LONDON, ONTARIO – During my career earlier this century in retail sales, I made friends with a regular customer who read a lot of my stuff in the press and on slow days in the shop when there was nobody else around, he would pepper me with questions about various aspects of my faith. Provided I was in the right mood and felt up to the challenge, I enjoyed our conversations a lot. They required me to bring some lucidity and objective formulation to matters which were so subjective and interior that I realized I might not have developed much capacity to express them in a way that would be comprehensible to anyone else. In the phraseology of St. Augustine in his Confessions, discussing how tricky it can sometimes be to express those truths so foundational that we rarely pause to consider how we know what we know: “If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one that asks, I know not.” So I was grateful for the opportunity to try to cultivate some intelligibility.
LONDON, ONTARIO – During the car ride up to Latin Mass in St. Thomas yesterday, I kicked off our 2019 edition of the Christmas season perhaps one week earlier than I can usually get away with it. “I’m writing about it,” I said by way of belligerent explanation that brooked no objections, slipping the first disc of Handel’s Messiah into the car’s CD player. I blame this uncouth jumping of the Christmas queue entirely on Jane Glover whose magnificent, Handel in London (2018), I just finished reading last week. Glover, herself a conductor and director of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera and the London Mozart Players, has wonderfully expanded my appreciation of the German-born George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) whose formidable industry and gift for invention did so much to help England forge its own musical identity.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Although I never did earn my high school diploma and assured each of our kids when they were growing up that quitting school on their 16th birthdays was fine with me so long as there was some honourable study or pursuit to which they were prepared to commit themselves, I also have to admit that if it hadn’t been for a certain teacher of English, I might never have taken hold of my aptitude for writing and developed it into the primary vehicle by which I have experienced and interpreted my own life and the world around me.
LONDON, ONTARIO – My wife and I met as fellow students in film class in high school. For our very first date in January of 1971, we saw Five Easy Pieces at the Hyland Theatre. As a pastime, the claim could be made that going to the movies is built into the most primary strands of our connubial DNA. And one of the ways we commemorated our 40th wedding anniversary was to buy one of those nameplate plaques which they affix to the arm of a cinema chair in a scheme that the re-opened Hyland came up with to help pay off the heart-stopping cost of their new projector. But nearly half a century into our relationship with the movies and each other, we do have to acknowledge that we simply aren’t knocking back new flicks at the rate that we used to.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :