This month the main news concerns our Summer Conference, Landscapes with Angels, in Oxford (11-14 August 2004). Suffice it to say that the conference will be about fantasy literature and the spiritual role of the imagination. We live in an age of fantasy, both religious and anti-religious. Oxford being the home not only of the Inklings, but of Lewis Carroll and Philip Pullman, there could be no more appropriate setting. Visitors can be accommodated at Christ Church (where parts of the Harry Potter films were made!), and cheaper rooms will be available around the city if needed. Lectures will be held in the Newman Rooms of the Old Palace, across the road from the college. We advise you to book early, as soon as fees are announced.
PS: We have also made some important additions to the part of our site devoted to the Sane Economy. Keep a look out for further developments!
"The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why." - G.K. Chesterton, "On Christmas," Generally Speaking
Last month we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II. Second Spring would like to add its own tribute to this amazing figure, so mightily influential and deeply inspiring. The new Vatican document on the role of the Bishops appeared at the same time, and is marked with the Pope's own wisdom. Take this startling sentence, for example: 'In the reality of the Church and the world today, the witness of chaste love is, on the one hand, a form of spiritual therapy for humanity and, on the other, a form of protest against the idolatry of instinct.' If anyone can demonstrate to the modern world the 'witness of chaste love' and its wholesome effects, it is Pope John Paul II. Numerous tributes have appeared in the press, and watch out for a book of essays edited by Dr William Oddie called John Paul the Great, published by CTS.
The fourth issue of Second Spring is now being mailed out from Canada. The list of contents will be found on the first page of this web-site, along with a description of how to subscribe if you have not done so already. Thank you for bearing with us during this time of transition.
Last month, a dear friend and long-time supporter of our work died at the age of 95: the Benedictine nun of Stanbrook, Dame Felicitas Corrigan. May she rest in peace. (Leonie Caldecott's obituary from The Independent is appended here.)
I would like to draw your attention to a few more new items this month on our site. In particular, please note the latest work on our section labelled 'Questions Questions'. This is devoted to Apologetics, meaning the art of trying to 'give account of the faith that is in us' in other words, to answer questions about religion, and about Catholicism in particular, in a way that invites further discussion and exploration. You are welcome to submit questions that you would like to see answered on the site, and there is a way of doing that easily from within the section itself. (We have a range of experts we can draw upon to get answers for you, if needed.) One article that has been added this month is designed to answer a range of common Evangelical Christian objections to Catholicism. Some articles have been added to our Archive section, including one by Archbishop Chaput that talks about the forthcoming Mel Gibson film
Readers of Second Spring will be pleased to hear that the long-awaited fourth issue will be with them shortly. Delays caused by this year's office-move mean that there will only be one issue for 2003, but in 2004 and thereafter we will be back to two issues a year, and you will receive a subscription notice if a renewal is due.
While this year has been very taken up with administrative matters and the restructuring of the Institute, we have been working also on our development plan and a list of priorities for the work to be done. Among the ongoing projects that we now need to turn our minds to is the Sane Economy, which over the next five years is intended to lead both to a series of publications and to at least one conference. Details will be announced later, as we seek financial support for the Project and build our network of advisers and researchers. For now, I just want to emphasize the importance of the careful study of Catholic social teaching, the practical applications (as well as theoretical underpinnings) of which this Project seeks to explore.
While our Institute (then Centre) was based at Plater College, which is (or was) dedicated to the social apostolate, I had the interesting and rewarding task of teaching the subject, and some of my teaching materials have been placed on this web-site for anyone to use under the heading Christianity and Society. In that section will also be found a list of useful links. You may also want to read a recent interview on this subject from the Zenit news-service with John Sharpe, the publisher of IHS Books. Finally, the fourth issue of Second Spring contains an article by Anthony Cooney on the 'Third Way' of Pope Leo XIII. Other relevant articles will be posted on this site as the research gets properly underway, and we invite anyone with a serious interest in this subject to get in touch with us through the web-site contact page.
