it was. THANKS.