Ladydale Diary
Saint Mary Magdalene, 2021

After last week’s travels, this has been a week spent at home, climbing the mountainous backlog of work that awaited my return. One consequence of the backlog was my inability to record and post the podcasts for the Inner Sanctum, and write the Ladydale Diary, until Saturday morning, forcing me to gatecrash the sacrosanct time that I usually set aside for my family. Such, dear friends, is my commitment to posting new content each week to the Inner Sanctum as a token of my gratitude to you for supporting me, my family and my work.

As has become customary on the weekends that I’m not travelling, I stay at home with Leo so that Susannah and Evangeline can do things together. I can’t recall where they went on Saturday afternoon but I know that Leo and I had a great time playing ball and “Hop, Hop Hooray”, as well as spending time outside, he on the swing set and I lounging in the shade reading a book (a volume of short stories by Tim Powers, if I recall correctly).

On Sunday, after Mass, Evangeline and I went for lunch at what has become our favourite Chinese restaurant and then spent an hour or so in a huge warehouse-sized store which sells used DVDs, CDs and books. We were not interested in the books, our home being already bursting at the seams with a burgeoning library, but were on a quest to find DVDs of films or old TV series that we can watch as a family. We found a few that should be worth watching.

Upon our return home, I grabbed forty winks, or probably only twenty, before joining a couple of my friends in the UK at what we have called the Flying Inn, in honour of Chesterton’s novel of that title. The Flying Inn is a virtual English pub, made possible via Zoom. One of my friends lives in Wales and the other in Sussex, the county just south of London which was home to Hilaire Belloc. We met from 5pm till 7pm Eastern Time, which is 10pm till midnight for my friends. I imbibed some local IPAs, brewed in Greenville and Charleston, whereas my friends were drinking local Welsh and Sussex ales. Fine ale and convivial conversation are a grand combination!

Much of Monday was spent in phone meetings with my colleagues at the Augustine Institute and Ignatius Press as we discussed our joint venture publishing strategy. The rest of the time was spent selecting and editing the articles for the next issue of the St. Austin Review, which is a “Homage to Dante” theme issue to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the great Florentine’s death. I worked until almost midnight finalizing the content of the issue and sending it to our style editor.

The first issue of StAR was published in September 2001, the month of 9/11. This, therefore, is our twentieth anniversary issue. I was the founding editor, so StAR and I are getting old together. I’d hoped to do a special feature on the first twenty years but this proved impossible because of the sheer volume of great theme-related articles paying homage to Dante. Such was the quantity and quality of the theme-related content that, for the first time in those twenty years, we have no room to publish any book reviews, all of which are being held over until the following issue.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I managed to get some writing done. I wrote my weekly essay for the Imaginative Conservative, which is entitled “Singing in the Rain” and is an engagement with Chesterton’s essay, “The Romantic in the Rain”. I also wrote my regular “nutshell” essay for Crisis Magazine, focusing this time on Romeo and Juliet. Finally, I wrote the Foreword to a new edition of Cardinal Mindszenty’s Memoirs, which will be published later this year, or perhaps early next year, by Ignatius Press. I’ve just recorded my reading of this Foreword as an exclusive to the Inner Sanctum. Check out this week’s “Home is Where the Hearth Is” podcast to hear the recording of my reading of it.
On Wednesday evening, I began teaching a new five-week online course on Tolkien for Memoria College. We will be going behind and beyond The Lord of the Rings, looking at Tolkien’s philosophy of myth and how it shaped his vision of Middle-earth.

Today (Thursday), I decided to go to the gym first thing in the morning because I haven’t yet been there this week. My body was screaming at me for its missed exercise, much as a dog becomes restless if it needs a walk. In any event, I feel much better for having worked the muscles and raised the heartrate.

I’ve just recorded this week’s podcasts and, once I sign off from this week’s Diary, I’ll post them to the Inner Sanctum.

This afternoon, time permitting, I’ll write an article on “the Blessed Virgin in Literature” for which I’ve been commissioned by Inside the Vatican. I need to be finished by shortly after 4:30, however, because a friend has invited me to a soirée at her home beginning at five o’clock. A mutual friend is visiting her from Virginia, whom I’m looking forward to seeing again.

Tomorrow I drive to Charleston for a conference at which I’ll be giving a talk and then, at the banquet in the evening, I’ll be accepting an award on behalf of my good friend, Anthony Esolen, who’s not able to travel due to health issues.

Such has been the week that was at Ladydale.

Wishing all my friends in the Inner Sanctum a truly blessed week to come. May Saint Mary Magdalene pray for us.