Skip to main content


The truth about the 39 Vietnamese Catholics killed in a refrigerated container

Recent posts

Yes, boys can be boys

Let’s begin with a poem ….

Where the pools are bright and deep, Where the grey trout lies asleep, Up the river and over the lea, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the blackbird sings the latest, Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest, Where the nestlings chirp and flee, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the mowers mow the cleanest, Where the hay lies thick and greenest, There to track the homeward bee, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the hazel bank is steepest, Where the shadow falls the deepest, Where the clustering nuts fall free, That's the way for Billy and me.
Why the boys should drive away Little sweet maidens from their play, Or love to banter and fight so well, That's the thing I never could tell.
But this I know, I love to play Through the meadow, among the hay; Up the water and over the lea, That's the way for Billy and me.         
“A Boy’s Song”, James Hogg (1770-1835)
There is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in which Calvin one days tells his furry friend that …

Christopher Dawson Centre promoting Judeo-Christian civilisation in Australia

I am delighted to recommend the work of the Christopher Dawson Centre in Hobart, Australia. Its Director, Dr David Daintree, is a good friend and supporter of our work at Chavagnes. In the spirit if the great historian in whose honour it is named, the Centre promotes the study of the Western tradition and organises events in Australia and internationally promoting aspects of historical, literary and other cultural studies.

Auchinleck Revisited, 23 November - 1 December 2019.

Dr Johnson spent a few evenings at Boswell's family seat Auchinleck House (left) where he met the young Boswell's father. Some members are orgainsing a country house part there in November, and you could join them ...
Read on ...
Fifty years ago the American conservative scholar Russell Kirk wrote these words about a forgotten part of Scotland: "Some years ago, I walked across the braes from Old Cumnock, in Ayrshire, to the village of Ochiltree. Now Ochiltree is the “Barbie” of George Douglas Brown’s grim realistic novel The House with the Green Shutters. And the Scottish village of Ochiltree is dying.
Brown described the changes that began to descend upon little Barbie in the last century: trade drained away by the building of railroads in Ayrshire, cattle giving way to coal, the carter sinking to his ruin, and the shadow of the noose upon the House with the Green Shutters. The white-harled cottage in which George Douglas Brown was born still stands in Ochiltree, and its sh…

Prudent charity ... a thoughtful response to immigration

Mutli-culturalism does not work; in order to accept more immigration, you need to plan for proper integration. Otherwise you are like cook who makes soup with no recipe. The result can be inedible for everyone ... social unrest. Pope Francis would do well to seek the advice of his brother bishops in those countries from which people are emigrating. Bishops in Africa are sick of the brain drain that bleeds their countries' elites and cripples their development ... while bishops in the Middle East are trying to warn him that his analysis of the situation there is naive. Bishops in Pakistan, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon will tell anyone who listens that a cheerful multicultural inter-religious coexistence is not going to work in Europe, just as it has not been working in the Middle East. Pope Francis knows this first-hand. He welcomed a few Muslim families in the Vatican for a couple of weeks, but soon sent them packing ... now they are looked after by the City of Rome. They never got …

Saving humanity, and the humanities ... The narrowing of the curriculum and the new anthropology

(Two challenges facing education today … and what we can do about them.)
Ferdi McDermott (Talk given at the London Oratory, 26th April 2018).
In a Catholic school the finality of all that we study is the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. And as Blessed John Henry Newman and St John Paul II so tirelessly taught, there can be no conflict between Faith and Reason, because both are bound up in a love for truth. This service of the Truth who is Christ has an evangelical dimension: this is the “authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out.” (John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 88; 1993.) As St John Paul II taught, well educated young people will be able to serve the common good of society as well as spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, because the authentic educational experi…

Taking delight in the dead

A couple of times in recent years I have been to visit the Crypt of the Capuchins in Palermo. It is full of dead people dressed in their everyday clothes, and the first time one visits can be an eery experience.

But once one gets used to it, spending time with the dead is salutary and rewarding. Edmund Burke wrote: "The state is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born." And being with the dead gives us a sense of perspective; it gives us a chance to think that soon we will be like these dry bones ... what else will we leave behind? Will our legacy be something to be proud of? Have we been faithful both to those who have gone before us and to those who will come after us?

This week, in England, people are talking about who will be the next poet laureate.  A man who did that job for thirty years wrote these lines about our debt to the dead:

MY days among the Dead are past;
Around me…