…and so to Alabama

This Blog is from your London correspondent, but over the next couple of weeks, I won’t be in London – I’ll be across the pond in the USA. I fly to Birmingham, Alabama, to make a new series of programmes with EWTN, and then go on to Ohio where I will do some work with Marcus Grodi’s Coming Home Network, and then on to South Carolina where I am speaking at a conference organised by Fr Dwight Longenecker’s parish. I have known Fr Dwight since the days when he had just made the decision to join in full communion with the Catholic Church, which meant leaving the lovely vicarage and church on the Isle of Wight where he had been serving as an Anglican minister. He spent some years as a writer, film critic, author and speaker and then went to America – his home country – where he was ordained a Catholic priest. It will be a joy to connect with the Longenecker family again and to share in the life of the parish at Greenville, South Carolina. Then my trip finishes with the March for Life in Washington, to which I’ll travel with the Greenville parish group by bus.

Last year when I went to EWTN, I arrived with a broken arm – the result of a fall on Christmas Day here in England – and found myself in the middle of a freak snowstorm which had brought Alabama to a halt. All work was stopped for a few days – most people could not reach the EWTN studios – and in the great beauty and silence of the snowy landscape I sat in the cosy house adjoining the EWTN campus and read and read. The kind friars based at EWTN gave me supper – I remember gripping the arm of the young friar who had been sent to collect me, as we slithered precariously over icy surfaces across the silent campus of EWTN buildings and offices- normally so busy – in the dark to the friary and its welcome.

This year’s new TV programmes are about the traditions associated with the lives of saints, and involve, as with the previous series, some cookery and craft work. Doing the research for this is fun – there are so many interesting and delightful traditions associated with the 2,000 years of rich Christian history. And it’s a living tradition – in this new series, for example, I’m talking about St Faustina (of Divine Mercy fame) and Blessed John Paul. This has involved learning about some Polish cookery…

2012 in Britain brings us the London Olympics and also the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But there is a solemn mood around – somehow people are aware that there is so much that is wrong with our society: over Christmas there were a couple more random public murders with people being stabbed in the street, and everyone is conscious of anger, drunkenness, a high rate of crime, and so many broken families and broken relationships. The Government is planning to introduce laws to impose same-sex “marriage”. Churches will be under renewed pressure over this, and as God’s plan for marriage and family is non-negotiable, there will be some tough times ahead as we obviously cannot and will not ever have same-sex union ceremonies in any Catholic churches. As January 2012 opens, this is a thoughtful time to be a Catholic writer and broadcaster.