lONDON, ONTARIO – It is startling to realize that the last time I shook hands with another human being was only twenty-three days ago. Wuhan Virus awareness was definitely starting to rise by then but there hadn’t been any lock-downs yet locally. Those wouldn’t arrive in earnest until the end of that week. On the day in question, I was standing with a younger chap at the back of our church before we processed in as readers at what would turn out to be the last 12:30 Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral. I initiated the gesture and could see a flicker of hesitation in this man’s face before he took hold of my proffered hand.
LONDON, ONTARIO – We are sailing into the second week of a two-week hunker-down at our house as an asymptomatic friend who came to dinner earlier this month learned that her asymptomatic ex-mother-in-law (who regularly babysits her kids) had briefly visited with a barely symptomatic woman who only tested positive for the dreaded Wuhan Bat Soup Flu three days after our dinner. So our friend did the socially responsible thing and, along with an abject apology, issued a radioactive cootie alert to everyone she’d been in contact with since her ex-mother-in-law made that fateful visit.
LONDON, ONTARIO – A little distracted by the unfolding Corona Virus apocalypse all around us, Hermaneutics this week brings you one of my favourite Yodeller interviews from five years ago with Jean Alice Rowcliffe; a woman who knows a thing or two about living with courage and compassion in the face of unthinkable disaster.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Back around the turn of the century I marked my fifteenth year as a Catholic by participating in a 72-hour Lenten retreat at an Opus Dei centre north of Toronto. Each silent day of prayer and reflection was punctuated by daily Mass and three ‘meditations’ led by a newly ordained Peruvian priest whose command of English wasn’t fabulous (yet) but whose logical cast of mind and bottomless knowledge of the faith were. I initially worried that his carefully measured manner of speaking was going to be an enervating trial but quickly came to regard it as ideal for taking in and actually digesting what he had to say. They were not dazzling talks that he gave. No one was left gasping to apprehend all the territory that was touched on. And if delivered in a public lecture hall, such a talk might even have made me impatient. But in this quieter atmosphere of piety and meditation where dazzling was not the point, his almost pedantic approach was infinitely more assimilable and constructive and lodged much deeper in my consciousness as a result.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Lent is upon us for 2020; a time when observant Christians are called upon to reflect on their mortality; to remember that they come from dust and sooner or later shall return to it and should therefore orient their lives and their allegiances in the light of that certain knowledge. Last week I sat in a mostly darkened church in the early evening of Ash Wednesday waiting for the Mass to get underway and (I hope) subtly stared at a four or five year old boy a couple of rows ahead of me. Sitting beside his two older sisters and his father, the boy was calm, attentive and quietly observant in a way that bespoke a sense of purpose it seemed unlikely he could fully possess just yet. I nonetheless envied him his initiation at such a young age into the deepest mysteries of life. “Already,” I thought approvingly, “he is learning to look at everything hard enough.”
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :