Happy Christmas

December 2005

The delayed seventh issue of our print journal Second Spring is in production and should be mailed out to everyone early in 2006, with an announcement of our new and improved distribution arrangements. It had been necessary to transfer production back to the UK, but now that has been done and we hope there will be no further problems. We thank readers for their patience.

Meanwhile, in the EVENTS section you will see that our plans for 2006 have begun to take shape. We are announcing a Summer School, Shakespeare's Secret, which will give us a chance to look at the revolutionary new interpretation of the Bard's Roman Catholic sympathies and his cultural context, and to engage with some of the foremost scholars of the Elizabethan period. These include Clare Asquith, whose book Shadowplay has generated worldwide interest. This is a remarkable opportunity and spaces are extremely limited, so please let us know as soon as possible if you might be interested in attending – and help spread the word to others who should know about it.

We are also pleased to announce on behalf of Exeter College the Oxford Tolkien Conference, which will be devoted to exploring the whole range of influences on The Lord of the Rings. A remarkable group of international speakers is beginning to take shape, including John Garth (author of Tolkien and the Great War), Alison Milbank (Dante and the Victorians), Verlyn Flieger (Splintered Light) Philip Zaleski (Prayer: A History), Robert Lazu (Encyclopedia of Tolkien's World), and many others.

Finally, we are looking forward on 20 May to the third in our series of study days at the Oxford Chaplaincy unpacking the legacy of John Paul II. This time we are devoting the day to his Theology of the Body, which has been described by George Weigel as a "theological time bomb" at the heart of the Church. People are beginning to realize that the Pope's teaching on this subject offers an integrated vision of the human person – body, soul, and spirit. Marriage and sexuality are close to the core of our humanity, and this new understanding can transform our view of human existence. Up to now, the teaching of this theology has been studied mainly by academics, but a new generation of teachers are now able to communicate it to a wider audience, including young people. Our speakers will include Edmund Adamus, the dynamic Director for Pastoral Affairs at the Diocese of Westminster, Tommy Hughes, Head of RE at Holyrood School in Glasgow, who has been running classes on the subject with inner city sixth-formers for several years, and Nicole Syed from the Central London FertilityCare Centre. Teachers, parents, sixth-formers and students are cordially invited. Admission will be free and a wide variety of resources will be available for sale. We want this event to be of service to all who value or are curious about the Church's teaching on sexuality and marriage.

For details on all these events, see the Events section, which will be updated on a regular basis, or email me, . In the meantime, we wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.


Love Alone

November 2005

What is the meaning of life? We all know the answer. The only thing that makes life worth living is love. In the early Church it was the love of Christians that converted people, and today Christianity is declining in Europe and America for lack of love – for lack of the kind of holiness that shines out and transforms the world like sunshine.

On 5 November, Archbishop Javier Martinez of Granada in Spain was the keynote speaker at a conference at the Catholic Chaplaincy of Oxford University, organized by Fr Jeremy Fairhead with the help of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture as part of the Institute's series on the legacy of John Paul II. Other speakers included the Newman scholar, Revd Dr Ian Ker, and the director of the Bishops' Conference agency for the support of evangelization, CASE.

Archbishop Martinez analysed the roots of the modern crisis of secularization in Europe, tracing this back to Francisco Suarez, a native of Granada, and his separation of nature from grace. Secular reason or liberalism, he said, constitutes a major danger for the freedom of the Church and for the future of the world. In a sense, secular liberalism could prove worse than communism, because it is able to mask itself, to remain hidden, and so avoids creating resistance. Liberalism can succeed where communism failed, that is, in destroying the Church as a real people with a culture and a tradition, and in emptying Christianity of its human substance. This could be seen in many European countries. In Spain, where the government has recently abolished the family (in the Christian sense), the problem is has become particularly acute.

Yet the answer, he argued, does not lie in a bureaucratic or instrumental response, such as the development of new pastoral strategies and five year plans. The evangelization of modern culture would only come from a "return to the centre" (in the sense developed by Balthasar in his book Love Alone is Credible). The Christian experience, which is an experience of the joy and peace that flows from the presence of Jesus Christ, must be permitted to shine before men. The weakness of Christianity in the modern situation, he said (quoting John Henry Newman) is less a matter of reason and intelligence than a matter of experience and imagination. If Christians begin truly to live their faith, their joy will be evident to all, and around them a new civilization will be born. Authentic Christianity does not oppress the human spirit, but liberates it in such a way that that human life can at last be lived in all its fullness. Once that fullness of life becomes visible in someone, others will not wish to settle for anything less.

