Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bute Park lockdown

This morning at St German's I celebrated the Solemn Mass and afterwards the baptism of three year old child. There were three times as many people present for the baptism as there were for the Mass, and it was an effort to get everyone to join in with the responses correctly. Some repeated what I said rather than giving the answers, an indication that they were unused to participating in a liturgical act, or unused to having to follow the text from a service sheet. But, they all behaved respectfully. The child seemed less than used to being surrounded by so many people and being the centre of attention. She looked suspiciously at me when I spoke to her, and cried when poured water over her head in the baptismal act. 

It was one of those situations where the mother came to church after Mass one Sunday to fix the date, but as far as I recall, hadn't brought the child with her. Even though we encourage parents to attend ahead of the service with the child and familiarise themselves with the environment, if its unfamiliar to them, it's impossible to insist, as this is interpreted as rejection. St German's tries to be welcoming and unconditionally accepting of families seeking baptism for their children, and develop a pastoral relationship from that starting point. Being a locum priest means this is hardly possible for me to do. The best I can offer is a positive experience and interpretation of the service as it proceeds.

When I arrived home, Kath, Anto and Rhiannon were there, having arrived a short while before me. It was warm and sunny enough for us to have lunch in the garden, making the most of Clare's fresh bread rolls and special cheeses from the Cheese Pantry stall in Cardiff Market. After a brief siesta we walked to Bute Park and returned through Pontcanna Fields, marvelling at the size of the 'tent city' overflow, and speculating about who wuld occupy it.. 

Preparations for next weekend's UEFA Champions' Cup football extravaganza between Real Madrid and Juventus extend right into Bute Park itself, with a three metre metal wall enclosing a large portion of the space where some of the hospitality marquees have been planted. The Castle grounds are also covered with marquees. Sponsorship and other commercial interests in the two sides playing call for the city to provide this, plus a high level of additional security. It like to think of such exclusive areas as 'back-scartching zones'. 

All roads across town are equipped with heavy duty metal gates for planned road closures and there are gates blocking streets affording pedestrian access to the city centre to permit security screening of shoppers and football fans alike. It hasn't been like this since last year's NATO summit meeting came to Cardiff. It's been months in planning, and isn't a reaction to last Monday's bombing in Manchester. Normal life in Cardiff grinds to a halt when global big business or the war machine comes to town. This is profitable city hospitality, always at the expense of the locals.

Disdain for globalised capitalism didn't, however, prevent us from playing a game of Monopoly after a superb pizza supper, washed down with bottles of German and Italian red wines. It was great fun, and I came last in the scoring league, having invested too much in bricks and mortar. 'Woe unto you who have many posessions ..' I hear you say?

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