Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Mass with an Iraqi Catholic priest

Yesterday Fred and I attended St. Joseph Portugese Roman Catholic church in Oakville. It was a beautiful Mass, church and homily. They have no website.

The priest is an Iraqi Catholic. He explained that Bethlehem is made up of two words in Aramaic. "Beth" which means house, and "lehem" which means bread. Bread is universal. Jesus was born in the house of bread for all mankind.

They have three masses in this church, one in English, one in Portugese, and one for the Chaldean people:
"Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, or simply Chaldean, is a Northeastern Neo-Aramaic language spoken throughout a large region stretching from the plain of Urmia, in northwestern Iran, to the Nineveh plains, in northern Iraq, together with parts of southeastern Turkey."
The priest also told us why the shepherds were chosen as the first people to greet Jesus. In those days shepherds were the lowest strata of society. They had no rights, couldn't testify in courts, etc. They were the most marginalized. And they were chosen to bear witness to Jesus's birth.

There were only a handful of people present for this most amazing Christmas Mass I have ever attended. Others have no idea what they missed.

Our Lady of Fatima

Nativity scene. St. Francis if Assissi said we need to become part of the Nativity scene. You can see that sentiment in this amazing scene.

A beautiful mural of the three seers of Fatima and St. John the baptist to the right

St. Michael the Archangel crushing the head of the serpent. The Church really needs that in these days.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Last day in Europe: London England

Tomorrow we go home to Canada. I miss Canada. Not the weather though. It's been so nice to have temperatures in the low double digits. Oh yea.

A few final thoughts.

Canadians are polite. I never realized that before. Now I do.

I thought the British ate scones. But they are very hard to find. I had one today at the British museum.

The black cabs. Which aren't always black.

The phone booths.

The pub last night. Johanna is drinking a Guinness. I asked for a Smithwicks. The bartender didn't know what a Smithwicks was. I am not kidding. Seems you can only get Smithwicks in Ireland. So sad.

Good-bye London

Day 9 and 10 in Europe: London England British Museum

The British museum is absolutely massive. It's also free to go into. I visited it twice and only went through a tiny fraction of it. It was very close to our hotel. It is well worth visiting.

I've taken pictures below of some of the religious pendants made from 1400 on. The Holy Thorn Reliquary below is said to hold a thorn from Jesus's crown of thorns.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Day 8 in Europe: London England British Library

I went to the British Library today. Quite the place.

I visited an exhibit of old/very old manuscripts. There were bits of drawings/lyrics/hand written notes from the Beatles, Shakespeare, etc.

There was one section of sacred books of all the world religions.

One partial manuscript was from the a Third Century Gospel of St. John. You can't take pictures in this exhibit, so I transcribed what was written about the fragments here:
"All that survives of an early manuscript of the Gospel of John. They were found among the rubbish of the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt at the turn of the 20th century. Left hand page relates to the Baptism of Christ, the calling of the disciples Andrew and Peter, Christ's appearance to Mary Magdalen after his death. The right hand fragment preserves Christ's words at the last supper."
And from the link of the Library:
"These two papyrus fragments are from a 3rd-century papyrus codex containing the Gospel of John. They were found at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt at the turn of the 20th century.  
The original codex probably contained the complete Gospel of John. The fragments contain substantial parts of three folios (six pages) from the manuscript. Papyrus 782 is a fragment of a bifolium (i.e. two folios, or four pages) containing parts of chapters 1 and 20 of the Gospel of John. Papyrus 2484 contains parts of chapter 16. 
Based on these fragments, the original codex probably contained 25 bifolia (sheets) and measured 250 x 125 mm, or a little larger than a modern paperback book. 
The Egypt Exploration Society presented the fragments to the British Museum in 1900 (Papyrus 782) and 1922 (Papyrus 2484)." 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Day 7 in Europe: London England Harrods and high tea

After Mass Johanna and I made our way to Harrods department store. It was quite the trek. We started out on the hop on hop off bus. But there was a traffic jam of some sort. So we got off the bus and walked the rest of the way.

You see, when you are in London there are some important things one needs to know about.

  • There are about a gazillion people everywhere you go. Side streets are better for walking.
  • There are traffic jams on all the main streets. Always.
  • Cars always have the right of way.
  • Don't try and cross the street unless you have the walk sign, and look both ways multiple times.
  • When you enter Harrods department store, you do it with a gazillion other people.
We finally found the tea room on the fourth floor. You get the usual tea, frou frou sandwiches, little desserts, and scones/clotted cream/jam. The scones/clotted cream/jam were he best I have ever eaten. The rest was okay but not great. The service was mediocre. We both agreed that our expectations were much higher. For the cost I would suggest a person could probably find a much better deal somewhere else in London. And there probably wouldn't be a gazillion people going to the place with you.

The store itself was very glitzy. The few items I looked at, as in picking it up and trying to find a price tag, had no price tag. That told me everything I needed to know.

In fact, all of the food we have eaten while in London has been much better than the food at Harrods. Yesterday we had great food at a pub at lunch (fish and chips and a Philly cheese sandwich), and for supper we ate at a place called Crazy Salad and had some excellent wraps. And we've also been pleasantly surprised that except for Harrods, the food has been cheaper than we expected.

Sorry Harrods but I cannot lie.

Once we left Harrods we ended up walking all the way back to our hotel. We walked 13 KM today. We are walking about an average of 10-12 km a day. When we got home we both flopped on the bed. Jo read and I watched TV. Today we were the tiredest. I think it was the gazillions of people today that really wore us out.

Hyde Park

In front of Harrods

Glitzy ceiling

More Glitz

Marble arch. Used to be near Buckingham Palace. But it blocked Queen Victoria's view. So they moved it. I am not kidding.

Day 7 in Europe: London England St. Aloysius Catholic Church

Johanna and I attended Mass today at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, very close to our hotel. It had some actual statues of the saints, Mary and Jesus, a Crucifix, and art work that made it actually look like a Catholic church, unlike the churches in Switzerland.

In one of the pictures below you can see the priest giving a special blessing to the Legion of Mary after Mass.

The priest's homily today on this, the first Sunday of Advent, focused on the two aspects of Advent: the first coming of  Jesus (his birth), as well as his second coming at the end of time. I don't think I've ever thought of advent that way.