After years of sitting at my desk, cranking out articles as either a reporter or (now) an editor, it feels so strange to go out on a work night, especially after dark.
On All Saints' Day, a holy day of obligation in Scotland, it felt very romantic and festive to trundle through the dark streets to the local parish church for Mass. (Beautiful old church, speedy new Mass, with a homily and prayers citing COP26--naturally.) Last night going out felt vaguely alarming, but that was because Benedict Ambrose was already in the centre of town and I had to take the bus, which was late, and not miss the next bus, which I missed, and then walk through the dark, wet streets alone. Weep, weep.
On Sunday we met a half-Swiss, half-Chicago couple trying on our TLM for size, and the Chicago half said that he wondered if Edinburghers knew how lucky they were to have such a safe city, and I was so bent on making a good impression that I completely forgot the dangers of Fair Edina's peripheries and sighed my agreement.
Fortunately, the dark, wet streets I hurried down last night were through one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city, so my fears were rather silly, and I arrived at the lecture at the archdiocesan centre with a whole skin if a wet coat.
The event was a philosophical lecture about Truth, and the room was packed with the bright university young, two priests in clerical suits, one priest in Dominican habit, one sister in habit, two silver-haired lay women, a seeing-eye dog, and Benedict Ambrose, who kept a seat for me. I was proud of Benedict Ambrose, for he was following the lecture easily and making notes. Me, I quickly surmised that the lecturer was not a Lonerganian and seemed to have a bone to pick with geneology philosophers, a group with which I was not familiar until I looked them up right now and saw he meant Nietzsche-heads and Foucault.
Some of the bright youth in the room (formerly the gymnasium of a convent school) had grasped at least some of the lecture and asked questions. Half the questioners were "our people", which is to say the Edinburgh Uni students and graduates who go to the FSSP Traditional Latin Mass. Indeed, I was very cheered and edified to look around the four-or-five strand bow of 100 people and recognize so many faces. There was also a good question from a young woman I didn't recognize, but who was very attractively dressed in Toast clothing, about arguing with Marxists as an English Lit student.
Her first mistake was studying English Lit, I thought with all the ironic humour of an English Lit graduate, and I repeated this to a pal who arrived late for the lecture but in time for the tea, wine and biscuits. My mother had suggested that I study Modern Languages instead, I revealed, and my pal asked what I wish I had studied. Given the year I entered university, I wish I had studied Russian and Business, for then I would be terribly rich today.
"You would have married a Russian oligarch," suggested my friend.
"I don't think life is nice for Russian oligarchs' wives after they turn 40," I said, or words to that effect, perhaps unfairly. My hindsight was more that I could have made a mint as an exporter of caviar or a top exec at Gazprom---but never mind. We must be rooted in reality.
Also near the tea table was a young lady I hadn't yet met who told me that she read my blog, and so addled was I that I forgot my blog's name. I think I was surprised that new people still read my blog, for it has been many years since the the relative success of "Seraphic Singles" and Notre Dame students in South Bend telling each other that "men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life." The Golden Age of Blogging, y'all! Anyway, hello to L, and thank you for introducing yourself.
It was splendid to chat with the beloved young of the TLM community and with their interesting young friends, and I am reminded of how the presence of one young person in a night school writing class I taught years ago invigorated all the mature students. He was 19, but I notice that my concept of youth is on a sliding scale. At this point I count 35 year olds as young people, as do World Youth Day organisers. I get why, too, the Church is seeming obsessed with the Youth: it really isn't healthy for the generations to be isolated from each other.... Well, it isn't healthy for the Over-40s. I'm sure the Under-40s are fine---although I suspect they profit from the advice of, the networking with, and the occasional bang-up meal paid for by, the richer Old.
Speaking as the After-Mass Tea expert, I was impressed by the biscuits on offer by the tea pot, which were mostly covered in chocolate, and I ate three. After a long day at thumping away on my keyboard, restructuring a 3000+ word account of lecture by a Texas internist opposed to spike proteins, etc., I very much needed a cup of tea and three chocolate biscuits, so thank you to the students responsible.
Update: Yes, the restrictions on the TLM in Rome are shocking and sad, and I feel deeply sorry for our brothers and sisters at SS. Trinità although relieved that the Mass of Ages has not been completely suppressed there. I find it helpful to remember that, in the end, the Immaculate Heart will triumph.
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