Revd Ian Ker spoke of the importance of the ecclesial movements, born in the twentieth century from just such a fullness of Christian experience, which were now the great hope of the Church in Europe. Revd Tim Calvert OP spoke about his mission as a university chaplain, and the different ways of approaching the university as a mission field. Representatives of two Catholic families, both converts, spoke about the ways in which un-planned evangelization takes place through the family, around the family table that represents the "altar" of the domestic church. A Catholic family, through its hospitality to others, its availability to those who are seeking friendship and support, is open to life and gives birth to new spiritual children, who become members of the extended family through the action of the Holy Spirit. Though it sounds idealistic, this is the actual experience of many families who are trying, however inadequately, to live a Christian life.

Related articles inside:
Love Alone: article on evangelization by Stratford Caldecott,
Beyond Secular Reason by Archbishop Martinez.


Chesterton Institute Launches UK Appeal

October 2005

On Wednesday 12th October 2005, the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture, based at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, and Oxford in England, held a reception at the Athenaeum in London to mark 30 years of cultural evangelization through The Chesterton Review and related activities around the world, including conferences in England, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Argentina and the USA.

To a distinguished audience of political, media and religious figures, Mrs Cherie Blair made an appeal for support of the Institute, describing Chesterton as a great English writer currently experiencing a revival of scholarly interest, and whose poetry she had loved as a child. The work of the Institute named after him, she said, is simply "the creative continuation of the tradition that Chesterton represents (along with Lewis, Newman, Dawson and T.S. Eliot) – the tradition of Christian humanism, of common sense wisdom, and a feeling for the sacred in ordinary life. Chesterton knew that without the dignity and sense of purpose that comes from our relationship with a God who made us, there can be no ultimate basis for human equality, for democracy, for justice, for human rights." As defender of human rights herself, she herself took extremely seriously this idea that rights are founded in our relationship to the Creator.

"For the last three decades", she went on, "the Chesterton Review and Institute have tried to promote a benign cultural revolution, and a revival of interest in intelligent Christianity – meaning a Christianity that is traditional without being fundamentalist, and radical without being aggressive." She quipped, quoting Chesterton, that "the whole world is dividing itself into progressives and conservatives. The job of the progressives is to go on making mistakes. The job of the conservatives is to prevent those mistakes from being corrected." Back in 1930 Chesterton wrote that "people are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralysed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves". We surely recognize some truth in this description, she said. Chesterton's insights speak eloquently to a Western world exhausted by materialism.

Mrs Blair praised the Chesterton Library and study centre that the Institute is trying to establish in Oxford, and appealed for continued support in making that possible.

Mgr Keith Barltrop, as the Director of the Catholic Agency for the Support of Evangelization, recently created by the Bishops of England and Wales, also spoke in praise of the Chesterton Institute's work. "The Chesterton Institute is one of our most important partners in this vital work of evangelizing culture." The Bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon OP, the Catholic Bishop in charge of Evangelization and Catechesis, has agreed to be an Episcopal Patron of the Chesterton Institute's appeal in the UK. His Excellency Javier Martinez, the Archbishop of Granada, will be giving a keynote speech on Evangelization at a study day organized by the Institute at the Catholic Chaplaincy of Oxford University on Saturday 5 November, at which the other speakers will include Mgr Barltrop, Fr Ian Ker and Tim Calvert OP.

Stratford Caldecott, the UK director of the Institute and Editor of its other journal Second Spring, added that Chesterton's social philosophy of "Distributism" has been in many ways the ancestor of today's radical movements in defence of life, ecology, the family, agriculture, small shops and small communities. It opposed corruption in business, the media and politics. "There is plenty of room for disagreement on exactly how the principles of human dignity may be translated into political action," he said, "but it is clear that all the major political parties in this country are now well aware of the need to think deeply and debate these issues effectively. It seems we are entering into a period when the role of independent Christian 'think tanks' like the Chesterton Institute will be more important than ever."

