I will not fear

Ego obdormivi et soporatus sum, exsurrexi, quia Dominus suscepit me. Non timebo milia populi circumdantis me. Exsurge, Domine, salvum me fac, Deus meus.

I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me. I will not fear thousands of people surrounding me: arise, O Lord; save me, O my God.

From the Waiting Psalm (Psalm 3) at Vigils, in the English rendering of the Douai Bible.

Munkeby Mariakloster

Lord Sacks

Learning of the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks last night, I felt a spontaneous, visceral sense of loss. For years I have looked forward to his weekly reflection in the series Covenant and Conversation. Sacks has long been one of the few voices in British public life that carried real authority. He was firmly rooted in and expressive of his Jewish identity while remaining sincerely, lucidly, benevolently open to otherness. The Hesped read by his daughter Gila today is one of the most moving accounts I have ever heard of what it is to be a father. 

Cordial air

I remember a house where all were good
   To me, God knows, deserving no such thing:
   Comforting smell breathed at very entering,
Fetched fresh, as I suppose, off some sweet wood.
That cordial air made those kind people a hood
   All over, as a bevy of eggs the mothering wing
   Will, or mild nights the new morsels of Spring:
Why, it seemed of course; seemed of right it should.
Abbaye de Boulaur

Our Lady of Auch

It is an ancient Christian tradition that St Luke the Evangelist was not only a good physician but an accomplished painter, and that we owe him the first life-like image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though what ‘life-like’ means has been subject, through the ages, to changing sensibilities. This matronly account from the cathedral in Auch would surely have surprised, not necessarily delighted, the sitter.

Eat crêpes

In a time when so many people are dissatisfied with their bodies (a recent survey established that 61% of Norwegian youths are unhappy with the way they look), the healthy pragmatism of this cheerful sign outside a crêperie on Montmartre provides a breath of fresh air.


To say that Seamus Heaney’s posthumously published translation of Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid is alive with intelligence and musicality is simply to state the obvious. What sets it apart is its status as testimony. It shows how even a poet of supreme inspiration is enriched by engaging perseveringly with great, ancient texts. And it honours the memory of one who enabled still untrained eyes to glimpse literature’s potential: Heaney intended the volume as a tribute to his classics master at school, Fr McGlinchey. Oh, to be a teacher able to inspire a life-long pursuit of meaning and beauty!

A Contribution to The Tablet‘s ‘Books of the Year’ pages.