We are learning all the time, and all through our lives. In 2014 I learned, among much else, that St John Paul the Great, the man we all considered to be a saint, most truly was a saint, and one of the noblest in the Church’s great treasury of saints and heroes…studying his life and work has been a magnificent experience, and going to Rome for his canonisation crowned that and made this year unforgettable.
…I learned that studying theology can be one of the most exciting (yes, you read that correctly) of subjects. Doing post-graduate studies is a delight, and I’m loving it.
…I learned that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – established by Pope Benedict XVI four years ago – is going to play an important part of the New Evangelisation, and needs and deserves our encouragement and support.
…I learned that family life is at the core (yes, literally at the heart) of God’s plan, and that nephews and nieces, and great-nephews and great-nieces, are among life’s greatest joys…oh, but I knew that already, it’s just that every year makes it more and more clear and delightful.
…I learned that the freedom of religion is important, and that we are right in our instinctive horror at the imposition of religious belief by force or coercion or pressure of any kind.
…I learned that as Christians we must live and teach our faith with joy and conviction, and bring a sound Christian influence to bear in every way for the common good.
…and that we have a good Pope and there is something absolutely thrilling in the fact that there is an unbroken link going all the way back to St Peter.
In 2014 I also learned that Britain still has a soul…the scarlet sea of poppies at the Tower of London commemorating the fallen of 1914-1918, one for every man from Britain and the Commonwealth who fell in that war, stirred our hearts and brought us to awe and prayer and silence in a way that we had not imagined possible.
…and I learned that glorious countryside, great books, and laughter, are all good for the soul (I have known that for a good while, too – but it’s worth repeating).
And I learned in new ways that our poor country is currently in a mess, and needs a prayerful and faith-filled New Evangelisation, and that there are good prayerful and faith-filled men and women who are gladly taking up that challenge…but we need more.