Earlier in the week, the distinguished historian Dr Sheridan Gilley had spoken at a private Institute event in Arundel Castle, comparing G.K. Chesterton with John Henry Newman as an exponent and defender of Christianity. Newman scholar Ian Ker and the philosopher John Haldane have also recently drawn attention to Chesterton's lasting importance as a thinker and writer. It seems that Chesterton's star is on the rise again.

The Chesterton Institute provides resources for the study not only of Chesterton and his immediate circle, but of the wider tradition to which he belongs. The message of this week, however, was that the Institute depends for its existence upon the generosity of its benefactors, and new UK benefactors are urgently needed if the work in Oxford is to continue.



A New Beginning

September 2005

A recent report by Christian Research predicts that by 2040 a mere 2% of the British population will be attending Sunday services, across the denominations – whereas there will be twice this many Muslims at prayer in mosques on Friday. Furthermore the average age of these Christian congregations will be 64 – indicating that within another generation churchgoing will have effectively ceased altogether, if present trends continue. At present just under 72% of the population are still prepared to describe themselves as Christian, even if they do not attend services, but by 2040 this is predicted to fall to 35%.

Pope John Paul II called more than a decade ago for a New Evangelization of the post-Christian West, and initiated it himself by his work with young people, by his encouragement of the new ecclesial movements, by his contributions to social doctrine, by the work of the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and the Family, by his personal and sympathetic outreach to other religions, by his call for a renewal of metaphysical and moral philosophy, and by his emphasis on the primacy of spirituality and contemplative prayer.

The New Evangelization has still barely begun in the UK. That is why we felt it important to organize with the help of the Catholic Chaplaincy of Oxford University a study day in November on the theme of the New Evangelization and its prospects in the new century. Keynote speaker on this occasion will be our special guest, Javier Martinez, the Archbishop of Granada, who understands better than most how to revive the life of the Church in the face of secular society.

Archbishop Martinez is one of a small group of "radically orthodox" bishops in the Catholic Church who recognize that the Enlightenment experiment has failed, but that a return to Baroque or Gothic Christianity is not the answer. He is a critic of liberalism, both economic and theological, but also a creative and innovative pastor, and a friend of the ecclesial movements. Archbishop Martinez (the only English-speaking Spanish bishop, a keen reader of Chesterton and Tolkien) has recently founded an Institute for the Study of the Christian Orient, and earlier this month brought Protestant, Anglican and Catholic theologians (including Stanley Hauwerwas, John Milbank and Michael Waldstein) together in Granada to reflect on their converging analysis of modernity and its discontents.

Second Spring and The Chesterton Review belong to a wider movement within the Churches. We want to provide not an academic talking-shop but a forum for exploring new ideas in a spirit of adventure. That spirit may yet enkindle a revival of Christianity even in the West – but it will be a Christianity very different from the sad ideology to which many have reduced it in modern times. Come to our Study Day on the New Evangelization, Love Alone, and find out more.


August 2005

In the aftermath of the London suicide bombings, The Daily Telegraph tried to flag up the "values immanent in our culture" which "every citizen should be expected to agree with" (Editorial, 14 July 2005). These were, (1) the rule of law (common law and parliament, not Shariah), (2) sovereignty of the Crown and the monopoly of coercion by the State, (3) the nation as the ultimate object of political loyalty, (4) separation of secular and religious spheres (a secular State not a theocracy). But should we all agree on these principles? I can easily imagine a Christian (not a fundamentalist Christian, either) arguing against each of them. Religious believers of many kinds might not accept the Enlightenment assumption that (as the Telegraph also puts it) political legitimacy flows upwards from the will of the people, rather than downward from the will of God. The popular vote might well be regarded as a means of ascertaining God's will in a certain respect – as it is for Catholics in the election of a Pope – making a democratic theocracy at least conceivable. Also, it is a well-established Christian view that positive law derives its legitimacy not from the power of parliament or tradition but from the so-called natural law, the law of right and wrong, of natural justice, which underpins the laws of men.

