The dignity of old men

One of the pleasures of lockdown is the opportunity to play family board games. We dug out a very old box containing the Catholic Family Bible Game, which contained questions like the following:

According to Proverbs, “The glory of young men is their strength, and the dignity of old men is _________________.” (a) weakness  (b) grey hair  (c) experienceContinue reading “The dignity of old men”

Poetry, nature and freedom

I wrote about nature journalling the other day, but how is that possible if you are confined to the house? The great, but horribly neglected, poet, Norman Nicholson has an answer for us because he was confined to his room in Millom after being struck down with tuberculosis. Lying there on the edge of the Lake District, he had no access to the lakes or fells, but was forced to observe from inside.Continue reading “Poetry, nature and freedom”

Torn between anguish and hope

“Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man, torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish, of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life over death.”

Apostolic Exhortation of Pope St Paul VI, Marialis Cultus

‘Spring’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


‘God’s Grandeur’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


Hilda van Stockum – ‘The Mitchells: Five for Victory’


In this meeting of our virtual book club, I look at the moment in Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells: Five for Victory when Miss Merryvale, the lodger, arrives and chaos ensues:


By yonde ys a wyldernys of quarentyne

By yonde ys a wyldernys of quarentyne,
Wher Cryst wyth fastyng hys body dyd pyne;
In that holy place, as we rede,
The deuyl wold had of stonys bred;
Aboue that wyldernys ryght fer and hy
The fende to Cryst schewyd regna mundi,
And sayde, ‘Yf thow wylt me worschyp do
Al these shalt thou haue thy lordschyp to.’

Continue reading “By yonde ys a wyldernys of quarentyne”

Introducing a new reading group


Now that we have lots of time to read, I am pleased to introduce a new reading group that focuses on children’s books. In this first episode I introduce the group and our first book – Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells: Five for Victory.