S Peter, when he wrote his Catholic Epistle, envisaged danger as likely to come from the attentions of the Enemy who tamquam leo rugiens circuit. However, despite PF's pleas for Biodiversity, imaginative plans to reintroduce lions into the English countryside are not currently in the forefront of our public debate. Nor are we likely to release the small pox from its incarceration, or to launch battalions of genetically enhanced rats infected with the Black Death. Rigid Pharisaical obscurantism is thus still preventing the full and generous implementation of Laudato si. O we of little faith. But the Holy Father would undoubtedly be delighted to know that wolves now howl nightly around the precincts of Douai Abbey.
I have returned from the Abbey after preaching a retreat to a select group of highly intelligent ladies, one at least of whom was awakened at night by the authentically Gothick experience of the wolfpack discussing Brexit. Fr Guestmaster reassured us that, although one of the pack had escaped from its enclosure not long ago and had still not returned from its Annual Break, dangers were but minimal. I chased out of my fevered imagination a naughty fantasy that Father might himself be a werewolf just on the point of ...
I like Douai. Cardinal Allen greets you in Reception ... what a great Englishman and Oxonian he was. Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England ... but for a faulty weather forecast. I just love his cheerful and reassuring prediction that, in the days after the success of the Armada, not many of the Protestant governing class might have survived. And round the walls of the Guest Refectory (good food) hang portraits of an Alternative England which, so sadly, never got its chances. Queen Mary of Modena's Almoner in Paris ... Bishop Richard Smith, who is described in his picture as Totius Angliae et Scotiae Ordinarius (same title as Mgr Newton's) ... Deans of the Old Chapter (now, 'Brotherhood') of the English Clergy, that august body of most superior men ... et tot alii totque clarissimi. Along the corridors hang monks who enjoyed the evocative style of (Titular) Abbot of Westminster. In the Library, serried ranks of English Recusant gentlewomen who founded and ruled English convents in the Low Countries. Formidable ladies; I would rather face the wolves than their disapprobation.
That Catholic England never got beyond being what you might call a Platonic Idea. But you can almost catch a glimpse of it at Douai.