Monday 21 October 2013

"Just stick with Hans Kung...": Surreal petrol station conversations OR Tales of Z-swag in the wilds of South London

After our van was stolen in a burglary last year, we replaced it with another, slightly less snazzy, one. I was determined to make this new one unstealable, and so applied a selection of stickers that would take hours to remove thereby making our van immediately recognisable and, hopefully, less attractive to any thief. I mean, can you imagine a car thief bombing down the road with "Lex Orandi / Lex Credendi" on the bumper, "We love our priest" on the side window and a large image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on the windscreen? Didn't think so. And that's only a small selection of the adhesive novelties bedecking our vehicle.

We also had it blessed. Fr Finigan blessed our van using the formula for the blessing of chariots. In Latin.


We also named it -- Nino, after the virgin saint -- as we collected it on 15th Dec.


...and so far our precautions appear to have worked: we are still in possession of our van. It has not been stolen. It has, however garnered a few puzzled looks.

The stickers have attracted attention. A few days after I put a "Thank you Pope Benedict" sticker on the boot (that's "trunk" for readers across the pond), I was filling up with diesel when an older lady in a car at the pump behind started gesturing rather excitedly at me. Her husband was dressed in North African type clothing and she was wearing a veil over her hair so I assumed that they were Muslim. Perhaps my assumption was wrong: as I looked questioningly at her she gestured again at the back of the car and clearly mouthed "Pope Benedict! Pope Benedict!" then gave me repeated "thumbs up" signs with a huge smile on her face.

More recently, my husband parked at a petrol station to nip in and buy something. As he parked the van, a man in the car beside him gestured and said something out his window in my husband's direction. As he was in a hurry, and it was clear that whatever the man was saying was friendly, my husband smiled, parked the car and went into the shop. He was standing in the queue to pay when a voice behind him said "So: 'Save the Liturgy / Save the world' -- what does that mean, then?" Rather surprised (as well as caught somewhat off guard -- I should point out that *I* plastered the vehicle in stickers, not my far more sensible husband), he turned around to see a pleasant looking chap in his late 60s (spoiler: dangerous age) behind him. In answer to the question, hubby explained that if we start to erode the things that really matter in the liturgy, we can start to let other things slip as well, so that no only the quality of our worship but our relationship with Truth itself is eroded (actually, when he told me the story Hubby was far more lucid and eloquent, but he declined to write a guest post so you'll have to make do with my bodged retelling). The well dressed man who had asked the question looked intrigued: "you mean like what's happened with the Anglicans?" he said. As my husband is far more tactful (and sensible - have I said that already?) than I, he refused to be drawn on this replying "some people might say that". "Well," retorted his questioner, "I'm an Anglican priest (sic) and I think that the most important thing is to spread the message of Christianity as widely as possibly by any means" (or words to that effect). My husband acknowledged the importance of evangelisation, (and, don't forget, was in a hurry) and turned to pay for his goods. As he passed the man on his way out he heard the words "Just stick with Hans Kung and you'll be fine". This stopped hubby in his tracks. He wasn't sure whether he had heard correctly. "What?!" The man repeated his words. Hubby shook his head. "I'm no expert on Hans Kung" he ventured, "but it seems to me that Kung's goal is the utter annihilation of the Catholic Church". The man from the car looked shocked "Oh no, he said, Hans Kung will be the saviour of the Catholic Church". As I may have mentioned, my husband is far more sensible than I am, and he did the only sensible thing under the circumstances...
...he told the man that they'd have to agree to disagree on that point, then hopped in the van and drove home to tell me the story.

And that, folks, is what happens when you take Z-swag out into the wilds of Kent. You've been warned.



  1. Wonderful!!
    I just found your Blog through Father's Z's site. You are already in my favorites!

  2. Fantastic story! I could have a pretty good guess that he must have been a Tablet reader - it's said Anglicans love it! Where else could he have got that strange impression that HK would save the RC Church...

  3. ".... and the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."

    Who knew that bumper stickers worked like that too?

  4. I usually get into those kind of discussions on Ash Wednesday. Something about the ashes that makes fallen away Catholics chatty, and Protestants curious. Anyway, these are obvious moments to make contact and do the Lord's work of reconnecting sheep and defending the faith. God bless and may St Michael keep you safe