This week has seen me flying to Oklahoma for a weekend with the monks at Clear Creek Abbey and “zooming” to Santiago in Chile to grapple with Hamlet – and much more in between….

Ladydale Diary

St. John of Capistrano, 2020

This has been a week in which my feet have hardly seemed to touch the ground.

Last Friday I flew to Oklahoma to give a couple of talks at Clear Creek Abbey, which I view as a veritable powerhouse of prayer. I gave a talk at the annual Oblates Day on “The Way of Wonder: Seeing with the Saints”; on the following day, I gave a supplementary talk exclusively to the monks, who now number 54 priests and brothers, on “The Death and Resurrection of England” which was loosely based on the history of Catholic England which I am currently writing. In between these two talks, from dawn to dark, or from Matins to Compline, I joined the monks in prayer, allowing the glorious chant in equally glorious Latin to wash over me and lift me into closer presence with the Lord.

Catching the flight home on Monday, I arrived back at Ladydale in time to take part in the usual weekly recording for the FORMED Book Club in which we began our discussion of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Short Primer for Unsettled Laymen. Then, that same evening, I taught the latest online class in the course on Shakespeare that I’m teaching for the Albertus Magnus Institute, concluding our discussion of Hamlet.

Having not arrived home until after 4pm on the previous day, the whole of Tuesday was consumed with climbing the mountain of e-mails that had accumulated during my time at Clear Creek, during which time I had no access to the internet. On Tuesday evening, I joined my fellow Troubadours for our monthly online celebration of all things good, true and beautiful. For those in the Inner Sanctum who have not yet joined one of these Troubadour evenings, I should perhaps explain that my fellow Troubadours are Dale Ahlquist, President of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton and President, also, of the Chesterton Schools Network; Christopher Check, President of Catholic Answers; William Fahey, President of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts; and Daniel Kerr, headmaster of St. Martin’s Academy and organizer of the annual Prairie Troubadours Conference in Kansas. Our topic this week was the Battle of Lepanto, the highlight of which was Christopher Check’s dramatic and breathtaking recital of Chesterton’s poem about the battle.

On Wednesday lunchtime, I guest taught an online class on Chesterton for a colloquium at John Brown University, taking as my subject two of Chesterton’s essays, “The Architect of Spears” and “The Shop of Ghosts”. In the evening, I taught the latest class in the course for Memoria College on “Imaginative Literature”, beginning our discussion of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Yesterday, to my great surprise, I actually managed to spend the whole day writing. In the morning I wrote my regular essay for the Imaginative Conservative, which is entitled “Give the Devil Enough Rope”. I then spent the rest of the day on the book, finishing chapter 16 which culminated in the final days and death of Elizabeth I and commencing with the following chapter which covers the reign of James I. All told, I wrote almost 5,000 words. A splendid day! And that wasn’t all because I gave an online talk in the evening to a group of Catholic businessmen in Charleston, focused mainly on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

And there’s been no respite today. I rose early to give an online “breakfast” talk to a group of Catholics, based in Atlanta, on the topic of “History is His Story”. This was from 7:10 until 8:45. At 9am I connected, via Zoom, to Santiago in Chile for the first session of a mini-course of lectures on Shakespeare plays, commencing this morning with Hamlet. In about an hour from now I’m being interviewed about my books for a popular Catholic podcast series and then, at 8pm, I’m giving a talk to members of the Federalist Party at Yale University in an event sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Needless to say, I have only managed one visit to the gym this week, though I hope to go tomorrow prior to meeting with some friends to watch the Chelsea-Manchester United game at a local bar. Then I’ll look after Leo, enabling Susannah and Evangeline to have some mother-daughter time and Leo and I to have some father-son time. Life is good, if somewhat tiring!