Political loyalty is all very well, but it becomes a form of idolatry if it is not subordinated to a deeper religious loyalty. A religious believer will want to insist that fanaticism arises not with the granting of supreme authority to God, but with the identification of that will with an essentially arbitrary power (as it began to be in the Middle Ages by William of Ockham and his successors), and the claim by human individuals or collectivities to know exactly what it is that God wills, which effectively allows men to usurp the position of God. This is, of course, a potential problem even with the most democratic of theocracies, since between elections the chosen candidate might be invested with far too much authority if the right checks and balances are not solidly in position. In the case of Catholicism, the Church has frequently found herself saddled with sinners in the papal office; it is only the subordination of the Papacy to Tradition (and the preserving power of the Holy Spirit) that sets a limit to the damage human wickedness can do to the Church.

The cause of true fanaticism lies much deeper than any particular political arrangement. It lies in the separation of will from intellect, so that the will becomes an absolute power no longer answerable to the higher principle of wisdom. There is then (or so it appears to the fanatic) no objective order of good and evil apart from that which is imposed by God, and this assumed state of affairs is inevitably mirrored in the human realm, first by men who claim to act in God's name, and later by men who make themselves into the very image of the God they have laid to rest. In the era of individualism – which we call the Enlightenment – every man aspires to become a little God, and the power of the State is justified on the basis of a (mythical) social contract, representing a pragmatic compromise between the arbitrary or desire-driven wills of individuals.

This in turn – it should be pointed out – leads inevitably to the extreme forms of capitalism, which involve the subordination of politics to economics by means of the "scientific" reduction of all values to quantity. How so? Well, since individual desire has become king, the value of anything tends to be measured by the power of desire, which is what gives it a market price. Politics being the mechanism by which the fulfilment of desire is sought, once it has been separated from the realm of non-quantitative values such as justice or love the political system eventually becomes indistinguishable from (or merely an adjunct to) the economic system. This is reduced to a mechanical, and consequently inhuman, or rather impersonal, cycle of producing, selling, buying and consuming.

Previously, the State had been regarded (by those who gave thought to such matters) as a symbolic structure that enabled a certain participation in higher realities of the heavenly order. The purpose of human life was not simply to achieve temporary contentment in this life, by fulfilling as many physical and psychological desires as possible, but to achieve eternal happiness with God. This implied the subordination of will to wisdom, and of individual desires to an objective order of truth, beauty and goodness. Disagreements about this order and its implications could at least in theory be handled by reasoned negotiation, by an appeal to intellectual argument. (I say "in theory" because we are naturally speaking here of ideals and aspirations rather than an achieved Utopia.) After the twelfth century, in both Christendom and in its rival Muslim civilization, the kind of analogical, participatory thinking that could relate the human order of things to a divine or heavenly order was marginalized and disregarded. In Europe, philosophically speaking, the age of great mystical scholars such as Aquinas and Bonaventure gave way to a new and narrower rationalism often associated with Descartes. The drama of modern thought unfolded in the directions opened for it by the earlier "Nominalist" philosophers – those who had denied the real existence of universal ideas or values beyond the individual and particular.

Thus the logical conclusion of modernity was a philosophical, psychological and political individualism which at times must express its frustration by an act of terrorism. The individual will cannot create life, but it can create death. The alienated teenagers of suburbia pick up rifles and explosives and go on a shooting spree, or become suicide bombers. Sometimes they use an ideology to justify their actions, sometimes they don't.

There has been much discussion recently of exactly why certain young Muslims seem particularly susceptible to an ideology that equates suicide with martyrdom and the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children with "holy war", since both of these ideas are completely against the tenets of Islam. One important factor that is often overlooked in these discussions is the suppression in modern Islam of the spiritual dimension represented by Sufism. An important article on our website by Joseph Lumbard, "The Decline of Knowledge and the Rise of Ideology in the Modern Islamic World" would help to correct this omission.

There is also an important article on in a recent issue of The Tablet which can be read here. Abdal Hakim Murad writes about Wahhabism, the hardline ideology at the core of current terrorism, which has cut deep wounds in Islam and helped alienate young some UK Muslims, and suggests that British Muslims can break free of its influence.


June 2005

A fresh start. As you see, this website has recently been redesigned. We hope you enjoy the new look, courtesy of webmaster . At the same time, we have re-launched our online discussion, which you are invited to join by following the link provided or clicking on the relevant heading in the main menu on the left of your screen. The online service forms a kind of communal web-log (blog) in which you can respond to ideas you find on this site, or meet others who share your interest in religion and culture.