A few recent additions to the site ought to be mentioned here. Firstly, an article that first appeared in The Catholic Herald describing this summer's Rose Round 'Streams of Grace' pilgrimage to France. The next big pilgrimage will be in the fall of 2004, and the intention is to take the girls to visit Rome and Assisi. Secondly, with all the furore over the Vatican's recent document on homosexual unions, we have included in our archive an article by Livio Melina of the John Paul II Institute on this topic. Thirdly, there is also a new article by Carol Zaleski on the spiritual life of Mother Teresa. And don't forget the interesting interview with Cardinal Stafford we mentioned last month. The fourth issue of Second Spring is at last in production: we apologize for the excessively long wait. The theme of the issue is 'Alternate Worlds', and it includes articles by Stratford Caldecott on multiple universes in Star Trek, Peter Milward SJ on Shakespeare's Christianity, David Clayton on founding a new kind of Art School, Anthony Fisher OP on Evangelizing Bioethics, Alan Griffiths on Time and Narrative in the Catholic Liturgy, Aidan Nichols OP on Marian Co-redemption, Anthony Cooney on the Third Way, plus a new section on Religious Experience, along with the usual book reviews, reports and poetry. The fifth issue will include material on the visual arts, music, science, evolution, fantasy and spirituality. We aim to have it to you around Christmas.
I was privileged to be able to attend three important events in North Dakota 6-9 August 2003. Cardinal James Stafford and representatives of several lay movements in the USA and Canada had been invited by the Virgil Michel Center of the Bethlehem Community. The first event was a colloquium entitled 'Giving Birth to a Culture of Co-operation'. The second was a conference on the Call to Holiness sponsored by Bishop Samuel Aquila's department for Education and Formation (diocese of Fargo). The third was the annual Holy Child Family Conference sponsored by the Virgil Michel Center. Cardinal Stafford, who is President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and former Archbishop of Denver, participated fully in all three events, even giving a talk about the early Christians to 50 children in a replica of the Roman Catacombs they had constructed during the parents' talks on the Family Day. The Cardinal took the opportunity of this US visit to deliver an explosive message on faith and culture to the Catholic laity of the United States. Setting his remarks in the context of a growing furore over the Vatican's recent document on homosexual unions, he stated that the Second Vatican Council had been facile and over-optimistic in neglecting the threat to Catholic faith and life posed by modern/postmodern culture. The Council fathers had not discerned the coming peril. As a result, the Church is only now coming to a belated recognition of the need for a profound theological and philosophical critique of Western culture, which presents us with a 'closed universe', not even as open to the transcendent as was the pagan civilization of Greece and Rome. In modern culture action prevails over contemplation, emotion over intelligence, individualism over communion. Cardinal Stafford drew his critique from four main authors, all Catholic lay people: Alasdair MacIntyre, David L. Schindler, Charles Taylor and Tracey Rowland. He particularly recommended the latter's book Culture and the Thomist Tradition After Vatican II (Routledge, 2003). The present crisis of the Church, he argued, would only be solved by applying the insights of these authors. This was the urgent task he set for the Catholic laity in the months and years ahead. The full text of his talk is not yet available, but along with other material from these conferences it will be added to this site as soon as possible. Meanwhile please note that the Second Spring journal and web-site are intended to provide accessible resources for precisely the kind of reflection the Cardinal has requested.
An important, wide-ranging interview with Cardinal Stafford is available by following this link.
We hope you are enjoying a pleasant and fruitful summer. Two small items have been added to the site this month. Firstly a tribute to the poet Kathleen Raine, who died recently. (Some important changes have been made to this piece since it appeared in The Catholic Herald.) Secondly, a piece on the meaning of Sin and the Cross for our Questions Questions section. We have also added a contact button in that section enabling you to submit questions about the faith for our panelists to answer. Meanwhile the fourth edition of Second Spring is still in production. It will include articles on Star Trek, on Shakespeare, on Bioethics, on the foundation of a new Art School, on the Third Way, on the Liturgy and all our normal features, plus a new section on Religious Experience.
The Institute is now established in our new Oxford location - 6a King Street - and a link to a map of Jericho showing its location (with a school on one side and a pub on the other) is available elsewhere on our web-site. The origins of the name 'Jericho' for this part of Oxford are mysterious, although it may have something to do with the fact that the area lay outside the medieval city walls of Oxford. The original Jericho was founded at an oasis, which we are told still produces 10,000 gallons of water a day - a suitable association for the Second Spring . The grandly named 'King Street' is probably the tiniest and most unassuming street in Oxford. This too, we feel, is not inappropriate, bearing in mind the King to whom we owe our allegiance. The Institute is still settling in, but announcements will be made in due course about events planned for the next academic year.
