Archive for November, 2019

For anyone who has visited Taormina in Sicily and warmed to its glossy and intimate charm, the following extract from its description by an American tourist over a hundred years ago will be of particular interest: (more…)

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John Henry Newman has now been declared a saint.  It seems the right moment to delve into his voluminous  writings and come out with gems such as this cry from a bruised heart (courtesy of the Gutenberg project).

“Do not be too eager to suppose you are ill-treated for your religion’s sake. Make as light of matters as you can. And beware of being severe on those who lead careless lives, or whom you think or know to be ill-treating you. Do not dwell on such matters. Turn your mind away from them. Avoid all gloominess. Be kind and gentle to those who are perverse, and you will very often, please God, gain them over. You should pray for those who lead careless lives, and especially if they are unkind to you. Who knows but God may hear your prayers, and turn their hearts, and bring them over to you? Do everything for them but imitate them and yield to them. This is the true Christian spirit, to be meek and gentle under ill-usage, cheerful under slander, forgiving towards enemies, and silent in the midst of angry tongues” (Sermons Vol VIII: X).



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A friend lets me see his copy of the Catholic Herald every week.  I read it with a mixture of horror and fascination.  As a church-going Anglican I find its stance – its self-portrayal as the representative of an oppressed minority in a hostile world – grating and irritating. Dominated by a handful of regular contributors, the letters column provides a weekly window on nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II sensibility.  A yearning for the Latin Mass is evident whilst for example the present pope is routinely treated with mistrustful ambivalence and generous coverage of his opponents’ pronouncements.

Despite its disdain for all things Anglican, the Herald finds space each week for surprisingly numerous mentions of the Church of England.  The tone varies between loftiness and wistfulness but the overall impression is that of sibling rivalry and inter-brand contention.

That is how it should be.  However much the Catholic church insists on its unique claims on the faith (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) the fact remains that Jesus himself stated that ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions‘(John 14:2).  Like any other human creation – for that is what it is – Catholicism has many variations and, despite what Cardinal Burke says, a necessary capacity to embrace change.  There is enough to show that the Catholic Herald knows this. That is how a weekly diet of studied ambiguity makes it dependably ever interesting.  I’ll go on reading it.


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