As more and more people discover the resources available on our various web pages, it is worth taking a moment to fill you in on some of the things we are doing, and the reasons we are doing them. Where, for example, does Second Spring fit in the so-called "culture wars"? By using that expression I mean simply to allude to the fact that some very fundamental issues divide our society – at the level of basic values, philosophies of life, and assumptions about human nature. Second Spring, though it is read with pleasure by many who are not Roman Catholic and some who are not Christian at all, stands within the Catholic Humanist tradition in terms of its editorial policy and overall flavour. We do not believe that this imposes any unwelcome constraints upon our writing. On the contrary, it liberates us from many of the cramping orthodoxies of our age.

In a world where to be in agreement with the Church's teaching on contraception, homosexuality or the ordination of women is to be categorized as arch-conservative or fundamentalist, then many of our contributors and all of our editors may glory in that title. But we always enjoy a good argument. Though we believe our religion is true, we do not claim to possess the truth of it, nor do we deny the existence of truths we have not yet grasped. The fundamentals we espouse include the dignity of every human person, the refusal to take the lives of innocent people, and the belief that the human conscience must remain free. We believe that Western civilization "would be a good idea" (to quote Mahatma Gandhi). But an atheistic or anti-religious civilization is an anomaly in the history of the world and doomed to auto-destruct. It does not aspire beyond the realm of quantity. It does not look towards God. It does not nourish community, or family, or children, or solidarity. For this reason we hope for and expect a revival of faith, but in that revival there is also a danger: religious ideology detached from a living tradition of spirituality or vivifying prayer (that is, unmystical religion) is more likely to destroy life than to build it up.

The "pro-life fight" has been called the "fundamental moral cause of our time". This is because at stake here is the very identity of the human person as being more than a mere blob of cells. Other causes – poverty, injustice, HIV/AIDS, war, terrorism, pornography, drugs, child slavery, environment, animal rights, etc. – cannot be coherently pursued unless our own identity is secured at the same time, and a basis established for moral behaviour. Yet a great deal depends on what kind of a "war" is being fought here, and with what weapons. It is a spiritual fight, not simply a political one. Politics cannot be detached from morality, but morality cannot be detached from spirituality. In other words, we will lose the political fight if we do not wage it spiritually. If we do not see and understand the reasons why women abort, and if we are not prepared to receive and support the children they cannot face alone, the battle is already lost.

That was partly what our recent study day on "The Genius of Women" (in our "Legacy of John Paul II" series) was about. May we take this opportunity to thank all those who attended and spoke, especially the young people who spoke for the first time on the final panel so inspiringly. It was a wonderful day, and we hope to make the talks available to a wider audience in due course. Many of the women present expressed a desire to continue the discussion of women's issues amongst themselves, and so we have established an online forum, The Genius of Women, for that purpose.


June 2005

Our apologies for some recent problems on this site, now solved. Over the next few months a certain amount of new material will be posted and our guide to the site will be expanded.

Second Spring 7 will be out in the autumn and further details will be announced when the arrangements are finalized. In the meantime we have posted some important new articles on this web site, including a classic article by the brilliant philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe on Transubstantiation, especially for the Year of the Eucharist. (Catechists may find this particularly helpful.) Darwin's theory of Evolution remains of great interest for its possible religious implications. If anyone wishes to follow up the line of thought introduced in my own article 'Theories of Evolution' in Second Spring 6 (comparing Intelligent Design and other modern approaches to the problem with that of the Christian Platonic tradition), they might like to look at a piece by Thomas W. Case called 'Evolutionary Confusions' and another by a Monk of Holy Trinity Monastery on 'The Transformation of the Material Creation'. The latter contains some remarkable insights into the relationship of animals and angels. Finally, you could tie all this together by reading Fr Mark Elvins OFM Cap. on the 'Restored Harmony of Creation' in the spirit of St Francis of Assisi.

[Added later is an article on the evolution controversy sparked by Cardinal Schönborn, written by Damien Fedoyka.]