A recent article on Plater College in The Catholic Herald ('Plater drops commitment to social doctrine', 18 April), wrongly states that the Centre for Faith & Culture has been 'closed down' by the College. Although it was located at the College for the past four years the College never in fact owned it.
The Centre has been taken under the umbrella of the Chesterton Institute and is establishing a new office in Oxford's Jericho district. From mid-May the new address of what is now the European office of the Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture (combining the former Centre for Faith & Culture and the Chesterton Library) will be 6a King Street, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6DF, and the telephone number will be 01865-55 21 54.
The Director, Stratford Caldecott, can be reached in the meantime and after by email.
The office move has resulted in a continuing delay to the fourth issue of our journal, Second Spring, but we still hope to send it out over the summer, and at more regular six-monthly intervals thereafter. If you wish to support our work, one of the best ways is by sending in a subscription, using the form you will find on this web-site. Detailed plans for our other activities will be announced once the new Oxford office has been consolidated. March 2003
PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS NOW POSSIBLE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SECOND SPRING BY CREDIT CARD. Details have been added to the subscription form available on this web-site.
The fourth issue of Second Spring is now in preparation, and we expect to be able to print copies in May. We have been immensely impressed with the work of the local printer we have used up to now in Oxford, Joshua Horgan Print Partnership in Marston Road. However, for practical reasons production of the journal now has to be moved to Canada, where we are developing the Institute's publishing imprint, the Chesterton Press. The simultaneous relocation of our Oxford office and the Chesterton Library (scheduled for the present month) may delay things slightly, but we hope you will bear with us during this time of transition.
(The first book to appear under the new Chesterton Press imprint will be distributed by ISI Books in America and is called 'A Hidden Presence: The Catholic Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien', edited by Ian Boyd CSB and Stratford Caldecott. Further details on UK distribution of this title will be posted as soon as they are available.)
Our group for girls, the Rose Round, is described elsewhere on the site. A special Rose Round Pilgrimage, Streams of Grace, is taking place on 13th-20th July 2003. The theme of the pilgrimage is the Love of God, as expressed in the revelation of the Sacred Heart, and the overflowing love of his saints perfectly expressed in the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary. This union of hearts is the source of those 'streams of grace' which pour from Our Lady's hands, as represented after the visions of St. Catherine Labouré in the Rue du Bac. The natural and cultural beauty which we take in during the pilgrimage - spectacular architecture, statues, mosaics and paintings, glorious countryside and flowering gardens - is a foretaste of the splendours that await us in the Garden of Paradise, where we will be united once and for all with Our Lord and his saints. As with our last pilgrimage, there will be a good balance of prayer, instruction and fun. There will be a special Mass each day, at which the girls are invited to contribute their musical gifts, their reading talent and their intercessory prayer. There will be a minimum of one qualified and vetted adult for every five children on the pilgrimage. Travel will be by train and then privately hired coach. Please contact us as soon as possible if you would like to find out more.
The editors of Second Spring wish you a very happy new year, full of blessings.
If you have not received the third issue, it is likely you have forgotten to subscribe, so do write to us if you want to read it. Subscribing is one of the best ways of supporting our work (there's a new year's resolution for you!).... The fourth issue is in preparation and due to be printed in April or May. We welcome all comments, advice and suggestions.
It now seems clear that the planned Masters Degree in Catholic Social Teaching and related short course in February are now unlikely to take place at Plater College this year, since the financial crisis of the college has affected all non-essential activities. If the situation changes another announcement will be made.
The forward planning of the Centre (now Institute) for Faith & Culture is currently dominated by the search for a new home, both for my office and for the Chesterton Library, since the same crisis means that Plater cannot host us any longer. I will publish a longer letter about all this in the next couple of months.
On the world stage, these are strange and dangerous times. As Gandalf says, we cannot choose what lies ahead: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
Every month we try to make some changes to the contents of this web-site, and I will occasionally draw your attention to the biggest of these in this Letter. The latest changes include (1) within the 'Christianity and Society' section, the addition of a set of lecture notes on the History of Christian Europe, and (2) within the 'Questions Questions' (apologetics) section, an article on the nature of religious faith, and a brief response to the recent 'abuse crisis' in the Church (How do we defend the Church...?).
As previously announced, the Chesterton Library in Oxford is looking for a new home. A description of the contents of the Library can now be found by following this link.