LONDON, ONTARIO – Not a big honking screed today so I won’t bother sending this one out to my subscribers but will just slot this note in here to be discovered, incidentally, as it were.
The Baconians had their first banquet this week after a three-year pause for the Batflu. It was great to gather around the groaning board once again but our dinner did come with a couple of jarring signifiers of how relentlessly history keeps marching on, even when you think you’re just going to sit over here on the sidelines for a few dozen months until things get straightened out.
Five Hermaneutics ago, I paid homage to a couple of the Baconians we lost during that society-warping term that we all have spent in the detention room. What particularly stood out at this week’s feast were adjustments required to two of the old-school observances which punctuate our meetings and ceremonies and lend the club no small part of its charm.
One of our esteemed senior members was tagged to propose the toast to . . . well, the Queen for the last seventy years (and for precisely half of the Baconian Club’s existence) and now, all of a sudden . . . King Charles III. Himself born in the reign of King George VI, our member said he felt a little like Winston Churchill who commented on Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne in 1952, that getting to sing God Save the Queen again was going to stir some long-banked embers from his Victorian childhood. Ah, “Plus ca change . . .”
My task was to intone the pre-dinner grace. Well, even a hundred and forty years ago, the Baconian Club was not comprised, wall-to-wall, of Christians or deists of any kind. But, unlike today, it wasn’t a time when religious faith was regarded as eccentric or peculiar or even troubling. And this is the grace I came up with:
I take it as a sign of genius that the Baconian Club routinely holds their midwinter banquet on this third Monday of January, which is otherwise known as "Blue Monday”. This portentously freighted day has been determined by odds-makers in the psychological fields as likely to be the single most depressing day of the entire year.
This annual calamity is owing to a cocktail of factors that draw together in a most dampening constellation at this moment. These include crappy weather; the emotional/spiritual doldrums endemic to the post-Christmas period; over-stretched finances which are alarmingly manifested in credit card bills that go out this week; and feelings of shame related to the collapse of New Year’s Resolutions which have once again proven unsustainable.
But Baconians are not sitting ducks for misery. We’re resilient, stout-hearted men and know how to push back against the encroaching gloom by taking part in three of the surest strategies for cultivating joy. We band together with good friends in fellowship. We partake of a well-prepared meal. And we give thanks for the rather wondrous fact that we are here to enjoy these things at all.
Related to that last strategy, here is the simple grace which I routinely pray at moments such as this. I usually do so quietly but for reasons which I don’t entirely understand, I was asked on this occasion to project my voice to the full gathering.
So I warn the easily offended that brief mention will twice be made to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. While it’s true that I have the floor right now, you should feel free to mentally substitute some other personage you may wish to thank instead. And if the expression of any sort of gratitude is a troubling concept to you, just stick two fingers in your ears for five seconds and this trial too will swiftly pass.
Here we go then.
Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
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