Our study day on 'The Genius of Woman' on 10 July is the first of a planned series of events on the legacy of Pope John Paul II – a legacy which Benedict XVI is committed to unpacking and developing yet further. Do come if you can – one of the featured speakers will be our own Carol Zaleski, one of the American editors of Second Spring, several of whose lovely articles are on this web site. Later events include a conference on the New Evangelization on 5 November, with a keynote address on 'LOVE ALONE' by one of the new generation of so-called 'Communio bishops', Archbishop of Granada Javier Martinez, a great fan and reader of Chesterton, Lewis and Newman. (You can find an article of his on 'Beyond Secular Reason' in our Archive.) Not yet scheduled, however, is another study day in the series, this time on the many questions raised by the late Pope's visionary 'Theology of the Body'. That event will probably have to wait until the spring. All these conferences will take place at the Catholic chaplaincy in Oxford and details will be posted in our Events section.

If you are reflecting on the nature of Europe in the aftermath of the French NO vote, you might like to look at a few more of our articles, specifically on this theme: Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch on 'Rethinking Christendom' and Louis Dupre on 'The Ties that Bind Us' in particular.

Finally we have posted a couple of important Interfaith items – Aidan Nichols OP discusses the grounds for a rapprochement between the Greek and Roman Churches, and an important article by Dr Vincent J. Cornell about the important Sufi tradition within "moderate" Islam, and a link to the site of the new international journal Oasis founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola in Venice.

That's all for now. Look out for some changes in the look of this site in the next few months, and thanks for your continuing support.


May 2005

Readers of Second Spring should be aware that the first issue has been delayed somewhat. We now expect to have issue 7 in the autumn. Apologies for this, and the fact that since we moved publication to Canada some subscribers have apparently been left wondering whether their subscriptions have lapsed. We intend to write to all subscribers over the summer to let them know exactly where they stand. Thank you to all those who have written kind, often glowing, remarks about the magazine.

Meanwhile also please note the addition to our Chesterton Institute section the text of an important interview that appeared recently on Zenit with Fr Ian Boyd, the founder of the Institute. We have also added to our Archive an excellent talk by the former Cardinal Ratzinger on 'The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty'. This is interesting from several angles, not least for the insight it gives us into the spirituality of our new Pope. It also reminds us that we have a 'Balthasarian' Pope, and gives us the opportunity to celebrate the fact that the great work undertaken by Ignatius Press back in the 1980s of translating into English the major work by the Pope's friend Hans Urs von Balthasar – a great series of 16 volumes on Beauty, Goodness and Truth – is at last completed by the publication of Theologic III and the Epilogue a century after Balthasar's birth. That birthday was recently marked by a major conference in Washington, many of the papers from which are available on the Communio web site.


April 2005 —
The passing of John Paul the Great and the advent of Benedict XVI

Even as we mourn John Paul II we have been blessed with a new Pope, and one uniquely qualified to continue the work of John Paul II in fostering the 'second springtime' of the Church for which we long. In his first great homily Benedict XVI said many moving and uplifting things, but none more so than this: 'Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.' This is truly the voice of the Church.

When the Pope died, Leonie and I were taking our Rose Round group in pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. We were in the Piazza San Pietro on 30 March, though not expecting him to appear for the Wednesday audience, and the group sang Panis Angelicus as a 'Thank you' for the Year of the Eucharist. Just as we finished, he appeared at the window for the last time, and we were fortunate to be among those who received his last public blessing as his secretary read out the words. For the third time that week, the Holy Father was unable to speak. When all his efforts to use his voice failed, he began to move his hand over and over, in a repeated blessing of the crowd below. On the Friday of that week we prayed for him with Cardinal Francis Stafford. Later we heard that he had entered his last agony, and so we returned to St Peters to pray for him outside his window again. But the end was not yet. On the Saturday evening (2 April), the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, we had a Holy Hour of eucharistic adoration in the house where we were staying in Assisi. The bells began tolling for the Pope's death just as our priest raised the monstrance for Benediction. This was the only Pope we have known, and he has inspired us throughout our lives as Catholics. It is his call to a new evangelization that we have tried to answer by our work for faith and culture, and by publishing 'Second Spring'. We cannot possibly express our debt to this man. A new era now begins, in which his immense legacy and that of the Second Vatican Council will be consolidated and developed. May it prove ever more fruitful. John Paul the Great, pray for us. And continue to bless all of us from your window in the house of the Father.


March 2005

Please note that there are still a few places for non-US citizens on our exciting 2005 SUMMER SCHOOL on the Foundations of Christian Culture, 26 July to 9 August. For special rates and other information, write to me,