I decided I really had better nip over to New York and commune with Subleyras' fine portrait of Benedict XIV in the Met ... you would expect no less of me ... and I have to tell you that His Holiness is not sanguine about the current state of the Church. But I will be able to give you more detail about that in the weeks ahead.
I took the opportunity to avail myself of the very great privilege of celebrating and preaching in the fine church at Norwalk in Connecticut over which a fellow Oxonian, Dr Richard Cipolla of Cardinal College, a hospitable host, presides to such splendid effect. It is most impressive; the liturgy runs like the smoothest clockwork and the Music is in the charge of the mighty, impeccable, and infallible David Hughes. I had the unusual experience of being congratulated by no fewer than two of my hearers on preaching a sermon full of Ciceronian praeteritio. You don't often get that class of comment on this side of the water. One truly 'traditional' feature of the church is that, as part of the reredos of the High Altar, it has a newly painted picture of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which pictures the old and ecumenical muthoi about the events surrounding her Glorification; those stories which, to all intents and purposes, Papa Pacelli did rather prune away.
By the generous courtesy of the Society of S Hugh of Cluny, I was able to speak both in Norwalk and in New York, where I had the great joy of meeting a long-time and erudite friend: Professor Bill Tighe, who walks in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court as if he has never lived anywhere else, and who is the historical expert on the Demise of Anglicanism. And Professor John Rao, presiding genius of the Roman Forum ... and, by the way, numbers are already looking very promising for next summer's (Silver Jubilee!) Gardone Riviera colloquium. Get in there fast!! And I had the pleasure of meeting other Gardone friends, young and old; and of making new ones.
A special Thank You to Stuart and Jill Chessman, and their son Stuart, who put themselves to so much trouble to facilitate my week.