Monday, December 01, 2014
I had beer at dinner last night, it is easy to forget Advent is a penitential season. I had dinner with some Orthodox friends. What Francis does in ἡ Πόλις, I did in Hampstead. One of my friends joked 'I think one of the reasons your Pope looked so miserable, and turned up late for Vespers was that he discovered that despite it being the Feast of St Andrew it is also the fast of St Philip'. My friends have been fasting since the day after St Philip's day in mid-November and will continue until the Epiphany. So last night, no wine but beer and no fish as it wasn't a Sunday but delicious prawns grilled with garlic and dipped in good vinegar, especially as they had 'a Latin guest, so unused to fasting!' As it was a 'joyful' fast there were lots of dates, nuts and fruit.
We didn't talk much about the Pope's visit but my friends wife thought the Pope a bit sneaky about asking for a blessing for himself, which wasn't too bad but 'for the Church of Rome', that she said 'would be a bit like you blessing a homosexual couple or twice-married people, you can't bless something which all Orthodox regard as sinful'. There was an amusingly frosty look between husband wife, I laughed and said I thought that Patriarch Bartholomew's peck on the skull cap, like a father with a child who didn't understand the implications of what he was asking, had dealt perfectly with an embarrassing situation that would have had not a few other Orthodox bishops, not to mention those monks of Athos, up in arms, and then it was time to tune the tambouras and for coffee and music, very good music too and beautiful singing!